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Iran, China, Burma are All Enemies of the Internet

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2005 7:40 pm    Post subject: Iran, China, Burma are All Enemies of the Internet Reply with quote

Iran, China, Burma are All Enemies of the Internet

November 17, 2005
Reporters Without Borders


Reporters Without Borders marks the World Summit on the Information Society by presenting 15 countries that are “enemies of the Internet” and pointing to a dozen others whose attitude to it is worrying.

The 15 “enemies” are the countries that crack down hardest on the Internet, censoring independent news sites and opposition publications, monitoring the Web to stifle dissident voices, and harassing, intimidating and sometimes imprisoning Internet users and bloggers who deviate from the regime’s official line.

The “countries to watch” do not have much in common with the "enemies of the Internet." The plight of a Chinese Internet user, who risks prison by mentioning human rights in an online forum, does not compare with the situation of a user in France or the United States. Yet many countries that have so far respected online freedom seem these days to want to control the Internet more. Their often laudable aims include fighting terrorism, paedophilia and Internet-based crime, but the measures sometimes threaten freedom of expression.

The 15 enemies of the Internet
(in alphabetical order)

- Belarus
The regime uses its monopoly of the communications system to block access to opposition websites when it chooses, especially at election time. President Alexander Lukashenko dislikes criticism, as shown by the harassment in August 2005 of youngsters who were posting satirical cartoons online.

- Burma
This country is among the very worst enemies of Internet freedom and in many ways its policies are worse than China’s. The price of computers and a home Internet connection is prohibitive so Internet cafés are the target of the military regime’s scrutiny. As in neighbouring Vietnam and China, access to opposition sites is systematically blocked, in this case with technology supplied by the US firm Fortinet. Burma’s censorship is special - Web-based e-mail, such as Yahoo ! or Hotmail, cannot be used and all Internet café computers record every five minutes the screen being consulted, to spy on what customers are doing.

- China
China was one the first repressive countries to grasp the importance of the Internet and of controlling it. It is also one of the few countries that has managed to “sanitise” the Internet by blocking access to all criticism of the regime while at the same time expanding it (China has more than 130 million users). The secret of this success is a clever mix of filter technology, repression and diplomacy. Along with effective spying and censorship technology, the regime is also very good at intimidating users and forcing them to censor their own material. China is the world’s biggest prison for cyber-dissidents, with 62 in prison for what they posted online.

- Cuba
President Fidel Castro’s regime has long been good at tapping phones and these days is just as skilled when it comes to the Internet. The Chinese model of expanding the Internet while keeping control of it is too costly, so the regime has simply put the Internet out of reach for virtually the entire population. Being online in Cuba is a rare privilege and requires special permission for the ruling Communist Party. When a user does manage to get connected, often illegally, it is only to a highly-censored version of the Internet.

- Iran The information ministry boasts that it currently blocks access to hundreds of thousands of websites, especially those dealing in any way with sex but also those providing any kind of independent news. A score of bloggers were thrown in prison between autumn 2004 and summer 2005. One of them, Mojtaba Saminejad, 23, has been held since February 2005 and was given a two-year sentence in June for supposedly insulting the country’s Supreme Guide, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

- Libya
With nearly a million people online (about a sixth of the population), Libya could be a model of Internet expansion in the Arab world. But it has no independent media, so the Internet is controlled, with access blocked to dissident exile sites by filters installed by the regime, which is also now targeting cyber-dissidents, with the January 2005 arrest of former bookseller Abdel Razak al-Mansouri, who posted satirical articles on a London-based website. He was sentence in October to 18 months in prison for supposed “illegal possession of a gun.”

- The Maldives
The archipelago is a paradise for tourists but a nightmare for cyber-dissidents. The 25-year regime of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom cracks down harshly on freedom of expression. Several opposition websites are filtered and one of four people arrested in 2002 is still in prison for helping to produce an e-mailed newsletter. A British company, Cable & Wireless, controls Internet access in the country.

- Nepal
King Gyanendra’s first reflex when he seized power in February 2005 was to cut off Internet access to the outside world. It has since been restored, but the regime continues to control it and most online opposition publications, especially those seen as close to the Maoist rebels, have been blocked inside the country. Bloggers discussing politics or human rights do so under constant pressure from the authorities.

- North Korea
The country is the most closed-off in the world and the government, which has total control of the media, refused until recently to be connected to the Internet. Only a few thousand privileged people have access to it and then only to a heavily-censored version, including about 30 sites praising the regime. Among these is www.uriminzokkiri.com, which has photos and adulation of the “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il and his late father Kim Il Sung.

- Saudi Arabia
The government agency in charge of “cleaning up” the Web, the Internet Service Unit (ISU), boasts that it currently bars access to nearly 400,000 sites with the aim of protecting citizens from content that is offensive or violates Islamic principles and social standards. The sites blocked deal mainly with sex, politics or religion (except those about Islam that are approved by the regime). This censorship regularly affects blogging, and blogger.com was made inaccessible for several days in October 2005.

- Syria
The accession to power of President Bashar el-Assad in 2000 raised hopes of greater freedom of expression, but these were disappointed. The regime restricts Internet access to a minority of privileged people, filters the Web and very closely monitors online activity. A Kurdish journalism student is in prison for posting photos on a foreign-based site of a demonstration in Damascus. Another Internet user was freed in August 2005 after more than two years in prison for simply passing by e-mail on a foreign-produced newsletter. Both were tortured in prison.

- Tunisia
President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, whose family has a monopoly on Internet access inside the country, has installed a very effective system of censoring the Internet. All opposition publications are blocked, along with many other news sites. The regime also tries to discourage use of webmail because it is harder to spy on than standard mail programmes that use Outlook. The Reporters Without Borders site cannot be seen inside Tunisia. The government also jails cyber-dissidents and in April 2005, pro-democracy lawyer Mohammed Abbou was given a three-and-a-half-year sentence for criticising the president online. Yet Tunisia seems well thought-of by the international community for its management of the Internet since it has been chosen the International Telecommunication Union to host the second stage of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in November 2005.

- Turkmenistan
No independent media exists here under the dictatorship of megalomaniac Stalinist President Neparmurad Nyazov. As in Cuba and North Korea, the regime takes a radical attitude to the Internet and keeps virtually all citizens away from it, with home connections not allowed. There are no Internet cafés and the Web is only accessible through certain companies and international organisations. Even when connected, it is only to a censored version of the Internet.

- Uzbekistan
President Islam Karimov proclaimed the “era of the Internet” in his country in May 2001. Online facilities have expanded rapidly but so has censorship of them. The state security service frequently asks ISPs to temporarily block access to opposition sites. Since June 2005, some Internet cafés in the capital have displayed warnings that users will be fined 5,000 soms (4 euros) for looking at pornographic sites and 10,000 (8 euros) for consulting banned political sites.

- Vietnam
The country closely follows the Chinese method of controlling the Internet, but though more ideologically rigid, the regime does not have the money and technology China has to do this. It has Internet police who filter out “subversive” content and spy on cybercafés. Cyber-dissidents are thrown in prison and three have been in jail for more than three years for daring to speak out online in favour of democracy.

Countries to watch
(in alphabetical order)

- Bahrain
Except for pornographic sites, Bahrain does not censor the Internet much. But it has unfortunately begun to regulate it in ways that endanger freedom of expression. The government said in April 2004 that all online publications, including forums and blogs, must be officially registered. Loud protests led to suspension of the measure but it is still on the books. Three editors of a forum were held for nearly two weeks in March 2005 for allowing “defamation” of the king to be posted.

- Egypt
The government has taken steps since 2001 to control online material. Though censorship is minor, some criticism of the government is not welcome. The government seems unsure what to do about the explosion of blogs, being more used to pressuring the traditional media. A blogger was arrested for the first time in late October 2005 because of the content of his blog.

- European Union
The EU is responsible for regulating the Internet and rulings often apply to member-states. A European directive on 8 June 2000 about e-commerce proved a threat to freedom of expression, by making ISPs responsible for the content of websites they host and requiring them to block any page they consider illegal when informed of its existence. This creates a private system of justice, where the ISP is called on to decide what is illegal or not. Technicians thus do the job of a judge. The EU is now studying a proposal to oblige ISPs to retain records of customers’ online activity. The proposal could limit Internet users’ right to privacy.

- Kazakhstan
The media here, including the Internet, are under official pressure and control of online publications has become a key issue because many government scandals have been exposed on websites. President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s regime added new sites to its blacklist in January 2005, including that of a democratic opposition party. In October, an opposition site was forced to give up its national domain name (.kz) after officially-inspired legal action.

- Malaysia
Government intimidation of online journalists and bloggers has increased in the past three years, notably of Malaysiakini, the country’s only independent online daily whose journalists have been threatened and its premises searched. Summonses and questioning of bloggers has been stepped up recently, leading to self-censorship that harms democracy.

- Singapore
The government does not filter the Internet much but is good at intimidating users and bloggers and website editors have very little room for manoeuvre. A blogger who criticised the country’s university system was forced to shut down his blog in May 2005 after official pressure.

- South Korea
The country is the fourth most-wired country in the world but it excessively filters the Internet, blocking mainly pornographic sites but also publications that supposedly “disturb public order,” including pro-North Korean sites. The government is very sensitive to political opinions expressed online and punishes Internet users they consider go too far. Two users were briefly detained and then fined in 2004 for posting pictures online making fun of opposition figures.

- Thailand
The government filters the Internet as part of its fight against pornography and has used it to extend censorship well beyond this. The method employed is also sly, since when a user tries to access a banned site, a message comes back saying “bad gateway,” instead of the usual “access refused” or “site not found.” In June 2005, the websites of two community radio stations very critical of the government were shut down after it pressed their ISP to do so.

- United States
US policy towards the Internet is important because it is the country where the Internet began. But its laws about interception of online traffic do not provide enough privacy guarantees for users. Leading US Internet firms such as Yahoo !, Cisco Systems and Microsoft are also working with censorship authorities in China, thus throwing doubt on the US commitment to freedom of expression. The United States, home of the First Amendment, the Internet and blogs, should be a model for respecting the rights of Internet users.

- Zimbabwe
The local media says the government is about to take delivery of Chinese equipment and technology to spy on the Internet. The state telecoms monopoly TelOne asked ISPs in June 2004 to sign contracts allowing it to monitor e-mail traffic and requiring them to take steps to stop illegal material being posted. Since political opposition seems to be regarded as illegal by President Robert Mugabe, this is bad news for the country’s Internet users.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2005 9:01 pm    Post subject: Freedom in the World 2005 Reply with quote

Source: http://www.freedomhouse.org/research/freeworld/2005/table2005.pdf

Freedom in the World 2005
Table of Independent Countries
Comparative Measures of Freedom

Country PR CL Freedom Rating
Afghanistan 55 6 Not Free
Albania 3 3 Partly Free
Algeria 6 5 Not Free
Andorra 1 1 Free
Angola 6 5 Not Free
Antigua and Barbuda 25 2 Free
Argentina 2 2 Free
Armenia 56 4 Partly Free
Australia 1 1 Free
Austria 1 1 Free
Azerbaijan 6 5 Not Free
Bahamas 1 1 Free
Bahrain 5 5 Partly Free
Bangladesh 4 4 Partly Free
Barbados 1 1 Free
Belarus 76 6 Not Free
Belgium 1 1 Free
Belize 1 2 Free
Benin 2 2 Free
Bhutan 6 5 Not Free
Bolivia 3 3 Partly Free
Bosnia-Herzegovina 4 35 Partly Free
Botswana 2 2 Free
Brazil 2 3 Free
Brunei 6 5 Not Free
Bulgaria 1 2 Free
Burkina Faso 56 4 Partly Free
Burma 7 7 Not Free
Burundi 5 5 Partly Free
Cambodia 6 5 Not Free
Cameroon 6 6 Not Free
Canada 1 1 Free
Cape Verde 1 1 Free
Freedom in the World 2005
Central African Republic 65 5 Not Free
Chad 6 5 Not Free
Chile 1 1 Free
China 7 6 Not Free
Colombia 4 4 Partly Free
Comoros 45 4 Partly Free
Congo (Brazzaville) 5 4 Partly Free
Congo (Kinshasa) 6 6 Not Free
Costa Rica 1 15 Free
Cote d’Ivoire 6 66 Not Free
Croatia 2 2 Free
Cuba 7 7 Not Free
Cyprus (G) 1 1 Free
Czech Republic 1 15 Free
Denmark 1 1 Free
Djibouti 5 5 Partly Free
Dominica 1 1 Free
Dominican Republic 25 2 Free
East Timor 3 3 Partly Free
Ecuador 3 3 Partly Free
Egypt 6 55 Not Free
El Salvador 2 3 Free
Equatorial Guinea 7 6 Not Free
Eritrea 7 6 Not Free
Estonia 1 15 Free
Ethiopia 5 5 Partly Free
Fiji 4 3 Partly Free
Finland 1 1 Free
France 1 1 Free
Gabon 5 4 Partly Free
The Gambia 4 4 Partly Free
Georgia 35 4 Partly Free
Germany 1 1 Free
Ghana 2 2 Free
Greece 1 2 Free
Grenada 1 2 Free
Guatemala 4 4 Partly Free
Guinea 6 5 Not Free
Guinea-Bissau 45 4 Partly Free
Guyana 2 2 Free
Haiti 76 6 Not Free
Honduras 3 3 Partly Free
Hungary 1 15 Free
Iceland 1 1 Free
Freedom in the World 2005
India 2 3 Free
Indonesia 3 4 Partly Free
Iran 6 6 Not Free
Iraq 7 5 Not Free
Ireland 1 1 Free
Israel 1 3 Free
Italy 1 1 Free
Jamaica 2 3 Free
Japan 1 2 Free
Jordan 5 45 Partly Free
Kazakhstan 6 5 Not Free
Kenya 3 3 Partly Free
Kiribati 1 1 Free
Kuwait 4 5 Partly Free
Kyrgyzstan 6 5 Not Free
Laos 7 6 Not Free
Latvia 1 2 Free
Lebanon 6 5 Not Free
Lesotho 2 3 Free
Liberia 55 45 Partly Free
Libya 7 7 Not Free
Liechtenstein 1 1 Free
Lithuania 26 2 Free
Luxembourg 1 1 Free
Macedonia 3 3 Partly Free
Madagascar 3 3 Partly Free
Malawi 46 4 Partly Free
Malaysia 45 4 Partly Free
Maldives 6 5 Not Free
Mali 2 2 Free
Malta 1 1 Free
Marshall Islands 1 1 Free
Mauritania 6 5 Not Free
Mauritius 1 15 Free
Mexico 2 2 Free
Micronesia 1 1 Free
Moldova 3 4 Partly Free
Monaco 2 1 Free
Mongolia 2 2 Free
Morocco 5 45 Partly Free
Mozambique 3 4 Partly Free
Namibia 2 3 Free
Nauru 1 1 Free
Nepal 5 56 Partly Free
Netherlands 1 1 Free
Freedom in the World 2005
New Zealand 1 1 Free
Nicaragua 3 3 Partly Free
Niger 35 35 Partly Free
Nigeria 4 4 Partly Free
North Korea 7 7 Not Free
Norway 1 1 Free
Oman 6 5 Not Free
Pakistan 6 5 Not Free
Palau 1 1 Free
Panama 1 2 Free
Papua New Guinea 3 3 Partly Free
Paraguay 3 3 Partly Free
Peru 2 3 Free
Philippines 2 3 Free
Poland 1 15 Free
Portugal 1 1 Free
Qatar 6 55 Not Free
Romania 36 2 Free
Russia 66 5 Not Free
Rwanda 6 5 Not Free
Saint Kitts and Nevis 1 2 Free
Saint Lucia 1 2 Free
Saint Vincent and Grenadines 2 1 Free
Samoa 2 2 Free
San Marino 1 1 Free
Sao Tome and Principe 2 2 Free
Saudi Ara bia 7 7 Not Free
Senegal 2 3 Free
Serbia and Montenegro 3 2 Free
Seychelles 3 3 Partly Free
Sierra Leon 4 3 Partly Free
Singapore 5 4 Partly Free
Slovakia 1 15 Free
Slovenia 1 1 Free
Solomon Islands 3 3 Partly Free
Somalia 6 7 Not Free
South Africa 1 2 Free
South Korea 15 2 Free
Spain 1 1 Free
Sri Lanka 3 3 Partly Free
Sudan 7 7 Not Free
Suriname 1 2 Free
Swaziland 7 5 Not Free
Sweden 1 1 Free
Switzerland 1 1 Free
Freedom in the World 2005
Syria 7 7 Not Free
Taiwan 2 15 Free
Tajikistan 6 5 Not Free
Tanzania 4 3 Partly Free
Thailand 2 3 Free
Togo 6 5 Not Free
Tonga 5 3 Partly Free
Trinidad and Tobago 3 3 Partly Free
Tunisia 6 5 Not Free
Turkey 3 35 Partly Free
Turkmenistan 7 7 Not Free
Tuvalu 1 1 Free
Uganda 5 4 Partly Free
Ukraine 4 35 Partly Free
United Arab Emirates 6 6 Not Free
United Kingdom 1 1 Free
United States 1 1 Free
Uruguay 1 1 Free
Uzbekistan 7 6 Not Free
Vanuatu 2 2 Free
Venezuela 3 4 Partly Free
Vietnam 7 6 Not Free
Yemen 5 5 Partly Free
Zambia 4 4 Partly Free
Zimbabwe 76 6 Not Free

PR and CL stand for Political Rights and Civil Liberties, respectively; 1 represents the most
free and 7 the least free rating.
5 6 up or down indicates a change in Political Rights or Civil Liberties since the last survey
The freedom ratings reflect an overall judgment based on survey results.
NOTE: The ratings in this table reflect global events from December 1, 2003, through

November 30, 2004.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2005 10:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Leading US Internet firms such as Yahoo !, Cisco Systems and Microsoft are also working with censorship authorities in China, thus throwing doubt on the US commitment to freedom of expression.

This point cannot be overstated. I have come across this fact repeatedly. What disappoints me about the US repeatedly is their hypocricy. They talk a lot about justice and freedom, blah blah blah, but their actions sometimes point to their less virtuous side.

It seems freedom, justice, and human rights are important, so long as they don't interfere with the most noble of all causes: the pursuit of the mighty Dollar. As usual, ethics take a back seat to this Green Overlord.
I am Dariush the Great King, King of Kings, King of countries containing all kinds of men, King in this great earth far and wide, son of Hystaspes, an Achaemenian, a Persian, son of a Persian, an Aryan, having Aryan lineage

Naqshe Rostam
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