Myanmar and Australia see biggest declines in internet freedom in Asia Pacific finds report

Closure of TRS attributed to decline in Singapore's score

Closure of TRS attributed to decline in Singapore’s internet freedom score

Myanmar, Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Thailand and South Korea all saw declines in internet freedom over the last year, according to a report by US-based think tank Freedom House released this week.

Despite the introduction of mobile carriers Telenor and Ooredoo to the market, Myanmar saw the biggest decline in internet freedom in the region, followed by Australia, which is considered to have the freest internet in Asia Pacific (New Zealand was not measured).

Internet freedom, or lack of it, is gauged by the obstacles to access, limits on content and restrictions on use.

China was found to have the lowest internet freedom in Asia Pacific and the world, with Pakistan, Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar also featuring low in the rankings, according to Freedom House’s country league table.

Freedom of the internet does not necessarily correlate to freedom of the press, the study found. One of the world’s freest internet markets, the Philippines, only has a partly free press. Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Cambodia have a partly free internet, but a not free press.

Freedom of the internet Vs freedom of the press

Freedom of the internet Vs freedom of the press

Myanmar’s drop in internet freedom was attributed to the detainment of users for insulting religion on Facebook and pressure from the government on social media users not to “offend the military or disturb the functions of government,” according to the report.

Reasons given for Australia’s decline were the introduction of legislative amendments that raised concerns over government surveillance and their impact on privacy and freedom of expression.

The report noted the closure of The Real Singapore, legal action against blogger Roy Ngerng and the jailing of YouTuber Amos Yee as reasons for Singapore’s score decline.

Score declines 2014-215

Score declines 2014-2015

Singapore is notable for the size of internet penetration and GDP per capita compared to the relative lack of internet freedom.

Internet freedom Vs internet penetration Vs GDP

Internet freedom Vs internet penetration Vs GDP

Globally, 31 per cent of the web is considered free and 34.4 per cent is considered not free.

Global internet population

Freedom house freedom of the internet

Almost all topics are censored in China, including criticism of the authorities, conflict, corruption, political opposition, LGBT issues and ethnic and religious minorities.

Internet topics censored by type

Internet topics censored by type


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