China exporting restrictive internet policies, says watchdog

Leroy Wright
November 3, 2018

Russia's rating in the World Internet Freedom Index has fallen for the sixth consecutive year according to a report published by Freedom House on Thursday.

The report suggests methods for countries to stem the spread of, what it calls, China's "techno-dystopian expansionism".

Aggregated data collated by SFLC shows that there have been 233 reported instances of suspension of internet services in India in the last seven years. "Global internet freedom can and should be the antidote to digital authoritarianism". A similar conference for senior media staff from Thailand was described by Chinese news outlets as an opportunity for visitors to learn about "the Chinese Dream", it said.

It is the eighth year in a row the global survey of internet freedom has recorded a drop.

"In fact, as the Freedom House report demonstrates, the internet is an excellent tool for social control, enabling surveillance and guiding of public opinion that would have been impossible in the past", says CNN.

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Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) works to advance the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms online through a diverse set of internet freedom policy and programming activities. Furthermore, Chinese officials help to train other country officials how to make use of digital authoritarianism by holding seminars with reps from 36 out of the 65 countries reviewed. In 2017, officials in many countries accused dissidents of spreading fake news as a pretext to silence them.

In nearly half of the countries where internet freedom declined, the tightening of restrictions coincided with elections as authoritarians used claims of "fake news" and data scandals as a pretext to move closer to the China model, the report said. The report discussing several key aspects of internet freedom, also focuses on the tyranny of digital giants is crippling democracies around the world.

"The US has its part to blame for the decline in at least 17 countries where "fake news" has been co-opted by oppressive regimes to justify crackdowns on dissent and free speech".

Authorities have also cracked down on the use of VPNs to circumvent the Great Firewall, leading Apple to delete hundreds of the services from its local app store, the report said.

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. "More governments are turning to China for guidance and support at a time when the United States' global leadership is on the decline, and the acquiescence of foreign companies to Beijing's demands only emboldens the regime in its effort to rewrite worldwide rules in its favor".

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