Last week, coinciding with the World Day Against Cyber Censorship (march 12), Reporters Without Borders released the map of cyber censorship (above), accompanying its “Enemies of the Internet 2012” report (pdf).
The map shows countries declared “enemies of the internet” (in black) and those “countries under surveillance” (in red).
Although most of the ‘usual suspects’ are on the list, and most of those on the list are the ‘usual suspects’, there are some omissions – Angola should probably feature here – and some surprises.
Among the “countries under surveillance” we find France, where “the government has taken the exact opposite course from the one laid out in recent court rulings and international recommendations that condemn filtering and cut off Internet access, and has done so in a context of increased pressure on journalists to reveal sources”; and Australia, where “the government has not abandoned its efforts to win approval for its mandatory national Web filtering system and has persuaded Internet service providers to create a voluntary system…In parallel, the conclusions of an inquiry into the media, such as the creation of a “News Media Council” could turn out to be dangerous for freedom of information in the blogosphere”.
In a context in which the internet and new media are regularly praised as a source for popular mobilisation and democratic progress – especially in the context of the 2011 North African events but not only there – this map reminds us that there is a lot of work to be done to guarantee that the internet remains an open sphere where freedom of expression and information are respected. Work that needs to be done all across the world (and not only vis-a-vis the ‘usual suspects’)
*This post originally appeared on The FRIDE Blog