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“Rise in digital authoritarianism” accounts for ominous rollback of online freedom rights.

Between 2008 and 2013, the world saw an encouraging level of progress in online freedoms, with internet users’ ability to express themselves on the internet showing steady improvement. But in the five years since, those positive developments have been largely reversed by the rise of a new “digital authoritarianism,” according to a new report by the United Kingdom-based internet rights advovacy group Article 19. 

The 2018/2019 Global Expression Report, which uses a metric to combine 39 indicators of online freedom, warned that around the world, the ability to express oneself freely online has hit a new, 10-year low, according to an executive summary of the report.

“Almost 10 years ago, the Arab Spring offered hope to people across the world that repressive governments would not be able to retain power when faced with protestors, empowered as never before with access to information and digital tools for organizing,” said Article 19 executive director Thomas Hughes in a statement published as part of the report. 

“Today, protests continue to take place around the world but our report shows that global freedom of expression remains at a ten-year low and that many of the gains made in the earlier part of the decade have been lost,” Hughes said.

One of the leading factors in the decline has been “repressive responses to street protests” in countries around the world, according to the report.