Tag Archives: Freedom House

Internet Freedom in Decline Around the World

Freedom House is an index which ranks many different categories of freedoms across many nations around the world. One of the categories they assess is freedom of the net. This is an index which ranks internet freedoms around the world. From 2012-2013, 60 countries were studied. Digital media, interviews, and testing the accessibility of websites were some of the methods used to gain results. Each of the 60 countries received a number, 0 being the most free and 100 the least free. Countries which were assigned a number from 0-30 were considered free, 31-60 partly free and 61-100 not free.  A couple examples of countries that were labeled free include the Philippines, the United States, Kenya and Germany. Some examples of countries which were ranked partially free include Morocco, Thailand, Egypt and Jordan. Countries which were ranked not free include China, Sudan, Ethiopia and Cuba. What was found overall was that internet freedom worldwide is in decline, with 34 out of 60 countries assessed in the report having a negative trajectory from 2012 to 2013. There is also an decline in internet freedom over the past year. The report states that this decline is due to new laws controlling web content, the growing arrests of social media users and broad surveillance have been.

Having restrictions on the internet may cause some problems for developing countries which are just starting to actively use the internet, especially in the government, business, health and education sectors. These countries do not want to be controlled and limited to what they can a can and cannot do while surfing the web. It will be interesting to see if this negative trajectory continues in the future and how this affects developing countries and ultimately the digital divide.

For more information check about Freedom House rankings view the website here

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Philippines ICT Resources

It was relatively easy to find the Philippines’ National ICT policy but additional resources were not as easy to find. It didn’t seem like there were too many other resources available related to ICT in the Philippines.

National ICT Policy:

The Philippine Digital Strategy

  • Written by the Commission of  Information and Communications Technology in collaboration with the government, the private sector and civil society stakeholders.
  • A roadmap for 2011-2016
  • Written in 2011 as an update to a previous ICT policy that was created by the National Information Technology Council in October 1997.
  • Language: English

Governmental Resources:

Information and Communications Technology Office

  • Provides information about all of the Philippines’ ICT projects/ information
  • Last updated 2012
  • Run by the Department of Science and Technology
  • Language: English

Non-Governmental Resources:

Freedom on the Net – Philippines

  • Updated in 2012
  • Part of Freedom House
  • Discusses obstacles to access, limits on content and violations of user rights
  • Language: English

ICT in Education

  • Created by UNESCO Bangkok
  • Updated in 2013
  •  Links to education and projects about ICTs and education in the Philippines
  • Language: English

Radio FreeEurope in Azerbaijan

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This week in class, we have been discussing the various ways in which radio can be used in underdeveloped countries. What we may think of as an outdated technology, radio has continued to stay relevant in the field of development. Radio can provide education, information and news to the most rural populations whether it be learning about farming methods, or informing the public of healthy life practices to increase hygiene, sanitation, and reproductive health. More importantly, radio can be used to allow the oppressed to find their voices and identity, hold officials accountable.

Radio FreeEurope is a broadcaster funded by the U.S. congress that provides information and news to countries in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East- countries “where the free flow of information is either banned by government authorities or not fully developed”

In Azerbaijan’s case, the station exists because of the former. Azerbaijan has a Freedom House Freedom of the Press Index “Not Free” and Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index rank of 162nd/179. The government of Azerbaijan jails journalists and heavily censors all media. Since December 2008, all international broadcasters including Radio Azadliq, the BBC, Voice of America and Radio FreeEurope were banned from broadcasting on local radio requencies. On Radio FreeEurope’s website, it explains that

In an environment of total government control over national television and radio channels, Radio Azadliq has a firm reputation as the only source of unbiased information and the most professional media outlet in Azerbaijan.”

Radio is an important tool to providing unbiased news and consequently  the ability to hold a government accountable for their true actions. Radio and access to channels like Radio FreeEurope are powerful tools to political freedom and freedom of speech.


The Broken Promises of ICT Strategies: Azerbaijan

In the field of development, there is a notion that with greater transparency, the decline of corruption soon follows. For developing countries, there is a new surge to commitment to e-strategies that promote ICT devlopment.  e-Government strategies are the most common type of e-strategies and many of these strategies focus on improving the effectiveness and transparency of public administration activities by making use of ICT in government-citizen relations.

Last week, President of Azerbaijan, President Ilham Aliyev declared that the “fight against corruption and bribery should be even more serious“ in his country. He expanded on what role ICT can play in achieving this goal, by saying:

Over the past years Azerbaijan has attained a really great success in the ICT sector. This is in the business sphere and intellectual sector. All the same, this sphere which gives an impulse promotes innovations and transparency. We must widely use these opportunities. The number of e-services must grow, the work in this sphere must continue… Transparency must be ensured to maximum.

In the past decade, Azerbaijan has been going through the motions of ICT development and increased governmental transparency– a trend that is common for developing nations. The National Information and Communication Technologies Strategy for the Development of the Republic of Azerbaijan (2003-2012) lists the “establishment of environment to ensure the right of citizens and social institutions such as to obtain, disseminate and use information, which is an important factor for democratic development” as one of the strategies top goals. The strategy plan forecasts that as a result of the implementation,” transparency will be ensured in state administration and all citizens will get easy access to information. The country will be integrated into the international information society in accordance with the national interests.”

Azerbaijan has put on quite a show, with flashy, progressive ICT strategies to promote government transparency, and declarations to ensure open access to the Internet for all of its citizens.  However, the next step-the policy, the accountability, and the enforcement of such declarations- has not happened. Without actually enforcing systemic change in a corrupt government, shiny ICT strategies accomplish nothing.

What becomes to those who try to expose that the almost 10 year strategy for ICD development in Azerbaijan has done little to stop high level government corruption? Impresionment, fines, and even blackmail. Freedom House classifies Azerbaijan as a “Not Free” nation with the category of the internet deemed only “Partically Free”. Their Azerbaijan report states:

Internet-based reporting and social networking have increased significantly in recent years as a means of sidestepping government censorship and mobilizing protesters. The government has repeatedly blocked some websites featuring opposition views, and intimidated the online community through its harsh treatment of two bloggers who were jailed from 2009 to 2010 after satirizing the leadership. In 2011, the authorities monitored the internet use of protest leaders and proposed changing the criminal code to restrict internet access.

Below is a video of Khadija Ismayilova, an Azerbaijani journalist who after starting to investigate corruption at the level of the President,  found her home wired with video and audio recording by state agencies. Khadija was sent an envelope with pictures of her and her boyfriend having sex, warning her to call off her investigation.

ICT sector growth greatly depends on the reception of the public is serves. Distrust due to the political manipulation of ICT services among the public does little to cultivate an environment that will nurture ICT growth and success. Without enforceable policy that is not susceptible to corruption or misuse, the ICT strategies will serve little purpose but to make the country look good. Countries should draft policy that safeguards the users, even from the government to ensure privacy and security.


Argentina National ICT Resources

Argentina National ICT Resources

Notes: Using Argentina as your country can be very challenging sometimes. I would definitely recommend having background knowledge of Spanish because most websites for the government branches that deal with ICT are entirely in Spanish. Additionally, Argentina does not have an updated National ICT Policy, therefore, most of your sources will be non-governmental overviews of the current ICT situation in the country.

 

Argentina does not have a current National ICT Policy. This link (briefly) discusses the outdated National Program for the Information Society.

Title: Analysis of the national ICT policies of Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile and Mexico by the Author: the FORESTA Project (non-governmental source)

http://www.forestaproject.eu/site2/results/readEbook/10

Last updated: September, 2012

Language: English

 

Because of the outdated/lack of policy, there are no sources regarding its implementation. The following link is related to the ICT centered governmental organization, FONTAR, which funds and implements innovative ICT projects.

Title: Fondo Tecnologico Argentino

Author: Agencia Nacional de Promocion Cientifica y Tecnologica (governmental source)

http://www.agencia.gov.ar/spip.php?article239

Last updated: Not available

Language: Spanish (can be read in English through Google Translate)

 

The following link includes a great general overview of different governmental organizations and general trends in the ICT sector of Argentina, including international relations in terms of ICT cooperation, it is good for answering WSIS Action Items. Also includes discussion of the government’s “White Book of ICT Prospective, Project 2020” outlining their priorities for the future of ICT.

Title: Status of ICT policy development: Country Report Argentina

Author: Promotion of an ICT Dialogue between Europe and America Latina (non-governmental source)

http://www.pro-ideal.eu/drupal/sites/default/files/D5.1_Status_of_ICT_policy_development_Country_report_Argentina.pdf

Last updated: April, 2011

Language: English

 

The International Telecommunications Union briefly discusses Argentina’s e-government initiatives in regards to WSIS Action Item 7, ICT applications.

Title: ITU’s National e-Strategies for Development

Author: International Telecommunications Union (non-governmental source)

http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/cyb/app/docs/National_estrategies_for_development_2010.pdf

Last updated: 2010

Language: English

 

This report provides the Network Readiness Index score for Argentina (and other countries), as well as an in-depth breakdown of that score. It is great for comparing and contrasting Argentina to other countries.

Title: The Global Information Technology Report 2012

Author: World Economic Forum (non-governmental source)

http://www.weforum.org/reports/global-information-technology-report-2012

Last updated: 2012

Language: English

 

The following EIU report was really only useful for the numerical score breakdown of the Digital Economy Score. It was good for comparing and contrasting Argentina to its neighbors.

Title: Digital Economy Rankings 2010

Author: Economist Intelligence Unit (non-governmental source)

http://www-935.ibm.com/services/us/gbs/bus/html/ibv-digitaleconomy2010.html?cntxt=a1000055

Last updated: 2010

Language: English

 

This report was very helpful in highlighting the gap between rural and urban provinces. It also has information on One Laptop Per Child in Argentina, Broadcasting Law, and ICT stakeholders.

Title: Country Report: Argentina [written for the Global Information Society Watch]

Author: Nodo Tau [a civil organization, based in Argentina, which seeks to get everyone in Argentina “connected”] (non-governmental source)

http://www.giswatch.org/en/country-report/civil-society-participation/argentina

Last updated: 2007

Language: English

 

This link is not really that useful in the overall paper but it is good at addressing some WSIS Action Items. It talks about Argentina’s recent struggles with increased government censorship of the media.

Title: Freedom of the Press 2011-Argentina

Author: Freedom House (non-governmental source)

http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/2011/argentina

Last updated: 2011

Language: English


Guinea National ICT Resources

National ICT Plan: 

Plan de Développement de l’Infrastructure Nationale d’Information et de Communication de la République de Guinée 2001-2004

Created By: Ministry of Finance

Date Updated: March 2002

Language: French

Outside Resources: 

ICT for Education in Guinea– Useful for establishing the prospective usage and challenges of ICTs in eductation

Created By: The World Bank

Author: Osei Tutu Agyeman

Updated: June 2007

Language: English

Freedom House Rating– Ranks the access to deomocracy and fundamental rights in countries around the world.

Created By: Freedom House

Language: English

African Internet Facebook Usage– Used to see the percentages of Facebook usage in Guinea.

Language: English

Updated: June 30, 2012

Guinea Profile– Used to gather background information and have a clearer understanding of Guinea as a whole. 

Created By: BBC News Africa

Language: English

MultiSectoral AIDS Project (MAP)-An AIDS development project implemented throughout Africa, including Guinea. Not Directly Related to ICT4D!

Created By: The World Bank

Updated: 2011

Language: English

AIDS/HIV Statistics in Guinea

Created By: University of California, San Fransisco

Updated: 2012

US AID in Guinea-Provides information about USAIDs work in Guinea in a number of fields (ex. democracy, economics, agriculture, etc. )

Created By: U.S. Agency for International Development

World Health Organization information on Environmental Policy in Guinea- comprehensive information linked here.

Gender Development Index for Guinea by the United Nations Development Programme-comprehensive information linked here.

Overall, researching Guinea was interesting, but at the same time extremely challenging.  A lack of infrastructure in the country has not led to many development projects being implemented there for ICTD.  Therefore, there is not a lot of research into this field to be done in terms of growth or development, as their development has been lagging drastically behind.  Also, since the government in Guinea is not very stable, it was not always easy to find up-to-date resources, and a lot of the reasearch needed to be inferred.