Freedom House: freedom on the Internet deteriorating

Freedom House: freedom on the Internet deteriorating


Freedom House: ситуация со свободой в Интернете ухудшается

Many countries use disable mobile data connection or use the services of paid trolls. Increasingly, the statements in the Network lead to physical harm

The situation with Internet freedom is deteriorating worldwide: some governments are blocking mobile communication, limit direct transmission of streaming video and hire a cyber army of Pro-government commentators.

These are just some of the conclusions contained in the annual report “Freedom in Network – 2017”, prepared by the international human rights organization Freedom House, which monitors democracy and freedom throughout the world.

The authors of the report assessed the situation in 65 countries, which accounted for about 87 percent of the world’s population connected to the Internet. In their opinion, in the period from June 2016 to may 2017, about half of these countries was a reduction of freedom on the Internet. The most notable negative dynamics in one year was noted in Ukraine, Egypt and Turkey.

The most serious violator of Internet freedom left China, the report said, followed by Syria and Ethiopia.

Project Director of Freedom House “Freedom Network” Sanya Kelly says that the decline of Internet freedom coincided with the expansion of Internet access around the world, when people are increasingly turning to it to promote democratic reforms and improve human rights.

“One of the reasons why we see more severe restrictions, is in the fact that some leaders, especially in authoritarian countries, have realized the power of the Internet and trying to find innovative methods for its suppression”, she said.

Until recently, some governments in Africa and other parts of the world did not pay much attention to the Internet, focusing on such traditional media as television and radio. This focus begins to shift, when the level of Internet penetration reaches 20-30 percent of the population, said Kelly.

“Suddenly the government starts to take this into account, and we have begun to see the propaganda activities,” she said.

Countries such as Zambia and the Gambia, have closed the access to the mobile Internet, especially in the election period.

“Lock the mobile Internet – it’s so gross that it shows that the government is ready to go to the counter at a new level,” says Kelly.

Here are some other findings of the report:

• Tactics online manipulation played a role in the elections in 18 countries.

• The governments of 30 countries have promoted misleading information on the Internet using tools such as paid commentators and fake news sites. In the previous year these countries was 23.

• Half of all outages of the Internet have on mobile phone reception, and most of the cases in this category occurred in areas inhabited by ethnic or religious minorities.

In October 2016, the government of Ethiopia mobile Internet has been blocked for almost two months as part of the introduction of a state of emergency amid anti-government protests.

The Belarusian authorities sozdavli failures in mobile communication, in order to prevent video streaming to mass audiences.

Bahrain issued a special law prohibiting the news sites use straight streams.

• 30 countries (previous year: 20) there were cases of physical violence for speaking out on the Internet.

Not so long ago, such methods of suppression of Internet freedom has been used mainly in China and Russia.

“The prevalence of these methods and the number of countries where they are present – in itself a new phenomenon,” says Kelly.

“It seems that these methods are distributed, and some authoritarian countries such as China and Russia, in fact exported them, she adds. And some authoritarian regimes of the world learn from these examples.”