Every year, Freedom House publishes a report on the world's most and least digitally repressive countries. The worst offenders haven't improved much according to the latest edition of the report, out Thursday. But other countries experienced some striking changes over the past year.
Freedom House's index runs from 0 to 100, with 0 meaning "completely free" and 100 implying the opposite. Burma improved by 13 points, rising from a rank of 75 to 62. The country, also known as Myanmar, has gotten markedly more open in the wake of recent political reforms, spurring hopes for greater transparency and ease of access to credible information.
Broad swaths of the Middle East remain significantly unfree, with Iran and Syria leading that list. However, Tehran has recently made multiple promises to relax restrictions on the Web.
The United States, meanwhile, dropped five points in the wake of this year's revelations about NSA surveillance. The only country to see its ranking fall even further was India, which dropped eight points in the netfreedom index.
As for the swath of blank countries — Freedom House says it carefully selects the states it includes to produce a "representative sample" that's reflective of geography and economic development.