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Word Count: 631
In England religious conflict bred general intolerance which resulted in censorship that embraced political as well as religious expression At a time when religion dominated society every aspect of life was necessarily subject to official control In 1662 for instance a licensing act created a surveyor of the press who had power to investigate and suppress unauthorized publications The Toleration Act and the Bill of Rights in 1689 dealt with important personal liberties but said nothing about freedom from censorship To publish an unfavorable opinion of the government was still a seditious libel As the 18th century began however English newspapers became more numerous books on a greater variety of subjects were published and arbitrary censorship was slowly reduced Freedom of the press came about gradually as a result of judicial decisions and popular opposition to political oppression Except for a brief period in France after the Revolution of 1789 political censorship continued to flourish in continental Europe until the rise of republican governments in the mid-19th century In the 1930s a new wave of political censorship swept Europe especially in the totalitarian regimes of Germany Italy and Spain Since the end of World War II however political censorship has diminished in Western nations State censorship remained severe in the Soviet Union and other countries where political opposition is suppressed by permitting the existence of only one party One-party nations determine directly the ideas and information to be published circulated and taught When publishers authors or broadcasters are adjudged to have trespassed the political or moral boundaries set by law or administrative edict they may be arbitrarily punished by fines imprisonment confiscation of their publication prohibition of future publications or closing of the medium of communication Rating countries on a scale ranging from 1 most free to 15 least free a survey published by Freedom House in the late 1980s disclosed that 60 countries comprising about 2 billion people enjoyed the highest
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