Bangladesh has outperformed Pakistan by a high margin in the Freedom on the Net index, according to the annual study report by the US-based research institute, Freedom House.
According to the report on Internet freedom around the world revealed on Wednesday, Bangladesh scored 42 points out of 100 while Pakistan only 26 points.
The country, however, is behind Sri Lanka and India that secured 52 points and 51 points respectively. No other South Asian countries were included in the report due to lack of data.
Bangladesh has consistently been named a "Partly Free" country on the Internet freedom index since 2013.
The Internet freedom ratings are assigned in three categories -- Free scoring 100-70, Partly Free scoring 69-40 and Not Free scoring 39-0.
The Freedom House report assessed the scores of 65 countries based on 21 questions under the three categories -- Obstacles to Access, Limits on Content and Violations of User Rights -- between the period June 1, 2019 and May 31, 2020.
Although the number of Internet users in the country is increasing rapidly, there are allegations about the higher costs of private connectivity, and restrictions on connectivity continued during the coverage period, according to the report.
As a result, the country's scores remained constant in Obstacles to Access and Limits on Content.
However, Bangladesh lost 2 points in the Violations of User Rights category, due to extensive implementation of the Digital Security Act (DSA) during the Covid-19 period, leading to a decline in the current edition from its previous year ranking of 44.
In his reaction, Posts and Telecommunications Minister, Mustafa Jabbar said he does not find the report acceptable.
"I did not find any visible reason for the decline in the score," he told The Business Standard.
In favour of DSA, the Minister also said: "If an individual spreads rumours, propaganda, false news, or defames another on the net, they should be brought under the law, it doesn't make the law itself bad."
Internet freedom declined globally
Global Internet freedom has declined for the 10th consecutive year, according to the report.
Around 26 countries' scores worsened during this year's coverage period, while 23 countries registered gains.
Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan, India, Ecuador, and Nigeria suffered the largest drop over the period.
It is noted that China was – ranked last in the analysis – was found to have the worst conditions for Internet freedom for the sixth consecutive year.
However, Iceland remained the most steadfast protector of Internet freedom, with high rates of access, few restrictions on content, and strong safeguards for human rights online.