India showed the largest decline in Internet freedom since last year's report, as a result of "deliberate interruptions of mobile and Internet service to limit unrest, excessive blocks on content during rioting in northeastern states, and an uptick in the filing of criminal charges against ordinary users for posts on social-media sites," the report says. Brazil also showed a steep decline, largely due to issues involving its election and the suspicious deaths of several controversial political journalists and bloggers.
Overall, Iran, China and Cuba were deemed the most restrictive countries in the world when it comes to Internet access.
At the same time, the report also showed an increase in Internet freedom in 16 countries. Morocco and Burma both made strong efforts at dissolving their long-standing censorship policies, while Tunisia began embracing a more open Internet and media culture as it moves on from the now-defunct regime of its former president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.Concerns over the U.S. government's reach into the products of its private tech industry may compound the global surveillance issues as several major U.S. companies embark on far-reaching initiatives to expand Internet access worldwide. Internet.org, for example, has cited the Facebook for Every Phone mobile app among its outline for expanding Internet access.
Facebook is the driving force behind Internet.org, and has been accused of providing the NSA access to its users' personal information.
Colin Neagle covers emerging technologies and the startup scene for Network World. Follow him on Twitter and keep up with the Microsoft, Cisco and Open Source community blogs. Colin's email address is email@example.com.
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