In the recent weeks, The Freedom House has published a very good report about Internet Freedom, “Freedom on the Net 2011”, that is a global assessment of Internet and digital media This 45 pages report says: “Freedom on the Net aims to measure each countrys level of internet and new media freedom. Each country receives a numerical score from 0 (the most free) to 100 (the least free), which serves as the basis for an internet freedom status designation of Free (0-30 points), Partly Free (31-60 points), or Not Free (61-100). This means: The lesser points, the better. Total points is a combination of the points of “Obstacles to Access”, “Limit on Contents”, and “Violations of User Rights”. ” Now lets take a look at parts of the report’s findings:
|Rank||Country||Total points||Obstacles to Access||Limit on Contents||Violations of User Rights|
The report says: “In the survey of 37 countries, only 8 qualified as having completely “Free” Internets, while 11 were designated “Not Free” and the remainder were “Partly Free.”… Over two billion people now have access to the internet, and the figure has more than doubled in the past five years. However, as more people use the internet to communicate, obtain information, socialize, and conduct commerce, governments have stepped up efforts to regulate, and in some instances tightly control, the new medium … In 12 of the 37 countries examined, the authorities consistently or temporarily imposed total bans on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, or equivalent services. Moreover, the increased user participation facilitated by the new platforms has exposed ordinary people to some of the same punishments faced by well-known bloggers, online journalists, and human rights activists … Of the 37 countries examined, the governments of 15 were found to engage in substantial blocking of politically relevant content. Website blocking is typically implemented by ISPs acting on instructions from a government agent, judge, or other appointed entity, whose orders may apply to a particular domain name, an internet-protocol (IP) address, or a specific URL … Two of the countries categorized by Freedom House as electoral democracies, Turkey and South Korea, were also found to engage in substantial political censorship. In Turkey, a range of advanced web applications were blocked, including the video-sharing website YouTube, which was not accessible in Turkey from May 2008 to October 2010. South Korean authorities blocked access to an estimated 65 North Korearelated sites, including the official North Korean Twitter account, launched in August 2010. Meanwhile, the governments of Australia, Indonesia, and Italy introduced proposals that would enable automated filtering by ISPs , create a state-led multimedia content screening entity, and extend prescreening requirements from television broadcasting to video-hosting websites, respectively … Users need special skills and knowledge to overcome blockages in countries such as China and Iran, where filtering methods are more sophisticated and the authorities devote considerable resources to limiting the effectiveness of circumvention tools … Some governments and their sympathizers are increasingly using technical attacks to disrupt activists online networks, eavesdrop on their communications, and cripple their websites. Such attacks were reported in at least 12 of the countries covered in this study … In about a third of the states examined, the authorities have exploited their control over infrastructure to limit widespread access to politically and socially controversial content, or in extreme cases, to cut off access to the internet entirely. This centralization can take several forms. In Ethiopia and Cuba, (and Iran) for example, state-run telecommunications companies hold a monopoly on internet service, giving them unchecked control over users ability to communicate with one another and the outside world. Elsewhere, the state-run companys control of the market is not complete, but its dominance is sufficient to significantly influence peoples access to information. Thus when CANTV in Venezuelaor Kazakhtelecom in Kazakhstan block a website, it becomes inaccessible to the vast majority of internet users.
The report Adds: “Of the 37 countries assessed, 19 had at least a partially centralized and government controlled international connection. Authorities in at least 12 of these were known to have used their leverage to restrict users access to politically relevant information or engage in widespread surveillance. Egypt joined the list in January 2011, when officials shut down the internet nationwide for five days in an unsuccessful attempt to curb antigovernment protests. … In addition to outright shutdowns, a centralized, state-controlled internet infrastructure facilitates two other types of restrictions: the deliberate slowing of connection speeds and the imposition of a nationwide system of filtering and surveillance. During opposition protests in Iran in the summer of 2009, authorities sharply reduced the speed of network traffic, making it difficult to conduct basic online activities like opening e-mail messages. Uploading a single image could take up to an hour . … The prime example of a centralized filtering system is Chinas so-called Great Firewall, but other countries, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, also use such systems to enforce nationwide censorship and monitor dissident activity … During postelection protests in Iran, for example, government supporters (Basiji thugs) posted fake user-generated content to Twitter and YouTube to mislead protesters and journalists … Internet users in Thailand have played a significant role in challenging the political establishment and the role of the monarchy in Thai politics since the military coup of 2006. Restrictions intensified between April and December 2010, when a state of emergency allowed the authorities to extrajudicially block any website. Dozens of people have been charged under various laws for expressing their views online, particularly those that are critical of the monarchy. As of the end of 2010, many of these cases had yet to be decided. The countrys political turmoil has continued, and parliamentary elections are tentatively scheduled for December 2011, raising the likelihood of additional backsliding on freedom of expression issues. In a worrying sign, a Thai judge in March 2011 sentenced a web developer to 13 years in prison for comments he posted and for refusing to remove the remarks of others. ”
The report Adds: “Greater efforts to Russia prepares for parliamentary elections in December 2011 and a presidential election in early 2012. In March 2011, bloggers reportedly uncovered evidence that Russian officials were hiring users to post comments that would shape a positive image of the ruling United Russia party and form a negative attitude toward the author of a targeted blog. In Venezuela in December 2010 of laws that increased state control over telecommunications networks and laid the foundation for website managers and service providers to be required to censor the comments of users. Hugo Chavez had declared in March 2010 that the internet could not be a free thing where you do and say whatever you want, and pro-government lawmakers were spurred to act in December following opposition gains in September parliamentary elections. The country is now preparing for a presidential election in 2012, and the state-run telecommunications firm CANTV has a record of apparently restricting access to websites and blogs at sensitive times, suggesting that there is a strong possibility of increased censorship and harassment of internet users in the coming months … Although China is home to the worlds largest population of internet users -numbering 446 million by the end of 2010- the countrys internet environment remains one of the worlds most restrictive, characterized by a sophisticated, multilayered control apparatus. In 2009 and 2010, this system was further enhanced, institutionalized, and decentralized … Since June 2009, an increasing number of bloggers have been threatened, arrested, tortured, and kept in solitary confinement, and at least one blogger died in custody. Over 50 bloggers and online activists have been arrested, and a dozen remained in detention at the end of 2010. The Iranian authorities have taken a range of measures to monitor online communications, and a number of protesters who were put on trial after the election were indicted for their activities on websites ” The report is not complete and many critical facts about Iran, or maybe other countries, should be added in it. But the report gives us a big picture of the globe and what happens in different countries. Iran is the least free country in the world, and it’s totally true. The internet speed is so slow, and the internet censorship is very severe. The report can show the world how we live in Iran, with such difficulty and under such threat.