two articles of interest regarding freedom of speech on the Internet
Internet Freedom Wanes As Governments Target Messaging, Social Apps
Freedom on the Net 2016 Silencing the Messenger: Communication Apps Under Pressure
New heights in digital activism
As governments around the world impose new restrictions on internet freedom, it is worth remembering what is at stake. The present crackdown comes as digital platforms are being used in new and creative ways to advocate for change and, in many cases, save lives. Internet advocacy had real-world results in both democracies and authoritarian settings over the past year, and its impact was often most pronounced in countries where the information environment was more open online than off. In over two-thirds of the countries examined in this study, there was at least one significant example of individuals producing a tangible outcome by using online tools to fight for internet freedom, demand political accountability, advance women’s rights, support victims of unjust prosecution, or provide relief to those affected by natural disasters.
Fighting for internet freedom and digital rights
Social media were used effectively to fight for internet freedom in a variety of countries over the past year. In Thailand, over 150,000 people signed a Change.org petition against a government plan to centralize the country’s internet gateways, which would strengthen the authorities’ ability to monitor and censor online activity. As a result, the government announced that it had scrapped the plan, though skeptical internet users remain vigilant.
Using the hashtag #NoToSocialMediaBill, Nigerian digital rights organizations launched a multifaceted campaign to defeat a “Frivolous Petitions Prohibition Bill” that threatened to constrain speech on social media. Alongside significant digital media activism, civil society groups organized a march on the National Assembly, gathered signatures for a petition presented during a public hearing on the bill, and filed a lawsuit at the Federal High Court in Lagos, all of which contributed to the bill’s withdrawal in May 2016. India’s telecommunications regulator banned differential pricing schemes in February after more than a million comments were submitted online to protest companies that charge consumers different prices for select content or applications.
more on Internet freedom in this IMS blog: