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Friday, November 26, 2021

Can a Free Internet Survive?

What steps, what cost, what limits?

Can a Free Internet Survive?,  By Samuel Greengard, Commissioned by CACM Staff, November 23, 2021

In the beginning, Internet pioneers dreamed of creating an open framework for global communication and interaction. It would be a place where free thinking and information could flourish. Over the last half century, despite a few potholes and speedbumps, the Internet has largely lived up to that promise.

However, there's evidence that attitudes and values are shifting. Governments around the world are taking steps to limit access to information, or even shut it down using tactics like site blocking, URL throttling, restricting mobile data, and regulatory and legal threats.

"This is in the face of governments, business and industry, and popular movements responding to perceived threats to dominant institutions and traditional sources of information," observes William H. Dutton, Emeritus Professor at the University of Southern California and co-author of the UNESCO report   Freedom of Connection, Freedom of Expression.

Washington D.C.-based democracy advocacy group Freedom House reported in 2021 that Internet freedom declined for the fifth year in a row in the U.S. and the 11th consecutive year internationally. Officials in at least 20 countries suspended Internet access, and 20 regimes blocked access to social media platforms, the report noted.

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