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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  • (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)

    Saudi authorities have detained three activists for posting videos on YouTube denouncing the royal family's corruption and complaining about dismal living standards and low wages. 

  • (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. 

  • (The Economist, Tuesday, April 1, 2014)

    A SURVEY conducted in recent months in 17 countries for BBC World Service by GlobeScan, a polling company, suggests a few surprising differences in how Chinese and many Westerners view their freedoms. Some of the results of the poll will not surprise anyone who has heard of Edward Snowden: a majority of Americans and Germans feel they are not free from government surveillance or monitoring, and only a third of Americans and Canadians, 38% of Britons and 27% of Germans feel the internet is a safe place to express their opinions. 

  • (Global Voices, Monday, March 31, 2014)

    After they were attacked and beaten by a mob, two teenage bloggers were arrested for allegedly posting “derogatory comments against Islam and Prophet Mohammad” on their Facebook accounts, according to Bangladesh's English daily Dhaka Tribune. Fellow bloggers allege that an Islamist student organization distributed false propaganda material which rallied the mob against the two bloggers and led to their arrest. The mainstream media has largely refrained from reporting this story.

  • (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.

  • (Reporters Without Borders, Sunday, March 30, 2014)

    Reporters Without Borders is very worried by a bill amending article 1087.1 of the civil code that Armenia’s parliament is to debate tomorrow. It would hold media responsible for comments posted on their websites and for content they reproduce from elsewhere on the Internet.The parliamentarians who drafted the amendments say their goal is to combat the spread of defamatory or insulting comments online, which is being encouraged by online anonymity.

  • (The New York Times, Sunday, March 30, 2014)

    The online habits of customers and their ability to pay, are the focus of digital policy legislation on which lawmakers from the European Union’s 28 member countries plan to vote Thursday in Brussels. A key part of the legislation is so-called net neutrality. The rules are meant to ensure equitable access to Internet’s pipelines for services like streaming music, on-demand television and cloud computing. The big questions are who pays for them, and how much. The proposed rules have drawn furious lobbying from telecommunications companies like Vodafone, Internet giants like Google and smaller players like Spotify, and advocacy groups on behalf of the European Union’s 500 million consumers.