BANGKOK – Having watched popular protests, from the color revolutions in the former Soviet Union to the Arab Spring, challenge their counterparts’ power, the world’s autocrats have been adopting legal measures aimed at incapacitating civic groups, including pro-democracy movements and human-rights NGOs. Among the most sweeping measures are those enabling officials to monitor and punish activists’ online activities.
Though overt crackdowns by security forces remain a serious concern, in recent years, autocratic regimes have increasingly been relying on legal and bureaucratic tools to impede squeeze opponents. For example, many countries – including Cambodia, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Jordan, Russia, Tanzania, Thailand, Uzbekistan, and Venezuela – have tightened restrictions on organization registration, foreign funding, and public assembly.
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