Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

While my natural inclination is to celebrate Canada's global standing, as always I sound a note of caution that such lists are advocacy tools, in that they define some 'standard' (in this case, of 'internet freedom') in an attempt to sway governments to move in that direction. In this case, the standard in question is being proposed by the US-based Freedom House, a political lobby group. The metrics include "political, social, or religious content blocked" along with new laws or directives "increasing censorship or punishment" or "increasing surveillance or restricting anonymity." It's a pretty manipulative standard - notice that it measures change in these conditions, not absolute values. And it's entirely based on constraint and harm, with no discussion of measures - including those promoting social equity and access to resources, as well as anti-hate and anti-defamation measures - that actually increase freedom online. Yes, Canada is really free, by any measure. But strictly adhering to this definition would, in my opinion, make us less free.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Mar 31, 2021 01:21 a.m.