Digital authoritarianism is on the rise as governments crack down on online freedom, according to a new report. And that includes the US.
The main findings: Internet freedom fell in the US, owing largely to the repeal of net neutrality laws, according to the report from think tank Freedom House. Of the 65 countries assessed, 26 experienced a drop in online freedom, with almost half of all declines relating to elections. Half used paid commentators, bots, and trolls to try to manipulate online conversations. Almost a third of the countries passed or proposed new laws to restrict online media, citing the fight against “fake news.” There was also an increase in surveillance by 18 governments, many of which are working to weaken encryption to gain unfettered access to data.
Lessons from China: China had the worst record of any country in 2018. Its officials help to train other countries in digital authoritarianism, holding seminars with representatives from 36 out of the 65 countries assessed. It’s a statistic that doesn’t bode well for the future.
However, it’s not all bad news … Social media, apps, and live-streaming services all helped enable a peaceful revolution in Armenia this year. The report’s authors also pointed to Ethiopia, where a new prime minister has released bloggers from prison and promised to ease restrictions on online communication.
What’s next for AI regulation in 2024?
The coming year is going to see the first sweeping AI laws enter into force, with global efforts to hold tech companies accountable.
Three technology trends shaping 2024’s elections
The biggest story of this year will be elections in the US and all around the globe
Four lessons from 2023 that tell us where AI regulation is going
What we should expect in the coming 12 months in AI policy
The FTC’s unprecedented move against data brokers, explained
It could signal more aggressive action from policy makers to curb the corrosive effects that data brokers have on personal privacy.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.