Nov 17, 2017

China named world's worst abuser of internet freedom again

Photo: Andy Wong / AP

Freedom's House has released its "Freedom on the Net 2017" report. The China section claims that:

  • China was the world's worst abuser of internet freedom for the third consecutive year;
  • The 2016 cybersecurity law mandates real name registration and storage of PRC user data within China;
  • Censorship on WeChat increased and several were detained for comments on WeChat;
  • New rules constrict the space for online news;
  • A crackdown virtual private network (VPN) tools.

Ren Xianliang, deputy director of the Cyberspace Administration of China criticized the report, per Reuters:

  • "We should not just make the internet fully free, it also needs to be orderly...The United States and Europe also need to deal with these fake news and rumors."

The key point: Chinese officials, some of who have warned for years of "hostile foreign forces" using the internet to subvert China, believe they have found the solution to managing the political risks from the internet while harnessing its economic and technological power. The interference in the U.S. presidential election process by Russia, a "hostile foreign force" to America, only strengthens their resolve.

One interesting fact: The censorship has not hurt wealth creation. Overseas-listed Chinese internet firms have a combined market capitalization of over one trillion dollars, and three of China's richest people are internet moguls.

Go deeper

Surprise billing may be about to get worse

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The problem of surprise medical billing — which Congress failed to solve last year — is about to get worse, thanks to a feud between an insurance giant and a company that employs thousands of doctors.

The big picture Parents who have babies in intensive care, women with high-risk pregnancies and people who need anesthesia could receive unexpected bills in the mail as a result of the fight between Mednax, the physician-staffing firm, and UnitedHealth Group.

Companies are behaving like it's a recession

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Despite historically low interest rates, U.S. companies are being unusually frugal, holding back on issuing new debt and pumping up their balance sheets with cash.

Why it matters: Historically, when interest rates are low and the economy is strong, companies have levered up to increase capital expenditures and buy assets in order to expand. The opposite is happening now.

Coronavirus kills 2 Diamond Princess passengers and South Korea sees first death

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. U.S. numbers include Americans extracted from Princess Cruise ship.

Two elderly Diamond Princess passengers have been killed by the novel coronavirus — the first deaths confirmed among the more than 600 infected aboard the cruise ship. South Korea also announced its first death Thursday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed more than 2,200 people and infected over 75,465 others, mostly in mainland China, where the National Health Commission announced 118 new deaths since Thursday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 10 hours ago - Health