An Internet freedom advocacy group has rated 14 countries as "free" in a new report, with Estonia, USA and Germany leading in online freedom for citizens, while countries such as Cuba, China and Iran have the least freedom.
The global survey 'Freedom on the Net 2012', was released this week.
The analysis covers 47 countries in six geographical regions, and was conducted by Washington-based Freedom House between January 2011 and May 2012.
This is the organization's third report in a series that began in 2009. By creating a numerical index that ranks each country, Freedom House has provided a comprehensive study of Internet freedom around the globe.
According to Freedom House, "The index does not rate governments or government performance per se, but rather the real-world rights and freedoms enjoyed by individuals within each country."
The report measured each country's level of Internet and digital media freedom, with every country receiving a numerical score from 0 (the most free) to 100 (the least free).
Estonia ha 10 points while Iran had 90. The criteria were:
Obstacles to Access: assesses infrastructural and economic barriers to access;
governmental efforts to block specific applications or technologies; and legal,
regulatory and ownership control over internet and mobile phone access providers.
Limits on Content: examines filtering and blocking of websites; other forms of
censorship and self-censorship; manipulation of content; the diversity of online news
media; and usage of digital media for social and political activism.
Violations of User Rights: measures legal protections and restrictions on online
activity; surveillance; privacy; and repercussions for online activity, such as legal
prosecution, imprisonment, physical attacks, or other forms of harassment.