Freedom on the Net 2015 | Freedom House

Freedom on the Net

Freedom on the Net 2015

Key Findings

Freedom on the Net 2015 finds internet freedom around the world in decline for a fifth consecutive year as more governments censored information of public interest while also expanding surveillance and cracking down on privacy tools.

  • Content removals increased: Authorities in 42 of the 65 countries assessed required private companies or internet users to restrict or delete web content dealing with political, religious, or social issues, up from 37 the previous year.
  • Arrests and intimidation escalated: Authorities in 40 of 65 countries imprisoned people for sharing information concerning politics, religion or society through digital networks.
  • Surveillance laws and technologies multiplied: Governments in 14 of 65 countries passed new laws to increase surveillance since June 2014 and many more upgraded their surveillance equipment.
  • Governments undermined encryption, anonymity: Democracies and authoritarian regimes alike stigmatized encryption as an instrument of terrorism, and many tried to ban or limit tools that protect privacy.

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Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Democracy
Human Rights and Labor (DRL)

Research Team

Sanja Kelly , Project Director

Mai Truong , Senior Program Officer (Africa)

Madeline Earp , Research Analyst (Asia)

Laura Reed , Research Analyst (Eurasia, EU & Western countries)

Adrian Shahbaz , Research Analyst (MENA & EU)

Alexandra Ellerbeck , Senior Research Assistant (Latin America)

Report Authors and Advisers

Argentina: Eduardo Andres Bertoni, Director, Center for Studies on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information (CELE), Palermo University School of Law, Argentina; Daniela Schnidrig, Researcher, CELE

Armenia: Seda Muradyan, Armenia Country Director, Institute for War and Peace Reporting; Samvel Martirosyan, Head of Board, Institute for Strategic and Innovative Research

Australia: Dr. Alana Maurushat, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, and Co-Director, Cyberspace Law and Policy Community, The University of New South Wales 

Azerbaijan: Arzu Geybulla, Azerbaijani journalist and blogger

Bangladesh: Dr. Faheem Hussain , Assistant Professor,  Department of Technology and Society, State University of  New York (SUNY) Korea

Brazil: Fabrício Bertini Pasquot Polido, Professor, Law School of the Federal University of Minas Gerais, and Head of the Center for International Studies on Internet, Innovation, and Intellectual Property (GNET); Carolina Rossini, Vice President of International Policy, Public Knowledge, and Board Member, Open Knowledge Foundation, InternetLab, and CodingRights 

Cambodia: Sopheap Chak , Executive Director, Cambodian  Center for Human Rights, and human rights blogger

Canada: Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa

China: Sarah Hoffman, Youth Free Expression Program Manager, National Coalition Against Censorship, and China researcher; Wen Yunchao (“Beifeng”), Chinese blogger and activist

Colombia: Law, Internet, and Society Group, Fundación Karisma

Cuba: Ernesto Hernández Busto , Cuban journalist and  writer

Estonia: Linnar Viik, Lecturer, Board Member, Estonian IT College

France: Jean-Loup Richet, Researcher, University of Nantes

Georgia: Teona Turashvili, Analyst, Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI)

Germany: Philipp Otto, Founder and Head, iRights.Lab think tank and iRights.Media publishing house, Editor in Chief,, political strategist, advisor to the German government and companies; Henning Lahmann, Policy Analyst, iRights.Lab 

Hungary: Borbála Tóth, independent researcher based in Budapest

Iceland: Caroline Nellemann, independent consultant, specialist in digital media and civic engagement

India: Chinmayi Arun, Research Director, Center for Communication Governance at National Law University, Delhi; Sarvjeet Singh, Senior Fellow and Project Manager, Centre for Communication Governance; Parul Sharma, Student, B.A., LL.B. (Hons.), National Law University; with research assistance from students Nishtha Sinha and Vaibhav Dutt, B.A., LL.B. (Hons.), National Law University

Indonesia: Enda Nasution, Co-Founder,, and independent blogger

Iran: Mahmood Enayat, Director, Small Media

Italy: Giampiero Giacomello, Associate Professor of International Relations, University of Bologna

Japan: Dr. Leslie M. Tkach-Kawasaki, Associate Professor, University of Tsukuba

Jordan: Lina Ejeilat, Co-founder and Executive Editor, 7iber

Kazakhstan: Adilzhan Nurmakov, Senior Lecturer, KIMEP University

Kenya: Grace Githaiga, Associate, Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet)

Kyrgyzstan: Artem Goryainov, IT Programs Director, Public Foundation CIIP

Lebanon: Firas Talhouk, Researcher, Samir Kassir Foundation

Libya: Maraim Masoud Elbadri, Business Developer, Tatweer Research

Malawi: Gregory Gondwe, Bureau Chief, Times Media Group, Malawi

Malaysia: K Kabilan, Managing Editor,, and online media consultant

Mexico: Jorge Luis Sierra, Knight International Journalism Fellow, International Center for Journalists, and award-winning Mexican journalist

Morocco: Bouziane Zaid, Assistant Professor of Media and Communication, Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane

Myanmar: Min Zin, Burmese journalist, and Contributor, Foreign Policy Democracy Lab 

Nigeria: ‘Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria

Pakistan: Nighat Dad, Executive Director, Digital Rights Foundation, Pakistan; Muhammad Ismail Khan, Research Associate, Digital Rights Foundation

Philippines: Jacques D.M. Gimeno, independent researcher based in Manila

Singapore: Cherian George, Associate Professor, School of Communication, Hong Kong Baptist University

South Africa: Alex Comninos, independent researcher

South Korea: Dr. Yenn Lee, Doctoral Training Advisor, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 

Sri Lanka: N. V. Nugawela, independent writer and researcher

Syria: Dlshad Othman, Information Security Manager, Information Safety & Capacity Project (ISC)

Uganda: Lillian Nalwoga, Policy Officer, CIPESA, and President, Internet Society Uganda Chapter

Ukraine: Tetyana Lokot, Ukrainian blogger and activist; Contributing Editor, RuNet Echo, Global Voices; and Doctoral Candidate, Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland

United Kingdom: LSE Media Policy Project, London School of Economics and Political Science

United States: Open Technology Institute, New America Foundation

Uzbekistan: Dr. Zhanna Hördegen, Research Associate, University Research Priority Program (URPP) Asia and Europe, University of Zurich, and independent consultant

Venezuela: Raisa Urribarri, Director, Communications Lab for Teaching, Research and Community Extension (LIESR) at the University of Los Andes

Zambia: Brenda Bukowa, Lecturer and Researcher, Department of Mass Communication, University of Zambia

The analysts for the reports on Angola, Bahrain, Belarus, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam and Zimbabwe are independent internet researchers who have requested to remain anonymous.

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