IGF 2020 Village Booth #44
Freedom House


The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating a dramatic decline in global internet freedom. For the 10th consecutive year, users have experienced an overall deterioration in their rights, and the phenomenon is contributing to a broader crisis for democracy worldwide. Freedom on the Net is Freedom House’s annual survey and analysis of internet freedom around the world, covering 65 countries around the world that account for 87% of the world's internet users. This year's report, titled "The Pandemic's Digital Shadow," found that COVID-19 is fueling digital repression worldwide on a number of fronts.

  • Political leaders used the pandemic as a pretext to limit access to information.
  • Authorities cited COVID-19 to justify expanded surveillance powers and the deployment of new technologies that were once seen as too intrusive.
  • The slow-motion “splintering” of the internet trasnformed into an all-out race toward “cyber sovereignty,” with each government imposing its own internet regulations in a manner that restricts the flow of information across national borders

You can find Freedom on the Net 2020—including key findings, background data, and country-level reports for the 65 countries covered by the report—by visiting https://freedomonthenet.org/ 

Freedom House is piloting a new research initiative to investigate the interplay between digital platforms and election integrity. Election Watch for the Digital Age equips technology companies, civil society organizations, and policymakers with a data-driven resource for evaluating the human rights impact of internet platforms on a country’s electoral process. Learn more at https://freedomhouse.org/report/election-watch-digital-age

Amid declining faith in the international system, a different form of protectionism is gaining steam with adverse consequences for billions of internet users. Authorities in a growing number of countries are weighing measures to control the flow of data in and out of their national borders. Freedom House's special report "User Privacy or Cyber Sovereignty?" assesses the human rights impact of data localozation. Read the report at https://freedomhouse.org/report/special-report/2020/user-privacy-or-cyber-sovereignty.

For more information, including requests for information from Freedom House's regional experts and specialists on technology and democracy, please contact Kian Vesteinsson at [email protected].

Freedom House is founded on the core conviction that freedom flourishes in democratic nations where governments are accountable to their people; the rule of law prevails; and freedoms of expression, association, and belief, as well as respect for the rights of women, minorities and historically marginalized groups, are guaranteed. We produce research and reports on a number of core thematic issues related to democracy, political rights and civil liberties. With regards to internet freedom, Freedom House counteracts the rising tide of government control over the internet. Our work empowers local experts in dozens of countries to speak up for the rights of internet users, and assist activists in recovering from digital attacks.