U.S. declines in internet freedom rankings, thanks to net neutrality repeal and fake news

TechCrunch | 10/31/2018 | Staff
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If you need a safe haven on the internet, where the pipes are open and the freedoms are plentiful — you might want to move to Estonia or Iceland.

The latest “internet freedoms” rankings are out, courtesy of Freedom House’s annual report into the state of internet freedoms and personal liberties, based on rankings of 65 countries that represent the vast majority of the world’s internet users. Although the U.S. remains firmly in the top ten, it dropped a point on the year earlier after a recent rash of changes to internet regulation and a lack of in the realm of surveillance.

Year - US - Internet - Freedom - Number

Last year, the U.S. was 21 in the global internet freedom ranking — the lower number, the better a country ranks. That was behind Estonia, Iceland, Canada, Germany and Australia. This year the U.S. is at 22 — thanks to the repeal of net neutrality and the renewal of U.S. spy powers.

The report also cited “disinformation and hyperpartisan content” — or fake news — as a “pressing concern.”

June - Battle - Federal - Communications - Commission

It was only in June, after a protracted battle, that the Federal Communications Commission finally pulled the plug on the Obama-era rules that guaranteed the free and fair flow of internet data. Net neutrality — which promises to treat every user’s traffic as equal and doesn’t prioritize certain internet users or services over others — was dead. That was despite months of delays and a scandal that embroiled the FCC’s chairman Ajit Pai for allegedly lying to lawmakers over a falsified denial-of-service attack that he used to try to stifle criticism of his repeal plans. What did happen was an onslaught of citizens demanding that the net neutrality rules. But that was eclipsed by an astroturfing campaign that even used dead people to try to swing the decision.

What also dropped the U.S. a...
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