Nations Ranked For Online Censorship

John Lister's picture

At least 175 countries have some form of online censorship according to a newly-published study. The degree varies wildly, however, and is somewhat dependent on definitions.

The report comes from Comparitech, which ranked the 175 countries for "censorship" in six categories of Internet use: file sharing torrents, pornography, political media, social media, virtual private networks and apps for messaging or voice over Internet protocol (such as Skype).

For each category it gave the country one point if it had some form of legal restriction and two points for an outright ban. That gave a score ranging from 0 to 12 to reflect the level of restrictions. (Source:

Totalitarian Regimes Dominate

None of the 175 countries got a zero score. Thirty countries each scored one point, in every case for restricting torrents. This is most commonly a case of a court ordering either a torrent site or a particular torrent file blocked because it was used to illegally distribute copyrighted material.

That's one of the big limitations of such a study: it's questionable whether that counts as censorship being that only the broadest interpretation of "free speech" doesn't have exemptions for copyright. Even those who consider this to be censorship may not see it as equally concerning as a block on political expression.

US Close To Bottom Score

Unsurprisingly, regimes with little or no democracy topped the list. China and North Korea both scored 11 and the only reason they didn't get maximum is because theoretical complete bans on some messaging services aren't fully enforced. Iran scored 10, with Belarus, Qatar, Syria, Thailand, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates all scoring 8.

The United States scored only two points, stemming from some court orders that shut down entire torrent sites. That was classed as more serious than a one-point torrent restriction because a site wide shutdown could stop users distributing material that wasn't covered by copyright.

What's Your Opinion?

Are such rankings useful? Do you consider a ban on a specific torrent or an entire torrent site to be censorship? Is it meaningful to rank censorship when its definition varies from country to country?

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Navy vet's picture

They must be kidding. The USA Government works hand in hand with Big Tech to suppress all unapproved thoughts and opinions.

beach.boui's picture

That is an utterly ridiculous comment. Tinfoil hat much?

I have many unapproved thoughts and opinions, and I could post any one of them at any time in a myriad of places, if I really wanted to. In fact, I have, and no one stopped me.

Navy vet's picture

Try posting that masks don't work, or the election was stolen on Twitter, or Facebook.

beach.boui's picture

That would be misinformation. Masks do work. Not perfectly and, perhaps in some cases, not well. But, masks work. If I want to piss on you knee, you get a lot less wet if I'm wearing pants. If I want to spit in your face (i don't), you get a lot less spit if I'm wearing a mask. This ain't rocket science. No, masks aren't perfect. But, they help.

You just posted that the election was stolen. No one stopped you. But, it's a lie. MAGA much? It is a lie big enough to cause a bunch of idiots to mount an insurrection against our democracy. Overthrowing a legitimately elected president by insurrection is NOT how things are done in the world's greatest democracy. That is how the world's greatest democracy becomes a banana republic.

I'm sure you're a nice guy, but you must be pretty stupid. I'm not going to argue with you. You can never win an argument with a stupid person. They bring you down to their level, then beat you with experience. Try watching something on TV besides Fox News for a week.

Navy vet's picture

I'm sure you're a nice guy, but you must be pretty stupid. I'm not going to argue with you. You can never win an argument with a stupid person. They bring you down to their level.

pctyson's picture

Have you ever wondered how a cloth or paper filter can prevent a virus spread when even a porcelain filter can not stop it? In fact viruses were found because porcelain filters, which are able to filter VERY tiny particles, were being used to filter bacteria out of water and yet people were still getting sick and they did not know why. Further investigation found that viruses were passing through the filters thus the science of virology. Don't believe it? Here is the link:

Does it make you feel smarter to call another human being stupid? Calling them stupid does not make them stupid. There is no scientific evidence to prove that calling someone stupid makes them stupid. By the way, one of the most common ways that a virus is spread is through the nose. Count how many times you rub your nose during the day. You will likely be surprised. That is the same hand that likely touched MANY unprotected surfaces during the day before it was washed or sanitized. You have to remove the mask to touch your nose or at least reach under or around it.

DavidInMississippi's picture

If you spent a year creating the #1 video on the internet, and you found people were freely posting your work on other sites where you don't get paid for it, would stopping that be censorship? No. There are LAWS against that, and merely enforcing those laws is not censorship.

However, the low score the U.S. got is false, because it does not account for all the print and internet media currently censoring information simply because they don't agree with it. People who post OPINION pieces are not only getting their work taken down, they are getting shamed, marginalized, and deplatformed. This type of egregious censorship action needs to be identified, and the perpetrators held to account, even if they are not government agencies.

These people whine "But this is DANGEROUS misinformation!" Yeah, right - it's dangerous to their agenda, and probably to their profit margins. Anyone who whines about someone else being dangerous is themselves dangerous - to free speech and basic human rights.

Note that there are at least a dozen issues this could apply to, and I did not take any side of any issue.

beach.boui's picture

It seems that what you fail to recognize is the with freedom of speech comes responsibility. Spouting misinformation that threatens millions of lives and potentially threatens national security is no responsible speech, and should absolutely be prevented, or, at least, the responsible party should be forced by law to prove what they preach or suffer prosecution for spreading harmful, life threatening misinformation. Freedom is not free. Taking responsibility is the price.

DavidInMississippi's picture

We appreciate your viewpoint, beach, but don't make the mistake of lumping all censored material in with the "putting millions of lives at risk" category.

If you do that without knowing what the other person is referring to, as it seems you did with your comment, then you're just a face in the mob trying to shut up those people who don't agree with the narrative.

So tell me, how can a review of 23 peer-reviewed scientific studies be "dangerous misinformation"? There was a meta-analysis of 23 studies on the effectiveness of ivermectin; this meta-analysis was published in a peer-reviewed journal. One of the authors of this article then put up a video synopsis of that article on the biggest video site in the world, and within hours, they had taken it down. In other words, they censored it.

How can that possibly be dangerous misinformation? How can that possibly put millions of lives at risk?

Think before you call people out, before you throw out your baby with your bathwater.

And don't be afraid to ask the "show me the REAL data" questions.

beach.boui's picture

Cite the source of this meta-analysis of 23 peer-reviewed studies. Cite the peer-reviewed studies. Cite something that tells me who the people are that did the studies and who reviewed their results, and who did the synopsis that got taken down. They have reasonable and rational policies describing when and why they will take down a video, and much of it has to do with truth and fact. If the synopsis video violated those policies, then I'm confident that they were right to take it down. The FDA has an inherent fiduciary responsibility to the American people. Some guy with a video on Youtube owes nothing to the American people and may have less than honorable motivations.

There is no shortage of self-righteous aficionados out there who think they know more than the experts and the scientists. They probably outnumber the experts and scientists by a wide margin. But, they are not the experts and scientists. The experts and scientists, as far as I can tell, pretty much agree on evidence based facts. I will listen to and act upon evidence based facts reported by reputable, dependable media who have demonstrated their integrity.

pctyson's picture

Censorship by whom?!!! They may be private companies but they are also most assuredly monopolies by any rational thought. If the government is allowing the censorship by a monopoly on such a large scale, and even condoning it by not putting a stop to it, then they are most definitely complacent and in collusion with the big tech companies. Look at the tech companies most recent profits. Their grossly historic and excessive profits brought about by laws that favor the large tech companies allow for possible corruption on a scale that is, and likely has been, unimagineable.

Navy vet's picture

They are private companies acting at the Government's instruction.

JeffRL's picture

NavyVet obviously didn't get the memo (or failed to understand it) reminding him that the tin foil he wraps around his skull is supposed to be shiny side OUT.

Didn't it ever occur to him that if the "guvmint" can shut down "all unapproved thoughts and opinions", then how the hell can he post his lunatic BS on here and everywhere else he trolls?

Or are his "thoughts and opinions" actually approved by the "guvmint", in which case...he's one of THEM. Run for the hills!

Good grief, we're doomed as a species with fools like him on the loose.

The only difference between him and the pillow clown is that guy has money to burn and actually invents his own crackpot theories instead of merely spewing the same ol' BS NavyVet hears on Faux News, QAnon, and whatever Agent Orange said today.

pctyson's picture

Did it ever occur to you are able to post your comments for now in a free country because of Navy Vet and others like him who have served in order to secure our freedoms. Show him and others like him some respect please, even if you do not agree with them. It is so strange and hypocritical that some of the most hateful posts I see are from those purporting to be on the "loving liberal" side.

buzzallnight's picture

was stolen.

Biden is almost brain dead,
was not popular enough to win
and is is clearly a puppet being controlled by obunghole
and his evil minions.

And we can see that leftist trolls are even on this site now.....