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China, Syria, Iran Worst on Internet Freedom


Chinese are seen working on computer work stations. Called 'bo ke' in Chinese, blogs are hugely popular, especially among the young, despite strict rules on content enforced by the government.

Chinese are seen working on computer work stations. Called 'bo ke' in Chinese, blogs are hugely popular, especially among the young, despite strict rules on content enforced by the government.


A new report says the government in China is the worst abuser of Internet freedoms.

That is the opinion of Freedom House, an independent, non-profit group based in Washington, D.C. The group works in support of democracy and freedom of expression worldwide.

The Freedom House report, called “Freedom on the Net 2015,” noted that online restrictions have increased in each of the past five years. It said the World Wide Web has become more restricted for millions of people.

The group reported that Internet freedoms have decreased in 32 of the 65 nations it studied. China was rated as the worst country in denying Internet rights. Syria was rated second, with Iran in third place.

“Internet freedom on a global scale is continuing to decline,” said Laura Reed, a researcher for the Freedom on the Net project. “The most surprising shift (in suppression) was from blocking to the removal of content.”

The governments of Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Zimbabwe were rated among the least free for their suppression of free speech. Other countries high on the Internet-unfriendly list included Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and Egypt.

In China, the government watched online activities and blocked private networks, according to the report. It also noted that, in Ukraine, some web users were physically threatened by pro-Russia militias.

Of the nations surveyed, 40 of 65 countries imprisoned Internet users for expressing political or social comments online. Only two nations arrested Internet activists last year.

But the report noted some improvements in 15 of the 65 nations studied. Cuba improved its rating. The island nation earned higher marks for lowering Internet costs. The Cuban government also showed greater Internet tolerance in 2015.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

VOA’s Doug Bernard reported on this story. Jim Dresbach adapted this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

online – adv. done over the Internet

breach – n. a failure to do what is required by a law

tolerance – n. willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own

Do you have freedom on the Internet? Which government do you think is Internet unfriendly? Write to us in the Comments section or on our Facebook page.

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