Enemies of the internet

April 16, 2009 at 9:17 pm (Uncategorized)

Reporters Without Borders recently published its ‘Enemies of the Internet’ report which examines internet censorship and other threats to online free expression in 22 countries. “The 12 ‘Enemies of the Internet’ – Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam – have all transformed their Internet into an Intranet in order to prevent their population from accessing ‘undesirable’ online information,” Reporters Without Borders said.

The list consists of countries that RSF believes are suppressing freedom of expression on the internet.

The civil liberties pressure group has organised a 24-hour protest, inviting web users to vote for the worst offending countries.

Visitors to the RSF website are also invited to leave a voice message for Yahoo’s co-founder Jerry Yang, expressing their views on the firm’s involvement in China.

Yahoo's co-founder Jerry Yang

Many of those on the internet blacklist are countries that are regularly criticised by human rights groups, such as China and Burma.

Egypt is a new entrant and has been shortlisted for its attitude to bloggers rather than specific web censorship, said RSF.

“Three bloggers have been arrested and detained this year for speaking out in favour of democratic reform. This is an appeal to the Egyptian government to change its position,” said the RSF spokesman.

“The fact that this year we have removed three countries from the list is encouraging. It shows that the situation can change for the better,” he added.

On a visit to Libya, Reporters Without Borders found that the Libyan internet was no longer censored although it still considers President Maummar Gaddafi to be a “predator of press freedom”.

According to RWB, all 12 have transformed their Internet into an “Intranet in order to prevent their population from accessing ‘undesirable’ online information.”

Reporters Without Borders has also placed 10 other governments “under surveillance” for adopting worrying measures that could open the way to abuses, and draws attention to Australia and South Korea, where they say recent measures may endanger online free expression.

“Orchestrating the posting of comments on popular websites or organizing hacker attacks is also used by repressive regimes to scramble or jam online content,” RWB adds, noting that 70 cyber-dissidents are currently detained because of what they posted online, and that China is the world’s biggest prison for cyber-dissidents, followed by Vietnam and Iran.

Notably, Iraq did not make it onto RWB’s list.

This is a youtube clip showing a ‘Reporters Without Borders’ member protesting at the Bejing Olympics.


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