More online censorship coming to closed countries, says report

The worst countries for press freedom are expected to increase control of the Internet, says Paris-based RSF

Authoritarian governments are doubling down on press censorship and becoming more adept at blocking Internet access to uncensored news sources, according to the annual World Press Freedom Index that will be published on Thursday.

The report, from Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, saw many countries lose points this year as threats against reporters and press freedom increased. They included governments using national security as an excuse to track reporters and their sources; threats from para-military, organized crime and terrorist groups; government interference in the media, and reporters being targeted for covering demonstrations.

The five countries ranked highest for press freedom were all in Northern Europe, while the U.S. ranked 49th, down 3 places from last year, in part because of a crackdown on government whistle blowers under President Barack Obama.

Most of the bottom 20 countries saw their ratings fall after greater efforts to control free access to information.

"With complete control of the traditional media assured, reining in the Internet is the next big task," said the report.

China was said to be "a pioneer" in Internet censorship, after blocking access to all Google services during the last year and stamping out domestic coverage of the Occupy Central protests in Hong Kong and the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

Iran continues to pursue a national intranet that will keep citizens off the global Internet, and it arrested people who were using messaging apps WhatsApp, Viber and Tango. In Cuba, Internet access remains difficult to obtain and expensive, the report said.

Some countries, including Kazakhstan, have taken to blocking or banning websites without the need for court orders, while Uzbekistan, Belarus, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have cracked down on bloggers.

The two bottom-ranked countries, North Korea and Eritrea, run censorship regimes that ensure citizens have virtually no access to free information.

The report wasn't all bad news. Mongolia, which previously exercised tight control over access to information, was the fastest riser on the list thanks to new laws started to open up that access. The country jumped 34 places to 54th.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Reporters Without Bordersinternet

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?