March 12, 2012 | By Maira Sutton

March 12: World Day Against Cyber-Censorship

For a majority of users, the Internet is a space that encourages free expression and the valuable exchange of ideas. Unfortunately, there are numerous cases around the world in which various forces act to silence people's voices online.

World Day Against Cyber-Censorship

Today is World Day Against Cyber-Censorship, a day to remind ourselves that the Web continues to be a fractured battleground for free speech, and to rally users in fighting repression of online speech. Reporters Without Borders also created this day to celebrate the work of brave individuals who have promoted free expression on the Internet. The annual Netizen Prize is awarded to bloggers, online journalists, and cyber-dissidents, who have demonstrated exceptional dedication to this cause.

EFF remains dedicated to reporting cases of online censorship from all regions of the world, and to emphasize the importance of online anonymity in preserving individuals’ right to free speech. On our ongoing feature, This Week in Censorship, we cover global stories of imprisoned bloggers, filtered content, blocked websites, and instances of Internet disconnection.

A broad array of reasons are offered as justification for censorship. Bloggers in Thailand face imprisonment for criticizing the monarch. In Pakistan, the Telecommunications Authority has blocked websites, banned words from SMS texts, and most recently, has released a request for proposals to build a national blocking and filtering system: All in the name of fighting “obscene content.” The Turkish government has implemented a so-called “democratic” opt-in filtering mechanism for content that is deemed unsuitable for children and families.

Another common trend is censorship enabled in the name of battling copyright violations. Through our Global Chokepoints project, we are monitoring instances of pro-copyright laws that justify filtering of content, websites blockages, or Internet disconnection to fight infringement.

Censorship remains rampant in the Middle Eastern region. In Syria, Iran, and elsewhere, bloggers continue to face imprisonment, and common users have limited access to content online due to state-mandated blocking and filtering programs.

An ongoing issue we are covering is authoritarian states using Western-based surveillance technologies to monitor and spy on their citizens. State authorities can use the collected data to arrest, harass, or torture individuals accused of participating in political dissent.

Visit Reporters Without Borders’ website for World Day Against Cyber-Censorship to learn more about how you can participate.

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For more updates on stories and issues in free expression online, visit the following sites:

Threatened Voices

Global Voices Advocacy

Consider supporting EFF and our advocacy against online censorship by becoming a member or giving a one-time donation.


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