The internet can be a boon and a pain. Inappropriate use of the internet has led to corruption of young minds as well as increased criminal activities. At the same time, the internet has brought the world to our fingertips, providing us a fabulous learning opportunity. Here are the top 10 countries that have decided to allow internet usage but restrict access, owing to these contradictions.
Even though the Syrian government claims to block only a few politically sensitive or pornographic sites, the situation is far worse. Less than 2% of the country’s population is able to subscribe to Internet services. ISPs can only provide net access to the default browser port, 80. Any other connection can be had at a high fee; this means Syrians cannot use Skype or VOIP connections. Syria blocks pornographic and religious content, as well any criticism of current political ideology.
2 North Korea
North Korea has succeeded in keeping the internet outside the country. Internet connectivity is available only for a few top members of the North Korean government, accessed via satellite links to servers in Germany.
Pakistan began censoring anti-Islamic content in 2000, but since then, has blocked porn content, political autonomy movements and other information. Pakistan uses filtration techniques to block all kinds of content and also requires that ISPs monitor client activity. ISPs are authorized to report if their users access prohibited websites. Pakistan actually blocked Wikipedia along with several other mainstream western websites in 2006.
China blocks unfriendly websites, porn and politically sensitive content and western content portals such as Voice of America and BBC. Google was actually persuaded to create a China-friendly search engine, for reasons unknown. China’s internet censorship system is one of the most sophisticated systems in the world. They use an enormous number of servers to monitor their 220 million users, and have appointed about 30,000 people to monitor the monitoring activity. They also arbitrarily close any internet café after close monitoring and seldom allow them to open again. The Chinese government develops and uses state-owned websites are vehicles for propaganda.
Less than 1% of the Burmese population has access to the internet. Anyone wanting to access the internet should register their computers with the Myanmar Posts and Telecom company and pay a fee. Internet connectivity is very expensive; connections are mostly dial-up since broadbands are almost nonexistent. ISPs target independent media websites as well. Free email services are blocked, along with most of the global internet except a few approved websites. Users can mostly access Myanmar’s official Intranet.
Iran targets and censors all non-Islamic websites. Iran probably has the most extensive web censorship there is. This country uses an advanced semantic filtering system to identify specific terms and keywords. A government censorship committee monitors websites and reports any that violate Iranian laws. The government is also trying to restrict broadband access. All this is done to protect citizens from falling prey to western influences. Iran has a total score of over 10 million blocked websites.
Cuba extracts severe retribution from those who dare to access censored material. With all ISPs owned by the government, total control over all internet traffic is not difficult. Incoming emails are scanned before they are delivered to people. It used to be illegal to sell personal computers in Cuba. Now, computers are available but very few can afford to access the internet. Cuba mainly censors any material that might be against its core socialist ideology.
Tunisian ISPs are obligated to report on citizens’ web usage. Everything is handed over to the government, including user names, passwords, IP and postal addresses. Porn, political content, torrent sites, file sharing sites and FTP sites are totally banned. It would be very difficult to get anything over the internet, past the government’s eyes.
The Internet is perceived as a great luxury in Turkmenistan; the common man would never be able to afford access. The government enables proper access only to people of higher class. Turkmenistan’s government is its internet ISP as well, so total control rests with it. Many sites are blocked and the email accounts of private citizens are monitored as well. Human rights protector organization sites are not allowed access.
The Yemeni government keeps its radar tuned to catch political and social dissenters. Yemen does not have a sophisticated monitoring infrastructure. However, there’s not much to monitor, given that internet access is not prevalent, owing to an underdeveloped telecom infrastructure. ISPs restrict access to music and video sites in order to restrict server load. Yemen has a few ISPs, though the largest of them is owned by the government, which filters anything that attacks the current Yemeni political standing. Add pornographic and anti-Islamic content to this list as well.