Reporters Without Borders

2024 World Press Freedom Index – journalism under political pressure

Press freedom around the world is being threatened by the very people who should be its guarantors—political authorities. This is clear from the latest annual World Press Freedom Index produced by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

2019 World Press Freedom Index: US Now Ranks As 'Problematic' Place for Journalists

The 2019 World Press Freedom Index Compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) shows how hatred of journalists has degenerated into violence, contributing to an increase in fear.

2018 World Press Freedom Index: US Falls to 45th

The 2018 World Press Freedom Index, compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), reflects growing animosity towards journalists.

2017 Reporters Without Borders round-up: 65 journalists killed in 2017, 326 in prison

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is releasing its annual round-up of violence and abuses against journalists throughout the world. A total of 65 journalists were killed in 2017, 326 are currently in prison, and 54 are held hostage. The 65 journalists who were killed were either fatally injured in the course of their work (for example, in an artillery bombardment) or were murdered because their reporting angered someone. The murdered reporters were the majority – 60% of the total figure.

2017 World Press Freedom Index: Journalism weakened by democracy’s erosion

The 2017 World Press Freedom Index, published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), shows that violations of the freedom to inform are less and less the prerogative of authoritarian regimes and dictatorships. Once taken for granted, media freedom is proving to be increasingly fragile in democracies as well. In sickening statements, draconian laws, conflicts of interest, and even the use of physical violence, democratic governments are trampling on a freedom that should, in principle, be one of their leading performance indicators. In the span of just a year, the number of countries where the state of the media is considered “good” or “fairly good” has fallen by 2.3%. Countries regarded as model democracies are no exceptions.

The United States’ ranking for press freedom declined in 2017, driven in part by Donald Trump’s attacks on the news media, which also triggered a decline in other democracies. Reporters Without Borders, which compiles the World Press Freedom Index based on its assessment of the legal environment and government threats to journalists, ranked the United States 43rd out of 180 nations. It finished two spots lower than a year ago, ranking just behind Burkina Faso and just ahead of Comoros. “The election of the 45th president of the United States set off a witchhunt against journalists,” the group said in an analysis of its data. “Donald Trump’s repeated diatribes against the Fourth Estate and its representatives — accusing them of being ‘among the most dishonest human beings on earth’ and of deliberately spreading ‘fake news’ — compromise a long US tradition of defending freedom of expression.”

Era of the digital mercenaries

Online surveillance is a growing danger for journalists, bloggers, citizen-journalists and human rights defenders.

The Spyfiles that WikiLeaks released in 2012 showed the extent of the surveillance market, its worth (more than 5 billion dollars) and the sophistication of its products. The “Enemies of the Internet” report is focusing on surveillance -- all the monitoring and spying that is carried out in order to control dissidents and prevent the dissemination of sensitive information, activities designed to shore up governments and head off potential destabilization.

On 12 March, 2014, World Day Against Cyber-Censorship, we are publishing two lists. One is a list of five “State Enemies of the Internet,” five countries whose governments are involved in active, intrusive surveillance of news providers, resulting in grave violations of freedom of information and human rights.

The five state enemies are Syria, China, Iran, Bahrain and Vietnam. The other is a list of five “Corporate Enemies of the Internet,” five private-sector companies that are “digital era mercenaries.” The five companies chosen are Gamma, Trovicor, Hacking Team, Amesys and Blue Coat, but the list is not exhaustive and will be expanded in the coming months. They all sell products that are liable to be used by governments to violate human rights and freedom of information.

Research by Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal and the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab has established that surveillance technology used against dissidents and human rights defenders in such countries as Egypt, Bahrain and Libya came from western companies.

Reporters Without Borders calls for the introduction of controls on the export of surveillance software and hardware to countries that flout fundamental rights. The private sector cannot be expected to police itself. Legislators must intervene. The European Union and the United States have already banned the export of surveillance technology to Iran and Syria. This praiseworthy initiative should not be an isolated one. European governments need to take a harmonized approach to controlling the export of surveillance technology. The Obama Administration should also adopt legislation of this kind, legislation such as the proposed Global Online Freedom Act (GOFA).