Freedom on the Net 2011: Bahrain is NOT FREE
On April 18, 2011, Freedom House released its latest Freedom on the Net report assessing the degree of internet freedom around the world. The new edition includes detailed country reports and a first-of-its-kind numerical index covering 37 countries in six geographical regions. In addition, an analytical overview essay and accompanying graphics will highlight key findings and emerging threats to global digital media freedom.
INTERNET FREEDOM STATUS: Not Free Obstacles to Access: 11 Limits on Content: 22 Violations of User Rights: 29 Total: 62
POPULATION: 1.3 million INTERNET PENETRATION: 54 percent WEB 2.0 APPLICATIONS BLOCKED: Yes SUBSTANTIAL POLITICAL CENSORSHIP: Yes BLOGGERS/ONLINE USERS ARRESTED: Yes PRESS FREEDOM STATUS: Not Free
Bahrain has one of the highest internet penetration rates in the Middle East, but as more people have gained access to new technologies, the government has increasingly attempted to curtail their use for disseminating and obtaining politically sensitive information. Bahrain has been connected to the internet since 1995. In 1997, an internet user was arrested for the first time, for sending information to an opposition group outside the country. In 2002, the Ministry of Information (MOI) made its first official attempt to block websites containing content that was critical of the government. Today, over 1,000 websites are blocked in Bahrain.
Censorship of online media is implemented under the 2002 press law. The restrictions have been extended to mobile telephones, and the use of Blackberry services to disseminate news is banned. The government intensified its crackdown on internet activists and online publications in the period leading to the October 2010 elections by arresting two bloggers and shutting down several websites and online forums critical of the state authorities.