Report Names Top 10 Enemies of Internet Freedom

Reporters Without Borders calls out some of the most Internet-repressing countries in the world. In addition to tagging 12 countries as enemies of the Internet, the group also names another 10 countries -- including Australia and South Korea -- as threatening the Internet freedoms of their people.

Round up the usual suspects.

Reporters Without Borders March 12 issued its "Enemies of the Internet" list which examines Internet censorship and other threats to online free expression in 22 countries. We're not talking network management issues here but, rather, the imprisonment of cyber dissidents, online news and information censorship and government-sponsored efforts to scramble or jam online content.

It's not a pretty picture. Twelve of the countries called out by Reporters Without Borders -- 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," according to the report.

Another 10 countries, including Australia and South Korea, have been been placed on the free press organization's watch list. Australia made the list for a draft law requiring service providers to provide two connections per household: one for adults and the other for children. Both connections would be subject to strict and private filtering. In addition, since 2001, Australian law has allowed an independent agency to intercept all suspect e-mails and to carry out independent investigations, including in the absence of any prior judicial authorization.

South Korea, one of the world's most-connected countries, made the Reporters Without Borders watch list for the January arrest of a blogger for having affected "financial exchanges in the markets" as well as the "credibility of the nation" because of articles he posted on one of the country's largest discussion forums. He is still being held in detention.

But those transgressions pale in comparison to how countries such as China, Vietnam and Syria deal with dissent coming from the Internet.

"All these countries distinguish themselves not only by their ability to censor online news and information but also by their virtually systematic persecution of troublesome Internet users," the report states. "Not only is the Internet more and more controlled, but new forms of censorship are emerging based on the manipulation of information."

Globally, a total of 70 cyber dissidents are currently in jail because of what they posted online. China is the world's biggest prison for cyber dissidents, followed by Vietnam and Iran.

A look at some of the world's worse Internet enemies.