In 1776, the Swedish parliament showed the global policymakers the way to protect freedom of press - a medium people use to express themselves in exercising their freedom as individuals - by enacting the world's first freedom of press and information law.
That was a new dawn for the freedom of press. The key achievements of the legislation were the abolishment of political censorship and gaining of public access to government documents.
What are the impacts of that legislation?
Be it on corruption perception index or freedom of press or rule of law—on any global qualitative indices, Sweden shines today. It's not an exaggeration to say that the 1776 legislation is the mother of Sweden's achievements and its image on the global map. And it is now one of the best places on the earth to live.
In 1789, the US founding fathers followed suit when freedom of press touched another milestone as their parliament in the first amendment to the constitution made a bold announcement: Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press.
Over the next one hundred years, the US became one of the global superpowers, and in the twentieth century it surpassed others to become the number one, and remains unbeaten in that position till today.
Over the past two centuries, the First Amendment has been protecting the freedom of individuals allowing people to exercise unrestrained freedom of speech in various media, including news platforms, to debate and discuss any policies and to come up with innovative ideas and alternatives to existing ones.
In today's world, the Australian parliament has showed global policymakers how to become innovative in protecting news platforms—both print and electronic—by forcing tech giants—Google and Facebook- to pay local media outlets and publishers to link their content on news feeds or in search results.
This legislation is seen as a big win for freedom of press because financial solvency is a prerequisite for survival of an independent press.
"The Code will ensure that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for the content they generate, helping to sustain public interest journalism in Australia," Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said in a joint statement.
Others may follow Australia in the coming days to protect news platforms.
Because of some controversial provisions of the Digital Security Act made by Bangladesh parliament in 2018, the country stands in the opposite to global best practices. These provisions have left a chilling effects on freedom of press and speech, the journalist community and rights activists say. People feel shaky to criticise various policies and people in power as anything they write or post online may put him/her in trouble if anybody in power, or people on their behalf, feel defamed; or they may be accused of 'tarnishing country's image'.
The custodial death of writer Mushtaq Ahmed, who was detained nine months ago under the controversial law, and denied bail on several occasions, has been a textbook example of brutal enforcement of the law.
Blunt abuse of the legal provisions has made the call louder for its change.
The impact of the laws curbing people's freedom and rights are enormous. People in power enjoy immunity from consequences for their wrongdoings. When they are not accountable for their actions, the governance system suffers and graft sucks the life out of the economy. Many developing economies are suffering from unrestrained corruption. People are denied good education, good health care and other facilities.
And on global indices, be it on corruption perception index, or rule of law or freedom of press, they perform poorly and they are always at the bottom of the indices. Bangladesh is among of those countries.
What the UNESCO finds in an analysis in 2008 is noteworthy. The analysis styled "Press Freedom and Development" shows a correlation between freedom of the press and the different dimensions of development, poverty, governance and peace.
"In particular, press freedom is positively correlated with most of the dimensions of human development, economic security, education, food and health. Along with other indicators of good governance, it creates the environment favourable for sustainable development," suggests the analysis.
The weaker the constraints on the press, the more developed the country will be. Similarly, the analysis says, the more heavily the press is gagged, the poorer the country will be.
History also speaks in favour of the UNESCO analysis. Take Sweden and USA as examples. Even analysis on the state of press freedom in advanced economies support this idea.
A point to be noted is that in many developing countries people in power publicly speak in favour of freedom of press. But their actions often lead to gagging the press, after they start to hate on news platforms for exposing their wrongdoings. They however distribute some patronage to demonstrate their "good will" towards the press.
Here the remarks made by great philosopher Emmanuel Kant two centuries ago is pertinent: "an enlightened and developed society composed of free and independent individuals cannot be created unless all its members are afforded freedom of expression."