Asia cracks down on Internet [asiatimes]

HUA HIN, Thailand – According to the Freedom on the Net 2012 report released this week by Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization, government attacks against bloggers, politically motivated surveillance, proactive manipulation of web content, and restrictive laws regulating speech online are the biggest emerging threats to Internet freedom in the last two years.
Throughout Asia there have been several changes in the freedom online rankings, unfortunately for netizens in the region most have been in the wrong direction. The ratings for each country, which categorize them as “free”, “partly free” or “not free”, were compiled from a number of factors including barriers to Internet access, limits on content, and violations of user rights.

Pakistan and Egypt saw the biggest declines from 2011, with India, China, Malaysia, and South Korea, showing a slight decline in freedom online. Still ranked “not free” in 2012 are Thailand, Myanmar, China, Vietnam, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran.

Indonesia and Myanmar showed improvement in rankings following recent reforms and the Philippines remained the country with most Internet freedom in the region.

According to the report, new laws or directives in 19 of the 47 countries analyzed have been passed since January 2011. These have been implemented to restrict online speech, violate user privacy, or punish individuals who post content deemed objectionable or undesirable.

In 26 of the countries, including several “democratic” states, at least one blogger or Internet user was arrested for content posted online or sent via text message, indicating a notable increase in crackdowns on political speech on the web.

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