Internet Freedom Report Released, U.S. Internet Bill Passed
Early Saturday morning the Senate passed S.Con.Res. 50, which calls on “the United States to promote a global Internet free from government control and preserve and advance the successful multistakeholder model that governs the Internet today.” The bill was introduced by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and cosponsored by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO). Senator Rubio said he was “pleased the U.S. Senate declared its unanimous opposition to international efforts to regulate the Internet.”
The action came as Freedom House released its annual report on threats to Internet freedom, which focused on 47 countries and covered developments between January 2011 and May 2012. Citing intensified censorship, arrests, and violence against bloggers, Freedom on the Net 2012 assigned “Not Free” ratings to Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran and Bahrain. The four other Middle East countries rated in the study, Jordan, Tunisia, Turkey and Egypt, received a “Partly Free” rating. Ratings are determined through an examination on three categories: obstacles to access, limits on content, and violation of user rights. The report found that restrictions on Internet freedom continues to grow but is evolving and becoming less visible. Some recent trends include the introduction of vague laws that prohibit certain types of content, manipulation of media to focus on a State sanctioned narrative, physical attacks against bloggers and other internet users, and politically motivated surveillance.
Meanwhile, Jordanian journalists protested new amendments to the Press and Publication law, which they vowed to disobey. The law requires websites that publish “news, investigate reports, articles and comments related to the international or external affairs of the Kingdom to register with the Press and Publications Department,” and requires chief editors of news websites to be members of the Jordan Press Association.