Internet censorship is on the rise for the 6th consecutive year. Whether it’s online petitions, social networking or photos challenging the behavior of some leaders in their country … every opportunity is good to intensify Internet censorship. And the data are scary: two-thirds of Internet users in the world would now be censored by their government.
These observations come from a report published by Freedom House that states that freedom of expression on the Internet has declined further this year. The organization is particularly concerned with some restrictions imposed by governments on access to social media. The study was conducted indeed in 65 countries which represents almost 88% of the world’s population connected to the Internet, whether via sites or applications, for example. And inevitably the great champions of Internet censorship are China, Syria and Iran. However, the study does not take into account such country as North Korea.
Thus, according to Freedom House, 2016 would have been marked by the censorship of sharing tools such as WhatsApp or Telegram. The latter application has been pointed at as a communication platform for the preparation of attacks by jihadists. The possibility of creating newsgroups whose messages are encrypted are of real concern for the police. As for WhatsApp, it was blocked in 12 countries this year, in Bangladesh or Ethiopia among other places to limit the echo of civil protests.
Freedom House also mentions that during 2016, no fewer than 24 governments blocked or restricted access to social media, compared with 15 in 2015. Out of the 65 countries that are studied by the Freedom House, 34 of them saw restrictions get worse in 2016. This includes Brazil and Turkey, which are now “partially free” and “not free” as a result of severe repression on the Internet.
These restrictions are obviously meant for the different governments using them to fight against some tools that the authorities have difficulty to control and that are harming the power in place. Freedom House even mentioned that in Egypt, a 22-year-old student was sentenced to 3 years in prison for retouching and posting a photo of President Fattah al-Sisi on Facebook with some Mickey Mouse ears.
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