Last Updated: Monday, 23 October 2017, 10:48 GMT

Internet Under Surveillance 2004 - Qatar

Publisher Reporters Without Borders
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Reporters Without Borders, Internet Under Surveillance 2004 - Qatar, 2004, available at: [accessed 23 October 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
  • Population: 601,000
  • Internet users: 70,000
  • Average charge for 20 hours of connection: 17 euros
  • DAI*: 0.55
  • Situation**: middling

Qatar has some of the world's best Internet facilities. It went online in 1997 and the system was first developed by the state telecommunications monopoly Q-Tel. Privately-owned ISPs were later allowed to operate.

The media is partially free, though all criticism of the Al-Thani royal family is taboo. The government says it does not censor the Internet but appears to have drawn up a list of "undesirable" websites. Q-Tel reportedly blocks access to them with special software and has the means to spy on messages sent through the other ISPs.

Growing influence of Al-Jazeera's website

The pan-Arab satellite TV station Al-Jazeera, which has more than 35 million viewers, is based in Qatar. Its website is one of the world's most frequently visited news sites. The portal Lycos said that during the Iraq war, the term "Al-Jazeera" was the most popular term typed into search-engines, three times more often than the word "sex."

The station's website,, was the target of hackers several times in 2003. During the Iraq war, a young hacker in Los Angeles, John Racine, redirected visitors to a page showing an American flag and the words "Let freedom ring." He was fined $2,000 in November 2003 by a California court that also ordered him to do 1,000 hours of community work.


* The DAI (Digital Access Index) has been devised by the International Telecommunications Union to measure the access of a country's inhabitants to information and communication technology. It ranges from 0 (none at all) to 1 (complete access).

** Assessment of the situation in each country (good, middling, difficult, serious) is based on murders, imprisonment or harassment of cyber-dissidents or journalists, censorship of news sites, existence of independent news sites, existence of independent ISPs and deliberately high connection charges.

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