“In the COVID-19 era, connectivity is not a convenience, but a necessity. Virtually all human activities—commerce, education, health care, politics, socializing—seem to have moved online. But the digital world presents distinct challenges for human rights and democratic governance. State and nonstate actors in many countries are now exploiting opportunities created by the pandemic to shape online narratives, censor critical speech, and build new technological systems of social control.
Three notable trends punctuated an especially dismal year for internet freedom. First, political leaders used the pandemic as a pretext to limit access to information. Second, authorities cited COVID-19 to justify expanded surveillance powers and the deployment of new technologies that were once seen as too intrusive. The third trend has been the transformation of a slow-motion ‘splintering’ of the internet into an all-out race toward ‘cyber sovereignty,’ with each government imposing its own internet regulations in a manner that restricts the flow of information across national borders.”
The Pandemic’s Digital Shadow
Freedom on the Net 2020