The growth in the internet popularity has been so fast that it has quickly become an integral part of our daily lives. First commercialized in the mid 90s, the internet saw a huge boom in its popularity by the end of the 90s.
The rise in usage of the internet was a result of availability of PCs, increasing internet speeds, and decreasing internet prices.
However, the growth of the internet has also allowed impartial broadcast of news and events, and that is exactly what oppressive leaders, governments, and organizations don’t want to happen.
This is the reason why the internet has faced significant restriction, limitations, bans, and censorships in various countries. Here we have the top countries that have placed restrictions on the internet.
1. North Korea
Anyone with even a fraction of interest in current news would have definitely heard a lot about North Korea recently.
North Korea has been at the centre of a Nuclear weapons controversy and is often criticized for a low standard of living. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that North Korea heavily monitors and restricts the internet for its citizens.
Only 4% of North Korean population has access to the internet that is highly censored. Mostly, the internet is used by the government for spreading information and managing relations.
Another country always in the news, for all the wrong reasons, is Iran. International pressure has been building up on it for a non-sanctioned nuclear program and defiance of international pressure and resolutions.
Iran has set up an internet filtering system that prevents Iranians from accessing anti-government, adult, anti-Islamic and social media websites. Even bloggers are sometimes given strict sentences for violating the censorship blanket.
The tiny Southeast Asian state of Burma has been cut off from the rest of the world for decades. Ruled by the powerful Junta, Burma has just 1% of its population using the internet. Even then, the internet is heavily censored with only the state controlling the ISP.
Despite its huge economic gains, China has been relatively skeptical about the internet. Through the deployment of the Great Firewall of China, roughly 1.3 million websites were blocked in 2010 alone, according to the BBC.
Turkmenistan is considered an oppressive state with significant restrictions placed on the internet. The sole ISP in the country is state-owned and the presence of human-rights organizations is non-existent.
Satellite TV broadcast was terminated in 2008, leaving only the internet as a means of information for the users. However, only successful stories are allowed to be broadcasted.
Although Syria is suffering a major civil war, the ban on the internet in Syria goes back much before than that.
Apart from on and off bans on popular websites like Facebook, YouTube, and Wikipedia, the entire internet is heavily monitored by the government with dire consequences for those who try to defy this ban.
According to the rankings by Reporters without Borders, Vietnam is in the top 10 list of ‘Enemies of the Internet’. Apart from blocking adult websites, Vietnam also heavily monitors the internet for content that goes against governmental policies and state beliefs. Bloggers are often jailed for speaking out against corruption and the government.
Uzbekistan has been highly critical of the internet and the freedom it brings to the internet users. That is why it has substantially censored the internet for content based on radical religious ideas, independent news agencies, NGOs, and human rights organizations.
However, the internet is opening up in the country with free access to VoIP and social media services.
9. United Arab Emirates
The internet is heavily censored in the UAE with restrictions on VoIP services, adult content, and free media services. The internet is controlled by the large telecom giant, Etisalat, and is monitored heavily for activities that go against the cultural, political, social, moral, and governmental beliefs.
However, majority of the population supports these restrictions.
Yes, you read it correct. Australia manages to make it to the top 10 of the list because of its 2007 approval of a bill that allows the government to restrict access to any website it deems appropriate. Since then, websites having terrorist themes, child abuse themes, and phishing tools have been blocked.
The internet has come a long way from its humble beginnings almost 20 years earlier to its current state today. Now, the internet is a source of unbiased information and unrestricted freedom of expression for everyone. Any country that tries to put the slightest of restrictions on internet freedom, is going to make it to our Top 10 list.
Do you think we have left out your country? Let us know in the comments section below!