Internet freedom has declined around the world yet again, but in no place was it worse than China, which was ranked dead last, according to a new yearly report from nongovernmental organization Freedom House.
The organization said 2015 was the fifth year in a row that it documented a decline in Internet freedom, as more governments around the world have censored information. Additionally, there has been a pervasive expansion of surveillance programs and a crackdown on privacy tools.
In last year’s report, Iran and Syria were the only two countries ranked below China. In 2015, those two countries are tied at second-to-last and China is ranked at the very bottom. North Korea wasn’t mentioned in the survey, as there isn’t enough access to Internet in the country.
Freedom House listed several reasons why Internet freedom declined. In 42 of the 65 countries assessed, authorities told private Internet companies to delete content that dealt with religious, political, or social issues. That figure is up from 37 countries in the previous year.
In China, the regime has pushed for real-name registration online in an attempt to make it impossible to run an anonymous blog or leave content on an online forum without using your real identity. Also, the regime’s censorship apparatus has been used to carry out so-called Great Cannon attacks, which allow for the intercepting of Internet traffic toward one site and redirecting it to another one, which effectively crashes the victim site.
These efforts and others are “all in addition to the kinds of typical Chinese censorship shenanigans that anyone who has spent time in the country has gotten used to–the inability to access Facebook and Twitter, messaging apps that won’t send messages about politically sensitive subjects, viral videos that suddenly disappear, and the fact that essentially nothing associated with Google, from Maps to Translate, works at all,” Freedom House wrote.
In comparison, the five top-ranked countries listed in the report are Iceland, Estonia, Canada, Germany, and the United States, respectively. At the bottom after China, Syria, and Iran are Ethiopia, Cuba, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.