“We’re trying to create a law to organize electronic media in the limits of finding responsible liberty.” That was what Mr. Taleb Kadi Amin, media minister assistant, confirmed in the seminar “Private journalism, where to?”, which took place in the social forum in Damascus Monday evening 29th Jan 2007, adding “Tomorrow the media will take what I said and make a whole story out of it!”

That’s true. Because Mr. Kadi Amin knows that this whole Internet law is just a story. a story of which chapters are not completed yet, but are being written! A story that won’t do anything but add a black spot to our Internet record that has put us in the first places on the black list!

And because the conversation was very important and dangerous, dangerous with all meaning of word, we’re going to talk about some of the related issues that were talked about in the seminar.

The world and Internet laws
It’s not new for our managers to run and back up everything they want by saying: Every country in the world has such things… But none of them has one document with names and dates to prove what they say. And Mr. Taleb Amin confirmed, in his response to the co-worker Rodaina Haidar, a member in Syrian Women work team, that all the countries in the world has Internet laws.

Let’s correct this, not by the way of an embarrassing question: Tell us which country has such law and what is its number?! neither the minister’s assistant nor anybody else has an answer.

There isn’t in the world’s countries, at least the lead ones, such thing as an Internet organizing law! And the Internet is permitted and available for anyone without any conditions! And the laws that are related to it are ordinary criminal laws related to any other media.

For example: there are law for practicing trading, and how to announce prices, and pay taxes and such.. and they include all trading activities, including Internet trading.

Another example: There are laws that criminate children’s easy access to pornography. That includes printed matters, TV, and also Internet.
But there isn’t any law that specifically regards the Internet alone.

And most importantly; there isn’t any law that comes even near to what our managers are trying to get to: website authorization. Mr. Taleb Kadi Amin assured that it isn’t a matter of authorization. Only: knowing and informing! i.e.: every website has to provide “knowing and informing” of its existence with its manager’s name!

and we know this “knowing and informing” all too well out of a very bitter experience that just keeps growing more and more bitter each day with the karakorchian organization law.
even this, neither the minister assistant nor anybody else has any evidence that such law exist in the world.

And for you information, booking an Internet site and managing it needs nothing more than having an Internet payment tool (and a lot of payment tools are anonymous), then, within hours the site is all yours.

and this procedure is the common one whether you are in Washington, Tokyo, Makadisho, or Damascus… So does that adjust with having a knowing and informing, and manager’s name law? of course not.

So, the releasing of such law, whether it was regarding the net only or included in a new printed-matter law would be a Syrian antecedence. But, alas, a shameful one.

Who define “responsible liberty”?
In justifying the existence of such law, especially the necessity of putting the manager’s name, the assistant minister said that it is only a matter of responsible liberty.

But Mr. Kadi Amin, just like any other manager in this government, any previous government, or any government on the planet, has not succeeded in defining this expression that sounds like it’s Sanskrit: “responsible liberty”! What does this “responsible” mean? and who defines if it’s “responsible’ or not?

For example: If there was a minister who doesn’t like what “Syrian Women” raises, will this liberty become “irresponsible”?! Just like what happened to many sites and Internet reports today?

In fact, there is no such thing called “responsible liberty”. It’s just a stilted phrase to control electric media just like every other media form. But the problem is that most of the countries has reached a conclusion that this media is out of control. And that it’s dragging the world towards more freedom whether the managers and people like it or not. And that phrase, here, is nothing but stretchable words (despite Mr. Kadi Amin’s assurance that the new printed-matter law will not contain any stretchable phrases!) that won’t be anything but a sword held to people’s throats.

Permitted prohibition
In the context of the conversation, Mr. Taleb Kadi Amin assured that the purpose of the prohibition is protecting our society and specifically indicated porn sites.

No one in the government seems to follow the Internet through Syrian servers! Otherwise they would have known, one way or another, that all of these sites are open through our servers!
especially the main servers: Syrian Computer Society and Syrian Telecom, while everyone knows the actual nature of the prohibited sites.

And because the nature of these sites are none of our concerns, we’ll just advise the prohibition managers in Syria: either take advanced lessons in Internet science (not just how to make a connection) or ask your experts to give you reports about it. Because it’s time that you know that this prohibition policy in Syria, just like any other country, does noting but offend the prohibiting person. Because, fortunately, there isn’t any way till now to prevent news access through the internet but to cancel the internet itself! and everything that you’re accomplishing there is just more bad reputation, and some difficulty for the user which he can quickly overcome.

Bassam Alkadi, supervisor of Syrian Women work team - (“Responsible liberty”.. where to?!)
Translated by: Areej Shmaies.

Exclusive: SWO (2/2007)