Linkedin Kicks Off Syrian Users!

17 Apr, 2009

Updated. Update 2. Update 3: Linkedin Bows: Restores Service to Syrian Users, Says a Human error!

AnasOnline blog reports (Arabic link) that Linkedin (AC Group here) completely blocked all Syrian users. According to the blog post:

3 weeks ago when Linkedin blocked all Syrian IPs users , but they were able to access the site by using IP changing programs (such as Tor), but in the last days, Linkedin blocked all Syrian users even if they changed their IPs,  and when the users try to access the website this message appears to them:

Access to this account has been suspended. Please contact Customer Service to resolve this problem

He also said that once you email Linkedin customer service, they will tell you, your account was blocked because you are Syrian.

For those who do not know Linkedin: it is a professional social networking, like facebook but for the business users.

A source in Syria confirmed to ArabCrunch that linkedin is behind the block, the source back this because according to them, when trying to access linkedin.com the source got” TCP error” with this message:

A communication error occurred: “”

The Web Server may be down, too busy, or experiencing other problems preventing it from responding to requests. You may wish to try again at a later time.

For assistance, contact your network support team.

The source noted that when trying to access the websites that are blocked by Syrian government like facebook, the source only gets a blank page.

The source accessed the website via a proxy program and it worked but could not go any farther.

According to sources in Syria, many US companies block their websites access to Syrian users, Like Google and Sun Microsystems, who both blocks all types of download from their websites, also Google blocks code.google.com a setback for Syrian developers.

“The Syrian user fears the day when he cannot access Gmail or Google search engine.”  Anas said in the post, and I also fear this because I love Gmail so much.

Anas also offer all these blocked programs for free to download at this link (Arabic).

Syrian government on the other hand bans some websites such as youtube and Skype. Also some other Arab countries and ISPs block certain websites, like UAE’s Itisalat blocked few websites and then unblocked them.

It is worth mentioning that there is a US law that forbids US companies from doing certain types of business with Syria, for Example Microsoft maybe not allowed  sell Windows in Syria.

I am not a Legal expert but the law does not say anything about US websites, or if US websites must ban  Syrian Internet users!?

I think that Syrian Internet users are human beings and should be treated equally online,  like any other people in the world. The  Internet is about openness not closing things down. The Internet provided for the 1st time in the history of mankind free flow of information, allowing users to exchange info and to get to know each other, opening borders and bringing cultures together. I am emailing I emailed linkedin, Sun and Google for more clarifications and waiting for Sun’s their answers.

ArabCrunch does not get into politics, but it’s worth mentioning some background about the recent US Syrian Relationship:

US, Syrian relations has been up and down during Bush administration, it has been reported however that Syrian intelligence coordinates with the CIA specially against Alqaeda (WorldTribune and Time ) but things turned severe last year when US forces launched a rare attack last year on the village in Syria ( Aljazeera English report, HuffingtonPost report.) But since Obama took the office, things has eased as many official US envoys have visited Syria and with nice words being exchanged between both parties. Also a  recent news report mentions that Washington has agreed to allow plane manufacturer Boeing to export spare parts to Damascus.

In any case, I call on Linkedin, Google and Sun Microsystems to keep the Internet away from politics and make it freely open, let’s put politics away from the Internet.

Image: joshhough

Update: I did minor edits and I forgot to mention some alternatives to Linkedin: Xing (from Germany)ecademy and Plaxo. Global Voices Online has this story too.

Update 2: LinkedIn repsonded to Anas email:

“Response (LinkedIn – Kelly) 04/17/2009 11:03 AM
Dear Anas,

Per the terms of our User Agreement, use of LinkedIn services, including our software, is subject to export and re-export control laws and regulations. This includes the Export Administration Regulations maintained by the United States Department of Commerce and sanctions programs maintained by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. Under the User Agreement, LinkedIn Users warrant that they are not prohibited from receiving U.S. origin products, including services or software. As such, and as a matter of corporate policy, we do not allow member accounts or access to our site from Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, or Syria.
Regards,

Kelly
LinkedIn Customer Support
Customer (Anas Maarawi) 04/17/2009 04:46 AM
Hello,

When I try to sign in to my account I get a message that says that my account is suspended. Can I know why my account is suspended.”

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