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Concerns about freedom on the internet

The Global Network Initiative (GNI) has released a policy brief with recommendations for governments and companies to protect and respect free expression and privacy rights when responding to the challenge of alleged extremist or terrorist content online. This brief, which reflects the consensus view of GNI’s multi-stakeholder membership of companies, civil society organisations, investors and academics, is being released amid “escalating government calls for action or legislation around the world to monitor or restrict access to online content on the grounds that it allegedly radicalises individuals, supports terrorist organisations, or encourages violence or terrorist acts”. “Technology companies have a role to play in addressing national security concerns, but the pressure to censor raises serious human rights risks,” says GNI independent board chair, Mark Stephens. Meanwhile Freedom House’s Freedom on the Net 2016 report has found that internet freedom around the world declined in 2016 for the sixth consecutive year, with more governments than ever 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.” Two-thirds of all internet users live in countries where criticism of the government, military, or ruling family are subject to censorship, and social media users face unprecedented penalties, as authorities in 38 countries made arrests based on social media posts over the past year. Globally, 27% of all internet users live in countries where people have been arrested for publishing, sharing, or merely liking content on Facebook. GNI here Freedom House here

  • Monday, 12 December 2016

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