Global internet freedom has declined for the 11th year in a row, according to a report published on Tuesday by Washington, D.C.-based democracy advocacy group Freedom House.
The findings were part of Freedom House’s annual Freedom on the Net 2021 report which analyzed 70 countries that account for 88% of internet users worldwide and measured indicators such as accessibility and content.
“While some moves reflected legitimate attempts to mitigate online harms, rein in misuse of data, or end manipulative market practices, many new laws imposed excessively broad censorship and data-collection requirements on the private sector,” said the report.
The report documented the greatest deteriorations in Myanmar, Belarus, and Uganda where state forces cracked down amid electoral and constitutional crises, restricting access to the internet and surveilling activists online.
The report also cited the Chinese government as “the world’s worst abuser of internet freedom” for the seventh year in a row.
Chinese authorities criminalized certain expressions online and issued drastic prison terms to activists for online dissent. Officials also cracked down on the country’s tech giants, citing their abuses related to competition and data protection, although the campaign only consolidated power in the hands of the authoritarian state.
Freedom House evaluates 21 different indicators pertaining to obstacles to access, limits on content, and violations of user rights, among others, to assess internet freedom.
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