Introduction to the Country Profiles
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Introduction to the Country Profiles The country profiles that follow offer a synopsis of the findings and conclusions of OpenNet Initiative (ONI) research into the factors influencing specific countries’ decisions to filter or abstain from filtering the Internet, as well as the impact, relevance, and efficacy of technical filtering in a broader context of Internet censorship. These profiles cover a selection of countries in Asia where the ONI conducted technical testing and analysis from 2009 to 2010. Countries selected for in-depth analysis are those in which it is believed there is the most to learn about the extent and processes of Internet filtering. The ONI employs a unique ‘‘fusion’’ methodology that combines fieldwork, technical research, and data mining, fusion, analysis, and visualization. Our aim is to uncover evidence of Internet content filtering in countries under investigation. The ONI’s tests consist of running special software programs within countries under investigation that connect back to databases that contain lists of thousands of URLs, IPs, and keywords. The lists are broken down into two categories: Global lists include URLs, IPs, and keywords that are tested in every country and that help us make general comparisons of accessibility across countries. Global lists also provide a ‘‘snapshot’’ of accessibility to content typically blocked by filtering software programs, and they can help us understand whether particular software programs are being used in a specific context. Local lists are unique for each country and are usually made up of content in local languages. These are high-impact URLs, IPs, and keywords, meaning they have content that is likely to be targeted for filtering or that has been reported to have been so targeted. Our aim is to run tests on each of the main Internet service providers (ISPs) in a country over an extended period of time—typically at least two weeks on at least two occasions. Our accessibility depends very much on our in-country testers, and for security and other reasons we are not always able to perform comprehensive tests, meaning in some cases we have only partial results on which to base inferences. Our specially designed software checks access both within the country and from one or more control locations simultaneously. Anomalies are analyzed, and determinations 220 Introduction to the Country Profiles are made as to whether a site is accessible or not, and if the latter, how the inaccessibility occurs. In some instances, block pages—Web sites that explicitly confirm blocking—appear following requests for banned content. In other instances, connections are simply broken. In some cases, special filtering software is employed, while in others routers are manually configured to block. Each country profile includes the summary results of the empirical testing for filtering . The technical filtering data alone, however, do not amount to a complete picture of Internet censorship and content regulation. A wide range of policies relating to media, speech, and expression also act to restrict expression on the Internet and formation of online communities. Legal and regulatory frameworks, including Internet law, the state of Internet access and infrastructure, the level of economic development, and the quality of governance institutions are central to determining which countries resort to filtering and how they choose to implement Internet content controls. A brief synopsis of each of these factors is included in each of the country summaries. Together, these sections are intended to offer a concise, accurate, and unbiased overview of Internet filtering and content regulation. Each country is given a score on a five-point scale presented in the “Results at a Glance” table. The scores reflect the observed level of filtering in each of four themes: 1. Political: This category is focused primarily on Web sites that express views in opposition to those of the current government. Content more broadly related to human rights, freedom of expression, minority rights, and religious movements is also considered here. 2. Social: This group covers material related to sexuality, gambling, and illegal drugs and alcohol, as well as other topics that may be socially sensitive or perceived as offensive. 3. Conflict and security: Content related to armed conflicts, border disputes, separatist movements, and militant groups is included in this category. 4. Internet tools: Web sites that provide e-mail, Internet hosting, search, translation, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone service, and circumvention methods are grouped in this category. The relative magnitude of filtering for each of the four themes is...