7 January 2016 marked the one-year anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo murders. The World Press Freedom Index just released its annual review. It is a study of press freedom worldwide, published by Reporters Sans Frontières (Reporters Without Borders), which found a "decline on all fronts" in 2014:
For the report's analyses of these themes, including arrests of and attacks on bloggers, go here. In most places, the boom in online communications has prompted crackdowns. Thus, in related news, Russia sentenced blogger Vadim Tyumentsev on 30 December 2015 to five years in a Siberian prison. This week, Turkey arrested or fired several academics for signing petitions to defend the Kurds; 1,200 scholars were investigated by the government. There are other recent stories of persecutions and killings of bloggers from Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Vietnam, Brazil (in more than one incident), Oman, and Bangladesh. The Committee to Protect Journalists lists 71 killings of journalists in 2015 with motives confirmed. Their 2015 year-end report is here.The 2015 World Press Freedom Index highlights the worldwide deterioration in freedom of information in 2014. Beset by wars, the growing threat from non-state operatives, violence during demonstrations and the economic crisis, media freedom is in retreat on all five continents.The indicators compiled by Reporters Without Borders are incontestable. There was a drastic decline in freedom of information in 2014. Two-thirds of the 180 countries surveyed for the 2015 World Press Freedom Index performed less well than in the previous year. The annual global indicator, which measures the overall level of violations of freedom of information in 180 countries year by year, has risen to 3,719, an 8 percent increase over 2014 and almost 10 percent compared with 2013. The decline affected all continents. ...[The source of the decline is attributed to global conflicts, and non-state operators.] Non-state groups follow no laws and disregard basic rights in pursuit of their own ends. From Boko Haram to Islamic State, Latin American drug traffickers and the Italian mafia, motives may vary but their modus operandi is the same – the use of fear and reprisals to silence journalists and bloggers who dare to investigate them or refuse to act as their mouthpieces. ...Can journalists be seen as the common enemy of protesters and police alike at some demonstrations? This is the sad conclusion of Reporters Without Borders this year. 2014 saw an increase in violence towards reporters and netizens covering demonstrations.
Between 2013 and 2015, Islamic fundamentalists have ferociously attacked and murdered secular bloggers in Bangladesh. International Business Times (23 September 2015): "Bangladeshi secular activists take part in a torchlit protest in Dhaka against the killing in August of blogger Niloy Chakrabarti, who used the pen-name Niloy Neel." Image Source: IB Times. Photos from the horrific machete killing of Avijit Roy, founder of Mukto-Mona (Free-mind) blog are here.
Some of the biggest success stories, by contrast, come from Cuba, where blogger Yoani Sánchez founded a Gen Y-oriented Cuban news portal 14ymedio. Gamers in Cuba have developed their own off-government-grid Internet, StreetNet, in developments discussed at the NYT , Vox, and The Daily Decrypt below the jump. Havana's bootleg Internet now has over 10,000 users. According to The Daily Decrypt, Havana is hosting a new International Conference of Free Software from 25 to 27 April 2016, to explore the radical implications of open source code.
Cuban Bloggers Find Their Voice (30 December 2014). Video Source: NYT via Youtube.
Vox (5 October 2015): Castro hates the internet, so Cubans created their own. Video Source: Youtube.
The Daily Decrypt (8 October 2015): Bitcoin to the Rescue, Havana's Meshnet, and Wireless Electricity reiterates details from the Vox report. Video Source: Youtube.