Is Internet a neutral zone? Is it a network that runs freely in any place of the world? Or is it controlled and regulated by governments and companies?
Sadly, it is not a free space in which people is able of doing whatever they rationally please. Internet is to a large degree a networked controlled and its globalizing effects are constantly been limited by the regulations and institutions of the countries from which we access it. Specially in countries that have had a long history of citizen’s censorship and IP address controls. CPJ‘s list of these countries that have managed to control the most it’s citizens freedom is #1 Iran, #2 Belarus, #3 Cuba, #4 Ethiopia, #5 Burma, #6 China, #7 Tunisia under Ben Ali, #8 Egypt under Mubarak (still continues being so), #9 Syria and #10 Russia.
Also, as noted in Wikipedia 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:
- China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau)
- North Korea
- Saudi Arabia
Internet censorship by country
As mentioned by Danny O’Brien in CPJ, “The world’s worst online oppressors are using an array of tactics, some reflecting astonishing levels of sophistication, others reminiscent of old-school techniques. From China’s high-level malware attacks to Syria’s brute-force imprisonments, this may be only the dawn of online oppression.”
Now, the principle in discussion here is what can we do to act freely in the Web? First, there are some services that enable you to block the origin of your IP address (learn what an IP is at the end of the post) and to access many websites by hiding your country of origin; one private and free service is HMA! or How to Bypass Internet Censorship. But the most important one’s are the following online agencies and organizations that are working to inform and educate internet users of their rights and obligations:
- Electronic Frontier Foundation,
- Technology for transparency network,
- OpenNet Initiative,
- Reporters Without Borders,
- Freedom House,
- U.S. State Department Bureau of Democracy,
- Chilling Effects – A joint project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and several U.S. university law schools and clinics
- CIRCAMP, Cospol Internet Related Child Abusive Material Project, a project of the European Chiefs of Police Task Force to combat commercial and organized distribution of child pornography
- Electronic Frontier Foundation – An international non-profit digital rights advocacy and legal organization
- Financial Coalition Against Child Pornography – A coalition of credit card issuers and Internet services companies that seeks to eliminate commercial child pornography by taking action on the payment systems that fund these operation.
- Global Internet Freedom Consortium (GIFC) – A consortium of organizations that develop and deploy anti-censorship technologies
- International Freedom of Expression Exchange(IEFX) – A global network of non-governmental organizations that promotes and defends the right to freedom of expression
- Tunisia Monitoring Group – A coalition within IFEX that monitors free expression in Tunisia
- Internet Governance Forum (IGF) – A United Nations multi-stakeholder policy dialogue initiative
- OpenNet Initiative – A joint project to monitor and report on Internet filtering and surveillance practices by nations
- Peacefire, a U.S.-based website dedicated to “preserving First Amendment rights for Internet users, particularly those younger than 18”
- The Pirate Party – a political movement that aims to reform laws regarding copyright and patents, strengthen the right to privacy, and increase the transparency of state administration
- Reporters sans frontières (Reporters Without Borders) – A France-based international non-governmental organization that advocates freedom of the press
What is an IP address:
Every device connected to the public Internet is assigned a unique number known as an Internet Protocol (IP) address. IP addresses consist of four numbers separated by periods (also called a ‘dotted-quad’) and look something like 127.0.0.1.
Since these numbers are usually assigned to internet service providers within region-based blocks, an IP address can often be used to identify the region or country from which a computer is connecting to the Internet. An IP address can sometimes be used to show the user’s general location. vía: http://whatismyipaddress.com/
Latest news and Related articles
- Detained Bloggers and Journalists in Syria: the list gets longer (advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org)
- Syria Uses Gear From U.S. Firm to Block Web (online.wsj.com)
- Beware: Skype users prone to security breach (thestar.com)