“Andrew Meldrum’s Video Diary,” Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/zimbabwe/subsectionmenu/0,,960624,00.html;
Dave Gilson, “Hoping Against Hope: An Interview with Andrew Meldrum,” Mother Jones, June 28, 2005, http://motherjones.com/politics/2005/06/hoping-against-hope-interview-andrew-meldrum.
“Zim to Register Cell Phone Lines,” Southern Times, June 21, 2010, http://www.southerntimesafrica.com/article.phptitle=Zim%20to%20register%20cell%20phone%20lines%20%20&id=&sid=ba3950cf283bab09bb9dc934b7836a1c.
ZIMBABWE FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net an indefinite extension of the deadline as it became clear that many users had been unable to register in time.The Post and Telecommunications Act of 2000 allows the government to monitor email usage and requires ISPs to supply information to government officials when requested.
The law obliges ISPs to report any e-mail with “offensive or dangerous” content. The Interception of Communications Act of 2007 (ICA) enabled the establishment of a monitoring center to oversee, among other things, traffic in all telecommunications and postal services.30 The law requires telecommunications operators and ISPs to install the necessary technology at their own expense. Failure to comply can be punished with a fine or up to three years in prison. There have been unconfirmed reports that the government has received surveillance technology and training from China.The ICA allows the state to intercept any communication when there is a reasonable suspicion of threats to public safety or national security, among other situations. Intercepted information can in some instances be used as evidence in criminal proceedings. While there are no specific laws regulating the encryption of documents or communications, the ICA allows the government to request any key or code necessary to make a communication readable once there is reasonable suspicion that, for example, national security is at stake and an administrative warrant has been granted.
Warrants allowing monitoring and interception of communications are issued by the minister of information at his discretion, meaning there is no substantial judicial oversight or other independent safeguards against abuse. The frequency and extent of monitoring in practice remains uncertain.
There have been no known cases of physical attacks against bloggers or online journalists in particular, but they remain at risk in Zimbabwe’s general climate of political violence and impunity. In 2006, then security minister Didymus Mutasa warned that the authorities would “soon close in on” journalists using pseudonyms to report in the exiled private media, including websites and internet radio stations.32 Similarly, while many NGO activists and human rights defenders have been targeted by the regime, there are no known cases of such figures being physically harassed in relation to online or text-messaging activities.
“Telecoms Regulator in Zimbabwe Extends Cell Phone Registration Exercise,” Net News Publisher, September 1, 2010, http://www.netnewspublisher.com/telecoms-regulator-in-zimbabwe-extends-cell-phone-registration-exercise/.
The law is available at http://kubatana.net/docs/legisl/icb_070508.pdf.
Lance Guma, “Too Much to Monitor for Snooping Squads,” SW Radio Africa, August 7, 2007, http://www.swradioafrica.com/news070807/snoop070807.htm; Reporters Without Borders, “All Communications Can Now Be Intercepted under New Law Signed by Mugabe,” news release, August 6, 2007, http://en.rsf.org/zimbabwe-allcommunications-can-now-be-06-08-2007,17623.html.
Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ), “Government Continues to Threaten Journalists,” from Weekly Media Update 2006, no. 4 (January 23–29, 2006), available at Kubatana.net, http://www.kubatana.net/html/archive/media/060202mmpz1.aspsector=MEDIA.
ZIMBABWE FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net The websites of both government-controlled and private media have been hacked, but not on a large scale or with great frequency. The government has reportedly used Chinese assistance to bolster its efforts to instigate such attacks against opposition-oriented websites.
ZIMBABWE FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net METHODOLOGY This second edition of Freedom on the Net provides analytical reports and numerical ratings for 37 countries worldwide. The countries were chosen to provide a representative sample with regards to geographical diversity and economic development, as well as varying levels of political and media freedom. The ratings and reports included in this study particularly focus on developments that took place between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010.
WHAT WE MEASURE The Freedom on the Net index aims to measure each country’s level of internet and digital media freedom based on a set of methodology questions described below (see “Checklist of Questions”). Given increasing technological convergence, the index also measures access and openness of other digital means of transmitting information, particularly mobile phones and text messaging services.
Freedom House does not maintain a culture-bound view of freedom. The project methodology is grounded in basic standards of free expression, derived in large measure from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers.” This standard applies to all countries and territories, irrespective of geographical location, ethnic or religious composition, or level of economic development.
The project particularly focuses on the transmission and exchange of news and other politically relevant communications, as well as the protection of users’ rights to privacy and freedom from both legal and extralegal repercussions arising from their online activities. At the same time, the index acknowledges that in some instances freedom of expression and access to information may be legitimately restricted. The standard for such restrictions applied in this index is that they be implemented only in narrowly defined circumstances and in line with international human rights standards, the rule of law, and the principles of necessity and proportionality. As much as possible, censorship and surveillance policies and procedures should be transparent and include avenues for appeal available to those affected.
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. While digital METHODOLOGY FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net media freedom may be primarily affected by state actions, pressures and attacks by nonstate actors, including the criminal underworld, are also considered. Thus, the index ratings generally reflect the interplay of a variety of actors, both governmental and nongovernmental, including private corporations.
THE SCORING PROCESS The index aims to capture the entire “enabling environment” for internet freedom within each country through a set of 21 methodology questions, divided into three subcategories, which are intended to highlight the vast array of relevant issues. Each individual question is scored on a varying range of points. Assigning numerical points allows for comparative analysis among the countries surveyed and facilitates an examination of trends over time.
Countries are given a total score from 0 (best) to 100 (worst) as well as a score for each subcategory. Countries scoring between 0 to 30 points overall are regarded as having a “Free” internet and digital media environment; 31 to 60, “Partly Free”; and 61 to 100, “Not Free”.
An accompanying country report provides narrative detail on the points covered by the methodology questions.
The methodology examines the level of internet freedom through a set of questions and nearly 100 accompanying subpoints, organized into three groupings:
Obstacles to Access—including infrastructural and economic barriers to access;
governmental efforts to block specific applications or technologies; legal and ownership control over internet and mobile phone access providers.
Limits on Content—including 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—including legal protections and restrictions on online activity; surveillance and limits on privacy; and repercussions for online activity, such as legal prosecution, imprisonment, physical attacks, or other forms of harassment.
The purpose of the subpoints is to guide analysts regarding factors they should consider while evaluating and assigning the score for each methodology question. After researchers submitted their draft scores, Freedom House convened three regional review meetings and several international conference calls, attended by Freedom House staff and a range of local experts, scholars, and civil society representatives from the countries under study. During the meetings, participants reviewed, critiqued, and adjusted the draft scores through careful consideration of events, laws, and practices relevant to each item. After METHODOLOGY FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net completing the regional and country consultations, Freedom House staff did a final review of all scores to ensure their comparative reliability and integrity.
* Note on changes from 2009 pilot edition Freedom House released a pilot edition of Freedom on the Net in April 2009, assessing a sample of 15 countries. Following the report’s publication and drawing on feedback from a range of audiences, including analysts and academic advisers involved in production of the pilot study, Freedom House staff made several modifications to the methodology. In particular, question B1 on censorship and question C7 on attacks were each split into two separate questions in order to clarify and sharpen the analytical rigor with which obstacles to internet freedom are identified. In addition, in order to retain the accuracy of score comparisons between the pilot edition and this study, for those countries included in both, a number of minor adjustments were made to the 2009 scores on the basis of updated scoring guidelines used for the 2011 edition. In the present edition, the adjusted 2009 scores are presented in order to best convey changes over time in each country assessed.
METHODOLOGY FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net CHECKLIST OF QUESTIONS Each country is ranked on a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 being the best and 100 being the worst.
A combined score of 0-30=Free, 31-60=Partly Free, 61-100=Not Free.
Under each question, a lower number of points is allotted for a more free situation, while a higher number of points is allotted for a less free environment.
Unless otherwise indicated, the sub-questions listed are meant to provide guidance as to what Issues should be addressed under each methodology question, though not all will apply to every country.
A. OBSTACLES TO ACCESS (0-25 POINTS) 1. To what extent do infrastructural limitations restrict access to the internet and other ICTs (0-6 points) • Does poor infrastructure (electricity, telecommunications, etc) limit citizens’ ability to receive internet in their homes and businesses • To what extent is there widespread public access to the internet through internet cafes, libraries, schools and other venues • To what extent is there internet and mobile phone access, including via 3G networks or satellite • Is there a significant difference between internet and mobile-phone penetration and access in rural versus urban areas or across other geographical divisions • To what extent are broadband services widely available in addition to dial-up 2. Is access to the internet and other ICTs prohibitively expensive or beyond the reach of certain segments of the population (0-3 points) • In countries where the state sets the price of internet access, is it prohibitively high • Do financial constraints, such as high costs of telephone/internet services or excessive taxes imposed on such services, make internet access prohibitively expensive for large segments of the population • Do low literacy rates (linguistic and “computer literacy”) limit citizens’ ability to use the internet • Is there a significant difference between internet penetration and access across ethnic or socio-economic societal divisions • To what extent are online software, news, and other information available in the main local languages spoken in the country CHECKLIST OF QUESTIONS FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net 3. Does the government impose restrictions on ICT connectivity and access to particular Web 2.0 applications permanently or during specific events (0-points) • Does the government place limits on the amount of bandwidth that access providers can supply • Does the government use control over internet infrastructure (routers, switches, etc.) to limit connectivity, permanently or during specific events • Does the government centralize telecommunications infrastructure in a manner that could facilitate control of content and surveillance • Does the government block protocols and tools that allow for instant, person-to-person communication (VOIP, instant messaging, text messaging, etc.), particularly those based outside the country (i.e. YouTube, Facebook, Skype, etc.) • Does the government block protocols and Web 2.0 applications that allow for information sharing or building online communities (video-sharing, social-networking sites, comment features, blogging platforms, etc.) permanently or during specific events • Is there blocking of certain tools that enable circumvention of online filters and censors 4. Are there legal, regulatory, or economic obstacles that prevent the existence of diverse business entities providing access to digital technologies (0-6 points) Note: Each of the following access providers are scored separately: