Internet freedom around the world has declined for the fifth consecutive year, with more governments censoring information of public interest and placing greater demands on the private sector to take down offending content. The goal of these restrictions is usually to protect powerful figures and the official views on religion or morality that may undergird leaders’ popularity.
The internet is a crucial medium through which people can express themselves and share ideas and has become an increasingly important tool through which democracy and human rights activists mobilize and advocate for political, social, and economic reform. Fearing the power of the new technologies, authoritarian states have devised subtle and not-so-subtle ways to filter, monitor, and otherwise obstruct or manipulate the openness of the internet. Even a number of democratic states have considered or implemented various restrictions in response to the potential legal, economic, and security challenges raised by new media. Responding to these challenges, Freedom House conducts research and produces analysis on levels of internet freedom, conducts advocacy domestically and internationally to protect internet freedom, and conducts an array of programs designed to assist human rights and democracy activists safely use the internet for mobilizing their constituents and communicating their ideas.