Please find below the latest installment in The GovLab Index series, inspired by the Harper’s Index. “The GovLab Index on Internet Governance — Content” is part of a series of Indexes that focus on the five main areas within Internet Governance: access, content, code, trust, and trade. This edition highlights public sentiment and information on freedom of expression and censorship online. This Index examines various types of online censorship: technical blocking, search result removals, takedown, and self-censorship. Previous installments include Internet Governance — Access, Measuring Impact with Evidence, Open Data, The Data Universe, Participation and Civic Engagement, and Trust in Institutions.
- Percentage of Internet users surveyed in 6 countries (USA, Mexico, Pakistan, Sweden, Egypt, and Thailand) who have felt hesitant expressing opinions on the Internet: 68%
- Percentage of Internet users surveyed who say it is acceptable to censor or block:
- personal threats online: 80%
- bullying: 79%
- information that can compromise national security: 79%
- pornographic content: 78%
- slander: 76%
- racist content: 70%
- sexist content: 67%
- religious criticism: 47%
- criticism against government/state: 32%
- How many of the 24 emerging and developing economies surveyed have a majority opinion that it is important that people have access to the internet without government censorship: 22 countries
- Demographic that is most likely to call for Internet freedom without government censorship: 18-29 year olds
- Correlation between support for Internet freedom and Internet usage: 0.76, higher usage correlates with higher support
Censorship Country Overview
- Of the 60 countries assessed, how many have experienced a negative trajectory in terms of Internet Freedom between 2012 and 2013: 34, including Vietnam and Venezuela
- How many countries experienced a positive trajectory: 16, including Tunisia and Rwanda
- Most commonly used types of Internet control in 60 countries according to Freedom on the Net 2013 Report:
- blocking and filtering (29 countries including China and Iran)
- cyberattacks against regime critics (examples: Bahrain and Belarus)
- new laws and arrests (examples: Turkey and Bangladesh)
- paid pro-government commentators (22 countries including Russia and Malaysia)
- physical attacks and murder (26 countries including Egypt and Mexico)
- takedown requests and forced deletion (examples: Russia and Azerbaijan)
- blanket blocking of social media and other ICT platforms (19 countries including Lebanon and Ethiopia)
- holding intermediaries liable (22 countries including China and Brazil)
- throttling or shutting down Internet and mobile services (examples: Egypt and Syria)
- Number of content removal requests submitted to Twitter from government agencies, police and courts in the first half of 2013: 60
- How many content removal requests submitted in the first half of 2014: 432
- Number of information requests received by Twitter in the first half of 2014: 2,058
- How many times the U.S. government submitted user information requests to Twitter in the first half of 2014: 1,257 user information requests, 61% of all requests received
- When Facebook began publishing Transparency reports about data requests made by government and law enforcement agencies: June 2013, in the wake of the NSA leak
- Number of US law enforcement requests received by Facebook in the second half of 2013: 12,598 requests for information about 18,715 users
- Percentage of requests for which Facebook produced some data: 81%
- How many American adults surveyed who said they would be willing to discuss their views about government surveillance if it came up at various in-person scenarios, such as at a public meeting, at work or at a restaurant with friends: 86%
- How many Facebook or Twitter users surveyed said they would be willing to post online about it: 42%
- Percentage of Americans surveyed who are unwilling to discuss the Snowden case with others in person: 14%
- How many of the remaining 14 percent of Americans who didn’t want to discuss Snowden in person were willing to discuss it on social media: 0.3%
Search Result Removals
- When the “Right to be Forgotten” was instituted in the European Union: May 2014
- Number of Right to be Forgotten requests Google has received to remove links between May and July: over 91,000
- Most popular types of right to be forgotten requests submitted to Google as of June 2014: Invasion of privacy (28%), Defamation and insult (19%)
- Most common reason for right to be forgotten requests within the “invasion of privacy” category: disclosure of home address (22%)
- How many people submitted right to be forgotten requests within the “defamation and insult” category with the reason that their names have “been mentioned in matters which I am completely extraneous to”: 43%, most common reason
- Number of requests from governments to remove content received by Google globally in the first half of 2013: 3,846
- Number of items requested to be removed: 24,737
- Number of requests from Turkish authorities: 1,673
- How many Turkish requests called for the removal of content related to alleged violations of law 5651, which regulates crimes committed via the Internet: two-thirds
- Top reasons given for government requests for content removal to Google since July 2010: defamation (35%), privacy and security (14%), adult content (13%)
- Top five countries where the Internet is the most controlled, according to Committee to Protect Journalists: North Korea, Burma, and Cuba, Saudi Arabia, China
- Countries that block Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube: China, Iran, North Korea
- When Twitter began to restrict tweets in specific countries using the Country Withheld Content tool: 2012
- Number of pieces of content that Facebook has restricted access in Turkey in accordance with local laws in the second half of 2013: 2,014 pieces of content
- “Emerging and Developing Nations Want Freedom on the Internet.” Pew Research, Global Attitudes Project. March 2014.
- “Freedom on the Net 2013.” Freedom House. 2013.
- Hampton, Keith, Rainie, Lee, Lu, Weixu, Dwyer, Maria, Shin, Inyoung, and Purcell, Kristen.“Social Media and the ‘Spiral of Silence’.” August 2014.
- “Information Requests.” Transparency Report, Twitter. Last accessed August 2014.
- Mirani, Leo. “These are the things people want Google to forget about them.” Quartz. June 2014.
- “Privacy, Security and Safety Online.” Ericsson ConsumerLab, February 2014.
- “Removal Requests.” Transparency Report, Twitter. Last accessed August 2014.
- Scola, Nancy. “Designing ‘the right to be forgotten’.” Washington Post. August 2014.
- “Top Ten Internet Censors.” USA Today. February 2014.
- “United States.” Government Requests Report, Facebook. Last accessed August 2014.
- “Turkey.” Government Requests Report, Facebook. Last accessed August 2014.
- “Requests to Remove Content.” Transparency Report, Google. Last accessed August 2014.