Many have often criticised attempts by traditional governing bodies to regulate the Internet. They believe that any regulation goes against the openness philosophy of the Internet. However, whilst the Internet is not under the responsibility of any official government, it can be governed by the social norms of its users, as well as by national governments in a more explicit manner. These social norms to which the users are subject, can be influenced by national legislation or procedures, and also by cultural and economic trends which indirectly shape Internet users’ choices and patterns online.
The ongoing unrest in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region has opened up new debates on the Internet’s openness and the role it plays in development and democracy. The report strives to analyze the current state of Internet openness in six countries; Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Tunisia and Syria – from hand selected experts in the field. The reports contextualise each country’s experience of anchoring and safeguarding Internet openness, including policies and measures which permit Internet users to make their own choices about which lawful Internet services and content they wish to access, create or share online.