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Digital censorship grows as media moves online

An NGO to protect journalists has said that 69 online journalists have been jailed since December – representing almost half of all reporters imprisoned worldwide.

Image: decade_null via Creative Commons

GOVERNMENTS WORLDWIDE ARE developing new tools to censor reporters as the media increasingly moves online, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.

In a report released on the eve of World Press Freedom Day on Tuesday, the committee said 69 journalists whose work appears mostly online were jailed as of 1 December, representing almost half of all reporters imprisoned worldwide.

The press advocacy group said the sophisticated censorship techniques are often coupled with physical intimidation of online journalists.

“These sophisticated, often invisible, attacks constitute a new front in the fight for press freedom,” said Danny O’Brien, CPJ Internet Advocacy Coordinator and the report’s author.

O’Brien said the techniques go well beyond Web censorship, with governments using the Internet to spy on writers and sabotage independent news sites.

“The aim is not only to censor but to block or disrupt the reporting process and the dissemination of news and information,” he said.

The committee looked at 10 common strategies that governments are using to suppress information.

Those tools include state-supported email designed to take over journalists’ personal computers in China, the shutting down of anti-censorship technology in Iran, monopolistic control of the internet in Ethiopia, and synchronized cyber-attacks in Belarus.

- AP

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