April 12, 2012 | By Jillian York

This Week in Censorship: The Increasingly Censorious World

47% of All Internet Users Experience Censorship, Says OpenNet Initiative

According to the OpenNet Initiative (ONI)--a joint initiative of Harvard University, the University of Toronto and the SecDev Group--47% of the world's Internet users experience some form of fractured Internet. ONI bases their research on technical testing in 74 countries, 42 of which the researchers found engage in "some form of filtering of content." Though the aforementioned statistic (47%, or 960 million Internet users) includes countries like Morocco that engage only in "selective" blocking of websites, 31% of the world's Internet users live in countries that engage in "substantial" or "pervasive" online censorship.

Vietnam Aiming to be Enemy #1 (of the Internet)

Vietnam--which has been named an "enemy of the Internet" by Reporters Without Borders two years in a row--appears to be vying for first place on that list, in light of two recent news items. The first is a report that claims that the trial of eleven detained activists, including several bloggers, is "imminent." The report, from Radio Free Asia, calls the charges against the activists as "part of a larger crackdown" on activists and citizen journalists in the country.

In separate news, a brief from exiled political organization Viet Tan outlines a new decree by Vietnam's government that would require Internet users to register with their real names. In addition, it would require foreign Internet companies to relocate their data centers and establish local offices in Vietnam. According to Viet Tan, "These new rules could have serious consequences for companies such as Google and Facebook which have millions of Vietnamese users but are not physically located in the country." The draft decree, which can be found on Viet Tan's website, is dubbed "Decree on the Management, Provision, Use of Internet Services and Information Content Online." 

EFF will be closely following the developments surrounding this proposed decree.

Iran Denies Plans to Cut Off Citizens from Internet

While Iran has not backtracked on its plans for a "halal Internet", this week Iranian authorities condemned a rumor that the country was planning to cut its citizens off from the global Internet by August. While that's all well and good, as MSNBC points out, "a firewalled Internet, much like those in China and North Korea, is not propaganda. In Iran, it's not  a matter of if, but when."

Chinese Internet Users Cut Off--Briefly--From the World

For more than an hour on Thursday, Chinese Internet users were cut off from the global Internet, while Chinese sites were inaccessible from users outside of mainland China. While the cause of the blackout has not yet been determined, several media outlets theorized that it was either a result of the massive earthquakes near Sumatra (that may have damaged an undersea cable) or that the "Great Firewall" was undergoing routine maintenance.


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