This was a tough year for Internet freedom around the world.
In Pakistan, the government blocked thousands of websites. There was a dramatic increase in web censorship in Venezuela surrounding President Hugo Chavez’s death. The Edward Snowden leaks in the U.S. caused a wake-up call about how much the government monitors our online conversations.
In the last three years, overall freedom on the web globally has steadily declined, with significant downgrades in four countries since 2012, the United States included, according to a report just published by Freedom House.
Not surprisingly, the United States was dinged in the survey due to reports of extensive NSA surveillance tied to intelligence gathering and counterterrorism. America landed a tie with Germany in the No. 3 spot. Iceland came in at No. 1, the best in the world for Internet freedom, and Estonia landed in No. 2.
Iran is dead last behind China and Cuba.
Freedom House scored countries based on laws and directives that restrict online speech, the number of arrests of individuals for online posting, intimidation against social media users and surveillance.
According to the report, these are the ten most common ways governments try and control use of the Internet:
- Blocking and filtering
- Cyberattacks against regime critics
- New laws and arrests for political, religious, or social speech online
- Paid pro-government commentators manipulating online discussion
- Physical attacks and murder
- Takedown requests and forced deletion of content
- Blanket blocking of social media platforms
- Holding intermediaries liable
- Throttling or shutting down Internet and mobile services
Check out the Freedom Network’s map of Internet freedom:
You can read the full report here.