Freedom in Decline: Internet Access Is Increasingly Monitored, Limited

New study surveys the whole wide world on the world wide web.

Freedom in Decline: Internet Access Is Increasingly Monitored, Limited

(Denis Balibouse/ Reuters)

Daffany Chan is a San Francisco native and student at University of Southern California.

Turns out your Facebook friends aren’t the only ones catching up on your status updates. 

Global Internet freedom has been on the decline with the increase of social-media surveillance by governments around the world, according to a recent study published by Freedom House.

Authoritarian states like Vietnam and Ethiopia experienced the worst new restrictions: The two countries saw increasing free speech limits, arrests, and punishments for anti-authority bloggers. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Syria was deemed the “most dangerous place for online reporters,” as approximately 20 were killed there in the past year alone.

The study measured each country’s level of online freedom, creating a ranking based on findings from field visits and consultations from over 70 local experts and representatives.

It wasn’t only the undemocratic nations where online speech protection went down the drain. Following India’s recent civil unrest and riots, the nation suffered from severe governmental blocking and filtering of social content.

And though it may seem like Internet use has become a complete free-for-all in the United States—with provocative viral videos and tweets overrunning the web—the country faced a significant decline, too. This is in large part due to NSA’s tightened surveillance on the public for intelligence and counterterrorism efforts.

The study draws a grim portrait about the state of global web rights. But there’s a silver lining: The threat of restriction is resulting in growing civil activism. 

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