Chinese-style digital authoritarianism grows globally

Report: China Exporting Knowledge of Restricting Internet Worldwide

India Leads World With Highest Number of Internet Shutdowns; 121 Instances Reported in 2018 Alone

Ranked Free this year, Armenia scored 27 out of 100 in the global internet freedom ranking - the lower the number, the better a country ranks.

"In fact, as the Freedom House report demonstrates, the internet is an excellent tool for social control, enabling surveillance and guiding of public opinion that would have been impossible in the past", says CNN. "Global internet freedom can and should be the antidote to digital authoritarianism".

Digital authoritarianism is on the rise as governments crack down on online freedom, according to a new report.

'Cutting off internet service is a draconian response, particularly at a time when citizens may need it the most, whether to dispel rumours, check in with loved ones, or avoid risky areas, ' Freedom House researcher Adrian Shahbaz said.

Chinese officials have held training and seminars on new media or information management with representatives from 36 out of the 65 countries covered in this survey. And Chinese foreign investment and influence efforts are not new.

So, of the 65 countries that are in the current study, 26 countries have seen a deterioration of Internet freedom.

Head here to check out Freedom House's Freedom of the Net 2018 report. Most of these events were reported in nations such as Myanmar, India, and Sri Lanka.

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"A number of governments are moving to regulate social media users as media outlets in order to legitimize further crackdowns on online speech", the report said, citing the arrest of Bangladeshi photojournalist Shahidul Alam only hours after he live-streamed a video report on Facebook about a government crackdown on protesters in August.

In effect, countries are using the curbs to violate human rights, he said.

Governments in Iran, Russia, Egypt, Venezuela, Belarus, China, and Cambodia all took steps to silence independent voices with arbitrary internet blocking, arguing that only the state can be trusted to separate truth from fake news and jeopardizing freedom of expression.

Internet freedom in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority nation, improved slightly in the past year due to decreasing violent attacks and threats against citizens for their online activities compared to the previous year, the report said.

Software Freedom Law Centre defines internet shutdown as disallowing the access to the internet within one or more localities for a time period, reports TOI.

It is noted that the authorities in Ukraine have blocked more than 200 websites and an increasing number of legislative proposals contain widely worded provisions about blocking websites in the Internet for reasons of national security, often without the necessity of obtaining a court decision.

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