World day against Cyber censorship
World Day Against Cyber Censorship (on 12 March 2011) is intended to rally everyone in support of a single Internet without restrictions and accessible to all.
Never have so many countries been affected by some form of online censorship, whether arrests or harassment of netizens, online surveillance, website blocking or the adoption of repressive Internet laws. Netizens are being targeted by government reprisals. Around 120 of them are currently detained for expressing their views freely online.
World Day Against Cyber Censorship pays tribute to them and their fight for Internet freedom.
The Enemies of the Internet
In 2011, netizens were at the heart of the political changes in the Arab world and elsewhere. They tried to resist the imposition of a news and information blackout but paid a high price.
At the same time, supposedly democratic countries continued to set a bad example by yielding to the temptation to prioritize security over other concerns and by adopting disproportionate measures to protect copyright. Internet users in “free” countries have learned to react in order to protect what they have won.
More than ever before, online freedom of expression is now a major foreign and domestic policy issue.
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Enemies of Internet
- Bahrain offers a perfect example of successful crackdowns, with an information blackout achieved through an impressive arsenal of repressive measures: exclusion of the foreign media, harassment of human rights defenders, arrests of bloggers and netizens (one of whom died behind bars), prosecutions and defamation campaigns against free expression activists, disruption of communications. Bahrain AR Read in Arabic / ???? ??????? ???????? Use of filtering intensified in reaction to political unrest (...)
Read more about Bahrain »
- While Belarus sinks into political isolation and an economic slump, President Lukashenko's regime has been strenghtening its grip on the Web. The Internet ? a mobilization and information platform ? has received the full brunt of the authorities' brutal crackdown on the opposition. Read in Russian / ?????? ??-?????? ???????? 2012 The Internet has played a crucial role in a climate marked by intensified censorship and a hunt for journalists. Foreign ? and particularly Russian ? reporters are now personae non (...)
Read more about Belarus »
- The recent and relative opening of the Burmese regime has resulted in information being more freely circulated on the Internet, despite continued close monitoring. The international community and Burmese human rights activists need to remain vigilant and keep striving for more freedom. One priority is to reform the liberticidal legislative framework. While much progress is still needed, the reforms already underway would be difficult to reverse. The Thein Sein era is off to a troubling (...)
Read more about Burma »
- The soaring expansion of the ?Participative Web? and related impact on social and political debates are making it harder each day for Chinese censors to do their job. Harsher controls and crackdowns on netizens and their online tools have been symptomatic of the regime's increasing concern over potential fallouts from Arab Spring and the Internet and social networks' role as sounding boards. Obsessive controls to counter the specter of Arab Spring China may have the world's most sophisticated (...)
Read more about China »
- A digital cold war is being played out against a backdrop of demonizing the Internet and social networks, which are accused of having a destabilising influence and being orchestrated by the American enemy. Will the arrival of the Venezuelan fiber-optic cable call into question the ?rationing? of the Internet, which remains out of reach for the majority of the population? The creation of a tightly controlled Cuban Web 2.0 tends to indicate that the regime has no intention of making any (...)
Read more about Cuba »
- The announced launching of Iran's ?National Internet? has been widely covered in the media. Meanwhile the authorities have fortified filtering and their technical capacity to closely monitor the Web. Individuals and groups alike have been arrested in order to identify and neutralize dissident networks and intimate bloggers and journalists. For the first time, four netizens have been given the death penalty, and three of them may be executed at any time. Iran's already harsh repression has (...)
Read more about Iran »
- North Korea
- The world's most closed country's absolute control over the media became evident during the events surrounding the death of Kim Jong-il and the meticulous staging of his succession. Yet official and unofficial telecom markets have been booming. The new leader Kim Jong-un's policy regarding basic freedoms appears to be a continuation of his father's, which understandably worries the international community. Kim Jong-iI's death showed the full extent of the regime's tight grip on the media and (...)
Read more about North Korea »
- Saudi arabia
- In 2011, the regime did everything possible to dissuade the population from supporting the arab revolutionary movement. Its rigid opposition to the simmering unrest on the Web caused it to tighten its Internet stranglehold even more to stifle all political and social protests. Saudi arabia AR Read in Arabic / ???? ??????? ???????? Harsh censorship Intolerant of criticism, in the last few years the government has been enforcing harsh censorship through the use of extended filtering bolstered by (...)
Read more about Saudi arabia »
- Bashar Al-Assad's regime responded with violence when Syrians, inspired by the mass uprisings in the Arab world, took to the streets in March 2011 to demand democratic change. In the weeks that followed, the regime stepped up control of the means of communication and surveillance of dissidents. With the help of its cyber-army, it engaged in a battle of disinformation. Syria's netizens, the only witnesses still present in the worst-hit areas, continue heroically to risk their lives to inform (...)
Read more about Syria »
- For the first time, netizens have managed to breach the censorship wall of one of the world's most closed countries. In response, the regime has targeted them for harsh crackdowns, ready to do whatever it takes to retain its absolute power, even to the point of viewing people with satellite dishes and mobile phones as potential enemies. Hopes that the country would open up with the coming to power of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov in 2007 have come to nothing. Turkmenistan, one of (...)
Read more about Turkmenistan »
- In intensifying censorship and surveillance, and making a pretence of promoting freedom, the Uzbek regime has been attempting to strictly monitor Internet users in order to offset the fallout from Arab Spring, while taking the offensive by exporting its model on a worldwide scale. Read in Russian / ?????? ??-?????? ?????????? 2012 Cynical official rhetoric On the occasion of ?Media Workers' Day? on 27 June 2011, President Karimov asserted that the government ?...fully supports the desire of our fellow (...)
Read more about Uzbekistan »
- The regime's attention is focused on the Arab world and its protest movements. Paranoid Vietnamese authorities have stepped up repression and control to stave off any possibility of a regime collapse, favoring surveillance over increased filtering. Bloggers have been the target off a new wave of arrests. The authorities, aware they cannot impose a complete control of the news, are afraid of an increasingly connected population. Cybercafes are full, smartphones very popular. More than 111 (...)
Read more about Vietnam »
Countries under surveillance
- The government has not abandoned its efforts to win approval for its mandatory national Web filtering system and has persuaded Internet service providers to create a voluntary system. It has just received the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission which may put in question the type of content involved and enforce its application to all media. In parallel, the conclusions of an inquiry into the media, such as the creation of a ?News Media Council? could turn out to be dangerous for (...)
Read more about Australia »
- The first anniversary of Egypt's revolution was celebrated in a climate of uncertainty and tension between a contested military power, a protest movement attempting to get its second wind, and triumphant Islamists. Bloggers and netizens critical of the army have been harassed, threatened, and sometimes arrested. Blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad was the first prisoner of conscience of the post-Mubarak era. Egypt AR Read in Arabic / ???? ??????? ???????? See the Egypt chapter of the 2011 ?Enemies (...)
Read more about Egypt »
- The Arab Spring has given new impetus to an increasingly active online diaspora's hope for change. The regime, which has totally cordoned off the country and continues its indiscriminate repression of the population, is somewhat overwhelmed by the Net's influence on Eritreans based abroad. It is now waging its propaganda war on social networks. Pro-opposition websites have been targeted for cyberattacks on an unprecedented scale. Self-censorship, difficult Web access, and limitless terror (...)
Read more about Eritrea »
- The government has taken the exact opposite course from the one laid out in recent court rulings and international recommendations that condemn filtering and cut off Internet access, and has done so in a context of increased pressure on journalists to reveal sources. France must not sacrifice online freedom of expression and Net neutrality for reasons related to security or copyright protection. In a country aspiring to become an Internet leader, the legislative straitjacket that is being (...)
Read more about France »
- Ever since the 2008 Bombay attacks, the authorities have been intensifying their Internet surveillance and pressure on technical service providers while publicly denying censorship accusations. The national security policy of the world's largest democracy is undermining online freedom of expression and Internet users' privacy. An increasingly connected population The Internet is experiencing impressive growth in India. By 2014, the country should have nearly 300 million netizens, as (...)
Read more about India »
- Kazakhstan, which considers itself a regional model after holding the rotating presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2010, seems to be straying from its fine promises to embark without detours on the road to cybercensorship. In 2011, a unprecedented social protest movement prolonged by a violent uprising, a wave of odd attacks and the Head of State's health problems made the authorities even more nervous, causing them to tighten their control over (...)
Read more about Kazakhstan »
- Malaysian emulators of Arab Spring caught Kuala Lumpur authorities off guard, but they are using all means possible to quash the Bersih 2.0 protest movement. Preventive arrests, pressures on bloggers and the media, and website blockings during local elections are omens of worse yet to come for the general elections. The campaign is expected to play out primarily on the Internet, which remains a favorite space for expression in a country where the traditional press is regularly muzzled by (...)
Read more about Malaysia »
- The authorities have used the issue of national security to expand Web monitoring and censorship ? even while continuing to promote and develop Internet access for the population at large. The Web has played a key role in the political debate prompted by legislative and presidential elections and in the post-election mobilization of the opposition and civil society. These developments provoked a strong official response. The blogosphere has grown stronger and better organized in the face of (...)
Read more about Russia »
- South Korea
- While the world's eyes were riveted on Pyongyang during the transfer of power in North Korea, South Korea clamped down even more on online content related to its neighbor, which continues to expand its Net presence for propaganda purposes. Censorship is also focused on political opinions expressed online ? a critical topic in this electoral year. The National Security Law must be reformed without delay. Content removals soaring Under the conservative government of Lee Myung Bak, who has (...)
Read more about South Korea »
- Sri Lanka
- 2011 was marked by violence, threats and propaganda aimed at journalists and media defenders seen as government critics. Resorting to censorship and disinformation, authorities have blocked access to websites considered unfavourable to the government, claiming legal justifications. Media registration ? a tool for increased monitoring? On 5 November, the information and media ministry ordered news sites to register with the government, yet another restriction on the free flow of information ? and (...)
Read more about Sri Lanka »
- The status of Thailand's online freedom of expression began to deteriorate from the moment the new Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra assumed power in July 2011. Abusive recourse to the politically exploited lèse-majesté law has led to an increase in litigations and strict censorship. The sentencing of Ampon Tangnoppakul, known as ?Uncle SMS? set off a chain of heated reactions in the country and abroad. Apparently the government has forgotten its promises to amend Article 112 of the Thailand (...)
Read more about Thailand »
- Dictator Ben Ali's fall from power had raised hopes that Ammar 404, the censorship system set up by the former regime, would be dismantled. But the latter might rise again from its ashes in the wake of a series of court orders on filtering, while the status of freedom of information remains precarious. Tunisia AR Read in Arabic / ???? ??????? ???????? Fragile freedom of information worth protecting The Arab Spring, which began in Tunisia, has brought drastic changes throughout the region. However, (...)
Read more about Tunisia »
- Intense debate has raged around several plans to control the Internet, ranging from an outrageous list of banned keywords to a mandatory centralized filtering system that ended up being optional. Despite relentless pressure, netizens have been mobilizing against the implementation of backdoor censorship on the Web. Read in Turkish / Türkçe Türkiye 2012 Continuous filtering As of February 10, 2012, the website engelliweb.com had tallied 15,596 sites suspended by the authorities, either by (...)
Read more about Turkey »
- United Arab Emirates
- The UAE government has taken advantage of the region's tense political climate to tighten its control over information and communications in the country. Netizen members of the ?UAE 5? group, incarcerated for several months, learned the hard way that the authorities' priority is to maintain the regime's stability, and, if necessary, is fully prepared to set a few harsh examples. United Arab Emirates AR Read in Arabic / ???? ??????? ???????? Widespread surveillance The Emirates were spared (...)
Read more about United Arab Emirates »
The map of cyber censorship
Enemies of Internet
Countries under surveillance
Syrian citizen journalists and activists Monday were awarded the 2012 Reporters Without Borders Netizen Prize sponsored by Google.
The media center of the Local Coordination Committees brings together groups of citizen journalists to collect and disseminate, in real time, information and images of Syria’s uprising. Jasmine, a 27-year-old Syrian activist who lives now in Canada, accepted the award on behalf of the activists inside of the country.
To draw attention to this situation, the JWT Paris ad agency came up with the idea of a temporary website dedicated to combating cyber censorship. Called Cyber Tag (www.cyber-tag.net
), it allows Internet users to pin messages on virtual versions of the embassies of the 10 countries that Reporters Without Borders has identified as “Enemies of the Internet.”
Inspired by the slogan “It’s ink that should flow not blood” which Reporters Without Borders activists painted during a protest outside the Syrian embassy in Paris in May 2011, the Cyber Tag site invites Internet users to stage virtual demos outside the embassies of their choice and to leave messages on their facades.
What you can do
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