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Freedom on the Net 2013: A global assessment of internet and digital media
Freedom House

October 03, 2013

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This fourth edition of Freedom on the Net provides analytical reports and numerical ratings for 60 countries worldwide. The countries were chosen to provide a representative sample with regards to geographical diversity and economic development, as well as varying levels of political and media freedom. The ratings and reports included in this study particularly focus on developments that took place between May 1, 2012 and April 30, 2013.

What We Measure

The Freedom on the Net index aims to measure each country’s level of internet and digital media freedom based on a set of methodology questions described below (see “Checklist of Questions”). Given increasing technological convergence, the index also measures access and openness of other digital means of transmitting information, particularly mobile phones and text messaging services.

Freedom House does not maintain a culture-bound view of freedom. The project methodology is grounded in basic standards of free expression, de rived in large measure from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers.”

This standard applies to all countries and territories, irrespective of geographical location, ethnic or religious composition, or level of economic development. The project particularly focuses on the transmission and exchange of news and other politically relevant communications, as well as the protection of users’ rights to privacy and freedom from both legal and extralegal repercussions arising from their online activities. At the same time, the index acknowledges that in some instances freedom of expression and access to information may be legitimately restricted. The standard for such restrictions applied in this index is that they be implemented only in narrowly defined circumstances and in line with international human rights standards, the rule of law, and the principles of necessity and proportionality. As much as possible, censorship and surveillance policies and procedures should be transparent and include avenues for appeal available to those affected.

Methodology & Checklist of questions

The index does not rate governments or government performance per se, but rather the real-world rights and freedoms enjoyed by individuals within each country. While digital media freedom may be primarily affected by state actions, pressure s and attacks by nonstate actors, including the criminal underworld, are also considered. Thus, the index ratings generally reflect the interplay of a variety of actors, both governmental and nongovernmental, including private corporations.

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