As blogging becomes a more popular medium for news, it’s quickly facing greater scrutiny from repressive governments. Last year, at least 36 bloggers were arrested, more than three times the number in 2006, according to a new report by World Information Access (WIA). This figure will continue rising, the group fears, and Reports Without Border says unaffiliated reporters are "now threatened as much a journalists in traditional media."
Bloggers seem particularly susceptible to political imprisonment: The vigilante tone of many citizen journalists sends them down a prickly path with government censors; and they are often one-man operations, meaning there’s no editors or company lawyers to fight an unfair arrest.
Here’s a breakdown of the WIA report on arrested bloggers since 2003:
64 individuals have been arrested worldwide, serving a collective 78 years in prison.
15 months is the average jail time for arrested bloggers.
8 years is the longest sentence that the WIA found, given to four unaffiliated Chinese reporters in 2003 for “subverting state power; forming informal discussion group.”
2007 brought more than half of the blog-related arrests in Egypt. WIA attributes the spike to that year's local elections, a common catalyst for blog crackdowns, according to the report.
22 percent of those arrested last year were charged with using a blog to organize or cover a protest; 17 percent were for violating cultural norms; another 17 for commenting on public policy; and 11 percent for exposing corruption or human-rights violations.
344 Burmese bloggers have been arrested, according to the Committee to Protect Bloggers, but WIA could not confirm the account. Nonetheless, the report noted this figure, showing that its numbers are only the beginning.
4 unexpected countries showed up on the list: Canada, France, the UK, and the US. The French case was for "posting a blog about his local government's waste and mismanagement.” The Canadian example was for “taking pictures at a conference for his blog.” The British blogger allegedly incited racial hatred. And the three American arrests were for 1) terrorism, 2) child pornography, and 3) videotaping a burning police car during a G8 summit.