Sunday, 5 April 2009



New Study Identifies Emerging Threats to Internet Freedom

Washington – March 30, 2009 – A new study from Freedom House warns that the rights of internet and mobile phone users are increasingly at risk as governments, both repressive and democratic, expand their ability to monitor and control online activity.

华盛顿2009年3月30日电.一项由 “自由之家”主持的最新研究,警告互联网和移动电话用户的权利正在日益危险之中,各国政府,无论是专制的还是民主的,均在扩展他们监视控制网上活动的能力.

Freedom on the Net identifies wide disparities in internet freedom among the 15 countries studied and raises concern over trends such as the "outsourcing of censorship" to private companies and authoritarian governments' use of undercover agents to manipulate online conversations. The report cites both repressive and democratic governments for internet surveillance and for failing to adequately inform users about censorship standards.

“网上自由”专项研究证实了在15个被选作检测对象的国家中,互联网自由度相当悬殊差异巨大,引起人们关注诸如对私营公司的 “审查外延化”的趋势,及专制政府雇用秘密代理人暗中操纵网上对话与讨论.该研究报告引证无论专制政府还是民主政府,都对互联网进行监视,且都未能适当地通知用户有关内容审查的标准.

"More than a billion people look to the internet and mobile phones to provide a new freedom frontier, where they can exercise their right to freedom of expression without repercussion," said Jennifer Windsor, Freedom House executive director. "But as access grows, more governments are employing diverse and sophisticated methods to monitor, censor and punish internet users."

“超过十亿人看到互联网和移动电话提供了一种新自由边境,他们能够在网上行使表达自由权而无需担忧后果”, “自由之家”的执行经理杰尼佛.温德斯说道. “但是随着互联网用户的飞速发展,日益增多的政府正在使用各种复杂的方式和技术,监视、审查和惩罚互联网用户”.

Freedom House developed the pilot study to better understand emerging threats to internet freedom. Freedom on the Net evaluates each country based on barriers to access, limitations on content and violations of users' rights. It captures not only government actions, but also indicates that citizens are resisting government attempts to restrict their online activity.

“自由之家”开发了“网上自由”项目研究指南,以便更好地理解对互联网自由正在形成的威胁. “网上自由”对每个国家进入互联网的障碍,对互联网内容的限制及侵犯用户的权利作出评价.它不仅记录政府行为,而且指出公民们正在反抗政府限制他们的网上活动的企图.

Findings from the study, which covers events from 2007 to 2008, will be formally released Wednesday to a conference of more than a thousand bloggers in Berlin, Germany. Freedom House hopes to expand the study to examine internet freedom in all countries of the world.

通过对发生于2007年至2008年间事件的研究作出的报告,将于周三在德国柏林举行的,有数千名博客主参加的世界博客大赛大会上正式公布。 “自由之家”希望在全世界所有国家拓展互联网自由检查的专项研究.

Cuba received the lowest score in the study because of the Castro regime's near total control over internet access. Three other countries received a ranking of Not Free: China, Iran and Tunisia. The vast majority of the countries studied received a Partly Free ranking: Egypt, Georgia, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Russia and Turkey. Estonia tops the study as the country with the most internet freedom. Other countries ranked Free are: Brazil, South Africa and the United Kingdom.


The study's China report shows a particular paradox: a country with an estimated 300 million online users that also has the world’s most highly-developed censorship apparatus. China ties with Cuba for the country with the most curbs on users' rights, including prosecutions for online activities, surveillance and extra-legal harassment of bloggers.


"Freedom House is heartened by the fact that citizens, even in highly-repressive countries like China, Cuba and Iran, are pushing back with creativity and courage against these growing government controls over the internet," said Windsor. "Democratic countries should not only support such voices, but also set an example of best practice with their own digital media policies."


General Trends


· Growing Access, Threats: In six (40 percent) of the countries examined, internet use doubled between 2006 and 2008. Mobile phone penetration doubled in three (20 percent) of the countries. At the same time, six countries (40 percent) sentenced a blogger to prison and a third of the countries introduced new internet-restricting legislation. Methods to control and censor traditional media are seeping into the new media environment, but are not as common yet. In addition to imprisonment, torture, and intimidation of internet activists, governments also engage in online harassment by hacking or using technical means to shut down websites.

· 对互联网使用权增长的威胁:在六个被检测研究的国家中(占40%),互联网用户在2006年至2008年两年间增长了两倍。移动电话上网率在三个国家(占20%)增长了两倍。与此同时,六个国家(占40%)判决一名博客主入狱,且有三分之一的国家制定了新的限制互联网的法规。审查和控制传统媒体的方法,正在渗透入该新媒体环境中,但是尚未普遍适用。除了监禁、酷刑和威胁互联网活动家外,各国政府亦正在使用黑客进行网上骚扰或使用技术手段关闭网站。

· Censorship Proliferates: Eleven countries (73 percent) targeted political content in at least one instance, and general censorship and control was present in every country studied. Censorship techniques included technical filtering, manual content removal because of government directives, intimidation, judicial decisions and sophisticated manipulation of online conversations by undercover agents.


· Outsourcing Censorship: More governments are requiring private actors such as internet service providers, blog hosting companies, cybercafé employees and mobile phone operators to censor and monitor users. This outsourcing affects both local and multinational companies.

· 外源审查制度:更多的政府要求私人行为人,诸如互联网服务供应商、博客网主公司、网吧雇主和移动电话经营人,监视和监督用户。本土和跨国公司均受到此种外源审查制度的影响。

· More Internet Freedom than Press Freedom: For every country in the study—with the exception of the United Kingdom—their internet freedom score outperformed their score in Freedom House’s Freedom of the Press study, which principally examines broadcast and print media. These differences were most pronounced in the Partly Free countries such as Kenya, Russia and Malaysia.

· 互联网自由比印刷媒体自由度更大:除了英国之外,被研究的每个国家,互联网自由均超过他们在“自由之家”的“出版自由”研究(主要检测广播和印刷媒体)显示的自由度。这些差别在“部分自由”国家,例如肯尼亚、俄国和马来西亚特别显着。

· Civic Activism Increases: Citizens are resisting government control by blogging, using code for sensitive keywords and organizing protests and advocacy groups through social networks like Facebook.

公民活动家的增长:公民们正在通过博客反抗政府控制互联网,使用代码代替敏感关键词,并通过象 Facebook的社区网络,组织抗议和辩护团体。

Key Country Findings


· Cuba is one of the world's most repressive environments for internet freedom, despite a slight relaxation of restrictions on computer and mobile phone sales in 2008. There is almost no access to internet applications other than e-mail and surveillance is extensive. Cuba is one of the few countries with laws and regulations explicitly restricting and outlawing certain online activities.


· China is home to the largest population of users, but its rulers employ the world's most sophisticated, multi-layered, and wide-ranging apparatus for repressing internet freedom. It has the most cyber dissidents behind bars, at least 49 as of mid-2008. In addition, cyber dissidents are sentenced to longer prison terms than elsewhere, and extra-legal forms of harassment and violence are on the rise. Authorities and private providers employ hundreds of thousands to monitor, censor, and manipulate online content.


· Iran uses a complex system of nationwide content filtering, intimidation, detention and torture of bloggers, and restriction of broadband access to subvert freedom of expression online. Authorities detained and questioned more than a dozen bloggers in 2008 and a bill enabling the death penalty for online activities passed its first reading in parliament.


· Russia does not engage in significant technical blocking or filtering, but authorities are increasingly removing content through behind-the-scenes pressure. Internet freedom is threatened by a rise in attacks and criminal cases targeting bloggers, while the government manipulates online discussion by funding its own propaganda websites.


· Egypt does not engage in widespread censorship of the internet and the government has actively encouraged access to technology. But security services and their allies are known to monitor users and use low-tech methods of control such as intimidation, detention, imprisonment, and torture to silence online activists.


· South Africa has a high level of digital media freedom, but a majority of citizens are unable to access the internet because of high costs and language barriers. Political content is not censored and bloggers are not prosecuted for online activities. Unlike other countries in the study, South Africa has more people accessing the internet on their mobile phones than from computers.


· The United Kingdom has one of the world's freest environments. But there are growing concerns about the widespread retention of user data by service providers and the permissive environment for "libel tourism" (in which the UK allows individuals, often from authoritarian countries, to sue authors whose work is available in the UK, including online versions). The procedures used by the private Internet Watch Foundation to remove harmful internet content lack transparency and the appeals process could be improved.


Freedom House, an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world, has been monitoring political rights and civil liberties worldwide since 1972.

“自由之家”是一个自1972年始在全世界监督政治权利和公民自由,支持在全世界拓展自由的独立、非政府组织。自由至关重要。自由之家与众不同。(Freedom matters. Freedom House makes a difference)

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