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Syria lifts ban on social media sites Facebook, YouTube

Syrian Internet users reported on Tuesday that social media sites Facebook [website; JURIST news archive] and YouTube [website; JURIST news archive] are accessible without proxy servers or VPNs. Syria appears to be lifting the ban imposed in 2007 as a concession to avoid popular upheaval [DP report] in Syria. Because both Facebook and YouTube are routinely accessed by Syrians through international proxy servers, the concession may have limited impact [AP report]. The move follows a recent interview in which President Bashar Al-Assad indicated he would push for political reforms including municipal elections and a new media law [CP report]. Other websites, such as Amazon and Wikipedia, remain blocked for the time being.

Several countries have banned and unbanned popular media sites in recent years. In November, Turkish authorities lifted a nearly three-year ban [JURIST report] on YouTube after disputed videos that allegedly insulted Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk [Turkish News profile], were removed from the site's content. In July, a Russian court made public a ruling banning access to five websites [JURIST report], including YouTube, for extremist elements. In June, a Pakistani court reimposed a ban on YouTube [JURIST report] after content deemed offensive to Muslims resurfaced on the website when a previous ban was lifted last month. In May, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority [official website] ordered Internet service providers to block Facebook [JURIST report] in response to a competition created by a group of the website's members entitled "Draw Muhammad Day."

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About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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