More than half a billion Internet users are being filtered worldwide

The OpenNet Initiative (ONI) has been monitoring Internet filtering around the world since 2002. Currently, more than 40 countries are filtering the Internet to varying degrees, while a number of others, including Australia, Iraq, and Spain, are considering enacting filtering policies. So, just how many people are censored online around the world? We have estimated a number based on the number of Internet users that reside in countries which practice substantial filtering--in terms of the number of sites and/or type of content blocked. The number we have come up with is 563,018,414, or approximately 32% of all Internet users.

This number necessarily includes several subjective decisions. We have not included countries, such as the Nordic countries and the UK, that block a modest number of sites alleged to include child pornography. We have not included Germany, which blocks a small number of sites related to extremist groups, and Russia which has just started on a path to do the same. North Korea is omitted from the list. There is also an untold number of users from countries around the world who have no access to the Internet at all due to an unknown combination of poverty, geography and deliberate neglect by governments that would prefer to keep their citizens offline. Nevertheless, this is a huge and growing number.