Washington, DC - Citizens of Uzbekistan, a brutally repressive former Soviet republic in Central Asia, face many obstacles online from a government that instills a fear of using the Internet for activism, according to a report published today by the Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation.
Uzbekistan's government proclaimed last week that the Internet and social media are "weapons of the future" comparable to nuclear bombs. The report, the most comprehensive one on the topic yet, found that while Internet use is rapidly increasing in Uzbekistan and is the primary venue for political expression, numerous challenges prevent the Internet from being as powerful a tool for free expression and activism as it could be.
Both state and self-censorship are obstacles for Uzbeks, who are monitored online and on the ground by the national security services.
"Internet users in Uzbekistan who are willing to circumvent government censorship to access blocked websites tend to practice self-censorship online," said Sarah Kendzior, author of the report. "Uzbeks living outside Uzbekistan still fear state interference, and struggle to maintain trust while operating in a medium that they know is subject to surveillance and manipulation."
To read the full report, which details policy recommendations for protecting Internet freedom in Uzbekistan, click here.
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