Recently Freedom House released the findings of Freedom on the Net 2011, a new study that assesses the state of internet freedom around the world. The report, which examined 37 countries, found that as internet use has dramatically grown, so have cyber attacks, politically motivated censorship, and government control over internet infrastructure. (more…)

Free the Internet

February 10th, 2011   Theme: Internet Freedom

”Sweden was one of the first countries that put internet freedom on the international agenda. We have made this issue an important part of our work to promote human rights” says Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt, while continuing:”I promise that we will remain a driving force in jointly promoting freedom and security on the internet.” Mr. Bildt’s point of view is reflected in this year’s declaration on foreign policy where it’s stated that “the free flow of information and a global electronic infrastructure is crucial to economic development as well as an increased degree of freedom in the world” Few people in the democratic countries of the world would disagree. Internet, as well as cell phones, has become a tool in the struggle for freedom and against oppression. (more…)

According to Freedom House, a think tank monitoring human rights and freedom all over the world, only 2 percent of the Cubans are able to access internet, a network which is highly censored. In addition, internet connection is expensive – an hour cost nearly a week’s salary. In spite of this, there is blogosphere where dissidents are able to voice their opinions. (more…)

Few countries in the world are as effective in controlling the usage and content of the internet as Iran. In spite of significant limitations in internet use, the controversial presidential election of 2009, turned into a manifestation of internet’s potential as a distribution channel for dissident information. In the absence of traditional media, new media such as blogs, YouTube and Twitter were used to spread the story of dissident protests to the rest of the world. The assassination of the young activist Neda Agha-Soltan was capture by a mobile camera and distributed through YouTube. The images became symbols for the resistance to the regime. (more…)

Internet freedom does not exist in North Korea. All means of communication are controlled by the state and new technology is no exception. The importance of such a control is questionable, since North Korea lacks any broad technological infrastructure. There is indeed a small national intranet, available to universities, authorities and state owned companies but connection to the rest of the world is missing. Only within the highest ranks in society, the small minority with ties to the leadership in the communist party and the military, has the possibility to connect to what we usually call internet. Some within the elite are believed to have a fairly good connection with the rest of the world through internet. For instance, Kim Jong Il gave his personal e-mail address to Madeleine Albright at their meeting in Pyongyang in 2000. (more…)

The former KGB-boss Feliks Dzerzhinsky sternly watches over the bright yellow headquarters of the Ministry for Internal Affairs. In Belarus, a country which is often named the last dictatorship in Europe, the organization that he founded has kept both its old name and its old purpose. Streets named after Lenin and Marx brings back memories of the Soviet era, and the political climate is still dominated by the country’s president Aleksandr Lukashenko. In Belarus, opportunities for the opposition to reach out are scarce. The most commonly accessed media, the TV-channels are closed for the opposition as well as all but a few newspapers. Thus, political opponents to the regime have since long had to rely on direct contact, either through street rallies or through word of mouth. (more…)

To Henrik von Sydow, the issue of internet freedom is one of democracy. It deals with the human right to freely seek, receive and impart information over the internet. Due to technological progress, this has become increasingly important in several spheres, including foreign policy, trade policy and development aid. (more…)