When it comes to censoring online speech, Cuba remains the reigning champion in the Americas

By Belen Marty in The PanAm Post:

Cuba Still America’s Champion, for Censoring Speech Online

Worldwide Freedom on the Internet Takes a Dive for Five Years Straight

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Cuba is the clear top dog in the Americas for preventing access to the World Wide Web, but the next worst offenders are Venezuela, Mexico, Ecuador, and Colombia — as documented by Freedom House and their newly released Freedom on the Net 2015 report.

The worldwide trend has been a decline in Internet freedom for five straight years, and the October 28 report shows that constituents of the poorly rated countries, in addition to censorship, suffer from the expansion of government surveillance and crackdowns on privacy tools in 2014. Further, most of the Latin American culprit nations have had citizens arrested for simply sharing information concerning politics and society.

Freedom House describes itself as an “independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.”

The NGO’s project leader, Sanja Kelly, stated in a press release that “governments are increasingly pressuring individuals and the private sector to take down or delete offending content, as opposed to relying on blocking and filtering.”

Their report, which addresses 65 nations, also mentions the restrictions that government officials impose on encryption and anonymity tools in most countries around the globe. These privacy tools, they explain, help protect Internet users from government abuse.

“Undermining online encryption and anonymity weakens the internet for everyone, but especially for human rights activists and independent journalists,” Kelly added.

The report highlights that 61 percent of internet users live in countries where any type of criticism against the government — or ruling family — has been “subject to online censorship.”

Among the most crucial findings reported were: an increase on the number of censored topics and content removals, an escalation in number of arrests and intimidation of writers or sharers of political content, and a rise in the number of surveillance laws passed.

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