If you are a blogger, don’t go to Vietnam. Blogging was virtually unknown two years ago in Vietnam. But it caught up like wild fire once the generation of eager, Web savvy students discovered the fun of speaking your mind and connecting with friends online. Unfortunately for them, the censors caught up and, afraid as they always are of things they don’t understand, they went after the most articulate of them with a vengeance.
The Committee to Protect Journalists issued a report on the state of freedom of the press to mark World Press Freedom Day, May 3. The report calls attention to online repression. CPJ considers bloggers whose work is reportorial or fact-based commentary to be journalists. In 2008, CPJ found, bloggers and other online journalists were the single largest professional group in prison, overtaking print and broadcast journalists for the first time.
In consultation with Internet experts, CPJ developed eight questions to assess blogging conditions worldwide. The questions:
- Does a country jail bloggers?
- Do bloggers face harassment, cyber-attacks, threats, assaults, or other reprisals?
- Do bloggers self-censor to protect themselves?
- Does the government limit connectivity or restrict access to the Internet?
- Are bloggers required to register with the government or an ISP and give a verifiable name and address before blogging?
- Does a country have regulations or laws that can be used to censor bloggers?
- Does the government monitor citizens who use the Internet?
- Does the government use filtering technology to block or censor the Internet?
Based on these criteria, CPJ regional experts nominated countries for this list. The final ranking was determined by a poll of CPJ staff and outside experts.