Reporters Without Borders, the international media watchdog, released a list of “Enemies of the Internet” – the nations which restrict freedom of expression online. This has become an annual ritual for this organisation, four years in the running. They chose March 12, World Day Against Cyber Censorship, to release the list.
The list includes 12 “Internet Enemies” and 14 “countries under surveillance.”
“The Internet and social networks have been conclusively established as tools for protest, campaigning and circulating information, and as vehicles for freedom,” the report says. “More than ever before, online freedom of expression is now a major foreign and domestic policy issue.”
Interestingly, Libya has been removed from this list following the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi from power. Until last year Libya featured prominently in the Enemy list. Among other nations, Bahrain and Belarus made it to “Enemy” list from “Under Surveillance”.
The nations, which now feature as enemies of the internet, are Burma, China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. A total of fourteen other nations are under surveillance: Australia, Egypt, Eritrea, France, India, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Russia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
Social Media and the internet have assumed an important role in spearheading revolts and uprising across the world. From the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street, the voice of the people have been growing stronger. Thus, internet censorship has emerged as the new weapon to curb the voices of freedom.
Will the powers that be able to quash the freedom of expression or will good sense prevail? The list next year shall tell.