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.

Sign up here to receive the weekly Global Digital Download newsletter.

  • (ACLU, Friday, April 11, 2014)

    During the long, hard fight to bring the outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) into the 21st century, advocates have run into the most unlikely of opponents: the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Yes, the SEC—the agency charged with regulating the securities industry—has brought the ECPA update to a screeching halt. Yesterday the ACLU, along with the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Tax Reform and the Center for Democracy and Technology, sent the agency a letter calling them out on their opposition.

  • (Reporters Without Borders, Friday, April 11, 2014)

    Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the 30-month jail sentence that a Bahraini court passed on the blogger Ali Maaraj on 8 April on charges of "insulting the king" and “improper handling of information technology". RWB condemns these absurd charges and demands his immediate release and the quashing of his sentence. The Bahraini authorities have yet again demonstrated their contempt for freedom of information and their mistrust of publication tools. The police arrested Maaraj at his home on 7 January, seizing his computer. His brother was simultaneously arrested at his workplace. He was released six weeks later.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Friday, April 11, 2014)

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is urging a federal appeals court to reconsider its decision to order Google to take down the controversial "Innocence of Muslims" video while a copyright lawsuit—based on a claim that the Copyright Office itself has rejected—is pending. As EFF explains, the decision sets a dangerous precedent that could have disastrous consequences for free speech.

  • (The Washington Post, Friday, April 11, 2014)

    Iran became a “nation of bloggers” between early 2000 and 2009, as a vibrant, diverse set of online blogs became the platform for expression for thousands of Iranians, ranging from political activists, poets and sports fans to the often-overlooked class of hardline religious conservatives. Those blogs emerged as a space for active, intense, ongoing discussions on everything from politics to poetry. Regardless of whether these blogs played a role in the “Green Movement” demonstrations that followed the fraudulent 2009 election of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, they helped to redefine Iran’s politics and the nature of public discourse.

  • (Computerworld Zambia, Friday, April 11, 2014)

    The Zambian government has rejected a draft constitution that would have prevented it from interfering with online and electronic news media, even though it spent more than $50 million to draft it. Instead, the government is drafting a law that would regulate online news media in order to stop what it called "Internet abuse." It is unclear whether the law would also regulate social media such as Twitter and Facebook.In Zambia, as in many other African countries, the Internet has emerged as a news source because of strict government controls on mainstream media. So, African governments have become increasingly concerned about online news and social media sites being used to express opposition opinions, and with the use of social media to plan protests. Social media played a pivotal role in protests that led to the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

  • (Al Jazeera, Friday, April 11, 2014)

    Just before former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled from Tunis in January 2011, he addressed his citizens one last time in a seven-minute speech in which he promised "rejection of all forms of censorship". Sure enough, within just a few hours, the internet - which had long been heavily censored - was open and for the first time Tunisians were able to access whatever they wanted to freely. Like Tunisia, Myanmar has recently emerged from the clutches of dictatorship and is slowly taking its first steps toward democracy. Nearly three years ago, after decades of military rule, the country began a transition toward civilian rule. A year later, prior restraint of the media was abolished and the internet - once among the most restricted in the world - opened up.

  • (Global Voices, Friday, April 11, 2014)

    Cambodian netizens and human rights groups are speaking out against an anti-cybercrime bill containing provisions that could undermine freedom of expression. Although the government has refused to comment on the bill, London-based media advocacy group Article 19 obtained a leaked, unofficial English translation of the draft. The government first announced its intention to pass an anti-cybercime law in 2012 but has held no public consultations about the proposal for the past two years.

  • (Global Voices, Friday, April 11, 2014)

    Cambodian netizens and human rights groups are speaking out against an anti-cybercrime bill containing provisions that could undermine freedom of expression. Although the government has refused to comment on the bill, London-based media advocacy group Article 19 obtained a leaked, unofficial English translation of the draft. The government first announced its intention to pass an anti-cybercime law in 2012 but has held no public consultations about the proposal for the past two years.

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

    The US government is refusing to grant Angela Merkel access to her NSA file or answer formal questions from Germany about its surveillance activities, raising the stakes before a crucial visit by the German chancellor to Washington. Merkel will meet Barack Obama in three weeks, on her first visit to the US capital since documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA had been monitoring her phone.

  • (The New York Times, Thursday, April 10, 2014)

    In September 2012, the Pakistani government expanded a ban on some YouTube contributors to a blockage of the whole video-sharing site, because the anti-Muslim film “Innocence of Muslims” had appeared on it. Eighteen months later, the ban remains, exposing a simmering struggle within Pakistan over the basic issue of freedom of expression and information that could be decided in court next month. What the Pakistani government doesn’t realize is that its attempts to restrict the Internet have already provoked the growth of the very digital counterculture that it has sought to control. And even if they lose in court, that counterculture’s members are going to become only more determined to communicate on the Internet, using its many alternative channels if they have to.