Halgand agrees that the same trends that we’re seeing here are being played out over there, but says that they are still happening on a slightly smaller level. “There are some concerning facts that we considered, but they had less impact than what happened in the US this past year,” she says.
“Both the US and UK authorities seem obsessed with hunting down whistleblowers instead of adopting legislation to rein in abusive surveillance practices that negate privacy, a democratic value cherished in both countries,” reads the report.
As disheartening as those patterns are in the US and the UK, there is hope that they are temporary, and that their scores can improve again. For instance, talks of federal and local shield bill legislation have picked up in recent months—there haven’t been any results to celebrate quite yet, but public awareness seems to be higher than it has been in the past, thanks to high-profile cases like Jana Winter’s, and the cases mentioned in the report.
As the positions of western democracies climb and fall up at the top of the index each year, Halgand says, she hopes that just as much international attention will be paid to the countries all the way at the bottom. Holding the very lowest places on the index this year are Iran, Vietnam, China, Somalia, Syria, Turkmenistan, North Korea, and Eritrea. They won’t make any headlines for dramatic movements up or down on the index, but in fact they deserve even more attention for the very fact of their inertia.
“Of course we are attracted by the rises and falls, but personally I think that it is also important to really highlight the tragic immobility of many of the countries at the bottom,” she says. “They don’t move [on the index], but in reality, they’re getting worse.”
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