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Governments are using the pandemic to crack down on digital rights, report finds

A new report published by Freedom House concedes that an assessment of 65 countries lead them to conclude that some governments are using the COVID-19 pandemic to introduce new digital surveillance and data collection tools that hinder citizens’ rights. The report, titled Freedom on the Net 2020, found that the pandemic has accelerated a decline in free speech and internet privacy for the tenth consecutive year, with some governments using the virus as an excuse to crack down on critical speech.

The report also found that both state and non-state actors are exploiting the global health crisis to erode freedoms online. While internet connectivity has become the centerpiece to daily life and essential information and services due to the pandemic, certain freedoms have been quietly restricted by the government. As citizens are going to school, attending interviews, enjoying social events, and going to doctors’ appointments online, data privacy is more important than ever. Freedom House rated China the worst in internet freedom for the sixth consecutive year, due to their digital surveillance and censorship of Chinese citizens.

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