Iraqis Log On to Voice Chat

by Steve Mallett

Related link:,1282,59786,00.html

From this morning's Wired News:

Baghdad resident Usama Kamil Al-Sharqi paid a taxi driver $50 in 2001 to smuggle him a copy of Yahoo Instant Messenger on a CD-ROM from a friend in Jordan.

It was a high price to pay for a program that has been downloaded for free by millions of people around the world. But Al-Sharqi says he would have paid an even steeper price had the regime of Saddam Hussein, which banned the use of instant messaging software, found out about it.

"If the government knew what I was doing, I am sure they would kill me, because they would think I was a spy," says Al-Sharqi.

Today, with Saddam toppled, Iraq's State Company for Internet Services has lifted its prohibition on IM. At Internet cafes around Baghdad run by SCIS and its newly launched competitors, IM has become -- figuratively rather than literally -- a "killer app."

I wonder what my encrypted email, once picked up by gov't spookware, would think I was?