Internet freedom declined in the US and worldwide this year: report
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Internet freedom has declined in the U.S. and worldwide in 2019 for the ninth consecutive year, according to a report released by Freedom House. 

Out of 65 countries reviewed in the report, 33 have experienced an overall decline in internet freedom since June 2018, compared to 16 countries which have seen an increase. The largest internet freedom declines occurred in Sudan and Kazakhstan, followed by Brazil, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. 

Internet freedom also dropped within the U.S. for the third year in a row. The researchers cited increased surveillance from law enforcement and immigration agencies and domestic and international-based disinformation as reasons for the decrease.

The report detailed how leaders of countries have used social media as propaganda, calling out China, Iran and Saudi Arabia in particular. A new high record of 38 out of the 65 countries had political leaders who recruited others to “shape online opinions.”

The authors also said authorities are using social media surveillance to track citizens, reducing civil liberties around the world, with 47 countries having arrested users for political, social and religious speech, another record high. 

China was named the world’s worst abuser of internet freedom for the fourth consecutive year, with censorship increasing on the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre and with ongoing protests in Hong Kong.

The researchers named Iceland as the “best protector of internet freedom.”

Ethiopia was cited has experienced the most progress in internet freedom because of the prime minister’s efforts to reduce restrictions. But the authors noted that the majority of improved internet freedom scores were “marginal.”