10. Cuba: Suppresing the Tendency to Social Dangerousness
First, the good news: since Raul Castro took power it is no longer an offense to own a laptop computer or a mobile telephone. Now, the bad news: very few can afford to own a laptop computer or a mobile telephone. For those who can afford it, Cuban Internet users face up to 20 years in prison if they post an article considered to be "counter-revolutionary" on a foreign-hosted Web site, and five years if they connect illegally to the international network. In one such case, in 2007, journalist Oscar Sanchez Madan, correspondent for Cubanet in Matanzas province, was sentenced to four years in prison "for tendency to social dangerousness."9. Uzbekistan: Freedom to Inform the Public Has Been Cancelled
Karimov, who was re-elected head of state in 2007, exercises very tight
control over the Internet. Web sites
do not have to register with the authorities, but everything is
centralized and the government blocks access to most independent sites
that criticize its policies. State network, UzPak, has been the only
one in the country since 2005 and all access providers have to connect
via this network. The law
on media freedom, adopted in 2003, imposes a series of restrictions on
the circulation of news online. The law states the "freedom
to inform the public can be limited in the name of the protection...of
the community's moral values, national security and the country's
spiritual, cultural and scientific potential." The vague formulation of
these principles leaves wide scope for interpretation and for extensive
and abusive censorship.
8. Egypt: Your Papers, Please
the beginning of 2007, the government has stepped up its
surveillance of the Web in the name of the fight against terrorism.
Officials monitor information exchanged online and cybercafes have to
obtain a license from the telecommunications ministry under threat of
closure. Some cybercafe owners have said that they had been ordered to
note and file all their customers' identity card numbers. Large numbers
of people use these cybercafes that are under surveillance because the
charges are so much lower than that of individual subscriptions.
To connect to the wireless network, a customer has to provide a mobile phone number and some personal data such as identity card numbers, address and so on, which gives rise to concerns about freedom of speech.
7. Iran: Death to Bloggers
Iran leads the way in the Middle East in repression of the Internet. According to the Tehran
general's adviser, the authorities blocked five million Web sites in 2008. Since
2003, the government has a commission dedicated to
establishing a blacklist of Web sites seen as illegal, including
YouTube, Facebook and Orkut. A draft law from 2008 -- soon to be
approved -- doles out the death penalty for the "creation of blogs and Web sites promoting corruption,
prostitution and apostasy."