International Development News
Development News Edition

China's export of "digital authoritarianism" major threat to some nations: Report

To be sure, declining internet freedom has been a consistent global trend for nearly a decade.


China's export of "digital authoritarianism" major threat to some nations: Report
Meanwhile, Chinese technology companies have provided or are set to provide internet equipment to at least 38 of the tracked countries and artificial intelligence systems for law enforcement in 18 countries, the report said. (Image Credit: Pixabay)

China's restrictive internet policy and digital surveillance has spread worldwide over the last two years, with its government training emerging market countries on process and its companies furnishing the tools, a democracy watchdog group's annual report says.

Freedom House, whose main financier is the U.S. government, said in its report on Wednesday that China's export of "digital authoritarianism" had become a major threat to sustaining democratic governance in some countries.

The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

Freedom House research director Adrian Shahbaz said that governments had begun justifying increased censorship and diminished digital privacy protections by saying the policies combat the spread of fake news and help catch criminals.

In effect, countries are using the curbs to violate human rights, he said.

Freedom House said China has been leading the charge. It has hosted seminars on cyberspace management since early 2017 with representatives from 36 out of 65 countries tracked by Freedom House, including nations in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. The 65 countries represent 87 per cent of the world's internet users, the group said.

Discussions with Chinese officials preceded new cybersecurity measures in Vietnam, Uganda and Tanzania over the last year, Freedom House said after reviewing Chinese state media articles and government press releases.

Meanwhile, Chinese technology companies have provided or are set to provide internet equipment to at least 38 of the tracked countries and artificial intelligence systems for law enforcement in 18 countries, the report said.

"Beijing has been on a clear charm offensive to woo government officials and media elites," Shahbaz said. "Officials in Beijing hope to cultivate allies to follow its lead on global internet policy."

To be sure, declining internet freedom has been a consistent global trend for nearly a decade. And Chinese foreign investment and influence efforts are not new.

But Freedom House said the threat to human rights has grown in severity as powerful technology becomes more accessible to governments and their people.

As fake news on social media has become a deadly problem, governments are using it as an "opening wedge for censorship," Michael Chertoff, the group's chairman and a former U.S. secretary for Homeland Security, told reporters by phone.

Thirteen countries, including Rwanda and Bangladesh, prosecuted people this year for allegedly spreading false information, Freedom House said.

Chertoff said governments should emphasize digital hygiene education and called on multinational firms to take a stand against governments going too far.

Freedom House senior officials said they were dismayed that the United States under President Donald Trump had emboldened attacks on democratic media and limited net neutrality, adding to the global trend.

(With inputs from agencies.)


TRENDING

OPINION/BLOG/INTERVIEW

'No escape from telephones', this 1953 prediction actually comes true

In 1953, a telephone company chief predicted that therell be no escape from telephones in the future....

With Ayodhya verdict, CJI starts clearing high profile pending cases

Ending all the speculations, the Chief Justice of India Mr. Ranjan Gogoi who is due to retire on November 17 decided to deliver the verdict in Ayodya dispute at 10.30 am on Saturday which is not a working day for the Supreme Court. This is ...

How partnerships and collaborations could enhance teacher training

Monica Malhotra Kandhari, Managing Director, MBD Group shares her views on public private partnership and collaborations in education sector. She supports her propositions with her organisations success stories....

Fixed Test centers would facelift level of WTC in India

The venues for the test matches in India should be fixed so that World Test Championship matches remain fair....

Videos

Latest News

Fire rages at Hong Kong campus entrance as protesters fend off police:AFP

A large fire burned near an entrance to a besieged Hong Kong campus on Monday morning after protesters threw Molotov cocktails to fend off a police advance on the university, according to AFP reporters at the scene.Police have encircled hun...

GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia shares in waiting mode ahead of Fed, ECB events

Asian share markets got the week off to a muted start on Monday as jaded investors awaited real evidence on progress in the U.S.-China trade dispute, though sentiment found support from another record close on Wall Street.MSCIs broadest ind...

FOREX-Currencies off to cautious start, China-U.S. trade deal in focus

Major currencies were off to a cautious start on Monday as market players looked to whether Washington and Beijing can soon sign off on a deal to end their trade war that has been a drag on the global economic growth. Chinese state media Xi...

Soccer-Late goals give Brazil under-17 World Cup title

Brazil staged a remarkable comeback for the second time in a week on Sunday to beat Mexico 2-1 in front of their own fans and win the Under-17 World Cup for a fourth time. Just three days after they recovered from being 2-0 down to beat Fra...

Give Feedback