The Tunisian government is very interested in blocking bloggers from uploading content on the Internet. Less than 40% of all country residents have access to the Internet, and those who do have to use Internet cafes because of the high cost of the Internet connectivity. The Tunisian government has obliged Internet service providers to report all bloggers (including their names, personal information, and addresses).
All Internet connections go through a central point on the server, where content is filtered, and all emails are monitored. Anyone who disparages the government or the military on the Internet is imprisoned. The situation with Internet censorship in Tunisia has recently improved, but only slightly.
Internet censorship in Tunisia played an important role in the dramatic events of the Arab Spring that began in Tunisia. The ouster of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali brought more open access and use of the Internet. Political leaders in Tunisia use social media to communicate with the common people.
Internet censorship in Tunisia during the Ben Ali regime
The Tunisian government practiced various Internet surveillance types and forcibly collected information about network users from Internet cafes. Internet users were required to provide identity documents before they could use the Internet in some regions, and Internet cafe operators were held accountable for their customers' online activities.
Tunisian authorities also conducted technical surveillance when the download of email attachments went through a central server. A special law on email and telecommunications allowed the authorities to intercept and check the content of email messages. Cases of filtering emails of the authorities' opponents were also reported.
Tunisia has one of the most developed telecommunication infrastructures in North Africa. Internet access is available nationwide using the fiber-optic connection and international access via submarine communications cables, as well as terrestrial and satellite internet access links. Tunisia's international bandwidth reached 37.5 Gbps in 2010, up from 1.3 Gbps in 2006.
• Top Level Domain (TLD): .tn
• Access: Available nationwide using the fiber-optic backed connection
• Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 12
• International bandwidth: 62 Gbps in 2012, 50 Gbps in 2010, 1.3 Gbps in 2006
• Internet users: 4,196,564
• Internet penetration rate: 39.1%
• Fixed (wired) broadband Internet subscriptions: 604,102
• Broadband Internet subscribers: 544,392 or 5.1%
• Facebook users: 2,602,640
• Facebook penetration rate: 24.5%
• Public cybercafes: 350
Internet censorship now
Internet censorship in Tunisia has diminished significantly since the ouster of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The present government has removed filters on social networks such as Facebook and YouTube.