Web Freedom Doomed
A recent report, carried out by the advocacy group Freedom House, has taken a look at Internet trends in 60 countries. The results were that despite a pushback from activists which successfully blocked some repressive laws, web freedom still plummeted in 2012.In 35 of those 60 countries, governments had grown their legal and technical spying powers through the web. A global decline in web freedom in 2012 was determined by broad surveillance, new legislation controlling Internet content and growing arrests of social media users. For instance, Iceland has the most web freedom. On the contrary, China, Cuba and Iran had the least.
In the meantime, declines in Internet freedom were led by 3 democracies - Brazil, India and the US. Apparently, revelations by Edward Snowden demonstrated that changes in online freedom of the United States were eroding extremely fast. Anyway, the United States still made it to 4th in Freedom House’s list.
A number of the governments have acted against the worldwide web because social media was exploited to arrange national protests. Since 2012, two dozen countries have adopted some kind of legislation restricting web freedom. For instance, Bangladesh imposed a 14-year prison sentence on a group of bloggers who wrote posts critical of Islam. Bahrain has also arrested ten people for “insulting the king on Twitter”, while Morocco jailed a teenager for 18 months for “attacking the nation’s sacred values” via a Facebook post which also ridiculed the king. Finally, a woman in India was arrested for just “liking” a friend’s Facebook status.
According to Sanja Kelly, project director for Freedom on the Net at Freedom House, banning and filtering are still the favorite methods of censorship in lots of countries, though the governments are increasingly looking at who is saying what on the Internet and finding ways to punish them. According to the report, law restricting Internet freedom are still sometimes blocked with a combination of pressure from advocates, lawyers, businesses, politicians and the international community. However, this is the 3rd consecutive year web freedom has declined.