‘Blocked’ sites accessible Has government lifted ban or was it a glitch? Bonny Mascarenhas Staff Reporter

Nineteen websites previously blocked by the Ministry of Information were being accessed yesterday. It could not be verified if the ban had been lifted or it was just a technical glitch. Blogger Mahmood Al Yousif told the Tribune that he was able to access various sites since morning. “I have shortcuts to all the blocked sites in a box on my computer screen,” he said. “I check them daily as a routine and discovered yesterday that I could access all of them. “I hope that this is not a technical glitch but a strategic understanding that blocking Internet content does not serve the country any good at all, apart from it being a futile exercise,” Mahmood said. Human Rights activist Nabeel Rajab said, “I am surprised that the sites have been blocked without any information to their moderators. I was informed in the morning that the website of Bahrain Centre for Human Rights was unblocked.” Some residents told the Tribune that they hoped that the authorities had lifted the ban but expressed reservations that it was a technical glitch and that the sites would soon be blocked. “I don’t think the ban has been withdrawn but I still hope that they have lifted it. I read the bahrainrights.org site and did not really find it offensive,” said one resident. “In this day and age it is really pointless blocking sites because there are many alternatives to accessing banned sites.” Mahmood said he was told by sources that the access would be blocked as soon as the re-installation of proxy servers was complete. “I’ll hold my congratulations at the moment until I know for sure what’s going on,” he said. The sites accessed yesterday were; shaheedbh.com; montadayat.org; wattani.net; tubli.net, alsaheefa.net; rezgar.com; ahraralbahrain.com; bahraintimes.org; bahrainrights.org; albawaba.com; annaqed.com; freecopts.net; arabchurch.com; kurdtimes.com; shahrakkan.org; hrinfo.net; bintjbeil.org; aldemokrati.org; and althaqlain.com.