Freedom on the NET Report 2018 is Eye Opening

Image Credit: Freedom on the Net 2018 Report

I have been curating a Supply Market Intelligence Index Collection for a few years now and still get continuously surprised at the number of excellent research reports containing indices that stay under the radar and are not as easily discovered as they should be. The Freedom on the Net report is a perfect example.

Freedom on the Net is a comprehensive study of internet freedom in 65 countries around the globe and the 2018 report is the eighth in its series. It covers 87 percent of the world’s internet users and tracks improvements and declines in internet freedom conditions each year. The countries included in the study are selected to represent diverse geographical regions and regime types. A 21-question research methodology was used that addresses internet access, freedom of expression, and privacy issues. Countries are ranked by their internet freedom score (report sidebar, page 4).

The report is packed with useful and insightful data. The key topics are being covered in the press, but the detailed analysis and exact examples of troubling developments provided should cause concern for readers of the report. For Procurement human rights and ethical concerns, it provides information on countries that restrict a citizen’s basic right to intellectual freedom and to be able to access information that is not filtered, altered or controlled by government. Selected highlights and major developments (text quoted directly):

Key Report Highlights:

  • China was once again the worst abuser of internet freedom in 2018.
  • Of the 65 countries assessed, 26 have been on an overall decline since June 2017, compared with 19 that registered net improvements. The biggest score declines took place in Egypt and Sri Lanka, followed by Cambodia, Kenya, Nigeria, the Philippines, and Venezuela.
  • In almost half of the countries where internet freedom declined, the reductions were related to elections. Twelve countries suffered from a rise in disinformation, censorship, technical attacks, or arrests of government critics in the lead-up to elections.

Major Developments

  • China remakes the world in its techno-dystopian image. Over the last two decades, the country’s “Great Firewall” has grown into an alarmingly effective apparatus of censorship and surveillance.
  • Citing fake news, governments curb online dissent. Like “terrorism,” the term “fake news” has been co-opted by authoritarian leaders to justify crackdowns on dissent.
  • Authorities demand control over personal data. As governments recognize the importance of the data flowing in and out of their countries, they are establishing new rules and barriers in the name of national sovereignty, allowing officials to control and inspect such information at will.
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