Published: Sat, November 03, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

China Exports Its Restrictive Internet Policies to some Countries

China Exports Its Restrictive Internet Policies to some Countries

"Governments around the world are tightening control over citizens" data and using claims of "fake news' to suppress dissent, eroding trust in the internet as well as the foundations of democracy", the organisation explained in their Freedom on the Net 2018 report.

China's success in censoring what was previously thought to be an uncontrollable tool for free speech and the spread of information has spawned imitators across the world.

One of the greatest threats to the internet is efforts by China to remake the digital world in its "techno-dystopian" image.

"India leads the world in number of internet shutdowns, with over 100 reported incidents in 2018 alone". In particular, the report stresses that thanks to the rise of digital authoritarianism, the Internet can be used in order to undermine the democratic system and to destabilize dictatorships. 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. China's digital surveillance standards are reportedly influencing other nations', according to the watchdog Freedom House.

Thirteen countries, including Rwanda and Bangladesh, prosecuted people this year for allegedly spreading false information, Freedom House said.

Countries such as Egypt and Iran, have "rewritten restrictive media laws to apply to social media users, jailed critics under measures created to curb false news, and blocked foreign social media and communication services", says the Freedom House report.

The report measured a country's level of internet freedom by looking at access to internet, levels of censorship and violations of user rights, as well as records of arrests or attacks prompted by internet users' online activity. The report observed that while the Supreme Court judgment making privacy a fundamental right in August 2017 was a victory for internet freedom, it has been "plagued by security breaches".

This data widely shows how the Indian government is controlling internet services provided to citizens. It has hosted seminars on cyberspace management since early 2017 with representatives from 36 out of 65 countries tracked by Freedom House, including nations in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. The consortium includes a few leading companies and grassroots bodies formed to raise the bar of internet freedom.

Mike Abramowitz, president of Freedom House, said that there is growing recognition that the internet is increasingly being leveraged to disrupt democracy, rather than take down dictatorial regimes.

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