Freedom on the Net 2021: Armenia ranked as ‘free” country

The Freedom House has ranked Armenia as a “free” country in its annual Freedom on the Net 2021: The Crisis of Social Media report.

Armenia’s neighbor Georgia is also a “free” country, Azerbaijan and Turkey are ranked as “not free.” Armenia’s southern neighbor Iran is “partly free.”

According to the report, “Internet freedom in Armenia declined significantly as a result of restrictions on the free flow of information the government adopted during the armed conflict between ethnic Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in Nagorno-Karabakh.”

“The implementation of martial law in late September 2020 placed broad restrictions on the media’s ability to report on the fighting, including by banning speech deemed to endanger national security, permitting authorities to demand content removal, and mandating fines for noncompliance. A number of Turkish and Azerbaijani websites with .az and .tr domains were inaccessible for several weeks. Users also reported problems accessing TikTok,” Freedom House said.

Prominent news sites also faced technical attacks, including distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, leaving many of them temporarily inaccessible during the conflict. In a positive move, a measure that had required telecommunications companies to provide authorities with subscriber metadata in order to facilitate contact tracing, adopted in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, was lifted in September 2020 alongside a virus-related state of emergency.

The report found that global internet freedom declined for the 11th consecutive year. The environment for human rights online deteriorated in 30 countries this year, while only 18 countries registered net gains. The largest decline occurred in Myanmar, followed by Belarus and Uganda. Ecuador experienced the largest improvement, followed by The Gambia. The United States ranked 12th overall, while Iceland was once again the top performer. For the seventh consecutive year, China was found to have the worst conditions for internet freedom.

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