Study shows many countries censor web

Written by Brett Thomas

May 21, 2007 // 8:59 a.m.

Tags: #censorship #china #east #gambling #internet #iraq #middle #pornography

Since I've just spent a week in China, I'm enjoying the freedoms that my country has allowed me. This includes the ability to browse the entire Internet free of censorship. Apparently, I need to be a lot more thankful for that - a new study shows that a free and available internet may be more rare than we all think.

A recent study conducted by four major universities has shown that over half of the 40 countries surveyed conduct some form of censorship. Twenty-six countries, in fact, actively engage in some form of state-sponsored Internet censorship. The study was conducted by Harvard University, the University of Toronto, Cambridge University and Oxford University.

The list included a lot of countries one would expect, including most of the Middle East. These countries actively filtered International news sites and pornography, along with gambling for certain countries. Also on the list was South Korea, which filters all sites North Korean. The worst offender by far on the list was China, but most people wouldn't be surprised by that.

What was more interesting than who does filter content, though, is who doesn't. Against expectations, Russia and Iraq both have unfiltered Internet access. Israel, Egypt, Hong Kong and Venezuela, each with a strong political presence in the World (and therefore reasons to try and censor information) also do not engage in the practice. So though it's not all perfect, apparently even some countries with poor individual rights are starting to ease up.

Do you have a thought on the rash of censorship across the world? If so, tell us about it in our forums. Assuming you are allowed to browse them, that is...

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