Online Freedom IS in Danger

Is Online Freedom in Danger? | The New American

The freedom to visit websites, communicate, and post to the Internet without the interference of government is a right people around the world should be able to take for granted. Unfortunately, for growing portion of the world’s population, that is not the case. In fact, the Freedom on the Net report by the online activist group, Freedom House, shows that “Internet freedom around the world declined in 2016 for the sixth consecutive year.”

The report — directed by Sanja Kelly — points to the growing trend among oppressive regimes to enforce censorship and to resist (if not outright criminalize) the use of social-media platforms and applications that make widespread and private communication more easily accessible. The report says:

Internet freedom has declined for the sixth consecutive year, with more governments than ever before targeting social media and communication apps as a means of halting the rapid dissemination of information, particularly during anti-government protests.

Public-facing social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have been subject to growing censorship for several years, but in a new trend, governments increasingly target voice communication and messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram. These services are able to spread information and connect users quickly and securely, making it more difficult for authorities to control the information landscape or conduct surveillance.

The report includes several graphs and maps showing the various degrees of freedom enjoyed by people living in different nations. One graph shows that by the standards of Freedom House, only 24 percent of the world’s population live in areas that are free.

Since — as Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence — governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed” and that “whenever any form of government becomes destructive of” the unalienable rights of the people, “it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish” their government and create a new government which is more likely to protect those rights, oppressive governments fear the ability of people to communicate freely and privately. In the digital age, communication is easily instantaneous, widespread, and private.

Enter the surveillance state…

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