Tue 24 January 2023:
Iran ranked second in the world for internet censorship in 2022 after frequently cutting off the internet in some regions of the country and restricting access to social media sites to quell uprisings sparked by Mahsa Amini’s death.
This led to Iran being placed second on the list of the world’s worst countries for internet censorship last year, according to research by internet watchdog Surfshark published on Monday.
As anti-regime demonstrations spilled onto the internet and social media, with videos of women burning their hijabs going viral, Iran responded by repeated internet blackouts and the shutdown of mobile networks across the capital of Tehran and other parts of the county.
Its internet censorship yearly recap shows around half the world’s population – about 4.2 billion – suffered a politically motivated internet blackout in 2022.
Nineteen countries imposed fresh restrictions on citizens’ use of the web last year, bringing the total of nations engaged in such repressive measures to 32.
As far as regions go, Asia led the poll comprising of the most countries that introduced repressive internet measures last year.
The Jammu & Kashmir region in India, imposed the largest number of interest restrictions the poll said.
In Iran, its censorship actions arose after the death in police custody of Amini, who was arrested for being ‘inappropriately dressed’ under the nation’s repressive Islamic law, which sparked public outrage.
Surfshark said authoritarian governments have turned to internet and social media disruptions to maintain their rule and curb civil unrest, opposing political parties, free speech, and looming socio-economic concerns.
“More than half of the world’s population was affected by internet censorship last year,’ says Surfshark spokeswoman Gabriele Racaityte-Krasauske. “Many of these cases involved full internet disruptions on a local or national level.”
“These can be devastating and extremely dangerous, especially during wartime, protests, or violent government repressions. Internet restrictions can make it difficult or even impossible to mobilize people for the defense of democracy, contact loved ones, access news sites, and spread information to the outside world on what’s happening,”
In total, 11 Asian countries imposed new internet disruptions in 2022, bringing a total of 58 cases. The Jammu and Kashmir region had the highest disruption count in the world (24), followed by Iran (11) and the rest of India (10).
Africa follows Asia as the second most disruption-intensive region, with 5 countries imposing 13 restrictions. Sudan takes the lead in Africa by disruption count (4), followed by Burkina Faso (3) and Zimbabwe (3).
SOURCE: INDEPENDENT PRESS AND NEWS AGENCIES
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