Communication Apps on Verge of Vanishing from ¼ of the Globe
Internet freedom has declined for the 6th consecutive year. This is due to the efforts from different governments around the world to eliminate freedom of speech on social media and communication apps. Around a quarter of all countries consider freedom of speech as a dangerous element to their power, and they strongly discourage it, especially during anti-government protests.
Popular social networking giants, such as Twitter and Facebook, have already been targeted by multiple times by different governments. And now, communications apps also seem to be on the receiving end of the fire too. Since WhatsApp and Telegram provide end-to-end encryption to their users, governments are continuously working to find new ways to access the online communications of these networks.
The inclination towards surveillance and control prove the importance of social media and communication apps for social justice and the advancement of political freedom. There have been many cases when people have used social media and communication apps for the dissemination of information and to further up their political struggle against the government.
To prevent these activities from happening, governments are taking strict action in the name of national security. Many have already banned several apps which provide end-to-end encryption. Encryption is the surveillance killer, since it almost impossible to break the code and monitor users’ activities, even if you have the best machinery and experts at your disposal.
Many countries, which include Morocco, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have also banned communication apps, like Skype and WhatsApp, because of their free voice and video calling features. These features have already stolen huge amounts in revenue of several National telecommunication companies. These companies are currently plotting to further up these bans in even more countries.
What triggers such harsh Stances?
Most governments hate the idea of freedom of speech, since it means that their people will start writing against their interests. In worse cases, governments have initiated crackdowns against such people. It would be appropriate to quote the king’s pet dog incident in Thailand, and the spreading of atheism in Saudi Arabia which led to arrest of so many people.
The following are some of the reasons which have triggered strict surveillance and censorship in many countries:
· Diverse Content including LGBTI, digital petitions, call for protests and anti-government stands have lead to many governments doing extreme surveillance on their population and control the spreading of such diversified content.
· Freedom of speech on democracy, religion and human rights are harmful to the power of several ruling governments and monarchies. These governments have therefore imposed strict laws on their population so their power remains safely intact.
· The internet is becoming a crucial tool in the spread of better governance, human rights, and transparency. Many activists are playing their part in highlighting the human rights and transparency in their country which has led to many governments taking steps against these people.
Reality check of Internet Freedom in 65 Countries
65 countries cover almost 88% of the entire internet population. Out of these, the countries which have failed to provide internet freedom to their people are Uganda, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ecuador and Libya. China wasn’t falling behind as China marked its name in the top abuser of internet freedom in the year 2016. China also ranks among the worst internet freedom providers in the world, since they’ve arrested and imprisoned hundreds of people for their expressions on social media against the ruling authorities. Apart from the banning of several social media and communication apps, China has also recently banned popular magazines like Economist and South China Morning Post because they’d brought bad publicity to China.
Turkey and Brazil are also taken strict actions against social media and communication apps operating in their country. The governments in these parts criticize these services open-heartedly and were also involved in the banning of these services several times last year.
Only 14 Countries seemed to be in pursuit of improving internet freedom and imposing of least restrictions on it in their country.
Social Media and Communication Apps are under attack
2016 was the worst year for online privacy and internet freedom as many restrictions were imposed on the social media and communication applications. Out of the 65 countries mentioned above, 15 countries were involved in the time to time shutdown of social media and communication apps during politically sensitive times, and also conducted punishments and arrests.
In developing countries, top social media apps got banned because of two reasons: their role in providing opportunities for the dissemination of information during state emergencies and the loss of profits for several national telecommunication companies because of live voice and video calling features.
Built in Encryption is also putting many in trouble
Governments hate it when they find limited access or no access to user data. Since most internet based communication apps come with strong privacy and security features, governments have therefore started taking strong measures against these services. In many countries people have learned to use messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram as private social networks since they are better than local SIM connections in the protection of their privacy. These social platforms offer end-to-end encryption and prevent wiretapping and interceptions.
In many internet freedom suppressed countries, journalists and activists use WhatsApp, Viber, and Telegram for communications. Political groups and rebels also prefer to use these social media platforms and communication apps for arranging protests and initiate rebellious stands.
Government struggling to support National Revenues
This reason is enough to make governments do what is not considered to be something appropriate in the eyes of online freedom. When it comes to the protection of National Revenues, governments take huge steps to protect its economy.
They make every effort to not harm their economy and protect it, this object is impacting too many social media and communication apps in different countries. Governments want to safeguard local industries and their sources of income, communication apps provide people an opportunity to use communication medium in free of cost where local telecommunication companies suffer with lower profits and governments get lower taxes on it. That triggers governments to take such steps to discourage social media and communication apps.
Being Social on Social Media can be troublesome
Social media users take the liberty of using social media to the fullest which makes governments concerned and they want to take control of how information is shared and discussed in the society.
Governments hate to lose control:
Government always look to have more control over its population and one way of doing this is with more data on its population. These apps make the lives of the relevant authorities difficult in driving the right insights on them. If you can recall the recent coup in Turkey where they banned all the social media just so that a mob like situation is averted and misinformation is not widespread. But this is not the solution for this.
What’s the solution then to overcome most of it?
The solution for this is to give users more control over their privacy. Mobile and specially apps are the most personal thing a person possesses. Regardless of the severity of the situation users’ privacy should be not compromised. This can be achieved with the use of VPNs. Considering this that a lot of countries have data retention laws such as “5 eyes program” where you have to maintain user data and share it with the authorities , it is best to look for a solution where data retention is not mandatory.
PureVPN is a complete solution for people looking to circumvent their internet traffic and maintain their anonymity and privacy to a greater extent.