Algerian website blocked

Algeria's new internet censorship has got under way with the blocking, for the first time, of a political website. Le Quotidien d'Algerie reports (in French) that the opposition website Rachad is no longer accessible from within the country.

The Algerian government had earlier announced plans for a centralised internet filtering (ie censorship) system, along with stiff penalties for anyone who circumvents the filtering. 

It has been selling the idea of filtering to the Algerian public on the grounds that it will help to combat cyber-crime, pornography and extremism but there have been suspicions all along that it would be used to silence websites that are critical of the government – a suspicion that now seems to be confirmed.

Discussing the latest move, the Algerian Review blog says the website concerned belongs to the Rachad Movement, "a loose opposition organisation in exile formed by a mix of former diplomats, ex-civil servants, journalists and members of the now banned Islamist party FIS. The movement campaigns for a peaceful overthrow of the current regime."

It suggests Rachad had annoyed the government by publishing a story (officially denied and probably wrong) about the possibility of establishing a "temporary" US military presence in Algeria.