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Cyber attacks, censorship threat to internet freedom: Study


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New Delhi: Cyber attacks, politically motivated censorship and government control are among the threats to internet freedom, according to a study, which also said India does not face any such imminent threat.

The “Freedom on the Net 2011: A Global Assessment of Internet and Digital Media” study was released Monday by Freedom House, an independent US-based watchdog organisation.



It identifies key trends in internet freedom in 37 countries and evaluates each country based on barriers to access, limitations on content, and violations of users' rights.

The study found that Estonia had the greatest degree of internet freedom among the countries examined, while the US ranked second.

Iran received the lowest score in the analysis.

India does not figure among countries at imminent risk.

China boasts the world's most sophisticated system of internet controls, and its approach has become even more restrictive in recent years, the study said.

Governments are responding to the increased influence of the new medium by seeking to control online activity, restricting the free flow of information, and otherwise infringing on the rights of users, according to study.

“These detailed findings clearly show that internet freedom cannot be taken for granted. Non-democratic regimes are devoting more attention and resources to censorship and other forms of interference with online expression,” said David J. Kramer, executive director of Freedom House.

Eleven other “Not Free” countries include Belarus, Burma, China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, and Thailand.

Although India's internet penetration rate of less than 10 percent is low by global standards, access has expanded rapidly in urban areas, generating tens of millions of new users in recent years.

“In the past, instances of the central government seeking to control communication technologies were relatively rare. However, following the November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai and with an expanding Maoist insurgency, the need, desire, and ability of the Indian government to control the communications sector have grown,” it added.


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