New Report: Global Internet Freedom Declining

Companies such as Huawei- largely banned from contracts in the US and Australia- are building infrastructure in many parts of the world including Africa and Latin America

India Leads World With Highest Number of Internet Shutdowns; 121 Instances Reported in 2018 Alone

Russia's rating in the World Internet Freedom Index has fallen for the sixth consecutive year according to a report published by Freedom House on Thursday. "Governments in countries such as Egypt and Iran rewrote restrictive media laws to apply to social media users, jailed critics under measures created to curb false news, and blocked foreign social media and communication services".

The Freedom on the Net 2018 report found online propaganda and disinformation have increasingly "poisoned" the digital space, while the unbridled collection of personal data is infringing on privacy.

"Of the 19 countries with overall score improvements, two - Armenia and the Gambia - earned upgrades in their internet freedom status", the report says. Zlatica Hoke has this story. The report basically stands where higher the score, lesser is the freedom on the internet.

Beijing, according to the report, was the most effective censor of the internet and it did not taper off moves to export its standards around the world.

"Digital authoritarianism is being promoted as a way for governments to control their citizens through technology, inverting the concept of the internet as an engine of human liberation", Freedom House said.

Aggregated data collated by SFLC shows that there have been 233 reported instances of suspension of internet services in India in the last seven years. Its officials help to train other countries in digital authoritarianism, holding seminars with representatives from 36 out of the 65 countries assessed.

Unsurprisingly, China was the worst offender, with a score of 88 - and the report was at pains to emphasise the country's approach to censorship and surveillance was spreading across the world, saying it was "remak [ing] the world in its techno-dystopian image".

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Similar actions were taken in Sri Lanka and elsewhere.

Internet shutdown order given by the government authorities is done using the Section 144 of the Criminal Penal Code which bans the gathering of more than four people in an area.

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

Michael J. Abramowitz, the organization's president, cited further partnership between the USA government and Silicon Valley as a possible way to reverse the deterioration of global internet rights.

After overthrowing the government of Yingluck Shinawatra on May 22, 2014, Prayuth, who was then the army chief, dissolved parliament, detained political leaders and imposed a curfew while promising to bring Thailand back to democracy within 18 months.

A recent Human Rights Watch report said that the junta had repeatedly failed to fulfill pledges made to the U.N. General Assembly to respect human rights and democratic rule. In the latter country, the government passed a law imposing severe prison sentences for inciting "hatred" online.

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