back to article Great. Global internet freedoms take another dive as censorship and fake news proliferate

Internet freedoms have taken a nose dive for the eighth year running, according to a report warning that authoritarian countries and populist leaders are exporting harmful attitudes and ideas around the world. The US pro-democracy think tank Freedom House produces a report on internet freedoms each year. This year, it assessed …

  1. B*stardTintedGlasses

    Not exactly surprising that China is slumping hard in these freedom stakes.

    They are doing literally everything they can to attempt to emulate an episode of Black Mirror it seems!

    Here is a really good article showing the level of pervasive surveillance and "management" of even normal citizens lives.

    The thing that really scares me is the thought of other nations going "That's a great idea! We should do it too!" before China succumbs to it's own populace getting angrier and more dispossessed.

    The only question is if that is before or after they become the next full-blown super power and set up a pattern of copycat regimes and straight-up annexed states, a la the USSR that persists way beyond the death of the original ideology. (Not Communist remember, Fascist with a veneer).

  2. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    Government is not the only threat

    Freedom House and the like need to monitor the effects of Big Social directly.

    Just today, I had a comment censored for mentioning a news item that was relevant to the discussion.

    Three or four years ago, execs at Google were bragging about how they tilted an election in a third-world country to halt a dictator-wannabe. There is nothing specific to their technology as it relates to that election, and indeed, these pages published research in August, 2016, that appears to demonstrate that they were attempting the same thing in the US.

    Interfering with an election is interfering with an election, no matter if it is done by government agents, immunized pro-government groups, mobs, or major corporations. It all needs to be examined.

  3. #define INFINITY -1

    A thought experiment

    Governments that control their media and create stories to show the leadership in glowing colours are allergic to the term 'Fake News', surprisingly enough. But we'll go along and believe that it is even possible to increase censorship when it is already total, and throw mud at a bland term for government curated media.

  4. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Freedom is an illusion

    Internet freedom doubly so...

    I really wonder what Douglas Adams would make of the world that we live in today ... oh wait, Marvin has already told us, "Brain the size of a planet, and I'm parking cars."

  5. martinusher Silver badge

    It all depends on what you call "Freedom" and "Democracy"

    Living as I do in the Land Of The Free I get bombarded daily with a lot of news and views about Freedom and Democracy. The official line is that we're the standard bearers of these two great concepts and anyone who doesn't measure up (typically by toeing our line) had better watch out.

    The reality is a little more nuanced. Our Democracy, while not quite a sham, is definitely something that can be bought and sold. It was said years ago that "We have the best Democracy that money can buy" and its even more true today. Discussion of political races in the media invariably turn on who's ahead in fundraising, not on candidates' ideas. Politics is dominated by large sums of money, a lot of it 'dark', which is used by interest groups -- not necessarily political parties -- to purchase the services of consulting firms that advance their agendas. Politics is really all about the dollars and as the revelations about the Brexit campaign show, the pounds (actually, I suspect its still dollars since we finance directly and indirectly political campaigns all over the world).

    Now, about this "freedom" thing. Different societies have different standards for social conduct and the USA is no exception. China, for example, has a different view of what makes a society to the US. When we complain about their society its typically because we can't buy into it and change it to the way that we'd like (or rather, we'd find most profitable). The Chinese in particular endured about 100 years of Western Freedom and didn't really like it so they're trying to develop their society their own way. Chinese people who don't like it are free to leave -- there are Chinese people everywhere, both visiting and settled -- but I suspect that the majority are relatively happy where they are. We might find it more useful to spend our resources helping countries like Honduras retain their population (rather than trying to make life difficult for them in countries like Cuba and Venezuela) but then anyone who really understands history knows that 'freedom' isn't about personal freedom, its about the freedom of our financiers and industrialists to rape and pillage wherever there's resources and markets to be had.

    A few days ago there was an article on CCTV surveillance in China written from the usual "Two Minutes Hate" angle. As anyone who lives in the UK will attest when it comes to 24/7 surveillance the UK has been something of a trail blazer. When it comes to public order enforcement the UK is also at the front of the pack (anyone remember the 1980s, especially now we know what really went on rather than what the government kept telling is?).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It all depends on what you call "Freedom" and "Democracy"

      As anyone who lives in the UK will attest when it comes to 24/7 surveillance the UK has been something of a trail blazer.

      And it has proved to be a staggering failure. If you want a record of crime, it sometimes works. As a preventative tool, utterly useless.

      1. Bernard M. Orwell

        Re: It all depends on what you call "Freedom" and "Democracy"

        I've said it before and I'll say it again; that's because surveillance (in the UK at least) is not about preventing crime, its about social control.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Censorship is only one aspect

    The other aspect is big red button.

    It is increasingly being installed on a country basis across the world. Countries which do not have the technical capability and/or the market muscle to enforce censorship introduce a "stop the net" provision.

    Latest joiner as of today is Kazahstan. Its legislature just opened the discussion on their big red button law.

  7. Frumious Bandersnatch

    You walk into the room

    with your pencil in your hand. You see somebody naked and you say "who is that man?" You try so hard, but you don't understand just what you will say when you get home. Because something is happening here, but you don't know what it is.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "China is 'remaking the world in its techno-dystopian image'"

    Tech billionaires and three letter govt. agencies are remaking the world using China's techno-dystopian image as a reference manual

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I still want to know who the UK is bribing to stay down low on that list.

  10. Handle123456

    Citizen's data ...

    "China's demands – much like Russia's – that citizens' data is stored within its borders means "information can be accessed by security agencies", the report said – thus diminishing users' freedoms."

    I may be wrong, but I do think the same is true for EU. But there it is to protect their data. Of course.

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