Internet freedom around the world declined in 2016 for the sixth consecutive year.
Two-thirds of all internet users -- 67 percent -- live in countries where criticism of the government, military, or ruling family are subject to censorship.
Social media users face unprecedented penalties, as authorities in 38 countries made arrests based on social media posts over the past year. Globally, 27 percent of all internet users live in countries where people have been arrested for publishing,
sharing, or merely "liking" content on Facebook.
Governments are increasingly going after messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram, which can spread information quickly and securely.
Internet freedom has declined for the sixth consecutive year, with more governments than ever before targeting social media and communication apps as a means of halting the rapid dissemination of information, particularly during anti-government protests.
The increased controls show the importance of social media and online communication for advancing political freedom and social justice. It is no coincidence that the tools at the center of the current crackdown have been widely used to hold governments
accountable and facilitate uncensored conversations. Authorities in several countries have even resorted to shutting down all internet access at politically contentious times, solely to prevent users from disseminating information through social media
and communication apps, with untold social, commercial, and humanitarian consequences.
Some communication apps face restrictions due to their encryption features, which make it extremely difficult for authorities to obtain user data, even for the legitimate purposes of law enforcement and national security. Online voice and video calling
apps like Skype have also come under pressure for more mundane reasons. They are now restricted in several countries to protect the revenue of national telecommunications firms, as users were turning to the new services instead of making calls through
fixed-line or mobile telephony.