|[Source: Freedom on the Net 2016]|
Watchdog organization Freedom House has released its Freedom on the Net 2016 report. Its title—“Silencing the Messenger: Communication Apps Under Pressure”—leaves little to the imagination regarding the state of internet freedom worldwide. Below are 12 of the report’s findings not to be missed:
1. Internet freedom worldwide has declined for the sixth consecutive year.
2. 67% of all internet users live in countries that censor criticism of the government, military or ruling family. Punishable behavior this year has included derogatory statements towards a pet dog belonging to Thailand’s king.
3. In 38 countries, social media users have been arrested for their posts. In some countries, “liking” a Facebook post has led to arrest.
4. Arrests based on social media activity have increased more than 50% since 2013.
5. Only 24% of the internet population assessed is considered “free”.
6. Uganda, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ecuador and Libya top the list for most internet freedom lost since 2015. In all, 34 countries have shown a decline in internet freedom.
7. China earned the title of “year’s worst abuser of internet freedom”. Criticizing the government (“spreading rumors”) on social media can be met with a seven-year prison sentence; other punishable offenses include watching videos reflective of the religious minority.
8. 15 countries experienced temporary government shutdowns of internet or mobile phone network access.
9. Messaging apps, including WhatsApp, Telegram and Facebook Messenger, are increasingly targeted and blocked by governments. Of significance, global internet users are more heavily reliant on app-based mobile messaging than on SMS texting.
10. 13 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Turkey, blocked content intended for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community because of “morality”.
11. In the past year, digital activism was censored in 20 countries…
12. …Regardless, “In over two-thirds of the countries in this study, internet-based activism has led to some sort of tangible outcome, from the defeat of a restrictive legislative proposal to the exposure of corruption through citizen journalism.”
The complete Freedom on the Net 2016 report, along with 65 individual country reports, are available online. Be an informed advocate, surf secure and stay Rando!
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