Freedom House Report Finds Internet Freedom Continues to Decline

Freedom House Report Finds Internet Freedom Continues to Decline

Freedom House released its Freedom of the Net 2015 report, finding that “internet freedom around the world in decline for a fifth consecutive year as more governments censored information of public interest while also expanding surveillance and cracking down on privacy tools.”

Among its key findings were that:

  • Content removals increased: Authorities in 42 of the 65 countries assessed required private companies or internet users to restrict or delete web content dealing with political, religious, or social issues, up from 37 the previous year.
  • Arrests and intimidation escalated: Authorities in 40 of 65 countries imprisoned people for sharing information concerning politics, religion or society through digital networks.
  • Surveillance laws and technologies multiplied: Governments in 14 of 65 countries passed new laws to increase surveillance since June 2014 and many more upgraded their surveillance equipment.
  • Governments undermined encryption, anonymity: Democracies and authoritarian regimes alike stigmatized encryption as an instrument of terrorism, and many tried to ban or limit tools that protect privacy.

Iceland, Estonia, Canada, Germany and the United States were the top 5 countries for internet freedom, with China, iran, Syria, Ethiopia and Cuba ranked the worst.  The report viewed the U.S. adoption of net neutrality rules favorably, but also cited attempts at backdoors to encrypted technology and the arrest and intimidation of online journalists filming police interactions in Ferguson, Missouri.