Freedom House, a watchdog organization focused on the advancement of democracy around the world, this week released a report that showed global internet freedom to be on the decline. According to this “Freedom on the Net 2016” study, 67 percent of the world’s internet users live in countries where they could be censored for criticizing authorities.
The report particularly highlighted increased government targeting of social media and communication apps. Sanja Kelly, who directed the study, said, “Popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have been subject to growing censorship for several years, but governments are now increasingly going after messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram. Messaging apps are able to spread information quickly and securely—and some governments find this threatening.” Indeed, Freedom House documents intensifying penalties for disfavored social media use. It found that the number of countries in which arrests were made over such activity increased by 50 percent and “globally, 27 percent of all internet users live in countries where people have been arrested for publishing, sharing, or merely ‘liking’ content on Facebook.”
Freedom House’s full report is available here.
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: November 18, 2016