Global internet freedom declines for eighth consecutive year

Cheryl Sanders
November 3, 2018

"Democracies are struggling in the digital age, while China is exporting its model of censorship and surveillance to control information both inside and outside its borders", Freedom House President Michael J. Abramowitz said in a statement, which accompanied the online release this week of the group's "2018 Freedom on the Net" report.

One of the greatest threats to the internet is efforts by China to remake the digital world in its "techno-dystopian" image. Taken with ' Freedom on The Net 2018', also released on Thursday, where India scored 43 - down two places from its score of 41 past year - the data shows how government controls have impacted freedom on the internet. In particular, the report stresses that thanks to the rise of digital authoritarianism, the Internet can be used in order to undermine the democratic system and to destabilize dictatorships. Furthermore, nearly a third of the countries passed or proposed new legislations to restrict online media.

Lessons from China: China had the worst record of any country in 2018.

"In fact, as the Freedom House report demonstrates, the internet is an excellent tool for social control, enabling surveillance and guiding of public opinion that would have been impossible in the past", says CNN.

"Democratic governments will have to devote much greater diplomatic and other resources to countering China's charm offensive on the global stage", Freedom House added. "Over the past year, more social media platforms suffered from blocking under the pretext of countering fake news, terrorism, and pornography". Furthermore, Chinese officials help to train other country officials how to make use of digital authoritarianism by holding seminars with reps from 36 out of the 65 countries reviewed.

Similar actions were taken in Sri Lanka and elsewhere.

U.S. think tank Freedom House has claimed that internet freedom is declining across the world, with authoritarian governments following China's example and using surveillance and censorship to repress public dissent. So, in the category of obstacles to access on the Internet Ukraine scored 9 points, the limitation of content - 16, violation of the rights of users - 20.

The study explicitly states the governments are using terms like "fake news" and "hate speech" to consolidate their power over the Internet.

In worldwide non-governmental organization Freedom House claim that the world is reduced global level of freedom in the Internet. Freedom House cites the FCC's decision to repeal net neutrality, the reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act, and "disinformation and hyperpartisan content" running rampant across the American internet as the major concerns that impact online freedom.

The House is now criticizing the United States for doing so.

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