Increasing state censorship of the internet
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The level of state-led censorship of the net is growing around the world, a study of so-called internet filtering by the
Open Net Initiative suggests.
The study of thousands of websites across 120 Internet Service Providers found 25 of 41 countries surveyed showed evidence of content filtering. Websites and services such as Skype and Google Maps were blocked, it
In five years we have gone from a couple of states doing state-mandated net filtering to 25, said John Palfrey, at Harvard Law School. Palfrey, executive director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, added: There has
also been an increase in the scale, scope and sophistication of internet filtering.
ONI is made up of research groups at the universities of Toronto, Harvard Law School, Oxford and Cambridge. It chose 41 countries for the survey in which
testing could be done safely and where there was the most to learn about government online surveillance.
Countries which carry out the broadest range of filtering included Burma, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, the United
Arab Emirates and Yemen, the study said.
Jonathan Zittrain, Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation at Oxford University, said the organisation was also looking at the tools people used to circumvent filtering: It's hard to quantify
how many people are doing this. As we go forward each year we want to see if some of these circumvention technologies become more like appliances and you just plug them in and they work.
Few states restrict their activities to one type of
content, said Rafal Rohozinski, Research Fellow of the Cambridge Security Programme: Once filtering is begun, it is applied to a broad range of content and can be used for expanding government control of cyberspace. "Cyberspace has become a
strategic forum of competition between states, as well as between citizens and states.
The survey found evidence of filtering in the following countries:
Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Burma/Myanmar, China, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Jordan, Libya,
Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, UAE, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Yemen.