By SHABINA S. KHATRI
If it seems like there is no rhyme or reason to Internet censorship in Qatar, it’s because there isn’t. Though it is the second most connected country in the Arab world (behind the UAE), Qatar has been slow to establish any rules about what its residents can see, hear or say on the Internet.
The Qatari constitution protects privacy, freedom of expression and freedom of the press, but it also contains clauses that permit ISPs to spy on Internet users and require them to turn over any data upon government request.
Without any rules, bloggers must use their best judgment when publishing online in Qatar – or end up like Lisa Clayton, an art history professor in Doha who was publicly rebuked in December 2009 for comments she made on Qatar Living, a popular local forum.
“It’s not a question of any organization or agency that tells you what the boundaries are on the Internet,” one government official said. “Most of the bloggers or people writing online – they have to look into the local sensitivities; they have to have an understanding of the political ecosystem.”
For the full article on navigating the Internet in Qatar, check out Qatar Visitor.