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⚡ Welcome again to The Weekly Authority, the Android Authority newsletter that breaks down the top Android and tech news from the week. The 164th edition bringing all the week’s weird and wonderful happenings to your inbox.


🎮 This week I downloaded the new TMORPG Book of Travels — it’s still in early access but first impressions are excellent; it looks gorgeous and there are only seven players per server, so I was pretty excited when I bumped into my first real person in-game. Looking forward to seeing how it develops...

October 16, 2021
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Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Features

Weekly Wonder
Typing on generic search engine

We like to think we can share whatever we want online without the risk of censorship, but increasingly that may not be the case these days. An annual report by Freedom House, a nonprofit that focuses on democracy and freedom, dives deep into the topic of internet freedom — we take a closer look at some of the eye-opening statistics…

Key facts and figures

  • Overall, global internet freedom declined for the 11th consecutive year.
  • Free speech on Facebook has been targeted the most over the past year by governments.
  • In 56 countries — that’s 86% of those covered by Freedom on the Net — people were convicted or arrested for their online speech.
  • This year, users in 41 countries faced physical attacks following their online activities.
  • The internet was shut off completely by at least 20 countries’ governments.
  • Meanwhile, 21 states blocked social media and communications platforms, generally during elections.
  • Authorities in at least 24 countries announced or passed or announced new laws or rules governing how platforms like Facebook treat content.

graphic social media arrests 1
https://freedomhouse.org

Internet freedom in the USA

When it comes to global internet freedom, the United States’ score declined for the fifth consecutive year, with misleading and false news spreading faster than ever, even impacting the public’s views of the 2020 presidential election results.

  • But the United States ranked 12th for human rights online, out of the 30 countries with deteriorating scores — better than China (which ranked last) but worse than top-ranking Iceland.

What’s happening in other countries?

  • China takes the top place for the worst internet freedom for the seventh year in a row, with “draconian prison terms” for everything from controversial daily communications to independent reporting.
  • Myanmar saw a 14-point decline in internet freedom after the 2020 general elections and the coup that followed in February 2021. Internet connectivity was cut off every night for almost three months, with mobile services entirely suspended starting in March, leaving the country dependent on wireless broadband and fixed-line services during the day only.
  • In Ethiopia, the internet was shut off for more than 15 days in July 2020 after the protests following the assassination of popular ethnic Oroma singer Hachalu Hundessa.
  • Meanwhile, India introduced new social media regulations for all social media intermediaries with at least 5 million users. The new rules, which state companies must deploy AI-based moderation tools and appoint local officers, are designed to improve content moderations by ensuring companies notify users when their content is taken down and give clear reasons for doing so.
  • Turkey followed suit, with rules stating that social media platforms with over 1 million daily users must remove “offensive” content within 48 hours of notification. Failure to do so will result in fines, advertising bans, and even bandwidth limitations.
  • These countries aren’t the only ones imposing new regulations on social media platforms: in Indonesia new takedown requirements give companies just four hours — for “urgent” situations — or up to 24 hours to remove prohibited content, with authorities already using these new rules to censor criticism of Islam and LGBT+ content.
internet regulation graphic
https://freedomhouse.org

But it’s not all bad news: there are some countries where internet freedom has improved over the past year:

  • Iceland took the crown for the best environment for internet freedom, followed by Estonia for its robust human rights protections, few content restrictions, and a high rate of internet access.
  • Costa Rica took third place thanks to its strong safeguards against surveillance and guarantees of free expression.
  • Things are also improving in Taiwan, where internet access is affordable, there’s a lack of website blocks, and an independent judiciary protects rights to free expression. However, some individuals have still faced criminal prosecutions and fines for their online speech.

You can find out more about internet freedom by exploring Freedom House’s interactive map.

Tech Calendar
  • October 18: Apple event @ 1PM ET — New 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros, an M1X upgrade of the Mac Mini, and possibly new AirPods
  • October 19: Pixel 6 release date @ 1PM ET.
  • October 20: Samsung Unpacked @ 10am ET — S21 FE (unlikely?), possibly customizable foldables.
  • October 21: Huawei event in Vienna, possibly P50 series and Nova 9 launch.
  • October 21: Dune lands in US theaters and on HBO Max.
  • October 26: Sony Xperia launch @ 11PM ET.
  • October 27-28: 2021 Android Dev Summit.

Tech Tweet of the Week

First:

Second: Check out these helium-filled robots…

An unmissable spectacle! pic.twitter.com/CgV0aw0CmG
— Mashable (@mashable) October 13, 2021

Have a wonder-filled week ahead!

Paula Beaton, Copy Editor

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