Today the Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation published my report, “Digital Freedom of Expression in Uzbekistan: An example of social control, and censorship, in the 21st Century”. You can download it here.
This report has been in the works for awhile, and to my knowledge is the most comprehensive look at the internet and politics in Uzbekistan. The first part gives an overview of internet use, including citizen access, user-generated content, social media, online journalism, and domestic and exile websites.
The second part examines internet censorship in Uzbekistan from a historical perspective, tracing how laws and regulations on the internet were changed in reaction to political events and how state and dissident politics were transformed by legal maneuvers.
Among the topics discussed are the impact of the 2005 Andijon events, the increased role of the national security services (NSS) in internet regulation, changes made to the legal code and state technological infrastructure to ensure centralized control, and ways in which the government is responding to new technologies like mobile phones and social media.
Writing this report on Uzbek internet freedom taught me a lot about censorship, intimidation and institutional corruption. I came to know all too well how advocates of free speech struggle to produce their works in an environment marked by fear and harassment – an environment not unique to Uzbekistan, but found, sometimes, in more open societies as well.
Update: Lisa Goldman did a great write-up of the paper at Techpresident.com.