#CyberFLASH: The Future of the Global Internet Hangs in The Balance

GettyImages-556421117We’d all like to think that a simple browser and a few keystrokes can give us access to the unlimited knowledge base of the internet. But there are a growing number of toll roads on the information superhighway.

According to the latest edition of Freedom House’s annual Internet Freedom Report released this week, digital civil liberties have been curtailed across the globe for the fifth year in a row. There are now more countries with a heavily censored internet than there are ones with a completely free internet.

Last among the 65 countries assessed is China, which also happens to be the country with the largest number of internet users (641 million). Thanks to a new law passed last week, Chinese internet users are now even more vulnerable to criminal charges if they are found to be spreading “rumors” or politically delicate information online.

In the United States, President Barack Obama advocated for an open internet when the Federal Communications Commission was considering the question of net neutrality earlier this year.

“Ever since the Internet was created, it’s been organized around basic principles of openness, fairness, and freedom,” the president said. “This set of principles—the idea of net neutrality—has unleashed the power of the internet and given innovators the chance to thrive.”

But America isn’t first, second, or third on Freedom House’s list. Rather, the U.S. steals the fifth spot after Iceland, Estonia, Canada, and Germany.

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