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Internet censorship by country provides information on the types and levels of Internet censorship or filtering that is occurring in countries around the world.
Detailed country by country information on Internet censorship is provided by the OpenNet Initiative, Reporters Without Borders, Freedom House, and in the U.S. State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor's Human Rights Reports. The ratings produced by several of these organizations are summarized below as well as in the Censorship by country article.
The magnitude or level of censorship is classified as follows:
The classifications are done for the following areas of activity:
Due to legal concerns the OpenNet Initiative does not check for filtering of child pornography and because their classifications focus on technical filtering, they do not include other types of censorship.
Through 2010 the OpenNet Initiative had documented Internet filtering by governments in over forty countries worldwide. The level of filtering was classified in 26 countries in 2007 and in 25 countries in 2009. Of the 41 separate countries classified in these two years, seven were found to show no evidence of filtering (Egypt, France, Germany, India, the Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States), while one was found to engage in pervasive filtering in all areas (China), 13 were found to engage in pervasive filtering in one or more areas, and 34 were found to engage in some level of filtering in one or more areas. Of the 10 countries classified in both 2007 and 2009, one reduced its level of filtering (Pakistan), five increased their level of filtering (Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, South Korea, and Uzbekistan), and four maintained the same level of filtering (China, Iran, Myanmar, and Tajikistan).
In 2006, Reporters without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF), a Paris-based international non-governmental organization that advocates freedom of the press, started publishing a list of "Enemies of the Internet". The organization classifies a country as an enemy of the internet because "all of these countries mark themselves out not just for their capacity to censor news and information online but also for their almost systematic repression of Internet users." In 2007 a second list of countries "Under Surveillance" (originally "Under Watch") was added. Both lists are updated annually.
Enemies of the Internet:
Countries Under Surveillance:
When the "Enemies of the Internet" list was introduced in 2006, it listed 13 countries. From 2006 to 2012 the number of countries listed fell to 10 and then rose to 12. Belarus, Egypt, and Tunisia moved to the "Countries under surveillance" list in 2009, 2011, and 2011 respectively. Belarus moved back and Bahrain was added to the list in 2012.
When the "Countries under surveillance" list was introduced in 2008, it listed 10 countries. Between 2008 and 2012 the number of countries listed grew to 16 and then fell to 14. In addition to the moves to and from the "Enemies of the Internet" list noted earlier, Jordan in 2009, Tajikistan in 2009, and Yemen in 2010 were dropped from the list and Australia in 2009, France in 2011, Russia in 2010, South Korea in 2009, Turkey in 2010 were added. Bahrain, Eritrea, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka dropped from the list in 2010, but were added again in 2011. Libya dropped from the list in 2009, added again in 2011, and then dropped in 2012. Venezuela was added in 2011 and then dropped in 2012.
On 12 March 2013 Reporters Without Borders published a Special report on Internet Surveillance. The report includes two new lists:
The five "Corporate Enemies of the Internet" named in March 2013 are: Amesys (France), Blue Coat Systems (U.S.), Gamma (UK and Germany), Hacking Team (Italy), and Trovicor (Germany), but the list is not exhaustive and will be expanded in the coming months.
Freedom House has produced four editions of its report Freedom on the Net, the first in 2009 surveyed 15 countries, the second in 2011 surveyed 37 countries, the third in 2012 surveyed 47 countries, and the fourth in 2013 surveyed 60 countries.
|Free||4 (27%)||8 (22%)||14 (30%)||17 (29%)|
|Partly free||7 (47%)||18 (49%)||20 (43%)||29 (48%)|
|Not free||4 (27%)||11 (30%)||13 (28%)||14 (23%)|
|Improved||n/a||5 (33%)||11 (31%)||12 (26%)|
|Declined||n/a||9 (60%)||17 (47%)||28 (60%)|
|No change||n/a||1 (7%)||8 (22%)||7 (15%)|
In addition the 2012 report identified seven countries that were at particular risk of suffering setbacks related to Internet freedom in late 2012 and in 2013: Azerbaijan, Libya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Rwanda, Russia, and Sri Lanka. In most of these countries the Internet is currently a relatively open and unconstrained space for free expression, but the countries also typically feature a repressive environment for traditional media and have recently considered or introduced legislation that would negatively affect Internet freedom.
The level of censorship in a country is classified in one of the five categories: pervasive, substantial, selective, changing situation, and little or no censorship. The classifications are based on the classifications and ratings from both the OpenNet Initiative (ONI) and Reporters Without Borders (RWB). When a country has not been classified by ONI or RWB, the reports from Freedom House and in the U.S. State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor's Human Rights Reports are used.
While there is no universally agreed upon definition of what constitutes "pervasive censorship", a country is included in this classification when it is included on the "Internet enemies" list maintained by Reporters Without Borders, or when the OpenNet Initiative categorizes the level of Internet filtering as pervasive in any of the four areas (political, social, conflict/security, and Internet tools) for which they test. Such nations often censor political, social, and other content and may retaliate against citizens who violate the censorship with imprisonment or other sanctions.
Bahrain enforces an effective news blackout using an array of repressive measures, including keeping the international media away, harassing human rights activists, arresting bloggers and other online activists (one of whom died in detention), prosecuting free speech activists, and disrupting communications, especially during major demonstrations.
On 5 January 2009 the Ministry of Culture and Information issued an order (Resolution No 1 of 2009) pursuant to the Telecommunications Law and Press and Publications Law of Bahrain that regulates the blocking and unblocking of websites. This resolution requires all ISPs – among other things – to procure and install a website blocking software solution chosen by the Ministry. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority ("TRA") assisted the Ministry of Culture and Information in the execution of the said Resolution by coordinating the procurement of the unified website blocking software solution. This software solution is operated solely by the Ministry of Information and Culture and neither the TRA nor ISPs have any control over sites that are blocked or unblocked.
The Internet in Belarus, as a space used for circulating information and mobilizing protests, has been hard hit as the authorities increased the list of blocked websites and partially blocked the Internet during protests. As a way to limit coverage of demonstrations some Internet users and bloggers have been arrested and others have been invited to “preventive conversations” with the police. Law No. 317-3, which took effect on 6 January 2012, reinforced Internet surveillance and control measures.
The Belarus government has moved to second- and third-generation controls to manage its national information space. Control over the Internet is centralized with the government-owned Beltelecom managing the country’s Internet gateway. Regulation is heavy with strong state involvement in the telecommunications and media market. Most users who post online media practice a degree of self-censorship prompted by fears of regulatory prosecution. The president has established a strong and elaborate information security policy and has declared his intention to exercise strict control over the Internet under the pretext of national security. The political climate is repressive and opposition leaders and independent journalists are frequently detained and prosecuted.
Beginning in September 2012, after years spent as one of the world’s most strictly controlled information environments, the government of Burma (Myanmar) began to open up access to previously censored online content. Independent and foreign news sites, oppositional political content, and sites with content relating to human rights and political reform—all previously blocked—became accessible. In August 2012, the Burmese Press Scrutiny and Registration Department announced that all pre-publication censorship of the press was to be discontinued, such that articles dealing with religion and politics would no longer require review by the government before publication.
Restrictions on content deemed harmful to state security remain in place. Pornography is still widely blocked, as is content relating to alcohol and drugs, gambling websites, online dating sites, sex education, gay and lesbian content, and web censorship circumvention tools. In 2012 almost all of the previously blocked websites of opposition political parties, critical political content, and independent news sites were accessible, with only 5 of 541 tested URLs categorized as political content blocked.
Internet censorship in China is among the most stringent in the world. The government blocks Web sites that discuss Tibetan independence and the Dalai Lama, Taiwan independence, police brutality, the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, freedom of speech, pornography, some international news sources and propaganda outlets (such as the VOA), certain religious movements (such as Falun Gong), and many blogging websites. At the end of 2007 51 cyber dissidents were reportedly imprisoned in China for their online postings. According to Human Rights Watch, in China the government also continues to violate domestic and international legal guarantees of freedom of press and expression by restricting bloggers, journalists, and an estimated more than 500 million Internet users. The government requires Internet search firms and state media to censor issues deemed officially “sensitive,” and blocks access to foreign websites including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. However, the rise of Chinese online social networks—in particularly Sina’s Weibo, which has 200 million users—has created a new platform for citizens to express opinions and to challenge official limitations on freedom of speech despite intense scrutiny by China’s censors.
Cuba has the lowest ratio of computers per inhabitant in Latin America, and the lowest internet access ratio of all the Western hemisphere. Citizens have to use government controlled "access points", where their activity is monitored through IP blocking, keyword filtering and browsing history checking. The government cites its citizens' access to internet services are limited due to high costs and the American embargo, but there are reports concerning the will of the government to control access to uncensored information both from and to the outer world. The Cuban government continues to imprison independent journalists for contributing reports through the Internet to web sites outside of Cuba.
Even with the lack of precise figures due to the secretive nature of the regime, testimonials from independent bloggers, activists, and international watchers support the view that it is difficult for most people to access the web and that harsh punishments for individuals that do not follow government policies are the norm. The Committee to Protect Journalists has pointed to Cuba as one of the ten most censored countries around the world.
Ethiopia remains a highly restrictive environment in which to express political dissent online. The government of Ethiopia has long filtered critical and oppositional political content. Anti-terrorism legislation is frequently used to target online speech, including in the recent conviction of a dozen individuals, many of whom were tried based on their online writings. OpenNet Initiative (ONI) testing conducted in Ethiopia in September 2012 found that online political and news content continues to be blocked, including the blogs and websites of a number of recently convicted individuals.
Ethiopia has implemented a largely political filtering regime that blocks access to popular blogs and the Web sites of many news organizations, dissident political parties, and human rights groups. However, much of the media content that the government is attempting to censor can be found on sites that are not banned. The authors of the blocked blogs have in many cases continued to write for an international audience, apparently without sanction. However, Ethiopia is increasingly jailing journalists, and the government has shown a growing propensity toward repressive behavior both off- and online. Censorship is likely to become more extensive as Internet access expands across the country.
The Islamic Republic of Iran continues to expand and consolidate its technical filtering system, which is among the most extensive in the world. A centralized system for Internet filtering has been implemented that augments the filtering conducted at the Internet service provider (ISP) level. Filtering targets content critical of the government, religion, pornographic websites, political blogs, and women's rights websites, weblogs, and online magazines. Bloggers in Iran have been imprisoned for their Internet activities. The Iranian government temporarily blocked access, between 12 May 2006 and January 2009, to video-upload sites such as YouTube.com. Flickr, which was blocked for almost the same amount of time was opened in February 2009. But after 2009 election protests YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook and many more websites were blocked again.
The primary target of Internet filtering is pornography and, to a lesser extent, gay and lesbian content. Secular content and Web sites that are critical of Islam are also censored. Some Web sites that are related to religions other than Islam are blocked even though they are not necessarily critical of Islam.
The Kuwait Ministry of Communication regulates ISPs, forcing them to block pornography, anti-religion, anti-tradition, and anti-security websites to "protect the public by maintaining both public order and morality". Both private ISPs and the government take actions to filter the Internet.
The Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) operates the Domain Name System in Kuwait and does not register domain names which are "injurious to public order or to public sensibilities or otherwise do not comply with the laws of Kuwait". Voice over Internet Protocol is illegal in Kuwait. Not only have many VoIP Web sites been blocked by the MOC, but expatriates have been deported for using or running VOIP services.
North Korea is cut off from the Internet, much as it is from other areas with respect to the world. Only a few hundred thousand citizens in North Korea, representing about 4% of the total population, have access to the Internet, which is heavily censored by the national government. According to the RWB, North Korea is a prime example where all mediums of communication are controlled by the government. According to the RWB, the Internet is used by the North Korean government primarily to spread propaganda. The North Korean network is monitored heavily. All websites are under government control, as is all other media in North Korea.
Oman engages in extensive filtering of pornographic Web sites, gay and lesbian content, content that is critical of Islam, content about illegal drugs, and anonymizer sites used to circumvent blocking. There is no evidence of technical filtering of political content, but laws and regulations restrict free expression online and encourage self-censorship.
Qatar is the second most connected country in the Arab region, but Internet users have heavily censored access to the Internet. Qatar filters pornography, political criticism of Gulf countries, gay and lesbian content, sexual health resources, dating and escort services, and privacy and circumvention tools. Political filtering is highly selective, but journalists self-censor on sensitive issues such as government policies, Islam, and the ruling family.
Saudi Arabia directs all international Internet traffic through a proxy run by the CITC. Content filtering is implemented there using software by Secure Computing. Additionally, a number of sites are blocked according to two lists maintained by the Internet Services Unit (ISU): one containing "immoral" (mostly pornographic) sites, the other based on directions from a security committee run by the Ministry of Interior (including sites critical of the Saudi government). Citizens are encouraged to actively report "immoral" sites for blocking, using a provided Web form. Many Wikipedia articles in different languages have been included in the censorship of "immoral" content in Saudi Arabia. The legal basis for content-filtering is the resolution by Council of Ministers dated 12 February 2001. According to a study carried out in 2004 by the OpenNet Initiative: "The most aggressive censorship focused on pornography, drug use, gambling, religious conversion of Muslims, and filtering circumvention tools."
South Korea is a world leader in Internet and broadband penetration, but its citizens do not have access to a free and unfiltered Internet. South Korea’s government maintains a wide-ranging approach toward the regulation of specific online content and imposes a substantial level of censorship on elections-related discourse and on a large number of Web sites that the government deems subversive or socially harmful. The policies are particularly strong toward suppressing anonymity in the Korean internet.
In 2007, numerous bloggers were censored and their posts deleted by police for expressing criticism of, or even support for, presidential candidates. This even lead to some bloggers being arrested by the police.
South Korea uses IP address blocking to ban web sites considered sympathetic to North Korea. Illegal websites, such as those offering unrated games, pornography, and gambling, are also blocked.
Syria has banned websites for political reasons and arrested people accessing them. In addition to filtering a wide range of Web content, the Syrian government monitors Internet use very closely and has detained citizens "for expressing their opinions or reporting information online." Vague and broadly worded laws invite government abuse and have prompted Internet users to engage in self-censoring and self-monitoring to avoid the state's ambiguous grounds for arrest.
Internet usage in Turkmenistan is under tight control of the government. Turkmen got their news through satellite television until 2008 when the government decided to get rid of satellites, leaving Internet as the only medium where information could be gathered. The Internet is monitored thoroughly by the government and websites run by human rights organizations and news agencies are blocked. Attempts to get around this censorship can lead to grave consequences.
The United Arab Emirates forcibly censors the Internet using Secure Computing's solution. The nation's ISPs Etisalat and du (telco) ban pornography, politically sensitive material, all Israeli domains, and anything against the perceived moral values of the UAE. All or most VoIP services are blocked. The Emirates Discussion Forum (Arabic: منتدى الحوار الإماراتي), or simply uaehewar.net, has been subjected to multiple censorship actions by UAE authorities.
Uzbekistan maintains the most extensive and pervasive filtering system among the CIS countries. It prevents access to websites regarding banned Islamic movements, independent media, NGOs, material critical of the government's human rights violations, discussion of the events in Egypt, Tunisia, and Bahrain, and news about demonstrations and protest movements. Contributors to online discussion of the events in Egypt, Tunisia, and Bahrain have been arrested. Some Internet cafes in the capital have posted warnings that users will be fined for viewing pornographic websites or website containing banned political material. The main VoIP protocols SIP and IAX used to be blocked for individual users; however, as of July 2010, blocks were no longer in place. Facebook was blocked for few days in 2010.
The main networks in Vietnam prevent access to websites critical of the Vietnamese government, expatriate political parties, and international human rights organizations, among others. Online police reportedly monitor Internet cafes and cyber dissidents have been imprisoned for advocating democracy.
Yemen censors pornography, nudity, gay and lesbian content, escort and dating services, sites displaying provocative attire, Web sites which present critical reviews of Islam and/or attempt to convert Muslims to other religions, or content related to alcohol, gambling, and drugs.
Yemen’s Ministry of Information declared in April 2008 that the penal code will be used to prosecute writers who publish Internet content that "incites hatred" or "harms national interests". Yemen's two ISPs, YemenNet and TeleYemen, block access to gambling, adult, sex education, and some religious content. The ISP TeleYemen (aka Y.Net) prohibits "sending any message which is offensive on moral, religious, communal, or political grounds" and will report "any use or attempted use of the Y.Net service which contravenes any applicable Law of the Republic of Yemen". TeleYemen reserves the right to control access to data stored in its system “in any manner deemed appropriate by TeleYemen.”
In Yemen closed rooms or curtains that might obstruct views of the monitors are not allowed in Internet cafés, computer screens in Internet cafés must be visible to the floor supervisor, police have ordered some Internet cafés to close at midnight, and demanded that users show their identification cards to the café operator.
Countries included in this classification were found to practice substantial Internet filtering in at least one of the four areas (political, social, conflict/security, and Internet tools) for which ONI tests, but which were not already included in the pervasive censorship classification. This includes countries where a number of categories are subject to a medium level of filtering or many categories are subject to a low level of filtering.
Access to the Internet in Armenia is largely unfettered, although evidence of second- and third-generation filtering is mounting. Armenia’s political climate is volatile and largely unpredictable. In times of political unrest, the government has not hesitated to put in place restrictions on the Internet as a means to curtail public protest and discontent.
Access to Internet in the Palestinian territories remains relatively open, although social filtering of sexually explicit content has been implemented in Gaza. Internet in the West Bank remains almost entirely unfiltered, save for a single news Web site that was banned for roughly six months starting in late 2008. Media freedom is constrained in Gaza and the West Bank by the political upheaval and internal conflict as well as by the Israeli forces.
Although the government of Indonesia holds a positive view about the Internet as a means for economic development, it has become increasingly concerned over the impact of access to information and has demonstrated an interest in increasing its control over offensive online content, particularly pornographic and anti-Islamic online content. The government regulates such content through legal and regulatory frameworks and through partnerships with ISPs and Internet cafés.
Pakistanis currently have free access to a wide range of Internet content, including most sexual, political, social, and religious sites on the Internet. Internet filtering remains both inconsistent and intermittent. Although the majority of filtering in Pakistan is intermittent—such as the occasional block on a major Web site like Blogspot or YouTube—the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) continues to block sites containing content it considers to be blasphemous, anti-Islamic, or threatening to internal security. Pakistan has blocked access to websites critical of the government.
Sudan openly acknowledges filtering content that transgresses public morality and ethics or threatens order. The state's regulatory authority has established a special unit to monitor and implement filtration; this primarily targets pornography and, to a lesser extent, gay and lesbian content, dating sites, provocative attire, and many anonymizer and proxy Web sites.
Countries included in this classification were found to practice selective Internet filtering in at least one of the four areas (political, social, conflict/security, and Internet tools) for which ONI tests, but which were not already included in the pervasive or substantial censorship classifications. This classification includes countries where a small number of specific sites are blocked or filtering targets a small number of categories or issues.
The Internet in Azerbaijan remains largely free from direct censorship, although there is evidence of second- and third-generation controls.
Compared to traditional media in Cambodia, new media, including online news, social networks and personal blogs, enjoy more freedom and independence from government censorship and restrictions. However, the government does proactively block blogs and websites, either on moral grounds, or for hosting content deemed critical of the government. The government restricts access to sexually explicit content, but does not systematically censor online political discourse. Since 2011 three blogs hosted overseas have been blocked for perceived antigovernment content. In 2012, government ministries threatened to shutter internet cafes too near schools—citing moral concerns—and instituted surveillance of cafe premises and cell phone subscribers as a security measure.
There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet or credible reports that the government monitors e-mail or Internet chat rooms without appropriate legal authority. During 2012 NGOs expressed concern about potential online restrictions. In February and November, the government published two circulars, which, if implemented fully, would require Internet cafes to install surveillance cameras and restrict operations within major urban centers. Activists also reported concern about a draft “cybercrimes” law, noting that it could be used to restrict online freedoms. The government maintained it would only regulate criminal activity.
Because of threats from local drug cartels or other gangs and individuals, many journalists practice self-censorship, including many in Colombia who avoid reporting on corruption, drug trafficking, or violence by armed groups because of such threats.
Colombian law requires ISPs to monitor their content and report any illegal activity to the government. Colombia’s “Internet Sano” (healthy Internet) campaign calls for public education on “decent” ways of using the Internet as well as penalties for improper use. Some websites are blocked as part of the Internet Sano program. Child pornography is illegal in Colombia.
ONI testing on two Colombian ISPs revealed evidence of one blocked website; the government has also taken measures aimed at reducing children’s exposure to online pornography. The government has passed laws addressing online privacy, electronic surveillance, and cybercrime, although Colombia’s national intelligence service has reportedly engaged in extrajudicial surveillance. A pending law governing digital copyright, which was proposed as a measure of compliance with Colombia’s free trade agreement with the United States, is currently being contested at the Supreme Court by advocates who assert that the law violates the country’s constitution by limiting citizens’ rights to access information.
Gambia is a particularly egregious offender of the right to freedom of expression: in 2007 a Gambian journalist living in the US was convicted of sedition for an article published online; she was fined USD12,000; in 2006 the Gambian police ordered all subscribers to an online independent newspaper to report to the police or face arrest.
Access to Internet content in Georgia is largely unrestricted as the legal constitutional framework, developed after the 2003 Rose Revolution, established a series of provisions that should, in theory, curtail any attempts by the state to censor the Internet. At the same time, these legal instruments have not been sufficient to prevent limited filtering on corporate and educational networks. Georgia’s dependence on international connectivity makes it vulnerable to upstream filtering, evident in the March 2008 blocking of YouTube by Turk Telecom.
Since the Mumbai bombings of 2008, the Indian authorities have stepped up Internet surveillance and pressure on technical service providers, while publicly rejecting accusations of censorship.
ONI describes India as:
Internet filtering in Italy is applied against child pornography, gambling, and some P2P web-sites. The Pirate Bay website and IP Address are unreachable from Italy, blocked directly by Internet Service Providers. A controversial verdict issued by the Court of Bergamo and later confirmed by the Supreme Court, allowed the blocking, stating that it was useful in order to prevent copyright infringement. Pervasive filtering is applied to gambling websites that do not have a local license to operate in Italy. An anti-terrorism law, amended in 2005 by then-Minister of the Interior Giuseppe Pisanu after the terrorists attacks in Madrid and London, restricts the opening of new Wi-Fi Hotspots.
Censorship in Jordan is relatively light, with filtering selectively applied to only a small number of sites. However, media laws and regulations encourage some measure of self-censorship in cyberspace, and citizens have reportedly been questioned and arrested for Web content they have authored. Censorship in Jordan is mainly focused on political issues that might be seen as a threat to national security due to the nation's close proximity to regional hotspots like Israel, Iraq, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories.
In 2013 the Press and Publications Department initiated a ban on Jordanian news websites which had not registered and been licensed by government agency. The order issued to Telecommunication Regulatory Commission contained a list of over 300 websites to be blocked. The new law, which enforced registration of websites, would also hold online news sites accountable for the comments left by their readers. They would also be required to archive all comments for at least six months.
In 2011 the government responded to an oil workers strike, a major riot, a wave of bombings, and the president’s ailing health by imposing new, repressive Internet regulations, greater control of information, especially online information, blocking of news websites, and cutting communications with the city of Zhanaozen during the riot.
Kazakhstan uses its significant regulatory authority to ensure that all Internet traffic passes through infrastructure controlled by the dominant telecommunications provider KazakhTelecom. Selective content filtering is widely used, and second- and third-generation control strategies are evident. Independent media and bloggers reportedly practice self-censorship for fear of government reprisal. The technical sophistication of the Kazakhstan Internet environment is evolving and the government’s tendency toward stricter online controls warrant closer examination and monitoring.
Access to the Internet in Kyrgyzstan has deteriorated as heightened political tensions have led to more frequent instances of second- and third-generation controls. The government has become more sensitive to the Internet’s influence on domestic politics and enacted laws that increase its authority to regulate the sector.
Liberalization of the telecommunications market in Kyrgyzstan has made the Internet affordable for the majority of the population. However, Kyrgyzstan is an effectively cyberlocked country dependent on purchasing bandwidth from Kazakhstan and Russia. The increasingly authoritarian regime in Kazakhstan is shifting toward more restrictive Internet controls, which is leading to instances of ‘‘upstream filtering’’ affecting ISPs in Kyrgyzstan.
The overthrow of the Gaddafi regime in August 2011 ended an era of censorship. The Constitutional Declaration under the interim governments provides for freedom of opinion, expression, and the press. There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet, but there are credible reports that the government monitors e-mail or Internet communication. Social media applications, such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, were freely accessible. Internet content is not filtered, but service is often unreliable or nonexistent outside major cities.
Before his removal and death, Col. Gaddafi had tried to impose a news blackout by cutting access to the Internet. Prior to this, Internet filtering under the Gaddafi regime had become more selective, focusing on a few political opposition Web sites. This relatively lenient filtering policy coincided with what was arguably a trend toward greater openness and increasing freedom of the press. However, the legal and political climate continued to encourage self-censorship in online media.
In 2006 Reporters Without Borders removed Libya from their list of Internet enemies after a fact-finding visit found no evidence of Internet censorship. ONI’s 2007–2008 technical test results contradicted that conclusion, however. And in 2012 RWB removed Libya from its list of countries under surveillance.
There were no government restrictions on access to the Internet or reports that the government monitored email or Internet chat rooms in 2010. Individuals and groups could engage in the peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including by e-mail. There is a law prohibiting child pornography with penalties of two months to one year imprisonment and a 160,000 to 300,000 ouguiya ($550 to $1,034) fine.
Between 16 March and 19 March 2009 and again on 25 June 2009 the news Web site Taqadoumy was blocked. On 26 February 2010, Hanevy Ould Dehah, director of Taqadoumy, received a presidential pardon after being detained since December 2009 despite having served his sentence for crimes against Islam and paying all imposed fines and legal fees. Dehah, who was originally arrested in June 2009 on charges of defamation of presidential candidate Ibrahima Sarr for publishing an article stating that Sarr bought a house with campaign money from General Aziz. Dehah, was sentenced in August 2009 to six months in prison and fined 30,000 ouguiya ($111) for committing acts contrary to Islam and decency. The sentencing judge accused Dehah of creating a space allowing individuals to express anti-Islamic and indecent views, based on a female reader's comments made on the Taqadoumy site calling for increased sexual freedom.
While State authorities have interfered with mobile and Internet connections in an attempt to silence protestors and influence the results of elections, Internet users in Moldova enjoy largely unfettered access despite the government’s restrictive and increasingly authoritarian tendencies. Evidence of second- and third-generation controls is mounting. Although filtering does not occur at the backbone level, the majority of filtering and surveillance takes place at the sites where most Moldovans access the Internet: Internet cafe´ s and workplaces. Moldovan security forces have developed the capacity to monitor the Internet, and national legislation concerning ‘‘illegal activities’’ is strict.
Internet access in Morocco is, for the most part, open and unrestricted. Morocco’s Internet filtration regime is relatively light and focuses on a few blog sites, a few highly visible anonymizers, and for a brief period in May 2007, the video sharing Web site YouTube. ONI testing revealed that Morocco no longer filters a majority of sites in favor of independence of the Western Sahara, which were previously blocked. The filtration regime is not comprehensive, that is to say, similar content can be found on other Web sites that are not blocked. On the other hand, Morocco has started to prosecute Internet users and bloggers for their online activities and writings.
The absence of overt state-mandated Internet filtering in Russia before 2012 had led some observers to conclude that the Russian Internet represents an open and uncontested space. In fact, the Russian government actively competes in Russian cyberspace employing second- and third-generation strategies as a means to shape the national information space and promote pro-government political messages and strategies. This approach is consistent with the government’s strategic view of cyberspace that is articulated in strategies such as the doctrine of information security. The DoS attacks against Estonia (May 2007) and Georgia (August 2008) may be an indication of the government’s active interest in mobilizing and shaping activities in Russian cyberspace.
In July 2012, the Russian State Duma passed the Bill 89417-6 which created a blacklist of Internet sites containing alleged child pornography, drug-related material, extremist material, and other content illegal in Russia. The Russian Internet blacklist was officially launched in November 2012, despite criticism by major websites and NGOs.
The Republic of Singapore engages in minimal Internet filtering, blocking only a small set of pornographic Web sites. However, the state employs a combination of licensing controls and legal pressures to regulate Internet access and to limit the presence of objectionable content and conduct online.
In 2005 and 2006 three people were arrested and charged with sedition for posting racist comments on the Internet, of which two have been sentenced to imprisonment. Some ISPs also block internet content related to recreational drug use. Singapore's government-run Media Development Authority maintains a confidential list of blocked websites that are inaccessible within the country. The Media Development Authority exerts control over Singapore's three ISPs to ensure that blocked content is entirely inaccessible.
Internet penetration remains low in Tajikistan because of widespread poverty and the relatively high cost of Internet access. Internet access remains largely unrestricted, but emerging second-generation controls have threatened to erode these freedoms just as Internet penetration is starting to have an impact on political life in the country. In the run-up to the 2006 presidential elections, ISPs were asked to voluntarily censor access to an opposition Web site, and other second-generation controls have begun to emerge.
Prior to the September 2006 military coup d'état most Internet censorship in Thailand was focused on blocking pornographic websites. The following years have seen a constant stream of sometimes violent protests, regional unrest, emergency decrees, a new cybercrimes law, and an updated Internal Security Act. And year by year Internet censorship has grown, with its focus shifting to lèse majesté, national security, and political issues. Estimates put the number of websites blocked at over 110,000 and growing in 2010.
Reasons for blocking:
|11%||77%||lèse majesté content (content that defames, insults, threatens, or is unflattering to the King, includes national security and some political issues)|
|2%||<1%||content related to gambling|
|27%||<1%||copyright infringement, illegal products and services, illegal drugs, sales of sex equipment, prostitution, …|
According to the Associated Press, the Computer Crime Act has contributed to a sharp increase in the number of lèse majesté cases tried each year in Thailand. While between 1990 and 2005, roughly five cases were tried in Thai courts each year, since that time about 400 cases have come to trial—a 1,500 percent increase.
In its 2013 report Freedom House says:
The Turkish government has implemented legal and institutional reforms driven by the country’s ambitions to become a European Union member state, while at the same time demonstrating its high sensitivity to defamation and other ‘‘inappropriate’’ online content, which has resulted in the closure of a number of local and international Web sites. In October 2010, a ban on YouTube was lifted, but a range of IP addresses used by Google remained blocked, thus access to Google Apps hosted sites, including all Google App Engine powered sites and some of the Google services, remained blocked. All Internet traffic passes through Turk Telecom’s infrastructure, allowing centralized control over online content and facilitating the implementation of shutdown decisions.
Many minor and major websites in Turkey are subject to censorship. Web sites are blocked for intellectual property infringement, particularly file-sharing and streaming sites; for providing access to material that shows or promotes the sexual exploitation and abuse of children, obscenity, prostitution, or gambling; for insults to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founding father of modern Turkey; for reporting news on southeastern Turkey and Kurdish issues; or which defame individuals. In addition to widespread filtering, state authorities are proactive in requesting the deletion or removal of content online. As of June 2010 more than 8000 major and minor websites were banned, most of them pornographic and mp3 sharing sites. By 2013 the number of blocked sites had grown to slightly under 30,000. Among the web sites banned are the prominent sites Youporn, Megaupload, Deezer, Tagged, Slide, and ShoutCast. However, blocked sites are often available using proxies or by changing DNS servers. The Internet Movie Database escaped being blocked due to a misspelling of its domain name, resulting in a futile ban on .
Under new regulations announced on 22 February 2011 and scheduled to go into effect on 22 August 2011, the Information Technologies Board (BTK), an offshoot of the prime minister’s office, will require that all computers select one of four levels of content filtering (family, children, domestic, or standard) in order to gain access to the Internet.
Countries in this category are on the RWB "Under Surveillance" list, but are not already included in the pervasive, substantial, or selective censorship classifications. Included are countries in which changes are underway or are being considered that give cause for concern about the possibility of increased Internet censorship.
There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet or credible reports that the government monitors e-mail or chat rooms without judicial oversight. And aside from child pornography and copyrighted material, the government does not block or filter Internet content and there are no restrictions on the type of information that can be exchanged. Social media and communications apps such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and international blog-hosting services are all freely available.
Censorship of traditional news and information sources is common, leading to worries that similar efforts to control online information will eventually emerge. Defamation, libel, and insulting the country or president in "public meetings or by disseminating words, images, writings, or sound" are crimes punishable by imprisonment. In April 2013 news reports said that the Angolan intelligence services were planning to implement an electronic monitoring system that could track e-mail and other digital communications. A proposed "Law to Combat Crime in the Area of Information Technologies and Communication" was introduced by the National Assembly in March 2011. Often referred to as the cybercrime bill, the law was ultimately withdrawn in May 2011 as a result of international pressure and vocal objections from civil society. However, the government publicly stated that similar clauses regarding cybercrimes will be incorporated into an ongoing revision of the penal code, leaving open the possibility of Internet-specific restrictions becoming law in the future.
Australia does not allow content that would be classified "RC" (Refused Classification or banned) or "X18+" (hardcore non-violent pornography or very hardcore shock value) to be hosted within Australia and considers such content "prohibited"/"potentially prohibited" outside Australia; it also requires most other age-restricted content sites to verify a user's age before allowing access. Since January 2008 material that would be likely to be classified "R18+" or "MA15+" and which is not behind such an age verification service (and, for MA15+, which also meets other criteria such as provided for profit, or contains certain media types) also fits the category of "prohibited" or "potentially prohibited". The regulator ACMA can order local sites which do not comply taken down, and overseas sites added to a blacklist provided to makers of PC-based filtering software.
Australia is classified as "under surveillance" by Reporters Without Borders due to the internet filtering legislation proposed by Minister Stephen Conroy. Regardless, as of August 2010 and the outcome of the 2010 election, it would be highly unlikely for the filter to pass the Senate if proposed due to the close numbers of seats held by Labor and the Coalition, who Joe Hockey says do not support it.
In June 2011 two Australian ISPs, Telstra and Optus, confirmed they would voluntary block access to a list of child abuse websites provided by the Australian Communications and Media Authority and more websites on a list compiled by unnamed international organizations from mid-year.
In May 2013, Senator Scott Ludlam questioned the Department and Minister for Communications - and 3 agencies were identified as using section 313 powers within Australian legislation to block websites, two of which being The Australian Federal Police and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
There is no widespread blocking or filtering of websites in Ecuador and access to blogs and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube is generally free and open. There were no government restrictions on access to the Internet or credible reports that the government monitored e-mail or Internet chat rooms. However, on 11 July 2012 the government passed a new telecommunications regulation, requiring that Internet service providers fulfill all information requests from the superintendent of telecommunications, allowing access to client addresses and information without a judicial order.
Standard defamation laws apply to content posted online. Attempts to censor statements made in times of heightened political sensitivity have been reported, as have alleged instances of censorship via the overly broad application of copyright to content critical of the government.
Self-censorship of comments critical of the government is encouraged. In January 2013, for example, President Correa called for the National Secretary of Intelligence (SENAIN) to investigate two Twitter users who had published disparaging comments about him, an announcement which sent a warning to others not to post comments critical of the president. At the president’s request, two news sites La Hora and El Comercio suspended the reader comments sections of their websites. While there are no official constraints on organizing protests over the Internet, warnings from the president stating that the act of protesting will be interpreted as "an attempt to destabilize the government" have undoubtedly discouraged some from organizing and participating in protests.
Ecuador’s new "Organic Law on Communications" was passed in June 2013. The law recognizes a right to communication. Media companies are required to collect and store user information. “Media lynching”, which appears to extend to any accusation of corruption or investigation of a public official—even those that are supported with evidence, is prohibited. Websites bear “ultimate responsibility” for all content they host, including content authored by third-parties. The law creates a new media regulator to prohibit the dissemination of “unbalanced” information and bans non-degreed journalists from publishing, effectively outlawing much investigative reporting and citizen journalism.
The Internet in Egypt was not directly censored under President Hosni Mubarak, but his regime kept watch on the most critical bloggers and regularly arrested them. At the height of the uprising against the dictatorship, in late January 2011, the authorities first filtered pictures of the repression and then cut off Internet access entirely in a bid to stop the revolt spreading. The success of the 2011 Egyptian revolution offers a chance to establish greater freedom of expression in Egypt, especially online. In response to these dramatic events and opportunities, in March 2011, Reporters Without Borders moved Egypt from its "Internet enemies" list to its list of countries "under surveillance".
In March 2012 Reporters Without Borders reported:
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.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which has been leading the country since February 2011, has not only perpetuated Hosni Mubarak’s ways of controlling information, but has strengthened them.
Eritrea has not set up a widespread automatic Internet filtering system, but it does not hesitate to order blocking of several diaspora websites critical of the regime. Access to these sites is blocked by two of the Internet service providers, Erson and Ewan, as are pornographic websites and YouTube. Self-censorship is said to be widespread.
France continues to promote freedom of the press and speech online by allowing unfiltered access to most content, apart from limited filtering of child pornography and web sites that promote terrorism, or racial violence and hatred. The French government has undertaken numerous measures to protect the rights of Internet users, including the passage of the Loi pour la Confiance dans l’Économie Numérique (LCEN, Law for Trust in the Digital Economy) in 2004. However, the passage of a new copyright law threatening to ban users from the Internet upon their third violation has drawn much criticism from privacy advocates as well as the European Union (EU) parliament.
With the implementation of the "three-strikes" legislation and a law providing for the administrative filtering of the web and the defense of a "civilized" Internet, 2010 was a difficult year for Internet freedom in France. The offices of several online media firms and their journalists were targeted for break-ins and court summons and pressured to identify their sources. As a result, France has been added to the Reporters Without Borders list of "Countries Under Surveillance".
A June 2011 draft executive order implementing Article 18 of the Law for Trust in the Digital Economy (LCEN) would give several French government ministries the power to restrict online content “in case of violation, or where there is a serious risk of violation, of the maintenance of public order, the protection of minors, the protection of public health, the preservation of interests of the national defense, or the protection of physical persons.” According to Félix Tréguer, a Policy and Legal Analyst for the digital rights advocacy group La Quadrature du Net, this is "a censorship power over the Internet that is probably unrivaled in the democratic world." In response to criticism, on 23 June 2011 the minister for the Industry and the Digital economy, Éric Besson, announced that the Government would rewrite the order, possibly calling for a judge to review the legality of the content and the proportionality of the measures to be taken. Any executive order has to be approved by the French Council of State, which will have to decide whether Internet censorship authorization can be extended to such an extent by a mere executive order. It has also been suggested that, because e-commerce legislation is to be harmonized within the European Union, the draft should be reviewed by the European Commission.
There have been mixed messages and confusion regarding Internet censorship in Malaysia. Internet content is officially uncensored, and civil liberties assured, though on numerous occasions the government has been accused of filtering politically sensitive sites. Any act that curbs internet freedom is theoretically contrary to the Multimedia Act signed by the government of Malaysia in the 1990s. However, pervasive state controls on traditional media spill over to the Internet at times, leading to self-censorship and reports that the state investigates and harasses bloggers and cyber-dissidents.
On June 11, however, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) ordered ISPs to block 10 websites for violating the Copyright Act. This led to the creation of a new Facebook page, "1M Malaysians Don't Want SKMM Block File Sharing Website".
In May 2013, leading up to the 13th Malaysian General Election, there were reports of access to YouTube videos critical of the Barisan National Government and to pages of Pakatan Rakyat political leaders in Facebook being blocked. Analysis of the network traffic showed that ISPs were scanning the headers and actively blocking requests for the videos and Facebook pages.[unreliable source?] 
Several political and news websites, including tamilnet.com and lankanewsweb.com have been blocked within the country. The Sri Lanka courts have ordered hundreds of adult sites blocked to "protect women and children".
In October and November 2011 the Sri Lankan Telecommunication Regulatory Commission blocked the five websites, www.lankaenews.com, srilankamirror.com, srilankaguardian.com, paparacigossip9.com, and www.lankawaynews.com, for what the government alleges as publishing reports that amount to "character assassination and violating individual privacy" and damaging the character of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, ministers and senior government officials. The five sites have published material critical of the government and alleged corruption and malfeasance by politicians.
Some Internet censorship reemerged when in May 2011:
Prior to January 2011 the Ben Ali regime had blocked thousands of websites (such as pornography, mail, search engine cached pages, online documents conversion and translation services) and peer-to-peer and FTP transfer using a transparent proxy and port blocking. Cyber dissidents including pro-democracy lawyer Mohammed Abbou were jailed by the Tunisian government for their online activities.
This classification includes countries that are not listed as "Enemies of the Internet" or "Under Surveillance" by Reporters Without Borders, and for which no evidence of Internet filtering was found by the OpenNet Initiative, although other controls such as voluntary filtering, self-censorship, and other types of public or private action to limit child pornography, hate speech, defamation, or theft of intellectual property often exist.
Only about 1/10 of 1 percent of Afghans are online, thus limiting the Internet as a means of expression. Freedom of expression is inviolable under the Afghanistan Constitution, and every Afghan has the right to print or publish topics without prior submission to state authorities. However, the limits of the law are clear: under the Constitution no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam. The December 2005 Media Law includes bans on four broad content categories: the publication of news contrary to Islam and other religions; slanderous or insulting materials concerning individuals; matters contrary to the Afghan Constitution or criminal law; and the exposure of the identities of victims of violence. Proposed additions to the law would ban content jeopardizing stability, national security, and territorial integrity of Afghanistan; false information that might disrupt public opinion; promotion of any religion other than Islam; and "material which might damage physical well-being, psychological and moral security of people, especially children and the youth.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation reported that the Afghan Ministry of Communications mandated in June 2010 that all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Afghanistan filter Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, YouTube and websites related to alcohol, gambling and sex. They are also trying or blocking websites which are “immoral” and against the traditions of the Afghan people. However, executives at Afghan ISPs said this was the result of a mistaken announcement by Ariana Network Service, one of the country's largest ISPs. An executive there said that while the government intends to censor pornographic content and gambling sites, social networking sites and email services are not slated for filtering. As of July 2010, enforcement of Afghanistan's restrictions on "immoral" content was limited, with internet executives saying the government didn't have the technical capacity to filter internet traffic.
Internet access in Algeria is not restricted by technical filtering. However, the state controls the Internet infrastructure and regulates content by other means. Internet users and Internet service providers (ISPs) can face criminal penalties for posting or allowing the posting of material deemed contrary to public order or morality.
Technical filtering of the Internet is uncommon in Argentina. The regulation of Internet content addresses largely the same concerns and strategies seen in North America and Europe, focusing on combating the spread of child pornography and restricting child access to age-inappropriate material. As Internet usage in Argentina increases, so do defamation, hate speech, copyright, and privacy issues.
In 2011 some internet service providers blocked the website IP address 188.8.131.52 which is linked to more than one million blogs hosted on Google's Blogger service disrupting the access to all of them.
The Austrian constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, and the government generally respects these rights in practice. There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet or credible reports that the government monitors e-mail or Internet chat rooms without appropriate legal authority. Individuals and groups engage in the peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including by e-mail. Authorities work to restrict access to Web sites containing information that violates the law, such as neo-Nazi and child pornography sites.
The law prohibits incitement, insult, or contempt against a group because of its members’ race, nationality, or ethnicity if the statement violates human dignity and the government strictly enforces these laws. The law prohibits public denial, belittlement, approval, or justification of the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity in a print publication, a broadcast, or other media and the government strictly enforces these laws. Strict libel and slander laws discourage reporting of governmental abuse.
Access to the Internet is unrestricted. There were no government restrictions on access to the Internet or credible reports that the government monitors e-mail or Internet chat rooms without judicial oversight. The constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, and the government generally respects these rights in practice. Strict and antiquated libel laws dating to British legal codes are seldom invoked.
Although Internet access in Bangladesh is not restricted by a national level filtering regime, the state has intervened to block Web sites for hosting anti-Islamic content and content deemed subversive. Internet content is regulated by existing legal frameworks that restrict material deemed defamatory or offensive, as well as content that might challenge law and order.
The Bangla blogging platform Sachalayatan was reported to be inaccessible on 15 July 2008, and was forced to migrate to a new IP address. Although the blocking was not officially confirmed, Sachalayatan was likely Bangladesh’s inaugural filtering event. YouTube was blocked for a few days in March 2009 in order to protect the “national interest”. The disputed video covered a partial audio recording of a meeting between the prime minister and military officials, who were angry at the government’s handling of a mutiny by border guards in Dhaka that left more than seventy people dead.
Facebook was blocked by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) for 7 days starting on 29 May 2010 because of "obnoxious images", including depictions of Mohammed and several of the country's political officials as well as links to pornographic sites. The block was lifted after Facebook agreed to remove the offensive content. During the same period a 30-year-old man was arrested in the Bangladeshi capital on charges of uploading satiric images of some political leaders on Facebook.
On 16 May 2013 BTRC asked the international internet gateway operators to reduce the upload bandwidth of ISPs by 75% in an effort to prevent illegal VoIP. There is speculation that the bandwidth reduction is actually an effort to make it difficult for people to upload ‘problematic’ videos, images, TV talk show clips, etc. in the social media.
Subject to warrants requested by the prosecutor several Belgian Internet providers including Belgacom, Telenet, Base, Scarlet, EDPnet, Dommel, Proximus, Mobistar, Mobile Vikings, Tele2, and Versatel have been filtering several websites at the DNS level since April 2009. This is done when the websites are engaged in illegal activities or when they display information that is "contrary to public order or morality". People who browse the Internet using one of these providers and hit a blocked website are redirected to a page that claims that the content of the website is illegal under Belgian law and therefore blocked.
There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet or credible reports that the government monitors e-mail or Internet chat rooms. Individuals and groups can engage in the expression of views via the Internet, including by e‑mail. A continuing trend is for private individuals and official bodies to take legal action against Internet service providers and providers of online social media platforms, such as Google, Facebook, and Orkut, holding them accountable for content posted to or provided by users of the platform. Judicial rulings often result in the forced removal of content from the Internet.
Brazilian legislation restricts the freedom of expression (Paim Law), directed especially to publications considered racist (such as neo-nazi sites). The Brazilian Constitution also prohibits anonymity of journalists.
In September 2012 an elections court in Brazil ordered the arrest of Google’s most senior executive in the country, after the company failed to take down YouTube videos attacking a local mayoral candidate. The stringent 1965 Electoral Code bans campaign ads that “offend the dignity or decorum” of a candidate. Google is appealing the order, which comes after a similar decision by another Brazilian elections judge. In that case, the judge found a different senior executive responsible for violating local election law after the company refused to take down a YouTube video mocking a mayoral candidate. That decision was overturned by another judge who wrote that “Google is not the intellectual author of the video, it did not post the file, and for that reason it cannot be punished for its propagation.”
Information, such as names of young offenders or information on criminal trials subject to publication bans, which the government is actively attempting to keep out of Canadian broadcast and print media is sometimes available to Canadian users via the Internet from sites hosted outside Canada.
Project Cleanfeed Canada (cybertip.ca) decides what sites are child pornographic in nature and transmits those lists to the voluntarily participating ISPs who can then block the pages for their users. However, some authors, bloggers and digital rights lawyers argue that they are accountable to no one and could be adding non pornographic sites to their list without public knowledge.
The constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, and the government generally respects these rights in practice. There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet. Individuals and groups can engage in the peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including by electronic mail. While the Investigations Police (PICH) maintains a sexual crimes unit that monitors Web sites for child pornography and prosecutes individuals for selling, storing, or trading child pornography on the Internet, there were no reports that the government monitors e-mail or Internet chat rooms for other purposes.
The constitution and law generally provide for freedom of speech and the press; however, growing economic pressures lead journalists to practice self-censorship. Hate speech committed over the Internet is punishable by six months' to three years' imprisonment and libel is a criminal offense. There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet or reports the government monitors e-mail or Internet chat rooms. In general individuals and groups engage in the peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including by e-mail. Internet access is widely available and used by citizens throughout the country. An estimated 51 percent of the country's inhabitants used the Internet in 2010.
There were no government restrictions on access to the Internet or credible reports the government monitors e-mail or Internet chat rooms without judicial oversight. Individuals and groups engage in the free expression of views via the Internet, including by e-mail.
The law provides for freedom of speech and press, and the government generally respects these rights. However, the law provides for some exceptions to these freedoms, for example, in cases of "hate speech", Holocaust denial, and denial of Communist-era crimes. The law prohibits arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, or correspondence, and the government generally respects these prohibitions in practice.
Several Internet providers and mobile operators in the Czech Republic block content promoting child pornography, child prostitution, child trafficking, pedophilia, illegal sexual contact with children, and racist materials based on URLs from the Internet Watch Foundation list and on individual direct requests made by customers.
Denmark's biggest Internet service provider TDC A/S launched a DNS-based child pornography filter on 18 October 2005 in cooperation with the state police department and Save the Children, a charity organisation. Since then, all major providers have joined and as of May 2006, 98% of the Danish Internet users were restricted by the filter. The filter caused some controversy in March 2006, when a legal sex site named
Bizar.dk was caught in the filter, sparking discussion about the reliability, accuracy and credibility of the filter.
On 23 December 2008, the list of 3,863 sites filtered in Denmark was released by Wikileaks.
In November 2011 a site selling diet pills,
24hdiet.com, was blocked by Danish ISPs, the first use of a new law on the blocking of foreign websites that sell drugs.
In August 2012 Google removed ads from ticket website Viagogo after an investigation found that the site was violating Danish law by overcharging and manipulating tickets before sending them to the buyer.
Prior to the blocking of remote gambling sites in 2010 the Internet in Estonia was free of censorship. Early in 2010 Estonia started DNS filtering of remote gambling sites that violate the renewed Gambling Act (2008). The Gambling Act requires that servers for legal remote gambling must be physically located in Estonia. In March 2010 the Tax and Customs Board had compiled a blocking list containing 175 sites which ISPs are to enforce. As of September 2013 the list had grown to include over 800 sites.
In May 2007 it was reported that the military in Fiji had blocked access to blogs critical of the regime.
In 2006, a new copyright law known as Lex Karpela set some restrictions on publishing information regarding copy protection schemes.
Also in 2006 the government started Internet censorship by delivering Finnish ISPs a secret blocking list maintained by Finnish police. Implementation of the block was voluntary, but some ISPs implemented it. The list was supposed to contain only sites with child pornography, but ended up also blocking, among others, the site lapsiporno.info that criticized the move towards censorship and listed sites that were noticed to have been blocked.
Occasional take down requests and access restrictions are imposed on German ISPs, usually to protect minors or to suppress hate speech and extremism. In April 2009, the German government signed a bill that would implement large-scale filtering of child pornography Web sites, with the possibility for later expansion. However, that law was repelled in 2011 since internet service providers quickly take down child pornography after they receive knowledge about it, a fact that had already been pointed out by internet freedom organisations and political parties such as the Freie Demokratische Partei and the Piratenpartei before the law came into effect.
In 2002 the government of Ghana censored internet media coverage of tribal violence in Northern Ghana.
Guatemala’s constitution protects freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and individual privacy, however, government officials routinely violate these rights. Recent constitutional reforms have legalized various electronic surveillance techniques that threaten online privacy. The Ley de Proteccion Integral de la Niñez y Adolescencia (Law on the Protection of Children and Adolescents) permits the restriction of content for children younger than eighteen years of age if it is deemed harmful to their development. Media outlets and organizers of public events are required to evaluate and classify programmed content according to this law. The Ley de Emisión del Pensamiento (Law on Expression of Thought) prohibits libel, slander, and treason in printed form, and stipulates that the author of any publication containing an opinion that the judiciary considers to be subversive, morally damaging, or “disrespectful” of private life may be subject to punishment. The Law on Expression of Thought explicitly requires newspapers that have incorrectly attributed acts to or published false information about people or entities to publish any corrections, explanations, or refutations sent to them by those they have accused. In cases of printed material that involves treason, is subversive, is “damaging to morals,” or contains slander or libel, newspapers may be subject to a trial by jury; decisions may be appealed within 48 hours. The law makes an exception when the offended party is a government employee or official: if the offending content concerns “purely official acts” related to government work, the case will be judged in a “court of honor,” and the decision will be final and closed to appeal. The Ley de Orden Público (Law of Public Order) states that if the government has declared the country to be “in a state of siege,” journalists must “refrain from publishing anything that might cause confusion or panic.”
The constitution and law provide for freedom of speech and of the press, and the government generally respects these rights in practice. There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet or reports that the government monitors e-mail or Internet chat rooms. Individuals and groups engage in the peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including by e-mail. According to the International Telecommunication Union, in 2009 approximately 63 percent of the country's inhabitants used the Internet.
European Commissioner Kroes, NGOs, and the foreign press raised concerns that provisions of the new media laws requiring balanced reporting and registration of media outlets lacked clear limits and could be interpreted to include blogs. The government and the NMHH argued that, in practice, blogs would be exempt from these requirements on the basis that they are not considered "business endeavors."
Censorship is prohibited by the Icelandic Constitution and there is a strong tradition of protecting freedom of expression that extends to the use of the Internet. However, questions about how best to protect children, fight terrorism, prevent libel, and protect the rights of copyright holders are ongoing in Iceland as they are in much of the world.
The five Nordic countries—Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland—are central players in the European battle between file sharers, rights holders, and Internet service providers (ISPs). While each country determines its own destiny, the presence of the European Union (EU) is felt in all legal controversies and court cases. Iceland, while not a member of the EU, is part of the European Economic Area (EEA) and has agreed to enact legislation similar to that passed in the EU in areas such as consumer protection and business law.
Internet service providers in Iceland use filters to block Web sites distributing child pornography. Iceland's ISPs in cooperation with Barnaheill—Save the Children Iceland participate in the International Association of Internet Hotlines (INHOPE) project. Suspicious links are reported by organizations and the general public and passed on to relevant authorities for verification.
In 2012 and 2013 Ögmundur Jónasson, Minister of Interior, proposed two bills to the Icelandic parliament that would limit Icelander's access to the Internet. The first proposed limitations on gambling and the second on pornography. Neither bill was passed by parliament and a new government has since been formed following the parliamentary election held on 27 April 2013.
Internet access in Iraq remains largely unfettered, but this is likely to change, as the authorities have initiated measures to censor Internet content and monitor online activities. In addition, the government has launched legal offensives against independent news media and Web sites.
Internet censorship in Ireland is a controversial issue with the introduction of a graduated response policy in 2008 followed by an effort to block certain file sharing sites starting in February 2009. Grassroots campaigns including "Blackout Ireland" and "Boycott Eircom" have been established to protest the censorship.
Beyond these issues there are no government restrictions on access to the Internet or credible reports that the government monitored e-mail or Internet chat rooms. Individuals and groups could engage in the expression of views via the Internet, including by e-mail. Irish law provides for freedom of speech including for members of the press, and the government generally respects these rights in practice. An independent press, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system act jointly to ensure freedom of speech and of the press.
The Orthodox Jewish parties in Israel proposed an internet censorship legislation would only allow access to pornographic Internet sites for users who identify themselves as adults and request not to be subject to filtering. In February 2008 the law passed in its first of three votes required, however, it was rejected by the government's legislation committee on 12 July 2009.
Japanese law provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and the government respects these rights in practice. These freedoms extend to speech and expression on the Internet. An effective judiciary and a functioning democratic political system combine to ensure these rights. There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet or reports that the government monitors e-mail or Internet activities. Individuals and groups engage in the peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including by e-mail. Freedom House's Freedom in the World 2011 reports that "Internet access is not restricted" in Japan, while their Freedom on the Net 2013 reports Japan's "Internet freedom status" as "free".
The government does not employ technical filtering or any administrative censorship system to restrict access to political or other content. Citizens engage in the peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including by e-mail, and are able to access a wide range of viewpoints, with the websites of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the U.S.-based Cable News Network (CNN), and Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper the most commonly accessed. There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet, but Internet services are limited in rural areas due to lack of infrastructure. In 2008, approximately 8.6 percent of Kenyans used the Internet.
The constitution protects freedom of expression and the “freedom to communicate ideas and information.” However, it also grants the government the authority to punish defamation, protect privileged information, and restrict state employees’ "freedom of expression“ in the interest of defense, public safety, public order, public morality or public health.” In January 2009, the government passed a controversial Communications Amendment Act that established that any person who publishes, transmits, or causes to be published in electronic form obscene information commits an offense. The Act also outlines other forms of illegality associated with the use of information and communication technologies. At the end of 2010, the measure had not been used to prosecute anyone for online expression. Under the Act, the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), rather than the independent Media Council of Kenya, is responsible for regulating both traditional and online media. The CCK is also independent, but because the CCK has yet to make any decisions affecting the internet, its autonomy and professionalism in making determinations remain to be seen.
In July 2009 the government announced that all cell phone users had to provide the government with their name and identification number. This regulation applies to citizens who access the Internet through cell phone-based services as well.
Laos is included in the OpenNet Initiative (ONI) Regional Overview for Asia (2009). ONI found no evidence of Internet filtering in the political, social, conflict/security, and tools areas based on testing performed in 2011.
Very few homes have Internet access; most non-business users depend on Internet cafes located chiefly in the larger urban areas. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) reported that Internet users numbered approximately 11 percent of the country's inhabitants in 2012.
The government controls domestic Internet servers and sporadically monitors Internet usage, but by the end of 2012 it apparently did not have the ability to block access to Web sites. Authorities have developed infrastructure to route all Internet traffic through a single gateway, enabling them to monitor and restrict content. However, they apparently had not utilized this increased capability as of the end of 2012. The law generally protects privacy, including that of mail, telephone, and electronic correspondence, but the government reportedly continues to violate these legal protections when there is a perceived security threat. Security laws allow the government to monitor individuals’ movements and private communications, including via cell phones and e-mail.
The constitution and law provide for freedom of speech and of the press. There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet or reports that the government monitors e-mail or Internet chat rooms. Individuals and groups engage in the peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including by e-mail. According to International Telecommunication Union statistics for 2009, approximately 67 percent of the country's inhabitants used the Internet.
In September 2010 the government's Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB), which enforces campaign laws, removed a satirical film, The Last Bear Slayer, from the on-demand playlist of the partially state-owned cable provider, Lattelecom. The KNAB stated that the film might have constituted election advertising. Reporters Without Borders charged that the prohibition constituted improper censorship, but noted it was ineffective because the film was widely available on the Internet.
Internet traffic in Lebanon is not subject to technical filtering, but poor infrastructure, few household computers, low Internet penetration rates, and the cost high of connectivity, remain serious challenges. Some Internet café operators prevent their clients from accessing objectionable content such as pornography, however, there is no evidence that these practices are required or encouraged by the state. Lebanese law permits the censoring of pornography, political opinions, and religious materials when considered a threat to national security.
Malawi prohibits the publication or transmission of anything “that could be useful to the enemy,” as well as religiously offensive and obscene material. Malawi participates in regional efforts to combat cybercrime: the East African Community (consisting of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda) and the South African Development Community (consisting of Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) have both enacted plans to standardize cybercrime laws throughout their regions.
Mexican law provides for freedom of speech and press, and the government generally respects these rights in practice. There were no government restrictions on access to the Internet or credible reports that the government monitors e-mail or Internet chat rooms. Individuals and groups can engage in the expression of views via the Internet, including by e-mail.
Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) exercise an increasing influence over media outlets and reporters, at times directly threatening individuals who published critical views of crime groups. As citizens increasingly use social media Web sites such as Twitter and Facebook to obtain and share drug-related news, violence against the users of these sites is rising dramatically. The threats and violence lead to self-censorship in many cases.
In May 2009, the Mexican Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), asked YouTube to remove a parody of Fidel Herrera, governor of the state of Veracruz. Negative advertising in political campaigns is prohibited by present law, although the video appears to be made by a regular citizen which would make it legal. It was the first time a Mexican institution intervened directly with the Internet.
There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet. The criminal code and constitution prohibit arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, or correspondence, however, there are reports of government surveillance, wiretapping, and e-mail account monitoring. Individuals and groups engage in the peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including by e-mail. And while there is no official censorship by the government, journalists frequently complain of harassment and intimidation.
Censorship of public information is banned under the 1998 Media Freedom Law, but a 1995 state secrets law severely limits access to government information. The Law on Information Transparency and Right to Information was passed in June 2011, with the legislation taking effect in December 2011. Internet users remain concerned about a February 2011 regulation, the "General Conditions and Requirements on Digital Content", by the Communications Regulatory Commission (CRC) that restricts obscene and inappropriate content without explicitly defining it and requires popular websites to make their users’ IP addresses publicly visible.
In 2007 Nepali journalists reported virtually unconditional freedom of the press, including the Internet, and ONI’s testing revealed no evidence that Nepal imposes technological filters on the Internet.
Government-mandated Internet censorship is nonexistent due to the house of representatives speaking out against filtering on multiple occasions, although there have been proposals to filter child pornography and the Netherlands, like many countries, is grappling with how to prevent or control copyright infringement on the Internet.
In 2008 the Minister of Justice proposed a plan to block websites known to contain child pornography. A blacklist created by the Meldpunt ter bestrijding van Kinderpornografie op Internet (Hotline combating Child Pornography on the Internet) would have been used by Internet Service Providers to redirect the websites to a stop page. In 2011 the plan was withdrawn due to an "almost complete lack of websites to block" because the sharing of the material was no longer done by conventional websites, but by other services. The House of Representatives reaffirmed this by voting against the filter later that year, effectively killing any plans for government censorship.
In January 2012, the internet providers Ziggo and XS4all were required by a court order in a case brought by the Bescherming Rechten Entertainment Industrie Nederland (BREIN) to block the website of The Pirate Bay due to copyright infringement. This blocking raised questions within the government, customers, and the internet providers themselves, not only because of the blocking, but also about its randomness and the role of BREIN, an industry trade association that can change the blacklist.
Since February 2010 Department of Internal Affairs offers to ISPs voluntary Internet filtering. Participating providers routes suspect destination IP addresses to the Department that blocks desired HTTP requests. Other packets are routed back to correct networks. List of blocked addresses is secret, but it's believed that child pornography is subjected only.
In 2008 two journalists were arrested for publishing online articles and photos critical of the government.
Norway's major Internet service providers have a DNS filter which blocks access to sites authorities claim are known to provide child pornography, similar to Denmark's filter. A list claimed to be the Norwegian DNS blacklist was published at Wikileaks in March 2009. The minister of justice, Knut Storberget, sent a letter threatening ISPs with a law compelling them to use the filter should they refuse to do so voluntarily (dated 29 August 2008).
The law in Paraguay provides for freedom of speech and press, and the government generally respects these rights in practice. Individuals criticize the government publicly and privately, generally without reprisal or impediment. There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet or credible reports that the government monitored e-mail or Internet chat rooms. Individuals and groups could engage in the expression of views via the Internet, including by e-mail.
Because of their reporting, journalists are on occasion subjected to harassment, intimidation, and violence—primarily from drug trafficking gangs and criminal syndicates based in departments bordering Brazil but also from politicians. Political officials often retaliate against media criticism by invoking criminal libel laws and suing the media to intimidate journalists and suppress further investigations.
Following the 22 June 2012 parliamentary coup, the new government appears to be assuming complete control of the state-owned media and its hostility is affecting journalists with the privately owned media as well.
There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet and no reports that the government monitors e-mail or Internet chat rooms. Individuals and groups engage in the free expression of views via the Internet, including by e-mail. The chief impediment to Internet access was a lack of infrastructure; the International Telecommunication Union reported that there were 31 Internet users per 100 inhabitants in 2009.
The constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and the government generally respects these rights. There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet or reports that the government monitors e-mail or Internet chat rooms. Individuals and groups engage in peaceful expressions of views via the Internet, including by e-mail. Internet access is widely available. According to International Telecommunication Union statistics for 2009, approximately 6.5 percent of the country's inhabitants used the Internet.
In 2012 the Republic Act No. 10175 or Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 was signed by President Benigno Aquino, which criminalizes acts such as libel done online that are already punishable in other media such as radio, TV, and newspapers, with punishment one level higher than their non computer counterpart. The Act was greatly endorsed by Senator Tito Sotto, who was recently "cyberbullied" online for plagiarizing bloggers and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. After several petitions submitted to the Supreme Court questioned the constitutionality of the Act, on October 9, 2012, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order, stopping implementation of the Act for 120 days, and extended it on 5 February 2013 "until further orders from the court."
Internet censorship legislation that included the creation of a register of blocked web sites was abandoned by the Polish Government in early 2011, following protests and petitions opposing the proposal.
Main article: Internet censorship and surveillance in Portugal
Internet access in Portugal is not restricted. There are neither government restrictions on access to the Internet nor reports that the government monitors e-mail or Internet chat rooms without appropriate legal authority. The constitution and law provide for freedom of speech and press, and the government generally respects these rights in practice. The law criminalizes the denigration of ethnic or religious minorities and the engagement in offensive practices such as Holocaust denial. Prison sentences for these crimes run between six months to eight years.
Internet censorship in Romania is mainly related to the filtering of sites with pornographic content hosted in Romania and the protection of children. Although proposals have been made to censor pornographic sites, so far no sites have been blocked.
There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet. Individuals and groups engage in the peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including by e-mail. Internet cafes are common and used regularly in the largest towns, but the Internet is generally unavailable in rural areas, where the majority of the population lives. According to International Telecommunication Union statistics for 2008, approximately 3 percent of the country's inhabitants used the Internet. Laws prohibiting divisionism, genocide ideology, and genocide denial and forbidding "contempt for the Head of State of Rwanda" promote self-censorship. Expression of these viewpoints sometimes results in arrest, harassment, or intimidation.
There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet or reports that the government monitors e-mail or Internet chat rooms without judicial oversight; however, police monitor Web sites containing hate speech and attempt to arrest or fine the authors.
The constitution and the law provide for freedom of speech and press. While the government mostly respects these rights in practice, in some instances, it limits these rights to impede criticism and limits actions of groups it considers extremist. The law prohibits the defamation of nationalities, punishable by up to three years in prison, and denial of the Holocaust, which carries a sentence of six months to three years in prison. Criminal penalties for defamation are rarely used. The constitution and the law prohibit arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, or correspondence and the government generally respects these prohibitions in practice. Police must present a warrant before conducting a search or within 24 hours afterwards.
A new draft law under consideration in 2011 would allow the nation's tax office to block web servers that provide online gambling without a Slovakian license. Opponents argue that the economic interests served by the law are not sufficient to justify online censorship.
There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet or credible reports that the government monitors e-mail or Internet chat rooms without appropriate legal authority. The constitution and law provide for freedom of speech and press, and the government generally respects these rights. However, the law prohibits hate speech, including incitement to intolerance as well as violence. The law provides criminal penalties for defamation that harms a person’s honor or name. Under the law Internet service providers are responsible for blocking access to Internet gambling web sites that are not licensed by the Slovenian government.
In 2006, the government of South Africa began prohibiting sites hosted in the country from displaying X18 (explicitly sexual) and XXX content (including child pornography and depictions of violent sexual acts); site owners who refuse to comply are punishable under the Film and Publications Act 1996. In 2007 a South African "sex blogger" was arrested.
The constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, and the government generally respects these rights. The law prohibits, subject to judicial oversight, actions including public speeches and the publication of documents that the government interprets as glorifying or supporting terrorism. The law provides that persons who provoke discrimination, hatred, or violence against groups or associations for racist; anti-semitic; or other references to ideology, religion or belief, family status, membership within an ethnic group or race, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, illness, or disability may be punished with imprisonment for one to three years.
Sweden's major Internet service providers have a DNS filter which blocks access to sites authorities claim are known to provide child porn, similar to Denmark's filter. A partial sample of the Swedish internet censorship list can be seen at a Finnish site criticizing internet censorship. The Swedish police are responsible for updating this list of forbidden Internet sites. On 6 July, Swedish police said that there is material with child pornography available on torrents linked to from the torrent tracker site Pirate Bay and said it would be included in the list of forbidden Internet sites. This, however, did not happen as the police claimed the illegal material had been removed from the site. Police never specified what the illegal content was on TPB. This came with criticism and accusations that the intended The Pirate Bay's censorship was political in nature.
There were no government restrictions on access to the Internet or credible reports that the government monitored e-mail or Internet chat rooms without appropriate legal authority. The constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, and the government generally respects these rights in practice. The law penalizes public incitement to racial hatred or discrimination, spreading racist ideology, and denying crimes against humanity and it is a crime to publish information based on leaked “secret official discussions.”
In November 2011 the Swiss government ruled that downloading pirated copies of films, music and video games for personal use will remain legal, because it is of not detrimental to copyright owners.
In 2010 the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland found that IP addresses are personal information and that under Swiss privacy laws they may not be used to track Internet usage without the knowledge of the individuals involved.
In December 2002 a local Swiss magistrate ordered several Swiss ISPs to block access to three Web sites hosted in the United States that were strongly critical of Swiss courts, and to modify their DNS-servers to block the domain appel-au-people.org.
Though Uganda has made great technological strides in the past five years, the country still faces a number of challenges in obtaining affordable, reliable Internet bandwidth. This, rather than a formal government-sponsored filtering regime, is the major obstacle to Internet access. Just prior to the presidential elections in February 2006, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) blocked the anti-government Web site RadioKatwe in the only internationally reported case of Internet filtering in Uganda to date.
Access to Internet content in Ukraine remains largely unfettered. Ukraine possesses relatively liberal legislation governing the Internet and access to information. The Law on Protection of Public Morals of November 20, 2003, prohibits the production and circulation of pornography; dissemination of products that propagandize war or spread national and religious intolerance; humiliation or insult to an individual or nation on the grounds of nationality, religion, or ignorance; and the propagation of "drug addition, toxicology, alcoholism, smoking and other bad habits."
The United Kingdom has a notable libertarian tradition, manifested by, among other things, solid guarantees of freedom of expression, freedom of information, and protection of privacy. Freedom of expression and protection of privacy over the Internet is guaranteed by law. Nonetheless, over the last few years there has been a shift toward increased surveillance and police measures. Combating terrorism and preventing child abuse have been widely used as a justification by state agencies and private commercial actors (e.g., Internet service providers) for the implementation of interception and direct filtering measures. Nevertheless in 2010 the OpenNet Initiative found no evidence of technical filtering in the political, social, conflict/security, or Internet tools areas. However, the U.K. openly blocks child pornography Web sites, for which ONI does not test.
British Telecommunications' ISP passes internet traffic through a service called Cleanfeed which uses data provided by the Internet Watch Foundation to identify pages believed to contain indecent photographs of children. When such a page is found, the system creates a 'URL not found page' error rather than deliver the actual page or a warning page. Other ISPs use different systems such as WebMinder.
In July and again in October 2011, the UK High Court ruled that British Telecom must block access to a website (newzbin.com) which "provides links to pirated movies". In September 2011, in response to the court ruling and with encouragement from government, leading UK ISPs are reported to have privately agreed in principle to quickly restrict access to websites when presented with court orders. In May 2012 the High Court ordered UK ISPs to block The Pirate Bay to prevent further copyright infringing movie and music downloads from the website.
On July 22, 2013, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that by default pornography and other abusive material (such as suicide, alcohol and violence-related content) to most households in the UK would be filtered from the Internet by the end of 2013 unless a household chooses to receive it.
Most online expression is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, but laws concerning libel, intellectual property, and child pornography still determine if certain content can be legally published online. Internet access by individuals in the US is not subject to technical censorship, but can be penalized by law for violating the rights of others. As in other countries, the potential for legal liability for civil violations, including defamation and copyright, constrains the publishers of Internet content in the United States. This can have a "chilling effect" and lead to self-censorship of lawful online content and conduct. Content-control software is sometimes used by businesses, libraries, schools, and government offices to limit access to specific types of content.
Access to the Internet in Venezuela continues to be unrestricted. The level of self-censorship is hard to evaluate, but the adoption of legislation that could potentially limit Internet freedom has yet to have any damaging effect in practice. As a result RWB removed Venezuela from its list of countries under surveillance.
In December 2010, the government of Venezuela approved a law named "Social Responsibility in Radio, Television and Electronic Media" (Ley de Responsabilidad Social en Radio, Televisión y Medios Electrónicos). The law is intended to exercise control over content that could "entice felonies", "create social distress", or "question the legitimate constituted authority". The law indicates that the website's owners will be responsible for any information and contents published, and that they will have to create mechanisms that could restrict without delay the distribution of content that could go against the aforementioned restrictions. The fines for individuals who break the law will be of the 10% of the person's last year's income. The law was received with criticism from the opposition on the grounds that it is a violation of freedom of speech protections stipulated in the Venezuelan constitution, and that it encourages censorship and self-censorship.
Because Internet penetration in Zimbabwe is low, it is mainly used for e-mail and the government focuses its efforts to control the Internet to e-mail monitoring and censorship. Though its legal authority to pursue such measures is contested, the government appears to be following through on its wishes to crack down on dissent via e-mail.
This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Department of State document "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices" by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.
This article incorporates licensed material from the Country Profiles, Regional Overviews, and Filtering Maps sections of the OpenNet Initiative web site.