When the power of the internet first became apparent, the obvious resort of government was simply to ban or block access to sources of information that political leadership found displeasing.
The Snowden revelations led to a healthy debate on how a democratic country, the United States, as well as some of its allies, carries out massive online surveillance. But repressive regimes have seized upon this to introduce more online repression that increasingly leads to detentions. In Bahrain, malicious links have been used to identify and arrest several anonymous Twitter users who were outspoken against the government. Kazakhstan adopted legislation similar to Russia’s in order to crack down on digital media carrying criticism of the authorities. In Bangladesh and in Singapore, government reprisals have focused on social media posts critical of political leaders. Iranian authorities have continued to hand down harsh punishments, sentencing some users to lengthy prison terms for their digital activities. The Syrian regime, in the midst of a civil war, had an army of hackers that infected 10,000 computers with malware.
The freedom of speech is not only threatened in suppressing regimes but as well on the internet.