Which Countries Top the List of 'Enemies of the Internet?'

Zoe Fox

Global media watchdog organization Reporters Without Borders has released its annual list of "Enemies of the Internet," highlighting countries that restrict online freedom of expression.

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The list's release coincides with World Day Against Cyber Censorship, March 12, a day the organization started in 2008 to rally the world behind an open Internet.

The list includes 12 "Internet Enemies" and 14 "countries under surveillance."

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The Arab Spring, the social media-fueled protests that swept across the Arab world since December 2010, has led some countries to stiffen their Internet restrictions while others have loosened their controls.

“The Internet and social networks have been conclusively established as tools for protest, campaigning and circulating information, and as vehicles for freedom,” the report says. “More than ever before, online freedom of expression is now a major foreign and domestic policy issue.”

Following a revolution ousting dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Libya -- in previous years considered an Internet Enemy -- has been removed from both lists.

Two countries, Bahrain and Belarus, have been moved from the "under surveillance" category into "Internet Enemies." Over the last year, Bahrain restricted Internet access during protests and Belarus placed limitations on visiting foreign websites.

The other 10 countries on the Internet Enemies list are Burma, China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. The 14 under surveillance are Australia, Egypt, Eritrea, France, India, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Russia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

France's spot on the list is of interest, considering Reporters Without Borders is a French NGO. According to the report, France requires surveillance because of a filtering law and a law that allows Internet access to be cut off from people who illegally download content.

Australia, the other surprise country under surveillance, is on the list because of its national filtering system, which restricts access to child pornography sites and other domains deemed inappropriate.

What do you think of the list? Are their any other countries Reporters Without Borders should have included?

2011's Notable Social Media Uprisings

1. Tunisian Revolution

A 26-year-old Tunisian vegetable vendor set himself on fire Dec. 17, 2010 after police stole produce from his stand. The suicide of Mohamed Bouazizi, a college graduate unable to find work within his field of study, triggered a revolution in his home country that spread across the Arab world.

Young Tunisians began organizing on Facebook and Twitter-- with Bouazi as their role model -- protesting the oppressive regime of the country's 23-year President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

On Jan. 14, Ben Ali fled the Tunisia, seeking refuge in Saudi Arabia. His exit triggered similar movements across the region, from Western Sahara to Iran, the most noteworthy of which are highlighted on coming slides.

Click here to view this gallery.

This story originally published on Mashable here.