Latest Updates

  • On Uganda

    See all data, scores & information on this country or territory.

    See More
    • Global Freedom Score

      34 100 not free
    • Internet Freedom Score

      56 100 partly free
    • Date of Election

      January 14, 2021
    • Type of Election

      General
    • Internet Penetration

      32.85%
    • Population

      44.3 million
    Incident Alert
    The UCC is moving forward with enforcing a regulation that requires “online data communication and broadcasting services” to...
    New Report
    Freedom House released the new edition of Freedom on the Net, which found that President Museveni’s government continues to...
    Incident Alert
    Opposition candidate Muhammed Ssegirinya was arrested while livestreaming outside of the police station where Bobi Wine was...
    Incident Alert
    Four presidential candidates suspended their campaigns in protest of the arrest of two other candidates, Bobi Wine and Patrick...
    Incident Alert
    Anonymous reportedly hacked the Uganda Police Force website and took it offline in response to the violent police crackdown on...
    Incident Alert
    Numerous false and misleading claims about opposition candidate Bobi Wine have circulated on social media, including posts...
    Incident Alert
    Bobi Wine indefinitely suspended his presidential campaign after an attack on his car. The decision follows a recent increase in...
    Incident Alert
    Bobi Wine resumed his presidential campaign after suspending it in protest of violent repression of his supporters. Read more.
    Incident Alert
    The Media Council of Uganda revoked the accreditation of all foreign journalists, requiring them to re-register within seven days...
    Incident Alert
    The Financial Intelligence Authority ordered a freeze on the bank accounts of multiple non-governmental organizations involved in...
    Incident Alert
    The Facebook page for Ghetto TV, a pro-Bobi Wine online channel known for live-streaming his campaign activities, was reportedly...
    Incident Alert
    Google rejected a request from the Uganda Communications Commission to remove over a dozen YouTube channels whose content is seen...
    Incident Alert
    The Media Council of Uganda announced that local and foreign journalists must reapply for accreditation in order to cover the...
    Incident Alert
    Opposition presidential candidate Bobi Wine was arrested for allegedly violating a coronavirus campaign ban. However, the...
    Incident Alert
    BBS TV journalist, Culton Scovia Nakamya, was arrested on December 30th alongside Bobi Wine and his campaign team. Nakamya later...
    Incident Alert
    On December 26, 2020, the Electoral Commission issued a statement prohibiting campaigning in Kampala and numerous other districts...
    Incident Alert
    Presidential candidate Patrick Amuriat was arrested and detained on alleged traffic charges. The Daily Monitor reports that it was...
    Incident Alert
    Facebook removed a network of inauthentic accounts that was manipulating online discourse ahead of the election. The network was...
    Incident Alert
    The UCC ordered ISPs to block social media and messaging apps “until further notice.” Civil society organizations confirmed that...
    Incident Alert
    Internet connectivity was disrupted nationwide as of 7 p.m. on the night before the election. Source.
  • On Uganda

    See all data, scores & information on this country or territory.

    See More
    • Global Freedom Score

      34 100 not free
    • Internet Freedom Score

      56 100 partly free
    • Date of Election

      January 14, 2021
    • Type of Election

      General
    • Internet Penetration

      32.85%
    • Population

      44.3 million
    Incident Alert
    The UCC is moving forward with enforcing a regulation that requires “online data communication and broadcasting services” to...
    New Report
    Freedom House released the new edition of Freedom on the Net, which found that President Museveni’s government continues to...
    Incident Alert
    Opposition candidate Muhammed Ssegirinya was arrested while livestreaming outside of the police station where Bobi Wine was...
    Incident Alert
    Four presidential candidates suspended their campaigns in protest of the arrest of two other candidates, Bobi Wine and Patrick...
    Incident Alert
    Anonymous reportedly hacked the Uganda Police Force website and took it offline in response to the violent police crackdown on...
    Incident Alert
    Numerous false and misleading claims about opposition candidate Bobi Wine have circulated on social media, including posts...
    Incident Alert
    Bobi Wine indefinitely suspended his presidential campaign after an attack on his car. The decision follows a recent increase in...
    Incident Alert
    Bobi Wine resumed his presidential campaign after suspending it in protest of violent repression of his supporters. Read more.
    Incident Alert
    The Media Council of Uganda revoked the accreditation of all foreign journalists, requiring them to re-register within seven days...
    Incident Alert
    The Financial Intelligence Authority ordered a freeze on the bank accounts of multiple non-governmental organizations involved in...
    Incident Alert
    The Facebook page for Ghetto TV, a pro-Bobi Wine online channel known for live-streaming his campaign activities, was reportedly...
    Incident Alert
    Google rejected a request from the Uganda Communications Commission to remove over a dozen YouTube channels whose content is seen...
    Incident Alert
    The Media Council of Uganda announced that local and foreign journalists must reapply for accreditation in order to cover the...
    Incident Alert
    Opposition presidential candidate Bobi Wine was arrested for allegedly violating a coronavirus campaign ban. However, the...
    Incident Alert
    BBS TV journalist, Culton Scovia Nakamya, was arrested on December 30th alongside Bobi Wine and his campaign team. Nakamya later...
    Incident Alert
    On December 26, 2020, the Electoral Commission issued a statement prohibiting campaigning in Kampala and numerous other districts...
    Incident Alert
    Presidential candidate Patrick Amuriat was arrested and detained on alleged traffic charges. The Daily Monitor reports that it was...
    Incident Alert
    Facebook removed a network of inauthentic accounts that was manipulating online discourse ahead of the election. The network was...
    Incident Alert
    The UCC ordered ISPs to block social media and messaging apps “until further notice.” Civil society organizations confirmed that...
    Incident Alert
    Internet connectivity was disrupted nationwide as of 7 p.m. on the night before the election. Source.
  • On Uganda

    See all data, scores & information on this country or territory.

    See More
    • Global Freedom Score

      34 100 not free
    • Internet Freedom Score

      56 100 partly free
    • Date of Election

      January 14, 2021
    • Type of Election

      General
    • Internet Penetration

      32.85%
    • Population

      44.3 million
    Incident Alert
    The UCC is moving forward with enforcing a regulation that requires “online data communication and broadcasting services” to...
    New Report
    Freedom House released the new edition of Freedom on the Net, which found that President Museveni’s government continues to...
    Incident Alert
    Opposition candidate Muhammed Ssegirinya was arrested while livestreaming outside of the police station where Bobi Wine was...
    Incident Alert
    Four presidential candidates suspended their campaigns in protest of the arrest of two other candidates, Bobi Wine and Patrick...
    Incident Alert
    Anonymous reportedly hacked the Uganda Police Force website and took it offline in response to the violent police crackdown on...
    Incident Alert
    Numerous false and misleading claims about opposition candidate Bobi Wine have circulated on social media, including posts...
    Incident Alert
    Bobi Wine indefinitely suspended his presidential campaign after an attack on his car. The decision follows a recent increase in...
    Incident Alert
    Bobi Wine resumed his presidential campaign after suspending it in protest of violent repression of his supporters. Read more.
    Incident Alert
    The Media Council of Uganda revoked the accreditation of all foreign journalists, requiring them to re-register within seven days...
    Incident Alert
    The Financial Intelligence Authority ordered a freeze on the bank accounts of multiple non-governmental organizations involved in...
    Incident Alert
    The Facebook page for Ghetto TV, a pro-Bobi Wine online channel known for live-streaming his campaign activities, was reportedly...
    Incident Alert
    Google rejected a request from the Uganda Communications Commission to remove over a dozen YouTube channels whose content is seen...
    Incident Alert
    The Media Council of Uganda announced that local and foreign journalists must reapply for accreditation in order to cover the...
    Incident Alert
    Opposition presidential candidate Bobi Wine was arrested for allegedly violating a coronavirus campaign ban. However, the...
    Incident Alert
    BBS TV journalist, Culton Scovia Nakamya, was arrested on December 30th alongside Bobi Wine and his campaign team. Nakamya later...
    Incident Alert
    On December 26, 2020, the Electoral Commission issued a statement prohibiting campaigning in Kampala and numerous other districts...
    Incident Alert
    Presidential candidate Patrick Amuriat was arrested and detained on alleged traffic charges. The Daily Monitor reports that it was...
    Incident Alert
    Facebook removed a network of inauthentic accounts that was manipulating online discourse ahead of the election. The network was...
    Incident Alert
    The UCC ordered ISPs to block social media and messaging apps “until further notice.” Civil society organizations confirmed that...
    Incident Alert
    Internet connectivity was disrupted nationwide as of 7 p.m. on the night before the election. Source.
  • On Uganda

    See all data, scores & information on this country or territory.

    See More
    • Global Freedom Score

      34 100 not free
    • Internet Freedom Score

      56 100 partly free
    • Date of Election

      January 14, 2021
    • Type of Election

      General
    • Internet Penetration

      32.85%
    • Population

      44.3 million
    Incident Alert
    The UCC is moving forward with enforcing a regulation that requires “online data communication and broadcasting services” to...
    New Report
    Freedom House released the new edition of Freedom on the Net, which found that President Museveni’s government continues to...
    Incident Alert
    Opposition candidate Muhammed Ssegirinya was arrested while livestreaming outside of the police station where Bobi Wine was...
    Incident Alert
    Four presidential candidates suspended their campaigns in protest of the arrest of two other candidates, Bobi Wine and Patrick...
    Incident Alert
    Anonymous reportedly hacked the Uganda Police Force website and took it offline in response to the violent police crackdown on...
    Incident Alert
    Numerous false and misleading claims about opposition candidate Bobi Wine have circulated on social media, including posts...
    Incident Alert
    Bobi Wine indefinitely suspended his presidential campaign after an attack on his car. The decision follows a recent increase in...
    Incident Alert
    Bobi Wine resumed his presidential campaign after suspending it in protest of violent repression of his supporters. Read more.
    Incident Alert
    The Media Council of Uganda revoked the accreditation of all foreign journalists, requiring them to re-register within seven days...
    Incident Alert
    The Financial Intelligence Authority ordered a freeze on the bank accounts of multiple non-governmental organizations involved in...
    Incident Alert
    The Facebook page for Ghetto TV, a pro-Bobi Wine online channel known for live-streaming his campaign activities, was reportedly...
    Incident Alert
    Google rejected a request from the Uganda Communications Commission to remove over a dozen YouTube channels whose content is seen...
    Incident Alert
    The Media Council of Uganda announced that local and foreign journalists must reapply for accreditation in order to cover the...
    Incident Alert
    Opposition presidential candidate Bobi Wine was arrested for allegedly violating a coronavirus campaign ban. However, the...
    Incident Alert
    BBS TV journalist, Culton Scovia Nakamya, was arrested on December 30th alongside Bobi Wine and his campaign team. Nakamya later...
    Incident Alert
    On December 26, 2020, the Electoral Commission issued a statement prohibiting campaigning in Kampala and numerous other districts...
    Incident Alert
    Presidential candidate Patrick Amuriat was arrested and detained on alleged traffic charges. The Daily Monitor reports that it was...
    Incident Alert
    Facebook removed a network of inauthentic accounts that was manipulating online discourse ahead of the election. The network was...
    Incident Alert
    The UCC ordered ISPs to block social media and messaging apps “until further notice.” Civil society organizations confirmed that...
    Incident Alert
    Internet connectivity was disrupted nationwide as of 7 p.m. on the night before the election. Source.
  • On Uganda

    See all data, scores & information on this country or territory.

    See More
    • Global Freedom Score

      34 100 not free
    • Internet Freedom Score

      56 100 partly free
    • Date of Election

      January 14, 2021
    • Type of Election

      General
    • Internet Penetration

      32.85%
    • Population

      44.3 million
    Incident Alert
    The UCC is moving forward with enforcing a regulation that requires “online data communication and broadcasting services” to...
    New Report
    Freedom House released the new edition of Freedom on the Net, which found that President Museveni’s government continues to...
    Incident Alert
    Opposition candidate Muhammed Ssegirinya was arrested while livestreaming outside of the police station where Bobi Wine was...
    Incident Alert
    Four presidential candidates suspended their campaigns in protest of the arrest of two other candidates, Bobi Wine and Patrick...
    Incident Alert
    Anonymous reportedly hacked the Uganda Police Force website and took it offline in response to the violent police crackdown on...
    Incident Alert
    Numerous false and misleading claims about opposition candidate Bobi Wine have circulated on social media, including posts...
    Incident Alert
    Bobi Wine indefinitely suspended his presidential campaign after an attack on his car. The decision follows a recent increase in...
    Incident Alert
    Bobi Wine resumed his presidential campaign after suspending it in protest of violent repression of his supporters. Read more.
    Incident Alert
    The Media Council of Uganda revoked the accreditation of all foreign journalists, requiring them to re-register within seven days...
    Incident Alert
    The Financial Intelligence Authority ordered a freeze on the bank accounts of multiple non-governmental organizations involved in...
    Incident Alert
    The Facebook page for Ghetto TV, a pro-Bobi Wine online channel known for live-streaming his campaign activities, was reportedly...
    Incident Alert
    Google rejected a request from the Uganda Communications Commission to remove over a dozen YouTube channels whose content is seen...
    Incident Alert
    The Media Council of Uganda announced that local and foreign journalists must reapply for accreditation in order to cover the...
    Incident Alert
    Opposition presidential candidate Bobi Wine was arrested for allegedly violating a coronavirus campaign ban. However, the...
    Incident Alert
    BBS TV journalist, Culton Scovia Nakamya, was arrested on December 30th alongside Bobi Wine and his campaign team. Nakamya later...
    Incident Alert
    On December 26, 2020, the Electoral Commission issued a statement prohibiting campaigning in Kampala and numerous other districts...
    Incident Alert
    Presidential candidate Patrick Amuriat was arrested and detained on alleged traffic charges. The Daily Monitor reports that it was...
    Incident Alert
    Facebook removed a network of inauthentic accounts that was manipulating online discourse ahead of the election. The network was...
    Incident Alert
    The UCC ordered ISPs to block social media and messaging apps “until further notice.” Civil society organizations confirmed that...
    Incident Alert
    Internet connectivity was disrupted nationwide as of 7 p.m. on the night before the election. Source.
  • On Uganda

    See all data, scores & information on this country or territory.

    See More
    • Global Freedom Score

      34 100 not free
    • Internet Freedom Score

      56 100 partly free
    • Date of Election

      January 14, 2021
    • Type of Election

      General
    • Internet Penetration

      32.85%
    • Population

      44.3 million
    Incident Alert
    The UCC is moving forward with enforcing a regulation that requires “online data communication and broadcasting services” to...
    New Report
    Freedom House released the new edition of Freedom on the Net, which found that President Museveni’s government continues to...
    Incident Alert
    Opposition candidate Muhammed Ssegirinya was arrested while livestreaming outside of the police station where Bobi Wine was...
    Incident Alert
    Four presidential candidates suspended their campaigns in protest of the arrest of two other candidates, Bobi Wine and Patrick...
    Incident Alert
    Anonymous reportedly hacked the Uganda Police Force website and took it offline in response to the violent police crackdown on...
    Incident Alert
    Numerous false and misleading claims about opposition candidate Bobi Wine have circulated on social media, including posts...
    Incident Alert
    Bobi Wine indefinitely suspended his presidential campaign after an attack on his car. The decision follows a recent increase in...
    Incident Alert
    Bobi Wine resumed his presidential campaign after suspending it in protest of violent repression of his supporters. Read more.
    Incident Alert
    The Media Council of Uganda revoked the accreditation of all foreign journalists, requiring them to re-register within seven days...
    Incident Alert
    The Financial Intelligence Authority ordered a freeze on the bank accounts of multiple non-governmental organizations involved in...
    Incident Alert
    The Facebook page for Ghetto TV, a pro-Bobi Wine online channel known for live-streaming his campaign activities, was reportedly...
    Incident Alert
    Google rejected a request from the Uganda Communications Commission to remove over a dozen YouTube channels whose content is seen...
    Incident Alert
    The Media Council of Uganda announced that local and foreign journalists must reapply for accreditation in order to cover the...
    Incident Alert
    Opposition presidential candidate Bobi Wine was arrested for allegedly violating a coronavirus campaign ban. However, the...
    Incident Alert
    BBS TV journalist, Culton Scovia Nakamya, was arrested on December 30th alongside Bobi Wine and his campaign team. Nakamya later...
    Incident Alert
    On December 26, 2020, the Electoral Commission issued a statement prohibiting campaigning in Kampala and numerous other districts...
    Incident Alert
    Presidential candidate Patrick Amuriat was arrested and detained on alleged traffic charges. The Daily Monitor reports that it was...
    Incident Alert
    Facebook removed a network of inauthentic accounts that was manipulating online discourse ahead of the election. The network was...
    Incident Alert
    The UCC ordered ISPs to block social media and messaging apps “until further notice.” Civil society organizations confirmed that...
    Incident Alert
    Internet connectivity was disrupted nationwide as of 7 p.m. on the night before the election. Source.
  • Burkina Faso

    header1 Country Overview

    Burkinabè will vote in November in the second presidential and legislative elections since Blaise Campaoré’s 27-year regime was overthrown in 2014. Over 20 candidates filed for the first round of the 2020 presidential contest, including numerous prominent figures such as incumbent president Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, whose People’s Movement for Progress (MPP) party holds a plurality in parliament; Zephirin Diabré of the opposition Union for Progress and Change (UPC) party; and former prime minister Yacouba Isaac Zida, who now lives in Canada and could face charges for desertion should he return to Burkina Faso.

    header2 Preelection assessment

    The election takes place amid a deterioration in security that, as of August 2020, has forced over a million Burkinabè to flee their homes. Insecurity —driven in large part by militant groups operating in the north and east of the country—is a major challenge to the electoral environment, making it unsafe to campaign and limiting access to polls in some areas. The government has responded to the security situation by criminalizing speech that “demoralizes” the security forces. A new law allows the Constitutional Court to certify election results based on incomplete returns in cases of “force majeure or exceptional circumstances,” potentially disenfranchising thousands of people residing in northern rural areas where voting is likely to be disrupted due to violence. These regions are also home to large populations of ethnic and religious groups that have been historically underrepresented in politics and government.

    Burkina Faso has a score of 65 out of 100, with 100 representing the least vulnerable in terms of election integrity, on Freedom House’s Election Vulnerability Index, which is based on a selection of key election-related indicators. Burkina Faso’s score reflects generally credible and competitive recent elections and a relatively robust environment for media and civil society, despite significant security challenges that threaten the democratic gains made in recent years. The country is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2020, with a score of 56 out of 100 with respect to its political rights and civil liberties. To learn more about this annual Freedom House assessment, please visit the Burkina Faso country report for Freedom in the World.

    Freedom House has identified the following as key issues to watch ahead of election day:

    • Arrests and prosecutions: Individuals are sometimes arrested for their online activity, including in relation to a 2019 revision of the penal code that criminalized the dissemination of information related to terrorist attacks and speech that “demoralizes the defense and security forces.” Given the close ties between security and elections issues, the use of this law could hinder election-related media coverage and online discussion.
    • Blocking websites: The recently amended penal code permits the blocking of websites or email addresses that disseminate alleged false information. The provision is subject to judicial oversight, but any legal avenue for blocking is cause for concern and the Burkinabè judiciary sometimes suffers from political interference.

    Download the preelection assessment PDF.

    A Digital Sphere

    B Electoral System and Political Participation

    C Human Rights

    On Burkina Faso

    See all data, scores & information on this country or territory.

    See More
    • Global Freedom Score

      56 100 partly free
    • Date of Election

      November 22, 2020
    • Type of Election

      General
    • Internet Penetration

      17.50%
    • Population

      20.3 million
  • Côte d'Ivoire

    header1 Country Overview

    President Alassane Ouattara has backtracked on an earlier promise to step down after completing two terms. The reversal came after Ouattara’s preferred successor, Amadou Gon Coulibaly, died suddenly in July. Opponents have criticized the move as unconstitutional, whereas Outtara and his Rally of the Republicans party have argued that the adoption of a new constitution in 2016 reset his terms in office. The move has sparked political unrest: at least a dozen people have died and over one hundred were injured during clashes, while dozens have been arrested.

    header2 Preelection assessment

    Recent political fractures make for a competitive and contentious election. Presidential candidate (and former president) Henri Konan Bédié, who belongs to the Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire, split with Ouatarra in 2018. Outtara first won the presidency in 2010, but then-president Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede, plunging the country into a crisis that left more than 3,000 dead. In 2019, the International Criminal Court acquitted Gbagbo of crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the post-election conflict. He is now on conditional release and while the verdict is appealed by the prosecutor.

    Meanwhile, Gbagbo and Guillaume Soro, a former ally of Ouattara and rebel commander during the Ivorian Civil War, have both been barred from running in October. Gbagbo’s party, the Ivorian Popular Front, nominated former prime minister Pascal Affi N'Guessan as their candidate. In September, Bédié called for civil disobedience ahead of the vote and for Gbagbo and Soro to return to Côte d’Ivoire. Civil disobedience and protests may result in violence, given security forces’ frequent use of force against protesters and the especially tense political environment.

    Côte d’Ivoire has a score of 54 out of 100, with 100 representing the least vulnerability in terms of election integrity, on Freedom House’s Election Vulnerability Index, which is based on selection of key election-related indicators. Côte d’Ivoire’s score reflects relatively weak rule of law and strained political and electoral conditions. The country is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2020, with a score of 51 out of 100 with respect to its political rights and civil liberties. To learn more about Freedom House’s annual assessment, please visit the Côte d’Ivoire country report in Freedom in the World.

    Freedom House has identified the following as key issues to watch ahead of election day:

    • Hate speech and violence: The heightened political tensions create a high-risk environment for hate speech and incitement to violence. Given the ongoing intercommunal and ethnic conflicts in Côte d’Ivoire, as well as the history of electoral violence in 2010-11, the potential for election-related incitement along ethnic lines should be closely watched.
    • Arrests and prosecutions: The June 2019 criminal code includes a provision criminalizing false news “that results or could result in disturbance to public order” or “causing offense to the president or vice-president.” The vague nature of the provision and personalized exception to free expression make this law ripe for abuse and politicized application, particularly during a tense electoral period.

    Download the preelection assessment PDF.

    A Digital Sphere

    B Electoral System and Political Participation

    C Human Rights

    On Côte d'Ivoire

    See all data, scores & information on this country or territory.

    See More
    • Global Freedom Score

      51 100 partly free
    • Date of Election

      October 31, 2020
    • Type of Election

      Presidential
    • Internet Penetration

      44.89%
    • Population

      25.5 million
  • Ecuador

    header1 Country Overview

    February’s legislative and presidential elections are widely seen as a determining moment for the trajectory of Ecuadorian democracy. President Lenín Moreno faces a dismal approval rating and will not run for a second term. The political field is highly fractured; no less than 17 candidates are vying for the presidency and a coalition of several parties will be necessary for control of the National Assembly. Legal disputes, economic mismanagement, and policy failures around the COVID-19 pandemic have compounded to create a highly contentious climate ahead of the vote.

    header2 Preelection assessment

    The previous president, Raphael Correa, remains a highly influential figure in the political scene, despite his self-exile in Belgium and a tenure marked by attacks on civil society and the media. Correa is prohibited from running for president by a 2018 referendum that reinstated term limits only four years after the pro-Correa legislature voted to remove them. In April, a court sentenced him in absentia to eight years in prison and a ban on engaging in politics for 25 years over bribery and corruption, throwing his vice presidential bid into doubt. The legislative contest is also mired in legal uncertainty. The National Electoral Council suspended the registration of four political parties in July, including Correa’s Social Commitment Movement, only for the decision to be overturned by the Election Dispute Tribunal in August.

    Ecuador has a score of 61 out of 100, with 100 representing the least vulnerability in terms of election integrity, on Freedom House’s Election Vulnerability Index, which is based on a selection of key election-related indicators. The score reflects limitations on free expression online and offline, but a relatively strong environment for elections and activities of political parties. The country is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2020, with a score of 65 out of 100 with respect to its political rights and civil liberties, and Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2020, with an internet freedom score of 57 out of 100. To learn more about these annual Freedom House assessments, please visit the Ecuador country reports in Freedom in the World and Freedom on the Net.

    Freedom House has identified the following as key issues to watch ahead of election day:

    • Influence operations: False and misleading content is likely to proliferate ahead of the election, given a history of influence operations by the country’s current and former political leaders. Correa and his allies reportedly used messaging groups to coordinate the dissemination of false and doctored content about the government response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the use of paid progovernment commentators is reduced under the Moreno administration, Twitter removed a network of inauthentic accounts linked to the ruling party in 2019.
    • Content removal: Copyright law is frequently exploited for political censorship, with the government requesting several news sites be removed by their hosting companies. The government also has a history of seeking content and account removals on social media platforms. Politicized targeting of news outlets could impact voters’ access to information ahead of the election.
    • Harassment and violence: Political tensions will likely exacerbate instances of harassment against media workers and candidates representing marginalized groups ahead of the election. In February 2020, the founder of a political news channel on Facebook. Women candidates and Afro-Ecuadorians are disproportionately subject to harassment online.
    • Cyberattacks: Media outlets and numerous candidates were targeted with cyberattacks during the 2017 campaign period, and media outlets have been hacked in the years since. Digital security remains a potential vulnerability ahead of the 2021 election.

     

    Download the preelection assessment PDF.

    A Digital Sphere

    B Electoral System and Political Participation

    C Human Rights

    On Ecuador

    See all data, scores & information on this country or territory.

    See More
    • Global Freedom Score

      65 100 partly free
    • Internet Freedom Score

      57 100 partly free
    • Date of Election

      February 7, 2021
    • Type of Election

      General
    • Internet Penetration

      68.14%
    • Population

      17.3 million
  • El Salvador

    header1 Country Overview

    The full preelection assessment for this country will be posted as soon as it becomes available.

    header2 Preelection assessment

    The full preelection assessment for this country will be posted as soon as it becomes available.

    A Digital Sphere

    B Electoral System and Political Participation

    C Human Rights

    On El Salvador

    See all data, scores & information on this country or territory.

    See More
    • Global Freedom Score

      66 100 partly free
    • Date of Election

      February 28, 2021
    • Type of Election

      Legislative
    • Internet Penetration

      46.41%
    • Population

      6.5 million
  • Georgia

    header1 Country Overview

    Georgia’s October election is expected to be highly competitive, despite recent democratic backsliding. It is the first election under a new, mixed proportional-majoritarian system, which is intended to reduce polarization and level the playing field for opposition parties. United National Movement (UNM), the former ruling party, is widely seen as the most serious challenger to the ruling Georgian Dream party.

    header2 Preelection assessment

    Informal power plays a significant role in the Georgian political landscape as demonstrated by the influence of oligarchs, former prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili’s continued leadership of Georgian Dream, and former president Mikheil Saakashvili’s control of the UNM. The impact of informal power is clearly seen in the media, which is highly partisan. The October vote is likely to feature many of the challenges reported in previous elections, including the misuse of administrative resources and various forms of vote buying and intimidation.

    Georgia has a score of 68 out of 100, with 100 representing the least vulnerability in terms of election integrity, on Freedom House’s Election Vulnerability Index, which is based on a selection of key election-related indicators. Georgia’s score reflects relatively well-administered elections; politicized institutions, including the media and judiciary; and inconsistent respect for the right to protest. The country is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2020, with a score of 61 out of 100 with respect to its political rights and civil liberties; Free in Freedom on the Net 2019, with an internet freedom score of 75 out of 100; and as a transitional or hybrid regime in Nations in Transit 2020, with a score of 38 out of 100 for the country’s democratic progress. To learn more about these annual Freedom House assessments, please visit the Georgia country reports for Freedom in the World, Freedom on the Net, and Nations in Transit.

    Freedom House has identified the following as key issues to watch ahead of election day:

    • Influence operations: There is substantial evidence that the government and other domestic and foreign political actors have carried out online influence campaigns, particularly during politically sensitive moments. Ruling and opposition parties were involved in online influence campaigns during the 2018 presidential election. More recently, in April 2020, Facebook removed hundreds of Facebook and Instagram accounts, groups, and pages affiliated with the Georgian Dream and UNM. Several influence operations have been tied to the Russian government and pro-Russian actors. Influence campaigns are highly likely during the 2020 election, but the potentially broad range of sources makes their impact difficult to predict.
    • Cyberattacks: The Georgian government, private websites, the media, and financial institutions have been targeted by numerous high-profile cyberattacks from domestic and foreign sources in recent years. An attack in October 2019 that affected over 2,000 government and private websites was subsequently linked to Russia’s GRU. Despite the Georgian government’s efforts to combat hacking and other cybersecurity threats, digital security remains a potential flashpoint in the pre-election period.

    Download the preelection assessment PDF.

    A Digital Sphere

    B Electoral System and Political Participation

    C Human Rights

    News and Updates
    New Report

    Georgia’s net score did not change in the new edition of Freedom on the Net, but the report documented increases in the number of cyberattacks and in domestic content manipulation. Read the Georgia report.

    On Georgia

    See all data, scores & information on this country or territory.

    See More
    • Global Freedom Score

      61 100 partly free
    • Internet Freedom Score

      76 100 free
    • Date of Election

      October 31, 2020
    • Type of Election

      Parliamentary
    • Internet Penetration

      63.81%
    • Population

      4.0 million
  • Jordan

    header1 Country Overview

    Jordan’s parliamentary elections will take place following a year of tumultuous anti-government protests, which were tamped down by the country’s COVID-19 restrictions. The upper house of parliament, the Senate, is appointed by the king, while the lower chamber, the House of Representatives, is up for election.

    header2 Preelection assessment

    Candidates typically run as independents and are often tribal figures or businesspeople considered loyal to the monarchy. Despite the dissolution of the Jordanian chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood in July, its political arm, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), remains the country’s largest opposition party and will participate in the November elections. The IAF won 10 seats in the 2016 election after having boycotted the previous two votes.

    Jordanians regularly self-censor when speaking publicly on sensitive political topics and the monarchy. Organizers of the protest movement have been arrested and prosecuted over the past year. Journalists are sometimes targeted with harassment and assault in response to their reporting, and the government has pressured editors of news websites and online activists to delete articles and social media posts. Jordan’s COVID-19 response may further impact these rights ahead of the election, as emergency provisions have introduced new limits on free expression and movement. Recent attempts to amend the punitive Cybercrime Law to criminalize vaguely defined terms including rumors, false news, and hate speech also demonstrate the government’s continued pressure on free expression.

    Jordan has a score of 40 out of 100, with 100 representing the least vulnerable in terms of election integrity, on Freedom House’s Election Vulnerability Index, which is based on a selection of key election-related indicators. Jordan’s score reflects a broadly restrictive environment for free expression, assembly, and political engagement. The country is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2020, with a score of 37 out of 100 with respect to its political rights and civil liberties, and Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2020, with an internet freedom score of 49 out of 100. To learn more about these annual Freedom House assessments, please visit the Jordan country reports for Freedom in the World and Freedom on the Net.

    Freedom House has identified the following as key issues to watch ahead of election day:

    • Cyberattacks: Multiple politically consequential cyberattacks have occurred in recent years, including the hacking of social media accounts belonging to the deputy head of the teachers’ union in 2019 and the speaker of the House of Representatives in 2018. In July 2019, the official website of the Constitutional Court was compromised by an “international hacker.” This history of politically related cyberattacks suggests similar incidents may be seen during the electoral period.
    • Arrests and prosecutions: There are several laws, including criminal defamation and lèse-majesté, that can be used to punish nonviolent political and social expression ahead of the election, and the government sometimes issues gag orders that restrict reporting on sensitive subjects. Numerous activists and critics have faced charges of insulting the royal family and undermining the regime in the past year for social media posts that criticized Jordanian leadership.
    • Connectivity disruptions: Jordanian authorities may have interfered with internet access in the past. In July, NetBlocks reported that Facebook’s live-streaming service was restricted for a few hours during protests. Facebook Live allegedly experienced disruptions during demonstrations in December 2018 and January 2019 as well. These incidents may signal a willingness on the part of the government to repeat similar restrictions during politically tense moments or demonstrations related to the elections.

    Download the preelection assessment PDF.

    A Digital Sphere

    B Electoral System and Political Participation

    C Human Rights

    News and Updates
    New Report

    Freedom House released the new edition of Freedom on the Net, which found that internet freedom in Jordan improved slightly. Read the Jordan report.

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    • Global Freedom Score

      37 100 partly free
    • Internet Freedom Score

      49 100 partly free
    • Date of Election

      November 10, 2020
    • Type of Election

      Parliamentary
    • Internet Penetration

      76.90%
    • Population

      10.4 million
  • Moldova

    header1 Country Overview

    Moldovans will vote this November in the country’s second presidential elections since the country switched back to a direct electoral system in 2016. Igor Dodon of the Socialist Party (PSRM) is running for reelection against former prime minister Maia Sandu of the Action and Solidarity Party (PAS), and other, less-popular candidates. The PSRM and PAS were recently allied in an unlikely coalition government, which was formed in 2019 to remove the oligarchic regime built by the Democratic Party of Moldova (PDM) since it came to power in 2015. PDM leader and oligarch Vladimir Plahotnuic fled the country after stepping down.

    header2 Preelection assessment

    Despite the removal of Plahotniuc’s kleptocratic government, Moldovan democracy remains characterized by corruption, a politicized judiciary, and limited transparency. Oligarchic influence affects the electoral environment through the poorly regulated media sphere, where ownership and control is concentrated, reporting is highly partisan, and journalists self-censor. TV is the dominant source of news, so partisan manipulation of traditional media marks the overall information environment. Moldova’s highly politicized relationship with Russia and Europe is also reflected in the media sphere. The November vote is likely to feature many of the issues seen in past elections, including vote buying, misuse of public resources, and tension around voting access for residents of Transnistria, a breakaway territory.

    Moldova has a score of 65 out of 100, with 100 representing the least vulnerable in terms of election integrity, on Freedom House’s Election Vulnerability Index, which is based on a selection of key election-related indicators. Moldova’s score reflects weak institutions and rule of law. The country is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2020, with a score of 60 out of 100 with respect to its political rights and civil liberties, and as a transitional or hybrid regime in Nations in Transit 2020, with a score of 35 out of 100 for the country’s democratic progress. To learn more about these annual Freedom House assessments, please visit the Moldova country reports for Freedom in the World and Nations in Transit.

    Freedom House has identified the following as key issues to watch ahead of election day:

    • False or misleading information: Propaganda and disinformation have been observed in past elections and should be expected during the 2020 electoral period, both from domestic and foreign sources. A study by the Center for Media, Data and Society found that misinformation often originates from the mainstream media and official channels, such as government officials or influential business people, rather than inauthentic websites. A number of the accounts that Facebook removed for spreading false and misleading information ahead of the 2019 parliamentary elections belonged to government officials. The significant number of Russian-speakers in the country also increases the potential reach of Russian-language misinformation.
    • Influence operations: A 2019 report by the Oxford Internet Institute identified online manipulation campaigns by government agencies and political parties. So-called “cyber troopers” took to Facebook and Instagram to support particular narratives, attack the political opposition, and stoke division. Various influence operations have also targeted discourse about Moldova’s relationship with Russia and Europe. Inauthentic accounts on Facebook and Instagram that originated in Moldova engaged in manipulative tactics during the 2019 parliamentary elections, and Russian-backed online media manipulation has also been reported. Similar domestic and foreign online influence campaigns are likely during the 2020 electoral period.
    • Cyberattacks: Cyberattacks are a frequent concern for civil society and electoral bodies. During the 2019 parliamentary elections, the Central Electoral Commission was targeted with DDos attacks, apparently in an attempt to interfere with the publication of preliminary election results. Election-related cyberattacks are likely in 2020, given the overall prevalence of digital security threats and their deployment during past elections.

    Download the preelection assessment PDF.

    A Digital Sphere

    B Electoral System and Political Participation

    C Human Rights

    On Moldova

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    • Global Freedom Score

      60 100 partly free
    • Date of Election

      November 1, 2020
    • Type of Election

      Presidential
    • Internet Penetration

      73.56%
    • Population

      3.5 million
  • Myanmar

    header1 Country Overview

    Myanmar held its first open and competitive elections in 2015. After decades of military rule, Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) handily defeated the military-linked Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). Suu Kyi is barred from the presidency under citizenship rules but serves as de facto leader and heads several key portfolios. Under the constitution, the military controls 25 percent of legislative seats and oversees the country’s ministries of defense, home affairs, and border affairs.

    header2 Preelection assessment

    General elections scheduled for November 2020 will see the NLD again face the USDP, as well as numerous ethnic parties. Harassment, prosecution, and surveillance of the media and civil society contribute to a tenuous electoral environment, as well as doubts over the independence of the election commission, the reliability of voter rolls, and early voting procedures. Buddhist nationalism features prominently in Burmese politics, and the country’s citizenship and electoral laws disenfranchise many members of ethnic minorities, including the predominantly Muslim Rohingyas. Over 700,000 Rohingya refugees fled to neighboring Bangladesh in response to the military’s ethnic cleansing campaign in 2017. Ongoing conflict between the military and various ethnic armed organizations remains a threat to peaceful election administration in several areas of the country. Internet penetration stands at approximately 35 percent, leaving many voters reliant on progovernment television and radio outlets for news and information and exacerbating the digital divide, particularly in rural areas.

    Myanmar has a score of 35 out of 100, with 100 representing the least vulnerability in terms of election integrity, on Freedom House’s Election Vulnerability Index, which is based on a selection of key election-related indicators. Myanmar’s score reflects limits on free expression and ongoing conflict and human rights abuses against religious and ethnic minorities. It is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2020, with a score of 30 out of 100 with respect to its political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in Freedom on the Net, with an internet freedom score of 36 out of 100. To learn more about these annual Freedom House assessments, please visit the Myanmar country reports in Freedom in the World and Freedom on the Net.

    Freedom House has identified the following as key issues to watch ahead of election day:

    • Hate speech and violence: The internet is an important vector for violence and hatred against Myanmar’s marginalized groups. Investigators concluded that false rumors and incendiary speech shared on social media, notably Facebook, played a role in the atrocities against the Rohingya. Political leaders, the military, and religious extremists may continue to stoke hatred and violence online in the lead-up to the election, heightening tensions in Myanmar.
    • Shutdowns: A partial internet shutdown in villages in Rakhine and Chin states has been in place for over a year. The shutdown hinders residents’ access to electoral resources, and may signal a willingness on the part of the government to extend similar shutdowns to other parts of the country during a political crisis.
    • Influence operations: The military has a record of surreptitiously manipulating online discourses in Myanmar. An influence campaign by the military was reported around the 2018 by-elections, while nearly 700 military officers allegedly participated in a multi-year Facebook operation. The prevalence of information campaigns in past years suggests they are likely to occur during the 2020 election.
    • Censorship: Having previously refrained from blocking online content, in March 2020 the government ordered service providers to restrict access to several independent and regional news outlets known for reporting on developments in conflict areas. The dramatic escalation in censorship in an election year demonstrates that the governing authorities may not be shy to enact more censorial tactics to secure the election.
    • Arrests and intimidation: Activists, online journalists, and members of civil society face criminal charges for their online activities, particularly when criticizing the government, public officials, and the military. Violence and intimidation are especially common in relation to politically sensitive issues, such as the Rohingya crisis.

    Download the preelection assessment PDF.

    A Digital Sphere

    B Electoral System and Political Participation

    C Human Rights

    News and Updates
    Incident Alert

    Burmese election officials said the vote would go ahead as scheduled, following a request from the USDP to postpone it due a spike in COVID-19 cases. The rise in cases draws attention to the logistical challenges the pandemic poses for sound election administration. Read more.

    Incident Alert

    Two political parties accused the UEC of censoring their campaign speeches before being broadcast on state TV and radio. The UEC allegedly removed politically sensitive topics related to ethnicity, socioeconomic issues, and government policy. Read more.

    Incident Alert

    The government deemed journalism a “nonessential business,” meaning journalists are subject to COVID-19 movement restrictions in many parts of the country, including Yangon. This restriction potentially limits journalists’ ability to report on developments during the electoral period. Read more.

    New Report

    Freedom House released the new edition of Freedom on the Net, which found that internet freedom in Myanmar declined dramatically as the government ramped up censorship ahead of the elections. Read the Myanmar report.

    Incident Alert

    A study released by Burma Human Rights Network reported 39 cases of hate speech and disinformation, some of which were shared over 2,000 times on various social media platforms, ahead of the elections. Anti-Muslim hate speech and disinformation featured prominently in these posts. Read more.

    Incident Alert

    Myanmar’s government allegedly issued a directive to extend the mobile internet service restrictions in Rakhine and Chin states until the end of the year. The restriction was originally set to end on October 31st. Read more.

    Incident Alert

    The Union Election Commission removed the Union Democratic Party from the list of registered political parties due to alleged violation of party registration laws, preventing any of the party’s candidates from contesting the election. Read more.

    On Myanmar

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    • Global Freedom Score

      30 100 not free
    • Internet Freedom Score

      31 100 not free
    • Date of Election

      November 8, 2020
    • Type of Election

      General
    • Internet Penetration

      34.84%
    • Population

      54.0 million
  • Uganda

    header1 Country Overview

    Presidential candidate Yoweri Museveni has been in power since 1986. His National Resistance Movement (NRM) government has increasingly relied on the misuse of state resources, political patronage, and repression in order to maintain authority. Security forces have been heavily deployed during previous election periods in order to violently disperse protests and intimidate or arrest opposition supporters. Presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, better known as Bobi Wine, and several other opposition personalities have been regularly targeted with physical and legal harassment, as well as surveillance. Journalists have routinely faced pressure and prosecution from the police and interference from the state media regulator, the Uganda Communications Commission.

    header2 Preelection assessment

    Since public gatherings are banned due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the electoral commission has pushed candidates to conduct their campaigns online, leading Ugandans to dub the upcoming vote a “scientific election.” Social media, which was briefly blocked during the previous election, will again serve as an important source of diverse reporting and independent information. However, given that internet penetration is estimated at only 23 percent, the emphasis on online campaigning could exacerbate existing digital divides, particularly in rural areas.

    Uganda has a score of 43 out of 100, with 100 representing the least vulnerability in terms of election integrity, on Freedom House’s Election Vulnerability Index, which is based on a selection of key election-related indicators. Uganda’s score reflects problems with the integrity of past elections and the political environment, degraded media freedom and rule of law, and shrinking space for protests and nongovernmental organizations. The country is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2020, with a score of 34 out of 100 with respect to its political rights and civil liberties, and Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2019, with an internet freedom score of 56 out of 100. To learn more about these annual Freedom House assessments, please visit the Uganda country reports in Freedom in the World and Freedom on the Net.

    Freedom House has identified the following as key issues to watch ahead of election day:

    • Arrests and prosecutions: Journalists and political activists are often arrested, prosecuted, or threatened with prosecution after criticizing the government online. There is potential for an uptick in arrests for political speech as the election approaches in order to silence opponents and others online.
    • Blocking social media: The government cut off access to Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp for four days during the 2016 elections. Though social media restrictions have not been repeated since then, the move may signal a willingness on the part of the government to implement similar restrictions on social media and messaging apps in the future, especially during the electoral period.
    • Hate speech: Hate speech, particularly along ethnic lines, is a concern heading into the electoral period. Voter and opposition intimidation have been a problem in the past, and an uptick in hate speech could contribute to an intimidating environment.
    • Influence operations: Researchers documented evidence of bot activity during the 2016 election to amplify posts in favor of President Museveni. There have been no confirmed reports of the government paying individuals to surreptitiously manipulate online discussions. However, this election could still see a rise in coordinated inauthentic behavior, given the booming and unregulated industry for such services around the continent.

    Download the preelection assessment PDF.

    A Digital Sphere

    B Electoral System and Political Participation

    C Human Rights

    News and Updates
    Incident Alert

    The UCC is moving forward with enforcing a regulation that requires “online data communication and broadcasting services” to register with commission. A UCC spokesperson said sites that fail to meet the October 5 registration deadline will be blocked. Read more.

    New Report

    Freedom House released the new edition of Freedom on the Net, which found that President Museveni’s government continues to tighten its grasp on internet users in Uganda through financial and regulatory constraints, as well as by prosecuting voices of dissent. Read the Uganda report.

    Incident Alert

    Opposition candidate Muhammed Ssegirinya was arrested while livestreaming outside of the police station where Bobi Wine was detained, and was charged with “inciting violence.” Ssegirinya’s lawyer said that the charges are for filming evidence of police violence during Bobi Wine’s arrest.” Read more.

    Incident Alert

    Four presidential candidates suspended their campaigns in protest of the arrest of two other candidates, Bobi Wine and Patrick Amuriat. Read more.

    Incident Alert

    Anonymous reportedly hacked the Uganda Police Force website and took it offline in response to the violent police crackdown on protesters. Read more.

    Incident Alert

    Numerous false and misleading claims about opposition candidate Bobi Wine have circulated on social media, including posts claiming that he has died, that President Barack Obama and President-elect Joe Biden have demanded his release, and that President Donald Trump has endorsed his candidacy.

    Incident Alert

    Bobi Wine indefinitely suspended his presidential campaign after an attack on his car. The decision follows a recent increase in repression and violence against his supporters. Read more.

    Incident Alert

    Bobi Wine resumed his presidential campaign after suspending it in protest of violent repression of his supporters. Read more.

    Incident Alert

    The Media Council of Uganda revoked the accreditation of all foreign journalists, requiring them to re-register within seven days. Source.

    Incident Alert

    The Financial Intelligence Authority ordered a freeze on the bank accounts of multiple non-governmental organizations involved in good governance work over alleged terrorist financing. Sources report the move may be politically motivated. Source.

    Incident Alert

    The Facebook page for Ghetto TV, a pro-Bobi Wine online channel known for live-streaming his campaign activities, was reportedly hacked and deleted. The account was previously hacked in August. Source.

    Incident Alert

    Google rejected a request from the Uganda Communications Commission to remove over a dozen YouTube channels whose content is seen as sympathetic to opposition candidate Bobi Wine. Source.

    Incident Alert

    The Media Council of Uganda announced that local and foreign journalists must reapply for accreditation in order to cover the elections. Failure to register by the December 30 deadline could result in criminal charges. Source.

    Incident Alert

    Opposition presidential candidate Bobi Wine was arrested for allegedly violating a coronavirus campaign ban. However, the restrictions did not apply to the location where Wine was campaigning, suggesting that the arrest was politically motivated. Source.

    Incident Alert

    BBS TV journalist, Culton Scovia Nakamya, was arrested on December 30th alongside Bobi Wine and his campaign team. Nakamya later confirmed that police said she incited violence by posting updates about Bobi Wine’s arrest on social media. Source.

    Incident Alert

    On December 26, 2020, the Electoral Commission issued a statement prohibiting campaigning in Kampala and numerous other districts and cities due to rising COVID-19 infection rates. Analysts and opposition parties argue that the ban is intended to obstruct the opposition.

    Incident Alert

    Presidential candidate Patrick Amuriat was arrested and detained on alleged traffic charges. The Daily Monitor reports that it was his ninth arrest since the Forum for Democratic Change nominated him as their candidate. Source.

    Incident Alert

    Facebook removed a network of inauthentic accounts that was manipulating online discourse ahead of the election. The network was linked to the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology, and several government officials’ accounts were removed, as were those of other progovernment figures. Source.

    Incident Alert

    The UCC ordered ISPs to block social media and messaging apps “until further notice.” Civil society organizations confirmed that restrictions on Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and other platforms have been enacted. Source.

    Incident Alert

    Internet connectivity was disrupted nationwide as of 7 p.m. on the night before the election. Source.

    On Uganda

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    • Global Freedom Score

      34 100 not free
    • Internet Freedom Score

      56 100 partly free
    • Date of Election

      January 14, 2021
    • Type of Election

      General
    • Internet Penetration

      32.85%
    • Population

      44.3 million
  • United States

    header1 Country Overview

    The November vote is one of the most consequential in recent history for the well-being of American democracy. In the presidential contest, incumbent Donald Trump of the Republican Party is running for a second term against former vice president Joe Biden of the Democratic Party. All 435 seats in the Democrat-led lower chamber of Congress, the House of Representatives, are up for election, as are a third of the seats in the Republican-controlled upper chamber, the Senate.

    header2 Preelection assessment

    Contributing to preelection tensions are the significant administrative challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and Trump’s repeated refusal to commit to respecting the outcome of the vote if he were to lose—a stance that is without precedent in the United States. A scenario in which two presidential candidates claim victory after a close or dysfunctional election could be destabilizing, potentially prompting clashes between protesters and police, extended court cases that leave election results in limbo beyond constitutional deadlines, false claims of fraud and disinformation about the integrity of vote totals, or even armed violence by extremist groups.

    The United States has experienced a multiyear decline in its democratic norms and institutions, with growing pressure on election integrity, judicial independence, and safeguards against corruption. Partisan manipulation of the electoral process is partly responsible for the degraded quality of elections. A swell of Republican-led efforts to alter voting rules—including onerous voter identification laws and changes in the number and location of polling sites—followed the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision to strike down a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. This push is viewed by many experts as an attempt to suppress voting by demographic groups that are seen as likely to support Democratic candidates; the resulting disenfranchisement exacerbates a persistent problem that has historically centered on Black voters, but also affects Hispanic communities, Native Americans, students, low-income voters, and others.

    In addition to complicating the electoral process overall, inadequate adjustments to voting procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic may compound these existing disparities. Meanwhile, the Federal Election Commission (FEC), which enforces campaign finance law in federal elections, has not been able to meet regularly for over a year due to multiple vacancies. The electoral environment has also been undermined by disinformation and other attempts to manipulate the information landscape by both domestic and foreign actors.

    The United States has a score of 79 out of 100, with 100 representing the least vulnerability in terms of election integrity, on Freedom House’s Election Vulnerability Index, which is based on a selection of key election-related indicators. The US score reflects problems with past elections and with the rule of law, including judicial independence, due process, and equal treatment. The country is rated Free in Freedom in the World 2020, with a score of 86 out of 100 with respect to its political rights and civil liberties, and Free in Freedom on the Net 2019, with an internet freedom score of 77 out of 100. To learn more about these annual Freedom House assessments, please visit the United States country reports for Freedom in the World and Freedom on the Net.

    Freedom House has identified the following as key issues to watch ahead of election day:

    • False or misleading information: Though there is a broad range of incorrect information online, false and misleading content about election integrity poses a direct threat to democracy. President Trump himself has fueled such narratives, engaging in baseless attacks on the security of mail-in voting and repeatedly alleging mass fraud without offering any credible evidence. Such claims, particularly by political leaders, undermine the public’s faith in the electoral process and set the stage for politicians and their supporters to reject the legitimacy of unfavorable results.
    • Incitement and violence: In response to clashes between protesters and police during racial justice demonstrations that ramped up in late May, the president issued a series of threatening posts on social media, including a warning that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”—a phrase associated with police violence against civil rights protesters in the 1960s. Twitter flagged the post for “glorifying violence.” During the September 29 presidential debate, after the moderator urged Trump to tell white supremacist groups to “stand down” and not contribute to the protest-related violence, Trump called on one group to “stand back and stand by.” The organization in question reportedly interpreted the comment—which Trump amended under pressure in the following days—as a directive to prepare for action and touted it widely on social media. Trump frequently calls out journalists and prominent critics by name, often on Twitter. Those he identifies, as well as others who challenge him, are in many cases harassed, doxed, or threatened online by the president’s supporters. Such inflammatory remarks by the president, as well as other threatening online discourse, could encourage security forces or private militias and individuals to commit violent acts against protesters, voters, election workers, and other perceived opponents during the 2020 election period. QAnon, an online extremist movement centered on conspiracy theories that elevate Trump as a heroic leader against the forces of evil, has already been linked to multiple instances of violence.
    • Influence operations: Several domestic and foreign influence operations have already been identified online ahead of the elections. A domestic influence campaign using spam-like behavior to spread false content was uncovered in September. The accounts involved, a number of which have since been removed by Facebook and Twitter, were linked to teenagers in Arizona who were paid and managed by an affiliate of a prominent pro-Trump youth organization. In August, US intelligence services acknowledged suspected online influence operations by the regimes of Russia and Iran; Facebook and Twitter reported a Russian-backed network of fake accounts and a website purporting to be a left-wing news outlet the following month. These examples are similar to earlier influence campaigns that have gained prominence in US elections since 2016. Influence operations often rely on the exploitation of existing social and political divisions, and the increasingly tense electoral environment is fertile ground for further manipulation, especially in closely contested swing states where small changes in voter turnout can impact national races.
    • Cyberattacks: In September 2020, Microsoft reported hundreds of election-related cyberattacks originating in Russia, China, and Iran that targeted individuals and organizations, including people associated with both presidential campaigns. Hundreds of ransomware attacks on state and local governments as well as their contractors have also been reported during the year. Extensive cyberattacks were documented during the 2016 elections, including against the Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and electoral systems in all 50 states. Some steps have been taken to upgrade election security in the intervening years, but the efforts have been limited, and electoral infrastructure remains vulnerable to infiltration and interference. The full extent of cyberattacks may not be known ahead of the elections, but continued attacks on a range of targets are expected.

    Download the preelection assessment PDF.

    A Digital Sphere

    B Electoral System and Political Participation

    C Human Rights

    News and Updates
    Incident Alert

    Facebook announced new measures, including a ban on political and issue-based advertising after voting ends on November 3, in an attempt to address false and manipulative narratives that may arise in the post-election period. Read more.

    Incident Alert

    Facebook expanded its efforts to limit QAnon on its platforms. QAnon has spread on Facebook despite an earlier ban on QAnon groups that called for violence. Read more.

    Incident Alert

    The FBI disrupted a plot by a militia to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and overthrow the government. According to the affidavit, the FBI initially became aware of the plot when individuals were discussing it in a social media group earlier in the year. Read more.

    Incident Alert

    In an effort to address misinformation ahead of the election, Twitter announced that it would adjust certain features on the platform, including the retweet option and what tweets appear on users’ timelines. Read more.

    New Report

    Freedom House released the new edition of Freedom on the Net. Although the online environment in the United States remains largely free from state censorship, the US declined for the fourth straight year in our report. Read the United States report.

    On United States

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    • Global Freedom Score

      86 100 free
    • Internet Freedom Score

      76 100 free
    • Date of Election

      November 3, 2020
    • Type of Election

      General
    • Internet Penetration

      91.13%
    • Population

      329.2 million
  • Venezuela

    header1 Country Overview

    Venezuela’s de facto leader, Nicolás Maduro, was sworn in as president after a snap 2018 election that failed to meet minimum international standards and was widely condemned as illegitimate. The democratically elected National Assembly declared its head, Juan Guaidó, to be Venezuela’s interim president in line with the country’s constitution. Guaidó has since received the backing of more than 50 countries, including the United States. Maduro, however, has refused to relinquish power. Since Guaidó’s legal mandate expires at the end of this legislative term, the December 2020 elections have a direct bearing on the future of the political opposition.

    header2 Preelection assessment

    As in 2018, the upcoming elections for the National Assembly in December 2020 are highly vulnerable to interference and do not meet minimum conditions for credibility. Over 25 opposition parties have declared that they will boycott the vote, citing clear instances of political interference by Maduro and his allies. The Supreme Court side-stepped the constitution by assigning directors of the National Electoral Council, a body normally appointed by the National Assembly to oversee the election. The court has also interfered with opposition parties, including by ordering that party leadership be replaced with Maduro sympathizers. Meanwhile, the authorities have closed off virtually all channels for political dissent by restricting civil liberties and prosecuting perceived opponents without regard for due process, as well as through enforced disappearances, torture, and extrajudicial killings.

    Venezuela has a score of 17 out of 100, with 100 representing the least vulnerability in terms of election integrity, on Freedom House’s Election Vulnerability Index, which is based on a selection of key election-related indicators. Venezuela’s score reflects a poor performance across all categories, including the political environment and past elections, as well as broad failure to respect human rights. The country is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2020, with a score of 16 out of 100 with respect to its political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2019, with an internet freedom score of 30 out of 100. To learn more about these annual Freedom House assessments, please visit the Venezuela country reports in Freedom in the World and Freedom on the Net.

    Freedom House has identified the following as key issues to watch ahead of election day:

    • Influence operations: There is extensive evidence that the regime of Nicolas Maduro has manipulated online discussions through state-run media and covert influence campaigns. State officials, public agencies, party activists, semi-automated accounts, and bots harassed the opposition and spread misinformation on Twitter during the May 2018 election. The broader digital environment will likely see increased manipulation ahead of the December vote, including narratives aimed at dividing the opposition.
    • Blocking social media: Social media and livestreaming platforms such as Twitter, Periscope, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are frequently blocked during sensitive political events. The state-owned provider CANTV blocked platforms in November 2019 during protests for fair elections, and again in January 2020 when the opposition-controlled National Assembly was scheduled to swear in new leadership. Shutdowns may occur before, during, or after the December vote, particularly if the regime feels threatened by digital activism and online reporting, which is likely to increase both within the country and among the diaspora.
    • Arrests and intimidation: Political activists, journalists, and low-profile individuals are routinely harassed, arrested or arbitrarily detained, and violently targeted for their online writing. As tensions rise and the regime seeks to control the information landscape, users may face an uptick in legal and extralegal repercussions for social media posts and online reporting.
    • Cyberattacks: Digital media outlets and human rights organizations have faced widespread phishing campaigns, DDoS attacks, and other attempts to disrupt their activities and gain access to sensitive information. Observers strongly suspect the actions are sponsored by or linked to the state, given that attacks often coincide with politically sensitive issues, including the publication of an interview about the “secrets of the Maduro government” in 2018 and Guaidó’s return to the country in 2019. Digital insecurity remains a major vulnerability in the pre-election period.

      Download the preelection assessment PDF. 

    A Digital Sphere

    B Electoral System and Political Participation

    C Human Rights

    News and Updates
    New Report

    In the new edition of Freedom on the Net, internet freedom in Venezuela suffered as internet connectivity was frequently disrupted, service providers blocked key sources of independent news and information, and independent online journalists increasingly self-censored. Read the Venezuela report.

    Incident Alert

    Government-owned ISP CANTV blocked 30 websites between October 11 and October 16, including media outlets, sites containing information on COVID-19 offered by the interim government, opposition websites, and streaming platforms. Read more.

    Incident Alert

    The National Electoral Council published new campaign regulations less than a week before the official start of the campaign period. Last minute changes to campaign rules often create confusion and can place opposition candidates at a disadvantage. Read the regulations.

    Incident Alert

    A sustained homophobic smear campaign against Roland Carreño, a journalist and the coordinator of Voluntad Popular, continued when pictures of him that were obtained without his consent were posted on Twitter. Read more.

    Incident Alert

    Opposition leaders, human rights activists and relevant opposition digital influencers reposted a video taken in 2016, portraying it as having been taken in 2020. The video is of a meeting where attendees are instructed to vote alongside staff who will ensure they vote in the favor of the governing party. Read more.

    Incident Alert

    Interim president Juan Guaidó and other opposition leaders will boycott the election on the basis that it will not be a free and fair contest. The opposition instead plans to hold its own referendum on Nicolás Maduro’s rule. Read more.

    Incident Alert

    Nicolás Maduro claimed victory in Venezuela’s election, which had low turnout and was boycotted by the opposition after a preelection period marred by political interference. Read more.

    Incident Alert

    A fact-checking group found that some hashtags used during the election period, especially those promoted by the Ministry of Communication and Information, came from accounts with high rates of inauthentic behavior - sometimes as high as 79%. Read their thread.

    Incident Alert

    On election day, some voters reportedly found polling places to be closed or delayed in opening without warning. Unforeseen changes to voting centers’ schedules and functioning can directly disenfranchise voters.

    Incident Alert

    Election results were announced in a non-transparent way that at times appear inconsistent with the electoral framework. For example, National Assembly candidate Luis Parra won a seat that he was not nominated for, but later claimed he had changed races without notifying the public. Source.

    On Venezuela

    See all data, scores & information on this country or territory.

    See More
    • Global Freedom Score

      16 100 not free
    • Internet Freedom Score

      28 100 not free
    • Date of Election

      December 6, 2020
    • Type of Election

      Parliamentary
    • Internet Penetration

      66%
    • Population

      28.5 million