Report: Use Of Social Media And Apps Under Assault; China Is Worst Abuser – Worse Than Syria 15/11/2016 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Governments around the world are increasingly cracking down on use of communications apps like WhatsApp and Facebook. Of the 65 countries assessed, governments in 24 impeded access to social media and communication tools, up from 15 in the previous year, the report said. The Freedom House report on Freedom on the Net 2016, entitled, “Silencing the Messenger: Communications Apps Under Pressure” is available here. “In the past year, social media platforms, communication apps, and their users faced greater threats than ever before in an apparent backlash against growing citizen engagement, particularly during politically sensitive times,” said the report. “Governments in 15 countries temporarily shut down access to the entire internet or mobile phone networks, sometimes solely to prevent users from disseminating information through social media,” it said. “Meanwhile, the crackdown on users for their activities on social media or messaging apps reached new heights as arrests and punishments intensified.” Message service WhatsApp was blocked more than any other tool, it said, while Facebook users were arrested for posting political, social or religious content in 27 countries. New restrictions are on the rise. “WhatsApp faced the most restrictions, with 12 out of 65 countries blocking the entire service or disabling certain features, affecting millions of its one billion users worldwide,” the report said. “Telegram, Viber, Facebook Messenger, LINE, IMO, and Google Hangouts were also regularly blocked. Ten countries restricted access to platforms that enable voice and video calling over the internet, such as Skype and FaceTime.” Encryption and the threat to traditional telecom business were seen as two motivators for restrictions. “In a new development, the most routinely targeted tools this year were instant messaging and calling platforms, with restrictions often imposed during times of protests or due to national security concerns,” the report said. “Governments singled out these apps for blocking due to two important features: encryption, which protects the content of users’ communications from interception, and text or audiovisual calling functions, which have eroded the business model and profit margins of traditional telecommunications companies.” Worst Abuser? China “China was the year’s worst abuser of internet freedom,” said the report, scoring below Syria and Iran. “The Chinese government’s crackdown on free expression under President Xi Jinping’s ‘information security’ policy is taking its toll on the digital activists who have traditionally fought back against censorship and surveillance,” it said. Turkey and Brazil were among those who were downgraded. The steepest declines were in Uganda, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ecuador, and Libya. Only 14 countries registered improvements, and these were mostly modest, the report said. These included Zambia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the United States (for passage of the USA Freedom Act, which the report said “puts some limits on bulk collection of telecommunications metadata and establishes several other privacy protections”). The report examined internet freedom across 65 countries representing 88 percent of the globe’s internet users, it said. It mainly covers the period from June 2015 to May 2016, and was carried out by more than 70 researchers. Image Credits: Freedom House Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related William New may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."Report: Use Of Social Media And Apps Under Assault; China Is Worst Abuser – Worse Than Syria" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.