May 24, 2017

Bits Blog: Estonia Gets Highest Marks for Internet Freedom

What’s up with Estonia? The tiny Baltic nation affords its citizens the greatest measure of digital freedom as measured by Freedom House, a Washington  advocacy group.

Freedom House’s rankings are based on things like access to the Internet and online free expression laws. Estonia has a national digital identification system, allows its citizens to vote online and has announced plans to teach computer coding to public school students as early as first grade, according to the technology blog UbuntuLife.

Estonia is a standout at a time when, according to Freedom House, online censorship has grown, from widespread blocking and filtering in some countries to laws that regulate what can be said online to physical attacks on bloggers and other online critics.

The group’s report, which measured the restrictions in 47 countries from January 2011 to May 2012, found that “restrictions on Internet freedom in many countries have continued to grow, though the methods of control are slowly evolving and becoming less visible.”

The report comes on the heels of a global debate about free expression after a crude video that ridicules Islam was posted on YouTube. It was blamed for setting off violence in several countries worldwide. It led a handful of countries to block YouTube altogether.

In 19 of the 47 countries mentioned in the report, Freedom House said, citizens who posted content online, whether in a blog or on social media, were “tortured, disappeared, beaten or brutally assaulted.” The report was packed with examples. In Bahrain, for instance, the moderator of an online forum died in police custody in April 2011; in Jordan, a blogger was stabbed in the stomach; and in Sri Lanka and Uzbeskistan, those who criticized the government online have “disappeared under mysterious circumstances.”

Physical attacks were not limited to critics of the government. Freedom House cited the example of Mexico, where bloggers who had written about organized crime were murdered, with notes that referred explicitly to the victims’ postings online.

Article source: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/25/estonia-gets-highest-marks-for-internet-freedom/?partner=rss&emc=rss

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