23 July 2013

Zambia: Press Freedom Group Helps Circumvent Net Censorship in Zambia

The non-governmental organisation Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has made a strong statement in favour of freedom of the press by offering several banned websites solutions to circumvent the government's efforts to block access by citizens.

Today, a mirrored version of Zambia Reports was put up by Reporters Without Borders, allowing many readers in Zambia the first opportunity to read independent news in more than a week. Earlier, the organisation had established a mirror site of Zambian Watchdog, which has also been blocked by the government, however the IP address of this mirror was also blocked within hours.

RSF first began creating mirrored websites to battle censorship in 2012, allowing volunteers to download databases to host on different web servers in order to run censored content on any number of parallel websites, outpacing the government censors.

To evade the "Zambezi Firewall," many bloggers and reporters have taken to social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook, which has prompted the government to explore options of limiting access to these platforms as well.

The Patriotic Front government of President Michael Sata has taken an increasingly hostile approach toward independent journalism in the country, with the unexplained blocking of both Zambia Reports and Zambian Watchdog, as well as three recent arrests of journalists, including one who has not yet been released from prison.

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