Internet in this modern age has become of a person’s basic needs - it has joined the ranks with food, water, shelter and a good home. The Internet is an environment where people of all demographics, background, ages can freely express themselves. Through the Internet, people can be connected with loved ones, share ideas that can bring about change in the world, and many more. Many talents are discovered, trends in different sectors in society are developed, governments are overthrown and major movements emerged from a single post - that is what the Internet can do in our lives.
With this comes the issue of Internet freedom. We may not be aware of this, but there are countries in the world still restrict Internet among the people for a number of reasons. Awareness of this issue may have sparked a lot of netizens when the 2011 revolution in Egypt overthrown the previous government or when the Congress will vote to pass PIPA and SOPA which would allow Internet censorship in the US, but many are still unaware that in some parts of the world, Internet is still being restricted, especially in authoritarian governments.
In China, rules in Internet surveillance and privacy are ever-changing, and one wrong post can be devastating - from deletion of account to even detention and arrest. When it comes to Internet censorship, China is one of the most restricted countries.
According to Freedom House, one of the leading research and advocacy organizations in Internet freedom, the world experienced another decline in Internet freedom for a fifth consecutive year as more governments censored information of public interest while also expanding surveillance and cracking down on privacy tools. This is most likely because of the recent revolutions that happened when information are leaked through the Internet, and people began to rebel against them.
They also provided a useful infographic on Internet freedom across the world. We can look at the parts of the world where the Internet is free, partly free and restricted.
Freedom House lists some of the reasons of this decline this year - increased content removals, arrests and intimidations escalated, surveillance laws and technologies multiplied, and governments undermined encryption and anonymity. In the 65 countries, 42 required Internet users to delete online content that contains any political, religious and social issues, 40 imprisoned people for sharing information about these issues, and 14 passed new laws which tighten online security and surveillance. Some of the governments considered encryption as a tool for terrorism, which is why many tools that protect privacy are banned. These reasons happen both in democratic and authoritarian alike.
The thing is, we can do something in our little power to turn this thing around. It starts with awareness and educating others with this issue. Let’s hope that one day, everyone in the world will experience the beauty and usefulness of the Internet, because everyone has a right to know and be connected.