Surprising as it may be, the internet in Iran started out as comparatively open in the region. However, censorship and internet clampdowns noticeably increased when conservative president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005. The internet had until then given activists, journalists and political dissidents a way to get around Iran’s restrictive media laws and communicate with the outside world.
The government of Pakistan currently has plans to filter the internet, which will affect freedom of expression, speech and opinion in the country. Bytes for All fears the internet will be further restricted as the 2013 general elections approach. Read the public statement by Bytes for All.
On Human Rights Day APC and Hivos launch Information Society Watch 2011. We investigate how governments and internet and mobile phone companies are restricting freedom online – and how citizens are responding to this using the very same technologies.
APC’s Joy Liddicoat explains the significance of Sweden’s proposal to the Human Rights Council to establish an expert panel on the internet and human rights.
The world has witnessed in Egypt and Tunisia that when governments feel threatened not only do they censor individuals but they also try to take away the tools they use to contact and inform each other and organise. APC thinks that internet rights, such as freedom of expression and freedom of association, should not be taken from granted, and is working both globally and locally to make them a reality for all.
Restricting free expression, association and the free flow of information on the internet has become a global trend and its intensity and impact is greatest in countries lacking a culture of democracy or strong human rights regimes. People who speak out against repression risk their own freedom and safety and the sites that carry their online denouncements are often censored or banned. A new APC project “Internet rights are human rights” starting in November 2010 builds on our long-standing work including our Internet Rights Charter aims to secure freedom of expression and association on the internet to those who need it most: human rights defenders.