30 years after his research laid the groundwork for the development of the world wide web
, Tim Berners-Lee is not happy with the current state of the internet. Speaking at a Washington Post event marking the 30th anniversary of his creation, he complained that the internet has been “hijacked by crooks”, referring to hate speech, privacy issues and the malicious spreading of false information.
Berners-Lee’s observations are in line with research conducted by Freedom House
, which found that the level of freedom on the internet has been deteriorating in recent years. “Disinformation and propaganda disseminated online have poisoned the public sphere. The unbridled collection of personal data has broken down traditional notions of privacy. And a cohort of countries is moving toward digital authoritarianism by embracing the Chinese model of extensive censorship and automated surveillance systems. As a result of these trends, global internet freedom declined for the eighth consecutive year in 2018”.
The following chart, based on Freedom House’s findings, shows a world map of internet freedom, categorizing countries with respect to obstacles to internet access, limits on online content and violations of user rights. According to the report, China was the worst abuser of internet freedom in 2018, promoting “digital authoritarianism as a way for governments to control their citizens through technology, inverting the concept of the internet as an engine of human liberation”.