The Most Internet Restrictive Countries on the Planet

Most Internet Restrictive Countries
Most Internet Restrictive Countries

Top 10 Most Internet Restrictive Countries On the Planet!

Those who live in the United States enjoy exceptional freedom on the internet. Aside from the occasional 404 error, we are pretty much free to surf wherever we want. That’s not to say we should but we certainly have the opportunity. That’s not the case across the globe.

Freedom House is a non-profit organization that has been promoting freedom and democracy planet-wide since 1941. In an annual report on Freedom on the Internet, they found some interesting and somewhat eye-opening facts.

  • Over two-thirds of internet users live in nations where criticism of the government or ruling party is censored and/or punishable.
  • Arrests were made in 38 countries over social media posts in the past year.
  • In 2016, internet freedoms decreased globally for the sixth consecutive year.

In fact, when the Freedom House assessed the internet as a whole, they found only 24% of users had access that they considered a “free” internet.

How do countries restrict freedoms on the internet? They can use technology, blocking what the government believes are divisive or morally corrupt websites. They can essentially create their own national intranet, restricting access to global websites all together. They can also use legislation to restrict what is legal to post and follow up with fines or even prison time. Many monitor and track usage from those on the internet.

There is good news in that 14 countries involved in the survey actually improved internet freedoms, even if it was slight. The United States was among those 14. In fact, the U.S. scored 4th globally when it comes to freedom on the net. Here are the ten top-scoring countries.

  1. Estonia
  2. Iceland
  3. Canada
  4. United States
  5. Germany
  6. Australia
  7. Japan
  8. United Kingdom
  9. France
  10. Georgia

What countries are the most restrictive when it comes to Freedom on the internet? Let’s take a somewhat subjective look.

Most Internet Restrictive Countries

The Ten Worst Rated Offenders For Freedom on the Internet

The specific countries on the list may not be as much of a surprise as the extent they go to in implementing their restrictions.

  1. China – China aggressively monitors internet usage, filtering and redirecting searches, blocking websites and even “erasing” undesirable content. In 2015, the Chinese Wikipedia was blocked to citizens and more than 60 regulations currently restrict the internet. Users are often self-policed as the country creates an atmosphere that individuals are “being watched” when using the internet.
  2. Cuba – Cuba’s government controls the country’s internet access points and a special permit is required for use. The government-sponsored “internet” is highly restricted, employing IP tracking, keyword search term filtering, search history tracking, and emails are closely monitored. Only those friendly to the government have the ability to upload information. International visitors can access the world-wide internet but allowing locals access is illegal.
  3. Ethiopia – The Ethio Telecom and Ethiopian Telecommunication Agency control all access in this African nation, including licensing internet cafes. Internet cafes must have all screens visible to the operator of the cafe so content can be better monitored. It is illegal to circumvent their national licensing program. Political dissent is virtually invisible online. Even VoIP services like Skype are restricted. Government surveillance is common and expected.
  4. Iran – Iran has an extensive amount of internet users, with recent estimates reaching approximately 50 million. These users, however, don’t have access to some of the world’s most popular websites like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Bloggers are required to register and using an email service outside of the government-sponsored one is not allowed. ISPs face heavy fines if they do not follow the government’s restricted list of blocked websites that includes over 15,000 sites that have been blacklisted.
  5. North Korea – While internet access is available in North Korea, only government officials and foreign visitors have access. The North Korean “intranet”, known as Kwangmyong, is available for the general population. North Korean access to the internet has become increasingly restrictive in recent years. The country itself offers very few websites with only about 30 such North Korean websites in existence.
  6. Pakistan – Following a contest on Facebook promoting the submission of drawings of the Prophet Mohammad, Pakistan put in place increasingly restrictive internet regulations and access, including blocking the popular social media website. The country uses Netsweeper type technology to filter both political and social content.
  7. Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia blocks hundreds of thousands of websites for what they claim are mainly cultural and religious reasons. Many suspect, however, that many sites are being restricted to re-direct users to government-backed websites to limit commerce outside of the country. Gambling and pornography sites are strictly banned and citizens are encouraged to report other “objectionable” websites. Apparently, much of the population doesn’t mind the censorship as it is estimated 1,200 websites are reported every day to the government.
  8. Syria – Syria controls internet access not only through blocking and filtering but by aggressively punishing violators with arrest. Bloggers who express anti-government sentiments may be arrested for putting national security in jeopardy. Users at internet cafes must show ID and have their usage monitored and reported. For over ten years, Syria has been noted as one of the planet’s worst offenders when it comes to internet freedoms.
  9. Tunisia – All of Tunisia’s internet traffic flows through a central data facility where uploaded material, emails, and personal data is monitored. While still restrictive, access has eased greatly since the Tunisian Revolution.
  10. Vietnam – The government of Vietnam requires large companies like Google and Yahoo to turn over information on bloggers to continue to be available in the country. The government also strictly controls information that may be considered anti-government or pro-democracy.

The next time you encounter a 404 error or a website you are trying to pull up takes just a few extra seconds to load, remember, it could be worse. While our internet freedoms could be better, they could be far worse. In some countries, they are.

UK’s Internet Troll Policy: A threat to Freedom of Speech or a Better Protection for Individuals?

An image of a man's mouth sealed with 'freedom' note

Freedom of Speech is a serious matter. United Kingdom however are trying to, via new online laws, protect individuals who has felt threatened through social media. Will it violate Freedom of Speech?

The United Kingdom recently introduced new sentencing measures for Internet trolls found guilty of sending threatening or abusive messages online. However, many worry the new legislation may infringe on the civil liberties and freedom of speech of those simply expressing their opinions in an emphatic manner. The new legislation will allow serious offenses to be decided by the Crown Courts with a maximum sentence of 24 months, four times the previous standard sentence. Currently, these offenses are handled by local magistrates.

Why the Harsher Sentences?

The increase in penalties for internet trolls is directed at those who threaten to rape or kill through online communication. The threatening of celebrities and other high-profile figures has brought the issue to the forefront. For example, Chloe Madeley, the daughter of UK talk show host Judy Finnegan, recently received threatening tweets after she defended her mother’s comments about a rape case involving a footballer. Lawmakers feel the stiffer sentencing is warranted because “we would not permit such venom in person,” stated Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.

Concerns over Freedom of Speech

Although no one is defending online rape and death threats, experts warn that the new law could punish those that are simply expressing criticism. The legislation lacks balance in differentiating between abusers and those expressing their opinion. These concerns are not far-fetched. Even without the new maximum sentences, there have been cases where authorities have prosecuted people under the Public Order Act for questionable reasons.

For example, the 2012 case of Paul Chambers hinged on what he thought was a joke. After realizing the Robin Hood Airport was closed due to weather, he tweeted, “Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your [expletive] together otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!” He was convicted by a district judge and two judges upheld the conviction on appeal. A high court ultimately reversed his conviction, but not before he lost two jobs and spent the better part of two years engaged in his legal battle.

Many civil-liberties experts assert that true threats to an individual’s safety should be pursued through harassment laws, not communication legislation that can potentially infringe on the rights of those vehemently expressing their opinion or making what they think is a joke. Advocates for freedom of speech are concerned about comments from legislators like former Conservative MP Edwina Currie who stated that “people should learn to show restraint when making online comments.” While “showing restraint” may be an admirable goal, and direct threats should be taken seriously, who knows how slippery this slope is?

OrangeWebsite’s professionals closely monitor freedom of speech laws and cases around the world. We’ll closely watch the results of this legislation as it makes its way through Parliament. Contact us to learn more about our services.

Christmas Is Near – It’s Time to Share

Christmas outlook for orangewebsite.com with snowmen wearing Christmas hats.
Christmas outlook for orangewebsite.com with snowmen wearing Christmas hats.

New outlook on our website is to remind everyone that Christmas is all about giving. Spread the holiday cheer and get involved with a charity project of your choice!

The holiday season is rapidly approaching and we have published new Christmas outlook on our website to spread the holiday cheer. Some of you may have noticed that there are new trees growing on the view of Icelandic landscape. This is because OrangeWebsite helps The Canope Project to plant new trees every month.

Christmas all about sharing and giving, therefore now it’s the best time to get involved with a charity project that you feel is important. As the old saying goes, little drops of water make the mighty ocean. I have listed some charity programs below that you could consider:

1.) World Vision Charity Gift Project

With World Vision gift project, you can give where it’s most needed. With minimum donation of $10 USD you can support the less fortunate children around the world and give them a Christmas gift of your choice.

2.) International Animal Rescue

Most of us are going to buy Christmas presents anyway. Why not to choose a present that also makes the world a better place? Internal Animal Rescue offers gifts from soft toys to virtual gifts. All profits are used for supporting projects that help animals around the world. This way your gift gets a double effect. International Animal Rescue also accepts money donations for it’s projects.

3.) Unicef Christmas Charity Gifts

Give good with Unicef inspired gift and change a child’s life. You can give gift of your choice from polio vaccines to footballs, starting from $16 USD per donation.

4.) Green Schools Campaign

Christmas time is a good time to get involved with environmental projects as well. Giving back to the earth what you take helps to keep the ecological balance. Green schools Campaign helps to build energy-efficient schools that provide children science-based environmental and civic education in the classroom.

OrangeWebsite and it’s staff is sending you warm winter wishes for an enchanted holiday season. May this wonderful time of giving bring you joy that lasts throughout the year!

Iceland Airwaves – A Music Festival on Volcanoes

A cheering crowd in front of a stage at a music event
A cheering crowd in front of a stage at a music event

Iceland Airwaves took place 4th – 8th of November 2014. Since the first one was held in 1999, Iceland Airwaves has become an annual celebration for local and foreign music lovers.

When you think of Iceland, images of fiery volcanoes, imposing mountains, craggy peaks and vast glaciers come to mind. Iceland also has rich green land, vibrant cities, and farms, but more importantly, it has a rich creative culture that has bound its society together from ancient history to modern times.

Icelandic culture and lifestyle is unique in that it is deeply rooted in ancient heritage. It’s a close-knit, relatively small population with an enterprising spirit, especially when it comes to honing its creative crafts. From writing to painting, to composing and designing, Iceland has a definite creative edge. Iceland is well known for its ancient sagas, such as Egil’s Saga, which go back as far as the 1200s. These days, it is known for its award-winning films and music.

The most recent of these creative waves to hit Iceland was the Airwaves music festival, a yearly event that rocks for five days with a variety of music. This year’s festival was graced by a huge range of sound, from the delicate and rich work of Icelandic Symphony Orchestra to the screaming poetry of Kaelan Mikla. Five days of music in Iceland can barely scratch the surface of what the country has to offer, but it’s certainly a great time.

In fact, the Airwaves line-up held more than just Icelanders. If you found yourself there on the right day, you’d also be able to listen to the cathartic music of the U.S. group Future Islands, the wistful melodies of Norway’s Farao, or the “sound bombs” of Poland’s BNNT.

For five days, this spectacular festival invites artists to perform both on venue and off, rollicking in musical creativity and freedom. 219 bands and their fans from various countries around the world came to Iceland to celebrate. The island may have been a bit crowded for a week, but that’s really what Iceland loves to do: share creative endeavours.