"WAR ON TERRORISM" CURBS INTERNET FREE EXPRESSION: RSF REPORT
"Internet Under Surveillance" tracks the state of Internet freedom in more than 60 countries and finds that the rights of Internet users and online journalists have been substantially restricted since 9-11. "Democratic countries have chipped away at the liberties of their citizens" in the name of tightening national security, introducing laws that give governments expanded powers to spy on Internet users and detain suspected terrorists, says RSF. The United States and France have led the way in passing anti-terrorism laws.
However, authoritarian regimes have taken their cue by using national security as an excuse to further repress political dissidents and independent journalists and writers, RSF notes. "A dictator just needs to boast he's fighting terrorism and the eyes of the international community stop seeing his arrests of cyber-dissidents and censorship of websites," the group says.
Meanwhile, an increasing number of governments are employing sophisticated technologies to deny their citizens access to information on the Internet. China has installed Internet filters that prevent users of the Google search engine from finding information about controversial topics, such as human rights. In Uzbekistan, authorities are using "modified mirrors" - doctored versions of controversial websites that look like the original sites but actually contain altered information.
Of all countries surveyed in the report, China continues to be the number one jailer of Internet users. Sixty-three are currently in prison. Vietnam ranks second with seven jailed cyber-dissidents, followed by the Maldives with three and Saudi Arabia with two.
RSF has launched 26 petitions on its website calling for the release of jailed cyber-dissidents around the world.
To sign the petitions, go to:
Read the full report here: