There’s a few great places to get good information when it comes to internet censorship and the OpenNet Initiative is at the top of the list. One of the services they provide is a complete breakdown of some of the offending countries and the write up on Burma is especially interesting.
This is a country that’s been in the news lately since people there and around the world are wondering if the Burmese authorities are finally loosening their grip on the Web as freedom seems to be taking a foothold. Still as you might expect, they’ve got a horrible record that starts with the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) that is the arm of the military government there.
Consider the fact that the literacy rate in the small nation is 91% for people over the age of 15 but the percentage of Internet users based on population is only 0.2%, and it’s not hard to see why the military rulers there might be considering lessening the firm grip they have on the place. Smart literate people are hard to control.
Then there’s Syria where the criticism of the presidential family is not allowed and foreign journalists don’t usually get accreditation. With a literacy rate of just over 80% and the percentage of Internet users at 20% , you’d think that the Web there would be more developed but reports say the Internet in Syria is in fact the least developed in the Middle East. State-owned Syrian Telecom (STE) is the only game in town and as we’ve all seen lately, they have firm grip on the information that goes in and out of that country.
Headlines coming out from that country aside, the persecution of what the regime there calls cyber criminals continues unabated. Tariq Biasi is just one of the bloggers that was jailed for what was called ‘weakening national sentiment’ on his blog and the even pro democracy Elaph.com is heavily censored in that country.
In North Korea, as you might expect, there’s not much information to go around although the state does claim to have a 100% literacy rate. What Internet does go into that shadowy place is filtered by the Chinese who supply the networks and the country’s Internet PC room is a haven for foreigners and diplomats rather than the common folk. Still there are reports that Web-enabled mobile phones that are smuggled in are allowing people access to Chinese internet sites.