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
Islam 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
Since 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 prosecutor 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."
6. Saudi Arabia: Focusing on Islamic Immorality
Online exchanges are considered to be a factor in immorality. Posting a comment on a Web site deemed "immoral" by the authorities can lead to arrest. Security services and courts base judgments on vague and extremely broad notions of criminal law, which is easy to do when you have no written criminal code. Because of this, Web sites that promote exchanges between bloggers, such as virtual social networking sites such as MySpace and Tagged, are inaccessible in the kingdom. Certain sites allowing users to get around online censorship are also blocked, as is the Arabic version of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. The government also bans any sites that have anything to do with sexuality in order to "protect citizens from content that is offensive or violates the principles of the Islamic religion and social norms."