02:12 GMT14 June 2021
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    Global internet freedom has declined, as an increasing number of countries introduce online restrictions, US-based organization Freedom House claims. Increased surveillance, new regulatory controls over online media, proliferation of repressive laws, more sophisticated and widespread cyber-attacks all contribute to the decline.

    MOSCOW, December 5 (Sputnik), Ekaterina Blinova — Internet freedom is under threat, as an increasing number of countries impose online censorship, according to the latest survey carried out by Freedom House, a US based non-governmental organization.

    "Freedom on the Net 2014 — the fifth annual comprehensive study of internet freedom around the globe, covering developments in 65 countries between May 2013 and May 2014 – finds internet freedom around the world in decline for the fourth consecutive year, with 36 out of 65 countries assessed in the report experiencing a negative trajectory during the coverage period," the Freedom House's report reads.

    The survey points out that in the past most governments "preferred a behind-the-scenes approach" to web control. However today, more and more states today are adopting new laws regulating use of the Internet, closely observing users' online activities.

    "As a result, more people are being arrested for their internet activity than ever before, online media outlets are increasingly pressured to censor themselves or face legal penalties, and private companies are facing new demands to comply with government requests for data or deletions," the NGO reveals.

    According to the survey, the reasons behind the  steady decline in internet freedom include the proliferation of repressive laws, increased surveillance, new regulatory controls over online media and more sophisticated and widespread cyber-attacks.

    Some states, introducing internet censorship, look to the widespread surveillance practice conducted by the US National Security Agency (NSA). Some consider the US intelligence activities as an ideal model, while others are developing measures and tools in order to resist the NSA's global surveillance network.

    The American NGO criticizes Russia, Turkey and Ukraine for maintaining government control over online activities and classifies Iran, Syria, and China as "the world’s worst abusers of internet freedom overall." It notes that Kazakhstan has passed a law banning "extremist" content, while Vietnam has legalized the suppression of state criticism in social media. However, Freedom House reports certain "improvements" in Belorussia, where the government "eased enforcement of some restrictions" and in Brazil, which has recently passed the Marco Civil da Internet bill. The bill contains provisions regarding "net neutrality" and "privacy protection," the report says.

    The Washington Post notes that the United States is also "writing rules about the Internet into law," promoting the idea that there should be clear legal restrictions against access providers violating the principle of net neutrality. According to the "net neutrality" concept, governments and internet providers should not discriminate against internet users, contents, sites, platform and application, treating all data equally.

    However, there are voices claiming that internet data should be tightly monitored and managed. The British intelligence apparatus is beating the drums about the fact that the Internet has evidently become "a safe haven for terrorism." Terrorists are using the global web in order to recruit followers, spread extremist teaching and threaten international community. Lee Rigby's atrocity, which could allegedly have been prevented through collaboration between Facebook and UK's MI5 intelligence service, has revived questions about the necessity of governmental control over the Internet.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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