The Global Digital Download is a weekly publication that aggregates resources on Internet freedom, highlighting trends in digital and social media that intersect with freedom of expression, policy, privacy, censorship and new technologies. The GDD includes information about relevant events, news, and research. To find past articles and research, search the archive database.

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  • (Global Voices, Wednesday, October 29, 2014)

    A new study by the Center for Studies on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information at the University of Palermo, Buenos Aires, suggests that Internet governance, rather than just being the host of institutions and multilateral formulas, is a contested space for the control and management of this unique technology. It also argues that the multi-stakeholder model, often upheld by civil society as the key to unlocking a more equitable and human rights-abiding approach to policymaking for the global Internet, may not be the silver bullet that some want it to be.

  • (Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Saturday, October 25, 2014)

    This paper investigates sentiment in the online conversation about the Ukrainian Euromaidan protests across a range of English- and Russian-language social and traditional media sources. Results from this exploratory research show more support for the Euromaidan protests in Russian-language sources, including among sources and users based in Russia, than originally expected. Sentiment in English-language sources, including those located in the United States and United Kingdom, is more negative than anticipated given the rhetorical support among western governments for the Euromaidan protests. However, social media content in Ukraine, the US, and the UK is more positive than traditional media outlets in those countries.

  • (The New York Times, Thursday, October 16, 2014)
    Cisco Systems is making an unusual case for itself: The Internet must be subject to a higher amount of control, and big companies will work with governments to make that possible. The message came in an announcement on Monday, rich in corporate partners and allies, that was intended to show Cisco’s progress in creating its so-called Intercloud, a proposed network of cloud computing systems with high performance, security and control.
  • (CircleID, Friday, October 3, 2014)

    The great promise of the new gTLD programme is not that it will spawn dozens of .COM clones, but rather that it will lead to the creation of a global constellation of unique names embraced by specific interest groups. As an ICANN community, our challenge now is to ensure that the policy framework we've created to manage new gTLDs advances that vision by not penalising the very sorts of domains that the programme was designed to encourage.

  • (CircleID, Friday, October 3, 2014)

    The great promise of the new gTLD programme is not that it will spawn dozens of .COM clones, but rather that it will lead to the creation of a global constellation of unique names embraced by specific interest groups. As an ICANN community, our challenge now is to ensure that the policy framework we've created to manage new gTLDs advances that vision by not penalising the very sorts of domains that the programme was designed to encourage.

  • (The Wall Street Journal, Thursday, October 2, 2014)
    Facebook Thursday said it has changed how it conducts experiments on users, by giving its researchers more guidance and adding internal reviews. But the company declined to discuss other details of the changes, which some outsiders called inadequate. The changes follow the disclosure in June of an earlier experiment where Facebook researchers altered the news feeds of 700,000 users, omitting either positive or negative emotions to study how emotions spread on the social network.
  • (Global Voices, Wednesday, October 1, 2014)
    In theory, IGF 2014 offered people the opportunity to speak out about critical problems in the country hosting the forum, as well as the chance to meet and exchange ideas with other activists, journalists, academics and coders from countries all over the world. In practice, however, the voices of these activists were drowned out by the voice of the state, with government representatives alone given a platform to talk about the situation in Turkey.
  • (The Huffington Post, Wednesday, October 1, 2014)

    We should be demanding the reform for which they are now fighting: an unbiased election, at every important stage. Or more simply: #EndTweedismEverywhere.

  • (Global Voices, Wednesday, October 1, 2014)

    Billed as the highlight of the year on the Internet policy conference circuit, the UN-sponsored Internet Governance Forum is a supposedly indispensable annual meeting about the Internet and its future. Unfortunately, its idealistic intentions have fallen short of expectations as activists were drowned out by the voice of the state at this year's conference, and so the Internet Ungovernance Forum was created to fill the void.

  • (Akamai, Tuesday, September 30, 2014)
    Akamai’s globally-distributed Intelligent Platform allows us to gather massive amounts of data on many metrics, including connection speeds, attack traffic, network connectivity/availability issues, and IPv6 adoption progress, as well as traffic patterns across leading Web properties and digital media providers. Each quarter, Akamai publishes the State of the Internet Report.
  • (, Monday, September 29, 2014)
    Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web has spoken out against world governments and corporations, which he says are seeking to control the web for their own gain. He called for a revolutionary bill of rights to guaranty the web’s independence.
  • (CELE, Monday, September 29, 2014)

    Report in Spanish; from Global Voices: A new study by the Center for Studies on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information at the University of Palermo, Buenos Aires, suggests that Internet governance, rather than just being the host of institutions and multilateral formulas, is a contested space for the control and management of this unique technology. It also argues that the multi-stakeholder model, often upheld by civil society as the key to unlocking a more equitable and human rights-abiding approach to policymaking for the global Internet, may not be the silver bullet that some want it to be.

  • (Global Voices, Monday, September 29, 2014)

    A new study by the Center for Studies on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information at the University of Palermo, Buenos Aires, suggests that Internet governance, rather than just being the host of institutions and multilateral formulas, is a contested space for the control and management of this unique technology. It also argues that the multi-stakeholder model, often upheld by civil society as the key to unlocking a more equitable and human rights-abiding approach to policymaking for the global Internet, may not be the silver bullet that some want it to be.

  • (The Guardian, Monday, September 29, 2014)

    From trans people to activists, there are some good reasons for some Facebook users to use a pseudonym. And yet, Facebook is unrelenting.

  • (, Monday, September 29, 2014)
    Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web has spoken out against world governments and corporations, which he says are seeking to control the web for their own gain. He called for a revolutionary bill of rights to guaranty (sic) the web’s independence.
  • (The Times, Monday, September 29, 2014)

    Big American corporations are trying to claim the internet for themselves and it would be a disaster if they were allowed to do so, the creator of the world wide web has warned.

  • (FCW, Monday, September 29, 2014)

    As data breaches become more complex and generally increase in number in our increasingly connected world, it's becoming evident that current security methods are inefficient and ineffective.

  • (The New Yorker, Friday, September 26, 2014)

    In Europe, the right to be forgotten trumps the Internet. In the United States, this is not the case. CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin looks at some consequences of the EU's recent decision to regulate Google search results as well as the United States' current lack of regulation.

  • (IFEX, Wednesday, September 24, 2014)

    Documents recently released by WikiLeaks have brought new evidence to the public eye that the intrusive surveillance spyware FinFisher may be in use by several members of the Freedom Online Coalition, including Mongolia, Netherlands, and Estonia. 

  • (US Department of State, Friday, September 19, 2014)

    The United States and Japan held the sixth Director General-level meeting of the U.S.-Japan Policy Cooperation Dialogue on the Internet Economy in Washington, D.C. on September 16 and 17, 2014. 

  • (Computer World, Thursday, September 18, 2014)

    Once mobile devices are connected to car infotainment systems and cars are connected to the Internet, vehicles will become a rich source of data for manufacturers, marketers, insurance providers and the government. Oh, and they'll be a lucrative target for hackers, too.

  • (Freedom House, Thursday, September 18, 2014)

    Freedom House Senior Program Officer Gigi Alford details how a partitioned and highly moderated Internet will prove extremely detrimental to the freedom it was intended to promote.

  • (Roll Call, Thursday, September 18, 2014)

    Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill) asserts that American leadership in the nascent but contentious realm of Internet governance is vital to ensure an Internet that is open and free.

  • (Access Blog, Wednesday, September 17, 2014)

    At their best, “transparency reports” can reveal the scope and scale of surveillance online. To date, however, States have lagged far behind when it comes to reporting on their surveillance activity.

  • (CircleID, Wednesday, September 17, 2014)

    If we were to apply themes to Internet governance world, the narrative for 2014-15 is definitely 'change'. The governance ecosystem is knee deep in the IANA transition, with a few meetings and teleconferences of the IANA Transition Coordinating Group behind us, and a ramping up of activity around ICANN accountability and governance.

  • (USA Today, Tuesday, September 16, 2014)

    Government can protect consumers without a tangle of new network neutrality rules.

  • (Financial Times, Tuesday, September 16, 2014)

    Concerns are rising that efforts to protect citizens from foreign surveillance will Balkanise the digital world.

  • (Computer World, Monday, September 15, 2014)

    Australian Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has urged world leaders to maintain a multi-stakeholder model for governance of the Internet as the United States releases its stewardship of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).

  • (Computer World, Monday, September 15, 2014)

    Australian Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has urged world leaders to maintain a multi-stakeholder model for governance of the Internet as the United States releases its stewardship of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).

  • (World Policy Journal, Monday, September 15, 2014)

    Rebecca MacKinnon, director of the Digital Rights project at the New America Foundation, explores the disturbing response by governments around the world when digital connectivity between ordinary citizens threatens their hold on power, indeed their very existence.  

  • (CircleID, Monday, September 15, 2014)

    During its September 9, 2014 meeting, the ICANN Board selected the Chair of the 2015 Nominating Committee (NomCom). The 2015 NomCom will begin its work In Los Angeles, immediately after the close of ICANN's 51st International Meeting due to be held in mid-October.

  • (Open Society Foundations, Friday, September 12, 2014)

    The Mapping Digital Media project examines the global opportunities and risks created by new and digital media. Covering 56 countries, the project assesses how these changes affect the core democratic service that any media system should provide—news about political, economic, and social affairs—and how they can help advance open society values.

  • (The Conversation, Thursday, September 11, 2014)

    As the Internet continues to reach more and more people, the all-important question of who should govern its usage is coming to the fore -- and it's no small debate. The 9th Internet Governance Forum was held this year in concert with the first activist-organized Internet Ungovernance Forum, highlighting differences in approach and the many voices that will take part in the conversation going forward.

  • (EFF Deeplinks, Wednesday, September 10, 2014)

    Right now the FCC is considering a set of rules that would allow Internet providers to offer faster access to some websites that can afford to pay.  We need to stop them.

  • (Global Voices, Wednesday, September 10, 2014)

    In their terms of service, platforms like Google and Facebook prohibit content that promotes violence, terrorism, and hate speech, and reserve the right to remove it from their sites. Recent events are raising more questions about what role, if any, Internet companies should have in making these decisions.

  • (The Huffington Post, Wednesday, September 10, 2014)

    Today, (9 September 2014), the Advisory Council to Google on the Right to be Forgotten will hold its first of seven European public consultations to gather views on the Court of Justice of the European Union's decision in May that an individual has the right to request any EU-based internet search engine remove links to information about them.

  • (Today's Zaman, Wednesday, September 10, 2014)

    Recent amendments to the Internet law that violate privacy and aggravate censorship by further tightening state control over the Internet have received strong criticism from the EU and the US. Commenting on the latest amendments in an e-mail on Wednesday Ryan Heath, spokesperson for European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes, told Today's Zaman that it is “bad news for freedom.”

  • (Today's Zaman, Wednesday, September 10, 2014)

    Recent amendments to the Internet law that violate privacy and aggravate censorship by further tightening state control over the Internet have received strong criticism from the EU and the US. Commenting on the latest amendments in an e-mail on Wednesday Ryan Heath, spokesperson for European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes, told Today's Zaman that it is “bad news for freedom.”

  • (Media Shift, Wednesday, September 10, 2014)

    With journalists around the world being killed, kidnapped, and murdered in record numbers why is the Committee to Protect Journalists launching a campaign targeting U.S. government policies? The answer is simple. Because we must fight to preserve a global system on which independent and critical journalism depends. 

  • (The New York Times, Tuesday, September 9, 2014)

    As Google seeks expert advice on how to carry out its “right to be forgotten” court order in Europe, the company went to Spain on Tuesday, where the whole thing started. In Madrid, Google began a seven-city European tour of public meetings, hearing views from privacy-rights proponents, freedom-of-information advocates and members of the public about the best ways to remove search-engine links to information that petitioners contend is intrusive and no longer relevant.

  • (The Guardian, Tuesday, September 9, 2014)

    Google is being forced to create "information gaps" and act as a "false court ruling on a false right", according to the editor of the Spanish edition of the Huffington Post. Montserrat Domínguez, who produces El Huffington Post in a joint venture with the Spanish newspaper El País, gave evidence in Madrid at the first of seven hearings organised by Google as the search engine wrestles with how to implement the European court ruling on the right to be forgotten.

  • (IFEX, Monday, September 8, 2014)

    EFF was amongst a handful of user representatives invited to attend the initial scoping meeting of a new global convening called the NETmundial Initiative, which was held August 28, 2014 in Geneva. In introducing the event, Virgílio Almeida of Brazil's Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation gave his prediction that the new Initiative could eventually come to take its place amongst other high-profile Internet governance institutions such as the IGF, ITU and ICANN. If this is so, then we certainly hope that the August 28 meeting doesn't set a standard for the nascent initiative to follow, because it wasn't a promising start.

  • (The Verge, Monday, September 8, 2014)

    Today, I am calling on my fellow founders and investors (and anyone who loves the Internet) to join me in fighting to protect net neutrality. Internet freedom activists have organized a day of mass action to protect net neutrality on Wednesday, September 10th. On that day, every large company, every startup, and anyone with a blog or website should use tools available here (or create tools of their own) to organize their users to become an army of citizen-lobbyists. The internet needs you.

  • (Scoop Independent News, Monday, September 8, 2014)

    Millions of Internet users from across the globe are standing together to defend the open Internet, and push back against attempts by large telecom conglomerates to undermine net neutrality and consign millions to an Internet slow lane. That’s the message of a huge new international campaign led by Canadian Internet freedom group OpenMedia, launching this morning.

  • (LSE Media Policy, Sunday, September 7, 2014)

    Sonia Livingstone, having recently returned from the Internet Governance Forum in Istanbul, reports on the panel she chaired on researching children’s rights in a global digital age. 

  • (Indy Bay, Sunday, September 7, 2014)

    Invasive tracking was used by the host country of the Internet Governance forum. During the week of the forum in Turkey, trials of 29 twitter users continued uninterrupted nearby. An innovative tracking system that assigns a unique fingerprint to each visitor's web browser was deployed at the Internet Governance Forum held in Instanbul, Turkey last week. 

  • (The Wall Street Journal, Sunday, September 7, 2014)

    The Obama administration plan to give up U.S. protection of the open Internet won't take effect for a year, but authoritarian governments are already moving to grab control. President Obama is learning it's as dangerous for America to create a vacuum of power in the digital world as in the real one.

  • (Free Speech Radio News, Friday, September 5, 2014)

    In Istanbul, internet activists boycotted the UN’s annual Internet Governance Forum, and held a parallel event to protest the choice of Turkey as host of the event. The country has a poor record on internet censorship, and critics of Turkey’s net policies were excluded conference panels.

  • (Voice of America, Friday, September 5, 2014)
    In the wake of major whistleblower scandals—from the emergence of WikiLeaks to Edward Snowden's revealations about mass state surveillance operations conducted by the United States—concerns over increasing national and international surveillance is dominating the dialogue of several round-table talks at this year's U.N.-sponsored Internet Governance Forum in Istanbul.
  • (Media for Freedom, Friday, September 5, 2014)

    With over 3,500 participants, many of them directly tuning in online, the Ninth Annual Meeting of the United Nations-backed Internet Governance Forum (IGF) concluded in Istanbul today after tackling key issues that “may determine the evolution of the Internet.”

  • (Freedom House, Thursday, September 4, 2014)

    A certain group of countries want greater control over how the internet is run globally. As it turns out, they tend to be some of the worst offenders when it comes to censoring the web and arresting users for their online activities. Turkey, which made international headlines this spring by blocking Twitter and YouTube, is hosting the 2014 Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Istanbul this week. The country is one example of how domestic positions on internet freedom may play a role in determining how the internet is governed worldwide.

  • (Ars Technica, Thursday, September 4, 2014)

    The United States and the other 27 members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization plan to aid the defense of any other NATO country in the event of a major cyber attack, according to an agreement that will be ratified this week at a major alliance meeting. On Thursday, NATO members will meet with 40 partner countries at a major summit in Wales, United Kingdom to discuss the future security of the region.

  • (Shanghai Daily, Thursday, September 4, 2014)

    Experts agreed to take the responsibility to ensure internet growth to continue at the on- going Internet Governance Forum (IGF) here on Wednesday. As the figures revealed, internet contribution to the nations' economy has been rising each year while empowering societies. Speakers at the forum admitted that the internet would be one of the biggest tools for the economic, social and cultural growth across the world.

  • (Media Policy Project, Thursday, September 4, 2014)

    The 2014 Internet Governance Forum is taking place now in Istanbul until 5 September. We have in the past heard from a variety of scholars and activists on internet governance, so this time we decided to ask some questions of the Youth IGF Project representatives who are attending the Forum. In this interview, Harriet Kempson, Zach Da Silva and Eleanor Lee, three young people attending this year’s IGF as part of the project, talk about their policy priorities and vision for internet governance. 

  • (Newsroom America, Wednesday, September 3, 2014)

    The ninth annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) has opened in Istanbul, Turkey with more than 2,500 participants due to debate over the next three days key issues "that could affect every Internet user today and tomorrow." The more than 2,500 participants on site representing Governments, inter-governmental organizations, the private sector, the technical community and civil society, as well as many more remotely, are expected to also examine cross-border Internet governance, cyber-security, spam, child protection, privacy, freedoms of expression and human rights.

  • (Washington Post, Wednesday, September 3, 2014)

    As the Internet and the disruptive innovations it spawns are becoming economically, politically, and culturally vital for the world’s three billion users (and counting), there’s been a worrisome though unsurprising outburst of initiatives across governments to figure out ways to control it, suppress it, or otherwise extract value from it.

  • (EFF Deeplinks, Wednesday, September 3, 2014)

    Turns out, the DEA and FBI may know what medical conditions you have, whether you are having an affair, where you were last night, and more—all without any knowing that you have ever broken a law. That’s because the DEA and FBI, as part of over 1000 analysts at 23 U.S. intelligence agencies, have the ability to peer over the NSA’s shoulder and see much of the NSA’s metadata with ICREACH. 

  • (Commentary Magazine, Tuesday, September 2, 2014)

    The author opines on the United Nations' management of the Internet governance dialogue. Specifically he claims that the organization has made a host of ironic and poorly timed decisions such as naming Turkey, a country ridden with censorship scandal, the host of the 2014 Internet Governance Forum. The question for those committed to free speech and free exchange of information is whether it is too late to rectify the situation and save the internet from a UN bureaucracy more inclined to assuage dictatorships like Turkey than defend freedom and liberty.

  • (Index, Tuesday, September 2, 2014)

    Is it okay for state's to impose censorship during times of war, and is it even possible with the prevalence of social media? Critics of this policy fear that these measures might continue post-conflict, but others argue that it is best to be protected from "full horrors." 

  • (London School of Economics & Political Science, Tuesday, September 2, 2014)

    Despite being viewed as a key component of European democracy, media freedom varies significantly across EU states.  She argues that the EU should set explicit press freedom requirements for candidate countries and enforce these more strictly during the accession process.

  • (The Washington Post, Tuesday, September 2, 2014)

    Author David Post explores a growing  trend in which global Internet users  are able to access websites hosted in another country that feature content that is illegal in their own. He asserts that because ICANN has control over the global Internet domain name system, it has the potential to play a significant role in guiding international governance  of this type of access. 

  • (Business Wire, Monday, September 1, 2014)

    The Internet Governance Forum Support Association was officially launched today at its inaugural General Assembly meeting in Istanbul. The IGF Support Association will support the United Nations Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which brings people together from all stakeholder groups, and provides valuable opportunities for discussions on issues relating to the Internet and its future.

  • (The Intercept, Sunday, August 31, 2014)

    On a December night in 2011, a terrible thing happened on Mount Cudi, near the Turkish-Iraqi border. One side described it as a massacre; the other called it an accident.

  • (Ars Technica, Saturday, August 30, 2014)

    A researcher has refined an attack on wireless routers with poorly implemented versions of the Wi-Fi Protected Setup that allows someone to quickly gain access to a router's network. The attack exploits weak randomization, or the lack of randomization, in a key used to authenticate hardware PINs on some implementations of Wi-Fi Protected Setup, allowing anyone to quickly collect enough information to guess the PIN using offline calculations. By calculating the correct PIN, rather than attempting to brute-force guess the numerical password, the new attack circumvents defenses instituted by companies.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Thursday, August 28, 2014)

    FF was amongst a handful of user representatives invited to attend the initial scoping meeting of a new global convening called the NETmundial Initiative, which was held today in Geneva. In introducing the event, Virgílio Almeida of Brazil's Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation gave his prediction that the new Initiative could eventually come to take its place amongst other high-profile Internet governance institutions such as the IGF, ITU and ICANN. If this is so, then we certainly hope that today's meeting doesn't set a standard for the nascent initiative to follow, because it wasn't a promising start. But before explaining why, a little more background information is in order.

  • (Global Post, Thursday, August 28, 2014)

    The World Economic Forum on Thursday launched a new initiative on Internet governance cooperation, which will provide a venue for leaders from many regions and sectors of society to discuss and address a range of emerging policy challenges related to Internet.

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Thursday, August 28, 2014)

    The 9th annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) meets in Istanbul this year from 1 to 5 September. As with IGF Bali last year, the meeting will be a chance for human rights advocates, members of government, industry representatives, the technical community, academics, and others from around the world to come together and discuss issues related to Internet policy and governance. I’ll be there representing CDT, along with Emma Llanso. We hope that Istanbul will build upon the success of Bali and explore how IGF can be further strengthened to ensure its continuing success.

  • (BetaBeat, Wednesday, August 27, 2014)

    On the day of the news of James Foley’s beheading, I was very sad. I thought he looked so brave, and I have a lot of respect for Americans who take an interest in the Middle East. I felt I could relate to him, and his death struck me on a personal level. Naturally, I wanted to see the video the terrorists had released of his beheading. But every link I would click — there was nothing. All sites had removed the video. When I told my friends that I wanted to watch the video, I got little sympathy. Nobody else wanted to watch it, they seemed to think it would be an act of disrespect to Foley to watch the video. Everybody seemed to think that I’m a sicko.

  • (TeliaSonera, Wednesday, August 27, 2014)

    Millions of customers trust TeliaSonera to provide telecommunications services. They trust TeliaSonera to protect their communications, data and personal information. In return we hereby publish our first Transparency Report to contribute to an open and transparent world where customer privacy and freedom of expression is in the front.

  • (Left Foot Forward, Tuesday, August 26, 2014)

    No sooner had US journalist James Foley been killed by British jihadists and footage of his brutal murder uploaded to social media than there were calls to increase censorship of the internet. “We must give ourselves all the legal powers we need to prevail,” the Home Secretary wrote in the Telegraph, adding that 28,000 pieces of ‘terrorist material’ had been removed from the internet so far this year.

  • (Roll Call, Monday, August 25, 2014)

    European lawmakers and regulators will tell you that their recent adventures into Internet regulation are aimed at upholding a “fundamental human right” to privacy. They’ll claim the right to be forgotten is not a “super right” trumping other fundamental rights. But in their headlong rush to protect Internet users from themselves, they’ve done just that and downgraded other fundamental human rights like the right to free expression.

  • (The Guardian, Thursday, August 21, 2014)

    Twitter has got itself into a tangle. The social network's decision to remove all links to the horrific footage showing the apparent beheading of the photojournalist James Foley is one that most of its users, reasonably, support.

  • (TechCrunch, Thursday, August 21, 2014)

    Some things are best kept secret. But when it comes to your online activities, can you ever truly conceal your identity? A variety of tools and best practices can help you achieve some level of privacy when surfing the web, but it is nearly impossible to ensure that your online activities remain completely anonymous.

  • (The Intercept, Thursday, August 21, 2014)

    There have been increasingly vocal calls for Twitter, Facebook and other Silicon Valley corporations to more aggressively police what their users are permitted to see and read. Last month in The Washington Post, for instance, MSNBC host Ronan Farrow demanded that social media companies ban the accounts of “terrorists” who issue “direct calls” for violence. This week, the announcement by Twitter CEO Dick Costolo that the company would prohibit the posting of the James Foley beheading video and photos from it (and suspend the accounts of anyone who links to the video) met with overwhelming approval. What made that so significant, as The Guardian‘s James Ball noted today, was that “Twitter has promoted its free speech credentials aggressively since the network’s inception.” By contrast, Facebook has long actively regulated what its users are permitted to say and read; at the end of 2013, the company reversed its prior ruling and decided that posting of beheading videos would be allowed, but only if the user did not express support for the act.

  • (Washington Post, Thursday, August 21, 2014)

    Adam Fisk knows a thing or two about peer-to-peer networks. You may have even used his handiwork to illicitly obtain some of your favorite tunes: Fisk was once the lead developer for the file sharing service LimeWire. These days, Fisk is trying to use similar technology to help people living under repressive regimes evade online censorship.

  • (Sunday Express, Wednesday, August 20, 2014)

    You may not realise it but your smartphone is tracking your every move, monitoring and recording each part of your journey. It's a scary thought. With our phones now constantly hooked up to the internet via mobile signal, smartphone owners can be tracked to within inches of their actual location. For owners of an Android device or anyone who's signed up to Google Now, this detailed data is instantly beamed to their Google account, where it can be stored for months. But the most frightening part is that these movements can now be viewed on a fully interactive location history map.

  • (The New American, Wednesday, August 20, 2014)

    In a recent essay entitled, “The Strategic Significance of the Internet Commons,” former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff describes cyberspace and the Internet as a “global commons” that must come under “global governance.” This is the latest salvo in an ongoing campaign by a disparate congeries of internationalists, socialists, communists, and jihadists to turn over control of the Internet to some sort of regime under the United Nations.

  • (Forbes, Wednesday, August 20, 2014)

    Over the last month there has been an unfathomable amount of content published about the massive privacy intrusion that is Facebook Messenger. With the ability to intrude into the lives of its users in ways that the NSA would never think to, it isn’t a surprise that the new download brought such strong opinions; many of which served as recommendations to not download the application.

  • (Foreign Policy, Tuesday, August 19, 2014)

    Twitter and YouTube moved quickly on Tuesday -- but with decidedly mixed results -- to suspend accounts that linked to a jihadi propaganda video purporting to show the murder of American journalist James Foley at the hands of Islamist terrorists. The crackdown provided a vivid example of the pressure on social media companies to police violent terrorist propaganda, but at the same time it showed the difficulty they have in stopping individuals intent on spreading violent images and rhetoric.

  • (Global Voices, Tuesday, August 19, 2014)

    The Association for Progressive Communications is asking LGBT activists, women's rights activists, queer bloggers and anyone with an active voice on issues of gender and sexuality on the Internet to participate in their 2014 EROTICS survey. APC explains that the survey seeks to help advocates “understand how sexual rights activists (from a variety of focuses and countries) use the internet to advance their work, what sort of risks, harassment, content regulation, or censorship they deal with, and how they respond to them.” The organization plans to use this information to help increase access to digital security for sexual rights activists and advocate for gender and sexuality issues among Internet rights activists.

  • (Wired, Tuesday, August 19, 2014)

    It’s impossible to overstate how much the Internet matters. It has forever altered how we share information and store it for safekeeping, how we communicate with political leaders, how we document atrocities and hold wrongdoers accountable, how we consume entertainment and create it, even how we meet others and maintain relationships. Our society is strengthened and made more democratic by the open access the Internet enables. But the Internet as we know it is at risk from a variety of threats ranging from cybercrime to its very infrastructure, which wasn’t built to withstand the complications our dependence upon it causes.

  • (Wired, Tuesday, August 19, 2014)

    We asked some of the Net’s biggest stakeholders and thought leaders to lay out ways we can maintain the Internet as a home for innovation, community, and freely exchanged information. We are excited to present you with these six takes on what could go wrong—and how to bring us back from the brink.

  • (Michael Geist, Monday, August 18, 2014)

    The debate over Internet governance for much of the past decade has often come down to a battle between ICANN and the ITU (a UN body), which in turn is characterized as a choice between a private-sector led, bottoms-up, consensus model (ICANN) or a governmental-controlled approach. The reality has always been far more complicated. The U.S. still maintains contractual control over ICANN, while all governments exert considerable power within the ICANN model through the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC).

  • (CircleID, Monday, August 18, 2014)

    After the USA set the bad example of allowing telcos to start charging different rates for content delivery services, other incumbent telcos elsewhere are only too happy to jump on the bandwagon and use the American example as a reason and an excuse to end net neutrality (NN) in their countries also. As did their American counterparts they too see this as another way to grab some extra monopolistic income.

  • (BetaNews, Monday, August 18, 2014)

    The issue of internet freedom is seldom far from the news at the moment, but exactly how much are the governments in different countries restricting what their web users do? Online privacy service IVPN has produced an interactive map showing levels of internet censorship around the world. You can simply click on a country to see how it rates.

  • (BetaNews, Monday, August 18, 2014)

    The issue of internet freedom is seldom far from the news at the moment, but exactly how much are the governments in different countries restricting what their web users do? Online privacy service IVPN has produced an interactive map showing levels of internet censorship around the world. You can simply click on a country to see how it rates.

  • (CircleID, Monday, August 18, 2014)

    In 2005 the Tunis Agenda opened the door for an innovative governance model. Heads of States agreed that the governance of the Internet, the backbone of the information society, should be based on shared decision making among governments, civil society and the private sector. Ten years later, governments in the UN want obviously to remove non-governmental stakeholders from the negotiation table. Who fears civil society? Will the UN sail backwards?

  • (Harvard Law Review Forum, Monday, August 18, 2014)

    Thanks to Marvin Ammori for a perceptive overview of the seismic shift in free speech policymaking over the past two decades. Today, as Ammori points out, private companies that run social media sites and search engines are the main arbiters of what gets communicated in the brave new world of cyberspace. And despite their good intentions and their claims to a free-speech-friendly philosophy, these companies employ “terms of service” that censor a broad range of constitutionally protected speech.

  • (The Vine, Saturday, August 16, 2014)

    When it comes to social media, and the Internet in general, censorship is a sensitive topic. You probably didn't read the small print when you signed up to Facebook or Twitter but all your favourite sites have rules, and with so many users posting so much content daily it can be difficult to police them – especially without pissing people off. Free speech is pretty popular after all.

  • (Motherboard, Saturday, August 16, 2014)

    The spy agencies behind the Five Eyes snooping alliance are actively scanning networks across the connected world for vulnerabilities. Their tool is called Hacienda and its task is to find any unprotected "holes" left in server firewalls, such that spies can penetrate those servers and, potentially, take control. This was revealed in a paper published yesterday in Heise Online by researchers and journalists based in Germany.

  • (Slate, Friday, August 15, 2014)

    The Internet is a series of tubes ... that are sometimes attacked by sharks. Reports of sharks biting the undersea cables that zip our data around the world date to at least 1987. That’s when the New York Times reported that “sharks have shown an inexplicable taste for the new fiber-optic cables that are being strung along the ocean floor linking the United States, Europe, and Japan.”

  • (The Guardian, Friday, August 15, 2014)

    Bad news: The internet ran out of space on Tuesday. Worse news: Sharks are eating what is left. Thankfully, it is not as bad as it sounds. Yet. But there are some existential threats to the internet on the horizon, and there are worse ways of putting it than to point out that the whole thing is full up.

  • (GigaOm, Thursday, August 14, 2014)

    The anti-censorship project Lantern wants give users in countries like China and Iran access to blocked websites through a distributed network of proxies.

  • (The Guardian, Thursday, August 14, 2014)

    This is a complicated question, because several different types of information may be involved. First, there’s private data that belongs to you, such as your email and photos. Second, there is data that belongs to you but that you have published on, say, Twitter or Facebook or a bulletin board. Third, there is commercial data, of the sort that you create when buying things online. Fourth, there is metadata that you don’t know about, which tracks your browsing habits, location, and so on.

  • (World Wide Web Foundation, Thursday, August 14, 2014)

    Since whistle-blower Edward Snowden’s disclosures hit the headlines last year, the regulation of the Internet has been a hot topic. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff issued a challenge to the international community to develop an Internet governance framework based on human rights, and announced that Brazil would convene a high-level meeting on the topic.

  • (The Guardian, Thursday, August 14, 2014)

    Experts have warned of more internet blackouts after a crash disabled eBay in northern Europe this week, as the decades old systems used to organise the world wide web creak under the sheer weight of new devices and websites.

  • (Huffington Post, Thursday, August 14, 2014)

    Privacy and the Internet mix like oil and water. As more websites gear up to provide transparency over the Web, privacy has taken on a new meeting in the virtual world. Everyone from Facebook to Google wants to share your information. Your likes, dislikes and your hobbies are all on display on the Web, which leads to one question - what is still private in the Digital Age?

  • (Renesys, Wednesday, August 13, 2014)

    There was minor consternation in Internet engineering circles today, as the number of IPv4 networks worldwide briefly touched another magic “power of 2″ size limit. As it turns out, 512K (524,288 to be exact, or 2-to-the-19th power) is the maximum number of routes supported by the default TCAM configuration on certain aging hardware platforms.

  • (Index on Censorship, Tuesday, August 12, 2014)

    The British government established the War Office Press Bureau 100 years ago this month to censor reports from the British Army before they were issued to the press. Colonel Ernest Swinton, the first man to be appointed the Army’s official journalist, wrote later: “The principle which guided me in my work was above all to avoid helping the enemy… I essayed to tell as much of the truth as was compatible with safety, to guard against depression and pessimism, and to check unjustified optimism which might lead to a relaxation of effort.”

  • (MSN, Monday, August 11, 2014)

    We all know how much the internet loves cats, and we reckon if cats could speak, they’d tell us how much they love the internet back. But until then, cats have to show their feelings through eating, sleeping, and scratching the faces of world leaders. Yep, the people at Hide My Ass are raising awareness of internet censorship around the world in the best way possible, with cute cats and a smattering of satire with their new campaign, The Pussycat Riot.

  • (The Wall Street Journal, Thursday, August 7, 2014)

    Could encrypted messaging—long the province of privacy hawks and conspiracy theorists—go mainstream? Yahoo Inc. said Thursday it will join an effort by rival Google Inc. to create a secure email system by next year that could make it nearly impossible for hackers or government officials to read users' messages. Even the email providers themselves won't be able to decrypt messages.

  • (Vice, Thursday, August 7, 2014)

    Monkeys have a long and storied history of mischievous behavior. Curious George, Bonzo, that Nazi monkey from Raiders of the Lost Ark, and, more recently, some crested black macaque in Indonesia who grabbed photographer David Slater’s camera and started shooting #selfies in the jungle. When the photos were first released in 2011, they attracted a level of global attention that should make us all ashamed. The (admittedly very cute) monkey’s doofy grin was plastered on what seemed like every website in the world and even made the rounds on a number of national news programs. David Slater was happy. Presumably, he was making a lot of money off of that monkey and its impressive ability to capture the essence of what it was to be alive and a monkey in the Indonesian Jungle in 2011. Life was good. But then Wikimedia, parent company of Wikipedia, uploaded the pictures to their library of public domain images, complete with a link to download hi-res files of the photos. The images have been uploaded and removed by different editors after Slater complained several times over the years, but he has finally decided to take legal action. “If the monkey took it, it owns copyright, not me, that’s their basic argument. What they don’t realize is that it needs a court to decide that,” Slater told the Telegraph.

  • (Ars Technica, Thursday, August 7, 2014)

    In a shift aimed at fostering wider use of encryption on the Web, Google is tweaking its search engine to favor sites that use HTTPS to protect end users' privacy and security.

  • (Wikimedia Foundation, Wednesday, August 6, 2014)

    Wikipedia released its first-ever transparency report on Wednesday, outlining the number of requests the website had received for its users’ data.

  • (Motherboard, Wednesday, August 6, 2014)

    The Internet of Things is coming—or already here, depending on who you ask—and it's going to be hungry for power. Those “things” need energy, after all, and most of us only have so many power outlets and so much time (and patience) to spend recharging devices on a regular basis.

  • (Malaysian Digest, Tuesday, August 5, 2014)

    If you’re in a censorship-heavy country or want security in a public wifi hotspot, a VPN service is your best friend. Unfortunately, it has a tendency to let you down: it’s either too expensive, too slow, or too difficult to use. GOM is a VPN service that’s trying to address the Goldilocks problem. It’s a Google Chrome extension that eliminates the complex setup required by many VPN software. Three clicks is all it takes to start using it.

  • (GCN, Tuesday, August 5, 2014)

    Currently, the only sources of information on who is blocking what web content are anecdotal reports from users collected by organizations such as the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard. Berkman’s Herdict project collects and disseminates real-time, crowdsourced information about Internet filtering, denial of service attacks and other blockages and offers a graphic display of what countries are blocking how much content on the Internet. Now, researchers at Georgia Tech’s College of Computing are working on a tool, named Encore, to automate the process of monitoring web censorship using a single line of code.

  • (The Wall Street Journal, Thursday, July 31, 2014)

    Mathew Solnik says he can take over a smartphone from 30 feet away without alerting the user or the phone company. Then, he can turn the phone into a live microphone, browse its contacts or read its text messages. "Anything [hackers] can choose to do, they can," says Mr. Solnik, a 28-year-old security consultant at Accuvant Inc., which works with Fortune 500 companies and the U.S. government.

  • (Wired, Thursday, July 31, 2014)

    A lot of concern about the NSA’s seemingly omnipresent surveillance over the last year has focused on the agency’s efforts to install back doors in software and hardware. Those efforts are greatly aided, however, if the agency can piggyback on embedded software already on a system that can be exploited.

  • (Committee to Protect Journalists, Thursday, July 31, 2014)

    As print and broadcast converge online, as social media plays an increasingly critical role in transmitting news to a mass audience, the Internet has become the primary means through which news is disseminated globally. It has also become an information chokepoint. Repressive governments are recognizing that the Internet is no longer the province of the connected elite. It's a form of mass communication which, when unfettered, presents a threat to centralized power and control.

  • (Open Democracy, Wednesday, July 30, 2014)

    Promoting, protecting and fulfilling human rights requires a secure Internet, but states misuse cyber security scares to threaten individual liberties. The High Commissioner can be a powerful voice promoting a right to cyber security while defending expression and privacy rights.

  • (Reuters, Wednesday, July 30, 2014)

    Tor, the prominent system for protecting Internet privacy, said on Wednesday many of its users trying to reach hidden sites might have been identified by government-funded researchers.

  • (Brookings, Wednesday, July 30, 2014)

    In March the United States announced that it would relinquish its oversight of The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN is an enormously important organization that administers the Internet. There is an emerging consensus that international governance of ICANN is coming but there are many unanswered questions.

  • (The Guardian, Tuesday, July 29, 2014)

    Dating service OkCupid has cheerfully admitted to manipulating what it shows users, a month after Facebook faced a storm of protest when it revealed that it had conducted psychological experiments.

  • (Sci Dev Net, Tuesday, July 29, 2014)

    Innovative approaches to governing the internet are needed, say experts from a new global internet policy commission set up to find and propose such solutions to governments over the next two years. Intelligence contractor Edward Snowden’s exposure of online surveillance by the US-government has shaken the multi-stakeholder model of internet governance by undermining trust among stakeholders, according to Tobby Simon, a member of the Global Commission on Internet Governance (GCIG).

  • (Ars Technica, Tuesday, July 29, 2014)

    Stevie Graham, a London-based developer, recently submitted a bug report to Facebook outlining what he saw as a security vulnerability in Instagram that would allow someone to hijack a user’s session based on data captured over a public Wi-Fi network. When he was told that he wouldn’t get a bug bounty from Facebook, which owns Instagram, he tweeted about it—and set about building a proof-of-concept tool to exploit it. “Denied bug bounty. Next step is to write automated tool enabling mass hijacking of accounts,” he wrote. “Pretty serious vuln, FB. please fix.”

  • (OECD, Monday, July 28, 2014)

    Wireless broadband penetration has grown to 72.4% in the OECD area, according to December 2013 data, meaning there are almost three wireless subscriptions for every four inhabitants. Wireless broadband subscriptions in the 34-country group were up 14.6% from a year earlier to a total of 910 million, driven by continuing strong demand for smartphones and tablets. Seven countries (Finland, Australia, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, Korea and the United States) now lie above the 100% penetration threshold.

  • (Twitter, Monday, July 28, 2014)

    Today’s publication marks our fifth Transparency Report. With each successive edition, we aim to provide more meaningful and constructive insight into the global government and copyright requests we receive, and their respective impact, with the goal of making this report more compelling and informative for you.

  • (Cloud Tweaks, Monday, July 28, 2014)

    The internet has been used for surveillance ever since its widespread adoption two decades ago. Hundreds of companies make huge profits by monitoring, recording and collating all our information, before either selling it to governments who want to pry on citizen’s lives or corporations who want to learn about everything from the effectiveness of their latest advertising campaigns to the demographic that are most interested in their products.

  • (Pew Research, Monday, July 28, 2014)

    Revelations about the scope of American electronic surveillance efforts have generated headlines around the world over the past year. And a new Pew Research Center survey finds widespread global opposition to U.S. eavesdropping and a decline in the view that the U.S. respects the personal freedoms of its people. But in most countries there is little evidence this opposition has severely harmed America’s overall image.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Thursday, July 24, 2014)

    EFF's position on net neutrality simply calls for all data that travels over the Internet to be treated equally. This means that we oppose ISPs blocking content based on its source or destination, or discriminating against certain applications (such as BitTorrent), or imposing special access fees that would make it harder for small websites to reach their users. We have called for the FCC to assume firm legal authority to protect the neutrality of the net from these sorts of abuses, while explicitly forbearing from going any further to regulate the Internet. Do we maintain this same position internationally? Absolutely.

  • (LiveMint, Thursday, July 24, 2014)

    A 2013 report from Freedom House, a Washington DC-based research and advocacy non-profit, found that more than half of the countries assessed experienced a decline in Internet freedom, including the US. In the manner of its governance as a multi-stakeholder organization where states participate on an equal footing with private sector and civil society groups, its architecture as an open network of computers, and its gift of voice to previously disenfranchised communities—the Internet has been a symbol of freedom. In this context, the increasing assertion of sovereign rights over the Internet, and the encroachment on the privacy of citizens has justifiably drawn widespread attention. However, other aspects of Internet freedom need to be kept in mind as we negotiate an open Internet in the face of new concerns.

  • (The Independent, Monday, July 21, 2014)

    Facebook and Twitter are sometimes seen as news-lite platforms. A rainbow world of baby photos and cats. Not in the last month. This summer dead bodies are being plastered all over social media. I have seen babies with their faces blown off in Gaza; children holding guns in Iraq; frothing corpses in Syria. Ukrainian women weep next to bodies in the streets. They don’t even hear the click of the camera shutter recording their pain. Amidst this angry, desperate environment the news broke of the MH17 crash. Horrific pictures of aeroplane debris and bodies were online within minutes. Those shaping the first few hours of breaking news are often not journalists anymore; eyewitnesses are posting before reporters have even had time to reach the scene. Social media illustrates chaos without context, and without any recourse to media ethics. Pictures of passports were posted, clearly identifying the victims of the crash before their families had been notified. Many people found Twitter’s immediate reaction to the crash intrusive and disturbing, and self-serving in a far more painful way than pictures that have been shared of the Middle East. But why? Is one photo of a corpse really that different to another? Does Twitter find pictures of dead Arab children less unsettling than the pictures of Western bodies because more people can more easily imagine their own families in a plane crash?

  • (TweakTown, Monday, July 21, 2014)

    No matter what it tries the content industry can't seem to stem the popularity of public enemy number one, The Pirate Bay, and now new figures show the torrent indexer's traffic has doubled since the first wave of blocks came into place.

  • (United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sunday, July 20, 2014)

    In its resolution 68/167, the General Assembly requested the United Nations High
    Commissioner for Human Rights to submit a report on the protection and promotion of the right to privacy in the context of domestic and extraterritorial surveillance and/or the interception of digital communications and the collection of personal data, including on a mass scale, to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-seventh session and to the General Assembly at its sixty-ninth session, with views and recommendations, to be considered by Member States. The present report is submitted pursuant to that request. The Office of the High Commissioner will also submit the report to the General Assembly at its sixty-ninth session, pursuant to the request of the Assembly.

  • (Foreign Policy, Thursday, July 17, 2014)

    The United Nations' campaign to rein in the U.S. National Security Agency's ability to conduct mass surveillance of electronic communications is just getting started. The U.N.'s human rights chief on Wednesday, July 16, charged that the mass surveillance and interception of electronic communications by the United States, Britain, and other governments threatens to erode long-established human rights and privacy protections.

  • (CircleID, Thursday, July 17, 2014)

    The goal of public policy for connectivity should be to assure access to our common facilities as a public good by adopting sustainable business models that don't put owners and users at odds with each other. Such balances are typically difficult to achieve which is what makes connectivity so unusual — we can achieve both once we fund the facilities as a public good apart from the particular applications such as telephone calls and cable content. The Internet represents a discontinuity from the past and our policies need to reflect this fresh start. We can now frame policies in terms of creating opportunity. It's not a thing in the sense of the wires and the gears — it is what we do with them.

  • (Business Standard, Thursday, July 17, 2014)

    The Just Net Coalition, an association of global civil society agencies, has urged the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) to frame an alternative model of internet governance. The current model, it alleges, is largely US-dominated and only serves the interests of a handful of US technology companies. This coincides with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's statement at the ongoing BRICS Summit on Wednesday, where he asked member countries to take a lead in preserving the internet "as a global common good". Modi termed cyber security as a "major concern".

  • (The Guardian, Thursday, July 17, 2014)

    The NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, has urged lawyers, journalists, doctors, accountants, priests and others with a duty to protect confidentiality to upgrade security in the wake of the spy surveillance revelations. Snowden said professionals were failing in their obligations to their clients, sources, patients and parishioners in what he described as a new and challenging world.

  • (The Guardian, Wednesday, July 16, 2014)

    Google has reversed a policy that forced users of Google+ to use their real names, allowing anonymous commenting to recommence on YouTube after an eight-month hiatus. The search giant’s social network, Google+, required users to register and use a proper name for their accounts, although the company did not verify the name given was a user’s real name.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Wednesday, July 16, 2014)

    The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has released an excellent report today on the right to privacy in the digital age, blasting the digital mass surveillance that has been taking place, unchecked, by the U.S., the U.K, and other world governments. The report is issued in response to a resolution passed with unanimous approval by the United Nations General Assembly in November 2013. That resolution was introduced by Brazil and Germany and sponsored by 57 member states.

  • (The Daily Beast, Tuesday, July 15, 2014)

    What comes up when you enter your name into Google? It could be positive: mentions in newspapers or notices for awards received. But the results likely include some negative material as well: your phone number and address might show up, some sloppy party photos taken without your permission, or even court records. A new company in France called wants to help you make those results disappear with just a few clicks, thanks to the European Union’s “right to be forgotten.”

  • (MintPress News, Tuesday, July 15, 2014)

    Ross Ulbricht, the 30-year-old American who allegedly created the online black marketplace Silk Road, was unsuccessful last week in convincing a federal judge that he is not the notorious hacker Dread Pirate Roberts and did not conspire to deal illegal narcotics and launder money, sparking concern among privacy advocates that Internet freedoms may be nearing an end.

  • (MintPress News, Tuesday, July 15, 2014)

    The United States government in March proposed a handing over of the key oversight role it holds in global internet governance — a role that currently grants it ultimate authority over many critical parts of internet function. The proposition initially raised some concerns about the transition of this role, including the possibility that authoritarian regimes could take control of the internet and implement widespread censorship.

  • (Jillian C York, Monday, July 14, 2014)

    Normally, I’d have pitched an op-ed rebuttal or something, but this is just too stupid not to tear apart quick-and-dirty blog style. The TL;DR for context is that Ronan Farrow, privileged celeb commentator, wrote a ridiculous Washington Post piece about how social media companies should censor terrorists. Nevermind that this debate is two years old, or that the law enforcement and intelligence communities have already spoken in favor of not removing such content, or the fact that there aren’t many instances in which it’s legally required to do so…nevermind all of that, because Ronan Farrow is upset! And surely when Ronan Farrow gets upset, companies listen, which…isn’t good for any of us. So, here goes.

  • (Time, Sunday, July 13, 2014)

    Pay attention to the "swing states" that will determine the future of Internet governance, which depends on a reshuffling of the prevailing world order.

  • (Computer World, Saturday, July 12, 2014)

    There has never been a search engine that accurately reflects the Internet. In the 1990s and 2000s, the limitation was technical. The so-called "deep web" and "dark Internet" -- which sound shady and mysterious, but simply refer to web sites inaccessible by conventional means -- have always existed. Many parts of the Internet are hard to index, or are blocked from being indexed by their owners. Companies like Google have worked hard to surface and bring light to the "deep, dark" recesses of the global web on a technical level. But in the past few years, a disturbing trend has emerged where governments -- either through law or technical means or by the control of the companies that provide access -- have forced inaccuracy, omissions and misleading results on the world's major search engines.

  • (Nieman Journalism Lab, Friday, July 11, 2014)

    Twitter suspended the account that automatically tweeted out a video and GIF of every World Cup goal, according to a tweet sent by Xavier Damman, who developed the Twitter bot.

  • (Huffington Post, Thursday, July 10, 2014)

    The bureaucrats and industry lobbyists negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership have gone to great lengths to keep their plans a secret before, but this takes the cake. After scheduling the next round of bargaining for Vancouver, negotiators quietly made a last minute switch to Ottawa with only a week to go before the round began. The TPP is an international agreement involving Canada and 11 other countries, involving 40 per cent of the global economy, that threatens to censor free expression online amongst other concerns spanning environmental protections, jobs, public health, and even our democratic rights.

  • (The Guardian, Thursday, July 10, 2014)

    Secure communications firm Silent Circle is taking on Skype and mobile operators alike by adding private, encrypted international calls without roaming charges to its Silent Phone service. Its new Out-Circle Calling international call plans start at $12.95 (£7.55) for 100 minutes, rising to $39.95 for 1000 minutes. Silent Phone users will be able to call one another for free.

  • (BuzzFeed, Wednesday, July 9, 2014)

    Internet disruptions wreak havoc on global economies. Avoiding them is dangerous, but lucrative.

  • (Center for International Media Assistance, Wednesday, July 9, 2014)

    Want to keep a secret in the Internet era? Good luck. But if you want to spread misinformation, the Internet will hand you a bullhorn. In recent years, illiberal actors have exploited this contradiction with great skill. By now, it is cliché to note the Internet’s tremendous transformational power as an information source and organizational tool. Repressive governments have spent billions of dollars on Internet censorship, only to find themselves engaged in a never-ending game of whack-a-mole. Recently, however, analysts have noted that the Internet’s power is double-edged. The Internet was supposed to be the trump card in the battle for a better, more open world. Instead, it has become apparent that while its openness frustrates censors, it is a boon for propagandists. As a democratizing force, the Internet’s greatest vulnerability may be that it does not distinguish between truth and lies; online, both travel at the speed of light.

  • (Index on Censorship, Wednesday, July 9, 2014)

    When social media users group together to participate in online vigilantism, what implications are there for freedom of expression?

  • (CircleID, Tuesday, July 8, 2014)

    It was 20 years earlier than ICANN, and 25 years ahead of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) that Woody Allen said "80 percent of life is just showing up," but he could have just as easily been talking about our current multistakeholder policy situation. The emergence of powerful multistakeholder governance and engagement models has fundamentally changed the way we do Internet policy, and the roles that companies, organizations and individuals play in the process. The days when business, for instance, could sit on the sidelines and intercede only when policy reached an inflection point, are long gone.

  • (WIRED, Tuesday, July 8, 2014)

    During his last six years working as an elite security researcher for Google, the hacker known as Morgan Mayhem spent his nights and weekends hunting down the malware used to spy on vulnerable targets like human rights activists and political dissidents. His new job tasks him with defending a different endangered species: American national security journalists.

  • (Pew Research Internet Project, Monday, July 7, 2014)

    Government spying, fear of espionage and theft, businesses protecting revenues and computerized gatekeepers are some threats that some experts see coming to the freedom of the Internet. The third report in the Digital Life 2025 series from the Pew Research Internet Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center is out. It sees four broad potential threats to the freedom of the Internet.

  • (Digital Defenders, Monday, July 7, 2014)

    The Digital First Aid Kit aims to provide preliminary support for people facing the most common types of digital threats. The Kit offers a set of self-diagnostic tools for human rights defenders, bloggers, activists and journalists facing attacks themselves, as well as providing guidelines for digital first responders to assist a person under threat.

  • (ArsTechnica, Friday, July 4, 2014)

    As of this week, no more advertisements incorporating "sexually explicit content" will be promoted by Google's advertising network. Google's AdWords platform is used to place advertisements on Google-owned sites; other sites can also choose to host AdWord ads on their own sites. The platform is thought to be responsible for the majority of Google's revenue, but although Google has placed restrictions on adult content for a while, the latest changes could potentially have chased some advertisers elsewhere.

  • (The Daily Signal, Friday, July 4, 2014)

    Today, Americans observe Independence Day, in which we celebrate not just our separation from King George and Great Britain, but the affirmation of what Jefferson called our “unalienable rights.” Foremost among these is freedom of expression. In the 238 years since, this right—enshrined as the First Amendment—has become a cornerstone of our constitutional system. Not so the rest of the world. From China to Saudi Arabia to Russia, censorship is a fact of life. But even Europe, which broadly shares our democratic ideals, relegates free speech to the back row. In fact, the European version of the Bill of Rights—the “Charter of Fundamental Rights”—doesn’t get around to guaranteeing freedom of expression until Article 11, and even then it is subject to 11 exceptions.

  • (Pew Research Internet Project, Thursday, July 3, 2014)

    As Internet experts look to the future of the Web, they have a number of concerns. This is not to say they are pessimistic: The majority of respondents to this 2014 Future of the Internet canvassing say they hope that by 2025 there will not be significant changes for the worse and hindrances to the ways in which people get and share content online today. And they said they expect that technology innovation will continue to afford more new opportunities for people to connect.

  • (The Guardian, Thursday, July 3, 2014)

    The "right to be forgotten" has created a right old headache for Google and for publishers alike. As a result of a European court ruling, people can request results relating to them to be removed from Google's searches – even if the original article is true, fair and accurate – if it is "outdated" or "irrelevant". Google says it has received at least 70,000 such requests.

  • (The Guardian, Wednesday, July 2, 2014)

    Internet service providers from around the world are lodging formal complaints against the UK government's monitoring service, GCHQ, alleging it uses malicious software to break into their networks. The claims from seven organisations based in six countries – Germany, the Netherlands, South Korea, the UK, the US and Zimbabwe – will add to international pressure on the government after Edward Snowden's revelations about mass surveillance of the internet by UK and US intelligence agencies.

  • (Quartz, Monday, June 30, 2014)

    Last week, Quartz wrote about, a service that aims to make it easier for Europeans to request Google to de-list search results to information about them that is “irrelevant, outdated, or otherwise inappropriate.” (The European Court of Justice recently laid down (pdf) when Google must comply with such requests.) A week in, has received 1,106 applications asking for 5,218 links to be taken down. Here’s what people don’t want other people to know about them.

  • (National Security Agency, Saturday, June 28, 2014)

    The US National Security Agency released its first "transparency report" Friday, as part of an effort to quell the firestorm over reports of its massive data collection efforts. The NSA report said that in 2013, it obtained fewer than 2,000 orders from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

  • (Time, Wednesday, June 25, 2014)

    A new survey says internet users are unwilling to trade their privacy for a better online experience. But investors shouldn't take it too seriously.

  • (Wired, Wednesday, June 25, 2014)

    There is now an entire generation of people, the so-called Millennials, who have grown up with the internet. These “kids” expect the internet to be there all the time. And not just that, they expect it to be secured and private, using encryption like SSL, so that no one can snoop on their Instragram updates and their Snapchats. Hey there’s nothing wrong with that — I’m older, but I feel exactly the same way. Excuse me while I check my top-secret tweets for mentions of the hottest Millennial today, Edward Snowden. His revelations about the NSA may have gotten him a Nobel Peace Prize nomination, yet the actual depth of state surveillance goes beyond even his paranoia.

  • (The Guardian Liberty Voice, Wednesday, June 25, 2014)

    Censorship on social media site Facebook has been a heated topic of debate for years, but some things need to be put into perspective. Facebook has been met with allegations from every front in recent months, including various political and religious wings. Many believe the censorship of the website to be biased, and various appeals have been opened where affected parties have claimed an infringement on freedom of speech. The popular social networking site is biased, but not in the way many people suppose. Facebook is biased because Facebook makes the rules.

  • (Fast CoExist, Tuesday, June 24, 2014)

    The Internet is a constantly evolving organism, always shifting to deal with the threats placed in front of it: malicious hackers, spying governments, censors, and challenges that don't yet exist. The winners of the 2014 Knight News Challenge all focus on keeping the Internet open, secure, and free of censorship. The competition, launched in February, will dole out $3.4 million to 19 winners, including 10 prototype projects.

  • (Columbia University School of Journalism, Monday, June 23, 2014)

    The law and technologies that govern the functioning of today’s digital communication systems have dramatically affected journalists’ ability to protect their sources. This paper offers an overview of how these legal and technical systems developed, and how their intersection exposes all digital communications – not just those of journalists and their sources – to scrutiny. Strategies for reducing this exposure are explored, along with recommendations for individuals and organizations about how to address this pervasive issue.

  • (Huffington Post, Monday, June 23, 2014)

    Given the deluge of reporting on cyber attacks splashed across the headlines, it is natural to throw up one's hands in exasperation, or even to seek a higher power. James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, for example, has said, "We have a faith-based approach [to cybersecurity], in that we pray every night nothing bad will happen." Indeed, in just the past few months, it has come to light that nearly half of U.S. adults have been hacked, and the U.S. is not alone.

  • (CircleID, Monday, June 23, 2014)

    I hear the virtues of the "open Internet" being extolled so much these days that I can't help but wonder what exactly we are referring to. So let's ask the question.
    What is an "open" Internet?

  • (The Wall Street Journal, Sunday, June 22, 2014)

    DSL companies are lagging behind cable and fiber broadband providers when it comes to download speeds, according to a new report from the Federal Communications Commission. The agency released its fourth annual report on broadband speeds, which showed once again that broadband providers are gradually increasing performance while delivering close to advertised speeds most of the time.

  • (ArsTechnica, Sunday, June 22, 2014)

    A screenshot from the National Security Agency’s Boundless Informant visualization tool shows that the NSA was heavily focusing its network hacking efforts in 2013 on Iran and Pakistan. All the while, the NSA also had active “computer network exploits” within the United States. The new document, published by Der Spiegel, is part of 53 documents recently released from the Edward Snowden cache, which appears to be from the same set initially released a year ago in Glenn Greenwald’s first article on Boundless Informant from June 2013.

  • (Index on Censorship, Sunday, June 22, 2014)

    Index has compiled some key stats for each World Cup country.

  • (The Privacy Surgeon, Sunday, June 22, 2014)

    The Snowden disclosures have triggered a noticeable shift in thinking
    across the world toward increased awareness of the importance of
    accountability, transparency and the rule of law with regard to both the
    activities of security agencies and the value of privacy. This shift - in
    many parts of the world - has empowered civil society, created a
    resurgence of interest in legal protections and sensitised media to key
    issues that have hitherto escaped public scrutiny at any substantial

  • (The Guardian, Thursday, June 19, 2014)

    Facebook was unavailable worldwide for more than 30 minutes on Thursday morning, the longest outage on the site for four years. Both the website and the company's smartphone and tablet apps were affected, as users decamped to other social networks to complain about the failure.

  • (Bloomberg View, Thursday, June 19, 2014)

    Every time a government attempts to censor the Internet and block access to websites, advocates of Web freedom ritually respond that the effort is useless: Technology will beat police action every time. It's true -- but only to the extent that people are interested in resisting. Most aren't, which is why governments have not stopped messing with site blockages and other Web restrictions.

  • (IFEX, Thursday, June 19, 2014)

    Two years ago this Council affirmed by consensus that "the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression". In 2014, the outcome document of Net-Mundial in Brazil recognised the vital role of the Internet to achieve the full realisation of sustainable development goals. 31 UN Special Rapporteurs recently affirmed that guaranteeing the free-flow of information online ensures transparency and participation in decision-making, enhancing accountability and the effectiveness of development outcomes.

  • (FirstPost, Tuesday, June 17, 2014)

    Microsoft, Google, Apple and other tech companies in the US have been fighting what looks like an uphill battle, ever since we heard about the NSA’s widespread and indiscriminate Internet surveillance.

  • (Al Jazeera America, Sunday, June 15, 2014)

    A year ago this month, former NSA worker Edward Snowden became the man behind the biggest intelligence leak in history. What tangible effects has the Snowden story had one year on? Snowden’s revelations outraged many Americans, including members of Congress who drew up a law designed to rein in intelligence agencies, America has 18 of them, but pushback from the security establishment meant the bill that eventually passed was watered down to such an extent that privacy advocates dismissed it as a sham.

  • (InfoSecurity, Wednesday, June 11, 2014)

    Drew Amorosi recently caught up with Steve Durbin at Infosecurity Europe in London, where the ISF’s global VP took a skeptical view on political leaders who have called for regional control of the internet in the aftermath of NSA surveillance disclosures.

  • (The Guardian, Tuesday, June 10, 2014)

    Apple's iOS 8 will protect users from being spied on by retailers and hackers, by randomising a key piece of information phones use to connect to Wi-Fi. Users of Apple's next mobile operating system, due in autumn, will no longer be sharing their real "MAC address" with anyone who cares to listen – putting the brakes on attempts to use it to track shoppers. Every networked device has a unique identifier, called a MAC (Media Access Control) address. (The MAC address is not specific to Apple devices.) That address lets networks tell whether a particular device has joined before, or block specific MAC addresses from joining, or allow only those with specific MAC addresses join. Because of how services like Wi-Fi work, phones must broadcast the MAC address widely, even to wireless networks they don't intend to join.

  • (Forbes, Tuesday, June 10, 2014)

    During a recent change of planes in Beijing, freelance marketing coordinator Frankie Rendon grew irritated as he considered how China blocks access to a number of U.S. websites and social media. “Never had I experienced Internet censorship before, and it left me angry,” says Rendon. “Which brought up the issue of Internet privacy and just how important it really is.” He decided to put his skills to work and devise a graphic showing how others can identify you based on your browser. In it, he details how marketers and others can use browser fingerprinting to detect who is visiting their sites. I wrote about the issue in the past here. Past articles on cloud browers, including one called Cocoon, discuss how you can circumvent the problem.

  • (TechCentral, Monday, June 9, 2014)

    While security agencies focus their surveillance on criminals and the rich, why is Google working on making reading all intercepted e-mail impossible?

  • (CircleID, Monday, June 9, 2014)

    A new coalition of public and private entities was launched today with the mission to support the rights of local communities to make their own decisions regarding broadband Internet networks — "unhindered by state laws or other policies that attempt to stifle or preclude local innovation and investment."

  • (Digital Journal, Monday, June 9, 2014)

    The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is now in the face of being a focal point of internet governance debates. With the current model of internet governance, will there ever come a time when the multistakeholder-driven culture be replaced with the member states merely determining internet policies?

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Friday, June 6, 2014)

    Last month the FCC released its proposal for America’s new network neutrality rules. Unfortunately, the agency’s proposal included rules that would permit Internet providers to prioritize certain websites, e.g., make deals with some services for a faster and better path to subscribers. While the FCC claims it is not endorsing such deals, the proposed rules will inevitably be read as exactly that. The parties most threatened by this kind of network discrimination are those who are trying to make novel and unanticipated uses of the network and who cannot afford payola. But innovators need more than a level playing field – they need specific details about how Internet providers manage their networks so that they can figure out how best to maintain current offerings and develop new products. To see why, let’s fill in some blanks.

  • (Access, Thursday, June 5, 2014)

    On June 5, 2013, The Guardian revealed the first in a series of classified National Security Agency (NSA) document leaks provided by former government contractor Edward Snowden. The first document we saw contained an order requiring Verizon to hand over all customer metadata on “an ongoing, daily basis” to the NSA and FBI, a surveillance program as egregious as it is disproportionate. The leaked documents that followed revealed further evidence of widespread user surveillance and bulk data collection by the NSA and Britain’s GCHQ. These included tapping into Apple, Google, and Microsoft servers and listening in on private mobile phone and Skype calls. Across the world, internet users and foreign government officials alike soon learned that they were unknowing targets of NSA spying tactics. On today’s anniversary, Access’ staff reflects on the ways in which these reports have impacted the way we approach and understand technology and our work in protecting user rights worldwide.

  • (DW, Wednesday, June 4, 2014)

    DW: One year ago the Guardian published the first article on the NSA's surveillance activities based on the disclosures of Edward Snowden. Many other revelations have followed since and triggered a robust international debate about surveillance and privacy. Now one year later what is the most significant consequence of Snowden's disclosures? Bruce Schneier: Right now the most significant consequence has been the knowledge that has fueled the debate. A lot of what we have read from these NSA documents isn't surprising, but the details make them real in a way that speculation doesn't. And by putting the documents in front of the world and forcing the debate Snowden has made an enormous contribution. And that is I think why he has been given all these awards and people respect him.

  • (Access, Monday, June 2, 2014)

    NetMundial, the unprecedented global meeting on the future of internet governance, took place in April 2014 in São Paulo, Brazil. Access prepared this infographic summarizing the highlights of NetMundial's outcomes. At the top of each circle are direct quotes from the final outcome document, followed by our analysis. While several key civil society demands were left out at the last minute, we believe that there's still a lot to welcome in the final outcome.

  • (The Wall Street Journal, Sunday, June 1, 2014)

    Google Inc. plans to spend more than $1 billion on a fleet of satellites to extend Internet access to unwired regions of the globe, people familiar with the project said, hoping to overcome financial and technical problems that thwarted previous efforts. Details remain in flux, the people said, but the project will start with 180 small, high-capacity satellites orbiting the earth at lower altitudes than traditional satellites, and then could expand. Google's satellite venture is led by Greg Wyler, founder of satellite-communications startup O3b Networks Ltd., who recently joined Google with O3b's former chief technology officer, the people said. Google has also been hiring engineers from satellite company Space Systems/Loral LLC to work on the project, according to another person familiar with the hiring initiative. Mr. Wyler has between 10 and 20 people working for him at Google and reports to Craig Barratt, who reports to Chief Executive Larry Page, one of the people said. Mr. Wyler couldn't be reached.

  • (Mashable, Tuesday, May 27, 2014)

    Twitter is projected to top 300 million users worldwide in 2016 and have nearly 400 million users by 2018, according to a new report from eMarketer. That might sound like a lot in the aggregate, but the data shows just how much Twitter's user growth is slowing on a year-over-year basis. To make matters worse, Twitter execs had reportedly expected to hit 400 million users in 2013. If eMarketer is right, it will take at least five additional years for Twitter to hit that milestone. Twitter reported having 255 million monthly active users in the first quarter of this year, up from 204 million for the same quarter a year earlier. According to eMarketer, much of Twitter's user growth in the next few years is expected to come from outside the United States.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Wednesday, May 21, 2014)

    In 2012, when Twitter announced in a blog post that it was launching a system that would allow the company to take down content on a country-by-country basis—as opposed to taking it down across the entire Twitter network—EFF defended that decision as the least terrible option. After all, when a company refuses to comply with an official government request, the government's response is often to block an entire platform. We're sad to announce that Twitter has now caved. In 2012, Tony Wang, general manager at Twitter UK, called Twitter "the free speech wing of the free speech party," a phrase repeated by CEO Dick Costolo. But two years, a massive expansion, and an IPO later, that claim rings hollow, especially to people in Russia and Pakistan.

  • (The New York Times, Wednesday, May 21, 2014)

    Since I started writing about cybersecurity, I’ve developed something of a reputation for paranoia. I set up complex passwords for every website, enable two-step authentication whenever I can, sign up for credit monitoring (thanks to Target) and regularly use secure mobile apps to speak with sensitive sources. In short, I have become completely obsessive about protecting my personal data. So imagine my reaction the other week when my own father sent a text message containing my Social Security number, driver’s license number, birth date, account number, phone number, email address and full name — essentially everything one would need to steal my identity — to people in his address book.

  • (Hurriyet Daily News, Wednesday, May 21, 2014)
    Germany has said it will restrict exports of surveillance technology to states that fail to respect their citizens’ human rights, including Turkey and Russia. German Deputy Prime Minister and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel has said the move is designed to prevent spy software made in Germany from being used for internal repression by autocratic regimes.  Speaking to German media outlets WDR, NDR and Süddeutsche Zeitung, Gabriel said Turkey and Russia were among those countries.
  • (Forbes, Monday, May 19, 2014)

    The Internet is a global and borderless network with nearly 3 billion users, but individual governments are undermining the Net’s foundation by extending the reach of their local laws to Internet companies worldwide. Europe’s highest court shocked the technology industry last week by ruling that Internet search engines must self-censor search results in certain circumstances to comply with the EU’s data privacy law. And last month, Brazil foisted different data privacy rules on any Internet company with one or more Brazilian users (regardless of the company’s geographic location). This ever-growing thicket of Internet regulations threatens the free and open Internet as we know it.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Friday, May 16, 2014)

    In this fourth-annual report, EFF examines the publicly-available policies of major Internet companies—including Internet service providers, email providers, mobile communications tools, telecommunications companies, cloud storage providers, location-based services, blogging platforms, and social networking sites—to assess whether they publicly commit to standing with users when the government seeks access to user data. The purpose of this report is to allow users to make informed decisions about the companies with whom they do business. It is also designed to incentivize companies to adopt best practices, be transparent about how data flows to the government, and to take a stand for their users’ privacy in Congress and in the courts whenever it is possible to do so.

  • (Pew, Wednesday, May 14, 2014)

    This current report is an analysis of opinions about the likely expansion of the Internet of Things (sometimes called the Cloud of Things), a catchall phrase for the array of devices, appliances, vehicles, wearable material, and sensor-laden parts of the environment that connect to each other and feed data back and forth. It covers the over 1,600 responses that were offered specifically about our question about where the Internet of Things would stand by the year 2025. The report is the next in a series of eight Pew Research and Elon University analyses to be issued this year in which experts will share their expectations about the future of such things as privacy, cybersecurity, and net neutrality. It includes some of the best and most provocative of the predictions survey respondents made when specifically asked to share their views about the evolution of embedded and wearable computing and the Internet of Things.

  • (World Economic Forum, Tuesday, May 13, 2014)

    Nearly all users surveyed opposed the idea of government monitoring of the internet. Yet the researchers, led by the Oxford Internet Institute, found a 'surprisingly large' proportion of users worldwide (63%) were 'resigned' to thinking that government monitoring went on, but a larger proportion of users in nations of the New Internet World perceived higher levels of government control of the internet than users in countries that were early adopters of the internet. The surveys were carried out in 2012 before the disclosures of Edward Snowden and his claims about US and other governmental surveillance initiatives. The researchers compared attitudes of the Old Internet World (dominated by users from North America and Western Europe) with a New Internet World (of users in Asia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, China, Peru, Mexico, South Arabia and Egypt). They surveyed over 11,000 people and found that on the whole, users across all nations surveyed were positive about the opportunities offered by the internet, particularly the opportunities for freedom of expression.

  • (Project Syndicate, Friday, May 9, 2014)

    Brazil recently hosted NETmundial, the first global conference on Internet governance, attended by 800 representatives of governments, corporations, civil-society organizations, and technologists. Based on the notion of “multi-stakeholderism,” the meeting produced a 12-page “outcomes” document. Nonetheless, at the end of the conference, there was still no consensus on global cyber governance. Many governments continued to advocate traditional United Nations voting procedures for making global decisions, and defend their right to control domestic cyber activities.

  • (Fast Company, Friday, May 9, 2014)

    Oppressive regimes around the world are on a crusade against the Internet and all its promise--but though they may yet transform the digital world as we know it, such tactics currently look more like mere tilting against windmills. They simply won't work--we'll get into why that is below. What is happening in Turkey is part of a global trend and experts worry that if many governments team up, they could fragment the Internet into different “spinternets,” where users have vastly unequal digital experiences and abilities to communicate with one another. Russia, China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia are the ringleaders of this push, but different developments in many parts of the world, including in the U.S., which is dealing with net neutrality issues, could also contribute to such an outcome.

  • (The Verge, Wednesday, May 7, 2014)

    The internet will have nearly 3 billion users, about 40 percent of the world's population, by the end of 2014, according to a new report from the United Nations International Telecommunications Union. Two-thirds of those users will be in developing countries. Those numbers refer to people who have used the internet in the last three months, not just those who have access to it. Internet penetration is reaching saturation in developed countries, while it's growing rapidly in developing countries. Three out of four people in Europe will be using the internet by the end of the year, compared to two out of three in the Americas and one in three in Asia and the Pacific. In Africa, nearly one in five people will be online by the end of the year.

  • (Centre for International Governance Innovation, Tuesday, May 6, 2014)

    A new report from the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) identifies a much larger group of potential “swing states,” whose behaviour will influence the future of Internet governance and international relations more broadly. In Tipping the Scale: An Analysis of Global Swing States in the Internet Governance Debate, Tim Maurer and Robert Morgus define a “swing state in foreign policy” as “a state whose mixed political orientation gives it a greater impact than its population or economic output might warrant and that has the resources that enable it to decisively influence the trajectory of an international process.” The authors explain how, following the December 2012 World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai, much of the debate over Internet governance centred on predefined groups of countries such as India, Brazil and South Africa (or the “IBSA” group).

  • (Index on Censorship, Friday, May 2, 2014)

    Press freedom is at a decade low. Considering just a handful of the events of the past year — from Russian crackdowns on independent media and imprisoned journalists in Egypt, to press in Ukraine being attacked with impunity and government reactions to reporting on mass surveillance in the UK — it is not surprising that Freedom House have come to this conclusion in the latest edition of their annual press freedom report. This serves as a stark reminder that press freedom is a right we need to work continuously and tirelessly to promote, uphold and protect — both to ensure the safety of journalists and to safeguard our collective right to information and ability to hold those in power to account. On the eve of World Press Freedom day, we look back at some of the threats faced by the world’s press in the last 12 months.

  • (Freedom House, Thursday, May 1, 2014)

    reedom House’s latest report on media freedom asserts that Eurasian countries continue to have the world's poorest ratings, with no country in the region rated as “free.”  The U.S.-based democracy watchdog released its annual report, "Freedom of the Press 2014: Media Freedom Hits Decade Low," on May 1, assessing the situation in 197 countries and territories during 2013. According to the report, conditions in Russia remained grim, as the RIA Novosti news agency was closed and the government enacted additional legal restrictions on online speech. 

  • (Forbes, Tuesday, April 29, 2014)

    More than 450 people from over 60 countries are participating in the two-day long Freedom Online Coalition conference “Free and Secure Internet for All”  currently in progress in Tallinn, Estonia. The coalition is a group of governments committed to advancing Internet freedom – free expression, association, assembly, and privacy online – worldwide. Since its inception in 2011 in The Hague, the Netherlands, the coalition has grown from 15 to 22 member countries, including France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. One of the main outcomes of the conferences, until now, is the “guide to human rights of internet users” that was launched this morning. The Guide focuses on the human rights on which the internet has most impact: access and non-discrimination, freedom of expression and information, freedom of assembly, association and participation, privacy and data protection, education and literacy, protection of children and young people, and the right to effective remedies for violations of human rights. 

  • (The Hill, Monday, April 28, 2014)

    Different countries’ control of the Internet is increasingly dividing the world into “two different visions” reminiscent of the Cold War, Secretary of State John Kerry warned on Monday. In remarks to a global Internet governance conference, Kerry said that barriers to Internet access and online freedom needed to be torn down, just like the Berlin Wall in 1989. "Today, we’ve all learned that walls can be made of ones and zeros and the deprivation of access even to those ones and zeros, and that wall can be just as powerful in keeping us apart in a world that is so incredibly interconnected,” he said at the fourth annual Freedom Online Coalition conference.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Friday, April 25, 2014)

    President Obama is on a diplomatic tour of Asia this week and one of his top priorities is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement that includes restrictive copyright enforcement measures that pose a huge threat to users’ rights and a free and open Internet. In particular, he's seeking to resolve some major policy disagreements with Japan and Malaysia—the two countries that have maintained resistance against some provisions in the TPP involving agriculture and other commodities. Despite some reports of movement on some of the most controversial topics during meetings between Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Abe, it seems that the TPP is still effectively at a standstill.

  • (Access, Friday, April 25, 2014)

    Recently in Sao Paulo, a key multistakholder meeting on internet governance, NetMundial, concluded. NetMundial opened with much fanfare: Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff signed the long awaited Marco Civil into law; the long vacant position of Chair of the Internet Governance Forum was finally appointed (Janis Karlin); and Nnenna Nwakanma kicked off the meeting with an inspiring and uniting speech, setting a common purpose of achieving access, social and economic justice, and freedom and human rights. In many ways, NetMundial was a welcome break from the mundanity of most internet governance meetings. 

  • (Net Mundial, Thursday, April 24, 2014)
    This is the non-binding outcome of a bottom-up, open, and participatory process 
    involving thousands of people from governments, private sector, civil society, 
    technical community, and academia from around the world. The NETmundial 
    conference was the first of its kind. It hopefully contributes to the evolution of the 
    Internet governance ecosystem. 
  • (World Economic Forum, Thursday, April 24, 2014)
    This year marks the 13th edition of the Global Information Technology Report, which provides a comprehensive assessment of networked readiness, or how prepared an economy is to apply the benefits of information and communications technologies (ICTs) to promote economic growth and well-being. Using updated methodology that was introduced in 2012, the report ranks the progress of 148 economies in leveraging ICTs to increase productivity, economic growth and the number of quality jobs. The rankings also show how far some countries have gone in bridging the digital divide – not only in terms of developing ICT infrastructure, but also in terms of economic and social impact – and highlight the main strengths and weaknesses countries are facing. This edition also analyses in detail the rewards and risks associated with big data and what public and private organizations must do to benefit from it. 
  • (The Guardian, Thursday, April 24, 2014)

    As more and more governments attempt to crack down on online speech, there are several possible outcomes. While this generation has become accustomed to watching sites disappear from their view, the next may take for granted the version of the Internet that lay before them, never questioning what may be beyond their view. On the other hand, as awareness of censorship increases, so might attempts to create a sense of global solidarity against censorship.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Wednesday, April 23, 2014)

    To help provide a framework to talk about mass government surveillance in terms of international human rights obligations, EFF worked with a broad spectrum of organizations across the world to craft the 13 International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance. The Principles are firmly rooted in well-established human rights law, drawing on the rights to privacy, freedom of opinion and expression and freedom of association.Our friends at AccessNow measured how the four legislative proposals stack up against the 13 Principles.

  • (The New York Times, Tuesday, April 22, 2014)

    If you want to explore how Russians’ attitudes toward an authoritarian government may be different from attitudes elsewhere, one place to look is how they think about censorship and freedom on the web. For the most part, using the Internet causes people to become more strongly in favor of Internet freedom. People in countries where web access approaches ubiquity are overwhelmingly in favor of being able to use the web without government oversight. This tends to hold true in both affluent countries and more impoverished ones.

  • (The Guardian, Friday, April 18, 2014)

    As security expert Bruce Schneier (a friend) has archly observed, "Surveillance is the business model of the internet." I don't expect this to change unless and until external realities force a change – and I'm not holding my breath. Instead, the depressing news just seems to be getting worse. Google confirmed this week what many people had assumed: even if you're not a Gmail user, your email to someone who does use their services will be scanned by the all-seeing search and the advertising company's increasingly smart machines

  • (Council of Europe, Wednesday, April 16, 2014)

    The Council of Europe today launched a guide for internet users to help them better understand their human rights online and what they can do when these rights are challenged. The creation of the Guide was triggered by the need to empower users to exercise their human rights online. Generally, their rights are set out in the terms of service of Internet companies, which are mostly lengthy legal contractual conditions which are seldom read and even more seldom fully understood. 

  • (The Guardian, Wednesday, April 16, 2014)

    The chief executive of Europe's largest newspaper publisher has accused Google of abusing a monopoly position in the digital economy to discriminate against competitors and build up a "superstate". In an open letter to Google's Eric Schmidt published in Wednesday's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the head of Germany's Axel Springer SE publishing house, Mathias Döpfner, said the US company was operating a business model that "in less reputable circles would be called a protection racket", discriminating against competitors in its search rankings. Google's motto was "if you don't want us to finish you off, you better pay", he said.

  • (Digital Media Law, Monday, April 14, 2014)

    Since December 2009, the DMLP has operated the Online Media Legal Network, a free attorney referral service for independent, online journalists and journalism organizations. The OMLN has served as a fundamental part of the legal support structure for online journalism, assisting more than 260 clients with over 500 separate legal matters. As a result of that experience, the DMLP has been in a unique position to observe the nature of these new journalism ventures and their legal needs. 

  • (Pew, Sunday, April 13, 2014)

    In a remarkably short period of time, internet and mobile technology have become a part of everyday life for some in the emerging and developing world. Cell phones, in particular, are almost omnipresent in many nations. The internet has also made tremendous inroads, although most people in the 24 nations surveyed are still offline. Meanwhile, smartphones are still relatively rare, although significant minorities own these devices in countries such as Lebanon, Chile, Jordan and China.

  • (Al Jazeera, Saturday, April 12, 2014)

    In March, exactly twenty-five years after he first outlined his proposal for a "world-wide web", Tim Berners-Lee called for "a global constitution - a bill of rights" to protect the "neutral, open internet". This appeal for a "Magna Carta", a single document that enshrines certain fundamental rights and protections for citizens in the digital age, comes after a series of revelations about the extent of state surveillance online. And this state surveillance dovetails the business models of Facebook, Google and the other tech giants. Their profits derive from the ability to hoover up data from users of their "free" services and sell it to other businesses. They can charge a premium for a vision of the world where the wasteful banging on a swill bucket that is mass media advertising has been replaced with millions of moments of bespoke manipulation. We are living through the enclosure of subjectivity, one voluntary disclosure at a time.

  • (ArsTechnica, Wednesday, April 9, 2014)

    Are cyberattacks, security breaches, and mounting distrust between the US and Chinese governments ushering in a new Cold War era? Given US officials’ rhetoric and actions in recent months, it might appear that such a sustained state of political and military tensions between the two superpowers is a serious threat. A number of events have likely precipitated Cold War fears. The disclosures by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden of dragnet government surveillance, including a revelation that the US has infiltrated the networks of China-based telecommunications company Huawei, have understandably upset the Chinese. Additionally, the increasing number of cyberattacks and security breaches in both the US and China appear to have strained relations.

  • (, Friday, April 4, 2014)

    Given the scale and international scope of this threat to the enjoyment of rights everywhere, an international group of leading NGOs joined forces today to launch the Coalition Against Unlawful Surveillance Exports (CAUSE).Privacy International is proud to be standing with Amnesty International, Digitale Gesellschaft, FIDH, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, and the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute to hold companies and governments accountable for abuses linked to the fast-growing international trade of surveillance technologies. CAUSE members work in diverse areas and geographies, which forms part of our collective strength in calling for action from governments. The pooling of knowledge and expertise provides for even stronger advocacy, research and impact, as all members know how dangerous these tools can be in the wrong hands.

  • (Index on Censorship, Thursday, April 3, 2014)

    In response to a consultation being undertaken by the United Nations in accordance with the December 2013 General Assembly resolution on the right to privacy in the digital age, Privacy International called on the UN to recognise that mass surveillance is incompatible with human rights. The submission to the Office of the High Commissioner to Human Rights confronts some of the biggest challenges to the right to privacy in the digital age, debunks some of the justifications put forth by the Five Eyes governments in response to the Snowden revelations, and argues that States owe human rights obligations to all individuals subject to their jurisdiction. 

  • (Index on Censorship, Wednesday, April 2, 2014)

    Surveillance companies selling mass and intrusive spy technologies to human rights-abusing governments often are benefitting from the financial and institutional support from their home government, revealing a more closely-linked relationship between the sector and the State than previously believed. Recent revelations concerning the funding of Hacking Team's surveillance technology with public money highlights the role of states in funding the development of surveillance technologies and companies. This discovery was preceded by the discovery that the South African Government funded the development of the mass surveillance system Zebra, made by VASTech. And with State supporting of national business abroad, including the UK promoting cyber-security exports, we are seeing a variety of ways the state is enabling the commercial surveillance market. 

  • (BoingBoing, Monday, March 31, 2014)

    Newly disclosed documents from the trove Edward Snowden provided to journalists reveal the existence of the "Nymrod" database that listed 122 world leaders, many from nations friendly to the USA, that were spied upon by the NSA. Included in the list is German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was already known to have been wiretapped by the NSA thanks to an earlier disclosure. Additionally, the UK spy agency GCHQ infiltrated and compromised two German satellite communications companies -- Stellar and Cetel -- and IABG, a company that supplied them with equipment. It wiretapped their senior executives as well. 

  • (, Monday, March 31, 2014)

    A majority of participants in a global BBC poll believe the internet has brought greater freedom, but more than half of those interviewed also think it is not a safe place to express their opinions. Many believe that greater freedom goes hand in hand with increased government surveillance, according to the study commissioned for the BBC World Service. People in countries with a tradition of media freedom are less likely to think their national media free to report truthfully and without bias. The poll was conducted in 17 countries around the world and is being released as part of Freedom Live, a day of broadcasts on the World Service's 27 language services exploring the idea of freedom and what it means.

  • (Wired , Monday, March 31, 2014)

    Privacy is dead—or so we’re told, both by those who would mourn the loss and by those who would dance on its grave. And the murderers aren’t just the NSA and snooping corporations. We too have played a part in privacy’s demise, through our embrace of mass exhibitionism. When hands are raised at a concert, they’re holding cameras, ready to shoot and post to an ever-expanding array of social networks. With so many private moments now public, the reasoning goes, we must no longer value privacy. But a human life is not a database, nor is privacy the mere act of keeping data about ourselves hidden. In reality, privacy operates not like a door that’s kept either open or closed but like a fan dance, a seductive game of reveal and conceal.

  • (CircleID, Friday, March 28, 2014)
    We need a common understanding of what it means — and what it doesn't. Here's one proposal for how to do it. Ask anyone involved in Internet policy what "Internet Governance" means and you're likely to get a different answer, despite the fact that a decade ago, after torturous negotiations, the international community agreed on a working definition for the term (if a vague one). The lack of clarity has resulted in a policy space that appears to cover more and more subjects, with less and less agreement the more it spreads. In discussions recently on the /1net email list, I've seen proposals for an 'Internet Governance Roadmap' that includes delivering e-health initiatives, solving mass surveillance, and adopting new measures for taxation of Internet commerce — to name just a few. Internet Governance cannot solve all the world's problems — and should stop trying.
  • (Google, Thursday, March 27, 2014)

    While we’ve always known how important transparency is when it comes to government requests, the events of the past year have underscored just how urgent the issue is. From being the first company to disclose information about National Security Letters to fighting for the ability to publish more about FISA requests, we’ve continually advocated for your right to know. Today, we’re updating our Transparency Report for the ninth time. This updated Report details the number of government requests we received for user information in criminal investigations during the second half of 2013. Government requests for user information in criminal cases have increased by about 120 percent since we first began publishing these numbers in 2009. Though our number of users has grown throughout the time period, we’re also seeing more and more governments start to exercise their authority to make requests. 

  • (Access, Thursday, March 27, 2014)

    How do we ensure the protection of civil liberties online? This is a question almost as old as the internet itself, particularly as rapid advances in technology have left society with legal frameworks that are at times outdated and inappropriate for managing the challenges facing digital rights today. This is no reason to believe that internationally established human rights, constitutions, and bill of rights don’t apply online. Governments have a duty to protect our rights, online and off. However, the online space is, for the most part, owned and operated by companies. This complicates matters slightly: Unlike governments, companies don’t have a legal obligation to protect human rights. And even if they want to, they’re often placed in compromising positions by powerful political actors.

  • (Index on Censorship, Thursday, March 27, 2014)

    Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, was interviewed by Index on Censorship’s CEO Kirsty Hughes, on his experience surrounding digital freedom while in office.

  • (International Data Corporation, Wednesday, March 26, 2014)
    This White Paper presents the results of joint research by National University of Singapore and IDC of  the prevalence of malicious code (malware) found in pirated software and in PCs purchased through vdistribution channels. It also looks at the link between the detected malware and criminal  organizations, for which malware in pirated software can be a lucrative vector for cyberattacks. This study provides an economic analysis of the costs associated with malware on pirated software. It is supported by forensic analysis conducted by National University of Singapore on 203 computers acquired in 11 countries: Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, Thailand,  Turkey, Ukraine, and the United States. It is supported by a survey of 951 consumers and workers,  and 450 CIOs/IT professionals from 15 countries: Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and the United States.It also contains results from a survey of 302 government officials from six countries: Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Russia, and Singapore. 
  • (Dahlberg, Wednesday, March 26, 2014)

    This report represents a first attempt to understand the economic impact of Internet openness. In order to do so, it is first necessary to determine what is meant by “openness.” We offer a working definition from a user’s perspective: Internet openness is the degree to which users in a given country are able to decide freely which platforms and services to use and what lawful content to access, create, or share. The report outlines four core attributes of an open Internet—freedom, interoperability & equity, transparency, and security & privacy—as seen in the illustration below. We note that protecting these attributes requires an inclusive and decentralized governance model, and that access (i.e., the ability to go online easily and affordably) is a basic precondition for openness.

  • (Access, Wednesday, March 26, 2014)

    In the aftermath of 2013’s disclosures on government mass surveillance, there’s a simple “low-hanging fruit” protecting users. The majority of internet traffic -- our emails, searches, chats, website visits, and more -- remain unencrypted and vulnerable to prying eyes. The difference between unencrypted and encrypted content and traffic is like the difference between sending a postcard or a letter: with unencrypted traffic, it is trivially easy to look at what your messages say. When services don’t encrypt data, it means that government officials and other actors can access your personal communications with very little effort and no legal process. Given what we know about the bad actors vacuuming up all the information they can get their hands on, there’s no excuse for plaintext in today’s day and age.

  • (RAND Corporation, Tuesday, March 25, 2014)

    Criminal activities in cyberspace are increasingly facilitated by burgeoning black markets for both tools (e.g., exploit kits) and take (e.g., credit card information). This report, part of a multiphase study on the future security environment, describes the fundamental characteristics of these markets and how they have grown into their current state to explain how their existence can harm the information security environment. Understanding the current and predicted landscape for these markets lays the groundwork for follow-on exploration of options to minimize the potentially harmful influence these markets impart. 

  • (New America Foundation, Monday, March 24, 2014)

    In 2011, the Wall Street Journal reported “the annual value of the retail market for surveillance tools has increased from ‘nearly zero’ in 2001 to around $5 billion a year.” The Arab Uprising and the fallen regimes’ documents that became public in the aftermath shed light on this growing industry. Some authorities employed this technology for political control and to facilitate internal repression, the suppression of the media and civil society, and other violations of fundamental human rights. Technologies were found to have been exported to authoritarian governments, such as Assad’s Syria and Gadhafi’s Libya with companies in the United States, France, and the United Kingdom facing legal challenges subsequently. It became clear that, while surveillance technology can have legitimate uses, it can also be abused for nefarious purposes and become a powerful facilitator of oppression.

  • (ArsTechnica, Monday, March 24, 2014)

    Three researchers from IBM have developed an algorithm that can predict a Twitter user's location without needing so much as a single geotag from them. According to the Arxiv paper on the subject, the location prediction comes largely from assessing the similarity of the content of a user's tweets to other users' tweets who do use geotags, which turns out to be a decent predictor. While geotags are the most definitive location information a tweet can have, tweets can also have plenty more salient information: hashtags, FourSquare check-ins, or text references to certain cities or states, to name a few. The authors of the paper created their algorithm by analyzing the content of tweets that did have geotags and then searching for similarities in content in tweets without geotags to assess where they might have originated from. Of a body of 1.5 million tweets, 90 percent were used to train the algorithm, and 10 percent were used to test it.

  • (ArsTechnica, Monday, March 24, 2014)

    A recent article by The Intercept showed how US and UK intelligence agencies have been impersonating the servers of companies like Facebook. In November, Der Spiegel noted that agencies created "bogus versions" of sites like Slashdot and LinkedIn to plant malware in targets' machines. "We are not happy that our intellectual property is being used in that way," LinkedIn's general counsel told Wired when asked about the techniques. If whole-cloth copies of websites were used by competitors or scammers, they'd be—at a minimum—buried in lawsuits. But what, if anything, can companies do against government agencies about such impersonations? Turns out, there are avenues available to those who may be bold enough to use them. 

  • (Reporters Without Borders, Wednesday, March 12, 2014)
    This year’s “Enemies of the Internet” report, which Reporters Without Borders publishes every year on World Day Against Cyber-Censorship (12 March), spotlights the government units and agencies that implement online censorship and surveillance. These entities, which include Pakistan’s Telecommunication Authority, North Korea’s Central Scientific and Technological Information Agency, Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications and China’s State Internet Information Office, have used defence of national security as grounds for going far beyond their original mission in order to spy on and censor journalists, bloggers and other information providers.
  • (The Guardian, Tuesday, March 11, 2014)

    The inventor of the world wide web believes an online "Magna Carta" is needed to protect and enshrine the independence of the medium he created and the rights of its users worldwide. Sir Tim Berners-Lee told the Guardian the web had come under increasing attack from governments and corporate influence and that new rules were needed to protect the "open, neutral" system. Speaking exactly 25 years after he wrote the first draft of the first proposal for what would become the world wide web, the computer scientist said: "We need a global constitution – a bill of rights."

  • (The New York Times, Monday, March 10, 2014)

    OVER the next decade, approximately five billion people will become connected to the Internet. The biggest increases will be in societies that, according to the human rights group Freedom House, are severely censored: places where clicking on an objectionable article can get your entire extended family thrown in prison, or worse. Much of the fight against censorship has been led by the activists of the Internet freedom movement. We can join this open source community, whether we are policy makers, corporations or individuals. Money, coding skills or government grants can all make a difference. Given the energies and opportunities out there, it’s possible to end repressive Internet censorship within a decade.

  • (Citizen Lab, Monday, March 10, 2014)

    As of this writing, the websites of the New Braunfels Republican Women, the Kiddie Kollege Nursery School, the Freemasons’ District Grand Lodge of East Africa, the Weston Community Children’s Association, and the Rotary Club of Midland, Ontario are all categorized as “pornography” by Blue Coat Internet blocking software. Blue Coat Systems provides a lookup form that you can use to see how their system categorizes a website. The complete list of miscategorized sites that we found, is listed at the end of the report. Unless otherwise specified, all sites mentioned in this report, are currently classified by Blue Coat as “pornography.” Blue Coat Systems is based in Sunnyvale, California and manufactures a range of Internet filtering products, often used in schools and workplaces. On any network where the software is installed and configured to block sites categorized as “pornography,” users will be denied access to such sites.

  • (Vice Magazine, Saturday, March 8, 2014)

    HackingTeam, a private company that manufactures “targeted surveillance solutions,” is using American servers to launder traffic used to take clandestine control of targets’ computers and smartphones, according to a new report from Citizen Lab. The Milan, Italy-based company has been under investigation by Citizen Lab for months because its software is allegedly used by foreign governments to target journalists and dissidents in authoritarian regimes. The Remote Control System is able, according to the company, to break encryption and allow law enforcement and intelligence entities to monitor email, VoIP calls (such as Skype), as well as remote activation of cameras and microphones.

  • (The Guardian, Friday, March 7, 2014)

    Dictators are taking a new approach in their responses to use of the internet in popular uprisings, according to Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt. “What’s happened in the last year is the governments have figured out you don’t turn off the internet: you infiltrate it,” said Schmidt, speaking at the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas. “The new model for a dictator is to infiltrate and try to manipulate it. You’re seeing this in China, and in many other countries.”

  • (Freedom House, Wednesday, March 5, 2014)

    Around the world, governments and non-state actors are using sophisticated techniques to monitor, threaten, and harass human rights defenders (HRDs) and journalists. The growing use of digital technology has empowered activists to rally citizens around common causes and hold governments accountable, but it has also opened new doors for surveillance and harassment of activists and citizens’ activities online. On November 14–15, 2013, Freedom House, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), held a global conference in Mexico City entitled “What Next? The Quest to Protect Journalists and Human Rights Defenders in a Digital World,” which brought together over 60 policymakers, donors, and activists to explore the full range of emerging threats and best strategies to overcome them; take an honest look at what is and is not working; and chart a path forward for more proactive and realistic solutions to build the resilience, sustainability, and relevance of HRDs and their movements. The conference sought to answer “what’s next?” by identifying opportunities that can be exploited to build up frontline defenders and their ability to uphold human rights principles fearlessly and strategically at home and abroad.

  • (Karlstads Universitet, Tuesday, March 4, 2014)

    The Tor network was originally designed as low-latency anonymity network.However, as the years progressed, Tor earned a reputation as also being a useful tool to circumvent Internet censorship. At times, the network counted 30,000 users only from China. Censors reacted by tightening their grip on the national communication infrastructure. In particular, they developed techniques to prevent people from being able to access the Tor network. This arms race now counts several iterations and no end is in sight. This thesis contributes to a censorship-resistant Tor network in two ways. First, it analyses how existing censorship systems work. In particular, the Great Firewall of China is analysed in order to obtain an understanding of its capabilities as well as to explore circumvention opportunities. Second, this thesis proposes practical countermeasures to circumvent Internet censorship. In particular, it presents a novel network protocol which is resistant to the Great Firewall's active probing attacks.

  • (Reuters, Monday, March 3, 2014)

    Electronic spying tools used by the U.S. government could end up in the hands of organized criminals and hackers, further eroding Internet security, warned industry leaders who called for new restrictions and oversight of government activity. "It is a big worry" that the methods will spread, said Andrew France, former deputy director of the UK's NSA equivalent, GCHQ, and now chief executive of security startup Darktrace. The government habit of purchasing information about undisclosed holes in software is also "really troublesome," said former White House cyber security advisor Howard Schmidt. "There's collateral damage."

  • (The New York Times, Monday, March 3, 2014)

    Last year, I spent more than $2,200 and countless hours trying to protect my privacy. Some of the items I bought — a $230 service that encrypted my data in the Internet cloud; a $35 privacy filter to shield my laptop screen from coffee-shop voyeurs; and a $420 subscription to a portable Internet service to bypass untrusted connections — protect me from criminals and hackers. Other products, like a $5-a-month service that provides me with disposable email addresses and phone numbers, protect me against the legal (but, to me, unfair) mining and sale of my personal data. In our data-saturated economy, privacy is becoming a luxury good. After all, as the saying goes, if you aren’t paying for the product, you are the product. And currently, we aren’t paying for very much of our technology.

  • (Renesys, Wednesday, February 26, 2014)

    Outside of a few special interests, nobody profits from unstable, unreliable Internet that’s subject to arbitrary political control, throttling, and shutdowns. Disruptions in Internet service make it more expensive for our customers to reliably deliver their global services to hundreds of millions of consumers worldwide. How resilient the Internet actually is, of course, depends on where you look. Just within the last week, bloody crises in Syria, Ukraine, and Venezuela have all created conditions under which one might expect to see Internet outages emerge — and yet, the outcomes have been very different. Syria suffered another in its sequence of near-total national outages, while Venezuela’s outages were much more limited, consisting largely of slowdowns rather than outright cutoffs.

  • (PBS, Wednesday, February 26, 2014)

    This month the Committee to Protect Journalists released its annual analysis of Attacks on the Press, including a “Risk List” of the places where press freedom suffered most in 2013. As you might expect, conflict areas filled much of the list — Syria, Egypt, Turkey — but the place on the top of the list was not a country. It was cyberspace. In the past, the list has focused on highlighting nations where freedom of the press are under attack, but this year CPJ wrote, “We chose to add the supranational platform of cyberspace to the list because of the profound erosion of freedom on the Internet, a critical sphere for journalists worldwide.” Including cyberspace is a recognition that, at least in terms of press freedom and freedom of expression, the web is not virtual reality, it is reality.

  • (CBS News, Monday, February 24, 2014)

    In an interview with CBS news, Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google predicted that in the next five years, when another two billion people connect to the Internet, there will be more revolutions like the one in Ukraine. Schmidt and the head of the Google ideas office, Jared Cohen, traveled to 40 countries, including authoritarian regimes, such as China and North Korea. They concluded the Internet is a force for liberation that cannot be stopped.

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Friday, February 21, 2014)

    The Snowden revelations about the mass surveillance programmes of the NSA and the complicity of other Western security agencies have generated a lot of talk about the supposed lack of trust in the Internet, current Internet governance mechanisms, and the multistakeholder governance model. These revelations have been crucial to fueling the surveillance reform effort (see CDT’s NSA surveillance reform work here). However, most commentary linking surveillance and global Internet governance conflates two important issues in inaccurate – and politically motivated – ways, driving long-standing and potentially damaging agendas related to the management of the Internet. The Snowden revelations were not just welcomed by human rights organizations seeking to limit state power to conduct communications surveillance. They have also been well-received by those who seek to discredit existing approaches to Internet governance. There has been a long-running antipathy among a number of stakeholders to the United States government’s perceived control of the Internet and the dominance of US Internet companies. There has also been a long-running antipathy, particularly among some governments, to the distributed and open management of the Internet, which has flourished without much government intervention at all. These tensions have been simmering since the first World Summit on the Information Society in 2003, when ICANN and the issue of critical Internet resources (IP addressing and the DNS) were the focus of much attention and concern. These themes of government control, and the role of the US in particular, have reoccurred ever since and continue to frame discussions currently underway in numerous fora, including the upcoming NETmundial meeting on Internet governance in Brazil.

  • (BGR, Thursday, February 20, 2014)

    In developed countries, it’s easy to take the Internet for granted. It’s such a big part of our lives, and access is so readily available, that imagining life without the web seems crazy. But it’s not crazy — many regions around the world have limited or no access to the Internet. And even worse in some ways, many people in regions that do have Internet access are subject to infuriating amounts of censorship. From restricting access to certain types of content such as pornography and torrent downloading to unabashed blocking of political news and social media, censorship is a real and vast problem that affects people in every country — including the United States. Following its recent graphic detailing the 6 companies that secretly run the Internet, has exclusively provided BGR with a new graphic that looks to help shed light on much of the Internet censorship around the world. Want to help do something about it? Supporting organizations like the World Wide Web Foundation and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are a good start. Of course knowledge is power, and the graphic below will teach you about the various different types of censorship that impact various regions across the globe.

  • (Internet Governance Project, Wednesday, February 19, 2014)

    The evolution of Internet governance has been characterized by a tension between the Internet’s organically evolved governance institutions and nation-states. The native Internet institutions, such as IETF, IANA/ICANN, the Internet Society, and the regional Internet address registries (RIRs) are transnational in scope and rooted in non-state actors. Governments on the other hand are seeking to reassert traditional forms of territorial authority over communications in the context of the internet. In this struggle, non-state actors had a first-mover advantage. The Internet succeeded in creating a globalized virtual space before states really knew what was happening. But with the World Summit on the Information Society (2003-2005) and later in the ITU’s 2012 World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), there was a confrontation between state sovereignty and the native institutions. The WCIT process polarized the controversy, fragmenting support for a new treaty on International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs).

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Wednesday, February 19, 2014)

    The Intercept recently published an article and supporting documents indicating that the NSA and its British counterpart GCHQ surveilled and even sought to have other countries prosecute the investigative journalism website WikiLeaks. GCHQ also surveilled the millions of people who merely read the WikiLeaks website. The article clarifies the lengths that these two spy organizations go to track their targets and confirms, once again, that they do not confine themselves to spying on those accused of terrorism. One document contains a summary of an internal discussion in which officials from two NSA offices discuss whether to categorize WikiLeaks as a "malicious foreign actor" for surveillance targeting purposes. This would be an important categorization because agents have significantly more authority to engage in surveillance of malicious foreign actors.

  • (Slate, Wednesday, February 19, 2014)

    It’s the end of the Internet. That was the headline of the prominent Swiss newspaper NZZ on Feb. 9. And Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web, recently called for a re-decentralization, declaring, “I want a Web that’s open, works internationally, works as well as possible, and is not nation-based.” These are the latest voices in the growing chorus over the “balkanization” of the Internet and the emergence of “splinternets”—networks that are walled off from the rest of the Web. This is an important debate, one that will affect the future of the Internet. And with a major global conference on this topic taking place in Brazil in April and the World Summit on the Information Society +10 scheduled for 2015, it is high time to bring more clarity and nuance to it. Unfortunately, the term balkanization itself creates problems. Depending on whom you ask, balkanization can be a positive or negative process. For some, the term represents a move toward freedom from oppression. For others, it is a reminder of centuries of bloody struggle to hold together a region that ultimately ended in violent fragmentation, which makes use of the word offensive to some. Fragmentation of the Internet is the term we’ll use, but maybe a creative mind somewhere will find a better, more evocative way to describe it.

  • (The New York Times, Thursday, February 6, 2014)

    As Twitter gets bigger, governments around the world are increasingly seeking information about its 241 million users and their accounts, the social networking company said Thursday as it released fourth semiannual transparency report. The report provides a broad outline of the number and type of government requests for data, including breakouts on the 46 countries that have made such requests. Over all, Twitter received 1,410 requests for account information in the six months ended Dec. 31, 2013, up 22 percent from the number of requests made in the previous six months, the company said. The United States accounted for 59 percent of the requests, far more than the second-place country, Japan, which made up 15 percent. The company also received 365 requests to take down data, and 6,680 notices of reported copyright infringement under the United States’ Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

  • (Wired, Thursday, February 6, 2014)

    Twenty-five years on from the web's inception, its creator has urged the public to re-engage with its original design: a decentralised internet that at its very core, remains open to all. Speaking with Wired editor David Rowan at an event launching the magazine's March issue, Tim Berners-Lee said that although part of this is about keeping an eye on for-profit internet monopolies such as search engines and social networks, the greatest danger is the emergence of a balkanised web. "I want a web that's open, works internationally, works as well as possible and is not nation-based," Berners-Lee told the audience, which included Martha Lane Fox, Jake Davis (AKA Topiary) and Lily Cole. He suggested one example to the contrary: "What I don't want is a web where the Brazilian government has every social network's data stored on servers on Brazilian soil. That would make it so difficult to set one up."

  • (USA Today, Wednesday, February 5, 2014)

    Countries where the Internet is most controlled and speaking your mind on it can get you in serious trouble with the government, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

  • (Al Jazeera America, Tuesday, February 4, 2014)

    In June 2013, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Turkey was under threat. "There is a problem called Twitter right now and you can find every kind of lie there," he told reporters following days of mass protest in Istanbul. "The thing that is called social media is the biggest trouble for society right now." Days later, 25 Twitter users were arrested on charges of inciting demonstrations and spreading propaganda. Officials claimed they used Twitter to organize protests. "If that's a crime, then we all did it," said Ali Engin, an opposition representative. Social media was not Erdogan's biggest problem. His biggest problem was that citizens whose lives and nation harmed by his rule, were fighting back, and they had found an effective medium through which to organise and express their protest. Twitter was the problem because its users had identified Erdogan as the problem. Erdogan is far from the only leader to use "social media" as a stand-in for the people who use it. Repressive regimes ascribe inherent characteristics to the internet as if it were a contact disease. In Azerbaijan, Facebook gives you "mental problems". In Saudi Arabia, Twitter costs you a spot in the afterlife. In some countries, official denouncement of social media is followed by the arrest of those who use it to criticise officials.

  • (Berkman Center, Tuesday, February 4, 2014)

    In October, President of Brazil Dilma Roussef announced a high-level meeting on Internet governance to be held in April in Rio de Janeiro. ITU will have not one, not two, but three international meetings, and will be tackling Internet issues. As governments initiate talks about policies with regards to who controls the Internet, Veni Markovski will explore how the 2014 landscape of Internet governance may change.

  • (Open Government Partnership, Monday, February 3, 2014)

    IRM progress reports are carried out by an independent researcher under the guidance of the International Experts' Panel. In each country, a researcher or team of researchers carries out consultative processes in order to review government progress with robust consultation with civil society. The goal of the IRM is to deliver credible, non-partisan description of the OGP process, results of commitments, and to provide technical recommendations based on the input of government, civil society, and the private sector. Each report is written in such a way as to aid in the design of the second action plan, identifying areas of accomplishment and key areas for improvement. The forthcoming reports cover the large group of countries that joined OGP, submitting their action plans in 2012. The reports cover development and implementation of the action plans up until mid-2013.

  • (Committee to Protect Journalists, Monday, February 3, 2014)

    On August 31, 2013, Der Spiegel reported that the United States' National Security Agency (NSA) had hacked into the private communications of Qatari broadcaster Al-Jazeera. The German news magazine, citing documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, reported that the NSA deemed its operation to access the communications of interesting targets specially protected by Al-Jazeera "a notable success." As of late in the year, the action against Al-Jazeera was the only reported instance of the NSA directly spying on any news outlet. But continuing revelations based on the documents obtained by Snowden paint a picture of wide-ranging surveillance by the U.S. and its allies--surveillance that presents a clear threat to global Internet privacy and therefore to freedom of the press worldwide. Digital communication has become essential to newsgathering, and the decentralized nature of the Internet has until now sheltered many journalists around the world who are restricted from reporting or expressing their opinion in traditional media. Furthermore, the U.S. government has undermined its own global leadership position on free expression and Internet openness, especially when it comes to battling efforts by repressive countries like China and Iran to restrict the Internet.

  • (IFEX, Friday, January 31, 2014)

    The latest Snowden document revelation, which shows how the GCHQ and the NSA are conducting broad, real-time monitoring of YouTube, Facebook, and Blogger using a program called "Squeaky Dolphin," is the most recent demonstration of the immense interception capabilities of intelligence services. Despite the program's cute name, "Squeaky Dolphin" is shocking in its ability to intercept raw data, which includes sensitive personal and location information, and keep tabs on people across the world who are simply uploading videos or 'liking' the links on their friends' Facebook walls. Such massive, unrestrained capabilities are no way consistent with international law, as their capabilities and execution are clearly neither necessary nor proportionate. Because of this, Privacy International has litigation underfoot to challenge the legality of GCHQ's surveillance activities on the grounds that they fly in the fact of the UK's human rights obligations. Operations like Squeaky Dolphin are yet another manifestation of GCHQ's disregard for privacy rights, and starkly illustrate the problem of secret, unaccountable intelligence gathering.

  • (Index on Censorship, Friday, January 31, 2014)

    If you live in Cuba, Iran or Sudan, and are using the increasingly popular online education tool Coursera, you are likely encounter some access difficulties from this week onwards. Coursera has been included in the US export sanctions regime. The changes have only come about now, as Coursera believed they and other MOOCs — Massive Open Online Courses — didn’t fall under American export bans to the countries. However, as the company explained in a statement on their official blog: “We recently received information that has led to the understanding that the services offered on Coursera are not in compliance with the law as it stands.” Coursera, in partnership with over 100 universities and organisations, from Yale to the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology to the Word Bank, offers online courses in everything from Economics and Finance to Music, Film and Audio — free of charge. Over four million students across the world are currently enrolled.

  • (Index on Censorship, Wednesday, January 29, 2014)

    The revelations by Edward Snowden last June about massive, unaccountable surveillance by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and its British counterpart GCHQ have raised one vital question. Is there a global right of privacy? If so, what form might it take? In November 2013, Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, argued in favour of a global human right of privacy. “All [governments] should acknowledge a global obligation to protect everyone’s privacy, clarify the limits on their own surveillance practices (including surveillance of people outside their own borders), and ensure they don’t trade mass surveillance data to evade their own obligations.” Fundamental to this discussion is the role technology has played in outpacing legal oversight. In April 2013, the report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression had one express focus: To examine “the implications of states’ surveillance of communications in the exercise of the human rights to privacy and to freedom of opinion and expression.” In the Rapporteur’s view, it was clear that the march of technology, with its move to low cost mobile communications as opposed to previous fixed-line methods had “increased opportunities for state surveillance and interventions into individuals’ private communications.” Borderless surveillance has become a reality.

  • (IFEX, Wednesday, January 29, 2014)

    January 28th, 2014 was Data Privacy Day (also known as Data Protection Day), an international festival of our right to control our own personal information and to protect our communications from unchecked surveillance. It's not been a great year for either belief. Since last year's celebration, the Snowden revelations have exposed how vulnerable private information is from unwarranted inspection by the surveillance state. At the same time, we've seen reports of incident after incident of major privacy breaches at the hands of criminals from large companies. Our personal data seems less secure than ever. Data Privacy Day is on January 28th in commemoration of the day the Council of Europe opened the snappily-titled "Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data" for signatures. The 1985 convention dedicates a separate section to the importance of data security, saying: Appropriate security measures shall be taken for the protection of personal data stored in automated data files against accidental or unauthorized destruction or accidental loss as well as against unauthorized access, alteration or dissemination.

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Monday, January 27, 2014)

    On December 9, AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, Linkedin, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo! issued a call for governments around the world to reform their surveillance laws, as well as a released a set of principles to guide such reform. These principles align well in many ways with principles that civil society groups released this July applying human rights concepts to communications surveillance. The International Principles on the Application of Rights to Communications Surveillance, known as the “Necessary and Proportionate” principles, have the support of the Center for Democracy & Technology and over 300 other civil society organizations. Specifically, both the companies and civil society groups call for: (i) surveillance law to be clearly codified; (ii) particularized, as opposed to bulk surveillance; (iii) independent judicial oversight of surveillance; (iv) transparency of surveillance law; (v) transparency of surveillance activities; (vi) clear rules and
    efficient processes to resolve conflicts of law that may arise; and (vii) balancing government needs with privacy rights, particularity requirements.

  • (IFEX, Monday, January 27, 2014)

    The Snowden revelations have confirmed our worst fears about online spying. They show that the NSA and its allies have been building a global surveillance infrastructure to "master the internet" and spy on the world's communications. These shady groups have undermined basic encryption standards, and riddled the Internet's backbone with surveillance equipment. They have collected the phone records of hundreds of millions of people none of whom are suspected of any crime. They have swept up the electronic communications of millions of people at home and overseas indiscriminately, exploiting the digital technologies we use to connect and inform. They spy on the population of allies, and share that data with other organizations, all outside the rule of law. We aren't going to let the NSA and its allies ruin the Internet. Inspired by the memory of Aaron Swartz, fueled by our victory against SOPA and ACTA, the global digital rights community is uniting to fight back. On February 11, on the Day We Fight Back, the world will demand an end to mass surveillance in every country, by every state, regardless of boundaries or politics. The SOPA and ACTA protests were successful because we all took part, as a community. As Aaron Swartz put it, everybody "made themselves the hero of their own story." We can set a date, but we need everyone, all the users of the Global Internet, to make this a movement.

  • (CIMA, Monday, January 27, 2014)

    Not all that long ago, it was widely assumed that the Internet would set off geysers of information everywhere, with political change sure to follow. Instead, it looks as if methods for bringing to heel political expres­sion on traditional media in authoritarian settings are being adapted and applied to new media with increasing effect. The trend of “negative convergence,” in which the space for meaningful political expression online shrinks and moves in the direction of less free traditional media, has profoundly troubling implications. The Internet’s spread has been remarkable, and many authoritarian systems are part of the trend–indeed, their governments have little choice in the matter unless they want to try ruling the next North Ko­rea. Economic growth and development require being “wired.” Thus in fast-growing but authoritarian Vietnam, 40 percent of the populace has Internet access. In Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia that figure is even higher at ap­proximately 55 percent. In Bahrain, it is nearly 90 percent. China is at 45 percent Internet penetration and now has nearly 600 million Internet users and more than 300 million microbloggers, most of them on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twit­ter. In Russia, which recently passed the 50 percent mark, web-based media such as TV Rain are helping the opposition to reach larger audiences.

  • (Al Jazeera America, Friday, January 24, 2014)

    President Barack Obama appeared to have good news on Jan. 17 for foreign citizens appalled by months of revelations of U.S. surveillance overseas. The United States, he assured them in his much-awaited speech on new controls on snooping by the National Security Agency (NSA), is “not spying on ordinary citizens who don’t threaten our national security.” The bad news is that the policy changes he announced ensure no such thing. While Obama promised not to spy on friendly foreign leaders or for commercial gain, the NSA is still allowed to monitor the communications of ordinary foreigners overseas for a wide range of “foreign intelligence” purposes. That is ominous because, among other reasons, although Obama noted that other countries have “relied” on U.S. intelligence to protect their people, he described no legal safeguards or limitations on what intelligence the NSA shares, or swaps, with its foreign counterparts. This is particularly disturbing when one considers the foreign states with which the NSA may be sharing intelligence. The security agency’s seemingly unfettered ability to swap intelligence with foreign countries that have deplorable human rights records, for instance, threatens not only the privacy but the physical safety of those countries’ citizens.

  • (Index on Censorship, Friday, January 24, 2014)

    I had arranged to meet ‘Emma’ in a cafe, at the behest of a mutual friend. As a student of forensic computing informatics, I was asked to help educate Emma about online privacy, a particular passion of mine. Emma is an unassuming 24-year-old. Nothing about her physical appearance or mannerisms would divulge anything of the abuse she was subjected to at the hands of a former boyfriend. She explained that she had experienced on-going violence while in a three-year relationship. Her partner had physically, verbally and emotionally abused her. In addition, her former boyfriend monitored and restricted her access to the Internet. “I didn’t have anything private. I couldn’t do anything without him asking something about my behaviour, or my intentions, or whatever else I was doing. It was physical and psychological entrapment at its worst.” she said. For Emma, our meeting was about learning to use tools to take control of her privacy in an age of mass monitoring. She was taking back the capabilities that were torn from her by her abusive boyfriend, by becoming empowered to protect herself in the on-line sphere.

  • (Access , Friday, January 24, 2014)

    When it comes to US surveillance reform, structural changes don’t grab as many headlines as, say, ending bulk collection programs. Yet, ultimately, reforming the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) system, including its Court of Review (FISCR), would be one of the most feasible and effective solutions to protecting the rights of users everywhere against the abuses of intrusive surveillance. While the US Congress is currently working on legislative proposals that include FISC reforms, but little-to-nothing else in the way of additional protections for non-US persons is under consideration. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), President Obama, and President Obama’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies have each proposed various degrees of reforms to FISC. While drastically different, they share a common call for introducing some kind of independent public advocate to challenge government assertions in FISC deliberations. While there has never been a strong tradition of national human rights authorities and public ombudsman in the United States, there’s certainly precedent to draw on. Indeed, internationally, the idea of a public advocate, or independent officer charged with defending certain rights and liberties of large groups of people has a deep history in courts, administrative agencies, and human rights institutions worldwide.

  • (Freedom House, Thursday, January 23, 2014)

    The state of freedom declined for the eighth consecutive year in 2013, according to Freedom in the World 2014, Freedom House’s annual country-by-country report on global political rights and civil liberties. Particularly notable were developments in Egypt, which endured across-the-board reversals in its democratic institutions following a military coup. There were also serious setbacks to democratic rights in other large, politically influential countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Venezuela, and Indonesia.

  • (GigaOm, Wednesday, January 22, 2014)

    An independent “Global Commission on Internet Governance” was launched at Davos on Wednesday, promising an in-depth two-year study of how the internet should be run. This will take into account the tensions between freedom, security and governance — as in, who should run key functions of the internet — and the shadow of Edward Snowden will no doubt loom large over proceedings. The commission is chaired by former Swedish prime minister and current foreign minister Carl Bildt, and the other 24 members range from those who will probably support online surveillance (former U.S. Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff and former GCHQ director David Omand) to those who will most likely take the opposing view (European parliamentarian Marietje Schaake and web scientist Wendy Hall). “Internet governance is too important to be left just to governments,” said Patricia Lewis, one of the commission members and a research director at Chatham House, the London thinktank that has launched the project alongside the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), which is based in Waterloo, Ontario. “The internet is a fundamental part of the global economy and how we manage its future will be decisive in facilitating development for all. Finding a way through the issues of access, privacy, security, protection and surveillance requires in-depth consideration and the wisdom that the Global Commission will provide,” Lewis added.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Wednesday, January 22, 2014)

    The Snowden revelations have confirmed our worst fears about online spying. They show that the NSA and its allies have been building a global surveillance infrastructure to “master the internet” and spy on the world’s communications. These shady groups have undermined basic encryption standards, and riddled the Internet’s backbone with surveillance equipment. They have collected the phone records of hundreds of millions of people none of whom are suspected of any crime. They have swept up the electronic communications of millions of people at home and overseas indiscriminately, exploiting the digital technologies we use to connect and inform. They spy on the population of allies, and share that data with other organizations, all outside the rule of law. We aren’t going to let the NSA and its allies ruin the Internet. Inspired by the memory of Aaron Swartz, fueled by our victory against SOPA and ACTA, the global digital rights community are uniting to fight back. On February 11, on the Day We Fight Back, the world will demand an end to mass surveillance in every country, by every state, regardless of boundaries or politics. The SOPA and ACTA protests were successful because we all took part, as a community. As Aaron Swartz put it, everybody "made themselves the hero of their own story." We can set a date, but we need everyone, all the users of the Global Internet, to make this a movement.

  • (The New York Times, Wednesday, January 22, 2014)

    Lest we forget, the National Security Agency is in good company. A new security report confirms that Chinese hackers spied on The New York Times in 2012, as well as attendees of the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg last fall. Iranian hackers spied on dissidents in the lead up to state elections last May. The Syrian Electronic Army is only getting better, and North Korean hackers were behind a destructive cyberattack that wiped data from South Korean banks last year. These were just some of the findings of CrowdStrike, the hot Laguna Niguel, Calif., security start-up which tracked more than 50 hacking groups last year. The company, started by George Kurtz, the antivirus company McAfee’s former chief technology officer, and Dmitri Alperovitch, McAfee’s former vice president of threat research, produced its findings in an annual report Wednesday. The report buttresses previous findings by The New York Times, Google and a number of other security firms, including FireEye, the Milpitas, Calif.-based security software firm that acquired Mandiant last year.

  • (Karlstad University, Monday, January 20, 2014)

    As of January 2014, the Tor anonymity network consists of 5,000 relays of which almost 1,000 are exit relays. As the diagram to the right illustrates, exit relays bridge the gap between the Tor network and the “open” Internet. As a result, exit relays are able to see anonymised network traffic as it is sent by Tor clients. While most exit relays are innocuous and run by well-meaning volunteers, there are exceptions: In the past, some exit relays were documented to have sniffed and tampered with relayed traffic. The exposed attacks included mostly HTTPS man-in-the-middle (MitM) and SSL stripping. In this research project, we are monitoring all exit relays for several months in order to expose, document, and thwart malicious or misconfigured relays. In particular, we monitor exit relays with a fast and modular scanner we developed specifically for that purpose. Since September 2013, we discovered several malicious or misconfigured exit relays which are listed below. These exit relays engaged in various attacks such as SSH and HTTPS MitM, HTML injection, and SSL stripping. We also found exit relays which were unintentionally interfering with network traffic because they were subject to DNS censorship. This project is funded by a research grant provided by Internetfonden. Previous work of ours investigated how Tor is blocked and how censorship can be circumvented.

  • (IFEX, Monday, January 20, 2014)

    The reforms announced today [17 January 2014], while positive in some respects, are completely inadequate to address the heart of the problem. Privacy International welcomes steps to minimise the data collected and retained on non-Americans, and the call to increase transparency around requests made to communications service providers. However, in the face of mass surveillance, unaccountable intelligence sharing, arbitrary expansions of the definition of 'national security', and debased encryption standards, all of which fundamentally threaten the very fabric of American democratic institutions, the Obama administration has chosen to pursue reforms that serve only to tinker around the edges of a grave and endemic problem. Policymakers, including President Obama, constantly harp on about the so-called balance to be struck between privacy and security. Such arguments obscure the real issues, as they begin from the utterly incorrect premise that privacy and security are mutually exclusive. This could not be further from the truth; privacy and security are not opposed, but are inherently intertwined. Software vulnerabilities and weak encryption standards not only fundamentally threaten our privacy rights but seriously undermine the essential day-to-day trust placed in modern communications. Yet intelligence agencies, chief among them the NSA, have through their own actions weakened our security and critically exposed citizens around the world to greater invasions of privacy, threats of illegal intrusion, and acts of criminality.

  • (Technology Review, Monday, January 20, 2014)

    Net neutrality—the idea that all Internet traffic should generally be treated equally—suffered a setback last week when a federal court struck down the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s latest regulatory effort (see “Net Neutrality Quashed: New Pricing Schemes, Throttling, and Business Models to Follow”). Pro-neutrality types have worried that a few giant companies will end up controlling, or at least mediating, the Internet experience for much of the population because of special deals they’ve struck with Internet providers for prioritized or subsidized data delivery. But in the emerging economies of the world, that’s pretty much how things already work, thanks to a growing number of deals Google and Facebook have struck with mobile phone carriers from the Philippines to Kenya. In essence, these deals give people free access to text-only version of things like Facebook news feeds, Gmail, and the first page of search results under plans like Facebook Zero or Google Free Zone. Only when users click links in e-mails or news feeds, go beyond the first page of search results, or visit websites by other means do they incur data charges (see “Facebook and Google Create Walled Gardens for Web Newcomers Overseas”).

  • (Wired, Tuesday, January 14, 2014)

    Brendan Eich is the chief technology officer of the Mozilla, the organization behind the Firefox web browser. Among many other things, he oversees the Firefox security team — the software engineers who work to steel the browser against online attacks from hackers, phishers, and other miscreants — and that team is about to get bigger. Much, much bigger. In a recent blog post, Eich calls for security researchers across the globe to regularly audit the Firefox source code and create automated systems that can ensure the same code is used to update the millions machines that run the browser. That’s not an option for other browsers, but it is for Firefox. The code behind the browser is completely open source, meaning anyone can look at it, at any time.

  • (The Guardian, Saturday, January 11, 2014)

    If the internet is the road system for the digital world, then the world wide web is the car – the tool we use daily for work and play. It seems almost impossible to remember what unconnected life was like; some of us are old enough to remember living without the web, old enough to have used typewriters at university, microfiches in the school library and can recall the first mention of something called "Hotmail". It is nearly 25 years since Sir Tim Berners-Lee wrote his initial proposal for a distributed information system based on hypertext, in March 1989. "Vague, but exciting," was how supervisor Mike Sendall greeted the idea, proposed to help connect the work of several thousand atom-smashing scientists, researchers and administrators at Cern – the European home of nuclear research and the large hadron collider. The plan was a non-linear organisation system based on hypertext –quite the hot topic in late 80s computing circles – that would improve on the previous system that let documents be stored and printed. "A linked system," wrote Berners-Lee, "would allow one to browse through concepts, documents, systems and authors, also allowing references between documents to be stored."

  • (Index on Censorship, Saturday, January 11, 2014)

    Facebook has nearly 1.2 billion monthly active users –that’s nearly 20% of the total global population. Yet, in some countries harsh sanctions and time in jail can be imposed on those who comment on social media, in the majority of cases for speaking out against their government. China is infamous for its stance on censorship but September 2013 saw the introduction of perhaps one of their more bizarre laws: post a message online that the government deems defamatory or false and if it receives more than 500 retweets (or shares) or 5,000 views and the person responsible for the post could receive up to three years in jail. For the post to be of concern to the government it must meet certain criteria before a conviction can occur. This includes causing a mass incident, disturbing public order, inciting ethnic and religious conflicts, and damaging the state’s image. And to top that off the post could also be a “serious case” of spreading rumours or false information online.

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Friday, January 3, 2014)

    The extensive surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA) affects the privacy rights of people around the world – not just U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents of the United States (“U.S. persons”). CDT was pleased to see this essential fact recognized in the report released by the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies. The Review Group, charged with providing recommendations to the Obama Administration regarding necessary reforms to U.S. national security surveillance activities, included several recommendations aimed at limiting the impact of these activities on the rights of “non-U.S. persons.” While these recommendations are a first step, the report falls far short of offering the necessary policy reforms to protect the privacy of persons abroad. If the United States is to be a leader in establishing global surveillance standards, it needs to serve as a model in terms of adopting reasonable limitations on surveillance of persons abroad. Significant reforms must be made for this to occur.

  • (Index on Censorship, Friday, January 3, 2014)

    In 2010 China shut down 1.3 million web sites with popular pages, such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, blocked. Three years later and China has employed over 2,000,000 people to monitor microblogging sites, a further clampdown on free speech in the country. Having blocked major social media sites it’s not surprising that a large percentage of China’s hundreds of millions web users have turned to microblogging sites to offer up their opinions on society. Although the Beijing News stated that the monitors are not required to delete posts they view online they do gather data by searching for negative terms relating to their clients and compiling the information gathered into reports. Weibo, China’s largest microblogging platform, has more than 500 million registered users who post 100 million messages daily. Postings on the website that criticise the Chinese government are often removed.

  • (The Guardian, Friday, January 3, 2014)

    Over the past year, several significant online innovations have emerged. It was predicted that mobile phones would outnumber people by 2014, with low-cost smartphones opening up opportunities for even more people to get connected. And the UN turned to the internet to canvass opinion on what should replace the millennium development goals. In August, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced that he aimed to get every person on the planet online. He then launched, along with a 10-page document entitled Connectivity is a Human Right that outlines his vision of the future. This followed the 2010 launch of Facebook Zero, a text-only version of the site with no data charges. In the 18 months since its launch, Facebook users in Africa increased by 114%. The business benefits for the popular social-networking site are obvious, but Zuckerberg believes a better-connected world is better for local economies, too. Next came Twitter, which in December signed a deal with a Swiss mobile company to enable cheap access to users of phones with basic features or on low-cost plans. Wikipedia also got in on the act. Its foundation, Wikimedia, has a clear mission: to create a world "in which every single human being can freely share the sum of all knowledge''. Last year the company launched Wikipedia Zero, a flagship programme that partners with mobile phone providers to let people browse with no data charges. As with Facebook, the term "zero" signifies free data.

  • (CircleID, Thursday, January 2, 2014)

    So-called "globalization" and its corollaries which are trade policy and, thus, foreign policy intersect with telecommunications. This ought to be obvious and it is not new. For example, in December 2011, OECD adopted its "Recommendation of the Council on Principles for Internet Policy Making”, the latter which apparently connects with an earlier U.S. cyberspace strategy based on something called the "Internet Freedom Agenda" dated 21 January 2010, where comments from the (the) U.S. Secretary of State arguably entrapped U.S. internet governance in an orifice from which it has yet to emerge. Namely: "On their own, new technologies do not take sides in the struggle for freedom and progress, but the United States does (emphasis added). We stand for a single internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas". The world moved on. But, U.S. foreign policy in 2010 which is itself a historical artifact of "containment" and thus a Cold War mentality derived from George Kennan's foreign policy era, was even at that late stage out of touch with the Internet. Enter the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and its "Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises” (MNEs).

  • (CircleID, Tuesday, December 31, 2013)

    What does the crystal ball say for the Internet in 2014? Here are three scenarios for what could happen with the global Internet Governance Eco-System in the coming 12 months: In the worst case scenario the Internet gets more and more fragmented and re-nationalized. A growing number of governments start to define a "national Internet segment" and develop policies to surveil, censor and control access to and use of the Internet. National firewalls will separate the "domestic Internet" from the global Internet and an exit and entrance regime into networks is introduced where users need passwords, handed out by governmental authorities on an annual basis, to go from one domain to another. Political battles among governments over critical Internet resources, cybersecurity and human rights will dominate international discussions, no global agreement can be reached, the voice of non-governmental stakeholders is ignored and the mandate of the Internet Governance Forum is not renewed.

  • (Der Spiegel, Sunday, December 29, 2013)

    The NSA's TAO hacking unit is considered to be the intelligence agency's top secret weapon. It maintains its own covert network, infiltrates computers around the world and even intercepts shipping deliveries to plant back doors in electronics ordered by those it is targeting. In January 2010, numerous homeowners in San Antonio, Texas, stood baffled in front of their closed garage doors. They wanted to drive to work or head off to do their grocery shopping, but their garage door openers had gone dead, leaving them stranded. No matter how many times they pressed the buttons, the doors didn't budge. The problem primarily affected residents in the western part of the city, around Military Drive and the interstate highway known as Loop 410.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Saturday, December 28, 2013)

    This year the public got some hints of the scale on which governments are using electronic surveillance to spy on all of us. We learned how pervasively compromised our communications infrastructure is, and how cavalierly governments have spliced, bribed, lied, hacked, cozened, and secret-ordered their way into network backbones. We saw that individual Internet engineers were seen as legitimate hacking targets. We saw that spy agencies speak casually of mastering, controlling, dominating the Internet. People everywhere fought back by increasing their use of encryption to protect their privacy. From journalism schools to boardrooms to parliaments, crypto tools were the talk of the town. Around the world, cryptoparties taught people more about adopting encryption tools, often teaching the "Encryption Works" guide written by former EFF Staff Technologist Micah Lee for the Freedom of the Press Foundation (an EFF client). Just last week, CyanogenMod adopted TextSecure to protect the text messages of its ten million users against mass surveillance. (Hey, other mobile vendors! Are you going to match Cyanogen's lead?)

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Friday, December 27, 2013)

    Prior to January 2011, national or regional Internet “blackouts” were mostly unheard of. Although the Maldives, Nepal, Burma, and China all preceded Egypt with this innovation, it was the shutdown initiated by former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak that set a new precedent and garnered global media coverage. Since then, Syria, Libya, and even San Francisco’s BART police have “pulled a Mubarak.” But in 2013, Internet blackouts became de rigeur for embattled governments: In August, Burma experienced a week of disruptions, the cause of which remains unclear. In Egypt’s North Sinai region, telephone and Internet networks were—according to a report from Mada Masr—intermittently shut down in September in the midst of military operations targeting militants there. In Sudan, where a brutal government crackdown in September on protests over fuel subsidy cuts resulted in the deaths of more than 30 people, authorities cut off Internet access in an apparent bid to stop the demonstrations. In October, Renesys reported that the Iraqi government had tried but failed to shut down the Internet. And more recently, Renesys spotted a 45-minute national outage from North Korea, for which the source was unclear.

  • (Mashable, Thursday, December 19, 2013)

    Governments around the world are trying to censor more online content than ever, according to Google's latest transparency report on government takedown requests. When compared to its last report, Google received 68% more requests to remove content in the first half of 2013. In total, the company received 3,846 requests to remove 24,737 pieces of content, but the company only accepted one-third of those requests. For the first time, Turkey takes the top spot as the country with more requests to remove content, with 1,673. The United States follows with 545, and Brazil is third with 321. The most worrying thing, Google warns, is that a lot of these takedown requests, which are justified with copyright, privacy or defamation claims, are often aimed at political content — hence why Google defines them as censorship.

  • (Associated Press, Wednesday, December 18, 2013)

    The U.N. General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution aimed at protecting the right to privacy against unlawful surveillance in the digital age on Wednesday in the most vocal global criticism of U.S. eavesdropping. Germany and Brazil introduced the resolution following a series of reports of U.S. surveillance, interception, and data collection abroad — including on Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff and German Chancellor Angela Merkel — that surprised and angered friends and allies. The resolutionaffirms that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, including the right to privacy." It calls on the 193 U.N. member states "to respect and protect the right to privacy, including in the context of digital communication," to take measures to end violations of those rights, and to prevent such violations including by ensuring that national legislation complies with international human rights law.

  • (The New York Times, Wednesday, November 27, 2013)

    I awoke one morning to a disturbing email from the software giant Adobe. The message warned that thieves had hacked into the company’s servers, stolen the source code for some of its software products and almost three million passwords and credit card details, among which might be mine. It included a link to reset my password. But the link could have been an elaborate trap by criminals to infect my computer with malware and seize control of it. My first port of call was, the website of the tenacious cybercrime researcher Brian Krebs. Sure enough, he had posted details of the hack, and it was all true. I was instructed to click on that link and scrutinize my credit card bills for jewelry purchases in Djibouti or Moldova. Give credit to Adobe for ’fessing up to the hack so fast. But if a company like Adobe, whose products are a core communications medium for web users, can’t keep the hackers out, who can? The Internet has lost its innocence. Cybermalfeasance, or bad stuff happening on the web, is now so pervasive that if businesses and individuals fail to integrate security measures into their lives and operations, they are bound to regret it. And 2013 has been a momentous year for the extent and ingenuity of those launching attacks on networks around the world.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Tuesday, November 26, 2013)

    In 2013, we learned digital surveillance by world governments knows no bounds. Their national intelligence and other investigative agencies can capture our phone calls, track our location, peer into our address books, and read our emails. They do this often in secret, without adequate public oversight, and in violation of our human rights. We won’t stand for this anymore. Over the past year, nearly 300 organizations have come together to support the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance. These 13 Principles establish a clear set of guidelines that establish the human rights obligations of governments engaged in communications surveillance. These Principles were developed through months of consultation with technology, privacy, and human rights experts from around the world, and have the backing of hundreds of organizations from around the globe. But today, these Principles are about to receive their most important endorsement: the people’s.

  • (Access, Tuesday, November 26, 2013)

    Today the U.N. General Assembly took a critical first step in addressing mass surveillance as a human rights violations with the passage of a resolution recognizing the right to privacy in the digital age. While it is unfortunate that an earlier draft of the resolution was watered down in negotiations, the fact that it was adopted by consensus with over 50 co-sponsors signals growing international agreement that unlawful or arbitrary surveillance, interception of communications, and collection of personal data are highly intrusive acts that violate the rights to privacy and freedom of expression, and may contradic the tenets of a democratic society. 

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Monday, November 25, 2013)

    In recent years, there has been an increase worldwide in government demands for data held by the private sector, driven by a variety of factors. This includes an expansion in government requests for “systematic access:” direct access by the government to private-sector databases or networks, or government access, whether or not mediated by a company, to large volumes of data. Recent revelations about systematic access programs conducted by the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries have dramatically illustrated the issue and brought it to the forefront of international debates. This report is the culmination of research, funded by The Privacy Projects, that began in 2011. In the first phase of the study, outside experts were commissioned to examine and write reports about laws, court decisions, and any available information about actual practices in thirteen countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States). Two roundtables were held with private-sector companies, civil society, and academics. Based on that research, a number of common themes were identified about the countries examined and a descriptive framework for analyzing and comparing national laws on surveillance and government access to data held by the private sector was developed. Also developed was a normative framework based on a series of factors that can be derived from the concept of “rule of law,” from constitutional principles, and from existing international human rights jurisprudence.

  • (ArsTechnica, Sunday, November 24, 2013)

    If all of the known National Security Agency surveillance wasn't enough, the organization infected 50,000 computer networks with malware that could "steal sensitive information" according to new slides published by the Danish paper, NRC. The information published this weekend is another revelation courtesy of leaker Edward Snowden. The 50,000-figure comes from a 2012 presentation slide explaining how the NSA acquired information worldwide. It described an initiative called "Computer Network Exploitation" (CNE), which NRC reports as "the secret infiltration of computer systems achieved by installing malware." The slide shows CNE's reach spans five continents worldwide.

  • (The Guardian, Friday, November 22, 2013)

    Online surveillance is undermining people's confidence in the internet, warns Sir Tim Berners-Lee – though he predicts that its outcome will be to enshrine users' rights in the longer term. But he added that whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden, who triggered a raft of disclosures against the US National Security Agency and the UK's GCHQ surveillance agencies, were important: "I think we must protect them and respect them," he said at the launch of a new index showing web freedoms around the world. Berners-Lee, 58, the British inventor of the world wide web, said: "One of the most encouraging findings of this year's Web Index is how the web and social media are increasingly spurring people to organise, take action and try to expose wrongdoing in every region of the world. But some governments are threatened by this, and a growing tide of surveillance and censorship now threatens the future of democracy". He also said that those who have revealed secret surveillance deserved praise: "Countries owe a lot to whistleblowers – there's a series of whistleblowers who have been involved. Snowden is the latest. Because there was no way we could have had that conversation without them.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Thursday, November 21, 2013)

    After heated negotiations, the draft resolution on digital privacy initiated by Brazil and Germany emerged on November 20 relatively undamaged, despite efforts by the United States and other members of the “Five Eyes” group to weaken its language. Although a compromise avoided naming mass extraterritorial surveillance explicitly as a “human rights violation,” the resolution directs the UN high commissioner for human rights to report to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly on the protection and promotion of privacy “in the context of domestic and extraterritorial surveillance... including on a mass scale.” The resolution will ensure that this issue stays on the front burner at the UN. A vote on the resolution is expected in the next week. The resolution would be the first major statement by the UN on privacy in 25 years, crucially reiterating the importance of protecting privacy and free expression in the face of technological advancements and encroaching state power.


  • (Reuters, Thursday, November 21, 2013)

     Google Inc (GOOG.O) Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has a bold prediction: Censorship around the world could end in a decade, and better use of encryption will help people overcome government surveillance. In a lecture at Johns Hopkins University on Wednesday, the executive of the world's biggest web search company made a pitch for ending censorship in China and other countries with restricted freedom of speech by connecting everyone to the Internet and protecting their communication from spying. "First they try to block you; second, they try to infiltrate you; and third, you win. I really think that's how it works. Because the power is shifted," he said. "I believe there's a real chance that we can eliminate censorship and the possibility of censorship in a decade." Schmidt has long spoken out against limitations to the freedom of expression and restricted Internet access around the world. Earlier this year, he traveled to North Korea, a country disconnected from the rest of the world, to promote the cause. "It's clear that we failed. But we'll try again. We have not been invited back," he said of the personal trip, the timing of which was later criticized by the U.S. State Department as being not helpful because it came shortly after North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket.


  • (PEN American Center , Wednesday, November 20, 2013)

    Digital media have enabled writers to reach new audiences around the globe, but the promise of these technologies can come at a terrible cost: governments are increasingly imprisoning and persecuting writers for what they write, blog, and post online. Below are revealing statistics from PEN's case lists over the past 12 years. 

  • (Privacy International, Wednesday, November 20, 2013)

    Privacy International is pleased to announce the Surveillance Industry Index, the most comprehensive publicly available database on the private surveillance sector. Over the last four years, Privacy International has been gathering information from various sources that details how the sector sells its technologies, what the technologies are capable of and in some cases, which governments a technology has been sold to. Through our collection of materials and brochures at surveillance trade shows around the world, and by incorporating certain information provided by Wikileaks and Omega Research Foundation, this collection of documents represents the largest single index on the private surveillance sector ever assembled. All told, there are 1,203 documents detailing 97 surveillance technologies contained within the database. The Index features 338 companies that develop these technologies in 36 countries around the world. This research was conducted as part of our Big Brother Incorporated project, an investigation into the international surveillance trade that focuses on the sale of technologies by Western companies to repressive regimes intent on using them as tools of political control.


  • (CircleID, Wednesday, November 20, 2013)

    Argentines use the word "quilombo" to describe "a real mess", which is what I feared was awaiting us at the outset of ICANN's meeting in Buenos Aires this week. Since then, ICANN President Fadi Chehade has done a good job cleaning-up the internal process quilombo he and the board created. But ICANN's leadership has left the ICANN community struggling to answer deep and ongoing questions about the future of the Internet and the multistakeholder model. Coming into this week's meeting, ICANN stakeholders had a lot of questions about why and under what authority Fadi ventured aggressively into Internet governance waters, beginning with the Montevideo Statement and then the organization of a Brazilian Internet Governance conference next Spring. Fadi answered those questions. The answers may not satisfy everyone, but they essentially close the debate over ICANN's decision-making process over the past few months. The result of those actions, however, leaves us with substantive quilombo that makes the internal process quilombo look trivial. The continuing globalization of ICANN and its processes, including the IANA function, is a noble goal — and one we are already achieving through the continued internationalization of ICANN participants and the rising role of governments in ICANN's Government Advisory Committee. But globalization means different things to different organizations. And in the wrong hands, an effort to "globalize" ICANN and IANA could undermine ICANN's sovereignty and the future of the multistakeholder model.

  • (Renesys, Tuesday, November 19, 2013)

    Traffic interception has certainly been a hot topic in 2013. The world has been focused on interception carried out the old fashioned way, by getting into the right buildings and listening to the right cables. But there’s actually been a significant uptick this year in a completely different kind of attack, one that can be carried out by anybody, at a distance, using Internet route hijacking. After consultations with many of the affected parties, we’re coming forth with some details in the hope that we can make this particular vulnerability obsolete.

  • (The Washington Post, Monday, November 18, 2013)

    Fight for the Future was one of the most important grass-roots organizations that rallied opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act, culminating in the defeat of the legislation in January 2012. Since then, SOPA has become a potent symbol of copyright excesses, and copyright reformers routinely invoke it to rally opposition to policies they oppose. Fight for the Future does just that in a petition page opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a secret trade treaty whose "intellectual property" chapters was released by WikiLeaks last week. The FFTF Web site warns of an "extreme SOPA-like Internet Censorship Plan. WikiLeaks has released documents exposing an extreme internet censorship plan called the Trans-Pacific Partnership," the group says. "We know from the leaked drafts that the TPP will make the Internet more expensive, censored, and policed." Yet the blog post FFTF links to to back up that claim doesn't say anything about an "extreme internet censorship plan." Indeed, that blog post is an analysis of a 2-year-old version of the TPP, not the more recent one released by WikiLeaks. And it doesn't mention any provisions that could be plausibly described as an Internet censorship plan, unless you consider copyright itself a form of censorship.

  • (ICANN, Saturday, November 16, 2013)

    ICANN comes in for a lot of criticism. That's because people care very deeply about it. The multi-stakeholder model, of which ICANN is the exemplar, is such a radical and revolutionary departure from how global affairs have been managed in the past that many of us are constantly on guard lest ICANN degrade into the command-and-control structure that characterizes other global regulatory bodies. At ICANN, it's the volunteers, those who care (as well as, yes, those who are paid to pretend to care) who set policy. Governments, corporations, and the rest of the usual movers and shakers are given an important but not a fundamental role. That's worth protecting. Until recently, I'd been watching Fadi Chehadé, ICANN's CEO, with growing bemusement. Because I'm trying to start a new gTLD registry, I've been frustrated by delays in the ICANN new gTLD program. But with new gTLD contracts being signed almost daily, with pre-delegation testing taking much less time than expected, and with IANA doing the actual delegations with such efficiency that I'm beginning to think I actually work on the Internet, things have definitely improved. The act of introducing new gTLDs, instead of talking about introducing them, seems to have enlivened ICANN, and the recent lack of major snafus from their hard-working staff must be recognized and applauded.

  • (The Washington Post, Friday, November 15, 2013)

    Susan Sell is a professor of political science at George Washington University, who has carried out landmark research on international negotiations over intellectual property. Below is her response to five questions about the intellectual property chapter of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which the Obama administration has been negotiating with trading partners behind closed doors. A draft of the chapter was leaked to WikiLeaks two days ago.

  • (Google, Thursday, November 14, 2013)

    Like other technology and communications companies, Google regularly receives requests from governments and courts around the world to hand over user data. In this report, we disclose the number of requests we receive from each government in six-month periods with certain limitations. Usage of our services have increased every year, and so have the user data request numbers. We continue to look for new ways to organize information and provide more detail. For example, starting with the July–December 2010 reporting period, we began to disclose the percentages of user data requests we comply with in whole or in part. And starting with the January–June 2011 reporting period, we began to disclose the number of users or accounts about which data was requested. Our FAQ about legal process provides information about how we aim to put users first when we receive user data requests. To learn more about the laws governing our disclosure of user data and reforms to those laws that we think are important, visit We hope this report will shine some light on the appropriate scope and authority of government requests to obtain user data around the globe.

  • (CircleID, Tuesday, November 12, 2013)

    After three days of intensive discussion the UNCSTD Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation (WGEC) ended its second meeting last week in Geneva. It discussed the results of a questionnaire, which was send out after the 1st meeting of the WGEC (May 2013) and agreed on procedures how to move forward. The WGEC has to report to the forthcoming UNCSTD meeting in May 2014 in Geneva. The mystic discussion around the so-called "enhanced cooperation" cannot be understood without the knowledge of its history. Internet Governance became a controversial issue in the Geneva Phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in 2003. One group of governments wanted to bring the oversight over the management of the so-called "critical Internet resources" (domain names, IP addresses, root servers, Internet protocols) under an intergovernmental regime, as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Another group of governments argued that the existing system with ICANN, IETF, W3C, RIRs etc. works well and there is no need for change. "If isn't broken, don't fix it" argued the father of Internet, Vint Cerf, at this time chair of the ICANN Board of Directors. The conflict was overshadowed by the fact, that there was no agreed definition, what Internet Governance means and how public policy issues, related to the Internet, should be handled in global negotiations.
    The Geneva summit could not agree and asked the then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to establish a "Working Group on Internet Governance" (WGIG) with a mandate to define Internet Governance and to identify related public policy issues. After two years of work, the WGIG agreed on a broad definition which made clear that Internet Governance a) is more than Internet names and numbers, b) needs the involvement of all stakeholders in their respective roles and c) requires a philosophy of "sharing" both in policy development as in decision making among all involved stakeholders.

  • (The Guardian, Saturday, November 9, 2013)

    Over a few weeks' worth of bedtimes in the summer of 1984, my dad read me Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. Though the dystopian context would have been lost on nine-year old me, the pervasive malevolence and the futility of the struggle was not. References to Orwell are never far off today, whether to Big Brother and the surveillance society, or doublethink and Room 101. The Orwellian dystopia is so familiar now to us – and so astonishingly real – that we might need a new cultural reference, a new literary vision to warn of what lies ahead. It's the relentless creep of progress and development that inevitably makes our worst nightmares and most brilliant visions a reality. Fifty years ago, security expert Eugene Kaspersky told a conference last week, the public would have been protesting on the streets at the idea that cameras would be surveilling every public placeacross the country, all day, every day. Today, we just accept it.

  • (Index on Censorship, Friday, November 8, 2013)

    This week saw some movement in the debate over NSA and GCHQ surveillance, and a court case that could have very serious consequences. The court case first. One Wednesday and Thursday, the court of Appeal held a judicial review into the use of Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act taken by David Miranda, partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald. Miranda was detained in transit at Heathrow airport under Schedule 7 while carrying encrypted documents that had emanated, ultimately, from whistleblower Edward Snowden. The question was whether the authorities, knowing who Miranda was, what he was likely to be carrying, and his purpose for holding the documents, had a right to detain him under that particular piece of law. It’s quite technical, but it comes down to whether carrying the documents Miranda was carrying could be seen as an act of terrorism or an act that could potentially aid terrorism (as the government and police argue) or as part of a journalistic enterprise (in essence, what Miranda is arguing). Index and other organisations have weighed in in support of the argument put forward by Miranda’s team, as we worry that a ruling against Miranda could have serious implications. Journalism can often operate in dubious areas: whether material “leaked” or “stolen” for example, is a question that can have very different answers depending on who you ask.

  • (Access, Thursday, November 7, 2013)

    The 8th annual U.N. Internet Governance Forum wrapped up late last month in Bali, Indonesia. This year’s official main theme was “Building Bridges – Enhancing Multi-stakeholder Cooperation for Growth and Sustainable Development”; however, mass online surveillance and a recently announced 2014 world summit on internet governance dominated many discussions at the IGF. The political landscape around global internet governance has changed dramatically since last year’s IGF held in Baku, Azerbaijan, when discussions centered around the upcoming, controversial the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT). In Baku, the U.S., the European Union, and allies were warning of attempts by authoritarian governments to regulate, censor, and surveil the internet through an international telecommunications treaty being negotiated at WCIT. By way of contrast, this year, ongoing revelations of mass surveillance primarily by the U.S. National Security Agency, have meant that many of the same governments have lost their moral authority as leaders in “internet freedom.” The IGF, which brings together civil society, companies, the technical community, governments and all interested stakeholders to discuss internet policy, afforded the opportunity to raise concerns on surveillance in both a public and private way with the governments and companies that are at the center of the scandal. While criticized by some participants as being too much of a polite UN-style meeting, the IGF provided an inclusive venue to share perspectives on how to reach a proper balance between security concerns and human rights, to address the lack of trust in the technical institutions and companies that play a key role in the functioning of the internet, and perhaps most importantly, to strategize on how to rein in mass surveillance. 

  • (Huffington Post, Monday, November 4, 2013)

    Internet censorship comes in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. We often think of it as the "Great Firewall of China," which blocks access to websites with banned content. But internet censorship takes many other forms. It ranges from physical assaults on journalists who publish exposes of corruption online to cyber-attacks on the websites of human rights groups and prosecution of webmasters for comments that other users post on their platform. In the face of ongoing revelations about extensive snooping by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), censorship abroad may seem like yesterday's problem. These revelations are troubling, but there is a broader array of threats to internet freedom around the world, and those threats are extensive and are growing, as documented in Freedom House's report Freedom on the Net 2013. 

  • (The Guardian, Friday, November 1, 2013)

    The vast scale of online surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden is leading to the breakup of the internet as countries scramble to protect private or commercially sensitive emails and phone records from UK and US security services, according to experts and academics. They say moves by countries, such as Brazil and Germany, to encourage regional online traffic to be routed locally rather than through the US are likely to be the first steps in a fundamental shift in the way the internet works. The change could potentially hinder economic growth. "States may have few other options than to follow in Brazil's path," said Ian Brown, from the Oxford Internet Institute. "This would be expensive, and likely to reduce the rapid rate of innovation that has driven the development of the internet to date … But if states cannot trust that their citizens' personal data – as well as sensitive commercial and government information – will not otherwise be swept up in giant surveillance operations, this may be a price they are willing to pay."


  • (The Guardian, Thursday, October 31, 2013)

    What a week this was. It has seen David Cameron's former communications director, Andy Coulson, going on trial in connection with phone hacking by journalists during his time as editor of the News of the World, German officials storming off to Washington to read the riot act about the bugging of Angela Merkel's phone, the medieval mumbo-jumbo of the Queen accepting a royal charter underpinning a system of press self-regulation that much of the press doesn't accept, and the EU threatening internet giants like Google and Facebook with a data protection directive that could end up splitting the internet into separate US and European clouds. One thing unites these apparently disparate stories: the revolutionary development of technologies that massively increase our power to communicate with each other, and as massively erode our privacy. "Privacy is dead. Get over it," a Silicon Valley boss once reportedly remarked. Some of us don't accept that. We still want to keep a few clothes on. We believe that preserving individual privacy is essential, not just to basic human dignity but also to freedom and security.

  • (CircleID, Wednesday, October 30, 2013)

    It's been a busy week for the Internet. More famous for its golden beaches, Bali recently hosted the eighth Internet Governance Forum which delivered waves of constructive discussion and debate. Over the past few days, the Internet governance community has exchanged best practices and debated a wide range of key topics that will continue to pose questions for policy as the Internet evolves — questions extending from infrastructure deployment and its intersection with mobile innovation, to the role of government, security and data protection. All these topics have a place at the IGF and the business community is a firm believer that the forum provides a unique environment to discuss them across stakeholders. Even early on in the week, this year's IGF was notable for it's a more open and candid atmosphere than usual. No items have been left off the agenda and the pervading issue of surveillance and data use has been talked about openly in discussions, as these topics naturally have a direct impact on trust issues surrounding the Internet.

  • (New America Foundation, Monday, October 28, 2013)

    Last year, the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute published The Cost of Connectivity, a first-of-its-kind study of the cost of consumer broadband services in 22 cities around the world. The results showed that, in comparison to their international peers, Americans in major cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC are paying higher prices for slower Internet service. While the plans and prices have been updated in the intervening year, the 2013 data shows little progress, reflecting remarkably similar trends to what we observed in 2012.

  • (Intellectual Property Watch, Monday, October 28, 2013)

    Away from traditional free trade agreement negotiations with secret chapters on stricter intellectual property protection, perceptions are slowly evolving about the need to make IP systems work better. One of 100+ sessions at the 8th United Nations Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Bali, Indonesia last week featured “intellectual property exchanges” as marketplaces for knowledge. But IP policy did not take centre stage and neither did other access topics in Bali, which instead was overshadowed by the recent revelations of mass surveillance by US intelligence services. A the IGF, the 10-person US delegation faced stern warnings about lost trust. Brazil’s announcement to hold a summit on a new internet governance model in the end was cautiously welcomed by many. The chief economist of the UK Intellectual Property Office, Tony Clayton, underlined the need for changes in the IP system, and said legislative reform is being prepared for 2014. “The key principles of the UK reform are to use basic principles of copyright, but to make markets work in terms of creation and leaving room in the IP system for innovation and investment,” he said.

  • (Rappler, Monday, October 28, 2013)

    Surveillance dominates this year’s Internet Governance Forum in Indonesia, raising questions on the moral authority of China and the United States following allegations of spying. It’s a unique venue for a unique forum. Over 2,000 delegates from all over the world head to Bali, Indonesia for the United Nations’ 8th Internet Governance Forum. It’s the first time the forum is held in Southeast Asia but revelations of mass surveillance in the US and Europe steal the show. US officials are on the defensive over allegations the US spied on its own citizens and world leaders. Activists question the moral authority of America and China as they point fingers at each other’s spying.



  • (The Guardian, Monday, October 28, 2013)

    When Edward Snowden leaked documents revealing widespread National Security Agency surveillance of phone and digital communication in June, he also thrust Rebecca MacKinnon's Ranking Digital Rights project into overdrive. The project aims to rank the world's internet and telecommunications companies on how well they respect users' rights of privacy and free expression. MacKinnon is working to determine the baseline standards of corporate policy and practice and to educate internet users, advocacy groups, policymakers and companies on the current state of affairs. "The Snowden leaks have drawn public attention to how government surveillance systems leverage commercial internet and telecommunications platforms – all over the world – in a way that no other investigative reporting, activism, or other whistle blowing had succeeded in doing previously," MacKinnon, author of Consent of the Network, said in an email. "A lot of research institutions, foundations and their boards are now waking up and saying: 'We need to understand this better. We need to figure out what can be done about this and try to support or be part of some solutions.'"

  • (The Guardian, Friday, October 25, 2013)

    Who is most evil on the internet? If we're to believe the latest coverage surrounding Facebook, then we'd probably have to say Mark Zuckerberg and associates, who have decided that graphic video footage of beheadings on the social network are AOK with them, so long as they come with content warnings. Bet you're missing that wanton youthful abandon of Myspace now. Facebook's explanation for allowing executions galore on your timeline seems to be that the site has morphed over the years from mere social network into noble protector of freedom of information, no matter how disturbing the content. That's right: it's basically WikiLeaks, but with a constant stream of updates about what your old school frenemies' babies weigh. Get rid of all those boundary-pushing, controversial beheadings, and it's a slippery slope to an endlessly banal stream of boring people who spend hours carefully constructing online facades in order to convince "friends" they don't even know in real life that they go to better parties than them. Oh wait.


  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Friday, October 25, 2013)

    Ever since Google issued its first transparency report in early 2010, EFF has called on other companies to follow suit and disclose statistics about the number of government requests for user data, whether the request they receive is an official demand (such as a warrant) or an unofficial request. After all, users make decisions every day about which companies they trust with their data, therefore companies owe it to their customers to be transparent about when they hand data over to governments and law enforcement. Since 2010, other companies have risen to the challenge, including Microsoft, Internet service provider Sonic.Net, cloud storage providers SpiderOak and DropBox, as well as social media companies such as LinkedIn and Twitter. Now, two more companies have joined the movement: In the past couple of months, both Yahoo and Facebook issued their first transparency reports, covering the period of January-June 2013. While we wish they had not taken this long, the two companies deserve kudos for taking this important step. Companies are under no legal obligation to inform their customers aggregate data about government requests for their data—this is a voluntary step. Both companies are members of the Global Network Initiative, however, which counts transparency among its core principles.


  • (Index on Censorship, Friday, October 25, 2013)

    Last year’s Internet Governance Forum in Baku, Azerbaijan proved controversial due to the choice of host. This year’s event, in Bali, Indonesia was bound to be contentious, after Edward Snowden’s leaks on the US’s PRISM programme. PRISM and TEMPORA (the UK system of mass surveillance) were a lightening rod for general discontent from activists who feel an increasing sense of ill ease over the state of internet freedom. Many of the sessions were bad-tempered affairs with civil society rounding on the perceived complacency of government officials from democracies who refused to state their opposition to mass state surveillance in clear enough terms.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Friday, October 25, 2013)

    One of the trends we've seen is how, as the word of the NSA's spying has spread, more and more ordinary people want to know how (or if) they can defend themselves from surveillance online. But where to start? The bad news is: if you're being personally targeted by a powerful intelligence agency like the NSA, it's very, very difficult to defend yourself. The good news, if you can call it that, is that much of what the NSA is doing is mass surveillance on everybody. With a few small steps, you can make that kind of surveillance a lot more difficult and expensive, both against you individually, and more generally against everyone. Here are ten steps you can take to make your own devices secure. This isn't a complete list, and it won't make you completely safe from spying. But every step you take will make you a little bit safer than average. And it will make your attackers, whether they're the NSA or a local criminal, have to work that much harder.

  • (CircleID, Wednesday, October 23, 2013)

    The Internet Governance Forum in Bali is not without excitement as usual. There is a rumour about a power grab by the technical community. If the "power grab" is true, then I am assuming that this is a response to threats of institutional frameworks governing or interfering with the current status quo. Personally, I feel that this is anti thesis to "enhanced cooperation". If for some reason, ICANN or the US Government is behind the scenes in instigating this move, then I would suggest that it is very bad strategy and will cause more damage than harm to the current status quo. [I am curious as to whether this is a response because of analysis that the demand by the Brazil Government for greater international oversight of ICANN is a real and emerging threat. I have heard that one individual was denied a visa to attend the ICANN meeting in Buenos Aires and that this would be the case for all those applying for visas in Buenos Aires for this meeting. Before we get our feathers ruffled, I would point out that even for this 8th IGF, which almost very nearly did not take place because of funding and other issues, was a temporary hurdle and the organisers through the IGF Secretariat, sponsors were able to address and save the day. I have also asked a friend of mine who is a lawyer in Argentina to find out more. In the meantime, we both feel that this is over exaggeration.

  • (NBC News, Wednesday, October 23, 2013)

    Google hopes a little browser tool will help change the world. The company that revolutionized Internet search is now unveiling a sort of online underground tunnel — a way for people in restrictive countries like Iran and Syria to get around digital censorship and surveillance. The idea behind the tool — essentially a button for browsers — called uProxy, is simple: People in countries such as the United States provide their trusted friends a secure connection so that they can see and use the unrestricted Internet. Google showed it off earlier this week at a conference called “Conflict in a Connected World.” Google also rolled out technology to map cyberattacks around the world, including by repressive governments. The innovations, from a division of the company called Google Ideas, come at a time when the Internet, and social media in particular, is playing an increasing role in popular upheaval around the world, most notably in the Middle East.

  • (CircleID, Saturday, October 19, 2013)

    A lot of people (including me) are pretty upset at revelations of the breadth and scale of NSA spying on the Internet, which has created a great deal of ill will toward the US government? Will this be a turning point in Internet Governance? No, smoke will continue to be blown and nothing will happen. Governments are not monolithic. What people call Internet governance is mostly at the DNS application level, and perhaps the IP address allocation. The NSA is snooping down in the tubes, the underlying networks, and servers located in the U.S., where none of this matters. They do have a few DNS based attacks, but they'd work the same way regardless of who was running the real DNS servers.

  • (The Guardian, Friday, October 18, 2013)

    Facebook is facing a backlash from campaigners after announcing it will allow millions of teenagers to open up their profiles to strangers. The social networking site announced that users aged from 13 to 17 would now be able to switch their settings to share posts with anyone on the internet, rather than just their "friends" or "friends of friends". Children's groups and internet safety experts denounced the move, saying it could leave young people more vulnerable to cyberbullying. Anthony Smythe, the managing director of BeatBullying, told the Times: "We have concerns that this age group can now share information in the public domain. Something they think might not be harmful now may come back to haunt them later. This is a move in the wrong direction." The newspaper said Jim Gamble, the former head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop), had also expressed concern that the move could make youngsters more vulnerable.


  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Thursday, October 17, 2013)

    Next week, the 8th annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) kicks off in Bali, Indonesia. Matthew Shears, Director of CDT’s Global Internet Policy & Human Rights Project, and I are headed to Bali for a full week of meetings and workshops on pressing issues of Internet governance and policy. The IGF brings together human rights advocates, Internet policy experts, academics, engineers, governments, and members of industry from around the world to share information and expertise on a wide range of Internet policy topics. CDT will be busy during IGF (which runs from 22-25 October) and three days of pre-events. We’ll be highlighting several CDT policy papers, including our paper on Unpacking Cybersecurity, our thoughts on Network Neutrality and Human Rights, and an upcoming paper on Network Shutdowns. And we’re looking forward to convening with our civil society colleagues through the BestBits meeting on the 19th and 20th of October. (Remote participation registration for BestBits is still available.) See our IGF Resources page for more on our schedule of workshops and events.

  • (BBC, Thursday, October 17, 2013)

    We are becoming increasingly more dependent on the internet to help run our lives. But much of the planet is outside the web, zones that are without web coverage. Ordinarily, this is more of a nuisance than a calamity. But in the aftermath of disasters, restoring internet coverage can be the difference between life and death. Web giant Google has been working on a project that could bring the web where it's needed – be that remote rural farmsteads or areas recovering from a disaster. A series of balloons, flying in the stratosphere at a height twice that of commercial airliners, could be used to connect people to a network. Google's Rich DeVaul talks to BBC Future about the Loon project, and how it could bring the internet to communities that might never otherwise be connected.

  • (IFEX, Wednesday, October 16, 2013)

    The reality of the modern world is that governments – both of our own countries, and of foreign states – have greater capabilities to carry out invasive surveillance of citizens, no matter where they reside or what flag they pledge to. And caught in the cross-fire of the expanding surveillance state is freedom of expression, which is underpinned by the right to privacy. For a long time there have been legitimate fears of a pervasive surveillance state, and those fears continue to be confirmed by the Edward Snowden leaks, which week after week provide a progressively more terrifying glimpse into international spying regimes. It is now clear that the US and UK governments perceive broad-scale and real-time surveillance, once the reserve of repressive regimes, to be a legitimate tool of democratic states.
    Without a doubt this issue will be front and center next week in Bali, as civil society, government officials, and experts from the security and technology sector gather for the Internet Governance Forum 2013 (IGF), just as it was at the UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva in mid-September.  

  • (NPR, Wednesday, October 16, 2013)

    Many governments around the world have expressed outrage over the National Security Agency's use of the Internet as a spying platform. But the possible response may have an unforeseen consequence: It may actually lead to more online surveillance, according to Internet experts. Some governments, led most recently by Brazil, have reacted to recent disclosures about NSA surveillance by proposing a redesign of Internet architecture. The goal would be to give governments more control over how the Internet operates within their own borders. But privacy advocates warn that some of the changes under consideration could actually undermine Internet freedom, not strengthen it. "Unfortunately, there is enormous blowback," says Bruce Schneier, a cybersecurity expert who has worked closely with Britain's Guardian newspaper in reporting on NSA surveillance activities. Schneier says some of those who advocate changes in Internet governance are acting unwisely, though he blames the NSA for having undermined global confidence in the Internet and prompting ill-advised reform moves.

  • (CNN, Wednesday, October 16, 2013)

    Historically, surveillance was difficult and expensive. Over the decades, as technology advanced, surveillance became easier and easier. Today, we find ourselves in a world of ubiquitous surveillance, where everything is collected, saved, searched, correlated and analyzed. But while technology allowed for an increase in both corporate and government surveillance, the private and public sectors took very different paths to get there. The former always collected information about everyone, but over time, collected more and more of it, while the latter always collected maximal information, but over time, collected it on more and more people. Corporate surveillance has been on a path from minimal to maximal information. Corporations always collected information on everyone they could, but in the past they didn't collect very much of it and only held it as long as necessary. When surveillance information was expensive to collect and store, companies made do with as little as possible. Telephone companies collected long-distance calling information because they needed it for billing purposes. Credit cards collected only the information about their customers' transactions that they needed for billing. Stores hardly ever collected information about their customers, maybe some personal preferences, or name-and-address for advertising purposes. Even Google, back in the beginning, collected far less information about its users than it does today.

  • (Gigaom, Wednesday, October 16, 2013)

    The tech industry, facing a backlash over an ongoing surveillance scandal, is making up for lost time. In recent months, companies like Facebook have clamored into court waving civil liberties banners in the hopes of persuading the media — and their users — that they’re serious about transparency and standing up to surveillance. While this is good news for privacy advocates, the companies’ push to include more data in so-called “transparency reports” has also become a public relations exercise, and led more companies to put out a mish-mash of data that makes it harder to tell signal from noise. Sources at several tech firms, meanwhile, have acknowledged that the transparency push has become politicized. Here’s a history that shows the tech industry’s recent transparency efforts — and why it’s time for those companies to set a standard for the way they publish data.


  • (Alternet, Monday, October 14, 2013)

    That’s the time left before the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could become a finalized agreement. For those who are drawing blank looks -- and understandably so -- the TPP is a highly secretive trade deal involving 12 nations around the Pacific Rim. Described by experts Lori Wallach and Ben Beachy of Public Citizen as “one of the most significant international commercial agreements since the creation of WTO”, the TPP is more than a trade agreement - it’s an underhanded attempt by old industry interests to censor the Internet. The lack of general awareness about the TPP is exactly what unelected trade officials and lobbyists hope for; the more covert the negotiations, the easier it is to usher in extreme new Internet censorship rules.


  • (Global Voices , Monday, October 14, 2013)

    I once interviewed a Cuban blogger who described the Internet as a place where Cubans (the few who were online) could experience a form of citizenship—an active, participatory democratic experience—that they couldn't have in real life. As she put it, “we are learning to be citizens in cyberspace.” Although her focus was on the particular limitations on public expression and debate in Cuba, I took her point broadly, thinking of my Internet activist colleagues who often describe themselves as being citizens or residents “of the Internet.” As online movements have grown in scope and impact, many of us have developed a do-it-yourself, participatory sense of citizenship that is more strongly tied to a global collective than to a transactional agreement with a particular nation state. We have not only fought hard to uphold some policies and strike down others, but we've actually started to develop international standards for the exercise and protection of rights online. Countries, borders, and nationalities remain dominant and important in many ways, but they do not feel as sharply defined or as binding as before.

  • (The Verge, Sunday, October 13, 2013)

    In 2001, a pair of Italian programmers wrote a program called Ettercap, a "comprehensive suite for man-in-the-middle attacks" — in other words, a set of tools for eavesdropping, sniffing passwords, and remotely manipulating someone’s computer. Ettercap was free, open source, and quickly became the weapon of choice for analysts testing the security of their networks as well as hackers who wanted to spy on people. One user called it "sort of the Swiss army knife" of this type of hacking. Ettercap was so powerful that its authors, ALoR and NaGA, eventually got a call from the Milan police department. But the cops didn’t want to bust the programmers for enabling hacker attacks. They wanted to use Ettercap to spy on citizens. Specifically, they wanted ALoR and NaGA to write a Windows driver that would enable them to listen in to a target’s Skype calls. That’s how a small tech security consultancy ended up transforming into one of the first sellers of commercial hacking software to the police. ALoR’s real name is Alberto Ornaghi and NaGA is Marco Valleri. Their Milan-based company, Hacking Team, now has 40 employees and sells commercial hacking software to law enforcement in "several dozen countries" on "six continents."

  • (The Weekly Wonk, Thursday, October 10, 2013)

    In 2030, you can forget about Comcast, 3G and trying to come up with funny names for your wireless connection ( so long Abraham Linksys, ItHurtsWhenIP, and Pretty Fly For a WiFi). WiFi will be free and ubiquitous. Or at least that’s the vision of a global group that gathered recently in Berlin. They convened for the International Summit of Community Wireless Networks – a community that includes New America’s Open Technology Institute and its Commotion Wireless project. Today, organizations like OTI around the globe are creating community wireless networks that create free, local signals. But what will the world of mesh networking look like in 2025? Or 2050? We asked a few Berlin participants to paint a picture of the future.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Thursday, October 10, 2013)

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today withdrew from the Global Network Initiative (GNI), citing a fundamental breakdown in confidence that the group's corporate members are able to speak freely about their own internal privacy and security systems in the wake of the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance revelations. EFF has been a civil society member of the multi-stakeholder human rights group since GNI was founded in 2008 to advance freedom of expression and privacy in the global information and communication technologies sector. While much has been accomplished in these five years, EFF can no longer sign its name on joint statements knowing now that GNI's corporate members have been blocked from sharing crucial information about how the US government has meddled with these companies' security practices through programs such as PRISM and BULLRUN.

  • (Al Jazeera America, Wednesday, October 9, 2013)

    A new report by the United Nations says some 2.7 billion people are expected to be connected to the internet by the end of this year. That is 40 percent of the world's population. But is the world aware of what is at stake? The internet has grown to become a vast information and communications network, used as much by the state as businesses and individuals and all manner of groups and organisations. It has a global reach growing steadily by the day, but there are growing concerns too about state surveillance, security, privacy and exploitation. Events have moved as fast as the internet itself. In 1995, there were just 16 million users, or 0.4 percent of the global population. By the end of 2013, 40 percent of the population will be online - according to the UN. But access is far from universal. The UN report says 4.4 billion people still have no access to the internet and 90 percent of those who are not online live in developing countries.

  • (CircleID, Tuesday, October 8, 2013)

    For most of this year governments from outside the G8 have not wavered from their essential themes on the Internet: they regard it as a shared resource that works in part as a result of their own investment in infrastructure, they want to be included in its governance through a decision-making process that is transparent, accessible and, in broad character, multilateral, and they want to be able to trust it and know that as much as it is a tool of growth for others, it can also be for them. Perhaps unfairly, these governments also nurture a sense that the multi-stakeholder idiom remains code for an only marginally-expanded status quo, one which still involves a disproportionate role for the private sector and for the United States.

  • (ITU, Monday, October 7, 2013)

    The MIS report, which has been published annually since 2009, features two benchmarking tools to measure the information society: the ICT Development Index (IDI) and the ICT Price Basket (IPB). The 2012 IDI captures the level of ICT developments in 157 economies worldwide and compares progress made during the last year. The 2012 IPB combines the consumer prices for (fixed and mobile) telephone and Internet broadband services for 161 economies into one measure and compares these across countries, and over time. The 5th edition of the ITU Measuring the Information Society (MIS) report was launched on 7 October 2013, at ITU headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland. Click here to watch the webcast of the launch. Launch events also took place in Addis Ababa, Bangkok, Brasilia, Cairo, Geneva, Moscow and New York

  • (University of Toronto and Stony Brook University, Thursday, October 3, 2013)

    Products used for managing network traffic and restricting access to Web content represent a dual-use technology. While they were originally designed to improve performance and protect users from inappropriate content, these products are also used to censor Web content by authoritarian regimes around the globe. This dual use has not gone unnoticed, with Western governments placing restrictions on their export. Our contribution with this study is to present a method for identifying installations of URL filtering products and confirming their use for censorship. We first present a methodology for identifying externally visible installations of URL filtering products in ISPs around the globe. Further, we leverage the fact that many of these products accept user-submitted sites for blocking to confirm that a URL filtering product is being used for censorship. Using this method, we are able to confirm the use of McAfee SmartFilter in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Netsweeper in Qatar, the UAE and Yemen. Our results show that these products are being used to block a range of content, including oppositional political speech, religious discussion and gay and lesbian material, speech generally protected by international human rights norms.  

  • (Freedom House, Thursday, October 3, 2013)

    Freedom on the Net 2013 is the fourth report in a series of comprehensive studies of internet freedom around the globe and covers developments in 60 countries that occurred between May 2012 and April 2013. Over 60 researchers, nearly all based in the countries they analyzed, contributed to the project by researching laws and practices relevant to the digital media, testing the accessibility of select websites, and interviewing a wide range of sources, among other research activities. This edition's findings indicate that internet freedom worldwide is in decline, with 34 out of 60 countries assessed in the report experiencing a negative trajectory during the coverage period. Broad surveillance, new laws controlling web content, and growing arrests of social-media users drove this overall decline in internet freedom in the past year. Nonetheless, Freedom on the Net 2013 also found that activists are becoming more effective at raising awareness of emerging threats and, in several cases, have helped forestall new repressive measures.

  • (CNet, Monday, September 30, 2013)

    Two-thirds of the world's population doesn't have access to the Internet, and this is something Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and a coalition of tech companies want to change. Their goal: Bring the Internet to every single person on Earth. While the partnership between the companies, dubbed, was announced last month, Zuckerberg released a video on Monday explaining how the coalition aims to bring the Web to nearly 5 billion new people. "Our plan is to make basic Internet services affordable so that everyone with a phone can join the knowledge economy," Zuckerberg said. "In order for this to be economically feasible we need to make the Internet 100 times more affordable."

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Thursday, September 26, 2013)

    On Tuesday, I, along with my colleague Greg Nojeim, had the opportunity to testify before the European Parliament on behalf of CDT’s President Leslie Harris. CDT was invited to testify in front of the LIBE Committee as part of its inquiry on electronic mass surveillance of EU citizens. We shared information about privacy gaps in U.S. security laws, as well as our call for reform in the U.S. Our focus, however, was on the obligation of the U.S. and EU to work together to find a global solution. CDT was clear in our message – digital surveillance is a human rights issue, and the EU and U.S. must work together to develop clear, workable parameters that balance security with privacy.


  • (IFEX, Wednesday, September 25, 2013)

    In the following joint statement, Privacy International and Bytes for All express concern about a discussion on Internet surveillance at the UN Human Rights Council that threatens privacy rights and freedom of expression. This Friday, 27 September 2013, marks the conclusion of the 24th session of the UN Human Rights Council, a session which has, for the first time, seen issues of internet surveillance in the spotlight. Privacy International and Bytes for All welcome the attention given at the Human Rights Council to this issue. However, we are concerned about developments which took place that threaten privacy rights and freedom of expression, especially because these alarming suggestions are masked as solutions to address the increase in State surveillance. 

  • (Index on Censorship, Tuesday, September 24, 2013)

    Following initial revelations in The Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden, reports by international media organisations, including the New York Times and Washington Post, have revealed that the US, UK and other countries’ governments have been carrying out mass surveillance of both meta data and content by tapping into communications cables. This means that governments are gathering and storing data about your phone calls, emails, texts and search and browsing history. They have the ability to access passwords as well as the actual content of emails, text messages and online chats. It is still not known how long this data is being stored for. Gathering and storing information in this way and on this scale is an attack on our right to privacy and a threat to our right to free speech.

  • (Broadband Commission, Monday, September 23, 2013)

    Affordable broadband connectivity, services and applications are essential to modern society, offering widely recognized social and economic benefits. The Broadband Commission for Digital Development promotes the adoption of broadband-friendly practices and policies for all, so everyone can take advantage of the benefits offered by broadband. With this Report, the Broadband Commission expands awareness and understanding of the importance of broadband networks, services, and applications for generating economic growth, and for achieving social progress. In
    its work, the Commission has not defined ‘broadband’ in terms of specific minimum transmission speeds, in recognition of the range of market definitions in different countries. Rather, the Commission views broadband as a cluster of concepts: always- on, high-capacity connectivity enabling combined provision of multiple services simultaneously.

  • (CircleID, Sunday, September 22, 2013)

    ICANN is beginning to look more and more like a government. It assesses taxes, it has amassed an enormous treasury, it passes laws with international effect, and it has developed an ad hoc judiciary system to enforce its laws. This paper will take a look at that judiciary system and ICANN as dispenser of Internet justice. ICANN has a well founded aversion to being involved in litigation. It has managed to fend off attacks from the operators of alternative roots and attacks based on the United States antitrust laws. By its very nature, however, it could find itself making judgments about violations of its rules or resolving conflicting claims to domain names. Any or all of these judgments are invitations, especially in the United States, to litigation. As a result, ICANN has developed an extensive system of referring them to outside parties.

  • (Human Rights Watch, Friday, September 20, 2013)

    Governments around the world should aggressively protect online privacy through stronger laws and policies as pervasive electronic surveillance increases. There is an urgent need to overhaul national surveillance practices to protect everyone’s privacy, or risk severely limiting the potential of the Internet. Global growth in digital communications, coupled with increased government computing powers, have fueled expansive, new surveillance practices. Justifying the use of these tactics under outdated legal frameworks has permitted overbroad and highly invasive intrusions on the right to privacy. To guide countries in modernizing privacy protections, Human Rights Watch has endorsed a set of International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance, released on September 20, 2013, by a broad group of civil society organizations in Geneva.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Friday, September 20, 2013)

    At the 24th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday, six major privacy NGOs, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), warned nations of the urgent need comply with international human rights law to protect their citizens from the dangers posed by mass digital surveillance. The groups launched the "International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance" at a side event on privacy hosted by the governments of Austria, Germany, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. The text is available in 30 languages at

  • (The Washington Post, Wednesday, September 18, 2013)

    In the past week, two senior U.S. officials, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai and
    Republican Rep. Greg Walden (Ore.) were quoted as saying the United States should pull funding from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), at least as a last resort, if the U.N. telecommunications body persists in its attempts to regulate the Internet. What's the ITU? Why do people want to defund it? And what would it take to do so? Read on to find out.

  • (Rand Corporation, Monday, September 16, 2013)

    The Internet has become a new battleground between governments that censor online content and those who advocate freedom to browse, post, and share information online for all, regardless of their place of residence. This report examines whether and how furthering Internet freedom can empower civil society vis-à-vis public officials, make the government more accountable to its citizens, and integrate citizens into the policymaking process. Using case studies of events in 2011 in Egypt, Syria, China, and Russia, researchers focus on the impact of Internet freedom on freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, and the right to cast a meaningful vote, all of which are the key pillars of political space. Researchers analyze the mechanisms by which Internet freedom can enhance the opportunities to enjoy these freedoms, how different political contexts can alter the opportunities for online mobilization, and how, subsequently, online activism can grow out into offline mobilization leading to visible policy changes. To provide historical context, researchers also draw parallels between the effects of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty programs in the Soviet Union during the Cold War and the ongoing efforts to expand Internet freedom for all. The report concludes by discussing implications for the design of Internet freedom programs and other measures to protect "freedom to connect."

  • (Linkedin, Monday, September 16, 2013)

    At LinkedIn, our members come first. Consistent with this core value, we are deeply committed to acting in a manner that is transparent to our members and to the public. This is why we issue a Transparency Report twice a year. The Transparency Report provides information about the numbers and types of government requests for data that we receive, as well as our responses. Our commitment to transparency is also the reason why, when we receive requests for member data, we attempt to notify the affected member of the request, including providing a copy of the legal process, prior to releasing the information to the government (so the member has an opportunity to object), unless we are prohibited from doing so by the law or under emergency circumstances. Similar to other technology companies, LinkedIn receives requests from governments around the world for member data. There can be many reasons that a government would request data. For example, a federal or state officer such as an FBI agent or police detective may be investigating a crime and is seeking information and evidence that could be helpful in identifying or locating the perpetrators, or bringing them to justice. For the six-month period between January 1 and June 30, 2013, LinkedIn received, on a global basis, government requests for data for less than .00005% (half of one ten-thousandth of a percent) of LinkedIn's member accounts.

  • (Access, Monday, September 16, 2013)

    The 24th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) opened last Monday, with internet-related human rights issues highlighted as areas of concern repeatedly by governments, civil society, and the High Commissioner for Human Rights. With the international community still reeling from the revelations of mass surveillance sparked by Edward Snowden’s leaks, much of the discussion of internet issues focused on how to protect human rights, in particular privacy, in the digital age.

  • (The Huffington Post, Friday, September 13, 2013)

    In the early days of the Internet, the United States established a near monopoly over Internet protocol and everything that flows from it -- code, regulation, policy and an unthinkably powerful Internet technology industry. The NSA leaks provide a chilling example of the consequences that this degree of dominance can have for the world. Today, most of the ICT private sector is based geographically in the U.S. This has made it possible for the US government to develop some of the most influential policies and practices that affect the exercise of human rights, like the right to privacy, on the global Internet. Foreign governments have little ability to influence or regulate the actions of companies like Google or Facebook beyond their national borders. Even within their jurisdictions, this can prove difficult. Why should we assume that these policies will work for the rest of the world?

  • (CNet, Tuesday, September 10, 2013)

    New startups looking for ways to keep their users secure should know one thing, a top Google security executive said Tuesday: "Passwords are dead." Speaking on a TechCrunch Disrupt panel called "Spies Like Us," Heather Adkins, Google's manager of information security, told moderator Greg Ferenstein that in the future, the "game is over for" any startup that relies on passwords as its chief method to secure users and their data. Adkins, speaking alongside Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers managing partner Ted Schlein and author James Bamford, said that looking ahead, "our relationship with passwords are done," and that "passwords are done at Google."

  • (Yahoo, Monday, September 9, 2013)

    At Yahoo, we take user privacy seriously and appreciate our role as a global company in promoting freedom of expression wherever we do business. That’s why we’re issuing our first global transparency report, which details government data requests from January 1, 2013 through June 30, 2013. We include national security requests within the scope of our aggregate statistics. For each country in this Transparency Report, we show the number of government data requests that we received during the reporting period and how we handled such requests. The total number of accounts specified in these government data requests during the reporting period comprised less than one one-hundredth of one percent of Yahoo users worldwide. We plan to publish additional transparency reports every six months, and our team will continually evaluate ways in which we can enhance their utility.

  • (The Guardian, Monday, September 9, 2013)

    The more we learn about the breadth and depth of the NSA and GCHQ's programmes of spying on the general public, the more alarming it all becomes. The most recent stories about the deliberate sabotage of security technology are the full stop at the end of a sentence that started on 8 August, when the founder of Lavabit (the privacy oriented email provider used by whistleblower Edward Snowden) abruptly shut down, with its founder, Ladar Levison, obliquely implying that he'd been ordered to secretly subvert his own system to compromise his users' privacy.

  • (CircleID, Monday, September 9, 2013)

    This weekend Jari Arkko, Chair of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), and Stephen Farrell, IETF Security Area Director, published a joint statement on the IETF blog titled: "Security and Pervasive Monitoring”. They begin: The Internet community and the IETF care deeply about how much we can trust commonly used Internet services and the protocols that these services use. So the reports about large-scale monitoring of Internet traffic and users disturbs us greatly. We knew of interception of targeted individuals and other monitoring activities, but the scale of recently reported monitoring is surprising. Such scale was not envisaged during the design of many Internet protocols, but we are considering the consequence of these kinds of attacks.


  • (ZDNet, Friday, September 6, 2013)

    Almost everyone's outraged to one degree or another by the latest Edward Snowden revelations. I have my problems with some of the claims, but others are clearly disturbing. What are we to do about it? Bruce Schneier is a famous and respected cryptographer and analyst of security more generally. He has been working with Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian and has his own advice for how people should protect themselves in light of the news. Some of this seems a bit overwrought to me, but it's all meant to be practical advice. His other essay yesterday was less practical. In fact, it's anything but practical. His idea that we, by whom he means engineers, should redesign the Internet so that it is less amenable to the sorts of abusive surveillance we are seeing from the US government. And it's the US government he calls out. I guess any features of the Internet abused by China don't concern him as much.

  • (The Guardian, Friday, September 6, 2013)

    Two of the world's biggest technology companies, Microsoft and Yahoo, expressed deep concern on Friday about widespread attempts by the US and UK intelligence services to circumvent the online security systems that protect the privacy of millions of people online. Microsoft said it had "significant concerns" about reports that the National Security Agency and its British counterpart, GCHQ, had succeeded in cracking most of the codes that protect the privacy of internet users. Yahoo said it feared "substantial potential for abuse". Google said it was not aware of any covert attempts to compromise its systems. However, according to a report in the Washington Post on Saturday, the company said that it had accelerated the encryption of information in its data centres in a bid to prevent snooping by the NSA and the intelligence agencies of other governments.

  • (Online Journalism Blog, Friday, September 6, 2013)

    Early in Alan Pearce‘s book on web security, Deep Web for Journalists, a series of statistics appears that tell a striking story about the spread of surveillance in just one country. 199 is the first: the number of data mining programs in the US in 2004 when 16 Federal agencies were “on the look-out for suspicious activity”. Just six years later there were 1,200 government agencies working on domestic intelligence programs, and 1,900 private companies working on domestic intelligence programs in the same year. As a result of this spread there are, notes Pearce, 4.8m people with security clearance “that allows them to access all kinds of personal information”. 1.4m have Top Secret clearance. But the most sobering figure comes at the end: 1,600 - the number of names added to the FBI’s terrorism watchlist each day.

  • (ArsTechnica, Thursday, September 5, 2013)

    Researchers have found a new theory to explain the sudden spike in computers using the Tor anonymity network: a massive botnet that was recently updated to use Tor to communicate with its mothership. Mevade.A, a network of infected computers dating back to at least 2009, has mainly used standard Web-based protocols to send and receive data to command and control (C&C) servers, according to researchers at security firm Fox-IT. Around the same time that Tor Project leaders began observing an unexplained doubling in Tor clients, Mevade overhauled its communication mechanism to use anonymized Tor addresses ending in .onion. In the week that has passed since Tor reported the uptick, the number of users has continued to mushroom.

  • (ComputerWorld, Thursday, September 5, 2013)

    The main threat to the future of the Internet lies in attempts to control the internet through governance policy, according to Google executive and 'god-father' of the Internet, Vint Cerf. Speaking at the Campus Party event at the O2 in London, Cerf said that technical issues such as the the rollout of IPv6 across networks by ISPs and introduction of DNSSEC protection provide less of a threat to the continued development and freedom of the web than the "tension" around introducing rules for how the web is run. "I want to point out that, despite all the interesting and hard technical problems associated with the expanding internet, the harder problems have to do with policy," he said.

  • (CNet, Wednesday, September 4, 2013)

    A handful of civil liberties groups are claiming that while Facebook's new Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and Data Use policy is supposed to give users more privacy, it's actually giving them less. And, these groups have taken their complaints to the US Federal Trade Commission. Six organizations, including the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy, penned a letter to the FTC on Wednesday claiming that Facebook's new policy allows the social network "to routinely use the images and names of Facebook users for commercial advertising without consent."

  • (ArsTechnica, Wednesday, September 4, 2013)

    Some users of Kim Dotcom's Mega storage system are in a lather about a new browser extension that extracts their master encryption key from computer memory and displays it in a window. While the recently unveiled MEGApwn bookmarklet works as advertised, the general weakness it highlights is common across a variety of similar services, including Apple's iCloud. As such, the uproar in response to the hyperbolically named MEGApwn is largely an overreaction. More about that in a moment. First, a quick description of the software itself. MEGApwn is a bookmarklet containing JavaScript commands that extend a browser's capabilities. When imported into a compatible browser, it plucks any Mega master encryption keys that may be stored in memory and displays them to the user. The takeaway according to creator Michael Koziarski: it's not as hard as many people think for a criminal hacker or a government agency armed with a secret or not-so-secret demand to gain complete access to the plaintext files stored in the cloud service.

  • (Access, Monday, September 2, 2013)

    Civil society organizations and human rights defenders have some of the most sophisticated, relentless, and well-resourced adversaries attempting to surveil and hinder their work. The threat of these adversaries to the operations of civil society groups is compounded by the low capacity of such groups to focus on and mitigate such threats. The situation is even more dire when compared to the growing corporate understanding of digital threats. In the corporate world, many companies periodically report and analyze digital threats to businesses – McAfee, PandaLabs, Secunia, Symantec, Verizon, to name only a few. But just as the number and sophistication of attacks targeting corporations have increased over time, so too have the threats faced by civil society organizations to their operations.

  • (CircleID, Monday, September 2, 2013)

    During the "GNSO Discussion with the CEO" at the recent ICANN meeting in Durban, I stated that ICANN talks a lot about the importance of supporting the public interest, but in reality the organization's first priority is protecting itself and therefore it avoids accountability and works very hard at transferring risks to others. In response to my comments, ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé asked me to provide him examples of where ICANN can be more accountable. Copied below is my response letter to Chehadé, which provides six examples.

  • (CircleID, Monday, September 2, 2013)

    One IP address is much the same as another — right? There's hardly a difference between and is there? They are just encoded integer values, and aside from numerological considerations, one address value is as good or bad as any other — right? So IP addresses are much the same as each other and an after-market in IP addresses should be like many other markets in undistinguished commodity goods. Right? So one would've thought. But it seems that this is really not the case. When it comes to IP addresses, not all addresses are the same. IP addresses have a certain amount of history, and this history alters its utility value in some ways.

  • (CircleID, Monday, September 2, 2013)

    Last week, the 50th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King's famous "I have a dream" speech was marked with much fanfare. Well, I too had a dream the other day, almost two weeks ago. I dreamt I was in a conference. Which is no news. The conference was an ICANN-sponsored conference. No news there either; I've been to many ICANN meetings. And it was on food security! An ICANN-sponsored conference on food security? Yes, it takes a fertile mind to link food security to DNSSEC, but as I recall my dream, everyone at the conference was happy to be there, and thanked ICANN for it. Following my dream, I thought I might as well write this article on why ICANN should support developing countries, something I've always advocated for, and an issue I've been thinking about and turning in my head for a long time now.


  • (The New York Times, Thursday, August 29, 2013)

    Facebook announced Thursday that it planned to enact changes to its privacy policies on Sept. 5. But the social network’s famously difficult privacy controls will not become any easier to navigate. Mostly, the new data use policy and statement of rights and responsibilities lay out more clearly the things that Facebook already does with your personal information, Ed Palmieri, the company’s associate general counsel for privacy, said in an interview. “The updates that we are showing in the red lines are our way to better explain the products that exist today,” he said.

  • (Cnet, Thursday, August 29, 2013)

    Facebook is making changes to the two key documents that govern its service in part to settle a two-year legal battle around its practice of using member data in advertisements. The social network is proposing updates, some of which have been court-ordered, to its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and Data Use Policy legal documents to better inform members on how their data is used for advertising purposes, and provide additional clarity on its data collection practices.
    Facebook is putting the changes up for review -- but not a vote -- and will collect feedback over the next seven days.

  • (Facebook, Tuesday, August 27, 2013)

    Transparency and trust are core values at Facebook. We strive to embody them in all aspects of our services, including our approach to responding to government data requests. We want to make sure that the people who use our service understand the nature and extent of the requests we receive and the strict policies and processes we have in place to handle them.

  • (ARS Technica, Monday, August 26, 2013)

    For the first time, the freely available password cracker ocl-Hashcat-plus is able to tackle passcodes with as many as 55 characters. It's an improvement that comes as more and more people are relying on long passcodes and phrases to protect their website accounts and other online assets. Until now, ocl-Hashcat-plus, the Hashcat version that can use dozens of graphics cards to simultaneously crack huge numbers of cryptographic hashes, has limited guesses to 15 or fewer characters. (oclHashcat-lite and Hashcat have supported longer passwords, but these programs frequently take much longer to work.) Released over the weekend, ocl-Hashcat-plus version 0.15 can generally accommodate passwords with lengths of 55 characters.

  • (CircleID, Monday, August 26, 2013)

    Built for the most part during the Cold War, surveillance systems on a global scale were considered a vital necessity with the onset of nuclear weapons, if only to keep Mutually Assured Destruction at bay. Today, these systems are also used for domestic surveillance and universal data harvesting, including on one's own citizens. Should we still consider these systems with the same reverence as if we were, say, in the midst of some Cuban Missile Crisis? Internet specialists have addressed some of the questions posed by this blanket surveillance.

  • (The Guardian, Saturday, August 24, 2013)

    So the proprietor of the Huffington Post has decided to ban anonymous commenting from the site, starting in mid-September. Speaking to reporters after a conference in Boston, Arianna Huffington said: "Trolls are just getting more and more aggressive and uglier and I just came from London where there are rape and death threats. I feel that freedom of expression is given to people who stand up for what they say and [are] not hiding behind anonymity. We need to evolve a platform to meet the needs of the grown-up internet."

  • (ArsTechnica, Thursday, August 22, 2013)

    For four years now, most Dutch Internet users have had zero legal access to The Pirate Bay. (Other countries have since followed the Dutch example.) According to a new “working paper,” researchers have confirmed what most ISPs and Internet users figured out a long time ago: such bans are pretty pointless. Survey data of over 2,000 Netherlands-based Internet users shows that only a tiny portion have changed their ways as a result of the official ban. “Overall, between 4 to 6 percent of all consumers have decreased their downloading as a result of the blocking, whereas for 94 to 96 percent of the population the blocking has had no effect on their behavior,” the researchers wrote.

  • (The Guardian, Wednesday, August 21, 2013)

    When the Syrian Electronic Army hacked the Associated Press Twitter account earlier this year, it signalled a new era in the need for login security. When hackers falsely tweeted claims of an attack on the White House to AP's 1.9 million followers, markets plummeted. The S&P 500 quickly lost $136bn in value as traders dumped stock in response. The breach showed in glorious Technicolor the potential real-world impact of our growing reliance on social platforms, and the impact from a single compromised login. Twitter has evolved far from its original roots as a relatively niche tool for the tech-savvy, and is now one of the major information sharing platforms in the world. Everyone from news organisations to large corporations and political figures trust the medium as a way for communicating with the outside world. The key word here is 'trust'.

  • (The New York Times, Tuesday, August 20, 2013)

    About one of every seven people in the world uses Facebook. Now, Mark Zuckerberg, its co-founder and chief executive, wants to make a play for the rest — including the four billion or so who lack Internet access. On Wednesday, Facebook announced an effort aimed at drastically cutting the cost of delivering basic Internet services on mobile phones, particularly in developing countries, where Facebook and other tech companies need to find new users. Half a dozen of the world’s tech giants, including Samsung, Nokia, Qualcomm and Ericsson, have agreed to work with the company as partners on the initiative, which they call

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Tuesday, August 20, 2013)

    In debates over Internet neutrality, “port blocking” may not be getting the headlines these days, but it was once a more common practice among Internet service providers (ISPs) and is still in use today. A new report from the Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (BITAG) , of which CDT is a member, makes a strong recommendation against the practice of port blocking unless no other reasonable alternatives exist. The report discusses alternatives to port blocking for ISPs to consider and other steps to minimize its impact when deployed.

  • (The Guardian, Tuesday, August 20, 2013)

    You've had your fun: now we want the stuff back. With these words the British government embarked on the most bizarre act of state censorship of the internet age. In a Guardian basement, officials from GCHQ gazed with satisfaction on a pile of mangled hard drives like so many book burners sent by the Spanish Inquisition. They were unmoved by the fact that copies of the drives were lodged round the globe. They wanted their symbolic auto-da-fe. Had the Guardian refused this ritual they said they would have obtained a search and destroy order from a compliant British court.

  • (Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group, Monday, August 19, 2013)

    The term “port blocking” refers to the practice of an Internet Service Provider (ISP) identifying Internet traffic by the combination of port number and transport protocol, and blocking it entirely. Port blocking thus affects the traffic associated with a particular combination of port number and transport protocol on that ISP, regardless of source or destination IP address. The practice can potentially prevent the use of particular applications altogether by blocking the ports those applications use. Port blocks can be deployed in a range of network locations, from where the ISP connects with other networks to datacenters and customer locations. The Internet was built around the premise of an open and shared environment. Additionally, Internet standards assume all hosts on the global Internet can connect directly to each other, on any specified port number. The practical reality is that blocking of Internet port numbers, either in the short or long term, is a technique that has been used by both wireline and wireless network providers for various reasons for over a decade.

  • (The New York Times, Monday, August 19, 2013)

    The British government and the blogging site Tumblr are both cracking down on porn this summer. But their crackdowns are blocking more than porn, like social networking sites and posts about gay and lesbian issues. The filter in Britain is even being administered in part by a company with close ties to the Chinese government, known for political censorship. With the goal of being “family friendly,” is the Internet becoming too censored? Can efforts to filter the Internet be compatible with free speech, or will the two always be in conflict?

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Monday, August 19, 2013)

    US government surveillance programs pose real threats to the human rights of people across the globe, but this critical issue has yet to receive the attention it deserves in domestic debates about the NSA’s surveillance activities. Last week, CDT and other human rights organizations and advocates from 25 nations have come together to urge the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) to explicitly address the global human rights implications of the US government’s surveillance activity in the Board’s upcoming report.

  • (OpenWatch, Saturday, August 17, 2013)

    Eric Eoin Marques, the 28 year old owner and operator of the Tor-based internet host 'Freedom Hosting' has been arrested in Ireland and charged with distributing and promoting child pornography on the internet, reports the Independent. Since the arrest, internet users have reported noticing malicious JavaScript designed to compromise their identities inserted into pages hosted by Freedom Hosting, including the 'Tormail' service, as well as a number of pedophile messageboards.

  • (Gizmodo, Tuesday, August 13, 2013)

    Green shows the countries you want to live in because they have little to no Internet censorship. Yellow reveals countries that you might not want to stay in too long because they might increase censorship in the future. And if you love the Internet, you should probably avoid every other color because they all have different degrees of censorship, with pink being the most pervasive (gray is not classified).

  • (CNet, Tuesday, August 13, 2013)

    The Pirate Bay's new anticensor browser has proven even more popular than the site expected. Launched on Saturday, PirateBrowser has sailed into the hands of more than 100,000 users via Pirate Bay's direct download link, says blog site TorrentFreak. The official torrent file itself has been shared by more than 5,000 people. The browser has reached over 1,000 downloads per hour, TorrentFreak added, a volume that prompted The Pirate Bay to upgrade the connection for its downlink link.

  • (The Guardian, Tuesday, August 13, 2013)

    Ever left your laptop on the table in the coffee shop while you nip to the loo, or order another flat white? Google's Chrome browser, we now know, makes it pretty easy for someone who briefly gains access to your desktop to see your saved passwords - for email, social networks, auction sites and the rest. I set myself an experiment to see just how many passwords could a speedy attacker really get hold of. Here's how many: 52 passwords in 57 seconds. And I'm an amateur at this hacking stuff. This is a hack any amateur could do. Open Chrome, open settings, and a couple of clicks later you can show the passwords one by one. So unless you're able to perform your ablutions or fill your cup at an Usain Bolt-rivalling speed, you could be leaving yourself open to unscrupulous password thieves every time you step away from the computer.

  • (CIGI, Monday, August 12, 2013)

    The distributed nature of Internet infrastructure and relatively malleable user engagement with content can misleadingly create the impression that the Internet is not governed. At technologically concealed layers, coordinated and sometimes centralized governance of the Internet’s technical architecture is necessary to keep the network operational, secure and universally accessible. This paper, the second in the Internet Governance Paper Series, explains how the Internet’s core technical architecture is governed and how global public policy decisions are co-produced within this framework. Several open governance issues are raised, including proposed changes in interconnection agreements and architectural changes agonistic to universal interoperability.

  • (Huffington Post, Monday, August 12, 2013)

    Who should decide what websites you can access online? The answer is obvious: You. We've all heard scary censorship stories, in which oppressive governments block access to information, and only allow residents of a nation to see, read, or watch what rulers permit. These stories usually start off slowly -- with justifiable censorship activities taking place for the supposed wellbeing of the nation--and escalate quickly.

  • (The Guardian, Monday, August 12, 2013)

    An internet milestone has just been reached: Pirate Bay has passed its 10th anniversary. The iconic/notorious site (pick your adjective) celebrated with a party just outside Stockholm. Who knows, perhaps entertainment bosses were simultaneously weeping into their champagne and plotting new action against their favourite enemy. The filesharing hub is arguably the most famous of all sites providing access to torrent files and magnet links to allow peer-to-peer sharing. If that means nothing to you, it's like being able to swap those tapes you made of Radio 1 chart shows with anyone in the world.

  • (Wired, Wednesday, August 7, 2013)

    There’s much gnashing of teeth today over the discovery that Google Chrome lets you — or anyone using your computer — see the plaintext web passwords stored by your browser. This isn’t a security bug. It’s Chrome’s documented behavior, and has been all along. But an outraged blog post highlighting the issue yesterday by U.K. software developer Elliot Kember was picked up by Hacker News, thrusting Google’s security choices into the limelight. In a response on Hacker News, Google Chrome’s security chief Justin Schuh explained the company’s reasoning.

  • (Marketplace Tech, Wednesday, August 7, 2013)

    We think of the internet as an endless expanse of data and interaction with big, bright points of focus, and a million dark corners. But more and more, your view of the web's vast spectrum depends a lot on where you live. In Vietnam, there's an extreme example of censorship. A new law there will make it illegal to post news or quote "general information" on the internet. What the heck does that mean? Hard to know, and that's on purpose, says Madeline Earp, of the advocacy group Freedom House. Earp has been working on a big report out next month called Freedom of the Net. She says Vietnam is a country that is going the China route in internet policy.

  • (The Guardian, Tuesday, August 6, 2013)

    The former director of the National Security Agency and the CIA speculated on Tuesday that hackers and transparency groups were likely to respond with cyber-terror attacks if the United States government apprehends whistleblower Edward Snowden. "If and when our government grabs Edward Snowden, and brings him back here to the United States for trial, what does this group do?" said retired air force general Michael Hayden, who from 1999 to 2009 ran the NSA and then the CIA, referring to "nihilists, anarchists, activists, Lulzsec, Anonymous, twentysomethings who haven't talked to the opposite sex in five or six years".

  • (Washington Post, Tuesday, August 6, 2013)

    A new Vietnamese law will make it illegal for citizens to post news or “general information” online, a restriction that sounds absurdly unenforceable but turns out to be more doable — and less of an outlier — than you might expect. According to analysis from the watchdog group Freedom House, Vietnam isn’t alone in its crackdown, even if its methods are particularly severe. Internet censorship is on the rise worldwide, and restrictive, one-party countries such as Vietnam aren’t the only ones legislating what people can post online.

  • (Cener for International Media Assistance, Monday, August 5, 2013)

    Blogging, once a trendy new phenomenon in the early days of the World Wide Web, is now almost two decades old. But bloggers continue to fill information voids in countries where free speech is constricted or forbidden. Some bloggers play the role of citizen journalist, once scorned by the mainstream media, but now more often welcomed as a source of raw information, photos, videos, and eyewitness accounts from places where news organizations have no reporters or photographers on the scene. Social media fanned the fires of the Arab Spring. Rebels in Libya and Syria with media skills used the Internet and social media to tell what was happening out of the world’s sight.

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Monday, August 5, 2013)

    The privacy stories making headlines today generally focus on individual products or services, such as mobile apps, VoIP, or web-based email, and their associated privacy protections (or lack thereof). However, rarely noticed are the building blocks these Internet products and services are developed on – largely invisible but critically important technical standards, such as HTTP, IP and DNS. Can’t better privacy protections be built into these Internet protocols so that the applications developed on top of them have better inherent protections? With the publication of Privacy Considerations for Internet Protocols, Internet engineers have a new roadmap for achieving just that.

  • (Index on Censorship, Monday, August 5, 2013)

    Around the world, there is confusion and alarm over the impact of the U.S. National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance program on human rights. In the U.S., the debate is focusing on the gross violations of privacy rights of Americans. Barely a word is being spoken about the human rights of people outside the country whose personal communications are being targeted, and whose communications content is collected, stored, analyzed and used with little legal protection. A growing group of international civil society groups and individuals wants that to change and is coming together to present the newly empowered U.S. Privacy and Civil Liberties Board (PCLOB) with a joint letter, asking the Board to make “recommendations and findings designed to protect the human rights not only of U.S. persons, but also of non-U.S. persons.” Before PCLOB’s mid-September deadline for public comments, I encourage global civil society to add their name to this powerful statement.

  • (CircleID, Monday, August 5, 2013)

    Most people — mistakenly — believe that they are perfectly safe behind a firewall, network address translation (NAT) device or proxy. The fact is quite the opposite: if you can get out of your network, someone else can get in. Attackers often seek to compromise the weakest link in a network and then use that access to attack the network from the inside, commonly known as a "pivot-and-attack."

  • (CircleID, Friday, August 2, 2013)

    The Internet Society today announced the launch of a survey to gain greater insights into multistakeholder governance perceptions and processes at all levels — national, regional, and international. The questionnaire is open to all interested participants and is available until 30 September 2013. The survey is one component of the Internet Society's broader initiative focused on the open and sustainable Internet. While the Internet has proven its success from economic, development, technological, and societal perspectives, its continued growth as a multistakeholder platform cannot be taken for granted. The Internet Society strongly believes that to ensure a sustainable Internet, the Internet must maintain its core characteristics of open, global and interoperable technical standards for innovation; open access and freedom of expression for all users; openness for business and economic progress; based on a collaborative, inclusive, multistakeholder governance model.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Thursday, August 1, 2013)

    For some time now there has been a need to update understandings of existing human rights law to reflect modern surveillance technologies and techniques. Nothing could demonstrate the urgency of this situation more than the recent revelations confirming the mass surveillance of innocent individuals around the world. To move toward that goal, today we’re pleased to announce the launch of the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance.

  • (CircleID, Thursday, August 1, 2013)

    The world of Internet threats has changed continually over the years. From the time that a "worm" first showed up in the wild, or whenever someone penetrated a system without authorization for the first time, various forms of attacks and malware have presented dangers to the system and those who use it. Different vectors have received varied focus over the years. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks and botnets have received significant headlines recently. Many parts of the Internet community have been involved in addressing relevant issues and fostering efforts to combat them. Public Interest Registry has made it a priority to be part of those efforts. We have been active generally among the anti-abuse community, attending programs such as at the National Cyber Forensics and Training Alliance in Pittsburgh, PA, and the Organization of American States in Washington, DC. We also sponsored and participated in a DDoS forum, Mitigating DDoS Attacks, A Global Challenge, in New York last December, as well as anti-botnet workshops conducted by the Online Trust Alliance.

  • (Twitter, Wednesday, July 31, 2013)

    A lot has happened in the data privacy space since the release of our last #transparency report back in January. As we’ve noted, we believe the open exchange of information can have a positive global impact. To that end, it is vital for us to be transparent about requests we receive from governments (including, and especially, our own government here in the U.S.) and other rights holders. We’ve just published our new #transparency report covering the last six months, which you can read in full here.

  • (CNet, Wednesday, July 31, 2013)

    Facebook said Wednesday that https is now the default standard for everyone browsing its social network, meaning that almost all traffic to its Web site and a majority of traffic to its mobile site will be established through a secure connection. "We now use https by default for all Facebook users," Facebook infrastructure engineer Scott Renfro wrote in a blog post on the update. "This feature ... means that your browser is told to communicate with Facebook using a secure connection, as indicated by the 'https' rather than 'http' in This uses Transport Layer Security (TLS), formerly known as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), and makes the communication between your browser and Facebook servers more secure."

  • (Global Network Initiative , Monday, July 29, 2013)

    This report was commissioned and funded by the Global Network Initiative (GNI) and written by Chris Tuppen. The report has been informed by a number of confidential, wide- ranging discussions with people associated with the telecommunications industry. The author would like to thank everyone who contributed their time, expertise and perspectives.

  • (Washington Post, Monday, July 29, 2013)

    When events unfolded in Egypt two years ago, it was a historic moment both because political change was sweeping through the Middle East and because political revolution had finally entered the digital age. Citizens harnessed the power of the Internet and mobile communications to topple an authoritarian regime. But as the great promise of the Arab Spring turns into a much darker reality, it is increasingly clear that the United States is failing in its commitment to use technology to advance worldwide democracy.

  • (The Guardian, Saturday, July 27, 2013)

    We are a ratings-obsessed culture. Critics award stars and points for films, books, restaurants, hotels, gadgets and a vast number of other products and services. Sometimes, a professional critic does the scoring, but increasingly, the public collectively creates averaged scores. Some ratings gathered with great detail, such as wine critics' commonly used 100pt scales. Others are as simple as Facebook's "like" button, purely a measure of marketing prowess. Some of the most useful ratings combine verifiable metrics. Consumer Reports, which has been an essential part of my reading for many years, comes up with what I consider highly trustworthy scores for automobiles and other products. A car goes through a variety of tests; the magazine then weights them according to its longstanding practices and comes up with a total score on a 100pt scale.

  • (Craig Murray, Thursday, July 25, 2013)

    Russia does not have a functioning criminal justice system at all, in the sense of a trial mechanism aimed at determining innocence or guilt. Exactly as in Uzbekistan, the conviction rate in criminal trials is over 99%. If the prosecutors, who are inextricably an arm of the executive government, want to send you to jail, there is absolutely no judicial system to protect you. The judges are purely there for show. When critics of Putin like Alexei Navalny are convicted, therefore, we have absolutely no reassurance that the motivation behind the prosecution or the assessment of guilt was genuine.

  • (Wired, Tuesday, July 23, 2013)

    There’s a funny catch-22 when it comes to privacy best practices. The very techniques that experts recommend to protect your privacy from government and commercial tracking could be at odds with the antiquated, vague Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). A number of researchers (including me) recently joined an amicus brief (filed by Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society in the “Weev” case), arguing how security and privacy researchers are put at risk by this law. However, I’d also like to make the case here that the CFAA is bad privacy policy for consumers, too. It’s not just something that affects hackers and academics. The crux of a CFAA violation hinges on whether or not an action allows a user to gain “access without authorization” or “exceed authorized access” to a computer. The scary part, therefore, is when these actions involve everyday behaviors like clearing cookies, changing browser reporting, using VPNs, and even protecting one’s mobile phone from being identified.

  • (CNet, Monday, July 22, 2013)

    Who hasn't bought something online, only to receive a torrent of marketing spam that follows you around like a rabid puppy? Abine's new MaskMe browser add-on and mobile app, debuting Monday, ensure that you can use the Web while avoiding the data stalkers by preventing you from giving out your contact info in the first place. MaskMe is a freemium add-on for Firefox (download for Windows | download for Mac) and Chrome (download for Windows | download for Mac) that creates and manages dummy accounts for your e-mail address, phone number, credit card, and Web site log-ins. Upgrading gets you some impressive extra features, not the least of which are an Android and iOS app that have some features specifically designed to keep you from over-sharing on your phone.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Thursday, July 18, 2013)

    Skype has long claimed to be "end-to-end encrypted", an architectural category that suggests conversations over the service would be difficult or impossible to eavesdrop upon, even given control of users' Internet connections. But Skype's 2005 independent security review admits a caveat to this protection: "defeat of the security mechanisms at the Skype Central Server" could facilitate a "man-in-the-middle attack" (see section 3.4.1). Essentially, the Skype service plays the role of a certificate authority for its users and, like other certificate authorities, could facilitate eavesdropping by giving out the wrong keys.

  • (The New York Times, Wednesday, July 17, 2013)

    Let’s be clear. Your personal information online is not always yours to control. Thieves could grab a Social Security number stored unencrypted in a doctor’s computer; the National Security Agency could order an e-mail provider to unlock correspondence; even the phone company could supply the police with a map of your whereabouts for the last several months.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Wednesday, July 17, 2013)

    In the past several weeks, EFF has received many requests for advice about privacy tools that provide technological shields against mass surveillance. We've been interested for many years in software tools that help people protect their own privacy; we've defended your right to develop and use cryptographic software, we've supported the development of the Tor software, and written privacy software of our own.

  • (The Guardian, Tuesday, July 16, 2013)

    Mark Zuckerberg's former speechwriter has warned that Facebook users should be wary of sharing their personal data with the site, highlighting yet more privacy concerns as the site launches its social search tool graph search. Katherine Losse, who spent five years at Facebook until she left in 2010, told the Guardian that while the NSA revelations have left many social networking users concerned about government access to their personal information, employees at the fledgling social network had access to data including user passwords.

  • (The New York Times, Tuesday, July 16, 2013)

    Here are three topics much in the news these days: Prism, the surveillance program of the national security agency; the death of Trayvon Martin; and Google Glass and the rise of wearable computers that record everything. Although these might not seem connected, they are part of a growing move for, or against, a surveillance society.

  • ( CNet, Monday, July 15, 2013)

    ICANN, the organization in charge of a major overhaul of Internet addresses, said it has signed agreements that will bring Chinese, Russian, and Arabic domain names to the Net. At its 47th meeting this week, in Durban, South Africa, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced that three companies signed registry agreements that will enable them to operate four generic top-level domains (GTLDs). The approval is a step in the controversial expansion of the Internet's addressing, from a small number of well-known, top-level domains -- such as .com -- to many more. A total of 1,092 applications have passed ICANN's approval process so far.

  • (CircleID, Thursday, July 11, 2013)

    Passwords are no longer sufficient to maintain an adequate level of security for business critical infrastructure and services. Two-factor authentication should be considered the minimum acceptable level of access control.

  • (CircleID, Thursday, July 11, 2013)

    In light of recent controversies around the implementation of dotless domains, the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) has released a statement calling the practice harmful.

  • (CircleID, Wednesday, July 10, 2013)

    Back when I started working in this industry in 2001, ICANN was small, the industry was tight, and things moved slowly as interest groups negotiated a balance amongst the impacts of change. Change often meant added overhead and, at the very least, a one-time cost effort to implement on the commercial side.

  • (Munk School of Global Affairs, Tuesday, July 9, 2013)

    In this report, our third on Blue Coat Systems, we use a combination of network measurement and scanning methods and tools to identify instances of Blue Coat ProxySG and PacketShaper devices. This kind of equipment can be used to secure and maintain networks, but it can also be used to implement politically-motivated restrictions on access to information, and monitor and record private communications. We found Blue Coat devices on public networks of 83 countries (20 countries with both ProxySG and PacketShaper, 56 countries with PacketShaper only, and 7 countries with ProxySG only). Included in these countries are regimes with questionable human rights records, and three countries that are subject to US sanctions: Iran, Syria, and Sudan.

  • (CNet, Tuesday, July 9, 2013)

    Looking to develop a way to block the government and private companies from monitoring people's messages, Peter Sunde is working on an app called Hemlis "where no one can spy on you, not even us."

  • (International Political Science Reivew, Monday, July 8, 2013)

    In examining the relationship between Internet use and governance across different regime types, the article emphasizes the Internet’s potential to improve governance. Through a pooled time-series analysis of more than 170 countries with annual or biannual data from 1996 to 2010, we establish that countries with higher Internet penetration rates generally enjoy better, more stable governance, regardless of regime type. Our finding has both practical and theoretical implications. More practically, our results strongly entertain the possibility that the Internet improves access to information, accommodates pluralistic sources of information, and produces platforms for political discourse. Our findings also suggest that the Internet’s concomitant facility for reporting and scrutiny in the public sphere may encourage leaders to improve transparency and accountability. More empirically, the article introduces an additional variable to the good governance function, which should be included in future analyses.

  • (CircleID, Friday, July 5, 2013)

    UN's Millenium Development Goals Report released this week estimates that by the end of this year, 2.7 billion people (39 percent of the world's population) would be using the Internet. 

  • (Index, Friday, July 5, 2013)

    Is the PRISM revelation as surprising as the news coverage makes it seem? Privacy researcher and advocate Caspar Bowden tells Alexandra Kulikova how mishandling of privacy by governments and media has disrupted public engagement with the privacy debate.

  • (Consent of the Networked, Wednesday, July 3, 2013)

    Recent revelations about NSA surveillance and the demands placed on U.S. Internet and telecommunications companies have certainly highlighted a central theme of this book: How communications technology companies can serve as an opaque extension of state power if the public is not vigilant in holding both governments and companies accountable for how they collect and share our personal information.

  • (CircleID, Tuesday, July 2, 2013)

    Developments over the past few months — and especially the revelations about the spying work of the NSA on friendly governments and their people and businesses — show how important it is to try and establish some high-level strategies relating to managing the governance of the internet. While companies like Google have been lobbying hard against WCIT-12 — basically because they are opposed to any government interference in the internet — the reality is that, clearly without their knowledge, their own American government through the NSA is already directly interfering in their network.

  • (, Monday, July 1, 2013)

    Google’s transparency report visualized in an interactive format, detailing which governments asked for content to be removed from the web and why. The data for the last half year can be compared to the global internet accessibility. Surprisingly, there are some countries, which censors data even though the majority of the population does not have internet access and in other countries, many people are affected. 

  • (The Guardian, Saturday, June 29, 2013)

    Assuring the security of private communications regardless of platform – email, VOIP, direct message – should be a top priority of the internet industry in the aftermath of Edward Snowden's revelations that US and UK governments are tapping into the net's traffic. The industry needs to at least come together to offer encryption for private communications as protection against government surveillance.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Wednesday, June 26, 2013)

    As news of the alarmingly broad reach and scope of the U.S. surveillance program reverberates around the globe, we call for a global dialogue on the increased capacity of States around the world to conduct sweeping extra-territorial surveillance from domestic soil. While international public outrage has justifiably decried the scope and reach of U.S. broad surveillance on foreigners, the fact that the U.S. government has carte blanche surveillance powers over foreigners is not new.

  • (Foreign Policy, Tuesday, June 25, 2013)

    As I said a couple of posts ago, I began my trip to Europe at a conference on "The Internet and International Politics." It was a fascinating event, in part because it brought together two tribes that don't interact very often and have relatively few overlapping members. In one group were various foreign-policy or IR scholars (myself, Dan Drezner, Beth Simmons, Karl Kaiser, John Mearsheimer, Rob Paarlberg, etc.); in the other group was a diverse collection of computer science experts, Internet entrepreneurs, communications scholars, and experts on Internet governance (e.g., Susan Crawford, Adam Bye, Milton Mueller, Zeynep Tufekci, Terry Roberts, Ben Scott, etc.). There were also some journalists, business leaders, and other academics who don't fit neatly in either group.

  • (Access, Tuesday, June 25, 2013)

    The Freedom Online Coalition (FOC), a group of 21 governments committed to collaborating to advance internet freedom, convened in Tunis, Tunisia for their third annual meeting of governments, businesses, and civil society. While the conference had several programmatic tracks, recent revelations of sweeping state surveillance took center stage, including civil society's statement at the closing plenary (below) which pointed to a series of principles that should underlie communications surveillance policies and practices.

  • (Access, Monday, June 24, 2013)

    News of unlawful surveillance, network throttling and shutdowns, and retaliation against users have brought telcos to the table to discuss the impacts of their operations. Revelations that the US government spied on Associated Press journalists through their Verizon phones and other accounts add to a series of incidents that expose how telco operations can have adverse human rights impacts. After Verizon and the AP, telcos in Malaysia censored content during election periods, and France finally admitted that kicking users off the internet for alleged piracy is not a good policy.

  • (Access, Thursday, June 6, 2013)

    A newly released UN report warns that human rights standards have fallen behind rapid advances in surveillance technology, arguing that states have an obligation to “revise national laws regulating [surveillance] in line with human rights standards.” If the report is approved by the UN Human Rights Council, states may well be obligated to make those changes. The report was authored by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression Frank La Rue, whose previous UN report declaring access to the internet as a fundamental human right greatly bolstered the cause of digital rights advocates around the globe. It comes after an eventful year in technology-enabled state surveillance, including the recent $2.8 million fine for Computerlinks AG by US Department of Commerce for the sale western surveillance tech to Syria.

  • (Council on Foreign Relations, Thursday, June 6, 2013)

    This CFR-sponsored Independent Task Force warns that "escalating attacks on countries, companies, and individuals, as well as pervasive criminal activity, threaten the security and safety of the Internet." The number of "state-backed operations continues to rise, and future attacks will become more sophisticated and disruptive," argues the Task Force report, Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet. With the ideal vision of an open and secure Internet increasingly at risk, the Task Force urges the United States, with its friends and allies, "to act quickly to encourage a global cyberspace that reflects shared values of free expression and free markets."

  • (Reporters Without Borders, Saturday, June 1, 2013)

    Reporters Without Borders welcomes a report to the UN Human Rights Council on state internet surveillance, which makes clear the grave effects of government internet monitoring on human rights, especially freedom of information. The report was issued by Frank LaRue, UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. A Council vote on the report is scheduled on 3 June. Reporters Without Borders asks that the Council’s member states approve the report. The document marks the international community’s first effort to address the issue of internet surveillance. A vote of approval would lay the groundwork for international and regional limitations on government internet monitoring.

  • (Access, Thursday, May 23, 2013)

    Access welcomes the news that Facebook will join the Global Network Initiative (GNI), bolstering the group’s roster of some of the biggest firms in communications technology. Facebook began participating in GNI as an “observer” for a yearlong trial that began in May 2012, just before the social media company’s Initial Public Offering (IPO). Its observer status exempted Facebook from the GNI’s independent human rights audits, which it will now be subject to in line with GNI’s Governance, Accountability, & Learning Framework. A blog from a GNI member, the Committee to Protect Journalist, reports Facebook will begin assessments in 2015.

  • (Index, Wednesday, May 22, 2013)

    Does surveillance and monitoring chill free expression? Is population-wide mass surveillance always a bad idea? Amongst many questions and debates at today’s Stockholm Internet Forum, the answers to these two questions are surely obvious – yes to both, writes Index on Censorship CEO Kirsty Hughes from Sweden. But not for Carl Bildt, Sweden’s foreign minister, who made it clear at the conference that he thinks while surveillance invades privacy and needs proper judicial control, it is not a free speech issue.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Wednesday, May 22, 2013)

    When most people think of a trade agreement, they're unlikely to think that it would have anything to do with regulating the Internet. For more than a decade however, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has included copyright enforcement in international trade deals. Such provisions empower countries to enact digital restrictions in the name of preventing illegal file sharing. In practice, these copyright measures strip Internet users of their rights to privacy, free speech, and access to knowledge and culture, and could even work to undermine their very purpose of enabling and promoting innovation and creativity.

  • (CircleID, Tuesday, May 21, 2013)

    For all the tranquility at the end of last week's World Technology/ICT Policy Forum (WTPF), E.B. White's words come to mind: "there is nothing more likely to start disagreement among people or countries than an agreement." One also has to wonder though what a literary stylist like White would think of the linguistic gyrations demanded by the compromises reached at the WTPF in Geneva, and what they portend.

  • (Medill National Security Zone, Monday, May 20, 2013)

    Journalists everywhere need digital security skills more than ever; we will need them even more in the years to come. International correspondents have been subject to well-crafted, spear-phishing attacks in Asia. Foreign correspondents in the Middle East have had their emails intercepted leading to potentially fatal consequences for their sources in Syria. Within the United States, journalists covering the intelligence beat have had their own email traffic with different sources cited in federal government subpoenas; the journalists themselves have also been served with federal subpoenas themselves and have become targets of criminal investigations.

  • (ARS Technica, Monday, May 20, 2013)

    If you think the private messages you send over Skype are protected by end-to-end encryption, think again. The Microsoft-owned service regularly scans message contents for signs of fraud, and company managers may log the results indefinitely, Ars has confirmed. And this can only happen if Microsoft can convert the messages into human-readable form at will.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Friday, May 17, 2013)

    Today EFF joins organizations from the around the world representing a diversity of interests in launching a new coalition to ask for A Fair Deal on intellectual property (IP) in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). The coalition has launched a website at calling for TPP negotiators to “reject copyright proposals that restrict the open Internet, access to knowledge, economic opportunity and our fundamental rights.” The TPP meetings are taking place in Lima, Peru this week until May 25th, and EFF has been on the ground working with groups to fight those provisions and demand a seat at the table at these secretive negotiations.

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Friday, May 17, 2013)

    At the close of the World Telecommunications Policy Forum (WTPF), Matthew Shears, director of CDT's Project on Global Internet Policy and Human Rights, delivered a statement on behalf of a coalition of civil society members and organizations from around the world. Hailing from six continents, these members of civil society participated in the WTPF both in person and remotely, bringing critically important perspectives as governments gathered to debate a range of Internet governance issues.

  • (GCN, Thursday, May 16, 2013)

    Rather than trying to keep up with the threats posed by rapidly evolving malicious software, agencies can leverage the security features being built into hardware to ensure that computing devices are safe and remain uninfected, says Larry Hamid, chief architect for IronKey by Imation. Malware has gone from being a nuisance to a serious tool for crime, espionage and possibly terrorism, Hamid said during a presentation at the FOSE conference in Washington, D.C. Responding to these developments puts defenders in a perpetual game of catch-up in which the bad actors have the advantage. Moving away from software for security solutions could help shift the advantage to defense, he said.

  • (ZD Net, Wednesday, May 15, 2013)

    A group of security researchers in Germany found some suspicious traffic on their web servers after a Skype instant messaging session. After a single experiment, they concluded that Microsoft is snooping on its customers. But a closer look at the facts suggests that this is a well-documented security feature at work.

  • (Index, Monday, May 13, 2013)

    It’s a big week for digital freedom and internet governance, with two key summits taking place in Geneva ahead of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day on Friday, May 17, Brian Pellot reports. The week-long World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum bills itself as the “largest annual gathering of the ‘information and communication technologies for development’ community”. This multi-stakeholder UN forum brings together government, business and civil society to discuss internet policy and governance issues.

  • (The New York Times, Friday, May 10, 2013)

    Here we go again. The United Nations is trying to take over the Internet! Or maybe it isn’t. Only five months ago, at a treaty conference convened by a U.N. agency called the International Telecommunication Union, the U.S. delegation stormed out, refusing to sign the proposed document, saying it posed a threat to the current, decentralized Internet governance system. Several dozen other countries joined the boycott. The telecommunication union has always insisted that the treaty, which it is still lobbying holdout governments to sign, had nothing to do with the Internet, even though pretty much everyone else in Dubai seemed to think it did.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Tuesday, May 7, 2013)

    Last week, Mozilla took an important step in the fight against the proliferation of pervasive surveillance technologies by sending a cease and desist letter to Gamma International, demanding Gamma stop using Mozilla’s trademark. Gamma makes the notorious Finspy and Finfisher malware that has ended up in the hands of authoritarian regimes. Citizen Lab’s Morgan Marquis-Boire has spearheaded research showing that Finspy tries to trick users by using the Mozilla Firefox name to masquerade as legitimate software.

  • (Article 19, Monday, May 6, 2013)

    In this policy paper, ARTICLE 19 proposes a set of recommendations to state actors and policy makers about what they should do to promote and protect the rights of bloggers domestically and internationally. It also gives practical advice to bloggers about their rights and explains how - and in what situations - they can invoke some of the privileges and defences that traditional journalists have found vital to the integrity of their work.

  • (IFEX, Monday, May 6, 2013)

    On 3 May 2013, at the UNESCO World Press Freedom International Conference 2013, ARTICLE 19 launched The Right to Blog - a new policy paper that calls for lawmakers to better promote and protect the rights of bloggers domestically and internationally. The Right to Blog also gives practical advice to bloggers about their rights and explains how - and in what situations - they can invoke some of the privileges and defences that traditional journalists have found vital to the integrity of their work. 

  • (Access, Friday, May 3, 2013)

    May 3 was World Press Freedom Day, a day to celebrate the fundamental principles of independent media. But WPFD is also an opportunity to pay attention to where press freedom is under attack around the world--and the increasing tendency of those attacks to occur online. Bloggers and citizen journalists are arrested, jailed, and murdered for the words they write and the images they share; citizens are cut off from each other and from the information they seek because of what governments or companies deem appropriate for society.

  • (Big Think, Thursday, May 2, 2013)

    We typically focus on the positive aspects of online social networks - but what about their negative aspects? As we’re seeing in the investigation into the Boston Bombers, online social networks can rapidly transform into participatory surveillance networks, in which everyone participates, at least indirectly, in the creation of a digital surveillance state. Suddenly, our friendships on Facebook or our followers on Twitter can link us to people or content we'd rather not be linked to. The more we share online, the more likely that this will happen. In some cases, the videos you've watched on YouTube or the photos you've posted on Instagram could become the basis for a criminal investigation.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Wednesday, May 1, 2013)

    When you use the Internet, you entrust your conversations, thoughts, experiences, locations, photos, and more to companies like Google, AT&T and Facebook. But what do these companies do when the government demands your private information? Do they stand with you? Do they let you know what’s going on? In this annual report, the Electronic Frontier Foundation examined the policies of major Internet companies — including ISPs, email providers, cloud storage providers, location-based services, blogging platforms, and social networking sites — to assess whether they publicly commit to standing with users when the government seeks access to user data.

  • (CircleID, Wednesday, May 1, 2013)

    Fast and reliable infrastructure of any kind is good for business. That it's debatable for the Internet shows we still don't understand what the Internet is — or how, compared to what it costs to build and maintain other forms of infrastructure, it's damned cheap, with economic and social leverage in the extreme. Here's a thought exercise… Imagine no Internet: no data on phones, no ethernet or wi-fi connections at home — or anywhere. No email, no Google, no Facebook, no Amazon, no Skype. That's what we would have if designing the Internet had been left up to phone and cable companies, and not to geeks whose names most people don't know.

  • (The Citizen Lab, Wednesday, May 1, 2013)

    In this report Citizen Lab Security Researcher Morgan Marquis-Boire and Bill Marczak provide analysis of several pieces of malware targeting Bahraini dissidents, shared with us by Bloomberg News. The analysis suggests that the malware used is “FinSpy,” part of the commercial intrusion kit, Finfisher, distributed by the United Kingdom-based company, Gamma International.

  • (New Republic, Monday, April 29, 2013)

    A year ago this month, Stanford Law School hosted a little-noticed meeting that may help decide the future of free speech online. It took place in the faculty lounge, where participants were sustained in their deliberations by bagels and fruit platters. Among the roughly two-dozen attendees, the most important were a group of fresh-faced tech executives, some of them in t-shirts and unusual footwear, who are in charge of their companies’ content policies. Their positions give these young people more power over who gets heard around the globe than any politician or bureaucrat—more power, in fact, than any president or judge. 

  • (Help Net Security, Friday, April 26, 2013)

    Recent reports all point to the same fact: despite the different motives of the attackers, DDoS attack have become more frequent and more intense. So what are businesses and organizations to do? For one, you should have a plan ready to respond to such an attack even before it happens. You should know who to contact, what information to gather, what mitigation strategies to employ.

  • (Access, Thursday, April 25, 2013)

    Google released its semi-annual transparency report today, indicating an increase in government requests for content removal worldwide--although more than half came from a handful of countries. At the same time, the report also revealed that government requests for user data have plateaued, and for the first time, both the proportion and raw number of user accounts whose data was turned over in response to requests decreased, leading to the question: Is this a turning point for privacy?

  • (, Wednesday, April 24, 2013)

    Last month, the Global Network Initiative (GNI) - a multi-stakeholder coalition of ICT companies, civil society organisations, investors and academics - signed a cooperation agreement with another body called Industry Dialogue, or, to give it its full name, Telecommunications Industry Dialogue on Freedom of Expression and Privacy. Why should journalism and media policy people care about this?

  • (Index, Tuesday, April 23, 2013)

    The “quantity v. quality” debate around global digital access seldom gets the attention it deserves. Here I define “quantity” as the spread of internet access to remote and marginalised communities and “quality” as the extent to which these connections are free from corporate or government restrictions and surveillance. With more than four billion people yet to come online around the world, basic connectivity is an obvious and necessary prerequisite for digital access. But handing out one laptop per child and selling low-cost smartphones does not solve the quality problem, and can in fact worsen it.

  • (Internet Governance Project, Tuesday, April 23, 2013)

    Remember all the businesses, internet techies and NGOs who were screaming about an “ITU takeover of the Internet” a year ago? Where are they now? Because this time, we actually need them. May 14 – 21 is Internet governance week in Geneva. We have declared it so because there will be three events in that week for the global community concerned with global internet governance. From 14-16 May the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) holds its World Telecommunication Policy Forum (WTPF). This year it is devoted to internet policy issues.

  • (Open Democracy, Tuesday, April 23, 2013)

    Instead of polemical cowboy columns, a systematic approach around key concepts and underlying traditions (such as libertarianism) could have a more devastating effect on the study of the internet and its political and social potential. In March 2013 the Belarusian-American wunderkind Evgeny Morozov published his second book, not long after his bestselling The Net Delusion from 2011.

  • (Statista, Tuesday, April 16, 2013)

    "For every person online, there are two who are not. By the end of the decade, everyone on Earth will be connected. #NewDigitalAge" The above statement was tweeted by Google chairman Eric Schmidt on Saturday, April 13. Given Schmidt’s prominence and the boldness of his claim, it naturally sparked a lively discussion as to whether it would be possible (and desirable) for the entire world population to be online by 2020. Considering the fact that, as of 2012, only a good third of the world’s 7 billion people were online, it seems unlikely that Schmidt’s prediction will come true. What’s more important, millions of those 7 billion people are suffering from malnourishment and lacking access to clean drinking water, so providing them with internet access shouldn’t and probably won’t be a priority in the next few years.


  • (Foreign Policy, Tuesday, April 16, 2013)

    The Internet has created an extraordinary new democratic forum for people around the world to express their opinions. It is revolutionizing global access to information: Today, more than 1 billion people worldwide have access to the Internet, and at current growth rates, 5 billion people -- about 70 percent of the world's population -- will be connected in five years. But this growth trajectory is not inevitable, and threats are mounting to the global spread of an open and truly "worldwide" web. The expansion of the open Internet must be allowed to continue: The mobile and social media revolutions are critical not only for democratic institutions' ability to solve the collective problems of a shrinking world, but also to a dynamic and innovative global economy that depends on financial transparency and the free flow of information.

  • (CNN, Monday, April 15, 2013)

    Everybody in the world will be on the Internet within seven years. That's what Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said this weekend in public comments that inspired everything from excitement to incredulity. "For every person online, there are two who are not," Schmidt wrote Saturday on his Google+ account. "By the end of the decade, everyone on Earth will be connected."

  • (Center for Media Assistance, Monday, April 15, 2013)

    CIMA announces the release of its most recent report, The New Gatekeepers: Controlling Information in the Internet Age, by veteran journalist and media development trainer Bill Ristow. The report traces how the technological revolution of the past few decades has created a new corporate world of Internet-based companies that have become the new gatekeepers of information–and their data-parsing algorithms the twenty-first century equivalent of the stereotypical editor with the green eyeshade who filtered the news before passing it along to readers.

  • (Access, Thursday, April 11, 2013)

    The next chapter in the struggle over global internet governance is just weeks away with the start of the World Telecommunication Policy Forum (WTPF) in Geneva, Switzerland. Though WTPF will not result in a binding international treaty like the controversial World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), its outcome documents--known as opinions--will help shape the direction of global internet governance in the coming years. 

  • (PRWeb, Sunday, April 7, 2013)

    This month sees iDCLOAK Technologies’ first major service release of 2013: a fully customizable Proxy Servers List that has been compiled and developed as a free tool for bypassing internet censorship. What is unique about iDCLOAK's unblock proxy list is that it is fully user configurable. By constantly updating it with fresh proxies, it is specifically designed for censorship circumvention.

  • (The Economist, Saturday, April 6, 2013)

    At a United Nations conference on telecommunications governance in Dubai last December representatives of most of the world’s countries argued furiously over the way the internet should be managed. The debate established a clear divide over how much control a country should have over its own internet. On one side were America, the European Union and other developed countries that broadly back internet freedom; on the other were China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and a number of other authoritarian states. A significant majority of these seem to favour China’s approach to control (or a Russian variant), which involves allowing more access to the internet and reaping the economic benefits, but at the same time monitoring, filtering, censoring and criminalising free speech online.

  • (Access, Wednesday, April 3, 2013)

    As we noted in an earlier post, Microsoft released its first-ever transparency report, the 2012 Law Enforcement Requests Report, the other week, explaining its approach to criminal law enforcement data requests around the globe. The report includes detailed information and data about the communications platform Skype, making it the first official public clarification of the company’s legal standing and jurisdiction since Microsoft acquired Skype in 2011.

  • (The New York Times, Saturday, March 30, 2013)

    Most of us face such decisions daily. We are hurried and distracted and don’t pay close attention to what we are doing. Often, we turn over our data in exchange for a deal we can’t refuse. Alessandro Acquisti, a behavioral economist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, studies how we make these choices. In a series of provocative experiments, he has shown that despite how much we say we value our privacy — and we do, again and again — we tend to act inconsistently.

  • (Android Authority, Thursday, March 28, 2013)

    As much as we would rather not report on yet another Android malware scare (we think security issues are overblown and that any platform is vulnerable, anyway), this one seems to be a first in the Android ecosystem. Security researchers have discovered what may be the first targeted Android malware attack, which is basically a smartly-crafted social engineering attack that specifically targeted a Tibetan activist, with the intent of spreading itself through the target’s contacts, thereby gaining access to their devices and information.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Thursday, March 21, 2013)

    Google's Transparency Report gives country-by-country statistics on the state requests it receives for personal private records. Below, EFF and SHARE Defense ranked the top countries requesting data—not by the total numbers of requests, but by how many accounts are requested relative to the total number of Internet users in each country. We believe this chart is fairer for countries that have a large Internet user population, but who make a smaller percentage of surveillance requests. These results are not a perfect measure, but we can still see the disproportionate activities of some small nations who make relatively relative high numbers of data requests.

  • (Mashable, Thursday, March 21, 2013)

    We all know YouTube is the biggest video sharing site around, but how big is it, exactly, when compared to sites such as Facebook or Twitter? Here's a hint: YouTube has just hit one billion monthly unique users. For comparison, Facebook hit that milestone in October 2012. It took the social network eight years to reach one billion active users — almost the exact amount of time as YouTube, which was founded in February 2005. Twitter, which has been around since March 2006, has more than 200 million monthly active users.

  • (The New York Times, Thursday, March 21, 2013)

    Microsoft disclosed for the first time on Thursday the number of requests it had received from government law enforcement agencies for data on its hundreds of millions of customers around the world, joining the ranks of Google, Twitter and other Web businesses that publish so-called transparency reports. The report, which Microsoft said it planned to update every six months, showed that law enforcement agencies in five countries — Britain, France, Germany, Turkey and the United States — accounted for 69 percent of the 70,665 requests the company received last year.

  • (Mashable, Tuesday, March 19, 2013)

    After Google unceremoniously announced it would be killing Reader later this year, much of the outraged response focused on its use in the U.S. But there's a whole other aspect to the service: for thousands of users around the world, it's one of the few ways they can get around their country's censors. A "save Google Reader" petition hosted by has received 125,000 signatures so far. And as revealed to Mashable Monday, 75% of those signatures come from users outside the U.S. — and 12% of them total say they live in countries that Reporters Without Borders or the OpenNet Initiative report say have active Internet censorship by government forces.

  • (CNN, Saturday, March 16, 2013)

    The Internet is a surveillance state. Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, and whether we like it or not, we're being tracked all the time. Google tracks us, both on its pages and on other pages it has access to. Facebook does the same; it even tracks non-Facebook users. Apple tracks us on our iPhones and iPads. One reporter used a tool called Collusion to track who was tracking him; 105 companies tracked his Internet use during one 36-hour period.

  • (Reporters Without Borders, Friday, March 15, 2013)

    On March 12, World Day Against Cyber-Censorship, Reporters Without Borders is releasing a Special report on Internet surveillance, available at It looks at the way governments are increasingly using technology that monitors online activity and intercepts electronic communication in order to arrest journalists, citizen-journalists and dissidents. Around 180 netizens worldwide are currently in prison for providing news and information online.

  • (The New York Times, Wednesday, March 13, 2013)

    Last May, two security researchers volunteered to look at a few suspicious e-mails sent to some Bahraini activists. Almost one year later, the two have uncovered evidence that some 25 governments, many with questionable records on human rights, may be using off-the-shelf surveillance software to spy on their own citizens. Morgan Marquis-Boire, a security researcher at Citizen Lab, at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, and Bill Marczak, a computer science doctoral student at the University of California, Berkeley, found that the e-mails contained surveillance software that could grab images off computer screens, record Skype chats, turn on cameras and microphones and log keystrokes.

  • (OSCE, Wednesday, March 13, 2013)

    The recommendations from the OSCE conference Internet 2013 – Shaping policies to advance media freedom were published on 13 March 2013. The conference took place in Vienna in February and brought together more than 400 participants who discussed a wide range of Internet freedom related matters, from Internet governance and self-regulation to social media and hate speech. The recommendations drawn from the conference relate to an inclusive dialogue and knowledge-sharing among participants from governments, private sector, civil society and academia.

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Tuesday, March 12, 2013)

    Information and communications technology (ICT) companies—from search engines and software providers to network operators and equipment vendors—enable access to information and the exchange of ideas around the world. But the more we depend on technology in every part of our lives, the more that company business decisions can impact human rights, particularly free expression and privacy.

  • (Open Democracy, Tuesday, March 12, 2013)

    Threats to digital freedom are growing just as the number of people accessing the internet is taking off, with millions more likely to join the digital world through mobiles and smartphones in the coming years. The range of challenges is wide: from state censorship, including firewalls and the imposition of network or country-wide filters, to increasing numbers of takedown requests from governments, companies and individuals, corporate hoovering up of private data, growing surveillance of electronic communications, and criminalisation of speech on social media.

  • (Reporters Without Borders, Tuesday, March 12, 2013)

    “My computer was arrested before I was.” This perceptive comment was made by a Syrian activist who had been arrested and tortured by the Assad regime. Caught by means of online surveillance, Karim Taymour told a Bloomberg[1] journalist that, during interrogation, he was shown a stack of hundreds of pages of printouts of his Skype chats and files downloaded remotely from his computer hard drive. His torturers clearly knew as much as if they had been with him in his room, or more precisely, in his computer.

  • (Media Shift, Thursday, March 7, 2013)

    After the death of Hugo Chavez was announced this week, individuals across the globe -- from everyday Venezuelans to Barack Obama to Billy Bragg -- took to the Twitterverse to comment on the late Latin American leader's passing. Some mourned his death, while others expressed vehement support or outright rejection of his political ideologies. This mixed bag of reactions was evident among the tweets of U.S. politicians alone.

  • (The New York Times, Tuesday, March 5, 2013)

    Facebook users became much more protective about who sees sensitive information about them, even as they were urged to share more about themselves on the social network, according to an unusual seven-year study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University. The study followed the privacy settings of roughly 5,000 Facebook users who were part of the university network on Facebook between 2005 and 2011. It is among the first longitudinal efforts aimed at gauging how Facebook users try to protect their information.

  • (Index, Tuesday, March 5, 2013)

    Freedom of expression needs championing online as much as off. The internet and social media have opened up debate and interaction within and across countries, and transformed how we access and share information. But governments and companies are intervening in a mixture of ways to limit or even directly block, censor and monitor what we can do and see on the web.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Monday, March 4, 2013)

    The 16th round of negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) began in Singapore today, as trade delegates and private stakeholders from 11 participating countries gather to discuss this the contours of Pacific trade. EFF and many others are deeply concerned about TPP, because it appears to contain an intellectual property (IP) chapter that would ratchet up IP enforcement at the expense of digital rights. The TPP could turn Internet Service Providers into copyright cops, prompt ever-higher criminal and civil penalties for sharing content, and expand protections for Digital Rights Management. The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) has announced that they plan to complete the TPP by the fall of this year.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Friday, March 1, 2013)

    Mozilla recently announced a change to its default cookie policy for Firefox that will help protect users against unwanted tracking by invisible third parties. In short, a user will have to intentionally interact with a site in order for the site to be able to set a tiny snippet of data used for identification purposes known as a "cookie" on the user's machine. This change – currently available to users running the Nightly test build of Firefox – will bring Firefox in line with its competitor Safari, which has had a very similar policy in place for a decade. It is far from a silver bullet against tracking, as there are several other methods to track users, and this will not block cookies that currently exist in a user's browser.

  • (CircleID, Thursday, February 28, 2013)

    CANN CEO Fadi Chehadé was already 2 hours into his flight from Singapore to Paris when the pilot's voice interrupted the in-flight entertainment. A tech problem meant turning back, landing in Singapore, waiting for another plane and starting the long haul again! Half a day later, Chehadé landed in Paris. He'd already missed a lunch appointment but was still in time to make a reception organised at French ICANN board member Sébastien Bachollet's initiative. Chehadé gave a speech there to help spread the word about ICANN to the local community, before speeding off to the Unesco building in the center of Paris.

  • (Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Wednesday, February 27, 2013)

    With Internet censorship on the rise around the world, organizations and researchers have developed and distributed a variety of tools to assist Internet users to both monitor and circumvent such censorship.In this talk, Jon Penney—Research Fellow at the Citizen Lab and Berkman Fellow—examines some of the international law and politics of such censorship resistance activities through three case studies involving past global communications censorship and information conflicts—telegraph cable cutting and suppression, high frequency radio jamming, and direct broadcast satellite blocking—and the world community's response to these conflicts.

  • (Access, Tuesday, February 26, 2013)

    As the European Parliament debates new data protection reforms,US technology companies have arrived in Brussels to commence an unprecedented lobbying effort aimed at preventing strong regulation and weakening existing standards. Most troublingly, some of the draft legislative proposals have been copied and pasted directly from lobbying documents, evidence of the immense influence of US giants like Google and Amazon on European policy. In response, the advocacy group Europe vs. Facebook recently launched the LobbyPlag initiative, publishing a side-by-side comparison of language proposed by lobbyists and the actual text of European Parliamentary proposals.

  • (CNN, Tuesday, February 26, 2013)

    More than three out of every 10 smartphone owners don't have a password on the device that could give easy access to their e-mail, bank account, credit card information and other sensitive info. That's one of the findings of a recent worldwide survey by Web security company McAfee. On top of that, 15% of people surveyed said they save password information on their phones to apps and websites they use and more than half (55%) who do have passwords said they've shared those passwords with others.

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Tuesday, February 26, 2013)

    This week, Internet governance experts and advocates gather in Paris to start preparing for the ten-year review of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in 2015. This week’s meeting is hosted by the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); CDT’s Leslie Harris and Matthew Shears will be appearing on several panels addressing questions of privacy, free expression, and cybersecurity – key issues in Internet policy that will shape governance debates over the next few years. The WSIS+10 event will give government, industry, civil society, academics, and the technical community an opportunity to continue conversations about Internet governance and policy that were features of the WCIT debates.

  • (CircleID, Monday, February 25, 2013)

    Since the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) discharged delegates from an atmosphere of restrained acidity last December, ITU habitués have wondered how that outcome will affect the rhythms of their regular work in Geneva. This is no less true for governments that approved of the WCIT treaty as it is for those which did not, though the immediate anxiety may be greatest for the latter — for those whom we can call, with sloppy shorthand, the G8. Such high stakes present the best reason to take time in deciding on the right next step.

  • (Foreign Policy, Monday, February 25, 2013)

    Recently, the network research and analytics company Renesys tried to assess how hard it would be to take the world offline. They assessed disconnection risk based on the number of national service providers in every country, finding that 61 countries are at severe risk for disconnection, with another 72 at significant risk. That makes 133 countries where network control is so centralized that the Internet could be turned off with not much more than a phone call.

  • (CircleID, Thursday, February 21, 2013)

    With WICT-12 over, and now the preparation for the forthcoming WTPF underway, and of course also we have the WTDC and WTISD coming up, one could be excused for thinking that that world famous, but hopelessly unintelligible, cartoon character from the 80's and 90's, Bill the Cat, has come out of retirement to work as head of Acronym Engineering at the ITU. However, no matter how unintelligible the acronyms of these meetings can get, the issue of how we come to terms with a technology-dense world is a serious matter. Too often we appear to use yesterday's tools and techniques to address tomorrow's issues, and take the view that if it worked in the past it should work now. I'd like to look at this approach in a little more detail here, and try and understand why WCIT was such a comprehensive failure and why the prospects for the next round of telecommunications sector meetings are not exactly looking rosy.

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Thursday, February 21, 2013)

    With three months remaining until the World Telecommunication Policy Forum (WTPF), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) still has an opportunity to facilitate meaningful civil society participation in the event. This is the message that civil society groups worldwide are delivering in a letter to Secretary General Touré this week. CDT strongly supports the letter and encourages other civil society organizations to sign on.

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Friday, February 15, 2013)

    Although the WCIT is over, international debate about Internet governance and policy continue, full speed ahead. December’s treaty conference closed with a complex set of national positions and reservations, with 55 countries opting not to sign the new draft of the International Telecommunication Regulations. Many have attempted to piece together a coherent story of what happened during the WCIT. The not-so-subtle subtext running through all these accounts is that many of the policy issues and concerns raised at that conference will be on the agenda for the ITU’s next big meeting, the World Telecommunication Policy Forum (WTPF). 

  • (Pew Research Center, Thursday, February 14, 2013)

    A late 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project shows that young adults are more likely than others to use major social media. At the same time, other groups are interested in different sites and services. Internet users under 50 are particularly likely to use a social networking site of any kind, and those 18-29 are the most likely of any demographic cohort to do so (83%). Women are more likely than men to be on these sites. Those living in urban settings are also significantly more likely than rural internet users to use social networking.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Wednesday, February 13, 2013)

    States around the world are faced daily with the challenge of protecting their populations from potential and real threats. To detect and respond to them, many governments surveil communication networks, physical movements, and transactional records. Though surveillance by its nature compromises individual privacy, there are exceptional situations where state surveillance is justified. Yet, if state surveillance is unnecessary or overreaching, with weak legal safeguards and a failure to follow due process, it can become disproportionate to the threat—infringing on people's privacy rights.

  • (Center for a New American Security, Monday, February 11, 2013)

    In his commentary The Internet Yalta, Alexander Klimburg, Fellow and Senior Adviser at the Austrian Institute for International Affairs, argues that the December 2012 meeting of the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) may be the digital equivalent of the February 1945 meeting of the Allied powers in Yalta: the beginning of a long Internet Cold War between authoritarian and liberal-democratic countries. Klimburg contends that the battles over Internet governance that surfaced at WCIT are not just about competing visions of the Internet: They are also about two different visions of political power.

  • (The Guardian, Monday, February 11, 2013)

    Separating paranoia from healthy caution in the 21st century is only getting harder, as it gets easier and easier for governments and corporations to track our online behaviour. The latest development, revealed by the Guardian, is that defence giant Raytheon has created software capable of tracking people based on information posted to social networks. Its capabilities are impressively creepy: by extracting location information from Facebook, check-ins, and even latitude and longitude details from photographs in which targets are tagged (did you know cameras stored that?), it builds a picture of where someone's been, who they've been there with, and where they might go next.

  • (Global Voices, Wednesday, February 6, 2013)

    When you use the Internet, you entrust your thoughts, experiences, photos, and location data to intermediaries — companies like AT&T, Google, and Facebook. But when the government requests that data, users are usually left in the dark. In the United States, companies are not required by law to alert their users when they receive a government request for their data. In some circumstances, they are explicitly prohibited from doing so. As part of our ongoing Who Has Your Back campaign, EFF has called on companies to be transparent by publishing their law enforcement guidelines and statistics on government requests for user data.


  • (Forbes, Wednesday, February 6, 2013)

    With the recent announcement of the new Silent Text product arriving in Apple’s App Store soon, the renewed scrutiny has also upped the pressure for the Silent Circle team to release its application source code. While some of the deployed protocols are in the public domain, the source code for particular applications have not been released yet making it difficult for security researchers to render an informed opinion on its implementation.

  • (The New York Times, Wednesday, February 6, 2013)

    On Thursday, Microsoft plans to unveil a new print, television and online advertising campaign that attacks Google on an issue that Microsoft believes is one of its great vulnerabilities: privacy. The ads will showcase research that shows most people don’t know that Web e-mail providers like Google scan the contents of their e-mail messages to deliver personalized ads to them — and when they do find out, they don’t like it. If Gmail was a physical product, Microsoft’s actions would amount to putting a sticker on it that said, “Warning: Google is creepy.”

  • (Global Voices, Wednesday, February 6, 2013)

    British anthropologist Jack Goody posed this question in ‘The Domestication of the Savage Mind’, his 1997 publication covering new forms of communication within society. According to his study a culture which transmits its knowledge orally does not think in the same way as a writing-based culture. Today, this is compounded by a new method of knowledge transmission – digital technology. We communicate on the internet by combining oral and written forms. Thanks to this technology, still new on the scale of human history, the transmission of knowledge – that is, data – is continually expanding as in a interconnected matrix.

  • (The New York Times, Tuesday, February 5, 2013)

    Facebook is the most popular social network in America — roughly two-thirds of adults in the country use it on a regular basis. But that doesn’t mean they don’t get sick of it. A new survey by the Pew Research Center‘s Internet and American Life Project, conducted in December, found that 61 percent of current Facebook users admitted that they had voluntarily taken breaks from the site, for as many as several weeks at a time. The main reasons for their social media sabbaticals were not having enough time to dedicate to pruning their profiles, an overall decrease in their interest in the site, and the general sentiment that Facebook was a major waste of time.

  • (Microsoft, Monday, February 4, 2013)

    The world is in the midst of an unprecedented technological transition, characterized by growth in the volume and diversity of people, devices, and data connected to the Internet. Across the globe, billions of people are using information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure to conduct business, interact with governments and each other. The World Economic Forum recently observed that “more than 70 percent of the world’s citizens live in societies that have just begun their digitization journeys. 1” With so many people moving towards an increasingly digital lifestyle, the world that emerges at the conclusion of this transition will likely be very different than the world we know today.

  • (The Washington Times, Monday, February 4, 2013)

    Internet engineers and legal scholars are worried that amendments to a U.N. telecommunications treaty will give repressive governments more control of the Internet in their countries and could begin to undermine international sanctions against pariah states such as Iran. Current and former U.S. and foreign officials, scientists and scholars will testify about their concerns Tuesday before a joint hearing of the House Foreign Affairs and the House Energy and Commerce committees. According to prepared testimony and other documents made available by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the witnesses will report on the outcome of December’s World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai, where some countries agreed to revisions to the International Telecommunications Regulations, a 1998 treaty that governs telephone services across national borders.

  • (Slate, Monday, February 4, 2013)

    For the past few months, some of the world’s leading cryptographers have been keeping a closely guarded secret about a pioneering new invention. Today, they’ve decided it’s time to tell all. Back in October, the startup tech firm Silent Circle ruffled governments’ feathers with a “surveillance-proof” smartphone app to allow people to make secure phone calls and send texts easily. Now, the company is pushing things even further—with a groundbreaking encrypted data transfer app that will enable people to send files securely from a smartphone or tablet at the touch of a button. (For now, it’s just being released for iPhones and iPads, though Android versions should come soon.) That means photographs, videos, spreadsheets, you name it—sent scrambled from one person to another in a matter of seconds.

  • (IFEX, Friday, February 1, 2013)

    Who should control the Internet? That's the question that gets discussed every year at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), a UN initiative created in 2005. The IGF brings together all of the key parties with a stake in the Internet governance debate – from governments, the private sector and civil society. Last November at the seventh annual forum in Baku, Azerbaijan, leaders of the Pirate Party faced off against Internet giants like Google and Facebook, while bloggers had the opportunity to rub shoulders with big names, including Vint Cerf, one of the "fathers of the Internet", and Larry Strickling, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information. 


  • (Schneier on Security, Thursday, January 31, 2013)

    All disruptive technologies upset traditional power balances, and the Internet is no exception. The standard story is that it empowers the powerless, but that's only half the story. The Internet empowers everyone. Powerful institutions might be slow to make use of that new power, but since they are powerful, they can use it more effectively. Governments and corporations have woken up to the fact that not only can they use the Internet, they can control it for their interests. Unless we start deliberately debating the future we want to live in, and information technology in enabling that world, we will end up with an Internet that benefits existing power structures and not society in general.

  • (IFEX, Wednesday, January 30, 2013)

    On International Data Privacy Day, [28 January], it is important that we all ask ourselves: who has access to our personal information? Who can find out where we've been and who we've called, who can read our emails and our text messages? Who can find which websites we access and which files we download? Statistics released by Google and Twitter over the past week are a sobering reminder that it is not only the corporations to which we consensually provide this information which are able to access it. Governments regularly approach these and other internet companies seeking the opportunity to delve into our personal lives.

  • (Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Tuesday, January 29, 2013)

    This talk explores the role of tool design and media coverage in the relative success of Operation Payback and earlier activist Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) actions. Through a close reading of changes in the tool’s interface and functionality over several iterations, the talk considers the evolution of the Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC) DDOS tool from one which appealed to a small, inwardly-focused community to one which engaged with a larger population. The talk further considers Anonymous’s contribution to the reframing of DDOS actions from a tool of direct action to a tool of media manipulation and identity construction, as well as the news media’s role in encouraging individuals to participate in the Operation PayBack actions.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Tuesday, January 29, 2013)

    Yesterday, Twitter released its second semi-annual transparency report, which details the numbers behind every user data demand, censorship order and copyright takedown request that the micro-blogging site received in the second half of 2012. As with Google’s transparency report last week, there was a clear increase in government demands for user data, with the United States leading the way by far. Censorship requests from around the world also increased. In addition, the report shed valuable light on the copyright takedown procedure that also often results in undue censorship.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Tuesday, January 29, 2013)

    Facebook's Graph Search has certainly caused quite a stir since it was first announced two weeks ago. We wrote earlier about how Graph Search, still in beta, presents new privacy problems by making shared information discoverable when previously it was hard—if not impossible—to find at a large scale. We also put out a call to action—and even created a handy how-to guide—urging people to reassess their privacy settings.  

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Tuesday, January 29, 2013)

    January 28 marks International Privacy Day. Different countries are celebrating this day calling attention to their own events and campaigns. This year, EFF is honoring the day by sharing some advocacy strategies utilized by human rights advocates and activists from Argentina, the UK, Canada, and the United States, that have helped to defeat overreaching surveillance proposals that threaten civil liberties.

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Monday, January 28, 2013)

    Just walking down a city street these days leaves behind enough digital bread crumbs to make Hansel and Gretel envious. Surveillance cameras capture your image, your mobile phone is playing its self-identified part as a personal tracking device every time it "pings" the nearest cell tower. That awesome picture of the street musician you snapped with your camera phone and just sent to Instagram likely contains enough GPS and meta data to point-point your location with dazzling accuracy. What happens to all those digital "bread crumbs"? Where does it all go? Who has access to it? And can you control any of that? Enter Data Privacy Day.


  • (Bloomberg, Monday, January 28, 2013)

    Google Inc. (GOOG), which says it gets about 1,400 requests a month from U.S. authorities for users’ e- mails and documents, is organizing an effort to press for limits on government access to digital communications. The company has been talking to advocacy groups and companies about joining a lobbying effort to change the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, said Chris Gaither, a Google spokesman. He declined to elaborate. “Given the realities of how people live and where things are going in the digital world, it’s an important time for government to act” to update the law, David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer, said in an interview. “It’s a bipartisan issue and I think the momentum is going to build because citizens are expecting this.” Google officials say changes in the law are needed to prevent law enforcement from obtaining certain e-mails and other content without search warrants, and to give documents stored on cloud services the same legal protections as paper documents stored in a desk drawer. Cloud services, which didn’t exist when the privacy law was passed, let users store and process data on remote servers via the Internet.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Monday, January 28, 2013)

    In December 2012, EFF organized a Surveillance and Human Rights Camp in Brazil that brought together the expertise of a diverse group of people concerned about state electronic surveillance in Latin American and other countries. Among other concerns, participants spotlighted the many ways in which the private sector is increasingly playing a role in state surveillance.

  • (Access, Monday, January 28, 2013)

    Today (January 28) is Data Privacy Day, an international holiday that marks the 32nd anniversary of the signing of the Council of Europe’s Data Protection Convention 108. Data Privacy Day, which is celebrated all over Europe, Canada, and the US, recognises our fundamental right under human rights law and the importance of privacy to the maintenance of democratic societies, the advancement of human dignity, and the flourishing of other rights such as freedom of expression and association.

  • (The Seattle Times, Saturday, January 26, 2013)

    The Internet turned 30 earlier this month. On Jan. 1, 1983, engineers launched the basic protocol for sharing bits between computers, setting in motion the networked world we live in today. It’s during anniversaries like these that we have a chance to take stock of this remarkable network and the people who make it what it is.

  • (The Guardian, Friday, January 25, 2013)

    France has been uncommonly busy lately. In the past week it seems to have lost its rights to Pong while producing both Le Pong and Le Best News Ever. The latter being a government report confirming widespread suspicions that time spent mucking about on Facebook is actually "work" you should be getting paid for.Commissioned by the minister for innovation and the economy, the Colin and Collin Report essentially classifies users of sites like Facebook and Google as unpaid labourers.

  • (CNET News, Thursday, January 24, 2013)

    At this week's State of the Net conference, an annual event of the bipartisan Congressional Internet Caucus, members of Congress, staffers, and technology policy junkies gathered once again to explore the government's Internet-related priorities for the new year. A few themes emerged, including possible legislation over cybersecurity, a rewrite of the 1996 Communications Act, reforming federal electronic-surveillance laws, and the continuing threat of both national governments and the United Nations trying to wrest control of Internet governance from engineering-driven groups.

  • (CNET News, Thursday, January 24, 2013)

    Microsoft needs to open up about the trustworthiness of its Skype software for confidential conversations, according to an open letter to the company posted today. The letter, from an array of privacy advocates, Internet activists, journalists, and others, calls on Microsoft to provide public documentation about the security and privacy practices around Skype, which facilitates video and voice communications over the Internet. Microsoft completed its $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype in October 2011.

  • (The New York Times, Wednesday, January 23, 2013)

    Even before the World Conference on International Telecommunications took place last month in Dubai, Internet activists anticipated trouble. So did Congress, which issued a resolution calling it “essential” that the Internet remain “stable, secure and free from governmental control.” The worries proved prescient. The conference, which supposedly was going to modernize some ancient regulations, instead offered a treaty that in the eyes of some critics would have given repressive states permission to crack down on dissent. The United States delegate refused to sign it. Fifty-four other countries, including Canada, Peru, Japan and most of Western Europe, voted no as well.

  • (Global Voices, Monday, January 21, 2013)

    Five years ago, a few forward-looking members of the GV community, led by Sami ben Gharbia, began Global Voices Advocacy. They understood that rights to free expression and privacy of netizens were being challenged by governments, companies, and other powerful actors — and they recognized that GV was uniquely positioned to do something about it. The site has since become a critical information and activism center for netizens whose work and lives are at risk, and I’m thrilled to be taking on a full-time role in this effort.

  • (Index, Friday, January 18, 2013)

    Index on Censorship, in partnership with The Editors Guild of India, hosted a debate in New Delhi on Tuesday (15 January) asking, “Is freedom of expression under threat in the digital age?” Discussing the topic were Ajit Balakrishnan (founder and Chief Executive of, Index on Censorship CEO Kirsty Hughes, Sunil Abraham (Executive Director of the centre for Internet and Society), Professor Timothy Garton Ash, Director of the Free Speech Debate project, and Lokman Tsui, Policy Advisor for Google Asia-Pacific.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Friday, January 18, 2013)

    The famed technology writer Steven Levy starts his long-form history of Facebook's newest product—Graph Search—by describing it as a feature that "promises to transform its user experience, threaten its competitors, and torment privacy activists." Though it takes quite a lot to torment us these days, Graph Search does raise a few eyebrows. The new feature allows users to use structured searches to more thoroughly filter through friends, friends of friends, and the general public. Now one can more easily search for "My friends who like Downton Abbey" or "People in San Francisco, California who work at Facebook." Facebook then returns a list of individuals whose public or shared aspects of their profile match the search terms.

  • (The New York Times, Thursday, January 17, 2013)

    Here in the United States, if you whip out a clamshell flip phone, chances are you’ll be called a caveman or Luddite. But elsewhere, there are still some emerging countries where the old-school cellphone has yet to become passé. In India, Russia and Brazil, the older types of cellphone are still the most popular, according to a study published Thursday by Nielsen, the research firm. In India, 80 percent of phone users own an old-style feature phone, and only 10 percent have a smartphone, according to Nielsen’s estimates. In Brazil and Russia, feature phones account for roughly half the market.

  • (IFEX, Tuesday, January 15, 2013)

    As the global reach of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook expands, important questions of Digital Freedom and free expression arise. In France, a group of Jewish students have taken Twitter to court over anti-Semitic postings that erupted on the hashtag #unbonjuif (#a good jew). Twitter already removed the offending Tweets, yet the Paris branch of the French Union of Jewish Students argues that removing the content does not go far enough - the content of the Tweets themselves violate French criminal law against hate speech and Twitter should reveal the real names of the Tweeters so that the French police can conduct appropriate investigations. A decision from the French high court is expected this week. 

  • (Freedom House, Monday, January 14, 2013)

    One year ago, U.S. lawmakers discovered what happens when you mess with the internet, as Google, Wikipedia, Facebook, and millions of ordinary users helped “black out” the net on January 18 to protest SOPA and PIPA—two controversial pieces of legislation that were designed to fight online piracy, but threatened instead to censor the internet and disrupt the way it functions. Since that day, there has been a rise in new laws around the world that restrict free speech online and prompt arrests of internet users, a key trend identified in Freedom House’s 2012 Freedom on the Net report.

  • (Gigaom, Thursday, January 10, 2013)

    Nokia has confirmed reports that its Xpress Browser decrypts data that flows through HTTPS connections – that includes the connections set up for banking sessions, encrypted email and more. However, it insists that there’s no need for users to panic because it would never access customers’ encrypted data. The confirmation-slash-denial comes after security researcher Gaurang Pandya, who works for Unisys Global Services in India, detailed on his personal blog how browser traffic from his Series 40 ‘Asha’ phone was getting routed via Nokia’s servers.

  • (ARS Technica, Wednesday, January 9, 2013)

    Last month, a majority of the members of the International Telecommunications Union voted for a murky proposal, suggesting that the ITU has the power to regulate the Internet. The proposal was passed despite vociferous objections by the US and other developed countries. In the end, 55 countries refused to sign on, while 89 did sign the resolution. That was seen as a success for the US and its allies, but anyone celebrating the outcome might be doing so too soon.

  • (Index, Monday, January 7, 2013)

    In August [2007], the 58-year-old actor and writer Chris Langham was found guilty of downloading 15 videos and pictures of child pornography (graphic and violent enough to fit the characterisation of all child pornography as child abuse). Two weeks earlier, five young British-Asian men — one was a school-leaver from London, four were students at Bradford University — were sentenced to various prison terms. They had been found guilty of possessing material for terrorist purposes (mostly downloaded from websites) that glorified Islamic terrorism, martyrdom and holy war.

  • (Access, Monday, January 7, 2013)

    Last week, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) published an information note from Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré dated December 14 in which he reports to ITU Members on the ITU’s “ongoing and constructive dialogue with Civil Society.” The information note responds point by point to concerns raised in a December 9 letter from members of civil society and provides an account of a December 10 meeting between Touré and members of civil society present in Dubai for the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT).

  • (Nieman Journalism Lab, Monday, January 7, 2013)

    The range of social media research produced in 2012 has been wide and diverse: from what works on Twitter to explorations of meme “virality”; from Facebook’s power to motivate to the hidden dynamics of friend networks; from SMS power in the Arab uprising to the questionable creep of social “Big Data.” We offer this list with the usual disclaimer: Our selection is meant to be useful, not definitive. Missing from this list is a lot of great scholarship, including analysis of bullying in a networked world, as well as much more on how social media is changing the way we participate in politics.

  • (International Innovation, Saturday, January 5, 2013)

    The application of Deep Packet Inspection technologies which allow evaluation of the data being communicated online has always been a controversial subject. Here, Professor Milton Mueller explains how his team has looked into the role of such tools in governing the internet. 

  • (The Economist, Saturday, January 5, 2013)

    When dozens of countries refused to sign a new global treaty on internet governance in late 2012, a wide range of activists rejoiced. They saw the treaty, crafted under the auspices of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), as giving governments pernicious powers to meddle with and censor the internet. For months groups with names like Access Now and Fight for the Future had campaigned against the treaty. Their lobbying was sometimes hyperbolic. But it was also part of the reason the treaty was rejected by many countries, including America, and thus in effect rendered void.

  • (Access, Friday, January 4, 2013)

    Access is encouraged to see that Yahoo! is now supporting HTTPS globally for its mail and messaging services, an important and overdue step for the security and privacy of its users. Pending technical analysis of its implementation, we believe this decision by Yahoo! responds to some of the concerns raised by civil society and security experts, and signals a continuing strengthening of their services’ privacy protections.

  • (Access, Thursday, January 3, 2013)

    Shortly after the end of the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) members of civil society issued a statement regarding the new International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) and the future of multi-stakeholder engagement with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). On December 28, the statement was sent to the ITU, which has communicated that it will respond in full.

  • (Tech2, Wednesday, January 2, 2013)

    Internet recently turned 30, but it could be easily dubbed as 13 going on 30 looking at the ways in which it’s being dealt with by government authorities who are attempting to clamp the freedom of the online world—much like parents try to restrict their wayward teenagers. The very open and free nature of Internet was threatened in the 2012 as government around the world tried to clamp the service. While these attempts were met with protests from netizens, we can’t afford to let the guard down in the coming year or our Internet freedom will be seriously affected.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Tuesday, January 1, 2013)

    As the year draws to a close, EFF is looking back at the major trends influencing digital rights in 2012 and discussing where we are in the fight for free expression, innovation, fair use, and privacy. Click here to read other blog posts in this series. Given the alarming expansion of state-sponsored surveillance, it can be hard to find reasons to be optimistic about individuals' ability to avoid being watched on the web. Yet the continued rise of HTTPS is a beacon of hope for thwarting many types of surveillance, and we are pleased that the positive trend of HTTPS adoption continues apace with some big steps forward in 2012.


  • (Stanford University, Tuesday, January 1, 2013)

    While Internet access to certain sites is blocked in some parts of the world, these restrictions are often circumvented using proxies outside the censored region. Often these proxies are blocked as soon as they are discovered. In this paper we propose a browser-based proxy creation system that generates a large number of short-lived proxies. Clients using the system seamlessly hop from one proxy to the next as these browser-based proxies appear and disappear. We discuss a number of technical challenges that had to be overcome for this system to work and report on its performance and security. We show that browser-based short-lived proxies provide adequate bandwidth for video delivery and argue that blocking them can be challenging.

  • (CCCen, Tuesday, January 1, 2013)

    At the very beginning, Tor was just a socks proxy that protected the origin and/or destination of your TCP flows. Now the broader Tor ecosystem includes a diverse set of projects -- browser extensions to patch Firefox and Thunderbird's privacy issues, Tor controller libraries to let you interface with the Tor client in your favorite language, network scanners to measure relay performance and look for misbehaving exit relays, LiveCDs, support for the way Android applications expect Tor to behave, full-network simulators and testing frameworks, plugins to make Tor's traffic look like Skype or other protocols, and metrics and measurement tools to keep track of how well everything's working.

  • (Global Voices, Monday, December 31, 2012)

    At Global Voices Advocacy (GVA), we are dedicated to defending freedom of expression online. We have always been keen on publishing guides and tools to help our fellow netizens navigate the internet safely, circumvent censorship and protect themselves online. That is why, in 2013, we are committed to continue to defend your rights as netizens by publishing original reports and a new series of guides covering areas as diverse as circumvention, anonymity, surveillance, privacy, citizen journalism, visualization, online activism and advocacy.

  • (Global Voices, Thursday, December 27, 2012)

    The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is the United Nations agency specializing in information and communication technologies - ICTs. From December 3 to 14, 2012, the ITU organized the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai (United Arab Emirates) in order to review the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs). The Vía Libre Foundation analyzes the issues of this important conference in the article entitled Después de la WCIT y más allá (After the WCIT and Beyond), the first part of which we present below.

  • (ARS Technica, Thursday, December 20, 2012)

    In early December, I found myself in an odd position: touching down in Dubai with credentials to attend a 12-day closed-door meeting of the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT). It's a meeting I spent the last six months trying to expose. Though the world had been assured that WCIT would not attempt to mount a “UN takeover of the Internet,” that was in many ways what happened. As the conference ended, I watched US Ambassador Terry Kramer abandon months of preparatory work and almost two weeks of intense negotiations to announce, as his words echoed through hundreds of headsets in six languages, that the US simply would not sign the resulting deal.

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Thursday, December 20, 2012)

    Reactions to the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) and its resulting treaty have painted a dramatic picture of a world divided into two camps fighting over the future of the Internet. The decision of many countries not to sign the treaty, or to return home without signing in order to further deliberate over its meaning, has fed the bi-polar image. Without question, the new treaty did nudge the text further in the direction of impacting privacy and free expression, and the Internet-focused Resolution from the conference makes it clear that treaty-signers envision a larger role for the ITU in global Internet policymaking moving forward. 

  • (Forbes, Wednesday, December 19, 2012)

    In December, international negotiators halfway around the world from each other debated provisions that would impact the free flow of information online and trade. The US has pushed for provisions to boost Internet openness in the Trans Pacific Partnership under negotiation in New Zealand. Meanwhile, in Dubai, the US fought against measures to give governments more control over the Internet at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT).

  • (UN News Centre, Wednesday, December 19, 2012)

    The credibility of the Internet depends on how much civil society – the broad label given to worldwide activism outside government – is able to take part in its evolution, a United Nations independent expert said today. “Civil society participation is essential to ensure legitimacy of global discussions on the future of (the) Internet,” the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, said in comments on a recent global telecommunications conference that aimed to update a world treaty containing general principles for assuring the free flow of information worldwide.

  • (Forbes, Monday, December 17, 2012)

    The Internet Cold War just turned hot. That’s the key take-away following collapse of two weeks of intense negotiations in Dubai, where representatives of over 150 countries met under the auspices of the United Nations’ International Telecommunications Union to agree on updates to a 1988 treaty on international telecommunications. The World Conference on International Communications (WCIT) ended last Friday in abject failure, with only 89 countries signing the final document. Others, including the U.S., Canada and several European nations, rejected the document outright, with the remaining member states still undecided or in some cases ineligible to sign for failure to pay ITU dues.

  • (CNET News, Monday, December 17, 2012)

    When the history of early 21st century Internet politicking is written, the meltdown of a United Nations summit last week will mark the date a virtual Cold War began. In retrospect, the implosion of the Dubai summit was all but foreordained: it pitted nations with little tolerance for human rights against Western democracies which, at least in theory, uphold those principles. And it capped nearly a decade of behind-the-scenes jockeying by a U.N. agency called the International Telecommunication Union, created in 1865 to coordinate telegraph connectivity, to gain more authority over how the Internet is managed.

  • (Access, Friday, December 14, 2012)

    Article 5B, which now states that “Member States should endeavour to take necessary measures to prevent the propagation of unsolicited bulk electronic communications and minimize its impact on international telecommunication services,” had one significant change from the Chairman’s initial compromise proposal. “Communications” replaced the term “messages.” Like “electronic messages,” “electronic communications” is not defined in the ITU Constitution, and is therefore open to interpretation.

  • (Access, Friday, December 14, 2012)

    The world’s governments have just concluded the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), where they updated the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs), a binding international treaty on telecommunications provision and interoperability. While the ITRs were certainly in need of updating, the government-controlled conference produced a text that crossed the red lines of several states, who have either said that they will not sign or that they need to consult their capitals. Still, many of the most problematic proposals failed to make it into the final draft. 

  • (The Washington Post, Friday, December 14, 2012)

    An agreement to update 24-year-old United Nations telecommunications rules was approved against the opposition of countries including the U.S. and the U.K., whose officials walked out on the talks on concerns about Internet regulation and censorship. The new pact includes measures that would give countries a right to access international telecommunications services and the ability to block spam, which delegations declining to sign the amended text argued would pave the way for government censorship and control over the Web.

  • (Committee to Protect Journalists, Friday, December 14, 2012)

    For most of its almost-150-year history, the meetings of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations' communications standards body, have been rather predictable affairs. Representatives of the world's governments regularly gather to sign off on technical recommendations drafted by the technocrats of telephone companies and government bureaucrats. The diplomats would then return home to encode the minutiae of the regulations into their governments' communications policies. 

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Thursday, December 13, 2012)

    The World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai failed to reach consensus today, leaving many delegates frustrated after nearly two weeks of intense deliberations. The United States, joined by a growing list of countries, has declared that it will not sign the revised International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs). Many of those rejecting the treaty text, which included the United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, Australia, and the Czech Republic, cited concern about treaty provisions on the Internet-related issues of security and spam, as well as a Resolution explicitly addressing future ITU involvement in Internet policy. 

  • (Freedom House, Wednesday, December 12, 2012)

    Before autocratic regimes fully grasped the democratic nature of the internet, netizens basked in the sunshine of global intercommunication. But in a backlash against digitally driven uprisings, such as those of the Arab Spring, tyrants are now maneuvering to bring users’ online and mobile activities under the shadow of outdated and arbitrary legal restrictions. One sign of this crackdown is the alarming number of digital activists behind bars around the world.

  • (The Guardian, Wednesday, December 12, 2012)

    Facebook is to make sweeping changes to its privacy controls, making them easier to find and offering people the means to review every publicly available picture of them on the site. The move follows repeated criticism that the site made it too hard to keep information private, and kept shifting default settings to open up more data. The change is the biggest overhaul to its privacy settings in more than a year, and will begin appearing to the site's 1 billion registered users over the next few weeks. The most visible change will be "privacy shortcuts" which will show up as a tiny lock at the right-hand side of the screen, at the top of the "news feed", with a menu offering answers to questions such as "Who can see my stuff?" and "Who can contact me?"

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Wednesday, December 12, 2012)

    Confusion reigned as the 10th day of WCIT debate staggered to a close (at 1:29AM local time on Day 11), with Conference Chairman Mohammed Nasser Al Ghanim muscling a contentious resolution on the Internet through a “temperature-taking” process that left some bewildered delegates feeling feverish. At issue was the “Resolution to foster an enabling environment for the greater growth of the Internet,” a measure proposed by the WCIT Chairman himself, which pushes for a much greater role for the ITU in Internet governance.

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Tuesday, December 11, 2012)

    December 10 marked Human Rights Day, the 64th anniversary of the United Nations’ adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). As we approach 2013, digital threats are eroding these well-established human rights far beyond what the authors of this Declaration could have possibly imagined in 1948. Government intrusion into the lives of individuals is remote and hidden from view, understood only by the few who possess specialized technical expertise, and justified by a calculated and often persuasive narrative that holds the goals of national security above all else. Because our modes of communication have been revolutionized in the digital era, we often cannot help but leave hefty volumes of personal information in our wake as a result of day-to-day online activities.

  • (Access, Tuesday, December 11, 2012)

    Since Friday’s plenary session, the big question at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) has been whether or not the joint Russia, UAE, China, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan (RUCASS) proposal would see the light of day and change the course of the conference. Although the RUCASS proposal turned out to be dead on arrival, it may have still been a game changer. Seeing the potential that the proposal had to disrupt negotiations, WCIT Chairman Mohammad Al-Ghanim managed to suppress it altogether, and decided instead to work with the heads of regional groups to draft a new consensus text based off the work of Committee 5, which may be the base treaty text for negotiation.

  • (Access, Sunday, December 9, 2012)

    Friday’s surprise announcement of a new proposal from the United Arab Emirates, the host country of the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), added an air of anticipation and frustration to this weekend’s work. Though there was still no official proposal in the ITU’s system, a leaked version reveals the text of a fully revised International Telecommunications Treaty (ITRs) with sign on from Russia, UAE, China, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Sudan, and Egypt, though Egypt later announced via Twitter that it never supported the proposal.

  • (WebProNews, Sunday, December 9, 2012)

    Terrorists are on the Internet. It’s just a fact. Just like you and I, members of radical fringe groups use the Internet to communicate ideas and spread information. It’s hard to combat the message when it’s online due to the nature of the Internet, but some countries have proposed methods that outright censor anything that remotely looks like terrorism. A new report argues that such censorship methods won’t accomplish a thing.

  • (Access, Friday, December 7, 2012)

    The ITU has stated multiple times, specifically in relation to human rights and freedom of expression concerns of civil society, that it is impossible for the ITRs to contravene the ITU Constitution. Considering the state of conflict of treaty law, or lack thereof, that may not be the case. It may just create an impossible world where states have to correctly follow two conflicting agreements. The ITU constitution states in Article 33 that all content, services, and security “shall be the same for all users in each category of correspondence without any priority or preference” which basically requires the ITU, and by extension the ITRs signatories, to not filter through public correspondence.

  • (Access, Friday, December 7, 2012)

    Just as delegates started to agree on something in Friday’s plenary--that they were frustrated that negotiations were not leading anywhere--the UAE made a surprise announcement. There is a new multi-regional proposal containing a fully revised treaty that no one has seen. The delegates were visibly and understandably shaken. Both Iran and the U.S. took the floor to suppress the mystery proposal on procedural grounds and a number of other delegations made strong statements condemning it as disruptive to ongoing negotiations. 

  • (Access, Thursday, December 6, 2012)

    Note: The ITU website was down for much of Day 3 (December 5) and the ITU issued a press release regretting that the incident “blocked civil society, media and other interested parties from following the proceedings, and prevented access to the wealth of online information”. This blog post attempts to make up for this outage, covering the key developments, as appropriate. Days three and four of the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) have seen a number of key issues debated, mostly in closed meetings, with little resolution.

  • (The New York Times, Thursday, December 6, 2012)

    Nearly a week into a global conference to draft a treaty on the future of international telecommunications, delegates remain divided on a fundamental question: should the Internet feature in the discussions? The United States says no, arguing that including it in an intergovernmental agreement could result in regulations that would hamper its development, which has been led by the private sector.

  • (Public Knowledge, Thursday, December 6, 2012)

    As the ITU's World Conference on International Telecommunications ("WCIT") gets underway, it's clear that the efforts by global civil society groups on behalf of transparency and free expression have had at least something of an impact. Most importantly for those wanting to follow the discussions at home, the ITU agreed to webcast is plenary sessions and the meetings of the "Review Committee," which is the committee that will be discussing proposed changes to the International Telecommunications Regulations ("ITRs").

  • (Washington Post, Wednesday, December 5, 2012)

    Last week’s jarring shutdown of the entire Syrian Internet raised a number of questions, some of them scary: How does this even happen? How could an entire country be pulled offline so quickly? Who else is vulnerable?

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Tuesday, December 4, 2012)

    "Freedom of expression" was the phrase of the day on Day 2 of the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), as delegates debated Tunisia's proposal to include in the treaty an explicit reference to the right to freedom of opinion and expression, as guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. With delegates from China, to Europe, to the US all opposing the measure, the language was ultimately not adopted into the treaty. But was Member States' commitment to free expression really driving this decision?

  • (Index, Monday, December 3, 2012)

    The decentralised, ungovernable nature of the early internet was an intentional design feature and not a bug. As a result, today’s internet is an open network, where unprecedented creative and economic innovation, art, commentary and citizen journalism flourish. But child pornography, hate speech and copyright infringement have also thrived, leading to mounting pressures to bring online activity under government control. As nations push for these changes, global interconnectivity and freedom of expression are at risk.

  • (Index, Monday, December 3, 2012)

    At the end of the 20th century, an incredible revolution took place. Barriers to the free flow of information were knocked down and a powerful cycle of technological innovation was set in motion, transforming the economy, first in the United States and then around the world. No, I am not talking about the internet. I am referring to the liberalisation of the telecommunications industry, which led to a huge economic revolution in the 1980s and 1990s. It started with a big bang: the breakup of the AT&T monopoly. As early as the mid- 1960s, policy-makers knew they didn’t want the emerging information services industry to be dominated and stifled by an enormous monopoly. 

  • (Index, Monday, December 3, 2012)

    In September 2012, the trailer for the film The Innocence of Muslims shot to infamy after spending the summer as a mercifully obscure video in one of YouTube’s more putrid backwaters. Since then, there has been much handwringing amongst American intellectual, journalistic, and political elites over whether the US Constitution’s First Amendment protections of freedom of expression should protect this sort of incendiary speech, or whether Google, YouTube’s parent company, acted irresponsibly and endangered national security by failing to remove or restrict the video before provocateurs across the Islamic world could use it as an excuse to riot and even kill.

  • (Access, Monday, December 3, 2012)

    Today in Dubai, the world’s governments gathered for the opening of the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT). Over the course of the next two weeks, they will update a major international telecommunications treaty, the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs), and in doing so, decide whether or not to put the internet under this international regulatory framework.

  • (Slate, Monday, December 3, 2012)

    Starting now, Facebook's billion users around the world have one last opportunity to preserve their power to vote on changes to how the site uses their personal data. At 3 p.m. eastern today, spokesman Elliott Schrage announced via a blog post on Facebook's site governance page that users will have until 3 p.m. eastern on Dec. 10 to vote on a set of proposed changes to its Data Use Policy and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Basically, those are its privacy policy and terms of service. And the most interesting and sweeping of the proposed changes is one that would effectively end Facebook's three-year experiment in democracy.

  • (The Guardian, Monday, December 3, 2012)

    Two thousand delegates from 193 countries are meeting for the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai this week to negotiate a treaty on telecoms regulation that has not been updated since 1988 - before the internet was in mainstream use. Up for negotiation at WCIT are the International Telecommunications Regulations, or ITRs, which cover everything from improving internet access for the elderly and disabled, to enabling access for the 4.6bn people in the world with no access at all, improving cybersecurity and, most controversially, discussing the "sender pays" economic model of delivering web content.

  • (ICTD Asia , Sunday, December 2, 2012)

    VoIP is a widely used, simple and inexpensive way to communicate. But how safe is it? The most widely used platform, Skype is advertised as an encrypted end-to-end software that cannot be intercepted. It’s therefore likely that many social activists using it feel more safe while using it than when using, for example, Gchat or SMS. But Skype is owned by a commercial company, so interested software engineers cannot investigate the security of its protocol for them selves without owners' consent. That said, there is no evidence Skype has been cracked, so it's definitely safer than unencrypted Gtalk or SMS.

  • (Index, Sunday, December 2, 2012)

    WCIT begins tomorrow (December 3) and lasts for two weeks. This is where the much-discussed International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs) treaty will be renegotiated and discussed for the first time since 1988. The ITU was founded in the 1860s as a single place in which telephone and telegraph standardisation could take place across multiple countries and territories with differing standards and payment systems. The ITRs as a treaty was one way in which this could be achieved through the ITU process, and the 1988 ITRs focused on telephone exchanging and payments.

  • (Internet Governance Project, Saturday, December 1, 2012)

    December 1st marks the beginning of the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai. Fussing about the threat to the Internet posed by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is reaching that state of critical mass where media outlets write about it mainly because other media outlets are writing about it. The tacit assumption behind much of this fussing is that the status quo, exemplified by ICANN and other “multi-stakeholder institutions,” is doing a wonderful job and we should strive to preserve them.

  • (NPR, Saturday, December 1, 2012)

    First, it was Egypt. At the height of the protest against the Mubarak regime in 2011, authorities shut the Internet down. This week, it was Syria. Just as rebel forces there were making big gains, someone pulled the plug on the Internet, and Syria went dark. Service was restored on Saturday, but Andrew McLaughlin, former White House adviser on technology policy, expects we'll see more of this.

  • (Wired, Friday, November 30, 2012)

    Behind closed doors, decisions will be made next week that could threaten the global, open internet. This isn’t a sky-is-falling cry: There could be very real consequences both in how we use the internet and how it’s governed. A relatively unknown United Nations agency called the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is hosting the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) from Dec. 3 to 14. And it’s an opaque, government-controlled event.

  • (Renesys - Blog, Friday, November 30, 2012)

    How hard is it to disconnect a country from the Internet, really? That's the number one question we've received about our analysis of the Egyptian and Syrian Internet blackouts, and it's a reasonable question. If the Internet is so famously resilient, designed to survive wars and calamities, how can it fail so abruptly and completely at the national level?

  • (Global Voices, Thursday, November 29, 2012)

    Today, Internet rights advocates are urging their governments to vote for openness at the conference of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Beginning Monday, Member States of the UN agency will decide whether the ITU should expand its regulatory authority to the Internet — a move that could threaten privacy, free expression, and access to information for Internet users around the globe.

  • (IFEX, Wednesday, November 28, 2012)

    On 27 November, Reporters Without Borders will launch a website called WeFightCensorship (WeFC) on which it will post content that has been censored or banned or has given rise to reprisals against its creator. This original website's aim is to make censorship obsolete. It is an unprecedented initiative that will enable Reporters Without Borders to complement all of its other activities in defence of freedom of information, which include advocacy, lobbying and assistance. 

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Wednesday, November 28, 2012)

    The telecommunications standards arm of the U.N. has quietly endorsed the standardization of technologies that could give governments and companies the ability to sift through all of an Internet user’s traffic – including emails, banking transactions, and voice calls – without adequate privacy safeguards. The move suggests that some governments hope for a world where even encrypted communications may not be safe from prying eyes.

  • (Access, Wednesday, November 28, 2012)

    Government requests for so-called “lawful access” to user data are trending in both democratic and non-democratic nations, presenting one of the greatest challenges for the protection of fundamental rights. From recent allegations involving Skype handing over user data without a warrant to TeliaSonera’s permitting abusive regimes in Belarus, Azerbaijan and elsewhere to access its very networks, the threats to privacy are only increasing.

  • (Slate, Wednesday, November 28, 2012)

    The Internet is often seen as a place of chaos and disorder, a borderless world in which anonymous trolls roam free and vigilante hackers wreak havoc. But as a crucial United Nations conference on the future of telecommunications looms next week, there are fears governments are secretly maneuvering to restructure and rein in the anarchic Web we have come to know and love, perhaps even ushering in a new era of pervasive surveillance. So just how real is the threat of change and what might it mean?

  • (The New York Times, Tuesday, November 27, 2012)

    A commercial and ideological clash is set for next week, when representatives of more than 190 governments, along with telecommunications companies and Internet groups, gather in Dubai for a once-in-a-generation meeting. The subject: Control of the Internet, politically and commercially. The stated purpose of the World Conference on International Telecommunications is to update a global treaty on technical standards needed to, say, connect a telephone call from Tokyo to Timbuktu. The previous conference took place in 1988, when the Internet was in its infancy and telecommunications remained a highly regulated, mostly analog-technology business.

  • (TNW, Sunday, November 25, 2012)

    If you live in the West the answer to the question ‘How much freedom do you really have online?’ is probably ‘quite a lot’. But this month I learned that the freedom TO speak doesn’t always lead to being free AFTER you speak, when I met journalists and campaigners at the 7th annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF), held in Baku, Azerbaijan.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Tuesday, November 20, 2012)

    Some things change, but others stay the same. While the types of threats facing Internet users worldwide have diversified over the past few years, from targeted malware to distributed denial of service attacks, one thing has remained constant: governments seeking to exert control over their populations still remain the biggest threat to the open Internet.

  • (The New York Times, Tuesday, November 20, 2012)

    Scientists at Toshiba and Cambridge University have perfected a technique that offers a less expensive way to ensure the security of the high-speed fiber optic cables that are the backbone of the modern Internet. The research, which will be published Tuesday in the science journal Physical Review X, describes a technique for making infinitesimally short time measurements needed to capture pulses of quantum light hidden in streams of billions of photons transmitted each second in data networks. Scientists used an advanced photodetector to extract weak photons from the torrents of light pulses carried by fiber optic cables, making it possible to safely distribute secret keys necessary to scramble data over distances up to 56 miles.

  • (Slate, Monday, November 19, 2012)

    According to law enforcement agencies, the rising popularity of Internet chat services like Skype has made it difficult to eavesdrop on suspects’ communications. But now a California businessman is weighing in with what he claims is a revolutionary solution—a next-generation surveillance technology designed to covertly intercept online chats and video calls in real time.

  • (Global Voices, Monday, November 19, 2012)

    Over the next seven days, Global Voices Lingua volunteers will be translating a public online petition that supports the protection of human rights online and urges government members of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to preserve Internet openness at the upcoming conference of the ITU.

  • (Internet Society, Saturday, November 17, 2012)

    The Internet Society paper "Some Perspectives on Cybersecurity: 2012" is intended to help anyone concerned about the healthy evolution of the Internet with an introduction to an important topic. Cybersecurity is widely debated by users, by researchers and engineers, and by network operators, all interested in making the Internet a safer place. It is the subject of discussion and negotiation by governments, the private sector and others in a range of international organizations. It is the subject of conferences, symposiums and action plans. But do all of these parties mean the same thing when they talk about cybersecurity?

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Thursday, November 15, 2012)

    Digital rights advocates around the world are working to make their voices heard at the upcoming treaty conference of the International Telecommunication Union. Leaked documents include proposed treaty revisions that could place limitations on online privacy, free expression, access to information, and ICT use around the world.

  • (Internews, Thursday, November 15, 2012)

    Digital and online tools are irreversibly changing the way professional and citizen media access, consume, produce, and share information. Whether researching stories using a shared computer in a newsroom along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border or talking to contacts in the refugee camps in Africa using mobile phones, journalists and media producers need to understand not just how to use these devices, but also how to protect themselves and the sources they rely on for information. SpeakSafe is dedicated to journalists and media workers in the business of information. It is produced through Internews’ Global Human Rights Program, which works to strengthen the capacity of media to report safely on human rights issues.

  • (TNW, Wednesday, November 14, 2012)

    A new security hole has been discovered in Microsoft’s Skype that allows anyone to change your password and thus take over your account. The issue was first posted on a Russian forum two months ago and has been confirmed by The Next Web (we have not linked to any of the blogs or posts detailing the exploit because it is very easy to reproduce).

  • (Google, Tuesday, November 13, 2012)

    We think it’s important to shine a light on how government actions could affect our users. When we first launched the Transparency Report in early 2010, there wasn’t much data out there about how governments sometimes hamper the free flow of information on the web. So we took our first step toward greater transparency by disclosing the number of government requests we received. At the time, we weren’t sure how things would look beyond that first snapshot, so we pledged to release numbers twice a year. Today we’re updating the Transparency Report with data about government requests from January to June 2012.

  • (UN News Centre, Thursday, November 8, 2012)

    The United Nations agency which deals with freedom of expression on the Internet today warned that restrictions directly limiting Internet access appear to be on the rise, and called on governments to implement policies that facilitate broadband connectivity instead of putting up barriers particularly during political developments.

  • (Bloomberg, Thursday, November 8, 2012)

    In the secretive world of surveillance technology, he goes just by his initials: MJM. His mystique is such that other security professionals avoid using wireless Internet near him. MJM himself suggests that those he meets allay their paranoia by taking batteries out of their mobile phones. MJM -- Martin J. Muench -- is the developer of Andover, U.K.-based Gamma Group’s FinFisher intrusion software, which he sells to police and spy agencies around the world for monitoring computers and smartphones to intercept Skype calls, peer through Web cameras and record keystrokes.

  • (, Thursday, November 8, 2012)

    As the annual United Nations-run Internet Governance Forum (IGF) convenes in Baku, Azerbaijan this week, it is a bitter irony that a multi-stakeholder conference to discuss the Internet’s future is being held in a country where the government has no qualms aboutlocking up its online critics. And the IGF itself has, according to the Expression Online Initiative, even prevented the consortium of Azeri freedom of expression groups from distributing copies of two reports: Searching for Freedom: Online Expression in Azerbaijan and The Right to Remain Silent: Freedom of Expression in Azerbaijan ahead of the 7th Internet Governance Forum.

  • (Wired, Wednesday, November 7, 2012)

    With over 90 percent of the world’s people now within reach of mobile phones, the challenge today is bringing internet access to the two-thirds of the world’s population that is still offline. This challenge is compounded by the need to ensure connectivity is affordable and safe for all. If we can achieve this, all the world’s citizens will have the potential to access unlimited knowledge, to express themselves freely, and to contribute to and enjoy the benefits of the knowledge society.

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Monday, November 5, 2012)

    Next month, the world’s governments will meet in Dubai to decide whether to expand the scope of the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) treaty to include regulating the Internet, a move that would mark a significant shift from the current status quo of global Internet governance.

  • (BBC News, Monday, November 5, 2012)

    An international training institute to teach online tactics for human rights campaigners is being set up in the Italian city of Florence. The first students, starting in the new year, will be drawn from human rights activists around the world - with the aim of arming them with the latest tools for digital dissent. As the Arab spring showed, protests are as likely to be about individuals using social networking as much as public demonstrations. Street protests have become Tweet protests.

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Friday, November 2, 2012)

    If members of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU)—a UN agency known for its non-transparent, government-centric structure—vote to expand ITU authority to cover Internet policy and technical standards, Internet openness, affordability, and functionality could be at risk. This shadow of uncertainty has propelled CDT’s recent advocacy ahead of the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in December, where governments will update the agency’s treaty and decide whether or not the ITU should expand its authority to areas of Internet governance.

  • (Freedom House, Thursday, November 1, 2012)

    You’ve probably heard of the Great Firewall of China, which scrubs the web of any potentially subversive content for half a billion internet users. And you’ve definitely heard about the Egyptian government’s decision to switch off all internet and mobile-phone networks at the height of the uprising in 2011. But there are a host of lesser-known threats to internet freedom, some of which endanger the very nature of the net as we know it.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Tuesday, October 30, 2012)

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and a coalition of nine other groups launched the Open Wireless Movement today – a new project to promote a landscape of shared, wireless Internet. "We envision a world where sharing one's Internet connection is the norm," said EFF Activist Adi Kamdar. "A world of open wireless would encourage privacy, promote innovation, and benefit the public good, giving us network access whenever we need it. And everyone – users, businesses, developers, and Internet service providers – can get involved to help make it happen."

  • (IFEX, Monday, October 29, 2012)

    The more we live our lives online, the greater the temptation for governments and private companies to spy on us. News Editor Padraig Reidy highlights the dark side of our increasing dependence on digital communications. While the internet offers opportunities for mass communication and social interaction unprecedented in human history, the chances for governments to monitor and control how we communicate are also ample.  

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Friday, October 26, 2012)

    The ITU’s upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) could have dire implications for global economic growth and development. Proposed revisions to the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) could fundamentally change the way the Internet works, diminishing the positive impact of the Internet on economies around the globe. Certain treaty proposals would exacerbate the global digital divide by increasing the cost of sending traffic over the network and inhibiting nations from adopting network neutrality rules. Such extreme revisions to the treaty could change the economics of the Internet by shackling the Internet to the rules and operating principles of twentieth-century telecommunications systems.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Thursday, October 25, 2012)

    In less than 10 minutes, you can drastically improve your privacy online and protect yourself against unwanted and invisible tracking.Note that these privacy safeguards will also be blocking some ads. EFF is working with online advertisers to try to convince them to provide real privacy protections for users, but until they agree to meaningful standards about online tracking, these steps will be necessary for users to safeguard their browsing privacy. Aside from removing ads, these changes won't affect your browsing experience on the vast majority of websites. It's possible, however, that a tiny fraction of websites may behave differently or break, in which case the easiest solution is to temporarily use a "private browsing" mode without the settings enabled, or a fresh browser profile/user with default settings.

  • (Tech Crunch, Thursday, October 25, 2012)

    A recent UN report from the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force reads like a primer on Internet control and censorship. Entitled “Use Of The Internet For Terrorist Purposes,” the document, which discusses the dangers of “open Wi-Fi” and suggests ISPs maintain retention standards, focuses on the possibility of “terrorists” using the “Internet” to terrorize, a problem akin to trying to solve the problem of “criminals” walking in “parks.”

  • (The Economist, Thursday, October 25, 2012)

    Twenty years ago Phil Zimmermann released encryption software called Pretty Good Privacy (PGP). His aim was to offer free tools to help human-rights advocates exchange data securely. The program was better than pretty good; it fell afoul of munitions export rules of the day that classified sufficiently strong scrambling as a weapon, leading to a three-year investigation by American authorities. Charges were never filed, however, and PGP popularised the use of public-key cryptography to allow parties who may never have met to communicate without fear of snooping.

  • (Index, Wednesday, October 24, 2012)

    The more we live our lives online, the greater the temptation for governments and private companies to spy on us. Padraig Reidy highlights the dark side of our increasing dependence on digital communications. While the internet offers opportunities for mass communication and social interaction unprecedented in human history, the chances for governments to monitor and control how we communicate are also ample.

  • (The Washington Post, Sunday, October 21, 2012)

    U.S.-funded programs to beat back online censorship are increasingly finding a ready audience in repressive countries, with more than 1 million people a day using online tools to get past extensive blocking programs and government surveillance. But the popularity of those initiatives has become a liability.

  • (Wired, Thursday, October 18, 2012)

    Security is not just about strong encryption, good anti-virus software, or techniques like two-factor authentication. It’s also about the “fuzzy” things … involving people. That’s where the security game is often won or lost. Just ask Mat Honan. We – the users – are supposed to be responsible, and are told what to do to stay secure. For example: “Don’t use the same password on different sites.” 

  • (The Guardian, Wednesday, October 17, 2012)

    Have you ever noticed that wherever you are in the world, every telephone keypad looks the same? Or wondered why satellites don't crash into each other? Or why you dial 64 to reach New Zealand, but 65 for Singapore? These are some of the mundane but essential logistical achievements of the International Telecommunication Union, a specialist UN agency that dates back to 1865.

  • (Journal of Information Technology, Monday, October 15, 2012)

    Using an organizational informatics approach, this study explores the implications of human rights organizations’ use of censorship circumvention technologies. Through qualitative analyses of data collected through in-depth interviews, the research examines
    the factors influencing the use of circumvention technologies and the organizational effects of their use. The outcomes include a revised model of censorship circumvention technology use as well as a new model situating human rights organizations and their audiences in bidirectional information flows. The research provides recommendations for practice as well as insight for organizational informatics and information systems security research in the areas of protective technologies, awareness, detection, and physical security.

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Friday, October 12, 2012)

    Earlier this week, the ITU Secretariat hosted a briefing for civil society organizations interested in the ITU's upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications. Although the Secretariat's official aim was to "provide an overview of the conference, the preparatory process, and some of the main principles and issues being discussed," concrete answers to these questions were few and far between.  

  • (, Thursday, October 11, 2012)

    But the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) highlighted huge disparities in the cost of services, with the poorer parts of the world tending to pay the most. "On the back of the increase in broadband services worldwide, the number of people using the Internet grew by 11 percent over the past year ... ie, 2.3 billion people," the ITU said in its 2012 report on information and communication technologies (ICT). In terms of affordability, Macau, Norway and Singapore topped the list of 161 countries featured in the report.

  • (Forbes, Wednesday, October 10, 2012)

    On October 26, Microsoft is planning to launch a new version of Internet Explorer that has privacy baked in. It will have a “Do Not Track” signal turned on by default, so that those people who still use Internet Explorer and who actually take the time to upgrade to the new version will be automatically telling websites and advertisers that they don’t want data about them to be collected or used to target them with ads while they browse the Internet. (If that is in fact what “Do Not Track” turns out to mean.)

  • (The Brisbane Times, Wednesday, October 10, 2012)

    It is the "most important meeting you've never heard of" — a behind-closed-doors battle for control of the internet that one of the web's founders fears may "put government handcuffs on the net". The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a United Nations organisation representing 193 countries, is reviewing international agreements governing telecommunications with a view to expanding its regulatory authority over the internet.

  • (Electronic Frontiers Foundation, Monday, October 8, 2012)

    EFF has a long-term mission to encrypt as much of the Web as possible — in fact, to encrypt all of it. We have been making quite a lot of progress. HTTPS Everywhere, the browser extension we produce in collaboration with the Tor Project and an awesome community of volunteers, is now used by more than 2.5 million people around the world.

  • (The Economist, Saturday, October 6, 2012)

    The arrest of a senior executive rarely brings helpful headlines. But when Brazilian authorities briefly detained Google’s country boss on September 26th—for refusing to remove videos from its YouTube subsidiary that appeared to breach electoral laws—they helped the firm repair its image as a defender of free speech.Two weeks earlier those credentials looked tarnished. Google blocked net users in eight countries from viewing a film trailer that had incensed Muslims. In six states, including India and Saudi Arabia, local courts banned the footage. In Egypt and Libya, where protesters attacked American embassies and killed several people, Google took the video down of its own accord.

  • (The Netizen Project, Thursday, October 4, 2012)

    When supporters of a group of right wing Colombian militants didn’t like a website that criticized their activities in 2001, they sent a threat to the home address of activist Anriette Esterhuysen, using the public Whois database that compiles the name, address, email and phone number of everyone with registered to manage a domain name for a website. This particular website was hosted by a member of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) advocacy group, and had a domain name ending with

  • (Stanford University, Tuesday, October 2, 2012)

    While Internet access to certain sites is blocked in some parts of the world, these restrictions are often circumvented using proxies out-
    side the censored region. Often these proxies are blocked as soon as they are discovered. In this paper we propose a browser-based proxy creation system that generates a large number of short-lived proxies. Clients using the system seamlessly hop from one proxy to the next as these browser-based proxies appear and disappear. We discuss a number of technical challenges that had to be overcome for this system to work and report on its performance and security. We show that browser-based short-lived proxies provide adequate bandwidth for video delivery and argue that blocking them can be challenging.

  • (Broadband Commission, Tuesday, October 2, 2012)

    High-speed affordable broadband connectivity to the Internet is essential to modern society, offering widely recognized economic and
    social benefits (Annex 1). The Broadband Commission for Digital Development promotes the adoption of broadband-friendly practices and policies for all, so everyone can take advantage of the benefits offered by broadband. With this Report, the Broadband Commission expands awareness and understanding of the importance of broadband networks, services, and applications for generating economic growth and achieving social progress. It has been written collaboratively, drawing on insightful and thoughtprovoking contributions from our leading array of Commissioners and their organizations, foremost in their fields. 

  • (Global Network Initiative, Tuesday, October 2, 2012)

    This December in Dubai, world governments will gather to renegotiate a key treaty under the auspices of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a UN agency that specializes in global telecommunications. The meeting, known as the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), has been billed as a mortal threat to Internet freedom, a rare opportunity to fix inequitable flaws in the existing global economic framework for communications infrastructure, and all or none of the above. 

  • (The Wall Street Journal, Friday, September 28, 2012)

    Surveillance of your activities – and those of most Americans – is now just a fact of everyday life. People are monitored when they browse the Web, when they use their cellphones, when they drive and when they use their credit cards, among other things. The Wall Street Journal analyzed a variety of everyday situations and found more than 20 different ways that people’s information is regularly recorded. That number does not include special situations such as border crossings or surveillance that occurs only when someone is suspected of a crime.

  • (IFEX, Tuesday, September 25, 2012)

    Brutal attacks against bloggers, politically motivated surveillance, proactive manipulation of web content, and restrictive laws regulating speech online are among the diverse threats to internet freedom emerging over the past two years, according to a new study released today by Freedom House. Despite these threats, Freedom on the Net 2012: A Global Assessment of Internet and Digital Media found that increased pushback by civil society, technology companies, and independent courts resulted in several notable victories. 

  • (Electronic Frontiers Foundation, Tuesday, September 25, 2012)

    We’ve been seeing a range of reports about Facebook partnering up with marketing company Datalogix to assess whether users go to stores in the physical world and buy the products they saw in Facebook advertisements. A lot of the reports aren’t getting into the nitty gritty of what data is actually shared between Facebook and Datalogix, so the goal of this blog post is to dive into the details. We’re glad to see that Facebook is taking a number of steps to avoid sharing sensitive data with Datalogix, but users who are uncomfortable with the program should opt out.

  • (Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Tuesday, September 25, 2012)

    Infrastructure resources are the subject of many contentious public policy debates, including what to do about crumbling roads and bridges, whether and how to protect our natural environment, energy policy, even patent law reform, universal health care, network neutrality regulation and the future of the Internet. Each of these involves a battle to control infrastructure resources, to establish the terms and conditions under which the public receives access, and to determine how the infrastructure and various dependent systems evolve over time.

  • (Freedom House, Monday, September 24, 2012)

    Brutal attacks against bloggers, politically motivated surveillance, proactive manipulation of web content, and restrictive laws regulating speech online are among the diverse threats to internet freedom emerging over the past two years, according to a new study released today by Freedom House. Despite these threats, Freedom on the Net 2012: A Global Assessment of Internet and Digital Media found that increased pushback by civil society, technology companies, and independent courts resulted in several notable victories. “The findings clearly show that threats to internet freedom are becoming more diverse. As authoritarian rulers see that blocked websites and high-profile arrests draw local and international condemnation, they are turning to murkier—but no less dangerous—methods for controlling online conversations,” said Sanja Kelly, project director for Freedom on the Net at Freedom House.


  • (ZD Net, Monday, September 24, 2012)

    If you want to go hunting for it, you'll find pictures of the Arab Spring uprising across YouTube, uploaded by participants or onlookers on their mobile phones. Years ago, that wouldn't have been possible, because (a) there weren't too many phones, and (b) smartphones weren't that easy to use. You could also add (c) many countries had lousy data capabilities. Now that's changed. Let's take Egypt as an example. According to data from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), there were 18 mobile phone subscriptions per 100 inhabitants of Egypt in 2005.

  • (The Telegraph, Monday, September 24, 2012)

    Facebook is seeking informants. For several months, the company has been asking users about their friends usernames, trying to wheedle out people using false names. It’s the latest step in the rise of the social network Stasi and towards a society where everyone is an informant. A spokesperson for Facebook told Talking Points Memo that the surveys aren’t “used for any enforcement action” and that survey data is anonymised. That’s an comforting phrase isn’t it? “Enforcement action”. If web services were nation states, Facebook would be most likely to mimic China – a surveillance state where personal freedom is banished for “the greater good”.

  • (Nextgov, Monday, September 24, 2012)

    More repressive regimes are combating online critics by paying pro-government bloggers to “tout the official point of view, discredit opposition activists, or disseminate false information” in online comment streams and on social media, according to an international watchdog report released Monday. This practice was once mostly limited to China and Russia, according to Freedom House’s Freedom on the Net 2012 report, but it has cropped up during the past year in 14 of the 47 nations studied.

  • (PC Magazine, Monday, September 24, 2012)

    For at least a decade, there's been talk of the balkanization of the Internet and, to be honest, it seems that no one has done anything to prevent it. I'm talking about the possibility of a country going beyond Internet censorship and literally closing itself off completely. Iran will probably be the first to finally do it. After that, who knows who will follow.

  • (Reporters Without Borders, Friday, September 21, 2012)

    Disturbing online censorship and self-censorship measures have been taken in an attempt to prevent the circulation of "Innocence of Muslims," a US-produced video that denigrates Islam, and to defuse the resulting violence. Access to the video and/or platform hosting it has been blocked on the initiative of the authorities in some countries. In other countries, it is Google, the company that owns YouTube, that has suspended access to the video’s online links (see below for details of the blocking methods).

  • (Electronic Frontiers Foundation, Tuesday, September 18, 2012)

    While US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, who oversees the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP), continues to declare that the trade negotiations are “the most open, transparent process ever,” we are confounded as to what he defines to be "open" or "transparent." They have yet to even provide the public — civil society organizations and policy makers — with any official documents relating to the text of the agreement. We are fighting for real transparency, which means access to the current draft documents or country proposals for provisions to into the agreement.

  • (Citizen Media Law Project, Monday, September 17, 2012)

    It is hard to look at the international protests surrounding the Innocence of Muslims video and the contemporaneous (though seemingly unrelated) fatal attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya and not feel as though we are witnessing an important moment in the Internet's development. Of course, posting material online has lead to drastic, even fatal, consequences in the past. But it is hard to think of another time where a single piece of online content has brought about such an overwhelmingly serious and negative reaction. And given that the creator's initial anonymity led news reports to declare the video as coming "from the Internet," it's quite possible that this will remain a video whose origin is attributed primarily by where it was published rather than who made it. In the minds of many, this will remain an action of the Internet – and an action with very serious consequences.

  • (Strategic Studies Quarterly, Sunday, September 16, 2012)

    The organizing ethos of the Internet founders was that of a boundless space enabling everyone to connect with everything, everywhere. his gov­erning principle did not relect laws or national borders. Indeed, everyone was equal. A brave new world emerged where the meek are powerful enough to challenge the strong. Perhaps the best articulation of these sentiments is found in “A Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace.” Addressing world governments and corporations online, John Perry Barlow proclaimed, “Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us.

  • (Electronic Frontiers Foundation, Friday, September 14, 2012)

    Privacy rights face a crisis. Governments around the world have been taking overreaching, fear-based surveillance measures against essential online freedoms. Organizing an international resistance demands a complex understanding of both the latest online surveillance trends and of long-standing threats to privacy. Every year, Freedom Not Fear continues to organize a broad international protest against these threats to our civil liberties, and challenge the hyperbolic rhetoric of fear that permeates the security and privacy debate. 

  • (IFEX, Friday, September 14, 2012)

    In a joint statement, civil society groups voice concerns about proposals made by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) that would threaten the openness of the Internet. To Member States and Government Delegations of the International Telecommunication Union: In the interests of promoting and protecting global Internet openness and the exercise of human rights online, we write to urge International Telecommunication Union (ITU) member states and their delegates to the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) to refrain from expanding the scope of the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) treaty to include the Internet.


  • (Electronic Frontiers Foundation, Friday, September 14, 2012)

    Secret negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) continued this week in a golf resort outside Washington DC, and the process continues to be as secret and undemocratic as ever. TPP is yet another example of how the US entertainment and pharma industry are pressuring lawmakers to push forward overprotective intellectual property laws that will also put the Internet and its users at risk. Last Sunday, EFF was at the negotiations to participate in the “stakeholder” events hosted by the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR). There were noticeably more organizations and companies present at the three-hour stakeholder tabling session than the last round of negotiations in San Diego.

  • (Electronic Frontiers Foundation, Wednesday, September 12, 2012)

    On Sept. 14 – 17, activists with the Freedom not Fear movement will stage an international week of action to oppose surveillance measures from Europe to Australia. To support this effort, EFF is examining surveillance trends and spotlighting international grassroots activism launched in response. David Lyon is a prominent sociologist, author, and director of the Surveillance Studies Center at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada. His most recent book, co-authored with Zygmunt Bauman, is titled Liquid Surveillance. Lyon spent an hour talking with EFF about contemporary surveillance trends such as biometrics, CCTV cameras and legislative proposals for broadened online spying powers for law enforcement.


  • (Global Voices, Wednesday, September 12, 2012)

    This December in Dubai, the International Telecommunication Union—a UN agency—will decide whether it should have regulatory authority over the Internet. This move could pose grave risks to the exercise of human rights online. Until now, the ITU has been dedicated to setting technical standards for interoperability of international telecommunications, radio, and satellite systems, in addition to promoting access to ICT. But some member states have proposed extending the ITU’s mandate to cover Internet-related technical and policy matters that could place limitations on online privacy, free expression, access to information and ICT use around the world.

  • (TechWorld, Monday, September 10, 2012)

    Black Lotus is pulling the wraps of a distributed denial-of-service-mitigation service that uses behavioural factors to pick up on low-volume botnet attacks that nevertheless can cripple Web servers. Called Protection for Services, the offering runs customer traffic through proxies that employ human behavior analysis to discover and temporarily block offending IP addresses, says the Black Lotus President Jeff Lyon.

  • (Index, Monday, September 10, 2012)

    Index joins civil society groups in voicing concerns about proposals made by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) that would threaten the openness of the internet. To Member States and Government Delegations of the International Telecommunication Union: In the interests of promoting and protecting global Internet openness and the exercise of human rights online, we write to urge International Telecommunication Union (ITU) member states and their delegates to the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) to refrain from expanding the scope of the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) treaty to include the Internet.

  • (Social Science Research Network, Sunday, September 9, 2012)

    Internet censorship has evolved. In Version 1.0, censorship was impossible; in Version 2.0, it was a characteristic of repressive regimes; and in Version 3.0, it spread to democracies who desired to use technology to restrain unwanted information. Its latest iteration, Version 3.1, involves near-ubiquitous censorship by democratic and authoritarian countries alike. This Article argues that the new censorship model involves four changes: a shift in implementation to private parties; a hybrid approach mixing promotion of favored viewpoints with suppression of disfavored ones; a blend of formal mandates with informal pressures; and a framing of censorship using uncontroversial labels.

  • (Electronic Frontiers Foundations, Saturday, September 8, 2012)

    In a recent blog post, Sandra Fulton of the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) Washington Legislative Office, described the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) as the "biggest threat to free speech and intellectual property that you’ve never heard of." In her post, she reminds readers that the USTR is not only pushing for TPP and its proposed changes to intellectual property law, it is doing its best to avoid Congressional oversight. For instance, the USTR has recently rebuffed a request from the staff director on the Senate Finance Committee's International Trade Subcommittee to review documents pertaining to the negotiations.

  • (Portland Digital eXperience 2012 Workshop, Saturday, September 8, 2012)

    How is Moore's Law and ever-cheaper computing and interconnectedness affecting our world? Activists, individuals, and governments are using digital technologies like social media as powerful forces for change. From 2009-2011, Andrew McLaughlin was a member of President Obama's senior White House staff, serving as Deputy Chief Technology Officer of the United States. In that role, Andrew was responsible for advising the President on Internet, technology, and innovation policy, including open government, cybersecurity, online privacy and free speech, spectrum policy, federal R&D priorities, entrepreneurship, and the creation of open technology standards and platforms for health care, energy efficiency, and education. 

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Thursday, September 6, 2012)

    Member States of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) are considering this year whether to extend the ITUʼs regulatory authority to the Internet. Several proposals have been made to revise the ITUʼs basic treaty to include provisions addressing the security of networks or information. These proposals have rightly raised controversy not only because of their implications for Internet freedom, but also because of concerns that ITU intervention could distract from or undermine other ongoing efforts by institutions better suited to address Internet security. 

  • (Diplo, Wednesday, September 5, 2012)

    In his interview with CNET, Luigi Gambardella, chairman of ETNO’s executive board, explains clearly the idea behind the proposed principle of ‘sender-party-pays’ for Internet traffic. In a nutshell Gambardella explains: ‘...the operators are free to negotiate commercial agreements beyond best effort. These commercial agreements are based on the value of the information, not the bits.’

  • (Idea Lab, Wednesday, September 5, 2012)

    "On condition of anonymity" is one of the most important phrases in journalism. At Tor, we are working on making that more than a promise. The good news: The Internet has made it possible for journalists to talk to sources, gather video and photos from citizens, and to publish despite efforts to censor the news. The bad news: People who were used to getting away with atrocities are aware that the Internet has made it possible for journalists to talk to sources, gather video and photos from citizens, and to publish despite efforts to censor the news.

  • (Science Direct, Wednesday, September 5, 2012)

    Facebook is often invoked in popular discourse as a device for the potential exploitation of individual privacy. Facebook users invite surveillance, and personal information revealed by Facebook users is compiled into aggregated databases of linked information, preferences, and behaviors. In the interest of the ideals of individual empowerment, cultural integrity, social responsibility and equality, social networking communities are forming to interrogate networked surveillance. This article examines those communities of resistance in the form of “sousveillance” tactics that have emerged as a backlash to the surveilled environment. Sousveillance is “watching from below,” a form of inverse surveillance in which people monitor the surveillors.

  • (Reporters Without Borders, Wednesday, September 5, 2012)

    Filtering, denial of service attacks, withdrawal of content – censors use many different methods to silence news websites. In addition to drawing attention to these acts of censorship and providing the victims with legal, material and financial help, Reporters Without Borders has now decided to provide them with technical assistance as well. 

  • (ZD Net, Tuesday, September 4, 2012)

    Don't you just hate it when there's someone in the cinema taking photos, or talking on their phone? How unfair is it that 'they' cheated on their test because they could access the Web, and yet you only got half their marks? Isn't it a shame you can't take a photo of the police officer beating a man in the street because your oppressive government remotely disabled your smartphone camera? A new patent granted to Apple could do all of the above.

  • (TechWorld, Sunday, September 2, 2012)

    Network professionals know that distributed denial-of-service attacks are an ever-growing danger. The recent assault on Twitter is just the latest evidence. Using a mushrooming array of advanced tools, including pay-per-use services and mobile devices, attackers are taking down websites, DNS and email servers, often using these tools to destroy a company's online revenue, customer service and brand reputation. 

  • (The New York Times, Sunday, September 2, 2012)

    Alexander Macgillivray, Twitter’s chief lawyer, says that fighting for free speech is more than a good idea. He thinks it is a competitive advantage for his company. That conviction explains why he spends so much of Twitter’s time and money going toe to toe with officers and apparatchiks both here and abroad. Last week, his legal team was fighting a court order to extract an Occupy Wall Street protester’s Twitter posts.

  • (The Guardian, Friday, August 31, 2012)

    The thing that still blows my mind about the internet is that through all the dramatic changes over the last two or three decades, it remains a mostly open public commons that everyone can use. There are many land ownership battles happening all around it, but it has so far withstood challenges to its shape, size, governance and its role in all aspects of our lives.

  • (American Journalism Review, Thursday, August 30, 2012)

    Spying on journalists has never been easier. A reporter covering the Syrian conflict is chatting on Skype with her editor back home about a story she just filed. Suddenly a message pops up offering access to a video of atrocities committed by government forces. All she has to do is click on the link. The moment she does, a malicious Trojan is downloaded, turning her computer into an espionage tool, logging all keystrokes, passwords and screenshots, and transmitting information back to whatever power controls it.

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Thursday, August 30, 2012)

    In Dubai this December, the world's governments will decide whether the International Telecommunication Union – a UN agency – should expand its authority to cover Internet policy and technical standards, a move that could pose grave risks to the exercise of human rights online.

  • (The New York Times, Thursday, August 30, 2012)

    Morgan Marquis-Boire works as a Google engineer and Bill Marczak is earning a Ph.D. in computer science. But this summer, the two men have been moonlighting as detectives, chasing an elusive surveillance tool from Bahrain across five continents. What they found was the widespread use of sophisticated, off-the-shelf computer espionage software by governments with questionable records on human rights.

  • (Access, Wednesday, August 29, 2012)

    The World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) is rapidly approaching and governments around the world are in the process of finalizing what their delegations will bring to the table when they arrive in Dubai for the start of the conference on December 3. Among the issues being debated at WCIT is whether or not to expand the mandate of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN specialized agency that is convening the conference, to include internet policy issues .

  • (Free Speech Blog, Tuesday, August 28, 2012)

    December will see the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), organised by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a specialised UN agency that sets standards for international telephony. The Dubai-based conference will bring together 190 nations and, while members have been meeting behind closed doors, various policy proposals have been leaked by activists on the website WCITLeaks.

  • (ARS Technica, Tuesday, August 28, 2012)

    When Libyan rebels finally wrested control of the country last year away from its mercurial dictator, they discovered the Qaddafi regime had received an unusual gift from its allies: foreign firms had supplied technology that allowed security forces to track nearly all of the online activities of the country’s 100,000 Internet users. That technology, supplied by a subsidiary of the French IT firm Bull, used a technique called deep packet inspection (DPI) to capture e-mails, chat messages, and Web visits of Libyan citizens.

  • (The Financial Times, Monday, August 27, 2012)

    In December, the UN World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai will set out a broad framework of regulations for the internet – the global network of networks that links more than 2bn people, is gaining more than 500,000 users daily, and is the platform on which the web was founded. But the meeting’s goals are causing alarm.

  • (Electronic Frontiers Foundations, Friday, August 24, 2012)

    The draft chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement on Intellectual Property—as of its current leaked version [PDF], article 16—insists that signatories provide legal incentives for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to privately enforce copyright protection rules. The TPP wants service providers to undertake the financial and administrative burdens of becoming copyright cops, serving a copyright maximalist agenda while disregarding the consequences for Internet freedom and innovation. 

  • (The Wall Street Journal, Friday, August 24, 2012)

    India blocked 245 web pages for provocative content on Monday in an effort to prevent the spread of hate messages and lessen communal tensions in the country, and suggested via an official release on the website of the Press Information Bureau that more could follow. As was widely reported in the days that followed, most websites blocked were not related to the ethnic clashes in Assam.

  • (The Guardian, Wednesday, August 22, 2012)

    In horror movies, the scariest moments usually come from the monster you can't see. So the same goes for real life, or at least online life. Over the past few years, largely out of sight, governments have been clawing back freedoms on the internet, turning an invention that was designed to emancipate the individual into a tool for surveillance and control. In the next few months, this process is set to be enshrined internationally, amid plans to put cyberspace under the authority of a largely secretive and obscure UN agency.

  • (Global Voices, Wednesday, August 22, 2012)

    Creating, informing, and thinking differently have always been viewed with suspicion. Today, when the Internet and digital technologies multiply information channels and offer new ways to create, there are many arguments fueled by certain interests that seek to discourage the free use of these platforms.

  • (BoingBoing, Wednesday, August 22, 2012)

    The Dictator's Practical Guide to Internet Power Retention, Global Edition is a wry little 45-page booklet that is, superfically, a book of practical advice for totalitarian, autocratic and theocratic dictators who are looking for advice on how to shape their countries' Internet policy to ensure that the network doesn't loosen their grip on power.

  • (The Guardian, Monday, August 20, 2012)

    I had intended to open this polemic with some version of this true story: earlier this summer, I was having dinner with friends and our conversation turned to the role of the veil in Islam, starting with how to explain a burkha to a son raised to believe that men and women are equal, before leading into the veil's potential as a form of oppression against women.

  • (Electronic Frontiers Foundations, Monday, August 20, 2012)

    Denial of service (DoS) and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are increasingly common phenomena, used by a variety of actors—from activists to governments—to temporarily or indefinitely prevent a site from functioning efficiently. Often, the attack saturates the target with server requests designed to flood its bandwidth, leaving the server unable to respond to legitimate traffic.

  • (Sage Journals, Monday, August 20, 2012)

    Technology plays an increasing role in policing and other aspects of the criminal justice process. This article will briefly outline the notion of a criminal justice ‘techno-fix’ as a potential attempt by criminal justice agencies to use technology as a source of legitimacy.

  • (Global Voices, Friday, August 17, 2012)

    We never get tired of saying it. Freedom of expression and the Internet are related: if one is affected, the other will be also. However, in modern democracies it is sometimes difficult to detect threats to online freedom of expression. Therefore, at this stage of the “Don’t fear the Internet” [es] campaign we will focus on how some copyright laws and practices end up discouraging the use of the Internet for expression.

  • (International Telecommunication Union, Wednesday, August 15, 2012)

    The public consultation process for WCIT-12 opened today, with interested parties able to make their written contributions to the WCIT-12 discussions via ITU’s website in any of the six official UN languages. The site opened for contributions today at 15:00 CET.

    It can be accessed at 

    The site is the result of a decision by ITU Council on 11 July 2012 to make a draft of the principal input document to the WCIT-12 conference publicly accessible, and to establish a website where all stakeholders can express their views and opinions on the content of that document or any other matter related to WCIT.