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Syria Bans iPhones to Prevent Citizen Journalism

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Looking at the Twitter-centric uprisings in the Arab world this year, as well as the smartphone-documented protests related to the Occupy movement, demonstrations and revolts now have a worldwide audience. The ubiquity of iPhone (AAPL), Android (GOOG), BlackBerry (RIMM) and Windows (MSFT) devices have a created an online network of texts, images, and videos of every assembly -- no matter how small. Whether it's the solidarity of the participants or an officer abusing his power, the good, the bad, and the ugly are all on display.

Naturally, authorities aren't too happy about this.

While officers have confiscated cameras or arrested licensed members of the press stateside, Syria has done us one better: It's simply banned iPhones altogether.

BBC News reports that the customs department of the Syrian finance ministry has issued a statement warning its citizens "against using the iPhone in Syria." According to the statement, authorities now have permission to confiscate and prosecute anyone found with an iPhone -- much less using one. And the ban also extends to the import of iPhones.

Since the uprising began in Syria, most international news outlets have also been banned from recording footage of the protests. So smartphone cameras are one of the last methods of documenting the bloody revolt -- which the UN estimates is responsible for 4,000 deaths since March.

Although it's an oppressive measure to ban iPhones -- one that goes beyond the justifiable limits of sound judgment or human decency -- let's hope the specificity of the ban means that Android, BlackBerry, and Windows devices are still permitted.

(See also: Carrier IQ and Friends Nailed With Inevitable Lawsuits and Google Engineer Calls Google+ a Complete Failure)

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