Growing Challenges to Internet Freedom

Posted in: Censorship at 27/09/2011 18:38

Next week, government, business, and civil society representatives will gather at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Nairobi, Kenya to discuss the future of the global digital space. This gathering takes place against the backdrop of growing restrictions by repressive regimes on online freedoms. The U.S. and European governments have undertaken significant initiatives to respond to these restrictions, but their initiatives are inadequate to stem, let alone reverse, the decline of freedom on the internet. Stronger action is needed.

Restrictions on the Internet

Even before the Arab Spring had shown the power of the internet to accelerate the free flow of news and views and to bring like-minded citizens together to mobilize for change, authoritarian regimes had introduced extensive controls over digital media. Authoritarian regimes had built pervasive, multilayered systems for online censorship and surveillance. These systems have grown more diverse and sophisticated in the past two years, as documented in Freedom House's 2011 Freedom on the Net report and elsewhere.

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