Restrictions on internet freedom are growing more extensive and sophisticated. Repressive governments employ a range of increasingly intrusive tactics to stifle online activism, such as introducing laws that criminalize online dissent, tightening regulations on independent news websites, making internet service providers liable for the content they host, and requiring cybercafés to monitor users.
Freedom House counteracts the rising tide of government control over the internet. We produce the preeminent analysis of global online freedom, the annual Freedom on the Net report, empower local experts in dozens of countries to speak up for the rights of internet users, and assist activists in recovering from digital attacks
- Freedom on the Net highlights emerging threats and opportunities to expand internet freedom globally. It frames discussions and courses of action for policymakers, activists, and businesses, and it trains a new crop of internet freedom analysts and advocates in 60+ countries, including in some of the most repressive societies. The 2014 report received coverage by more than 450 media outlets in 73 countries and reached millions of peopleonline. Freedom on the Net is cited by foreign ministers and other senior government officials and used by activists around the world to challenge internet restrictions.
- As repressive governments step up their efforts in international forums to legitimize tighter controls and erect national barriers to the global internet, Freedom House pushes back. We empower local experts in restricted environments around the world to advocate domestically for online freedom and bring them to internet governance forums, where they make a compelling case for keeping the internet free and open.
- Freedom House operates a digital emergency response service to assist journalists, bloggers, human rights defenders, and civic activists in recovering from digital attacks, for example in restoring defaced websites or helping activists regain access to hacked social media accounts. Since 2011, we have helped over 3,200 activists in 27 countries to operate more securely online and resume their work.
Advocacy & Capacity Building
We conduct advocacy initiatives at the national, regional, and global level to support and defend activists and human rights principles, to raise the profile of digital activists and organizations under threat, and ensure that human rights concerns remain a crucial part of the global internet governance debate.
Digital Safety and Resilience
Freedom House empowers activists to strengthen their digital security through a variety of means. The program facilitates in-person and web-based training on digital and mobile security, develops and localizes self-paced learning materials for activists and everyday internet users to better the understand the risks they face online, and supports public awareness raising campaigns directed at vulnerable communities. Yet, despite such efforts, activists still suffer digital attacks on a frequent basis, and Freedom House works to assist them to become more resilient online so that they can continue their important work more safely.
During an in-country visit to Burma in January 2014, the Freedom House Internet Freedom team worked with a local partner to train 126 activists, bloggers, and human rights defenders, using engaging Burmese-language materials and customized training content. The topics covered that participants rated most useful included: protecting against malware and viruses, creating strong passwords, basic mobile security, browsing the internet securely, assessing threats, and encrypting data.
We recommend the following resources and readings to our IGF delegates, Incubator applicants, relevant partners, and anyone interested in learning more about internet governance and related issues:
- Center for Democracy & Technology – “The ITU’s WCIT Negotiation”
- Declaration of Internet Freedom
- Freedom House Oral Statement to the 23rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council
- Freedom House's annual Freedom on the Net report
- Global Network Initiative Principles
- Internet Governance: Creating Opportunities for All
- Report of the Special Rapporteurr on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression
- Report of the Special Rapporteur on internet surveillance and privacy
- Reporters Without Borders – “Enemies of the Internet” 2013 Report
- UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
- UN Human Rights Council resolution on the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet