A Lebanese state-run Internet provider is blocking access to The961, an English-language news website. The country’s Internet service provider Ogero is reportedly preventing the website from accessing the internet because of its links to currency trading sites.
Lebanese state-run internet service provider Ogero blocks entire English-language news website
An English-language news website in Lebanon was blocked by a state-run internet service provider on March 29. The website was accessible briefly for nine hours before the state-owned telco Ogero blocked it.
The website, The961, is an independent news outlet. It reports on issues such as the Lebanese port blast, the COVID-19 pandemic, and news about Beirut. Several of its subscribers have been unable to access the site during the blockage, though the company’s director has contacted the Committee on Publication Practices (CPP) to report that the site was not linked to currency trading websites.
A parliamentary committee on telecoms is scheduled to meet next week. However, the caretaker telecommunications minister Johnny Corm has not responded to a request by the Associated Press (AP) about the shutdowns.
Ogero restores access after Kantara confirms that The961 does not link to any currency trading websites or apps
After being blocked by the Lebanese internet service provider Ogero, the independent news website The961 has been able to resume operations. However, there is no clear reason why the site was blocked.
The news website, founded by Anthony B. Kantara, has covered several important events, including the Beirut port blast. It has also reported on the COVID-19 pandemic.
A section of the website dedicated to exchange rates contains the disclaimer that information provided is for informational purposes only. In addition, the site says it does not link to any currency trading websites.
However, when the website was blocked, a number of its subscribers found it unreachable. One said someone had warned him about the problem on social media, but he was never told why it had been blocked. He asked Ogero for a written confirmation.
CPJ requested comment from Kreidieh in an email to Ogero
The Lebanese state run Internet service provider Ogero has been denying its subscribers access to an English-language news site for nine hours without warning. A spokesperson for Ogero told CPJ that the company opted to block the site “for technical reasons” and did so with no warning. As a result, the site’s founder and director, Anthony B. Kantara, says he was left in the dark about the matter. His company, The961, has covered a number of high-profile stories in recent months, including the Lebanese port blast and the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to providing coverage of national issues, the site also publishes an exchange rate section with disclaimers that it is for informational purposes only.
A spokeswoman for the CPJ says that in an email to the Lebanese Justice Ministry, she asked for a comment from Kreidieh on the subject. She did not receive a reply before publication.
Ogero publishes a blocklist of websites that it restricts
The Lebanese state-run Internet service provider Ogero is blocking websites that it restricts. It is not the first time that this practice has taken place. This time, it was with an independent news website. Kantara, the founder and director of The961, told CPJ that he was contacted by a social networking site that told him that his website was being blocked by Ogero. After contacting Ogero, he received no official confirmation or explanation for why the site was being blocked.
The961 is a news organization that reports on issues of national interest, including health, terrorism, political events, and foreign affairs. In the past, the website has covered topics such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Port of Beirut bombing. However, the site has not been on the Ogero blocklist since mid-March.