Internet freedom on decline worldwide as governments tighten grip – report

Published on Russia Today RT, Oct 4, 2013.

Improved surveillance, takedown of opposition websites for “illegal content” and paid pro-government commentators are among the increasingly sophisticated tools used by authorities to restrict internet freedom, a new report claims … //

… Many countries are also moving from technological to legal solutions in their battle against freedom of expression.  

“While blocking and filtering remain the preferred methods of censorship in many countries, governments are increasingly looking at who is saying what online, and finding ways to punish them,” said Sanja Kelly, project director for Freedom on the Net at Freedom House.

“In some countries, a user can get arrested for simply posting on Facebook or for “liking” a friend’s comment that is critical of the authorities,” she added.

The report says that in 26 countries, people were arrested for posting “socially-relevant statements on social-media sites.”

Russia – which is otherwise placed in the middle of the ranking – is singled out as an “important incubator” of indirect methods of repression which are then adopted by other countries, particularly former Soviet republics.

Among the authorities’ actions is the passing of a “broadly-worded” internet ‘blacklist’ law last year that allows prosecutors to order websites offline without judicial evidence. While the law is theoretically intended to block illegal content – such as child pornography – the authors say that it has been used against opposition websites and blogs.

The government is also accused of using proxy groups, which receive public funds, “to widely engage in all kinds of digital activities, including paying commentators to post content, disseminating DDoS attacks (cyber attacks), and hijacking blog ratings.”

While the practice of paying commentators is said to have been pioneered in China and Russia, the report says that it is now being adopted in at least 22 countries on its list, such as Malaysia and Belarus.

On the whole, the tone of the report is of overwhelming concern, but in sixteen countries the situation has improved.

One major positive trend has also emerged – the rise of online activism, designed to protest laws that adversely affect the internet, or society as a whole. The report says that 11 countries – including the Philippines and Mexico – were able to repeal or soften freedom-restricting laws as a result of online campaigns.

(full text and map from

(There is a rising public consciousness about internet freedom and freedom of expression issues. Citizens’ groups are able to more rapidly disseminate information about negative proposals and put pressure on the government, wrote the authors.
In addition, information technologies have started to play an important role in advocacy for positive change on other policy topics, from corruption to women’s rights


California governor signs law defying cooperation with NDAA indefinite detention, on Russia Todasy RT, Oct 2, 2013: California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a law barring state cooperation with any attempt by the federal government to indefinitely detain people. The legislation targets the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, NDAA …;

Supreme Court to rule on fate of indefinite detention for Americans under NDAA, on Russia Today RT, Sept 3, 2013;

NDAA unconstitutional: Federal judge bans Obama from indefinitely detaining Americans, on Russia Today, June 7, 2012;

Download: The (NDAA-) Act: H.R.4310, 681 pdf-pages;

National Defense Authorization Act NDAA on en.wikipedia and it’s External Links;

NDAA also:

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