December 4, U.S. based Rights Watch Group Freedom House launched its 4th in the series of the Freedom on the Net report. Out of 65 countries analyzed in this report Iceland and Estonia made it as the leading reformers in net freedom while the overall conclusion of the analysis indicates global decline in internet freedom for a fourth consecutive year.
Countries like Russia, Turkey and Ukraine showed major deterioration in this year’s evaluations with 36 countries undergoing a negative trajectory in Internet freedom.
“The worst abusers of Internet freedom were Iran, Syria and China” in 2013 concludes the report.
At the launch of the report today (December 4) Project Director for Freedom on the Net Sanja Kelly spoke on the most troubling trend in the world and that is “the fact that people are being jailed. Nowadays you have everyday users being targeted”, said Kelly in her remarks.
US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden
But apart from jailing, a more worrying trend is the growth in government surveillance. In the light of Snowden revelations and NSA spying scandal, governments around the world justify their own surveillance with the mindset, “if NSA can do it, then so can we”. What is worrisome however is how civilians are targeted in this pretext. “Surveillance allows governments to target these [online] users resulting in life or death situations”, noted Kelly.
According to the results of the report, "[In Azerbaijan] over the past year, more bloggers, human rights defenders, and activists have been detained or prosecuted for their online activities. The prison sentences that individuals have received over the past year have signaled a substantial crackdown on freedom of expression by the authorities.”
As a result Azerbaijan ranked as “partly free” with a score of 55 on the list of 65 countries this year. In Freedom House Press Freedom report Azerbaijan ranked as “not free”.