Myanmar’s shutdown has ushered in a bleak year for internet freedom.
According to a research released on Tuesday, internet users in a record number of nations have been arrested and physically attacked for their posts in the past year, providing a bleak image of digital freedoms in 2021.
According to the annual “Freedom on the Net” study, internet shutdowns in Myanmar and Belarus were particularly low points, with online rights worldwide declining for the 11th year in a row.
The assessment, which was compiled by the US think tank Freedom House, assigns a score out of 100 to countries based on their residents’ internet freedom, including the amount to which they are restricted in what content they may access.
Other considerations include if pro-government trolls attempt to sway internet arguments.
“This year, people in 41 countries were subjected to physical attacks in retaliation for their online activities,” according to the report, a “record high” since the tracking began 11 years ago.
A Bangladeshi student was hospitalized after being beaten for allegedly engaging in “anti-government activities” on social media, while a Mexican journalist was slain after posting a video on Facebook accusing a gang of murder.
People have been detained or sentenced for their online activities in 56 of the 70 nations examined by the research, an all-time high of 80 percent.
Two Egyptian influencers were imprisoned in June after they shared TikTok videos encouraging women to pursue careers on social media platforms.
After a military junta seized control in February, it shut down the internet, restricted social media, and ordered tech companies to hand over personal data, Myanmar was singled out for harsh condemnation in the study.
Internet blackouts were used to disrupt communications in the run-up to Uganda’s elections in January and after a disputed Belarus election in August of last year.
Between June 2020 and May 2021, at least 20 countries prohibited people’s access to the internet, according to the poll.
However, it wasn’t all bad news: The Gambia was praised for maintaining its trend of increasing online freedom since dictator Yahya Jammeh was deposed in 2017.
Iceland came out on top, followed by Estonia and Costa Rica, which was the first country in the world to designate internet access a human right.
China, on the other side, was designated the world’s worst abuser of internet liberties, with harsh prison sentences handed down for online opposition.
There were some bright spots, according to the research, with audio app Clubhouse providing a “unprecedented venue for users to discuss important matters with persons outside of mainland China” until it was restricted by Beijing. Brief News from Washington Newsday.