A report published by the New York City-based Committee to Protect Journalists has named Myanmar the world’s worst nation for bloggers.
The country’s ruling military junta, which has a long track record of gagging print and broadcast media, has also been severely curtailing online access, so much so that only one percent of its population has private Internet connection.
The rest rely on public cybercafés, which too, are heavily serveilled. A blogger is currently serving a 59-year prison term for posting a video footage in the aftermath of the 2008 Cyclone “Nargis.”
China, which has almost 300 million digitally-connected people—the highest in the world—also has the dubious reputation of having the world’s most elaborate online censorship program.
Also joining the “dishonor roll” are Iran (where a blogger, jailed for insulting the nation’s clerics, died in prison, this year), Cuba (where 21 bloggers are behind the bar), Saudi Arabia (where access to 400,000 sites is blocked), Turkmenistan (where the state Internet service provider routinely monitors the e-mail accounts of Gmail, Yahoo!, and Hotmail users).
Syria, Tunisia, Egypt, and Vietnam are the other nations where online repression is posing a growing threat to the freedom of the press.
In 2008, bloggers and online journalists became the single largest professional group to be in prison, surpassing, for the first time, the number print and broadcast reporters.