TED Fellows » TED Fellows Network » Walid Al-Saqaf

Walid Al-Saqaf

Anti-censorship activist

Walid Al-Saqaf

Professional Role

Current Titles:

University Lecturer, Journalist, Entrepreneur

Current Organizations:

Orebro University, Alkasir, Yemen Times


Photos

Uploaded Photos

Videos

Walid Al-Saqaf -- Fighting internet censorship

2010 TEDGlobal Fellow Walid Al-Saqaf's website, Yemeni Portal, was blocked by the government in 2008. Listen to Walid as he talks through the birth of alkasir -- the software that is preventing his site (and thousands of others) from being censored. A huge thanks to IBM UK for supporting the 2010 TEDGlobal Fellows.

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Walid Al Saqaf

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Access Live Stream Symposium: the Middle East, the Revolution and the Internet

On Thursday, February 3rd, 2011 at 12:00 PM EST (GMT-5) Access hosted a live streamed online symposium entitled: The Middle East, the Revolution, and the Internet. The full description of the event appears below. Symposium participants include: Frank La Rue: United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression Marietje Schaake: Dutch Member of the European Parliament Jillian York: Harvard University Berkman Center Tarek Amr: Egyptian Digital Activist on Global Voices Walid Al-Saqaf: Yemeni software developer and journalist Mohamed ElGohary: Egyptian Activist Aasil Ahmad: Democracy Activist Brett Solomon: Access (Moderator) The Middle East, the Revolution, and the Internet Tech-utopians and tech-doomsayers continue their debate over the impact of the internet on politics and democracy. Meanwhile mass demonstrations have spread across the Middle East, causing the downfall of one government and putting others on high alert. In each case we know technology has played a vital role in mobilizing protestors and transmitting information in real time around the globe. The existential threat it plays to a regime has been demonstrated by Egypt's internet shutdown. "The Middle East, the Revolution and the Internet" brings together experts in the field to discuss and debate the issues in real time. Access's live web symposium will examine the impact of new (social) media and the internet on political freedom. On the one hand, we can expect grassroots activists to make use of technology to facilitate their activities. On the other hand, the new era provides opportunities for dictators and regimes to survey and monitor like never before. With voices from academia to the front line, Access will explore how activists use the net, the challenges for state actors, and the likely winners and losers in the digital cat and mouse game.

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Yemen Protest Demands Saleh Face Justice

Walid Al-Saqaf: Mass protests say transition deal not real if Pres. Saleh does not face charges

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US Supports Yemen Dictator

Walid Al-Saqaf: Yemeni people's demand to end dictatorship is irreversible

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Yemen Dictator Plays Extremist Card

Walid Al-Saqaf: President Saleh warns of Al Qaeda and anarchy if he goes

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Yemen, the real conflict Pt.2

Walid Al-Saqaf: Yemen gov and US use fight against al Qaeda to target opposition movement in South Yemen

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Projects

Yemen Portal, an aggretaror for Yemen
08/01/2007 – 06/01/2008
This was a project for my master degree program at Orebro University. It aimed at indexing and merging content form dozens of websites that related to Yemen. The project was an independent project with an aim of expanding my knowledge in finding news websites on Yemen, types of content, and viewers' interests. The participants were mainly Yemenis or those interested in Yemeni affairs and with access to the Internet. It was found later that many journalists and website administrators were using Yemen Portal to be informed of what was going on in the country and what expatriates abroad were writing about Yemen.
Project Website »

Alkasir
01/01/2009 – 01/30/2012
This is a PhD project as a means to study website censorship as well as an activist approach to dealing with such censorship around the world. The idea is to find a method to track website censorship in different countries by allowing users to download software that could detect whether particular websites are blocked by ISPs in those countries. Simultaneously, the software allows users to circumvent censorship and reach certain blocked websites based on a clearly defined policy (https://alkasir.com/policy). The project started after my own website and earlier project (Yemen Portal) was blocked by the Yemeni authorities, forcing me to find ways to circumvent censorship and allow my website readers to access it. In time, the solution was found useful by users across the world to access the websites that they found blocked in their own countries. Some countries that are practicing censorship have started deploying new methods to prevent Alkasir and other similar solutions from working. The project remains in steady and continuous development with the help of volunteers in several countries.
Project Website »


Biography

I'm a Yemeni media scholar and journalist interested in understanding and strengthening the role of new media in democratization around the world in general and in the Arab world in particular. I had done an extensive study in 2008 that analyzed political messages propagated through Yemeni news websites. I'm currently a PhD candidate focused on researching Internet censorship in the Arab world. I started my career as a journalist in 1998 at the Yemen Times, which I led as editor-in-chief and publisher during 1999-2005. I was the first Yemeni to receive the Daniel Pearl and Alfred Friendly Press Fellowship in 2005, through which I wrote for The Wall Street Journal as a senior reporter. In 2006, I moved to Sweden where I pursued my graduate studies in global journalism and where I am currently working as the Director of the Global Journalism master program at Örebro University. In 2007, I established Yemen's first news aggregator and search engine Yemen Portal and in 2009 I launched Alkasir, a software solution used by users worldwide to circumvent and track website censorship. My university recognized my work in promoting democratization through technology and awarded me the 2010 Democracy award. I am at present involved in several projects and networks promoting human rights and democracy in the Arab region. I become more actively engaged since the start of the Arab Spring. Since the Arab Spring started, I consider my top priority supporting democratization and reform efforts in the Arab world and in particular the on-going peaceful movement in Yemen against the 33-year of the Saleh regime. I have committed myself to supporting democracy in my homeland through the utilization of new media and radio.


Fun facts

Favorite meal:
- Teriyaki - Fried shrimp - Traditional Yemeni dishes involving 'Haneed' (roasted lamb meat) with rice

A funny story about me:
As a software developer & activist busy thinking how to save the world, I sometimes have embarrassing 'absent-minded professor' moments. This was one of them. I visited a compound once and was asked a question by the receptionist. I nodded positively and was given an usually large 'visitor' card with a string that I used to hang around my neck. A minute after jogging into the compound, I saw the same receptionist seemingly exhausted after chasing me all over the place. "I asked 'do you have a car?'" he said.


Vital Stats

Fellows Class
TEDGlobal 2010
2012 TED Senior Fellow
Languages
Arabic
English
Turkish
Living in
Nikolai, Kingdom of Sweden
Working in
Nikolai, Kingdom of Sweden
Born in
Ta'izz, Yemen
Gender
Male

Contact

Twitter
@wsaqaf
Websites
linkedin.com facebook.com

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