Nations where users enjoy highest internet freedom

As of 2012, nearly a third of the world’s population has used the internet.
Freedom House conducted a study of internet freedom in 47 countries around the globe.
The findings indicate that restrictions on internet freedom in many countries have continued to grow, though the methods of control are slowly evolving and becoming less visible.

Freedom on the internet 2012
Estonia takes first place in this list. More than 75 percent of its citizens have access to the Internet, there’s widespread e-commerce and e-government services, and the press and bloggers are free to say anything online.

Freedom on the internet 2012
Coming in second, access to the internet in the United States remains relatively free compared with the rest of the world. In early 2012, digital rights advocates, citizens, and several technology companies enacted an internet “blackout” to voice their opposition to two Congressional bills—the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT IP Act (PIPA)—that aimed to combat piracy on non-U.S. websites hosting material allegedly infringing on U.S. copyrights. The country has an internet penetration rate of 78 percent.

Freedom on the internet 2012
Germany, has a high level of internet and mobile penetration. Media and internet freedom are generally well-respected but have been challenged in recent years. 73 percent of the population has internet access at home. Most schools in Germany provide computers and internet access to their students mainly in dedicated computer rooms.

Freedom on the internet 2012
Access to online content is far-reaching, and Australians are able to explore all facets of political and societal discourse, including information about human rights violations. In 2011, Australia had an internet penetration rate of 79 percent. Australians predominantly access the internet from home, work, and increasingly through mobile telephones.

Freedom on the internet 2012
With an internet penetration of 59 percent, Hungary comes next in the list. Post 1990, dial-up connections spread and the number of users expanded, particularly in the 2000s when the price of internet started to decrease while broadband connections increased.

Freedom on the internet 2012
Italy’s internet penetration rate—which stood at approximately 57 percent at the end of 2011—lags behind many other European countries. Mobile telephone usage is ubiquitous, however, and internet access via mobile phones has grown significantly in recent years.

Freedom on the internet 2012
The Philippines connected to the internet in 1994 via the Philippine Internet Foundation (PHNet), the first internet service provider in the country. Penetration increased slowly until 2005, when Executive Order 109 was enacted calling for the expansion of telecommunication services to underserved areas, which in turn promoted competition in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector.

Freedom on the internet 2012
The United Kingdom has high levels of internet penetration, and online freedom of expression is generally respected. In the past year, however, substantial debate emerged about placing limits on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook following the London riots in 2011, which prompted Prime Minister David Cameron and other officials to suggest that there should be a way of disabling these services when they are being used to promote violence.

Freedom on the internet 2012
The internet first began being used for commercial purposes in Argentina in 1991, though it had been a focus of academic study from the 1980s. Internet penetration has since steadily increased and Argentina is now home to one of the largest contingents of internet users in South America.

Freedom on the internet 2012
The first internet connection in South Africa was established in 1988, and the internet was commercialized in 1993. By the mid-1990s, South Africa ranked higher in internet usage than other countries at comparable levels of development. South Africa is the thirteenth most connected country in Africa in terms of internet penetration.

Freedom on the internet 2012
For a country with large social and economic disparities, Brazil has made significant gains in expanding internet access and mobile phone usage in recent years. in recent years, social network activity and civic participation on the internet have increased remarkably.

Freedom on the internet 2012
The citizens of Ukraine enjoy largely unhindered access to the internet. The country’s internet infrastructure has been rapidly developing since the early 1990s. Ukraine has relatively liberal legislation governing the internet and access to information. In 2011, a number of state initiatives were introduced that aim to control electronic media and exercise surveillance over internet content in order to ‘‘protect public morality’’ and limit other forms of ‘‘undesirable’’ content.

Freedom on the internet 2012
Since 2008, there have been no confirmed incidents of government filtering or interference with online communication. The Global Internet Speed Report released in March 2012 ranked Kenya after Ghana as the second country in Africa with the highest internet speed.

Freedom on the internet 2012
Internet access and use continues to grow rapidly in Georgia, particularly as interest in connecting with friends through social-networking sites has increased in recent years. Online news media are still developing slowly, while a growing number of journals and newspapers are launching websites, and major newspapers and news agencies are sharing content through applications such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Freedom on the internet 2012
Online media has been comparatively free from such restrictions, though a blogger was detained for questioning in January 2011. The internet was first introduced in the early 1990s, and usage grew more popular following an internet workshop organized by the Yaba College of Technology in 1995.

Freedom on the internet 2012
South Korea boasts of being one of the most connected countries in the world, as well as a fledgling, vibrant democracy. Recent years, however, have been marked by increased policing of the online environment. The UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, international journalists, and human rights groups have voiced concerns that the space for free expression in the country has been diminishing since 2008.

Freedom on the internet 2012
In a country with a population of 34.5 million, internet penetration and accessibility for the majority of Ugandans is still low, hampered primarily by high costs and poor infrastructure. Nearly 30 million people, the majority of whom live in rural areas, do not have access to the internet. Furthermore, for most internet users, the cost of access remains high and the quality of service inconsistent.

Freedom on the internet 2012
The current state of internet freedom in Kyrgyzstan must be understood in the context of the aftermath of events in 2010, which included the violent overthrow of President Kurmanbek Bakiev’s regime. However, after Bakiev’s removal in April 2010, these restrictions were lifted and the flow of information returned to normal. Despite such improvements, Internet access remains limited primarily to urban areas and state bodies initiated several attempts in 2011 to block websites.

Freedom on the internet 2012
In February 1989, the Monterrey Superior Studies Institute established Mexico’s first internet connection. Despite dramatic growth in internet penetration over the last 23 years, the majority of the population, particularly in rural areas, still lacks affordable access. While the blogosphere is not as influential as in other countries in the region, the social-networking site Facebook and the Twitter microblogging service have emerged as tools for citizen mobilization, including in response to drug-related violence and attacks on journalists.

Freedom on the internet 2012
Although India’s internet penetration rate of less than 10 percent is low by global standards, the country is nonetheless home to over 100 million users, placing it third behind only China and the United States as of early 2012. Tthe government and non-state actors have intensified pressure on intermediaries, including social media applications, to remove upon request a wide range of content vaguely defined as “offensive” and potentially pre-screen user-generated content. Many of India’s users access the internet via cybercafes, as only 3 percent of households had an internet connection.

Courtesy: http://in.finance.yahoo.com

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