Only 18 countries in the world can be considered truly free when it comes to the internet. What was once envisioned as a space to exchange information and foster community by connecting people around the world has, in some instances, turned into a tool of control and censorship. As our chart shows, most of the world's population has to live with only slightly free internet.
According to the yearly report by Freedom House, 31 of the 70 assessed countries only have partial freedom when it comes to user rights and state control of the internet. China has the questionable honor to come in last for the seventh year in a row, scoring only ten of a maximum of 100 points. This development correlates with recent reports of the Chinese government further tightening regulations on online gaming and internet use by minors. Inhabitants of Iceland and Estonia, on the other hand, are given almost completely free reign over their internet experience, with both countries coming in well over 90 points. The United States was able to score 71 points in 2021, being beaten by Germany and France as well as the more unlikely candidates of Georgia, Taiwan and Costa Rica. Even though some countries were awarded high marks, the report also finds that global internet freedom has declined for the eleventh year in a row. 20 countries suspended internet access, 21 states blocked users from using social media and at least 45 countries are said to have obtained spyware from private vendors.
The internet freedom ranking by Freedom House is based on three broad categories: Obstacles to access, limits on content and violations of users' rights. The assessed countries make up roughly 88 percent of the global population with access to the internet.