Reporters Without Borders today (12 March 2011) mark World Day Against Cyber-Censorship, an online project launched in 2008 to rally support for a single Internet without restrictions and accessible to all. The site includes the map of cyber-censorship, a list of enemies of the internet, the annual Netizen Prize, online mobilization and opportunities for supporters to get involved in the campaign.
The Cyber Censorship map shows “internet enemies” (dark purple) and countries under surveillance (red). Internet Enemies listed are Burma, China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. Countries under surveillance are Australia, Bahraïn, Belarus, Egypt, Eritrea, France, Libya, Malaysia, Russia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.
The fight for online freedom of expression is more essential than ever. By creating new spaces for exchanging ideas and information, the Internet is a force for freedom. In countries where the traditional media are controlled by the government, the only independent news and information are to be found on the Internet, which has become a forum for discussion and a refuge for those who want to express their views freely. However, more and more governments have realised this and are reacting by trying to control the Internet. Never have so many countries been affected by some form of online censorship, whether arrests or harassment of netizens, online surveillance, website blocking or the adoption of repressive Internet laws. Netizens are being targeted by government reprisals. Around 117 of them are currently detained for expressing their views freely online, mainly in China, Iran and Vietnam.
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Original artwork by Joel Guenoun.
Reporters Without Borders Friday has awarded its 2011 Netizen Prize to the founders of a Tunisian blogging group named Nawaat. The Netizen Prize each year goes to a Netizen (a blogger, online journalist or cyber-dissident) who has helped to promote freedom of expression on the Internet. The winner receives 2,500 euros in prize money. Google sponsors the annual award. Created in 2004, Nawaat.org is an independent collective blog operated by Tunisian bloggers as a platform for all “committed citizens.” It has played a crucial role in covering the social and political unrest in Tunisia that began on 17 December. Its activity is representative of the key function fulfilled by bloggers and social network users in the fight for the right to news and information. The site recently created a special page for the WikiLeaks revelations about Tunisia, and another one about the recent events in Sidi Bouzid, which were not covered in the traditional media. It also warns Internet users about the dangers of being identified online and offers advice about circumventing censorship. It was founded by Astrubal and Sami Ben Gharbia, two well-known bloggers who post regularly on the site.