Digital Media & Repressive Regimes: Global Internet Freedom Index

Karin Karlekar from Freedom House gave a really interesting presentation on the development of a Global Internet Freedom Index, or IGIF. She is planning a pilot study of 15 countries that will include analytical reports and numerical ratings.


The index’s scoring system will be similar to the Freedom House media freedom index in order to facilitate for comparisons. The IGIF will include both Internet and mobile/phone text messaging. It will focus especially on transmission of news and political relevant communications, while acknowledging that some restrictions on harmful content may be legitimate.

The index is comprised of three general themes, each of which includes a number of (weighted) sub-indicators. The key components of the themes below is access to technology and the free flow of information/content.

  1. Obstacles to access
  2. Limits on content and communication
  3. Violation of individual online rights

One of the sub-indicators, for example, focuses on activism in order to capture local resistance and activism in addition to government restrictions.

I think this is an excellent initiative with the expected added value long term being the ability to identify competing trends between Repression 2.0 and Democracy 2.0. This goes to the heart of my dissertation topic and I hope to draw on the IGIF framework to inform my field research questions.

Patrick Philippe Meier

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