A new report by Freedom House shows that for the seventh year in a row the freedom in the world has declined. In 2012, the number countries considered free went up by three and reached 90. However, in the same year, while 16 countries showed gain in freedom, 27 others showed significant decline in freedom which results in a net 11 decline.
While with the emergence of the Internet, a hope for more freedom around the world arose, past years showed that authoritarian governments have adopted their governing systems to this phenomenon and found a way to control it or even employ it to more strongly suppress the people. For example, during the first years, Facebook showed a great potency for exchange of news and ideas among people. But after a while it became a tool for oppressive governments to identify, monitor and control the opposing activists. And this is just for the countries that are not considered overtly authoritarian and do not explicitly control the net. Some countries like China and Iran have actually blocked Facebook and other social networks like Twitter.
Freedom On the Net
Another study by Freedom House, aimed at Internet Freedom and conducted during January 2011 to May 2012, has shown that in fact the Internet is becoming more restricted. And the reason why people may not feel that way is that the method of restriction is becoming more sophisticated and less visible. Some of these methods according to this report include: “Brutal attacks against bloggers, politically motivated surveillance, proactive manipulation of web content, and restrictive laws regulating speech online”.
These results show that unlike the common belief that the world is becoming freer than before, due to potential capability of Internet to distribute knowledge and information, not only it has not helped spread freedom around the world but also it has been used to impose more restriction and control on people.