Online Freedom Around the World

Did you know that in Burma (Myanmar)  a screen shot is taken every 5 minutes of any computer that is online in order to monitor activity? Did you know that there are employees in China whose only task is to read e-mails all day?

Using the internet is such a natural thing to do now-a-days. We expect the internet to be available to use whether it’s getting mad when a building doesn’t have wireless or expecting the whole world to have 4G so we can access the internet from our phones. We Americans are obsessed with the internet, and we are expectant of the internet. We expect all sites to be available to us, and we expect all of our web surfing to remain private. Americans have been going crazy over the idea of the government spying on our telephone and internet usage.

I saw a clip in Time Magazine about Cubans and the internet, which sparked this post. As you know, Cuba is a communist country, so many things there are restricted, and the internet is one of those things. In Cuba, it costs $4.50/hour to use the internet when the average monthly salary is only $20. If you are found to have connected to the internet illegally, you can be thrown in prison for 5 years.

Reporters without Borders considers Cuba to be one of the top 10 restrictive countries in regards to online freedom. The full top 10 is as follows:

-Belarus

-Burma

-China

-Cuba

-Egypt

-Iran

-North Korea

-Saudi Arabia

– Syria

-Tunisia

-Turkmenistan

– Uzbekistan

In most of these countries the internet is state controlled. That means that the government decides what sites are able to be accessed, what search terms will bring up error messages, and if the going online means going on the internet (worldwide) or the intranet (within the country). For example, North Koreans only have intranet access, which means they can view only a small number of sites controlled by the communist government. Only a select few government officials can access the internet. In Turkmenistan, less than 1% (ONE PERCENT!?) of the population is online.

Self censorship is essential in these countries if a person wants to retain his or her internet “freedom”.  Currently in China, 52 people are imprisoned for expressing themselves too freely online. Bloggers in many of these countries are imprisoned or forced to shut down their blogs if the government deems them inappropriate.

In many of the countries listed, governments blame internet blocking on technical problems. However, Saudi Arabia is honest and straight up says certain websites and topics are blocked because of their immorality. For example, pornographic sites cannot be accessed, governmental opposition sites or searches are blocked, and anything about homosexuality is inaccessible. In the same manner, Iran currently blocks 10 million websites its government sees as immoral.

Much of my information was gathered from the Reporters Without Borders website, which can be directly accessed by clicking the embedded link.  Check it out for more details. US citizens should make themselves more aware of cyberspying issues and internet freedom issues here in America. Do you think think it’s only a matter of time before all governments in the world try to control the internet more? Are they already doing this and we don’t even know about it? How is it in your country? Be sure and leave your opinion in a comment and share this post on your social media site if you enjoyed it and want others to as well. Thanks for reading!

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