The creators of the annual press freedom index have added the US and Britain to their list of countries that repress online speech, arrest bloggers and use the internet to conduct domestic surveillance. Longtime faves such as Iran, North Korea and Cuba have some rich new friends. From the EFF's digest:
United States: This is the first time the US has made it onto RSF’s list. While the US government doesn’t censor online content, and pours money into promoting Internet freedom worldwide, the National Security Agency’s unapologetic dragnet surveillance and the government’s treatment of whistleblowers have earned it a spot on the index.
United Kingdom: The European nation has been dubbed by RSF as the “world champion of surveillance” for its recently-revealed depraved strategies for spying on individuals worldwide. The UK also joins countries like Ethiopia and Morocco in using terrorism laws to go after journalists. Not noted by RSF, but also important, is the fact that the UK is also cracking down on legal pornography, forcing Internet users to opt-in with their ISP if they wish to view it and creating a slippery slope toward overblocking. This is in addition to the government’s use of an opaque, shadowy NGO to identify child sexual abuse images, sometimes resulting instead in censorship of legitimate speech.
Other newcomers to the list are Russia, Pakistan, India and Ethiopia. Tunisia and Burma were removed from the list after having "taken steps to ameliorate violations of Internet freedom"
In this year’s Reporters Without Borders international press freedom index, the U.S. slumped to 47th place, a fall of 27 places, largely due to arrests of journalists covering protests. The full report is available in PDF format. [RSF]
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