The United States said Thursday that the battle for human rights is increasingly being fought on the Internet as China, Iran and other states try to block access by political activists and others. In its 2009 report on human rights abuses worldwide, the State Department highlighted how the Internet has become a battleground for supporters and opponents of fundamental rights like freedom of expression and assembly. It was “a year in which more people gained greater access than ever before to more information about human rights through the Internet, cell phones, and other forms of connective technologies,” it said. “Yet at the same time it was a year in which governments spent more time, money, and attention finding regulatory and technical means to curtail freedom of expression on the Internet and the flow of critical information,” it added. Such governments also sought “to infringe on the personal privacy rights of those who used these rapidly evolving technologies,” it added. In Iran, after the contested presidential elections, authorities cracked down on new media such as Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites. In China, the government “increased its efforts to monitor Internet use, control content, restrict information, block access to foreign and domestic Web sites, encourage self-censorship, and punish those who violated regulations. “The government employed thousands of persons at the national, provincial, and local levels to monitor electronic communications,” the report said.