Freedom House, a US government-funded non-profit, recently published a report titled “The Pandemic’s Digital Shadow,” detailing how the COVID-19 pandemic is increasing surveillance and “fueling digital repression worldwide.”
The report says that several nations across the world have been using the pandemic to justify surveillance measures and “the deployment of new technologies that were once seen as too intrusive.”
The president of the non-profit Michael Abramowitz said that the world is growing increasingly reliant on digital technologies while there is a gradual decline in internet freedom. “Without adequate safeguards for privacy and the rule of law, these technologies can be easily repurposed for political repression.”
The report discussed internet freedom in China and stated that the country’s authorities “combined low- and high-tech tools to not only manage the outbreak of the coronavirus but also to deter internet users from sharing information from independent sources and challenging the official narrative.”
Ever since the start of the pandemic, China has tried to suppress the facts, and even went to the lengths of arresting people for spreading “rumors” about the virus. China’s CCP has also ended up censoring a reputable news outlet – Caijing for writing that the Chinese government was reporting dubious figures when it comes to the cases and deaths surrounding the COVID-19 virus.
The report also says that there is a growing trend towards “digital authoritarianism” much akin to what we see in China, and a gradual decline in internet freedom. Based on the figures given in the report, it was found that only 20% of the estimated 3.8 billion that are using the internet live in countries where there is free internet.
The report also has two infographics dedicated to showing the countries that have faced the most decline in internet freedom over a period of one year and five years. India, Kyrgyzstan, and Myanmar are a few countries that have seen a drastic drop in internet freedom.
In Hungary, citizens of the country are being arrested for spreading “false news” about the pandemic, and it just doesn’t stop there. Even the Malaysian government has issued arrest warrants against four individuals for spreading rumors about the pandemic.