Reporters Without Borders Releases "Enemies of the Internet" Report

Last week on World Day Against Cyber Censorship, Reporters Without Borders released this year's "Enemies of the Internet" report. Among the newest additions to the list are Bahrain and Belarus, both of which had been under surveillance but had not been officially added to the list of enemies. RWB cited "keeping the international media away, harassing human rights activists, arresting bloggers and netizens (one of whom died in detention), smearing and prosecuting free speech activists, and disrupting communications, especially during the major demonstration" as reasons for Bahrain's placement onto the list. As for Belarus, the current regime used social media to threaten the citizenry, which partially provided reason for their inclusion onto the list. As RWB recounted, President Alexander Lukashenko tweeted to demonstrators who sought to protest against his government: "To all persons going to the city square ... you will have to answer for it." Both Libya and Venezuela came off the list. Twelve countries in total are on 2011's list.

Besides providing detailed information and statistics on each country on the "Enemies" list, as well as a downloadable map noting the most restrictive countries in the world, the "Enemies of the Internet" document gives a more general overview of the current state of freedom on the Internet. According to the research results, 2011 has been the deadliest year for online activists. In the report, RWB notes that currently, 120 netizens are being detained around the world for breaching their respective countries' censorship laws. Last year also saw a 31% increase in the number of arrests of bloggers.

Alongside an updated list of Internet enemies, the report also listed countries that RWB plans to keep under surveillance for censorship activity. Among the countries are Australia, France, India, Egypt and South Korea. Overall, the report signals that censorship on the web is still a big policy issue, if not a growing one. As Binoy Kampmark on Dissent Voice wrote, "Hop onto the keyboard at your own peril, it seems. Have your net information removed at a moment’s notice. If the authorities make you disappear on the net, you will."