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NBC News: More countries are restricting Internet access to stifle critics

Tue, 09/25/2012 - 00:00 -- OpenMedia

The U.S. advocacy group Freedom House has released a new report that reveals increasing government restrictions on citizens' Internet use and access. In certain countries social networks are banned, censors employ improved filtering software and there are even online discussions manipulated by governments.

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Article from NBC News/Reuters

Government restrictions on the Internet have risen over the past year around the world as regimes use violence against bloggers and turn to censorship and arrest to squelch calls for reform, a new report from a U.S. advocacy group has found.
 
Pakistan, Bahrain and Ethiopia saw the biggest rollbacks in Internet freedom since January 2011 and were among the 20 countries out of 47 assessed by Freedom House that declined in their rankings.

In contrast Tunisia, Libya and Burma, all countries that have seen dramatic political opening or regime changes, improved over previous years along with 14 other countries, the U.S. group, which advocates democracy and open societies, said.

The report was released the day that Vietnam handed out stiff jail terms to three high-profile bloggers for their bold criticism of government handling of land rights issues and corruption.

Estonia topped the list of countries for freedom of the Internet with the United States in second place, according to the Freedom House report. The rankings were based on obstacles to Internet access, limits on content and violations of user rights.

Estonia has a highly developed online culture that includes online voting and access to electronic medical records and some of the lightest content restrictions in the world, the report found. The United States has fallen behind in Internet speed and cost and broadband availability.

Methods for controlling free speech on digital media also have grown more sophisticated and diverse the past year.

Governments have passed new restrictive laws in 19 states. In Iran, censors have improved software for filtering content and hacked digital certificates. In Pakistan, virtual private networks are banned. And in 14 countries the governments have followed China's lead in hiring armies of commentators to manipulate online discussions, the authors said. Read more »

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Read more at NBC News

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