Daily Management Review

China is accused of exporting censorship


Over the past year, the global freedom situation on the Internet has deteriorated again, reports Freedom House, an organization funded by the US government, in its annual research, Freedom in the Network. According to the authors of the report, governments are increasingly tightening control over citizens' data, increasing censorship and surveillance, expanding online propaganda and disinformation. The lowest level of freedom on the Internet, according to Freedom House, is in China.

China is accused of exporting censorship
An analysis of the level of freedom on the Internet in 65 countries of the world showed that the situation became worse than last year in 26 countries and changed for the better only in 19 states.

According to Freedom House, almost 3.7 billion people in the world now have access to the Internet. Of these, 71% live in countries where users can be detained or imprisoned for posting content on political, social or religious topics on the Internet.
48% of users live in countries where users can be killed for their activities on the Internet, 47% - in countries where social networks or messengers are blocked by the authorities.

Iceland and Estonia scored the lowest number of points in the ranking (estimated from June 2017 to May 2018) and, accordingly, became leaders in terms of freedom on the Internet. The top 10 also includes Canada, Germany, Australia, USA, UK, South Africa, Japan and Italy. At the same time, six countries of the top ten retained the level of freedom achieved last year, and two countries improved the indicators - Germany and the United Kingdom, and two more - the United States and Japan - worsened. For the United States, the deterioration is associated with the abolition of “Internet neutrality”, which provides for Internet providers to provide equal conditions to all market participants, prohibiting blocking websites or using discriminatory measures against any Internet traffic. 

For the fourth year in a row, China has become the anti-leader of the rating, where, as Freedom House notes, “digital authoritarianism” reigns with severe restrictions in the field of the Internet. In June 2017, in China, a country where the number of users exceeds 770 million, the law on cybersecurity came into force. Among other things, it toughened censorship, the rules for registering users and obliging companies to assist security services in conducting investigations. In 2018, under this law, more than 3 thousand sites were closed, many companies had to increase the staff of their own censors.

According to the report’s authors, the main threat is not internal censorship and tightening, but that China exports its so-called “great Chinese firewall” to other countries.

Chinese companies sell equipment for telecommunications infrastructure, tracking systems and facial recognition, because of which global data may become more accessible to Chinese intelligence services. In addition, the Chinese actively teach their methods to foreign specialists: Chinese officials engaged in training and conducted seminars on new media and information management for representatives of 36 of the 65 countries included in the study.

source: freedomhouse.org