How does Internet freedom compare between different countries? A report out this week from Freedom House aims to answer that question by ranking countries according to online censorship policies.
The report, titled “Freedom on the Net 2015,” presents information about Internet censorship in 88 countries. It assigns each country a score while also providing reports on individual countries that detail online censorship activity over the last year.
The report does not cover every country in the world. But among the 88 represented are most Asian and North American states. Africa, Europe and South America receive less consistent coverage.
The leading country for Internet freedom in 2015 was Iceland, according to Freedom House. Iceland’s ranking reflected its enjoyment of one of the highest rates of Internet penetration worldwide, as well as the introduction of a draft law that would protect users’ rights online.
Unsurprisingly, China came in at the very bottom of the list. The report found that China has increased online censorship over the last year by taking steps to block VPN services, requiring blog users to write under real names and demanding encryption keys from telecommunications companies in order to access private data.
Beyond country-specific information, the report also reveals notable trends about Internet censorship worldwide in 2015. They include a sharp increase in the number of countries that required the removal of Internet content, as well as a rise in surveillance laws.
In addition, governments upgraded monitoring tools to track Internet users better, while “democracies and authoritarian regimes alike stigmatized encryption as an instrument of terrorism, and many tried to ban or limit tools that protect privacy,” the report says.