Of the 65 countries assessed by Freedom House, 26 of them are said to have experienced a deterioration in internet freedom, with China found to be the worst offender, followed by Iran and Syria.
United States think tank Freedom House has claimed that internet freedom is declining across the world, with authoritarian governments following China's example and using surveillance and censorship to repress public dissent.
"A cohort of countries is moving toward digital authoritarianism by embracing the Chinese model of extensive censorship and automated surveillance systems", Freedom House said.
While neighboring Georgia is also ranked Free, Azerbaijan is Partly Free, Turkey, Iran and Russian Federation are Not Free.
Chinese officials have started seminars on new technology and begun training other countries on how to impose its model, the report said. Furthermore, nearly a third of the countries passed or proposed new legislations to restrict online media.
India has topped the world with the highest number of internet shutdowns by government authorities, with 121 instances reported in 2018 as against 79 in 2017, according to Delhi-based Software Freedom Law Centre's "Internet Shutdown Tracker".
This data widely shows how the Indian government is controlling internet services provided to citizens.
Among other former Soviet states, Ukraine remains in the "partly free" category but is singled out as having suffered among the "largest five-year declines", together with Turkey and Venezuela.
As fake news on social media has become a deadly problem, governments are using it as an "opening wedge for censorship", Michael Chertoff, the group's chairman and a former USA secretary for Homeland Security, told reporters by phone.
In the ranking of Freedom House says Ukraine is fighting for freedom in the citizens of the Internet in the information war with the Kremlin. "Increased access is a core concern for government, civil society, and the private sector, which has led to collaborative efforts between public and private players to expand the information and communication technology (ICT) sector", notes the report on SA by Freedom House.
The report also recommends that policymakers ensure that human rights assessments - including the rights to privacy and free expression - are taken into account when new artificial-intelligence technologies are implemented.
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