Monday, March 19, 2007

Web censorship grows

Our brush with web censorship in China was followed up last week by a Financial Times report that shows web censorship is growing globally.

Here are some key excerpts from that article:

Internet censorship is spreading rapidly, being practised by about two dozen countries and applied to a far wider range of online information and applications, according to research by a transatlantic group of academics.

A recent six-month investigation into whether 40 countries use censorship shows the practice is spreading, with new countries learning from experienced practitioners such as China and benefiting from technological improvements.

OpenNet Initiative, a project by Harvard Law School and the universities of Toronto, Cambridge and Oxford, repeatedly tried to call up specific websites from 1,000 international news and other sites in the countries concerned, and a selection of local-language sites.

The research found a trend towards censorship or, as John Palfrey, executive director of Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, said, “a big trend in the reverse direction”, with many countries recently starting to adopt forms of online censorship.

A very disturbing trend, especially for those who view the spread of online information as a catalyst for liberty and free expression.

Be sure to see the article and the related reports in the "Editor's Choice" sidebar.