Freedom On The Net 2012 : A Global Assesment Of Internet And Digital Media

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Publisher Freedom House
Year of Publication 2012
Category Report
County All/General
Description As of 2012, nearly a third of the worlds population has used the internet, and an even greater portion possesses a mobile phone. The internet has transformed the way in which people obtain news, conduct business, communicate with one another, socialize, and interact with public officials. Concerned with the power of new technologies to catalyze political change, many authoritarian states have taken various measures to filter, monitor, or otherwise obstruct free speech online. These tactics were particularly evident over the past year in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan, and China, where the authorities imposed further restrictions following the political uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, in which social media played a key role.

To illuminate the nature of these evolving threats and identify areas of growing opportunity, Freedom House has conducted a comprehensive study of internet freedom in 47 countries around the globe. This report is the third in its series and focuses on developments that occurred between January 2011 and May 2012. The previous edition, covering 37 countries, was published in April 2011. Freedom on the Net 2012 assesses a greater variety of political systems than its predecessors, while tracing improvements and declines in the countries examined in the previous two editions. Over 50 researchers, nearly all based in the countries they analyzed, contributed to the project by researching laws and practices relevant to the internet, testing the accessibility of select websites, and interviewing a wide range of sources.

This years findings indicate that restrictions on internet freedom in many countries have continued to grow, though the methods of control are slowly evolving and becoming less visible. Of the 47 countries examined, 20 have experienced a negative trajectory since January 2011, with Bahrain, Pakistan, and Ethiopia registering the greatest declines. In Bahrain, Egypt, and Jordan, the downgrades reflected intensified censorship, arrests, and violence against bloggers as the authorities sought to quell public calls for political and economic reform. Declines in Mexico occurred in the context of increasing threats of violence from organized crime, which began to directly influence free speech online. Ethiopia presented an unusual dynamic of growing restrictions in a country with a tiny population of users, possibly reflecting a government effort to establish more sophisticated controls before allowing access to expand. And Pakistans downgrade reflected extreme punishments meted out for dissemination of allegedly blasphemous messages and the increasingly aggressive efforts of the telecom regulator to censor content transmitted via information and communications technologies (ICTs). 
Tags Counties / General


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