While White-listing Syria, Linkedin Keeps Sudan’s Internet Users Blocked!

20 Apr, 2009

Update 1&2 at the end of the post.

After Linkedin the business social Network, blocked Internet users in Syria and then unblocked them and apologized (as ArabCrunch has reported.) It was confirmed to us that Internet users in Sudan (an African Arab country) still cannot access Linkedin, who were blocked by Linkedin since several months ago.

Kay Luo Linkedin, Sr. Director of Corporate Communications told me that also the Linkedin Outlook add-on will stay blocked.

“ Regarding the download, we (are) complying with the US law, so it is blocked in Syria.  For the same reason, Sudan is blocked from accessing our site.”

You can find more information about the US sanctions enforcement aginst Sudan here.

I am not a legal expert but by looking at the law, it says nothing about blocking website access? Some US based Linkedin competitors like ecademy and Plaxo are still accessible in Sudan and the vast majority of US based websites. So the question is: why Linkedin only blocks access to Sudan?

I have emailed Lou the following questions:

So in this regard how did you make the block decisions and who does it inside Linkedin? A Linkedin lawyer told you so? Or it was wired by a US government official to Linkedin?

One might wonder whether Linkedin is making a political statement against the people of Sudan (majority are African Muslims) or the US law is not understood or is confusing. Since they have unblocked Syria and not Sudan?! Let’s wait and see what Linkedin will say. On the other hand I have contacted few US based lawyers to explain if the sanctions include websites and software downloads and I will update you soon.

Ashraf Mansoor serial young entrepreneur and founder of the first job site for women in the Middle East Twffaha, told ArabCrunch:

As an entrepreneur in Sudan I find this appalling and disappointing, while these same companies claim that they pursue open standards to make the web a more open place, they ban specific countries, this is a total hypocrisy. What’s next? we will not be allowed to edit our own Wikipedia pages? In an era where we call for different people to sit down and engage in fruitful conversations, we should allow these people to use the tools and platforms available like everyone else. I’m worried that other companies will follow suit and eventually Sudan and others will be web outcasts.

According to him GoDaddy hosted websites and any Google Downloaded product (Gtalk, Google Gears ..etc), are blocked and cannot be accessed from Sudan.

In the her call to me Luo suggested to me to write a guest post for Linkedin Blog, however I think they might change their mind, since I am actively reporting this :P  

Update: just to clarify, the US sanctions against Sudan is different than the one against Syria, as it is tougher, and it forbids the transfer of US Technology to Sudan excluding some items such as medical devices. So we are not really sure that blocking website access is a must in the law, and whether it is a miss understanding of the law by Linkedin or have been miss communicated to them or not, we will wait for a legal opinion regarding this law.

Update 2:

Google spokesperson told ArabCrunch:

“Per US export law, we cannot allow downloads to embargoed countries (Cuba, iran, north korea, Syria, sudan); this would include google download server and code.google.com. We do not block access to publicly available sites where there are no dowloads.”

We are still looking for a legal saying from a Legal expert regarding this matter, and we will update you accordingly.

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  1. Global Voices Advocacy » While White-listing Syria, Linkedin Keeps Sudan’s Internet Users Blocked!  |  April 21st, 2009 at 1:46 AM #

    [...] is a Cross-post from ArabCrunch post with permissions: After Linkedin the business social Network, blocked Internet users in Syria and [...]

  2. Khaled  |  April 21st, 2009 at 10:06 AM #

    US law doesn’t force companies to block web access, but people inside the LinkedIn made this decision. Why big companies like Microsoft is not blocked here? that’s why it’s the people in LinkedIn who made that decision.

  3. Следи Сирия, LinkedIn блокира и Судан « Intidar  |  April 21st, 2009 at 10:40 AM #

    [...] реакцията на интернет обществото, беше потвърдено от ArabCrunch, че потребителите на интернет в Судан все още нямат [...]

  4. Ashraf Mansoor  |  April 21st, 2009 at 1:52 PM #

    Thank you Gaith for standing up for what you believe, and supporting the Arabic countries against this new type of discrimination, we appreciate it.

  5. Tanya Kasim  |  April 21st, 2009 at 8:14 PM #

    Hmmm..I could be wrong about this, but it seems that there is a form of discrimination going on when it comes to the ability for people to get access to information on general topics or report on what’s really going on.

  6. Report: Middle East Executives “Feels” That Their Time Online was “Very Valuable’ to their Job. | ArabCrunch  |  June 8th, 2009 at 4:29 PM #

    [...] time running blogs, writing tweets and connecting with other executives on sites such as LinkedIn (the company that currently blocks users from Sudan,) Xing, MeettheBoss, Ryze, Facebook and [...]

  7. Linkedin, code.google.com and GoDaddy Briefly Unblocked Sudan? -US Congressman Brian Baird: Sanctions do not require blocking! (Exclusive Video Interview)  |  July 27th, 2009 at 11:46 AM #

    [...] about Linkedin blocking Syria and reported their unblocking with an apology, we also reported that Linkedin is still blocking Sudan saying they have to comply with US sanctions. Though by looking at the US Department of Treasury [...]

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