New Data Added to ONI’s Global Timeline of YouTube Censorship

The OpenNet Initiative is excited to announce the addition of a full year of new data to its YouTube social media filtering timeline. "YouTube Censored: a Recent History" allows users to access a detailed visual account of when and where YouTube has been censored since 2006. This update covers the last 12 months, bringing the map up to date with the latest information on the censoring of YouTube around the world.

The last year has seen several surprising developments with respect to YouTube filtering. On January 13, 2011, during the wave of protests that launched the Arab Spring, Tunisia shut down its filtering system following a promise by President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to open up the Internet. YouTube, which had been blocked in the country since late 2007, was made available and has not been re-blocked since.

Similarly, Syria lifted its ban on Facebook and YouTube this February. Syrian users celebrated the new access to YouTube, but in June, the government temporarily shut down access to the entire Internet in the face of anti-government protests, indicating that the move toward openness may not be permanent.

Particularly surprising was the British government-ordered blocking of videos covering the British Constitution Group’s Lawful Rebellion protest in the spring of 2011 in the UK. In May 2011, the government ordered YouTube to remove videos of the March 2011 protest, during which protesters stormed a courtroom in an attempt to ‘arrest’ judge Michael Peake who was hearing a case against against a man challenging the council tax bill.

To see all of these events and more, check out YouTube Censored: A Recent History, the ONI's interactive global timeline.