International Web freedom declined for the ninth consecutive
12 months in 2019, largely because of social media more and more being utilized by
governments around the globe as a conduit for mass surveillance and electoral
manipulation. The Freedom on the Internet 2019 report, the
newest version of the annual country-by-country evaluation of Web freedom,
was launched on November 5 by Freedom Home,
and highlights the shift in social media from a degree taking part in area for civic
dialogue to an instrument of political distortion and societal management.

The Freedom on the Internet 2019 report analyzed Web freedom in 65 nations worldwide, overlaying 87% of world Web customers. Surveyed nations are designated as ‘Free’, ‘Partly Free’, or ‘Not Free’ based mostly on an examination of, and scoring towards, three classes: obstacles to entry, limits on content material, and violations of person rights.

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Of the 65 nations assessed, 33 of them noticed Web
freedom decline during the last 12 months, with the largest drops noticed in Sudan
and Kazakhstan. The longtime presidents of each nations have been ousted, main
to widespread blocking of social media platforms, disruptions of Web
connectivity, and the elevated use of digital surveillance to undermine
free expression.

The report known as digital platforms “the brand new battleground for democracy,” discovering proof of digital election interference in 26 of the 30 nations studied that held nationwide votes during the last 12 months. It notes that Web freedom restrictions are likely to escalate earlier than and through essential votes, and that digital election interference was discovered to have taken three kinds: informational measures (surreptitious manipulation of on-line discussions), technical measures (together with entry restrictions), and authorized measures (to punish opponents and restrict political expression).

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Freedom Home’s evaluation additionally discovered that Web freedom in
the USA declined for the third straight 12 months. Though it highlighted
that the web surroundings throughout the nation continues to stay vibrant,
numerous, and free from state censorship, the report additionally known as out a variety of
components that drove the Web freedom rating decrease, rating the U.S. seventh
globally. These included:

Expanded surveillance of the general public by regulation
enforcement and immigration companies, with restricted oversight or transparency.Elevated monitoring of social media platforms.Disinformation round main political occasions,
with each international and home actors manipulating content material for political

As famous above, connectivity/entry restrictions and Internet
web site/software blocking have turn out to be more and more fashionable techniques. This 12 months’s
report discovered that social media and communications functions have been blocked in
at the least 20 surveyed nations. Web connectivity didn’t fare significantly better,
with telecommunications networks suspended in 17 surveyed nations. These
actions typically occurred forward of elections or during times of protest and
civil unrest. Sadly, this stays an ongoing situation, as cited in our
abstract of the Freedom on the Internet 2017

Regardless of the declines in Web freedom and their
underlying causes highlighted within the report, the information was not all unhealthy this
12 months. Freedom Home discovered that 16 surveyed nations earned enhancements in
their Web freedom scores, with the best acquire seen in Ethiopia. Whereas
community shutdowns sadly continued to happen within the nation, they have been
extra non permanent and localized than earlier nationwide shutdowns. As well as,
the brand new Prime Minister’s authorities loosened restrictions on the Web,
unblocking over 250 Web pages, and in addition diminished the variety of individuals imprisoned
for on-line exercise.

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Malaysia and Armenia have been additionally particularly known as out for
their optimistic progress, and Iceland was listed because the “world’s greatest protector
of Web freedom”, with the report stating “The nation boasts enviable
circumstances, together with near-universal connectivity, restricted restrictions on
content material, and robust protections for customers’ rights.”

How one can become involved:

Learn the total
Freedom on the Internet 2019 report back to
acquire deeper perception into this 12 months’s findings.Attend the Freedom on the Internet 2019 launch occasion
on November 12 for a dialogue of key findings and rising traits in Web
freedom, together with the shifting strategies utilized by governments to govern
elections and monitor residents on social media.Overview the country-level rankings to know
the important thing Web controls employed in your nation, and different nations of
curiosity.Use the suggestions throughout the report as
steerage for outreach to native policymakers, initiatives throughout the non-public
sector, and participation in civil society actions.Observe organizations together with Freedom Home (@freedomhouse) and the Web
Society (@internetsociety)
on social media to remain up-to-date on points regarding Web freedom round
the world.

The Web Society is a proud supporter of
Freedom Home and the Freedom on the Internet initiative as a result of their work aligns
intently with our targets for the Web to be open, globally-connected, safe,
and reliable.