Copyright 2016,

How Free is the Web?

In the last two years, 19 countries have passed regulations to restrict online content. Although the Arab Spring has been hailed as a Twitter revolution, oppressive regimes have tightened screws on the web

0-30 : Free
31-60 : Partly Free
61-100 : Not Free

2012 = 39
2011 = 36

Blocking of Twitter handles of right-wing journalists, suspension of website for carrying cartoons that ridiculed the Indian Parliament and the national emblem. The country’s intelligence services expanded their range to intercept communication, even without any court order.

United States of America
2012 = 12
2011 = 13

Among the freest countries in the world when it comes to internet freedom, only preceeded by Estonia, with almost no restrictions on online content. This is a major reasons for the country's high growth in the technology space.

2012 = 59
2011 = 54

The downgrade reflects intensified censorship, arrests and violence against bloggers as authorities wanted to quell public calls for economic and political reforms. Several bloggers were detained and sentenced to prison for posts that called for protests against the authoritarian rule of President Hosni Mubarak.

2012 = 52 (unchanged)
2011 = 52

In May, it passed a legislation that recriminalised defamation and expanded the range of blacklisted websites. Officially, the government blocks material that promotes ‘extremism’ and those that challenge local authority. Government-appointed bloggers project the official point of view.

2012 = 46
2011 = 81

Highest upgrade among the countries surveyed, it represents a dramatic change in regime following the Jasmine Revolution. Though internet rules are relaxed now, two citizens were sentenced to 7-year imprisonment for publishing online content that was ‘offensive to Islam’.

People’s Republic of China

2012 = 85
2011 = 83

Blocks politically-active websites and social media platforms in favour of domestic alternatives that are easier to monitor. Pro-government commentators—known as the ‘50-cent party’—run into hundreds of thousands.  Dozens of bloggers and activists were sentenced to prison and administered drugs.  


2012 = 90
2011 = 89

The world’s most restrictive country when it comes to internet freedom. It spent $56 million to produce pro-government digital content. Individuals were tortured in custody after being detained for online activities.


2012 = 63
2011 = 55

Has started to impose politically-motivated blocks, but these are sporadic. It is considering nationwide filtering, but NGOs have opposed it. A man was sentenced to death last year, for sending an allegedly ‘blasphemous’ SMS. Briefly blocked Twitter in certain areas.

2012 = 71
2011 = 62
The state has invested significant resources in technology to identify content for blocking. It has, reportedly, hired international PR firms to spread damaging rumours about influential, independent bloggers. The moderator of an online forum was arrested, abused and killed in police custody.

Source: Freedom on the Net 2012, published by