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China Seeks to Export Internet Controls, Expands Surveillance At Home

China Seeks to Export Internet Controls, Expands Surveillance At Home

The report measured a country's level of internet freedom by looking at access to internet, levels of censorship and violations of user rights, as well as records of arrests or attacks prompted by internet users' online activity.

Published Thursday by Freedom House, a nonprofit organization largely funded by the USA government, the annual scorecard said that global internet freedom declined for the eighth consecutive year as a result of factors both foreign and domestic.

In an annual report issued Wednesday, the rights watchdog said global internet freedom had declined for the eighth consecutive year in 2018, with democratic governance under threat from what it called "digital authoritarianism".

"A cohort of countries is moving toward digital authoritarianism by embracing the Chinese model of extensive censorship and automated surveillance systems", he said.

India's online freedom status, for the past few years, has been "partly free" in the report.

The report added that Indian and Sri Lankan authorities temporarily shut down mobile networks or blocked social media apps during riots and protests, claiming that the measures were necessary to halt the flow of disinformation and incitement to violence.

'Cutting off internet service is a draconian response, particularly at a time when citizens may need it the most, whether to dispel rumours, check in with loved ones, or avoid risky areas, ' Freedom House researcher Adrian Shahbaz said.

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The Freedom House naturally expressed concern over this trend.

Discussions with Chinese officials preceded new cybersecurity measures in Vietnam, Uganda and Tanzania over the past year, Freedom House said after reviewing Chinese state media articles and government press releases.

The Chinese government is also accused of demanding foreign companies conform to its content policies outside of China, such as not recognising the independence of Taiwan.

So, of the 65 countries that are in the current study, 26 countries have seen a deterioration of Internet freedom.

Media officials and prominent journalists from the Philippines visited China for two weeks in May 2018 to learn about "new media development", Freedom House said.

The report examined 65 countries that represent the bulk of the internet users around the world.

At the same time, the regime in China has become more brazen in providing like-minded governments with technology and training that enable them to control their own citizens online.