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Cuba remains on "Enemies of the Internet" list; Venezuela taken off watch list

On Monday, March 12, the World Day Against Cybercensorship, Reporters Without Borders released its "Enemies of the Internet" list for 2012, placing Cuba on the list of countries that restrict Web freedom. In 2011, Cuba also appeared on the list.

Venezuela was moved off the "watch list," as access to the Internet is unrestricted and legislation approved in 2011 that could potentially limit Internet freedom has not resulted in any damaging actions as of yet. Still, Reporters Without Borders said it would "remain vigilant as relations between the government and critical media are tense."

Crediting the Internet and social media for contributing to the success of the Arab Spring, the report noted that "new media keep pushing back the boundaries of censorship." However, the report also cited numerous global concerns, such as Internet and mobile phone shutdowns becoming more frequent, more content filtering and removal, threats to "Net neutrality" and online free speech, increased surveillance, the dominance of online propaganda, more cyber attacks, raids and roundups, and "inhuman treatment, pressure and unfair tactics."

It is in this last category that Cuba appeared, as Reporters Without Borders called attention to the "pitched battle" between "pro-government bloggers and their 'alternative' counterparts who criticize the government." The report specifically named Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez, who has been the target of a smear campaign in official media.

Bahrain and Belarus were added this year to the list of "Enemies of the Internet," according to the Associated Press. Besides Cuba, the list also includes Burma, China, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

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