In June 2016 the United Nations Human Rights Council has passed a non-binding resolution condemning countries that intentionally disrupt citizens’ access to the Internet, declared internet access a human right.
Yet, Internet censorship by governments has no sign of stopping. During the same month of the said U.N.’s announcement, Syria government has shut down its Internet all across the country as protestors filled the streets.
In one recent study by the University of Michigan, the researchers found that:
The largest collection of public internet censorship data ever compiled shows that even citizens of the world’s freest countries are not safe from internet censorship.
[…] censorship is increasing in 103 of the countries studied, including unexpected places like Norway, Japan, Italy, India, Israel and Poland—countries which the paper notes are rated as some of the freest in the world by advocacy group Freedom House.Source: news.umich.edu
Internet Censorship in Myanmar
Citizens of Myanmar (formerly Burma) face high levels of Internet Censorship. The situation is not new, and censorship has been relatively consistent since the 1988 coup d’état by the military. Since then, controls over all facets of life in Myanmar are highly scrutinized.
Some restrictions were relaxed following the initial release of Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi in 2010. Unfortunately, any progress made to truly relax Internet Censorship in Myanmar has collapsed following the latest coup in early 2021.
What Internet Censorship Happens in Myanmar?
While the situation may sound highly draconian, there are some notable clauses for Internet Censorship in Myanmar. Unlike blanket restrictions, the Internet Censorship here appears to be more selective.
There is a strong focus on preventing political dissent and Internet tools that may support such activities. Among activities undertaken by the current junta are:
- Attempt to revive a draft cybersecurity law
- Efforts to extract dissident data from service providers
- Occasional Internet shutdowns
- Suspension of various wireless broadband services
- Blocking of mobile Internet access
- Criminalization of VPN use in the country
These activities and more point to the current junta’s attempt to quash all opposition to its rule in the country. The criminalization of VPN users is an extreme step undertaken, more so than the VPN controls implemented in Russia.
Internet Censorship in Venezuela
Levels of Internet Censorship in Venezuela are high. Various factors contribute to this, including a dominant-party system, growing unrest amidst hyperinflation, deteriorating social conditions, and more.
The country consistently ranks poorly in vital indices, including the Corruption Perceptions Index (177th of 180 countries) and Freedom on the Net index (27/100 score). Obstacles to the access of the Internet and limits on content contribute highly towards the latter.
What Internet Censorship Happens in Venezuela?
Government Internet Censorship activities in Venezuela cover a broad scope. Examples of these include;
- Prevention of access to politically sensitive content
- Blocking an increasing number of media websites
- Implementation of digital restrictions
- Arbitrary arrest of citizens for voicing criticism in cyberspace
- Manipulation on digital content
- Poor judicial approach to digital freedom
There are multiple factors why the government deems this uncompromising approach to Internet Censorship in Venezuela necessary. Over recent years, the Venezuelan social and economic infrastructure shows signs of severe stress, potentially leading to collapse.
This situation leads to increased social unrest, with citizens facing difficulties accessing necessities like food and healthcare. Thus the dominant party resorts to suppression in multiple areas, including the Internet.
Internet Censorship In the United Kingdom
Few are aware that many “free” countries worldwide also implement varying levels of Internet Censorship. The United Kingdom (U.K.) is one of these free countries with draconian Internet Censorship measures.
You may be surprised to learn that the reasoning for the existence of this censorship is quite similar. Governments implement Internet Censorship to prevent activities upon which they frown. These can range anywhere from the prevention of debate to curbs on terrorism.
What Internet Censorship Happens in the U.K?
The focus of Internet Censorship in the U.K. leans heavily towards two key areas. The first is the prevention of access to pornography. This umbrella includes Internet Censorship of specific extreme pornography categories.
Next is incitement to terrorism. Thanks to the Terrorism Act 2000, authorities are granted sweeping powers over the digital space. The ultimate goal is to prevent terrorist propaganda from reaching the sensitive eyes of British citizens.
Overall, the U.K. maintains a long list of Internet Censorship areas, including:
- Extreme pornographic content
- Adult websites lacking age verification systems
- Overview over social media comments
- Pirated content (Including torrent sites like The Pirate Bay)
- Content that may fuel terrorism
Final Thoughts on Internet Censorship
The days of free and unfettered access to digital content worldwide are rapidly diminishing. Internet Censorship is getting worse, and as you can see, the free world isn’t immune to the abuse of censorship regulations.
When browsing the web today, a VPN is necessary to ensure you don’t get blocked from content you should have a right to access. Stay safe and free online.
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