Here in the US, it's easy to slip into the comfortable idea that the internet is unrestricted, a home for free speech and exploration, whether it's meaningful and important, or dumb hashtags. It's not that way everywhere though, and Freedom House has mapped out the current state of affairs across the globe.
Freedom House's Global Assessment of Internet and Digital Media comes out once a year, and the 2013 edition, which dropped on Thursday, shows that there's still a lot of censored, un-free internet out there. For the most part, the over-aching categories have stayed much the same as they were in 2012; it takes a lot to go from free internet to not-free internet, or vice verse.
Still, Freedom House indexes the little changes too. And as you can see in the graph of countries whose scores have declined, the United States has taken a hit thanks to all that NSA jazz, but still gets to remain classified as "free."
But perhaps the must illustrative graph is this list of countries from most free, to least free:
So the next time you're miffed because your connection cuts out our that page won't load, remember it could be way worse. You can read more about the ranking system and the unpleasant details of internet restriction in Freedom House's full report. [Freedom House via The Washington Post]
Update: Worth noting the countries marked "No Data" aren't marked that way because no data could be collected. Instead, the study focused in a smaller selection of countries and those weren't included. From the report:
The countries were chosen to provide a representative sample with regards to geographical diversity and economic development, as well as varying levels of political and media freedom.
Sorry Canada, but I think we all know where you stand.