Updated: Linkedin, code.google.com and GoDaddy Briefly Unblocked Sudan? -US Congressman Brian Baird: Sanctions do not require blocking! (Exclusive Video Interview)

27 Jul, 2009

NOTE: Linkedin GoDaddy and Google are doing the Blocking NOT  the Government of Sudan.)

Update: Linkedin GoDaddy and Google are doing the Blocking NOT  the Government of Sudan. Both Linkedin and Google said before they have to be in compliance with US laws. Google confirmed that nothing has changed from their point. The sanction though does prohibit transfer of technology and it seems accessing http://code.google.com is considered as technology transfer, but what if the code was created by developers outside USA?

We reported 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 webpage that explains the sanctions I did not seeLinkedin-blockinganything that says US companies must block their websites?

US congressman Brian Baird seems to agree with me, in a video Interview I lived streamed on ArabCrunch channel on Qik during WEF Jordan 09 in the Dead Sea, he said that to his knowledge, US sanctions do not require US based websites to block access to users in Syria and Sudan.

Ironically Linkedin, code.google.com (an Open-source project hosting service by Google , open source means the source-code is developed via contribution from the Global Community for free.) and GoDaddy were reported to be unblocking Sudan at least for one day period. This has happened sometime around June 18th 09, according to Ashraf Mansoor from Sudan and founder of Twffaha the first job site for women in the Middle East . On 16th of June 09 the US government asked Twitter to stay up for #iranElections crises , and on the 19th of June facebook rushed to launch a Persian (Farsi) version of the site for users in Iran, a move that may be in violation of Facebook’s own terms of service. By the way Iran also faces US sanctions along with Syria, Sudan, Cuba and North Korea!

When I asked US congressman Baired about Linkedin blockade, he said he did not know about it, but was not aware of US laws that prevent (web access)!
He also said “it does not make sense to block open source projects and websites.”

He added “the great opportunity of the internet is people around the world learning what people around the world are doing, that can be a threat to a totalitarian society, that is why we have free press part of our constitution and the internet is the free press of the world, “…”political ideology and scientific inventions, those things I think you have to protect access to.”

Mr. Brian Baird promised me to look into these issues, but I have not followed up with him since then, but will start now along with an email to Linkedin.

Speaking of free speech and censoring, some NGOs that claim to fight for free speech and are anti censoring or affiliated to did not reply to /or refused to answer my emails that asked whether the sanction require Linkedin to block Sudan, like Jillian York the Project Coordinator of OpenNet Initiative.

Below is my video Interview with Baird where he talks about different subjects ranging from: Obama’s initiatives to support R&D in the region, Oracle’s Sun acquisition, and the rumored US law that authorize the US president to shut down the Internet!

(PS: most of the questions I asked Baird were forwarded to me by AC readers; also I could not post his picture because his pic along with all the pictures I took during WEF Jordan 09 were deleted from my Nokia 5800 with unknown reasons!)




# Image by Rita Willaert.

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  1. Jordan’s Entrepreneurship Week Kicks Off With Interesting Sessions.  |  November 19th, 2009 at 1:14 PM #

    [...] topics of the event looks interesting and I wanted to ask Reid the founder of linkedin if he has better justification for Linkedin blocking Sudan than what his communication director told AC [...]

  2. Post Clinton Internet Freedom Speech:US- SourceForge Blocked Syria, Sudan,Iran Korea & Cuba: Open Source Still Open?  |  January 22nd, 2010 at 10:34 PM #

    [...] Linkedin left its blocking against Syria after ArabCrunch reported the incident ( and kept it against Sudan ), we heard different reports that American officials are preparing to waive some of the sanctions [...]

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