A monumental 888 page report from Freedom House – Freedom on the Net 2013 – A Global Assessment of Internet and Digital Media which ranks 60 countries between 3 major categories on a total points basis 0-100 (lower is freer)
- Free (17 countries) top of the tree is Iceland with a mere 6 points (range is to 30 points)
- Partly free (29) Including India Russia and South Korea (from 31 to 60 points)
- Not free (14) Including the United Arab Emirates and bottom of the pile Iran with 91 points 10% short of a maximum!.
Overall they see a deterioration in the year with 34 countries showing increases in their lack of freedom.
There’s quite a useful interactive map where you can hover over your country choice to see the constituents of its score.
The three constituents of their lack of freedom score are;
- Obstacles to Access (25%) including infrastructural and economic barriers to access; governmental efforts to block specific applications or technologies; legal and ownership control over internet and mobile phone access providers.
- Limits on Content (35%) including filtering and blocking of websites; other forms of censorship and self-censorship; manipulation of content; the diversity of online news media; and usage of digital media for social and political activism.
- Violations of User Rights (40%) including legal protections and restrictions on online activity; surveillance and limits on privacy; and repercussions for online activity, such as legal prosecution, imprisonment, physical attacks, or other forms of harassment.
The UK is at number 10 with the US impressively at number 4.The UK’s score was unchanged on last year
16 pages are devoted to the UK and the Key Developments in the Year are recorded as:
- “In an effort to protect children from harmful content, filtering on mobile phones is enabled by default and has resulted in instances of over blocking. In contrast ISP’s did not block politically orientated content on household connections. (A Limit on Content consideration)
- Revisions to the Defamation Act provided greater legal protections for intermediaries and reduced the scope for “libel tourism” (both Limit on Content and Violations of User Rights considerations)
- The Protection of Freedoms Act of 2012 created new requirements to obtain judicial approval prior to accessing online surveillance data, although revealations surrounding the GCHQ’s Tempora program have since brought many of these protections into doubt. (Violations of User Rights consideration)
- Several Web users were prosecuted or fined for breaking court injunctions, violating the privacy of crime victims, and committing libel using social networks. (Violations of User Rights consideration)”
Whist strictly speaking the Guardian revelations via Snowden concerning GCHQ & the US National Security Agency (NSA) post dated the period covered by the report as the issues divulged have been going on for several years they have included it in this years assessment. In point terms it appears to have had little impact between the years but that may be because of some restatements!.
In total in 2012 they reckon there were 653 criminal charges filed against Twitter and Facebook users in England and Wales.
A mammoth amount of detail and appreciation is in order both for them and their funders who include, The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy Human Rights and Labor (DRL), and the ubiquitous Google.