Report Names Top 10 Enemies of Internet Freedom
5. North Korea: Censored Searches and Government Approved News Sites
The North Korean Internet operates like an Intranet that provides e-mail, a censored search engine, a browser and a few news sites carefully chosen by the government. The only available Web pages are approved by the authorities and come from the data banks of the Democratic People's Republic's three largest libraries. To get on the network, cyber cafe owners must obtain permission from the official Korean Computer Center which controls all online information. And then there's this from the Reporters Without Borders report: The regime launched its first mobile phone service in November 2002 but soon banned citizens from using it, confining this privilege to the military elite.
4. Burma: 15 Years in Prison for Importing Modems
Currently, only 0.1 percent of Burmese connect to the Internet inside the country. Government authorization is required to get an Internet connection at home and service providers charge prohibitive prices for membership. Burma's laws relating to electronic communications and the dissemination of news online are among the most dissuasive in the world with Internet users subject to very harsh prison sentences for criticizing the government. The law bans the import, possession and use of a modem without official permission, under threat of a 15-year prison sentence for "damaging state security, national unity, culture, the national economy and law and order." A total of 14 journalists and two bloggers are currently in prison in Burma.
3. Syria: There Is No Need for Proof
After China and Vietnam, the Syrian Arab Republic is one of the world's most repressive countries
towards Internet users. Surveillance and censorship are commonplace on the
Syrian Web. The Syrian Computer Society, the country's leading access
provider, can intercept e-mails to monitor
dissidents and the government declared in 2007 that Web site owners should keep personal details of authors
of articles and comments. The government sent a notice to
the same Web site owners telling them to make public the names of authors and
commentators contributing to their sites, under threat of closure of
their sites. The government added, "There is no need for proof to know that some
articles and comments are false and that some expressions conflict with
freedom of speech. Those who publicize them are guilty of defamation or
violating public morals." Skype, Facebook, Amazon and YouTube are all banned in Syria.
2. Vietnam: Suppressing All Online Activities That Harm National Interests
2002, Vietnam has equipped itself
with a cyber police force that filters "subversive" content and keeps
cyber cafes under surveillance. The government, a shareholder in all
access providers, follows the Vietnam law to the letter, which
dictates, "The state
must suppress all activities in the fields of culture and information
that harm national interests, destroy the personality, moral values and
lifestyle of the Vietnamese people." It is now illegal for a blogger to
post articles under another identity, and blogs can only carry strictly
personal information while being banned from putting out "press
articles, literary works or other publications banned by the press
law." As Vietnam Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Do
Quy Doan said, "Bloggers are supervised to prevent them from entering
illegality or putting out false information: criticizing the
fatherland, the work of constructing the country, denigrating and
damaging the honor and human dignity of an individual, and
organization, dividing the unity of the nation."
1. China: Leading the World in Repression of the Internet
According to Reporters Without Borders, the Chinese government has the "sorry distinction of leading the world in repression of the Internet." One of the world's most blatant censors, nearly 40,000 employees of the state and the party monitor files circulating on the Internet. The government filters news through the use of key words. These banned words can sometimes be replaced by asterisks and controlled by moderators before they are posted online. The largest blog platform used in the country is monitored by the information ministry with all the blogs on the platform easily controlled by the government if the site content is determined to be contrary to the Communist Party's principles. In 2008, nearly 3,000 news Web sites were made inaccessible within the country. Currently, 49 cyber dissidents and bloggers are behind bars, most of them for "revealing state secrets abroad."