The internet is getting less free

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A protester holds an Amazon box made into a sad face as part of a protest against the company’s cloud services contracts with Palantir, which supports ICE.

Election interference and government surveillance on social media are hurting internet freedoms.

 

Amazon has been under fire from protesters lately for assisting surveillance technology company Palantir — and, by extension, ICE — as well as for its own surveillance products like Ring.

Free speech and privacy on the internet declined globally for the ninth consecutive year according to the Freedom on the Net 2019 report by bipartisan watchdog and think tank Freedom House.

 

The report’s authors cite two main reasons for the decline: increased online election interference — by government and civilian actors alike — and increased government surveillance, both of which are spreading on social media platforms. These are topics that continue to dominate the news cycle, whether it’s Facebook’s ad policy that allows politicians to spread lies or Amazon’s growing relationships with police departments that use its Ring smart doorbells and associated social media products to surveil communities. Freedom House recommends increased transparency and oversight of these platforms in order to stop the situation from getting worse.

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