Asian governments among the worst enemies of Internet freedom

BEIJING, May 2 (AFP) – Governments in Asia are considered among the world’s worst “enemies” of Internet freedom, as they increasingly censor websites and jail people who express views deemed dangerous online. Ahead of World Press Freedom Day on Wednesday, experts say countries including China, Vietnam and Nepal are feeling more threatened by cyberspace than ever as Internet use booms and their populations increasingly seek information from the worldwide web.

Of a list of 15 “Enemies of the Internet” named by Paris-based rights group Reporters Without Borders in a report late last year, seven are in Asia, including China, North Korea, Vietnam and Myanmar.

Experts warn that, with less freedom of information, Asian societies risk seeing more corruption and abuse of government power, while public discontent will grow, leading to more social instability.

“These countries are among the most politically backward countries, that’s why they are afraid of the Internet,” said formerly imprisoned Chinese journalist Gao Yu, who won UNESCO’s Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom award in 1997.

“They fear the Internet will spread Western ideas of freedom and democracy which will lead to an overthrow of their pow