Estonia retains 2nd place in internet freedom index


The US human rights organization Freedom House released its 2015 internet freedom index. Estonia keeps its second place behind Iceland.

According to Freedom on the Net 2015, internet freedom around the world in decline for a fifth consecutive year as more governments censored information of public interest, ordered content removal and arresting or intimidating people who shared unwanted information, while also expanding surveillance and cracking down on privacy tools.

The study found that over 61 percent of all internet users live in countries where criticism of the government, military or ruling family has been subject to censorship online, and over 58 percent live in countries where bloggers or ICT users were jailed for sharing content on political, social, and religious issues. News about conflict, corruption allegations against top government or business figures, opposition websites, and satire were also subject to online censorship in over one third of the countries examined.

Overall, China was the worst abuser of internet freedom of the 65 countries assessed in Freedom on the Net, followed by Syria and Iran. Since June 2014, 32 of the studied countries saw internet freedom deteriorate.

Estonia continues on top

Estonia continues to be one of the most wired countries in the world, with increasing internet access and online participation among citizens. It also continues to improve protections for the right to privacy.

After the first internet connections in the country were introduced in 1992 at academic facilities in Tallinn and Tartu, the government further worked with private and academic entities to initiate a program in 1996 called Tiger Leap, which aimed to establish computers and internet connections in all Estonian schools by 2000. This program helped to build a general level of technological competence and awareness of ICTs among Estonians. Today, with a high level of computer literacy and connectivity already established, the program’s focus has shifted from basic concerns such as access, quality, and cost of internet services to discussions about security, anonymity, the protection of private information, and citizens’ rights on the internet. In addition, the majority of users conduct business and e-government transactions over the internet: in 2013, nearly 97 percent of banking transactions were done with e-banking services, and 95 percent of people declared their income electronically, Freedom House reports.

It does, however, name European Court of Human Rights decision to uphold 2009 court ruling on intermediary reliable for third-party comments.

Click here to read more about Estonia and the Internet.