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Gulf countries called ‘Enemies of the Internet’

Report says Egypt, Saudi and Syria are worst violators of freedom of expression online

Gulf countries called ‘Enemies of the Internet’
About sixty countries experienced a form of Web censorship in 2009, twice as many as in the previous year.

Several Arab countries have been called ‘Enemies of the Internet' by international NGO Reporters Without Borders (RWB), including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Tunisia.

The organisation which fights for press freedom and defends journalists that are persecuted for doing their job recently released their Internet Enemies report that said some sixty countries experienced a form of Web censorship in 2009, twice as many as in the previous year.

Reporters Without Borders says the worst violators of freedom of expression on the Internet are Saudi Arabia, Burma, China, North Korea, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Uzbekistan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam.

"...Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan have opted for such massive filtering that their Internet users have chosen to practice self-censorship. For economic purposes, China, Egypt, Tunisia and Vietnam have wagered on a infrastructure development strategy while keeping a tight control over the Web's political and social content (Chinese and Tunisian filtering systems are becoming increasingly sophisticated), and they are demonstrating a deep intolerance for critical opinions," the RWB report explains, adding that bloggers, Internet users and cyberdissidents in Iran are now considered enemies of the regime.

Among the countries ‘under surveillance' are Turkey for blocking several thousands of sites including YouTube, and the United Arab Emirates which the RWB says will "need to make more progress to avoid getting transferred into the next Enemies of the Internet list".

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