Internet Freedom Continues To Decline Around The World, A New Report Says

from The Verge

Digital authoritarianism is on the rise, according to a new report from a group that monitors internet freedoms. Freedom House, a pro-democracy think tank, said today that governments are seeking more control over users’ data while also using laws nominally intended to address “fake news” to suppress dissent. It marked the eighth consecutive year that Freedom House found a decline in online freedoms around the world.

“The clear emergent theme in this report is the growing recognition that the internet, once seen as a liberating technology, is increasingly being used to disrupt democracies as opposed to destabilizing dictatorships,” said Mike Abramowitz, president of Freedom House, in a call with reporters. “Propaganda and disinformation are increasingly poisoning the digital sphere, and authoritarians and populists are using the fight against fake news as a pretext to jail prominent journalists and social media critics, often through laws that criminalize the spread of false information.”

In the United States, internet freedom declined in 2018 due to the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of net neutrality rules. Other countries fared much worse — 17 out of 65 surveyed had adopted laws restricting online media. Of those, 13 prosecuted citizens for allegedly spreading false information. And more countries are accepting training and technology from China, which Freedom House describes as an effort to export a system of censorship and surveillance around the world.

More here.

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35 Responses to Internet Freedom Continues To Decline Around The World, A New Report Says

  1. Paul Lee November 2, 2018 at 3:34 pm #

    As human beings around the world continuously have access to the internet, the cyber world is increasingly becoming regulated. However, these regulations are becoming a hazard toward citizen’s internet freedom. The internet was supposed to be a designated space where a human can speak freely and obtain access to the correct facts and information. However, in today’s age around the world, a variety of governments is using the internet to keep their citizens in check, propaganda, and false news. Any government who has power over the internet should not use it for their own purpose, but it should be a neutral ground. Especially with different countries, putting journalist and social media critics into jail for what they do or write on the internet. I believe this to be very wrong as they are speaking what is on their mind. These journalists or anyone who speaks their mind on the internet should be allowed freedom of speech. In my eyes, this is a given human right to every single human being on planet earth. Another aspect, that I find very horrifying, is that some governments around the world increase their state of surveillance so they can keep a watchful eye over their citizens. China has a social credit system that has a watchful eye on a city or group of citizens of what they do in their lives. If they happen to do anything negative, these citizens would not be able to purchase or travel to places because of their negative action. A system that China implemented to keep their citizens in check which is very smart but scary as every citizen can be watched under the government. Many other countries attempt to do this or have such a system. The purpose of this is to have total control over their country and their citizens. In order for nothing bad to happen and the country goes a down the road that the government wants. A very manipulative move that most governments in the world’s history have attempted and some have suggested. However, it is a terrible plan that will negatively affect the citizens and the country itself. In my opinion, it will make the country and the citizens oblivious to the truth. Also reading this article, written by Casey Newton, I have learned a couple new facts that I had no clue about. For example, they had a report that stated, “Governments in 18 countries increased state surveillance between June 2017 and now, with 15 considering new “data protection” laws, which can require companies to store user data locally and potentially make it easier for governments to access”. I believe that no government should have access to internet data or user data for the purpose of constant surveillance when it is not needed. Governments around the world need to put regulations and laws to protect user’s privacy and internet rights. However, many of them are not doing that and if anything, they are exposing a user’s internet history and how they speak on the internet. I am happy to read that Freedom-House has been monitoring the world’s internet freedom and that have a good watch over the world’s internet. We need more organization that monitor and fight for internet freedom around the world. All our private information and how the world works, it is connected to the internet in some shape or form. I encourage more of my netizens around the world to fight for internet freedom and strict government regulations.

  2. Nora Trapp November 2, 2018 at 4:02 pm #

    This article brings up the continuous discussion between security and privacy. In today’s day and era we live in a society where we are continuously blurring the line between necessary security, and the right to freedom. This article brings up various statistics all concluding to one fact: that our freedom is at risk. Internet freedom nowadays is just like any other type of freedom because of how much of an influence the internet plays in our lives. As a university student I know for a fact that there is not one day of the school year where I am not accessing the internet. The reason for this is because nowadays the internet is like a necessity for us to carry out our everyday lives. It’s not just college students, it’s nearly every single individual that has access to technology. Because technology is an evergoing dependence in our natural lives, it begs the question whether or not we are able to draw a line between what is our right to keep to ourselves, and to what extent we should be willing to give up a piece of our freedom for the security of a nation? The problem with this statement is that more often than not our freedom is not being used for our own protection, but rather for manuplistic motives. The vast number of cases and companies that have been caught participating in some type of illegal data snatching all leads us to believe that our freedom is at the expense of our protection. As we move towards a continuously adaptive world this discussion will only continue to escalate, and will most likely not find a resolution until both the freedom of users and the security of the world align with each other.

  3. Gary Wolz III November 2, 2018 at 8:00 pm #

    The world is always changing and the internet is no exception from that. The problem for the internet however since its real emergence in 1983 it has arguable became one of the most useful tools to the everyday person. Everything from trying to solve certain problems, research different topics, or get a message across the internet is there for 55% of the population or 3.2 billion people and is increasing every day. There is a problem that this article points out that is halting the progress of the internet and its intended uses, that problem is governments around the world. Media in countries is being hindered big time on the internet, with governments preventing or getting rid of what they consider fake news. It has reached the point, at least in 13 countries, that people are prosecuted for supposedly spreading false info on media. There is an issue with false information on the internet but for the most part these countries that go after what they call false information is normally information that negatively talks about that government or makes them look bad. Of course this censorship and filtering of content on the internet can be helpful in preventing things like in Sri Lanka and India when false information spread causing mods to form and a religious conflict to arise causing people to be murdered. While censorship could be very useful in a country like Myanmar where hate speech is taking over especially on Facebook that is causing people to be killed and religious conflict is ensuing. The problem is that things like religious hate and people who are giving out information on the internet with the intent to cause problems or confuse people are not the ones that are currently being stop. It is the ones who are trying to do well, get the truth out there about their oppressive governments and issues within their country. The internet is something that deserves to be free for everyone with the ability to use it freely and comfortably. That’s is in danger with governments using the negatives to also help what might be a positive but is against them or their ideas.

  4. Yash Wagle November 2, 2018 at 9:00 pm #

    Once regarded as a technology that promoted freedom to everyone in the world, governmental intervention (and in some cases lack of intervention) has led to declining internet freedom in the last eight straight years. Personally I find this fact to be both extremely concerning, yet not so surprising. An article from the BBC stated that 18 election in different countries were influenced by online disinformation campaigns in the last two years, even the United States was subject to such influence in the 2016 presidential election. In the many of the other countries who were found to have their elections influenced by social media and “fake news” have actually led for their governments to exercise more control over the content that their citizens see. Yet in some cases these governments have used the context of “fake news” and disinformation that is hurtful for their public perceptions “pretext to jail prominent journalist” as the Verge article stated. I find this fact to be extremely concerning as I strongly believe journalism is an important work and is crucial in informing the people. In recent events we became aware about the murder of the Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was found to have murdered in a Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey. I believe that this event is a perfect example of how governments are using their authoritative to censor the content its people receive. Khasgoggi was a vocal critic Saudi Arabia, which caused for him to seek a self-imposed exile in the United States before getting killed by direct orders from the Saudi Arabian Crown. The Verge article also stated that American internet freedom has also declined because of net neutrality rules. This is actually example of how a lack of government intervention has led to declining freedoms. As the FCC repealed the previous administrations net neutrality rules, Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) are given a free reign to manipulate the user content. One of these known tactics is called “throttling” in which the ISP’s basically blackmail websites to pay for their internet speeds to be fast, companies that don’t pay will have to face these slower speeds. It will be really interesting to see if new laws to restore people freedom to the internet.

  5. David S November 2, 2018 at 9:07 pm #

    As alarming as it is, it honestly isn’t surprising to know that the government is taking control over the data of Internet users. In Internet has been traditionally as something liberating or something that represented freedom. It was a resource that granted its users to use it in a variety of ways and access what they needed and wanted to access with major issues. Now that net neutrality has been removed from the US, internet users are bound to have more difficulty using the Internet in the future if not any time soon. Despite how a person may feel exhausted from hearing the term “fake news” being thrown around constantly, it appears there is some form of deception and use of misinformation occurring on multiple media platforms that causes major disruption and interference in a country’s politics. As dismal as America’s internet freedom may be looking at the moment, other countries have arguably worse situations.
    Seventeen out of sixty-five countries in the world have adopted legal policies that restrict forms of online media. Eighteen have acquired state surveillance laws since last year and fifteen are considering new data protection laws. Governments in thirty-two countries have apparently been engaged in paying commentators, trolls, bots to manipulate online conversations to revolve around desired topics or steer away from unwanted ones. Even messaging apps are now involving these manipulators. It is concerning to know how anyone online could be used by someone to push or direct a desired political agenda or plant an idea into someone’s head and how these acts are mostly being committed by large and powerful political entities. Internet freedom is definitely declining and change needs to made to save it.

  6. Elyse N Cuttic November 2, 2018 at 10:10 pm #

    Although I want to think we live in a world of freedom, this thinking is just not what we see or hear anymore. There is an obvious decline in online freedom making it the eight year we have seen this decline. One would think that we can search anything and only that would come up. But most people know if you search one thing you get results for numerous different things, including stuff you did not type in. Propaganda seems to find its way on to every site you look at. People are unknowingly being influenced by what they see on the internet. Sometimes this even includes us seeing fake news, swaying what we think of certain high-profile people such as politicians, CEO’s, and journalists. I personally think the spreading of fake news is a very big issue since so many people use social media and it spreads quickly.
    The most interesting part of this article for me is when it talks about other countries adopting laws restricting online media. This to me is very surprising as it is a big part of our lives. I must not realize how easy it is for me to access the internet. I have to be on my laptop for every class I take as well sometime internet with the media as well. I could not imagine being restricted when I am allowed to use the internet as countries like India have done. Internet for Americans have become a huge part of our everyday lives no matter how young or old. It is used for so much more than being a gateway to spread fake news. I am glad to learn at the end there have been bright spots for media use as it has been used to help put pressure on prime minsters to release prisoners and help resolve a revolution this year. I think the internet does more good than harm, but the bad always outweighs the good.

  7. Amy Rheel November 2, 2018 at 10:50 pm #

    There are definitely positives along with negatives when it comes too internet freedom which can cause multiple arguments and opinions with users all around the world. When the internet first came out it was endless the possibilities someone was able to look up or create. As it is a resource to be able to use the internet for finding information that is endless like our minds. It is also a way for us to be connected as one world, seeing news or trends from any part of this earth that has access to the internet. It is absolutely seen as a right and a freedom of speech what we can say an access over the internet, a way where an individual can express themselves. This freedom can also bring plenty of controversy and cases that can bring some people to be hurt in real life, which is why there are new restrictions on the internet that was not available before. That if someone is expressing their opinion on any type of topic, someone over the internet can start harassing them or even find them in real life. It is a shame that a place where we should be allowed to express our opinion has become unavailable since other individuals do not know how to respect someone else’s viewpoint. Personally, if the internet restriction is for a reason of safety in this matter for protecting others, this is something I can respect. Although some countries that do not allow individuals to express their opinion or even access the free world that the internet is; this is something I cannot respect. As those countries are looking to silence their people and cause them to miss out or not be able to view what joy the rest of the world has. The line between security and silencing users is something that is still being developed but definitely should not be ignored since our society is so plugged into the internet.

  8. Jordan H November 5, 2018 at 3:02 pm #

    Internet freedom is declining and it would seem that most users either don’t know or care that their online activity is being restricted. When the net neutrality law was passed, millions of people voiced their outrage but in the recent months I have heard almost nothing about it. The internet can be used for almost any application imaginable and that makes it potentially dangerous, but for most users it is a way to stay in touch and informed in the modern day. Even to this day I don’t fully understand every aspect of the net neutrality debate, but the fact that my information is more accessible to government agencies makes me slightly uncomfortable. The internet should not be regulated and restricted by the government, some people including myself see that as a direct violation of their privacy rights.

    In the 2016 presidential election outside influences bought ads on Facebook and used them to manipulate public opinion. These problems are not strictly happening in the United States either, countries like India have had to cut off access to the internet because of violent mobs attacking people over false news stories. Drastic measures like that have not been taken in America, but it would seem that in the near future we may be faced with similar circumstances. The author of this article claims that internet freedoms have been declining over the last eight years, which dates before the net neutrality decision. It would appear that a difficult decision is presented with the internet now so easily accessible, how and if the government should intervene with regulations and restrictions.

    More and more countries are adopting laws that restrict the freedoms of internet users, but is it necessarily a bad thing? Our first amendment right in America includes freedom of speech, but now it seems that the internet has become a bit of a grey area in that regard. If a journalist is accused of spreading fake news with the intention of disrupting democracy, they can be imprisoned in countries with more restrictive internet laws. The President has already made questionable remarks about the media and news outlets that criticize him, so do we really want to allow free speaking and thinking news outlets restricted or face jail time over news stories that they publish online? With no definitive answer it would seem the only way to make your voice heard on the subject is to get out and vote, don’t allow another election to pass without doing your civic duty.

  9. Peter Duca November 8, 2018 at 3:02 pm #

    I can definitely see both sides of the “Internet Freedom” debate. The Internet in today’s world is a legitimate source of information for users, but in the US and many other countries it is not regulated like TV and other sources of media. The non-regulation of the Internet has caused a multitude of safety issues in the US; people access anti-government sites through social media and become influenced to cause terror across the nation. Regulation of terrroristic and anti-government websites in the US would definitely prevent people from being influenced in a negative fashion. The Internet should also receive the same treatment as TV and radio due to its prevalence in today’s society as a source of news. Governments should monitor the information on the Internet in order to ensure false information is not spread.

    Unfortunately, authoritarian governments are abusing Internet regulation to silence protestors and opponents of government leaders. Dictators and other leaders of these countries are able to arrest and prosecute protestors for simply disagreeing with them. The Internet has frequently been a source of un-regulated and un-biased information for people to make their own decisions about leaders in their governments. If governments are given more regulatory power over the Internet, citizens could more or less be influenced to believe certain facts about leaders that may not necessarily be true.

    Data protection, censorship, the safety of citizens, and the freedom of speech all come into play when governments are deciding how to regulate the Internet. There should be a collective effort by governments in organizations such as NATO, G20, and the UN to come up with a solid framework on how to provide free information while keeping their nations safe from harm.

  10. Eyal Kleiman November 8, 2018 at 5:46 pm #

    First world country governments want more data and more control over their citizens via the internet. What was once limitless and free is now regulated and censored, or at least beginning to become censored. The article continues to mention the suppression of dissent, this is merely a tactic by governments to impose laws and keep control over information. The rollback of net neutrality laws here in the United States will tarnish the reputation of ISPs but they don’t care because they get to line their pockets with more money. The throttling of internet connection is one of the first steps to companies and the government maintaining control over our use of the internet. A huge problem is the average person’s inability to detect fake news from real news. People will unfortunately believe what they read on the internet without fact checking and this problem has led to riots and mobs in countries like India and Sri Lanka.

  11. Mackenzie Greenfield November 8, 2018 at 6:44 pm #

    Hearing about some of the restrictions that are occurring in other countries, I am reminded how lucky we are that freedom of speech in the US is such a highly valued and protected right. I may not agree with the restrictions being used by some other countries but I do understand the temptation to try to restrict speech because of the misinformation and hate speech that makes its way on the internet. Germany recently enacted legislation (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/germany-begins-enforcing-new-online-hate-speech-rules/) went into effect Jan 1 2018 that requires social media to remove posts containing hate speech and other illegal content within 24 hours or face hefty fines. For more complex cases, the social media has a week to resolve the issue. I think one of the problems here is figuring out what constitutes hate speech/illegal speech. I don’t think Germany (or the US) has a clear definition of what constitutes hate/illegal speech and so we are relying on the social media sites to decide what this is. That doesn’t seem like a good course of action. Given that they may face hefty fines, I expect they would be more likely to take down anything suspicious than not. It is concerning that other countries are pointing to Germany as an example to follow – not sure that is a good idea. In the US, we seem to criticize social media when they don’t quickly remove some posts that might be hate speech or misinformation but there is that fine line between not allowing them to post some information and violating their right to free speech – and again we seem to be relying on social media to decide that. In the US the courts have often used the “imminent lawless action” standard for deciding what constitutes free speech. I think most misinformation or hate speech on the internet would not likely meet this standard. Maybe the internet will force us to revisit that standard

  12. Tyler s November 9, 2018 at 6:07 am #

    Internet freedom in the United States is on the decline. Last year, the Federal Communications Commission repealed net neutrality which put user’s protection at risk. A pro-democracy group named Freedom House are alleging that the government is seeking to take control over more and more user data. Governments around the world are attempting to rid the internet of dreaded fake news. This sparks a debate of weighing security and privacy and political propaganda and disinformation’s. Governments are looking to create more and more laws that will force companies to store user data locally, making it easier to access.
    Freedom is something that everyone seeks in their daily lives. The internet is supposed to be a place of freedom that is used to speak your mind and give you access to the rest of the world. The internet keeps the world together but can also put people and groups at odds. The internet is often used for political messages that spread “fake news”, a phrase that is cemented in every Americans brain. The government is trying to eradicate fake news and the spread of false information and enforce that the internet be used the right way and not a platform to spread false political messages.

  13. Michael Martini November 9, 2018 at 11:04 am #

    Fake news is a huge issue we have in our world today. Most people tend to believe everything they see on the internet, and this should not be the case. If there was a way for the government to get rid of fake news as soon as it appears to the public, such as online, this would make our community stronger and have more accurate opinions on how we should feel. Although I do believe that the internet should be a place to freely speak our own opinions, big names such as CBS news, Fox, etc. shouldn’t necessary be one-sided in what they are telling people. Small names such as individual people certainly do have the right to say whatever they feel, but when big names get involved, it simply only causes controversy and causes people to sway their opinions because of this. The problem with this is, however, that if big news names were open to both sides, then there would be no results in the end mainly because they wouldn’t be able to gain followers. The solution with this would be to simply only support what they believe, and not put others down and create false information so they are able to jump ahead.

  14. Daniel Campbell November 9, 2018 at 2:33 pm #

    The use of internet is a privilege for most citizens of the world. It a very helpful communication system but all systems have their faults. It’s not surprising that countries around the world are starting to limit and restrict the use of internet. This article highlights key points about why a country would want to limit the use of internet within their borders because the internet, while providing endless data and seemly light speed communication, can be at risk to security breaches along with fake news. Fake news used to be humorous because of the fact that people “believe everything that’s on the internet” because “if it’s on the internet it has to be true.” This used to be the case when only facts were presented on the internet but in today’s age it is almost impossible to believe what the news says. Freedom House seems to be on the side of the people when they support the freedom of using the internet without restrictions. As they said there are trade offs between freedom and security. It’s one of the oldest challenges for governments around the world. The balance between freedom and security. We give the people the option to do whatever they want, and the potential for disaster in increased, but when the government provides restrictions on citizens freedom, it is in the best interest of the citizens to be safe from violence and in this case, false news.

  15. John Skalski November 9, 2018 at 2:35 pm #

    I believe that a decline in internet freedom can be looked at as a good and bad thing. First, it is a good thing because governments are saying that they are trying to get rid of the fake news aspect of the internet. This is a good thing because even though the internet is great and has a ton of great things with it, it also has a lot of stuff that people just put on there that have very little truth to it. It bothers me a lot whenever I am using the internet to search a topic or something of that nature and I come across a website that you can tell is not a legitimate one. There are a lot of people out there that will put fake news reports or breaking news in sports up just to get attention. I remember the one time I was using twitter and somebody copied the profile of a well-known sports reporter and said that there was some breaking news happening that a player was traded or something like that. I got excited because it was a very interesting move, but then I looked into it and found out that was a fake account. Getting rid of fake news like that will be very nice and make the internet a better place.
    The bad aspect of taking away some internet freedom is the fact that some of the internet is being taken away. In my opinion, I feel that the government will take the fake news category and stretch it in ways that will benefit them. So, instead of just getting rid of the obvious fake news articles and such, they will try to get rid of anything that they do not like and believe should not be out there for the world to see. If the government were to go down this path then it would be a very bad thing and leave us without some aspects of the internet that make it so great. The internet is a place where everybody should be able to voice their opinion freely, to a certain point, and not worry about being regulated by the government. The internet is something special and hopefully the government will not take that away and make it into something that people no longer enjoy.

  16. Alexander Fialkowsky November 9, 2018 at 2:42 pm #

    The exponential growth and power of the Internet has caught the attention of many governments across the world. More and more countries are starting to implement censorship in online media, as well as put forth tainted, propaganda like news to influence readers. To me, this is a dangerous area to find ourselves in as a society. There is no way to tell what news is actually the truth. The article mentioned a program being put forth by China to supply technology and training to other government agencies in order to fight “fake news”. The Freedom House, a liberal free media group, stated that this act by China is very dangerous and could lead to mass censorship in several countries. I could not agree more with this statement. Giving the power of supplying and teaching nations how to control the media in their countries would be dangerous in the hands of anyone, especially China. This is dangerous because if China does follow through with this plan, they have the potential to omit anything from the media, whether it is the truth or not, in not only China but also all of the nations they supplied the training to. As a society, I feel it is our duty to fight against censorship in all forms. If we give the government power to censor the media arbitrarily than we would be forced to adhere to their news and media as fact, when the likely chance is that it is not. The first step in fighting censorship is making the people affected by it aware of it. The more people fighting against the issue the better.

  17. John Heintz November 9, 2018 at 2:58 pm #

    The internet freedom discussion is one of polarizing debate. Given the world’s ever-growing reliance on technology, this is an issue that is just beginning. First-world countries and their respective governments are aiming to use user data in order to provide means of oversight and security, however there are people who think that doing so is an invasion of privacy.

    With governments in 18 countries increased their surveillance, it is evident that the “big brother” mentality is on the rise. For those who believe that the surveillance is a bit overbearing, this is an area of grave concern and is a direct infringement upon basic human rights.

    The topic of fake news has gained traction in the latest political cycle, and thwarting such news is important, but only to an extent that is within reason. Hopefully, “digital authoritarianism” will not become too frequent to a point where citizens of countries become unsafe, because above all else, safety should be a number one priority.

  18. Brandon Ruiz November 9, 2018 at 3:26 pm #

    Today, using the internet is the best way to obtain and share information. Someone can go on their smartphone and use the internet to search for whatever it is that they want to know. Of course, the only way that people could find the information that they want is if someone shared the information on the internet first. In this way information is constantly being exchanged through the technological innovation that is the internet. However, there are some governments around the world that seek to restrict the exchange of certain types of information in order to advance their own agendas. By doing this these governments are causing a worldwide decline in online freedoms that is detrimental to the future of our world.

    Recently, according to Freedom House, the way that governments have been going about trying to take control of user’s data is by enacting laws that are nominally to address “fake news”. By enacting laws like these governments have the ability to claim any piece of information that is shared on the internet as “fake news”. This also gives them the ability to potentially jail people who post information that they determine to be “fake news”. Therefore with laws like these in place, if a person shares information that is against the agenda of their government they can potentially go to jail for it. By enacting these type of laws governments are abusing their power and their citizens are helplessly taken advantage of.

    Laws like these do not exist in the United States due to the citizens of the United States having the right to freedom of speech, but our online freedom is declining as well. The reason that our online freedoms are declining in 2018 is due to the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of net neutrality rules. Due to net neutrality laws being repealed Internet Service Providers (ISPs) now have the power to block access to certain sites without getting the approval of government authorities. This can be potentially dangerous because this means that ISPs have the ability to block access to political websites that they don’t agree with. That could potentially mean that we would only be able to access the websites that contain the political viewpoint of the ISP.

    The internet in its nature is a liberating technology and should remain that way. Governments should not be able to oppress the internet freedoms of their citizens by making one or two laws. The oppression of internet freedoms gives way to communist dictatorships that favor the wealthy and prey upon the poor. By oppressing internet freedoms governments can spread political propaganda, suppress political ideology that counters theirs, and an extensive list of other things. The spreading of propaganda and the prohibition of certain ideas is the way that communist countries are born. The online freedoms of people around the world need to be protected in order to ensure the future of democracy itself.

  19. Justin Heath November 9, 2018 at 3:39 pm #

    Internet freedom is something that is very concerning all over the world. I remember when the US was starting to push toward getting rid of net neutrality, and the huge about of resistance that ensued as a result. However, in the US we still have the freedom to speak freely over the internet and no one will be prosecuted for the spread of misinformation. What I find particularly interesting about this article is that countries are beginning to take notes out of China’s book on how to monitor technology. Before reading this I never really made a connection between how there is such surveillance over how technology is used in China, but nonetheless, the people of this country use the internet and their technology for just about everything. WeChat, in particular, is one of the most common means of payment within China.
    I find it very concerning that there is such an urgency for countries to regulate how we use the internet because it is such a versatile and useful tool. I think that just as with any other form of regulation, regulating the internet will just discourage people from using it as much as they do. I agree with the reasoning for it because, the spread of misinformation is clearly a problem that needs to be addressed, but I feel as though there should be a better solution to the issue that allows for some sort of middle ground to be reached. The current means of “squashing this bug” seems almost hypocritical as countries are hiring trolls and bots to manipulate how people receive information over the internet.

  20. Tess Coorens November 9, 2018 at 3:49 pm #

    I think the concept freedom of speech is a though subject, especially freedom of speech in te online world. The internet provides a safer net for people to be open about what they think as it gives them more change to be unanimous. People feel more comfortable to write what they think and want behind the wall of the internet. The internet gives people more courage to speak their mind as no one knows who they are and thus they cannot be judges by close friends, nor strangers for giving their opinion. However, according to the article the internet freedom is not used for positive freedom of speech anymore. Instead more and more people use the internet to disrupt democracies as opposed to destabilizing dictatorship. Because of this appearance the U.S. has already declined internet freedom in 2018. But not just the U.S. has been implementing these things. According to the article there are certain countries that even prosecuted their citizens for spreading false information. Which is a big issue. Since it is so easy to share information on the internet and considering that people believe you very quickly, people tend to share ‘fake news’. Meaning they try to spread rumors that are far from true, not only about celebrities but also about political standpoints. For this reason, I understand why governments want to limit the freedom of speech as a person should not be allowed to just throw assumptions about persons on the internet that can have serious consequences. So, limitation could be good till a certain degree. But people should still be able to say what they want and given the freedom of speech. The government cannot just try to take away this right without consequence. The issue of sharing propaganda on the internet can only be wrong until a certain degree. I believe people should be able to share their opinion. Someone can agree, or someone can be upset and disagree and say something about it, but it is your choice. Whoever wants to listen to their opinion listens, and whoever does not, can just keep scrolling and read the next comment they see. It is only the issue you make of it.

  21. Nicholas Stefanelli November 9, 2018 at 4:47 pm #

    Knock, knock! It’s the government open up! Imagine that at your front door and they just barge in with no warrant not cause of action and take a look at all your personal thing a sensitive information keep safe inside your house. Sounds like an act of the government taking away your rights. We love to think that in our great country we are free and have rights. Over the years, though we have had advancements I technology and other aspects of society. Ever since the patriot act was enacted in, two thousand and one we have seen a steady decline in our privacy over the internet. The patriot act was enacted in response to the September 11 attacks and the 2001 anthrax attacks, Congress swiftly passed legislation to strengthen national security. On October 23, 2001, Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner introduced H.R. 3162 incorporating provisions from a previously sponsored House bill and a Senate bill also introduced earlier in the month. The Act passed by the House the next day and they had a vote of 357–66.t. On October 25, the Act passed the Senate by a 98–1 vote, the only dissident being Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. This was because the country was in fear and this seems like the best solution to make us feel safe again. Little did we know this act is now part of the reason the government is able to take away our internet privacy. I can say I was not shocked at what I read in the above article that is hyperlinked to the actual one on a different domain name. We have allowed this to go on and we need to speak up. Now we make not have it as bad as India but the reason for us to speak up now is so we can prevent ourselves from winding up like that country and not having any rights. I am all for the government doing severance for counterterrorism but we need to find a middle ground now where the safety of the United States and the rights of its citizens are both upheld.

  22. Danielle Blanco November 9, 2018 at 5:03 pm #

    While reading this article, I understood the reasoning to why they may need to put in place stricter internet restrictions. The example they gave was India. In India, they had to cut off the internet completely in response to the outbreak of ethnic and religious conflict. There are 18 countries with increased state surveillance and 32 countries pay commentators in a an effort to manipulate online conversations. I can picture these restrictions in place in countries that do not have as much freedom as the United States. I believe that if security measures were put into place in America, many people will be outraged and there are many reasons. First of all, some people use the internet to express how they are feeling. For example, social media is prevalent on the internet. Social media gives people the platform to express their thoughts. If the United States took that right away, there will be many cases where people believe they are getting their right to freedom to speech taken away. Now, there are instances where there is the spread of fake news. Some people may suggest to implement a security setting to a certain degree but those being restricted will believe that they are getting singled out and would want the rule to be enforced to everyone or no one. Also, people will believe that this will be an invasion of privacy. If we have the government tracking what we share people may feel as if they have no privacy. I do not this would fly in the United States. We base our country on freedom. The internet gives us the freedom to research what we want, to find answers immediately, post whatever we want, and have a sense of privacy. If the government takes any of those rights away, then Americans will feel as if they are taking away their rights.

  23. Anthony L November 9, 2018 at 5:26 pm #

    The push to combat so called fake news in recent years is most likely at least partially motivated by a desire to censor political opponents. Of course, censorship of opposing viewpoints would not go over well with the American public, so it has to be sold as a way to protect American Democracy. The phenomenon of false information being spread through news media is nothing new, according to Heritage.org, “…intentionally misleading news has been around since before the invention of the printing press… [The founding fathers] saw that while it was tempting to censor fake stories, ultimately the truth was more likely to be abused by an all-powerful government arbiter than the filter of unimpeded popular debate,” This is why the First Amendment was created. Although modern technology has enabled misinformation to reach a much larger audience and to be produced in a much larger volume, the same could be said for truthful information. Correct information is able to be more widespread than ever before. This fact is often overlooked by those who call for the censorship of fake news. Modern technology makes it more difficult for major news organizations and governments to control the narrative of any particular event. Thus, censorship of so called fake news could be used as a way to regain control over the spread of information.
    The term fake news is what would be colloquially a buzzword. It’s an ill-defined term that is used by different people to mean different things. As the website Vox puts it, “There are some cases in which the falseness of a news claim will be inarguable…But in other cases, one person’s fake newsmaker is another person’s bold truth-teller,” In our polarized society, there are many contentious and highly controversial issues. Regulation of fake news could be easily used to attack those who have opinions that are opposed to the opinions of those in power. Thus this will allow those in power to attack their political opponents while claiming to protect democracy. Thus, any attempt to regulate fake news in the age of the internet would not get rid of misinformation, it would do a better job of hiding political dissent. This censorship is not limited to governments, it is also being pursued by social media companies, “There are some cases in which the falseness of a news claim will be inarguable…But in other cases, one person’s fake newsmaker is another person’s bold truth-teller,” With how integral social media is to our modern lives, these tools could be used to effectively censor any content that goes against the political leanings of the Facebook management. Since there aren’t many viable alternatives to these websites, social media sites could essentially cut off alternative news outlets from their audience. This is just as much of a danger as government regulation of fake news.

  24. Michael Robins November 9, 2018 at 6:08 pm #

    The internet has become so large and powerful that it is practically an extension of many people’s lives. With this being said, I believe that internet freedom is an extension of many freedoms that each nation and society has. This could explain why internet freedom is declining in many countries. It is a reflection of their laws, morals, and values. Censorship is another way of shutting down free speech and press. It is understandable that there is a need for some sort of control on the internet. It is getting to a point that is concerning however. The internet can be a place for open thought, entertainment, learning, and so much more. It is worrying that many countries around the globe are putting many restrictions on internet access and media as Newton states. It comes down to more than just internet freedom. As stated before, I feel as though this trend is a reflection on freedom in general.
    Newton writes that in 2018 alone, 17 countries have already made laws restricting online media. This trend does not seem like it is going away anytime soon. This might be due to the rise of “fake news”. I have always wondered to myself who considers what is real and what is not. I believe that all information, as long as it is not promoting violence should be allowed. This promotes true freedom on the internet and forces users to make choices based on what they hear. Censorship on the internet decreases freedom and thought. Anyone should be able to have their own thoughts and ideas without having to be targeted for it. In Armenia and Ethiopia, there were two positive cases of what internet freedom could bring. Especially in Armenia, internet freedom helped to ensure a peaceful revolution according to Newton. Increasing internet freedom would benefit society long term. The internet was designed to be a place of freedom away from the physical world. Given its power, it will be interesting to see how internet freedom either evolves or devolves in the coming years.

  25. MBB November 9, 2018 at 6:16 pm #

    As access to the internet becomes more widely available, the freedom that it provides is slowly decreasing thanks to new laws being put into action and some new regulations being put in place. A big example of regulation rollback in the US is the repeal of net neutrality which allows ISP’s almost unlimited power over the internet. Also in the European Union, the new General Data Protection Regulation will aim to restrict internet services for EU citizens, but will also have an affect on the rest of the world. This is not however a new thing. Internet freedom has been in decline for eight straight years now.
    This trend of a more controlled internet brings up an interesting dilemma. How much is control is too much? While it may seem like the US lost a lot of internet freedom, other countries had it much worse. 17 out of 65 countries that were polled in a survey adopted new internet restrictions, and 13 of those also prosecuted citizens for the spread of false information. This movement of controlling the internet seems to take away the internet’s primary use. An open place to communicate and share ideas. If there are more and more restrictions put on it, it may become nothing more than a stream of government controlled information that could limit the wealth of knowledge that we have access to as of now. The other side of this argument is that more restriction improves the privacy of those who use the internet and its services. These regulations will most certainly limit the risk of unwanted data usage by corporations but at the expense of the experience that they create on the platform.
    Personally I am not in favor of heavy regulation of the internet. It is meant to be an open place for the sharing of ideas and also communicating with each other. There does need to be some, but that should only be for objectively wrong things, like publishing false information for the purpose of swaying peoples opinions. Many people do not fully research what they look up on the internet, so some regulation could prevent the spread of too much false information. However, things like the EU’s GDPR go too far in taking away the power of independent creators or publishers which removes the primary purpose of the internet. I feel that there is a middle ground that would satisfy the needs of a majority of internet users that needs to be found.

    Works Cited

    Newton, Casey. “Internet Freedom Continues to Decline around the World, a New Report Says.”
    The Verge, The Verge, 1 Nov. 2018, https://goo.gl/NqiQx9

  26. Sydney Woodcock November 9, 2018 at 6:21 pm #

    Its incredibly concerning to read that freedom on the internet has been on the downward slope for 8 years and counting. This article points out that the internet is increasingly being used as a way to spread false information and propaganda. We all know the common saying “don’t believe everything you read on the internet.” This saying has been around for what seems like my whole life. Unfortunately, those who are spreading the false information seem to be getting craftier. Now, it’s incredibly hard to tell if something is real or fake without having to look deeply in to that issue. That being said, many countries have begun adopting laws that limit online media. In the US specifically, net neutrality was repealed, causing a large uproar among citizens (at least for a little while). Social media is incredibly powerful in that a simple post can affect so many people. The more false news stories there are on the internet, the higher the chance that people could react very badly to that information (if they haven’t already). The end of the article spoke of a small glimmer of hope in Armenian citizens using social media to stage a peaceful revolution and lowered restrictions on communication in Ethiopia. It’s hard to find a balance between complete freedom, and safely regulated media. It could be argued that there’s too little regulation in places where fake news runs amok, but what kind of regulations on the internet could be put in place and still considered ethical? It’s an incredibly thin line, and does not have an easy solution to enact.

  27. Warren Vetter November 9, 2018 at 6:56 pm #

    In the United States, internet freedom declined in 2018 due to the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of net neutrality rules. Other countries fared much worse — 17 out of 65 surveyed had adopted laws restricting online media. Of those, 13 prosecuted citizens for allegedly spreading false information. And more countries are accepting training and technology from China, which Freedom House describes as an effort to export a system of censorship and surveillance around the world. Many countries around the world do not let their citizens enjoy the freedom of speech such as us Americans do. These countries will most likely have very strict internet laws due to the fact that their citizens do not have freedom of speech. Furthermore, although we may feel they we do have the freedom to say whatever we want on the internet, people can easily forget that there are people watching our every move on the internet. Always be careful of what you are putting online. In countries such as Sri Lanka and India, mobs were going out and killing people for saying false information on the internet. This caused these countries to periodically shut down or limited access to the internet. Imagine the outbreak that would happen if the internet was to be shut down in the United States.

  28. Conor L November 9, 2018 at 7:10 pm #

    The internet is an amazing technological feat that can connect individuals worldwide with a click of a button. It’s important to note how for many people under the age of 25, the web has been in existence and easily accessible for the majority of their lives. For most the thought of having to pay for websites and applications that have been (and should be) free is ludicrous. However as this article points out, it’s an ongoing possibility that seems to be favoring charging users. In addition the thing that is most worrying to me personally is the idea of internet service providers (ISP’s) throttling. This is the process of slowing down internet speeds and requiring their customers to pay a higher premium to access internet speeds that most have likely grown accustomed to today.

    However the part of this article that interested me most was when Casey Newton discussed the following implications of countries that repealed net neutrality, he went on to state “Other countries fared much worse — 17 out of 65 surveyed had adopted laws restricting online media. Of those, 13 prosecuted citizens for allegedly spreading false information.” This quote is terrifying, the internet has always been a place where individuals can freely express their opinions often allowing others to add input. Without this freedom of censorship the government would have an excess of power and authority where they have complete control over what news stories are published for the world to see. It’s important for citizens to be properly educated on the implications of the repeal of net neutrality. The government may have already put words into actions, although if enough people protest any changes handed down from their ISP’s they will be hard pressed to continue to implement them. Without this, our future could resemble nations who blindly allowed these changes to occur, like Portugal:

    https://www.google.com/search?q=net+neutrality+portugal&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjM4vu-usjeAhUKm-AKHVVxCw0Q_AUIEygB&biw=1280&bih=636#imgrc=hmB-oUxXIhmXjM

    Newton, Casey. “Internet Freedom Continues to Decline around the World, a New Report Says.”
    The Verge, The Verge, 1 Nov. 2018, https://goo.gl/NqiQx9

  29. Conor L November 9, 2018 at 7:11 pm #

    The internet is an amazing technological feat that can connect individuals worldwide with a click of a button. It’s important to note how for many people under the age of 25, the web has been in existence and easily accessible for the majority of their lives. For most the thought of having to pay for websites and applications that have been (and should be) free is ludicrous. However as this article points out, it’s an ongoing possibility that seems to be favoring charging users. In addition the thing that is most worrying to me personally is the idea of internet service providers (ISP’s) throttling. This is the process of slowing down internet speeds and requiring their customers to pay a higher premium to access internet speeds that most have likely grown accustomed to today.

    However the part of this article that interested me most was when Casey Newton discussed the following implications of countries that repealed net neutrality, he went on to state “Other countries fared much worse — 17 out of 65 surveyed had adopted laws restricting online media. Of those, 13 prosecuted citizens for allegedly spreading false information.” This quote is terrifying, the internet has always been a place where individuals can freely express their opinions often allowing others to add input. Without this freedom of censorship the government would have an excess of power and authority where they have complete control over what news stories are published for the world to see. It’s important for citizens to be properly educated on the implications of the repeal of net neutrality. The government may have already put words into actions, although if enough people protest any changes handed down from their ISP’s they will be hard pressed to continue to implement them. Without this, our future could resemble nations who blindly allowed these changes to occur, like Portugal:

    https://www.google.com/search?q=net+neutrality+portugal&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjM4vu-usjeAhUKm-AKHVVxCw0Q_AUIEygB&biw=1280&bih=636#imgrc=hmB-oUxXIhmXjM

    Newton, Casey. “Internet Freedom Continues to Decline around the World, a New Report Says.”
    The Verge, The Verge, 1 Nov. 2018

  30. Brendan C. November 9, 2018 at 8:31 pm #

    A major component of the internet’s success is its openness to let users decide how it should be used. I believe it is crucial that the government remains cautious when regulating the internet by implementing statutes only when necessary. When the internet is burdened with increased regulatory demands, the platform becomes less attractive as website providers are faced with increased liability costs, as well as risks, that can ultimately drive down usage. Furthermore, this article addresses the recent “repeal of net neutrality rules” implemented by the Federal Trade Commission, which could pose a threat to the freedom and accessibility of the internet. Another concerning issue this article outlines is foreign governments “using laws nominally intended to address ‘fake news’ to suppress dissent,” which illustrates the complexity involved in regulating the internet. For example, in the United States, there is complexity involved in regulating “fake news” since the Constitution protects the freedom of speech.

    In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Glenn Reynolds cites how the Communications Decency Act allows mediums such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to be treated as platforms, rather than publishers (https://www.wsj.com/articles/when-digital-platforms-become-censors-1534514122). As a result, these websites are not responsible for content posted by users. This statute is crucial in protecting the incentives for platforms for like Google and Facebook to operate. In fact, if Facebook was legally regarded as a publisher, like The New York Times, for example, then the responsibility of monitoring every user’s post would become too burdensome and costly to manage. In turn, these social media platforms will cease to exist due to the legal risks involved. However, these protections are also dangerous because it gives platforms like Twitter and Facebook the freedom to censor their user’s content in a manner similar to publishing platforms.

    Reynolds Wall Street article also addresses the recent controversy where Alex Jones, a conspiracy theorist, was suspended on platforms such as Facebook and YouTube for speech regarded as anti-Semitic. Apple also removed Alex Jones’s podcast, InfoWars, from its app store. Despite Alex Jones’s extreme and controversial theories, this form of speech, under the United States Constitution, is protected under the First Amendment. I think it is dangerous when platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter take an active role in censoring their user’s content. Because these platforms have such a substantial user base amount, the task of censoring content in a fair and consistent manner is almost impossible.

  31. Petar Micevski November 9, 2018 at 8:32 pm #

    Why does the government get involved in the Internet’s freedom? Because of what the Internet has to offer. While global connection is an interesting feature, it is the vast amount of data that can be collected which makes the Internet the king of all kings on our government’s list. As more users continue to surf the web, the more attention is required from the government by the web. Through this regulation, businesses are granted some leeway in the sense that they are able to regulate their consumer’s activities through clickwrap, browsewrap, and shrinkwrap agreements. This is a huge factor of our consumer’s freedom because we are limited to their rights in order to use their websites and in order to access their websites, we are required to sign off our rights unknowingly through the complicated fine print in the terms and conditions of the click, browse, and shrinkwraps. With the combination of the wrap agreements and the government trying to collect our data at all times, consumer protection becomes a huge thing in today’s world because we are unaware of the consequences that come. However, there is a different side to this argument. Throughout this past week, we have discussed the consequences of businesses entangling their agreements so the limitations on consumers stay cutthroat. However, what would happen if the consumers knew all of the stuff going on in the world? Mr. Myrstad explains this concept very well in his TED Talk found here: (https://www.ted.com/talks/finn_myrstad_how_tech_companies_deceive_you_into_giving_up_your_data_and_privacy/discussion?rss#t-713172)
    Mr. Myrstad explains that while companies should lessen the complexity of the contracts found within the wraps, society should see a different side of the spectrum where the question is how people would react if they knew one hundred percent about the activities that go on on the Internet. If people were to know the full consequences of such actions, they would start to censor themselves. If people knew that others are watching them, they would watch what they are saying online. If they knew that businesses use their personal information to help better themselves, they would stop participating on the internet as a whole.
    This is where the argument of privacy becomes controversial. If we restrict the consumers too much, we will be losing our basic humans rights by unknowingly agreeing to sign away our rights. If we inform the populations about the abilities of businesses online, we would present false data in the name of privacy. This will also cause many problems because if we present false data on the Internet, there would be a breakout of confusion because we wouldn’t know who was who. The secret to obtaining the perfect balance of privacy and credibility is through the protection of private information. Without cybersecurity, our internet freedom is as good as gone.

  32. Adam C. November 9, 2018 at 8:37 pm #

    This article discusses the increase in global “digital authoritarianism” as more and more governments seek to take control of user’s private personal information. From there, it discusses the report from Freedom House and lists the number of countries with increased surveillance.

    As mentioned in the article, there are certainly trade offs between the role of personal freedom and national security. While America had its own repeal of net neutrality under the guise of it allowing ISPs to increase their infrastructure investment, it is not even close to what other countries do to their citizens. In countries such as China, the overall country may be safer from cyber based attacks, this is ultimately at the cost of its citizen’s personal privacy. While I understand China’s desire to protect itself from cyber based attacks, I think that their approach is too extreme.

    There should be a balance a user’s private freedom’s and the nation’s security. This balance should not be left up to the whim of changing administrations, but instead be set into the foundation of the respective country. This overall balance between private freedom’s and national security should spread to every decision the respective country makes.

    The internet and all its entirety should follow this delicate balance. Users should have the right to express what they want and access what they want as long as it does not compromise a nation’s security. This sense of security should not be consistently updating to infringe upon the personal freedom’s of the citizens. In a perfect world, the government should be doing what the citizens cannot do for themselves, such as protecting them from global threats.

  33. Daryna Chumak November 9, 2018 at 10:24 pm #

    The article discusses the decline of internet freedom. At first I was surprised by this article since most of the articles that I come across focus on the various internet issues due to lack of regulation. This article brings up the idea that the internet has lost its purpose of liberating technology. It states that “Propaganda and disinformation are increasingly poisoning the digital sphere, and authoritarians and populists are using the fight against fake news as a pretext to jail prominent journalists and social media critics, often through laws that criminalize the spread of false information. While I agree that various group have utilized the internet with wrong intentions, I believe that there should be more regulations placed. As internet spread around the world, it has been integrated into our everyday lives. Due to today’s technology, a large part of our lives and jobs depends on the internet. Therefore, in order to guarantee a controlled environment on the internet, regulations and laws must be set in place. That is the only way that the users and their information can be reasonably secured and protected. This article brings up that the spread of false information and propaganda has been on an increase. This is exactly why we need to increase regulations as to what can be published online.

  34. Tyler Peteraf November 16, 2018 at 7:07 pm #

    The internet is an extraordinary thing and plays a huge part in our society today and will continue to do so in the future. As the article stated, the internet used to be at it’s very beginning stages a “liberating technology” without a lot of restriction made by the government. However, this article brings up the fact that over the years the internet has lost numerous amounts of freedoms that it used to have in the past. Due to the ongoing theme of “fake news” circling around the internet today, it has caused many people to use that as a blatantly excuse to restrict various journalists and other people from posting certain things on the internet. Now I do believe that the internet should definitely be monitored when it comes to certain things, but I also believe that it is important to understand that the internet should allow people certain freedoms as well. The internet has become something that is integrated in all parts of society and is seemingly a big part of everyone’s life. In saying that, it would be valuable to have the internet act as a conduit for people to give their various opinions are certain subjects without being worried if they are going to be monitored or not. Once the internet becomes something that is restricted constantly by people, I believe that it will defeat the initial purpose of the whole thing in the first place. Again, I am not advocating the idea that the internet shouldn’t be monitored at all, but when we start looking for specific things to take off the internet without great cause, that is when I believe we will run into a problem. problem.

  35. Robert Musantry November 16, 2018 at 9:58 pm #

    As we advance further into the age of technology, we as a society expect to be able to access the internet wherever and whenever we want. If our phones or laptops cannot connect to the internet for more than a couple of seconds, we freak out and think that something is wrong. However, this luxury may not be as great as we think it is, and the internet can be as much a weapon as a tool. According to this article “digital authoritarianism” is on the rise. Basically, governments spread across the world are working on getting their hands on their citizens data in order to control what they say and see. This, on the surface level, can be seen as a helpful way to quell dissent when necessary, but on the other side is government censorship that is reducing the freedom of speech over the internet.
    Social media has long been seen as a way for a wide variety of messages and values to be spread around the world. This messages can sometimes be extreme and lead to major change, like what happened with the Arab Spring and the various revolts that came with it. This type of event would be a lot harder without the internet, since there is no other way to spread a message at that type of speed. The internet is able to spread propaganda (both pro- and anti-government) at the snap of a finger.
    Many current governments have begun going after citizens for how they act online, with 17 of 65 surveyed for the article creating laws that specifically restrict online media, and 13 prosecuted people for spreading false information
    Sri Lanka and India are notable examples of countries with internet censorship, because they have shut off internet access completely in times of major conflict in order to stop the spread of ideas. Personally I completely disagree with this type of decision, because the internet is such a vital part of daily life that cutting it off suddenly is not only rude in a time of need but can be dangerous because people do not know what is really going on. Then, when people don’t know what is happening, they fill in reality with their own ideas that are even worse than what is actually occurring.
    Overall, I am wary of any type of internet censorship or anything because it is such an important part of humanity at this point, and the positives outweigh the negatives for the people who use it correctly.

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