‘Enemies of the Internet’ is a list published every year by Reporters Without Borders, an organization that campaigns for a free press and an uncensored Internet. This year, the United States has made the list for the first time, alongside countries such as China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and Iran. The United Kingdom, Russia and India have also been added for the first time in the 2014 list.
In its assessment, Reporters Without Borders points to the NSA revelations leaked by Edward Snowden as evidence that “the country of the First Amendment has undermined confidence in the Internet and its own standards of security.” The report goes on to say that “U.S. surveillance practices and decryption activities are a direct threat to investigative journalists, especially those who work with sensitive sources for whom confidentiality is paramount and who are already under pressure.”
There’s also mention of the NSA’s secrecy and lack of transparency, as well as the vast resources at its disposal. Project Bullrun — an NSA operation to decrypt communications in liaison with security software firms — was singled out as being particularly damaging to journalism and the ideal of a Web where anonymity can be guaranteed.
The ‘Enemies of the Internet’ posting goes on to name James Risen, Barrett Brown and Jacob Appelbaum (one of the developers of Tor) as three journalists who have suffered at the hands of the U.S. government and its online surveillance operations. As you may have heard, even Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has been voicing his concerns directly to the President.
Elsewhere in the publication, Reporters Without Borders criticizes the surveillance practices of the United Kingdom, the “Electronic Great Wall” put in place by China and the “digital tyranny” of the authorities in Uzbekistan. The full report is well worth a read for anyone interested in freedom of expression online — which should be just about everybody.