Morocco censorship? Possibly not.

An update on the reported blocking on Google Earth’s servers in Morocco. Two further news items have surfaced that appear to confirm multiple user reports of Google Earth’s servers being inaccessible from as long ago as August 14.

That, at least, is what Maroc IT reports, in an article pretty much parrotted by France’s PC Inpact. The only problem is that both articles manage to get pretty much every other fact wrong. No, India, Israel and South Korea have not blocked access to Google Earth, only Bahrain. No, the US government has not “insisted” that Google Earth censor the White House and, where-do-they-get-this-from, large parts of Manhattan.

Best to head for the hard-core local bloggers then. Temps Libres has a blow-by-blow account of attempts to connect, and manages to localize the problem. As of yesterday, at least one provider — Maroc Télécom — has unblocked Google Earth’s servers. Temps Libres puts it succinctly:

La question qui se pose maintenant est, était ce vraiment de la censure ou bien un simple probléme technique ?, peut être qu’on ne saura jamais!

(“The question now is, was it really censorship or a simple technical problem? Perhaps we’ll never know!”)

What I really love about the censorship debates around Google Earth is that — unlike other content deemed subversive online — Google Earth can only ever be faulted for portraying reality accurately. There are no incitements to violence, nor tendentious arguments, no blasphemies, no racist or bigoted polemics, no slander, no hate speech… Just images. Governments wanting to repress access to the information in Google Earth’s databases cannot credibly justify doing so with the usual pretext of protecting the populace from moral turpitude — which didn’t stop Bahrain from trying, BTW.

Instead, arguments in favor of governmental hobbling of Google Earth have to raise the specter of public security — except that many other commonplace tools are far more dangerous, starting with cars, cell phones, GPS units, paper maps, digital cameras, laptops, the Internet itself, wire transfers… Worst of all, government bans on Google Earth merely blind the locals — everyone else is still all-seeing.

19 thoughts on “Morocco censorship? Possibly not.”

  1. Hello, I’m the owner of the blog “Temps Libres”.

    You said that yesterday AT LEAST one provider has unblocked GE, in fact ONLY Maroc Télécom has blocked it, the two other providers Maroc Connect and Meditel didn’t.

    Thanks :-)

  2. Stephan, before you get too sarchastic on TempsLibres, read his post carefully: he states: “ONLY Maroc Télécom has blocked it, the two other providers Maroc Connect and Meditel didn’t”, which indeed is the exact opposite of what the article (thus incorrectly) quoted him as saying: “at least one provider — Maroc Télécom — has unblocked Google Earth” In other words, TempsLibres is saying the line should have been “at least one provider — Maroc Télécom — has blocked Google Earth”. Notice the difference: “unblocked” v.s. “blocked”. For someone who’s mother-tongue is likely not English, he seems to have better comprehension than some woh are anglophone!

  3. I am sitting in my house in Rabat, Morocco and trying to connect to Google Earth through Maroc Telecom. I get an error message that Google Earth is unable to reach the servers. I have tried all the fixes listed in the Google help pages with no luck. Before August I was connecting fine. Now I am not. What does that tell us? I’ve never heard of Maroc Connect or Meditel as internet service providers. I’ll have to look into them.

  4. I dont believe it is about the censorship.. people just love to believe in all conspiracy theories and simular.. it must be just an error!

  5. it is a real censorship!! I can’t connect to Google Earth from Maroc Telecom without using a proxy!!

  6. I don’t remember precisely when that happened but for about a year now, I have to use a proxy to use Google Earth through Maroc Telecom.

    Why would governments want to close access to Google Earth: homeland security and people privacy are legitimate concerns.

    There may be other reasons such as protecting corrupted officials privacy and security.

    However there are other reasons why a government should like its people to have access to Google Earth: education, entertainment, information, virtual traveling (saving CO2 emissions), sharing, social networking, freedom, etc.

    So its a balancing act and in my humble opinion I would not give up all the positives to security concerns.

  7. How to you know that India, Israel and South Korea have not blocked access to Google Earth?

    I agree that the other sites to not provide sources but how to you know for sure that other countries don’t do it either?

  8. Because people there are able to connect daily. If they were not, you’d be sure they’d blog it.

  9. We are August 25th, 2007… Google earth is still blocked in Morocco….. Really disapointing!!

    More frustrating is that no one is talking about it localy… media etc….

  10. Hi guys,

    Here is a small How-to, if you’re wanting a bit of a challenge, and want to use Google Earth form Morocco.

    I’ve been using a free Anonymity program called JAP. To download Jap – http://anon.inf.tu-dresden.de/download_en.html

    (Not exactly sure how to set it up with Mac, but this is the windows side, even if Mozilla Firefox is your default web browser.)

    Also, I’m on a network, so this is the LAN settings. If you’re using a direct USB ADSL modem, you should follow step 1 till you get to Connections. Click on your connection, then click Settings. Find the proxy settings…and follow step 4. Comment on this blog with any questions…sorry not exactly sure, don’t know it off by heart…sorry ;-)

    1. Download and install Jap. Open it, allow any outgoing connections if you have a firewall, and open Internet Explorer.

    2. Click the “Tools” menu -> Internet Options -> Connections -> LAN Settings

    3. Check the boxes “Automatically detect settings” – ONLY if not checked! and check “Use a proxy server for your LAN”

    4. Insert:

    Address: 127.0.0.1 Port: 4001

    5. Click ok. Click ok again, and close Internet Explorer.

    6. Open Google Earth… and enjoy!

    7. WHEN DONE WITH GOOGLE EARTH, close Google earth, Do step 2 -> Deselect “Use a proxy server for your LAN”. Click ok, and OK again, and your settings are back as what they were before you started.

    Next time you want to use Google Earth, do step 2 & 3, and step 7 when done!

    Let me know if you have any questions!

    Bye

  11. Still CENSORED by Maroc Telecom! Same fate for LiveJournal. I am using Wana as a provider (ex Maroc Connect) and enjoying Google Earth and LiveJournal.

  12. Hi Google Earth still blocked in Morocco, Don’t know who I am connected with, but it is still blocked here in Rabat at least

  13. Greetings,

    it sucks. i need google maps to work and I don’t have access to it. I’m pretty happy with the internet connection here in Sahara, Erfoud town,but really, I mean… bastards. :S

  14. I have the confirmation from Maroc Telecom; there is no way u can access google earth servers via Maroc Telecom. Switch to another provider is the solution. if someone has THE solution without switching to another provider, I am all ears. for info I also live in Rabat. Good luck

  15. Just use a proxy software like Cproxy or freegate. use one of them. it lets you surf the Net with a US IP address.

    Use freegate because you’ll not need to make any configuration, just click on its icon and start use your preferred software or surf almost any website.

  16. Tou can also use a small program called Ultra Surf 9.2.

    It’s not necessary to install it, just open it, and you can open GE or any site.

    To exit the program just close it.

    It’s only 424 KB

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