Global Digital Download

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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  • (TechWorld, Tuesday, April 22, 2014)

    Brazil's Federal Senate has passed a proposed Internet law that aims to guarantee freedom of expression and privacy to the country's Internet users, and also requires foreign Internet service providers to fall in line with the country's rules. The bill was passed Tuesday, a day ahead of the start of a global Internet governance conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and requires the assent of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff.

  • (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.

  • (Bolo Bhi, Monday, April 21, 2014)

    The Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights unanimously passed a resolution to lift the ban on YouTube. Chairman of the Committee, Senator Afrasiab Khattak had earlier tabled a resolution to lift the ban on YouTube but it did not make it to the Senate’s agenda. Today, the committee unanimously passed the resolution. During the committee session,  Senator Khattak mentioned the PTA Chairman had appeared before the committee and submitted his comments on the YouTube ban earlier. Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, citing PTA Chairman’s statement said no filtering mechanism could ensure blocking of all objectionable content online 100%. Senator Hussain also pointed out no other Muslim country has banned YouTube, not even Saudi Arabia.

  • (The Miami Herald, Monday, April 21, 2014)

    A program financed by the U.S. Agency for International Development to develop the technology for a novel Wi-Fi network in Cuba has not been deployed on the island and is under review, a USAID spokesman said Monday. USAID approved the grant to the Open Technology Institute (OTI) in Washington in 2012 as part of the agency’s efforts to promote Internet freedom, democracy and civil society in Cuba, said Matt Herrick, a spokesman for the agency. USAID drew a lot of fire from critics of its Cuba programs after the Associated Press reported earlier this month that it financed a Twitter-like system for Cubans. The agency said the system was not secret but had to be “discreet” because of Cuba’s “non-permissive environment.

  • (The Wall Street Journal, Monday, April 21, 2014)

    The U.S. has agreed to give up supervision of the Internet policy-making body that controls domain names, hoping to satisfy countries that want more international control over the Internet. This week, Washington will find out if its actions have eased global tensions over its cyberspying activities. World representatives are arriving in Brazil for Net Mundial, a two-day meeting about Internet governance that starts Wednesday in São Paulo. The meeting comes amid fallout over spying by the U.S. National Security Agency that has renewed concerns over the U.S. government's credibility and over longtime U.S. oversight of the Internet.

  • (The Latin Times, Monday, April 21, 2014)

    #EPNvsInternet is a hashtag that has completely taken over Mexican social media today. The hashtag is a sign of protest from young Mexicans angry at a new law being driven forward by President Enrique Peña Nieto which might curb freedom of expression on the Internet. The hashtag has been used 33,000 times so far and is the second most trending topic on Twitter worldwide. This is the biggest viral protest in Mexico this year. So what exactly is everyone up in arms about?

  • (This Day Live, Monday, April 21, 2014)

    The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Ibrahim Gusau, Monday said the findings and investigation by the House into the $40 million internet surveillance contract awarded to Elbit System, an Israel firm, in April 2013 by the federal government was because of its strategic security nature. Gusau made the disclosure in Abuja during the conferment of the Fellowship of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) on him by the President, Prof. David Adewumi, who led the delegation on a courtesy visit. He said: “The committee is saddled with the responsibility to investigate the project, as we are inviting the security organisations for interrogation.”

  • (The New York Times, Sunday, April 20, 2014)

    A group of academics and computer enthusiasts who took part in the 2011 uprising in Tunisia that overthrew a government deeply invested in digital surveillance have helped their town become a test case for an alternative: a physically separate, local network made up of cleverly programmed antennas scattered about on rooftops. The State Department provided $2.8 million to a team of American hackers, community activists and software geeks to develop the system, called a mesh network, as a way for dissidents abroad to communicate more freely and securely than they can on the open Internet. One target that is sure to start debate is Cuba; the United States Agency for International Development has pledged $4.3 million to create mesh networks there.

  • (The Guardian, Sunday, April 20, 2014)

    "Our intelligence efforts are strictly regulated by our law," responded Vladimir Putin to a question from Edward Snowden live on Russia Today. He added: "We don't have a mass system of such interception, and according to our law, it cannot exist." The Russian president may as well have been reading from a UK script. Earlier this month, David Cameron welcomed a new report by the UK's lickspittle surveillance watchdog assuring us that our surveillance laws remain fit for purpose, contrary to Snowden's disclosures. The report, by the interceptions of communications commissioner, Sir Anthony May, says UK agencies do not "engage in random mass intrusion into the public affairs of law abiding UK citizens", noting that "it would be comprehensively illegal if they did". The report exemplifies the ways in which the UK response to the Snowden revelations is providing a worrying precedent for Putin and other autocrats, and has been incommensurate to the scope and scale of the problem at hand.

  • (Neon Tommy, Saturday, April 19, 2014)

    For the past year, the Los Angeles police department has been discreetly implementing a state-of –the-art surveillance system.  The Persistent Surveillance Systems is a private company based in Ohio founded by ex-Air Force veteran Ross McNutt. The system is designed to record and track the movement of every single car and person out on the streets of the L.A.  With features of live streaming and recording capabilities, the security system basically serves as a special “Google Maps,” where the police can “go back in time” and rewind crimes to see before, during, and after the events.