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China again ranks as country with world’s worst internet freedom

(Graphic art courtesy: International Herald Tribune)
(Graphic art courtesy: International Herald Tribune)

(TibetanReview.net, Nov16, 2017) – For the third consecutive year, China has ranked as the country with the world’s worst internet freedoms, according to the US-based rights organization Freedom House which released its finding on Nov 14. The US state-funded non-profit organisation has found that new regulations had further tightened already heavily restricted access to cyber space for Chinese citizens.

The report ranked countries on a 100-point scale based on three broad categories: obstacles to access, limits on content and violations of user rights. China has scored 87 points, with 100 being the worst possible mark.

Under a new cyber security law which took effect in China in June, companies have a greater onus to engage in censorship of their users. As a result, companies such as Apple have already begun building new data storage facilities in the country to comply.

The report noted that China’s cyber space authorities had punished domestic tech giants such as Baidu and Tencent for hosting what Beijing deems illicit content, fining them nominal amounts but signalling a shift towards outsourcing censorship to private companies and individuals.

Besides, a September regulation holds group administrators on WeChat, Tencent’s messaging platform, responsible for any illicit content posted as a sign of worsening internet freedoms, ft.com Sep 14 cited William Nee, China researcher at Amnesty International, as saying. “That the government can hold people responsible for the conduct of others now is very worrying,” he has said.

The report also described how China’s censors have more frequently cut off access to mobile internet connectivity among marginalised or religious populations in Tibet and the western region of Xinjiang, while stepping up direct monitoring of citizens there.

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