Internet freedom at risk around world, says Freedom House report

Even as the number of Internet users continues to growInternet freedom is increasingly threatened, and countries such as Venezuela, Jordan and Russia are especially at risk, according to a new report from Freedom House.

The report, "Freedom on the Net 2011: A Global Assessment of Internet and Digital Media," labeled 11 countries as "not free," including Cuba, Iran, Burma, China and Saudi Arabia. The top two countries with the highest rates of Internet freedom were Estonia and the United States.

In 12 of the 37 countries examined, authorities consistently have targeted social media, banning sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, the study found. And in 23 of the 37 countries, at least one blogger or Internet user had been detained. Also, 15 countries regularly substantially blocked Internet content, especially those from independent news sites and human rights groups.

“These detailed findings clearly show that Internet freedom cannot be taken for granted,” David J. Kramer, executive director of Freedom House, said in a statement. “Nondemocratic regimes are devoting more attention and resources to censorship and other forms of interference with online expression.”

Using the Freedom House report, The Economist charted a country's Internet freedom in comparison to Internet penetration. In general, countries with higher penetration rates fared better in terms of Internet freedom.

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» Knight Center (Cuba, Venezuela on Reporters Without Borders' cyber censorship watch-list)

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.