25 more countries limit freedom of expression online

Sapo opens laboratory at the University of Aveiro

The censorship online it is a reality in more than 26 countries out of a total of 41 analyzed by the OpenNet Initiative. Most of the regions affected by restricted access to some sites are located in North Africa and Asia.

The topics blocked from Internet users are not restricted to politics. Sexuality, culture or religion are some of the taboo subjects in these regions.

The research was carried out in partnership with the Berkman Center and accuses countries of limiting the expression and civil freedom of Internet users through practices that take on increasingly excessive contours. Saudi Arabia, China or Iran are some of the countries where punishments for violating imposed access rules are stricter. The forms of pressure exerted vary by country.

In South Korea, for example, all content that refers to North Korea is blocked as well as that which refers to political ideas about Vietnam, Burma, Syria or Tunisia.

In other cases, according to the study, pressure is applied on dissent in social habits or norms.

The research findings also point out that in territories marked by conflicts there is no such control – Nepal, Afghanistan, Israel or the West Bank.

The study, which evaluates legislation regarding the use of the Internet in more than 40 countries, was based on the analysis of filtering mechanisms, firmness of restrictions, ethical considerations around the motivations of countries with regard to the control of information, as well as the need for activist groups to use new technologies to make themselves heard around the world.

The censorship online it does not only affect countries with oppressive political regimes. The United States announced this week that its military will no longer be able to access sites such as YouTube, MySpace, publish blog posts or engage in other activities. online that can jeopardize the success of American missions or make known what happens in war territory.

All steps taken on the Internet by soldiers will be monitored by their superiors, who must give their opinion on the contents produced by the military before they publish or send them via email.

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