Because of the recent US presidential elections, the internet has been in the spotlight these past few weeks. While Americans have to suffer through fake news and annoying status updates, there are areas in this modern world where posting an opinion can result in jail time or worse. Internet freedom has certainly declined all over the world for the past 6 years because of censorship and government monitoring of messaging apps.
There are worst places to use internet than Southeast Asia but blogging about religious freedom is still taboo in Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh. Blogging about the controversial heir to the throne of Thailand could get censored because the laws prohibit any criticisms of the monarchy. Even international news agencies are allowed only to report that the former king is in the twilight years of his reign and not dying. Any tweets, Facebook posts or personal messages that criticize the military government can lead to jail time or detention.
In Vietnam, internet users have learned the importance of self-censorship because the government has become unpredictable with its list of banned topics. It is better to stay away from controversial topics to avoid being blocked. Facebook has been blocked on several occasions as well as some web pages.
In Malaysia, internet freedom is also on the decline after the government censored news reports and information about the massive corruption scandal that involves their prime minister. Major newspapers have been blocked from reporting stories. Bloggers and writers can end up in trouble for any criticisms on Islam.
Indonesia that has the world’s largest Muslim democracy does not like online content regarding LGBT. In 2014, messaging app LINE was pressured to remove its LGBT content. In Cambodia, the low-grade internet repression is using different tactics so as not to attract international attention particularly the foreign press. A Facebook user received an 18-month prison sentence for a colour revolution to change the cheap regime running Cambodian society.
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