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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  • (Access, Wednesday, March 26, 2014)

    Last Friday, the French newspaper Le Monde revealed a previously undisclosed relationship between French telco Orange and the French intelligence services, the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DGSE). According to an internal document from Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) leaked by Edward Snowden, DGSE has an almost unlimited ability to spy on French citizens and international users by accessing a major, unnamed French telco’s networks. The Le Monde article reports the telco in question as the French global telco giant Orange.

  • (Access, Wednesday, March 26, 2014)

    Last night, Brazil´s Congress approved the "Marco Civil," a landmark piece of legislation comprehensively protecting human rights online. The vote follows closely on the heels of the Web´s 25th anniversary and Sir Tim Berners-Lee call for a "Magna Carta" of the internet. Brazil is the first country in the world to hear that call. Effectively, the Marco Civil creates a bill of rights for the Brazilian internet, a first for the world.The Marco Civil was originally drafted by means of an open and collaborative online process. From the time it became clear that Brazil needed a bill of rights for the internet, it also became clear that the internet itself could and should be used to draft it. An 18-month consultation process followed, including contributions from a variety of stakeholders. It was truly a hybrid and transparent forum: users, civil society organizations, telcos, governmental agencies, all provided comments side-by-side. Each contributor could see the others’ contributions, and all cards on the table had to be considered.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Wednesday, March 26, 2014)

    Join EFF on April 4th for 404 Day, a nation-wide day of action to call attention to the long-standing problem of Internet censorship in public libraries and public schools. In collaboration with the MIT Center for Civic Media and the National Coalition Against Censorship, we are hosting a digital teach-in with some of the top researchers and librarians working to analyze and push back against the use of Internet filters on library computers.

  • (Index on Censorship, Wednesday, March 26, 2014)

    The increasingly authoritarian regime of Gambia is suspected of blocking the popular social media app Viber following weeks of speculation on the government’s intentions. The government said it has not been banned and blames service providers for the outage. Threatened by the growing popularity of free internet phone services using voice over internet protocol (VOIP), the government of Gambia is said to believe the use of such services is helping online Gambian media in the diaspora to deliver information to the public through whistle blowers. The regime in Banjul is also looking into the possibility of extending the block to other calling apps like Skype, according to press reports.

  • (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.

  • (Marietje Schaake, Tuesday, March 25, 2014)

    On March 24th, Marietje Schaake spoke on a panel about export controls of surveillance technology on the invitation of the New America Foundation in Washington D.C. A video registration of the event can be watched through the link.

  • (Global Voices, Tuesday, March 25, 2014)

    Mere days after several opposition websites were blocked [Global Voices report] by Russia's mass communications regulatory agency, Roskomnadzor, free speech proponents have created a unique system for circumventing censorship — and imposing counter-attacks. This approach could create problems both for censors and pro-Kremlin websites. Indeed, it seems that Russian Internet activists have taken the adage “the best defense is a good offence” to heart.

  • (Index on Censorship, Tuesday, March 25, 2014)

    The Chinese government has revealed it is expanding their censorship of the internet with a new training programme for the estimated two million “opinion monitors” Beijing organised last year.Training will target civil servants in all aspects of government – from the police force to the judiciary, to academic institutions, and even to the press offices in large and medium sized enterprises, many of which are state-owned, according to the offical state news agency Xinhua. Once trained, monitors will “supervise” the posting of social media messages, deleting those that are deemed harmful. Beijing claims to have deployed “advanced filtering technology” to identify problematic posts, and will need to “rapidly filter out false, harmful, incorrect, or even reactionary information,” according to Xinhua.

  • (Article 19, Tuesday, March 25, 2014)

    Article 19 and Digital Rights Foundation Pakistan are concerned about the draft Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act of Pakistan 2014 (Draft Law) currently being prepared for presentation before the Pakistani Parliament. Although the Draft Law contains a number of welcome procedural safeguards, several provisions violate international standards on freedom of expression. We therefore call on the Pakistani Government to amend the Draft Law in accordance with our recommendations below before submitting it for Parliament’s consideration. The Draft Law, which has been drafted by the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications, establishes specific computer crimes and procedural rules for the investigation, prosecution and trial of these offences.

  • (Renesys, Tuesday, March 25, 2014)

    Three years after the government opened up the country to the outside world, the telecommunications sector of Myanmar recently reached a tremendous milestone in its development. On March 8th, Telenor of Norway established Myanmar’s first independent international Internet connection. Prior to a few weeks ago, all international Internet access to Myanmar had been handled through the state-run telecommunications firm, Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT). Telenor was one of two international telecommunications companies to secure a license to operate in what is considered the last green field of the telecom world: an undeveloped country with little or no telecommunications infrastructure. Myanmar is the 24th most populous country on earth with 60 million people, but is also one of the poorest nations in Southeast Asia.