Alkasir is a program developed by Yemeni software developer Walid al-Saqaf, that allows users to circumvent censorship in countries that censor internet content. The first version was released in May 2009, with the newest version containing an internal browser, added in May 2010, with updates often being released. Alkasir is free to download and to use. The word “alkasir” means circumventor in Arabic.
Alkasir was supported by YemenPortal.net, al-Saqaf’s site created to allow Yemenis to voice dissent against the regime.
Governments around the world, most notably in China and in the Middle East, use censorship to block access to various websites. With the rise of social networking sites and the use of these sites to organize political movements against the repressive regimes in power, such as the Arab Spring, Middle Eastern governments have implemented Western tools to censor the internet.
Alkasir’s site also contains a map that tracks the use of its software to gain access to particular URLs. The more people using the software to access a particular site, such as Facebook, the more likely it is blocked by the people’s country.
As of 2012, the Arab country with the highest number of Alkasir users was Syria and the software received over a hundred thousand reports of blocked URLs.
Walid al-Saqaf was selected as a TED fellow in 2010 for the development of Alkasir. He was also selected as a TED 2012 senior fellow.
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^ “Founder Awarded TED Fellowship for anti-Censorship Efforts”. alkasir. Retrieved 2012-07-09.
^ “Yemeni Journalist Offers Facebook and Twitter Access, Piercing Government Blocks”. Fastcompany.com. 2011-02-25. Retrieved 2012-07-09.
^ Sonne, Paul (2011-03-27). “U.S. Products Help Block Mideast Web”. Online.wsj.com. Retrieved 2012-07-09.
^ “Cyber-Censorship Map (dynamically generated)”. alkasir. Retrieved 2012-07-09.
^ Diamond, Larry; Plattner, Marc, eds. (2012). Liberation technology: Social media and the struggle for democracy. JHU Press. ISBN 1421405687.
^ “Meet the TED Fellows”. Ted.com. Retrieved 2012-07-09.
^ “Meet the TED 2012 Fellows”. Blog.ted.com. 2011-10-25. Retrieved 2012-07-09.
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