Reporters Without Borders’ annual study of press freedom shows that blogging is becoming a serious media channel as bloggers are now finding themselves prey to censorship from repressive governments as much as journalists in traditional media. The report says governments realise the internet is now a key tool in promoting democracy and are moving to curb it. The African nation Eritrea took the 169th slot on the sixth annual worldwide press freedom index, behind North Korea at 168th and Turkmenistan at 167th. Some countries slipped down the index because “of serious, repeated violations of the free flow of online news and information”.
At least 64 people are currently imprisoned worldwide because of postings on the web, eight of them in Vietnam. China is one of the worst offenders, having imprisoned 50 people for postings on the internet – “We also regret that China (164th) stagnates near the bottom of the index. With less than a year to go to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the reforms and the releases of imprisoned journalists so often promised by the authorities seem to be a vain hope”.