Freedom House is a nongovernmental organization that has been ranking the world on free speech and political and civil rights for decades. In their sixth consecutive year of their Freedom on the Net report, they found that Internet freedom around the globe is on a continued decline.
This year the pressure was focused heavily on social media and messaging tools. Some of the most targeted apps included Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, YouTube, Skype, Instagram, and Telegram.
“Yes, I believe that governments have the right to control internet use. It’s “social” media, not personal. As soon as you put something on there, it’s no longer yours, and anyone can look at it,” freshman Drew Ingraham said on whether or not governmental control could be justified.
Although, not everyone shares Ingraham’s opinion.
“Internet monitoring is unfair because it gives more control to the government and leaves less control for the people. I think that they should monitor people that need to be watched but the entire public should not be watched,” freshman Wyatt Dahlke said.
Authorities in 38 countries, out of the 65 reviewed, made arrests based on social media posts over the past year. Offences could be as simple as “liking” offensive posts on Facebook or mocking royal pets, and the deemed offender could be thrown in jail.
Countries with the most offenses included China, Syria, Iran, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan, and Cuba.
“Even though it’s social media and it’s for everyone to see, I still believe that people should be able to state opinions without getting into legal trouble,” Ingraham said about the simple offenses that land some Internet users in jail.
In the report it was also discovered that, once again, the countries with the least offenses were Estonia, Iceland, Canada, the United States, Germany, Australia, Japan, and the United Kingdom.
Though they have varying opinions on government monitoring, Ingraham and Dahlke both believe that the decline in Internet freedom sends a clear message about the world today.
“I think it says bad things about today’s society, that the government has to have the right to see everything we do because there have been so many terrorist attacks and threats. They wouldn’t have to do this if there wasn’t a reason for it,” Ingraham said.
“I think that today’s society is messed up and that the government is being a little bit paranoid, but with reason. They are worried with large things, like another 9/11 and the Boston bombings,” Dahlke said in his last statement.