‘Extremely aggressive’ internet censorship spreads in the world’s democracies

By | November 17, 2020
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Navigate this 3D world map by clicking, holding and dragging the mouse cursor. See how censorship levels range around the globe.

The largest collection of public internet censorship data ever compiled shows that even citizens of the world’s freest countries are not safe from internet censorship. A U-M team used Censored Planet, an automated censorship tracking system launched in 2018 by assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science Roya Ensafi, to collect more than 21 billion measurements over 20 months in 221 countries.

Ensafi’s team found that censorship is increasing in 103 of the countries studied, including unexpected places like Norway, Japan, Italy, India, Israel and Poland—countries which the paper notes are rated as some of the freest in the world by advocacy group Freedom House. They were among nine countries where Censored Planet found significant, previously undetected censorship events.

We hope that the continued publication of Censored Planet data will enable researchers to continuously monitor the deployment of network interference technologies, track policy changes in censoring nations, and better understand the targets of interference,” Ensafi said.

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