How data restrictions erode internet freedom

Article by Tom Okman: “Countries across the world – small, large, powerful and weak – are accelerating efforts to control and restrict private data. According to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the number of laws, regulations and policies that restrict or require data to be stored in a specific country more than doubled between 2017 and 2021, rising from 67 to 144.

Some of these laws may be driven by benevolent intentions. After all, citizens will support stopping the spread of online disinformation, hate, and extremism or systemic cyber-snooping. Cyber-libertarian John Perry Barlow’s call for the government to “leave us alone” in cyberspace rings hollow in this context.

Government internet oversight is on the rise.

Government internet oversight is on the rise. Image: Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

But some digital policies may prove to be repressive for companies and citizens alike. They extend the justifiable concern over the dominance of large tech companies to other areas of the digital realm.

These “digital iron curtains” can take many forms. What they have in common is that they seek to silo the internet (or parts of it) and private data into national boxes. This risks dividing the internet, reducing its connective potential, and infringing basic digital freedoms…(More)”.