The Latest in Surveys

Internet freedom around the world is in decline

Net-security.org reports on the US-based NGO Freedom House fifth annual Freedom of the Net study.  The report concludes that nearly half of the 65 countries assessed have experienced tightening of internet freedom.

“Between May 2013 and May 2014, 41 countries passed or proposed legislation to penalize legitimate forms of speech online, increase government powers to control content, or expand government surveillance capabilities,” the researchers noted.

“Since May 2013, arrests for online communications pertinent to politics and social issues were documented in 38 of the 65 countries, most notably in the Middle East and North Africa. Pressure on independent news websites, among the few unfettered sources of information in many countries, dramatically increased. Dozens of citizen journalists were attacked while reporting on conflict in Syria and antigovernment protests in Egypt, Turkey and Ukraine. Other governments stepped up licensing and regulation for web platforms.”

The interesting thing is that Edward Snowden’s revelations of widespread surveillance by the US NSA have been used by governments as an excuse to ramp up their own monitoring capabilities, which are, in most cases, subject to little or no actual judicial oversight.

These capabilities are often aimed at the political opposition and human rights activists, who are also often targets of increasingly sophisticated and personalized malware attacks.