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Freedom On the Net : India “Partly Free”

April 1, 2009

China is ahead of India again!!

But this time around, staying behind is probably not such a bad thing.

In a report released today [Link], Freedom House– an independent  non-governmental organization based in Washington that monitors political rights and civil liberties around the globe – has named Cuba, China and Iran (in addition to  Tunisia) as some of the least free and most repressive nations in the world with regards to Internet freedom and press freedom. [AFP reports]


Via (click on image to enlarge)



Cuba was reported the least free

….Freedom House evaluated the 15 countries based on barriers to Internet access, limitations on content and violations of users’ rights.

The Washington-based group said Cuba received the lowest score in the study…..

With China and Iran not too far behind

……..Freedom House also said that China and Cuba were tied for curbing the most users’ rights. China has the world’s most Internet users, an estimated 300 million, but “also has the world’s most highly-developed censorship apparatus,” it said.

The report cited “sophisticated and multilayered system” used by Chinese authorities to censor, monitor and control Internet and mobile telephone activities.

……..Iran, the report said, “uses a complex system of nationwide content filtering, intimidation, detention and torture of bloggers, and restriction of broadband access to subvert freedom of expression online.”



The group of 15 “strategic countries” were chosen in

order to provide a representative sample with regards to geographical and regional diversity and economic development, as well as varying levels of internet and digital media freedom. (The methodology used for the study can be found here [Link])

I would have liked to see other countries on that list especially from Africa, South America and Middle East and even though, I cannot vouch for the objectivity of the report, I think it’s a good starting point for discussions about free speech and fundamental rights. Given that almost half of the world lives in these countries I would say the report encompasses a fairly large sample size of people. It gives us an idea how free and accessible the internet is to the rest of the world.

In spite of recent incidents in India, where the government has tried curbing freedom of press and digital media, India has favored better than most countries (which have “partly free” media) in both categories .


A snapshot of India’sinternet and mobile phone usage (given below – red text is mine) shows that only 7 % of population has internet access. Even though India’s situation is relatively better, much work needs to be done in India before we can have a strong and free media (both digital and traditional) independent of government control.

Population: 1.1 billion
Internet Users/Penetration 2006: 40 million / 4 percent
Internet Users/Penetration 2008: 82 million / 7 percent
(Compare it to China’s 300 million)
Mobile Phone Users/Penetration 2006: 166 million
Mobile Phone Users/Penetration 2008: 347 million
Freedom of the Press (2008) Score/Status: 35 / Partly Free
Digital Opportunity Index (2006) Ranking: 124 out of 181
GNI Per Capita (PPP): $2700
Web 2.0 Applications Blocked: No
Political Content Systematically Filtered: No
Bloggers/Online Journalists Arrested: Yes


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7 Comments leave one →
  1. April 1, 2009 8:28 pm

    I like this post. I think those who talk of controlling freedom do not realise that it will be controlled by the government which means just some people like us, with their own prejudices and biases.

    To me, this post is a reminder of how freedom should not be taken for granted… I remember a blog had link which could tell you if our blog can be read in China or not!

    • nitwitnastik permalink*
      April 2, 2009 5:24 am

      Yes, I agree with you. Frankly I don’t think we will ever have a totally free media because govts will always try to have some control. But the freer it is the better will be our democracy.

  2. Chirag Chamoli permalink
    April 2, 2009 11:43 pm

    @China is ahead of India again!!, I first though outsourcing and was kind of surprised.

    ya, China has google servers also filtered.
    Though India is free, none of us actually have any value for that, I guess, you never value, what you have.

  3. April 3, 2009 4:16 am

    Yeah, China is brutal….
    They are disturbing the Tibetians in China and they in return holding marchs and Bandhs in Dharamshala :D, I don’t see any logic except disturbing the taxi “waalah’s” business for a day and two….
    BTW read your post in a hurry as my train is about to leave 😀

  4. April 7, 2009 11:56 am

    Freedom House’s report just confirms the generally accepted fact about China. That the Olympics were held and covered by the international media inspite of the intolerable attitude towards free press is what is really sad.
    As for internet freedom, well it doesn’t exist does it? The primary use of the internet in China is to spy on foreign governments and dissidents.

    • nitwitnastik permalink*
      April 7, 2009 9:56 pm

      The primary use of the internet in China is to spy on foreign governments and dissidents.

      LOL !! Thats very true.

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