Freedom on the Net 2016, an annual report published by Freedom House that examines Internet Freedom around the world, was released this week. This year’s report highlighted an alarming trend – Internet freedom is continuing to decline around the world – for the 6th year in a row. One major contributor to this decline was increased censorship of social media sites and messaging applications. WhatsApp was blocked in 12 countries, and 24 countries blocked social media this year (a significant increase from the 15 that blocked it last year). Social media blocks raise concerns about free speech and the right to communicate, and 2016 even saw some full blown Internet shutdowns. Additionally, VOIP services such as Skype were increasingly blocked, to both censor users and to avoid detracting from the business of in-country telcos.
Internet freedom declined in over half the countries in the report. China was ranked as having the least free Internet experience, followed by Syria and Iran. Two large countries had status declines: Turkey saw their status decline from “partly free” to “not free,” and Brazil dropped from “free “to “partly free.” You can read the full report for more details.
The 2016 Report By the Numbers
- Countries with Free Internet experience: 24%
- Countries with Partly Free Internet experience: 29%
- Countries with Not Free Internet experience: 35%
- Countries Not Assessed: 12%