Freedom House, the Washington DC-based human rights group, has released its 2022 Freedom on the Net report, which shows that for the 12th consecutive year, global internet freedom declined. Findings from the report which studied internet freedom in 70 countries, making up 89 per cent of the world’s internet users, rated Nigeria as partly free. It warned that human rights hang in the balance amid a competition to control the web.
The report titled, “Freedom on the Net 2022: Countering an Authoritarian Overhaul of the Internet” which covers the period from June 2021 to May 2022 finds that governments are breaking apart the global internet to create more controllable online spaces; that China was the world’s worst environment for internet freedom for the eighth consecutive year; and that human rights hang in the balance amid a competition to control the web.
On the flip side, it finds that a record 26 countries experienced internet freedom improvements and that Internet freedom in the United States improved marginally for the first time in six years.
The report says the sharpest downgrades in internet freedoms were documented in Russia, Myanmar, Sudan, and Libya. It adds that following the Russian military’s illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin dramatically intensified its ongoing efforts to suppress domestic dissent and accelerated the closure or exile of the country’s remaining independent media outlets.
It adds that users faced legal repercussions for expressing themselves online, often leading to draconian prison terms in at least 53 countries.
In over two-thirds of countries covered by Freedom on the Net, it finds that authorities limited access to foreign information sources using at least one form of censorship. 13 countries used Internet shutdowns; 37 countries blocked foreign websites; 22 countries, including Nigeria, blocked social media platforms; 18 countries placed restrictions on circumvention technology; and 11 countries passed new laws restricting foreign websites and contents.
Nigeria, which the report rated partly free, scored 57 out of 100. The report classifies Nigeria as a “swing state’ along with such countries as Brazil, due to their potential regional or global influence over the future of internet governance and the fact that they have oscillated between protecting and undermining human rights online. It specifically cited the seven months (June 2021 to January 2022) ban on Twitter operations in Nigeria.
Freedom on the Net identifies five types of key internet controls, out of nine, which occur in Nigeria namely: Social media or communications platforms blocking; Political, social, or religious content blocking; Pro-government commentators manipulating online discussions; Blogger or ICT user arrested, imprisoned, or in prolonged detention for political or social content; and Blogger or ICT user physically attacked or killed (including in custody).
The report rated 17 countries in Africa with South Africa coming first with 73 points; followed by Kenya with 68; Ghana with 64; Angola and Tunisia with 61 points each; and Malawi and Nigeria with 57 points each. Egypt and Ethiopia come last with 27 points each.
To read the full report, please visit and download Freedom on the Net 2022.