In March 2011, the government of President Bashar Al-Assad violently cracked down on peaceful demonstrations calling for democratic reforms. The authorities strengthened their control over all means of communication, including the Internet. This was relatively straightforward because of the stranglehold the authorities and the Assad family have over the telecoms infrastructure through three companies – the Syrian Telecommunications Establishment (STE), the Syrian Computer Society (SCS) and Syriatel. These companies ensured a reduction in Internet capacity in order to slow down the circulation of news and images of the demonstrations and the subsequent crackdown. With the help of units within the security services, they can deploy a whole armoury of weapons to monitor the Web and trace activists and dissidents.