Lao’s Internet Censorship Rates 6/10

Source: Bangkok Post

Laos and Thailand has received a score of 6 out of 10 in internet censorship, on a par with various regional peers, according to UK-based tech research firm Comparitech.

A score of 6 was given to 17 countries, including Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam, out of 150 countries surveyed.

The higher the score, the greater the censorship. A score of 10 is the harshest internet censorship.

Singapore received a score of 5, while Myanmar and the Philippines were given a 4.

Responding to Thailand’s score of 6, Comparitech editor Paul Bischoff told the Bangkok Post that Thailand bans access to some torrent sites, restricts access to pornography and censors news media and social media.

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“The Cybercrime Act, Computer Crime Act and lese majeste laws all contribute to Thailand’s web censorship,” Mr Bischoff said.

The score given to each country is based on five criteria, each worth two points. One point is earned if the content — torrents, pornography, news media, social media, virtual private networks (VPNs) — is restricted but accessible and two points if banned entirely.

“Censorship inhibits freedom of speech and public access to information,” Mr Bischoff said. “Censorship silences voices that oppose authorities. This can lead to oppression or persecution of government critics, dissidents and activists. It gives authorities too much power to silence dissent.”

The worst internet censorship score was given to North Korea — the maximum score of 10.

According to the company’s report, users in North Korea are unable to use social media, watch porn or use torrents or VPNs.

“All of the political media published in the country is created by the Korean Central News Agency [KCNA] — the only source permitted to publish news,” the report said.

Receiving a score of 9 was China, where Comparitech said porn, VPNs and Western social media are blocked and political media is heavily restricted.

Journalists in China often face severe prison sentences if they publish anything against the government. Members of the public could risk being jailed for sharing or commenting on news posts, based on new online regulations.

Russia, Turkmenistan and Iran received a score of 8.

“These countries heavily censor political media but have different laws when it comes to all other areas,” Comparitech said.

A score of 7 was given to Belarus, Turkey, Oman, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates and Eritrea, all of which, according to the research firm, have similar approaches to internet censorship.

Porn is banned or blocked in all of these countries, and political media is heavily censored.

A total of 39 countries received a score of 1, including Switzerland, Canada, Ghana, Liberia, Peru and New Zealand.

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