The Guardian has posted an interesting interactive map on their website, with information regarding internet censorship and freedoms in countries around the world.
They divide internet ‘interference’ into a few categories;
Political – regarding censorship of opinions, and freedom of speech
China, Syria, Burma – they are all mentioned here for having pervasive political interference.
No evidence countries included all Western countries, as well as (maybe surprisingly), Algeria, Tunisia and Afghanistan. Egypt was also ‘clean’ in this respect, even though in the Arab Spring of 2011, The Egyptian Government shut down all major internet linkages in the country.
Social – related to Government interference on certain topics, such as sexuality, gambling, drugs and other topics which could be conceived to be ‘offensive‘
China was slightly better on this one, but still had substantial interference. The most pervasive were Middle Eastern countries, including the UAE.
Italy was rated as having ‘selective’ censorship, due to a courtcase where Google was found guilty of violating privacy for not removing content from their Video site.
For now, Australia has a ‘no evidence’ rating, despite mentions of the Labor Governments filtering plans.
Tools – interference of websites which provide services, such as email, VOIP and hosting.
Again, Middle Eastern countries were shown to be the most pervasive. The Guardian report stated that in the UAE, websites are blocked, social media is monitored and technology which allows private browsing has been clamped down on.
Conflict and Security – Interference with content regarding disputes and borders
China was shown to have the most pervasive interference in this regard, in the world. Particularly regarding any Tibet issues.
Transparency – How open are they about their filtering methods?
Russia, China and many of the ‘Stans’ get bad marks here, with low transparency reported. In 2010, in Russia, apparently a local court tried to ban YouTube because it had an ultra nationalist video on it. In 2009, several bloggers were arrested for anti-Putin remarks.
Consistency – How consistent are they with their policies on internet censorship?
Russia had the lowest marks for consistency, along with Indonesia and even Italy.
Apart from Italy, the Western World seemed to pass the Guardian’s test with flying colours – with No evidence of filtering and high transparency. With the idea of the Australian internet filter in the pipes, and Australia even having banned some Wikileaks pages, it seems strange to imagine that all the West is truly so ‘whiter than white’ as this report seems to insinuate.