Governments use internet as tool of control

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Two reports have concluded that governments around the world are increasingly limiting freedom of expression on the internet.

The US State Department's annual human rights report highlights the way the internet has changed the way governments seek to control their citizens.

"New technologies have proven useful both to oppressors and to those who struggle to expose the failures and the cowardice of the oppressors," said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The report, unsurprisingly, highlights China as a serious offender, saying it's "increased its efforts to monitor internet use, control content, restrict information, block access to foreign and domestic websites, encourage self-censorship, and punish those who violated regulations."

Meanwhile, Reporters Without Borders has released an 'Enemies of the Internet' list of the worst violators of freedom of expression on the net.

"Some of these countries are determined to use any means necessary to prevent their citizens from having access to the Internet: Burma, North Korea, Cuba, and Turkmenistan – countries in which technical and financial obstacles are coupled with harsh crackdowns and the existence of a very limited Intranet," says the report.

"Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan have opted for such massive filtering that their internet users have chosen to practice self-censorship. For economic purposes, China, Egypt, Tunisia and Vietnam have wagered on a infrastructure development strategy while keeping a tight control over the Web’s political and social content ."