Global Digital Download - Europe News

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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  • (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.

  • (Deutsche Welle, Wednesday, April 9, 2014)

    After Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan managed to secure a clear victory in local elections at the end of March, his government has taken on the next controversial task that's bound to spell trouble: Erdogan pushes for a stronger intelligence service within the state apparatus. If Erdogan has his way, Turkey's intelligence service MIT would become much more powerful and much more detached from the country's judiciary, critics have said. They fear this would circumvent separation of powers. Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) submitted a first draft law in mid-February. According to Turkish newspaper "Hurriyet", Turkish President Abdullah Gul had already called on the government to rework the draft. Erdogan's AKP plans to have the law passed by parliament by the end of June.

  • (ArsTechnica, Tuesday, April 8, 2014)

    While the United States continues to debate metadata collection conducted in secret by the National Security Agency, the European Union has been openly collecting the same sort of data for eight years. In the wake of terrorist attacks in Madrid (2004) and London (2005), the European Union passed a directive in 2006 requiring that all telecommunications providers retain all kinds of telephone and Internet metadata for at least six months and provide it to law enforcement upon request. According to a ruling handed down Tuesday by the European Court of Justice, that directive is now invalid.

  • (The Guardian, Tuesday, April 8, 2014)

    David Cameron has welcomed a report by the surveillance watchdog, Sir Anthony May, that gives a clean bill of health to Britain's spy agencies after revelations in secret documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. The prime minister said the report by the interception of communications commissioner found that "agencies undertake their role conscientiously and effectively, and that public authorities do not engage in indiscriminate mass intrusion". Cameron said the legislation governing surveillance, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa), was working, in spite of advances in technology that critics say has left it outmoded. The report and the prime minister's response suggest that any chances of reform are receding, at least in the short term.

  • (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.

  • (Renesys, Sunday, March 30, 2014)

    Internet censorship in Turkey took a new and ominous turn yesterday. In order to better seal off access to social media sites like YouTube and Twitter, the incumbent TurkTelecom began hijacking the IP address space of public DNS resolvers like those of Google. This allows TurkTelecom servers to masquerade as Google DNS servers, returning whatever answers they want. Under normal circumstances, such queries would have been destined for servers outside the country, which is how Turkish users were circumventing the ban on YouTube imposed earlier this week. However, now local users of these global DNS services are surreptitiously redirected to alternate providers within TurkTelekom.

  • (Hurriyet Daily News, Thursday, March 27, 2014)

    The Turkish government was seriously rocked after an illegal recording of a key high-level security meeting on Syria was leaked through YouTube on March 27, and vowed to impose the “heaviest penalty” on the perpetrators of such “treachery.”

  • (International Press Institute, Wednesday, March 26, 2014)

    The International Press Institute (IPI) has appealed to British Virgin Islands Governor Boyd McCleary to withhold his assent of a recently approved cybercrime bill that could hamper the ability of journalists to do their jobs.In a letter to McCleary, IPI Executive Director Alison Bethel McKenzie urged the governor to return the Computer Misuse and Cybercrime Act to the House of Assembly to include provisions that would protect journalists publishing data presented to them and that may be of public interest.Under the draft law, anyone who publishes unlawfully obtained information from a protected computer - defined as one containing data related to national security, international relations and financial services businesses - could face up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of US$500,000.

  • (The Guardian, Wednesday, March 26, 2014)

    People convicted of cyber-bullying and text message abuse could face up to two years in prison, under plans backed by the government.The justice secretary, Chris Grayling, has backed an amendment to the criminal justice bill that would target new rules at combating trolls that sexually harass and verbally abuse people on the internet or via mobile phones in England and Wales. The amendment, due to be discussed in parliament on Thursday, was proposed by the Conservative MP for Ealing Central and Acton Angie Bray, after one of her constituents said her 14-year-old daughter had been “verbally raped” by 2,000 obscene texts sent by an older man, who escaped conviction.

  • (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.

  • (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.

  • (The Daily Dot, Monday, March 24, 2014)

    A zealous government board in Italy has granted itself the power of judge, jury, and executioner of any site it deems a copyright violator.That is, unless one intellectual property lawyer can convince a court to stop it, but the clock is ticking.Fulvio Sarzana of Rome's Sarzana & Partners Law Firm is the author of a book on Internet commerce, and he's representing a host of activist groups and consumer associations against AGCOM, an Italian acronym for an independent government body called the Communication Authority. In late 2013, AGCOM proposed, then granted to itself, a controversial means of enforcing copyright.

  • (The Guardian, Monday, March 24, 2014)

    The UK government will unveil its lead cyber emergency response unit on 31 March, after delays had put the digital squadron on hold, the Guardian has learned.The UK Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-UK) will work on developing the UK’s cyber resilience to state-sponsored and criminal attacks on critical systems, including those controlling the national energy supply and within government departments, according to the Cabinet Office.Launch day, considered by the Cabinet Office as “a key milestone in the development of the UK’s cyber security capabilities”, will initiate a “first phase”, as part of an incremental rollout.

  • (Tech Eye, Monday, March 17, 2014)
    The British government is planning to increase censorship of the internet after its attempts to block content at an ISP level turned out to be a colossall failure. Rather than just giving up on the idea of filtering the net, Cameron thinks that it would be a good idea to censor more and not just remove illegal content but also anything that might offend a Tory prude. The idea is being pushed by the UK minister for immigration and security James Brokenshire, because Cameron has realised that he ended up with a lot of egg on his face over the last censorship campaign he attempted.
     
  • (The Independent , Monday, March 17, 2014)

    For the first time the UK has been included on Reporters Without Borders’ ‘Enemies of the Internet’, an annual list produced by the press watchdog to draw attention to countries disrupting freedom of information through censorship and surveillance. The USA also made the list for the first time, alongside stalwarts including North Korea, China, and Iran. The entry for the UK leads with a quotation from ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden that the UK is “worse than the U.S.” before outlining various “widespread surveillance practices” run by GCHQ as part of its project “Mastering the Internet”.

  • (Center for Democracy & Technology, Wednesday, March 12, 2014)

    Today, the European Parliament (EP) held two important votes, one on Data Protection reform and the other on a government surveillance resolution. The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) has been active in both matters, and our views on both, along with comments from CDT Representative and Director of European Affairs, Jens-Henrik Jeppesen, follow. First, the European Parliament adopted its report on the proposed Data Protection reform package. The package was intended to update European data protection laws and make them more consistent across the Union. The Parliament has adopted a number of useful amendments that retain robust data protection while undoing some unworkable provisions. CDT provided analysis on the EP text when it was adopted in Committee last year along with suggestions for further refinement.

  • (Global Voices, Wednesday, March 12, 2014)

    Global Voices Advocacy's Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world. This week's report begins Turkey, where Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened to a block on major social media sites, assuming that he is re-elected later this month. Erdoğan has been humiliated with recording after recording surfacing on the Internet and implicating him in a vast corruption scandal involving media intimidation, among other things. He blames his political enemies—especially the exiled spiritual leader Fethullah Gulen—for fabricating recordings and disseminating them on social media. YouTube was blocked from 2008 to 2010 after users posted videos the government said were insulting to the republic’s founder, Ataturk. But President Abdullah Gul says that today, such measures are “out of the question.”

  • (Tech World, Wednesday, March 12, 2014)

    The Dutch Military Intelligence and Security Service (MIVD) illegally shared data with foreign services and hacked Web forums without ministerial approval, according to a report made at the request of the Dutch House of Representatives. Although it is allowed to share data in bulk with other countries under existing partnerships, the MIVD illegally provided selected signal intelligence (SIGINT) data without permission of the relevant minister, according to the report, published late Tuesday.

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

    A digital bill of rights should be established in Britain to ensure that basic online freedoms are protected from the "untrammelled power of the state", the Liberal Democrat president Tim Farron will say on Sunday. The bill is a central feature of a motion, expected to be passed at the Lib Dem spring conference, which says that people need greater protections from "overreach by the state". In a debate on surveillance, Farron will say that the laws governing surveillance are "not for purpose" as he calls for the appointment of a commission of experts to review the powers held by the state which has imposed "blanket surveillance on us all".

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

    The Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said Facebook and YouTube could be banned following local elections in March after leaked tapes of an alleged phone call between him and his son went viral, prompting calls for his resignation. Erdoğan claims social media sites have been abused by his political enemies, in particular his former ally US-based Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, who, he says, is behind a stream of "fabricated" audio recordings posted on the internet purportedly revealing corruption in his inner circle.

  • (Index on Censorship, Thursday, March 6, 2014)

    In February, thousands of websites urged their users to help stop web monitoring. The Day We Fight Back, led by American lobby group Demand Progress, condemned NSA Internet surveillance and remembered Aaron Swartz, opponent of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), who hanged himself last year when faced with fifty years in prison for downloading academic texts. Swartz, from whom courts sought $1m in fines, is synonymous today with US clashes over online justice, but the subject is a global one. Germany, where I moved just before SOPA hit the news, offers a frightening glimpse at what happens when copyright policing trumps privacy.

  • (Lexology, Wednesday, March 5, 2014)

    On 12 February 2014, the European Commission (“Commission”) submitted to the European Parliament a report entitled “Internet Policy and Governance: Europe’s role in shaping the future of Internet Governance”. The Report proposes a common vision on the development of Internet governance, which the Commission believes is essential to preserve the benefits of a single, open, free and unfragmented Internet, underpinned by the multistakeholder model of governance. As well as emphasising the need for careful yet robust stewardship of the Internet, the Commission also acknowledges that further work is required to address the legal issues that arise from the cross-border provision of Internet-based services, such as cloud computing, particularly in relation to conflicts of jurisdictions and laws. In 2015, the Commission plans to publish a progress communication on the key recommendations outlined in the Report.

  • (The Guardian, Thursday, February 27, 2014)

    Increasingly, we are watched not by people but by algorithms. Amazon and Netflix track the books we buy and the movies we stream, and suggest other books and movies based on our habits. Google and Facebook watch what we do and what we say, and show us advertisements based on our behavior. Documents provided by Edwards Snowden and revealed by the Guardian today show that the UK spy agency GHCQ, with help from the NSA, has been collecting millions of webcam images from innocent Yahoo users. And that speaks to a key distinction in the age of algorithmic surveillance: is it really okay for a computer to monitor you online, and for that data collection and analysis only to count as a potential privacy invasion when a person sees it? I say it’s not, and the latest Snowden leaks only make more clear how important this distinction is.

  • (Access, Thursday, February 27, 2014)

    Earlier this week the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee of the European Parliament was scheduled to vote on the European Telecoms Single Market proposal, legislation critical to determining the future of network neutrality in Europe.  But instead of voting on Monday, the Committee decided to postpone the vote -- because of a problem with plastic bags. Since the proposal was first tabled by Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes in September 2013, four different committees have reviewed and debated the original text. The ITRE vote is the final committee vote before the full Parliament takes up the legislation, and will be instrumental in determining that outcome. But instead of voting on Monday the ITRE committee decided to postpone the vote until March 18th. Why? Because legislation on an unrelated vote on plastic bags hadn’t been fully translated into all the European languages, which prompted a similar discussion on the telecoms proposal.

  • (The Guardian, Thursday, February 27, 2014)

    Britain's surveillance agency GCHQ, with aid from the US National Security Agency, intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of internet users not suspected of wrongdoing, secret documents reveal. GCHQ files dating between 2008 and 2010 explicitly state that a surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve collected still images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases, regardless of whether individual users were an intelligence target or not.

  • (The New York Times, Friday, February 21, 2014)

    President Abdullah Gul, Turkey’s head of state, has now joined Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the government’s assault on free speech. On Tuesday, Mr. Gul approved a new law, passed earlier by Parliament, that is intended to help protect Mr. Erdogan and his allies from a widening corruption scandal by tightening government control of the Internet. It would allow the authorities, without a court order, to block web pages under the guise of protecting personal privacy, and to collect users’ browsing histories. Even before Mr. Gul acted, Turkey already had tough laws blocking thousands of websites, including gay dating sites and news portals considered favorable to Kurdish militants. According to Reuters, Google reported in December that requests from Turkish authorities to remove content from its sites had risen nearly 10 times during the first half of 2012. In the first six months of 2013, Google was asked to delete more than 12,000 items, making Turkey the No. 1 country seeking to excise Google content.

  • (Huffington Post, Thursday, February 20, 2014)

    "The cell phones you have now have more computing power than the Apollo space capsule, and that capsule couldn't even Tweet. So just imagine the opportunities you have in that sense," Fareed Zakaria, opinion writer for The Washington Post, once said in a commencement speech at Duke University. I cannot agree more with Zakaria. Twitter is a great source for news and a broad platform for discussion on different issues. I like Twitter's little blue bird logo, which represents freedom of expression. However, some want to place that little blue bird in a cage in Turkey, while speaking Turco-Tweetish, on the other hand, is a trend on the rise nowadays. According to research company eMarketer, Turkey has the highest Twitter penetration in the world. While Turkey's Internet population is 36.4 million, its Twitter users are estimated at 11.3 million, giving a Twitter penetration rate of 31.1 percent. Turkish users have further extended these numbers recently. Certainly, Twitter's importance as a tool for freedom of speech was confirmed last spring in the Gezi Park protests in Turkey, when a civil movement emerged against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AK Party). Many people used Twitter to share photos and videos of what was happening in Turkey and to distribute their opinions and messages about the situation. Thus, Twitter attracted Erdoğan's attention, and he declared it a "menace."

  • (Internet Society, Tuesday, February 18, 2014)

    In view of major conferences taking place this year, the adoption of a formal policy position on Internet governance " Internet Policy and Governance - Europe's role in shaping the future of Internet governance" by the European Commission on 12 February is a major contribution. It is the first comprehensive position paper by a governmental stakeholder, in this case the Executive Branch of the European Union which takes the lead and comes up with a vision on the future of Internet governance. The role of governments in multistakeholder Internet governance arrangements is one of the key questions that needs clarification and any contribution by governments to this discussion is to be welcomed.

  • (The New York Times, Tuesday, February 18, 2014)

    Some European politicians want to keep Internet data closer to home. On Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany will meet with President François Hollande of France to discuss plans to create telecommunications networks that keep individuals’ data inside European Union borders. The proposals could limit how companies like Google and Facebook share data between their operations in Europe and the United States. They also form part of a growing debate here over how consumers’ online information should be used by technology companies and government agencies. Many European policy makers, particularly in France and Germany, want to beef up data oversight in the wake of the revelations by the former National Security Agency analyst Edward J. Snowden about the surveillance activities of the United States and its allies in Europe.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Sunday, February 9, 2014)

    In 2013, we learned digital surveillance by the world’s governments knows no bounds. The NSA and other investigative agencies are capturing our phone calls, tracking our location, peering into our address books, and collecting our emails. They do this in secret, without adequate public oversight, and in violation of our human rights. We won’t stand for this anymore. On Tuesday February 11, the world is fighting back. In anticipation of the first united, worldwide action against mass spying, we asked Katarzyna Szymielewicz, Executive Director of the digital rights organization, Panoptykon Foundation, a signatory to the 13 Principles against mass surveillance, to let the world know how her team is fighting back.

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

    Turkey's Parliament voted Wednesday to empower authorities to censor the Internet at will, a move intended to silence dissent in a way many warn would turn the clock back on the country's democracy. "One man can order a website to be closed, it's really anti-democratic," said lawyer Serhat Koc, an activist with Turkey's Pirate Party, which has been campaigning against the bill. Turkey's Parliament approved on a show of hands the legislation that would allow its telecommunications authority to block websites without a prior court decision. The bill would require Internet service providers to keep two years of every user's online history in what critics say would amount to a surveillance network on every Web user in the country. Last month, police violently dispersed hundreds of demonstrators who rallied in Istanbul, Ankara and the coastal city of Izmir. Protesters flew banners and chanted slogans that brought a crackdown by riot police.

  • (ArsTechnica, Sunday, February 2, 2014)

    Two days after Internet porn-blocking campaigner MP Claire Perry announced ISP filters were not overblocking content, the government has announced it is. In fact it's such a problem the government is creating a whitelist of sites that should be protected, as well as a system anyone can use to directly report the inadvertent blocking of their site to ISPs or check if their site is affected. The news has been reported by the BBC, which in December revealed that filters provided by TalkTalk, BT and Sky were all overblocking harmless material including sites on sex education, addiction and several women's abuse charities. The filter roll-out began last year as a compromise following "Special Advisor on preventing the sexualization and commercialization of childhood" Claire Perry's original default porn-block campaign. That compromise, however, has led to the creation of filters that not only cover hardcore pornography, but hate speech, self-harm, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, dating, nudity, violence, gambling, social networking, file-sharing, games and more. The categories vary depending on the provider, and are designed to be personalized by the account holder depending on the levels of censorship they would like to employ.

  • (The Guardian, Thursday, January 30, 2014)

    David Cameron has admitted he had failed to make the case for mass surveillance of communications data following revelations by the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. In a two-hour session in front of the select committee on national security strategy, the prime minister said that after the next election parliament would need to develop a cross-party consensus in favour of fresh legislation to modernise the way the intelligence services and police monitored communications data. His remarks are both an acknowledgement that current laws are outdated and a determination to return to the issues that were raised in the draft communications bill abandoned by the coalition following protests by the Liberal Democrats. The reference to the next election is likely to be an acknowledgement that he does not think he will be able to reach agreement on the shape of any legislation with his Lib Dem coalition colleagues.

  • (Revolution News, Wednesday, January 29, 2014)

    Debate in the General Assembly on Law No 5651, otherwise known as “ Code of Publications on the Internet and Suppression of Crimes Committed by means of Such Publication ” begins today. Freedom of speech is already restricted in Turkey in many ways through bans, arrests of journalists and alleged pressure by politicians. A report by a committee to protect journalists defines Turkey as the “world’s leading jailer of journalists” in 2013. In the same year, Turkey ranked 154 out of 179 countries in the Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders. On Saturday Jan. 18th protests against Law No 5651, took to the streets in Istanbul, Ankara, Adana, Izmir, Bursa, Eskişehir, Mersin, Antalya and Bodrum. People protested and marched peacefully but were again met by the now routine violent response from Turkish police. The use of water cannons, tear gas, plastic bullets, pepper spray and violent arrests to suppress and disperse the protest. Amendments under debate in parliament to Turkish Law No. 5651, which governs all Internet content in the country, are the latest assault on freedom of expression in Turkey. The law was originally enacted in May 2007 to curb access to YouTube videos and online pornography, but the Turkish government regularly hides behind this law and others like it to filter or block content it disfavors, including advocacy for Kurdish rights. The independent press agency Bianet estimated that 110,000 websites were blocked in 2011 alone, while Google reported Turkish requests to remove content from the web rose nearly 1000% last year.

  • (The Guardian, Wednesday, January 29, 2014)

    A Dutch court of appeal has overturned a court-ordered block of the infamous Pirate Bay torrent site by internet service providers (ISPs), labelling the practice as “ineffective”. The block prevented internet users in the Netherlands from accessing the Pirate Bay site directly via a browser. Two Dutch internet providers, Ziggo and XS4All, took the case to the court of appeals in The Hague. The court reversed the blocking order allowing internet users access to the Pirate Bay without having to resort to the use of proxy servers and other methods circumventing the blockade. “Victory for the free internet!” proclaimed Niels Huijbregts, spokesman for XS4All in a blog post. “We are very pleased that the court ruled in favour of the freedom of information, protecting a fundamental right of all Dutch citizens.”

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Wednesday, January 29, 2014)

    Yesterday, on Data Protection Day, European Commission Vice President Viviane Reding took the opportunity to deliver a keynote speech in Brussels setting out a set of priorities to govern European data protection policy going forward. I was pleased to represent CDT on the panel following her remarks, alongside Claude Moraes, the Member of Parliament responsible for the Civil Liberties Committee’s electronic surveillance inquiry, and Peter Hustinx, the European Data Protection Supervisor. In her speech, Vice President Reding echoed several arguments CDT and other groups have made in our drive for surveillance and privacy reform. She pointed to the need to target and limit data collection for surveillance to what is strictly necessary and proportionate to the purpose. Quoting US Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, she stressed that current laws on surveillance data collection have not been updated to take into account today’s technological reality: ubiquitous Internet connectivity, plummeting data storage costs, and the powerful big data analytical capabilities that are now available to the intelligence community. Further, she called for national security exceptions in national legislation to be construed and interpreted narrowly, and for judicial oversight of intelligence programs to be beefed up substantially.

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

    It wasn’t meant to be like this. Connoisseurs of a good political bust-up may have noticed a subtle change in tempo to the online filtering debate over the Christmas period. For the argument, so long owned — in public at least — by the pro-blocking “think of the children” lobby took a sudden and unexpected twist. For a moment, the villains were not selfish libertarians, determined to place personal freedom of expression above child protection — but the incompetents in government, who had demanded a solution that was untested without first ensuring they weren’t doing more harm than good. What went wrong? As German military strategist Helmuth von Moltke, in the news during this World War anniversary year, once put it: “no plan of operations extends with any certainty beyond the first contact with the main hostile force”.

  • (Huffington Post, Thursday, January 23, 2014)

    Since the Internet became a common tool, the world has become smaller. Because we live 10,000 kilometers apart, the Internet is the most efficient way to communicate to my family in Turkey, as it enables us to be as close as the click of a mouse. In the bigger picture, it is a significant tool for all of humanity to have equal access to information and ideas. It can bring equality, justice and transparency to societies. We cannot deny the importance of the Internet as a tool for freedom of speech. Yet, a deputy from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has now introduced an amendment to Turkey's Law No. 5651, which is related to Internet content and cybercrime. It would give the transport and communications minister the power to block websites deemed to be violating privacy, as well as compel Internet service providers to retain information on their customers' activity on the Internet.

  • (IFEX, Thursday, January 23, 2014)

    Reporters Without Borders is very concerned about an Internet bill that is to be debated by the Turkish parliament in Ankara in the coming days. Registered by a ruling AKP member in mid-December as proposed amendments to Law 5651 on the Internet, it would allow website blocking without a court order and mass surveillance of Internet users. Reporters Without Borders urges parliamentarians to reject this draconian bill and joins those who are calling for demonstrations against it throughout Turkey today. “Law 5651 needs overhauling to remove its repressive features and to guarantee respect for freedom of information but parliament is unfortunately moving in the opposite direction,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The bill it is about to consider aims solely to reinforce cyber-censorship, government control of the Internet and surveillance of the public.

  • (Access, Tuesday, January 21, 2014)

    The Culture and Education (CULT) and Legal Affairs (JURI) Committees of the European Parliament voted today on the European Telecom Single Market proposal, tabled in September 2013 by the Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes. The proposed Regulation, which principally aims at completing a “European Single Market for electronic communications and achieving a Connected Continent” includes provisions putting network neutrality at stake. Five of the European Parliament’s Committees are in charge of the Commission’s proposal. Four of them will provide an opinion, and one -- the lead Committee -- will take the final decision. The vote these two Committees cast earlier today is considered an opinion vote, which will pave the way towards and impact the final vote of the lead Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee on 27 February. This double vote illustrated that there is important potential for the final vote to lead to a positive outcome but achieving this in the next six weeks will be no easy task. While Access welcomes the positive outcome of the CULT vote, which opened a new window of hope for protection against network discrimination, the result of the vote in the JURI Committee leaves several loopholes open and is a pledge for NOT neutrality rather than net neutrality.

  • (Access, Monday, January 20, 2014)

    Last Thursday, Europe’s top privacy watchdogs stepped down at the conclusion of their terms. This week, the European Commission has yet to name a successor for its most important privacy posts. At a time when the European Union is actively considering landmark privacy legislation and simultaneously responding to the Snowden mass surveillance revelations, this is at best a shocking oversight and at worst a deliberate attempt to undermine Europeans’ privacy rights. Peter Hustinx, the former European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), and Giovanni Butarelli, the Assistant Supervisor, left office on Thursday, January 16th, following five year terms. The primary responsibility of the EDPS is to supervise how the EU institutions and bodies process personal data, and ensure that they respect European data protection laws. Since Hustinx’s appointment, the EDPS has proven to be a strong advocate for the right to privacy. He spoke out against the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), produced opinion papers on the importance of net neutrality to ensure the protection of personal data, and was a vocal opponent of the controversial Data Retention Directive, which he called “the most privacy invasive instrument ever.”

  • (The Guardian, Monday, January 20, 2014)

    Public safety isn't helped by being absolutist about password strength, the head of the Government's Get Safe Online has warned. Although strong passwords are better than weak ones, Tony Neate argues it is just as important to impress upon the public that any password is better than none - even if it's as simple as abc123. "We use the analogy that 'if you haven't got a lock on your door, any lock is better than no lock,'" Neate, who is a retired police officer, told the Guardian. "But if you are going to put a lock on your door, the best one to put on is a five-lever mortise lock. "It's the same analogy. I would recommend anyone to have a good, solid password. But if they haven't got a password then 'abc123' is a starting point.

  • (Slate, Monday, January 13, 2014)

    The Financial Times reports that in the midst of the ongoing corruption investigation feud currently dominating Turkish politics, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s party is looking to expand government control over the Internet: A legislative proposal put forward by the ruling AK party would give the transport and communication minister the power to block websites deemed to infringe privacy, as well as compelling internet service providers to retain information of their customers’ movements on the net. In light of Turkey’s trajectory on this issue, this is worrying. An Internet filtering system introduced by the country’s Information Technologies and Communications Authority in 2011 was billed as a system to protect children from pornography, but in a pattern familiar from many other countries, has blocked all manner of objectionable content ranging from keywords related to the separatist Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) to Richard Dawkins’ website.

  • (Hurriyet Daily News, Wednesday, January 8, 2014)

    A draft bill will permit authorities to limit access to the Internet and monitor all actions by individuals online and keep such records for two years, daily Hürriyet has reported. Three articles about Internet usage were concealed within a longer draft bill on the Family and Social Policy Ministry’s organizational structure and responsibilities, Yalçın Doğan, a columnist from daily Hürriyet, revealed yesterday. The draft law will permit officials to limit keywords more easily, meaning access to videos on video-sharing websites such as YouTube that include keywords deemed problematic by Turkish authorities will be blocked. All individuals’ Internet records, including details about what sites they have visited, which words they have searched for on the web and what activity they have engaged in on social networking websites, will be kept for one or two years, according to the draft law. Web providers will also be forced to become members of a new Internet union to be formed under the control of government, Doğan wrote.

  • (The Guardian, Friday, December 20, 2013)

    Spain's privacy watchdog on Thursday fined Google for breaking the country's data protection law when combining personal information from its many different online services and failing to inform users clearly on how it uses their data. Although the €900,000 fine is modest for Google, which has a market capitalisation of over $350bn, the move reflects growing concerns across Europe about the volume of personal data that is held in foreign jurisdictions in so-called cloud storage services. Under such services, data is stored remotely via the internet instead of onsite, giving individuals little control over their personal information. Last month, the Dutch Data Protection Authority also said Google was in breach of the national data privacy law for the same practices while France moved closer to fining the US internet company in September.

  • (BoingBoing, Wednesday, December 18, 2013)

    taly has passed an Internet censorship bill that allows for a regulator to order the national blocking of websites without judicial review. If the website's operator wants to come to Italy to object, they have as little as 12 days to do so. ISPs that fail to comply with the censorship orders face fines of €250,000 per day.

  • (TechDirt, Tuesday, December 17, 2013)

    Last week we wrote about how Norway had come up with a way to provide online access to all books in Norwegian, including the most recent ones, available to anyone in the country. Here, by contrast, is how not to do it, courtesy of publishers in the UK: The UK is preparing to launch its official internet archive without internet access, after the publishing industry put restrictions on its release. The archive was held up by a decade of negotiations between publishers and the British Library, meaning that regulations permitting the library to perform its first archive copy of every UK website were not passed until April this year, more than 20 years since the World Wide Web took off and 10 years since Parliament passed a law making it possible.

  • (Index on Censorship, Monday, December 16, 2013)

    Index on Censorship’s policy paper, Time to Step Up: The EU and freedom of expression, looks at freedom of expression both within the European Union’s 28 member states, which with over 500 million people account for about a quarter of total global economic output, but also how this union defends freedom of expression in the wider world. States that are members of the European Union are supposed to share “European values”, which include a commitment to freedom of expression. However, the way these common values are put into practice vary: some of the world’s best places for free expression are within the European Union – Finland, Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden – while other countries such as Italy, Hungary, Greece and Romania lag behind new and emerging global democracies. This paper explores freedom of expression, both at the EU level on how the Commission and institutions of the EU protect this important right, but also across the member states. Firstly, the paper will explore where the EU and its member states protect freedom of expression internally and where more needs to be done. The second section will look at how the EU projects and defends freedom of expression to partner countries and institutions. The paper will explore the institutions and instruments used by the EU and its member states to protect this fundamental right and how they have developed in recent years, as well as the impact of these institutions and instruments.

  • (ShareConference, Monday, December 16, 2013)

    Serbia, 2013. A democratic country. Freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution. Citizens free to think and share their thoughts. Journalists free to investigate and report and the media free to publish information. Still, in the 21st century Serbia, we are facing restrictions on the freedom of media, speech and expression. We are facing censorship and fear among journalists. We witness self-censorship and violent intrusions on media portals to remove information. Should we consider democracy and free media one more time? Is this how we see Serbia in the 21st century? A letter written by journalist Dušan Mašić to a journalist of daily newspaper “Kurir” was recently removed from B92 and Mondo websites for unknown reasons. Luckily, many members of the online community copied the text on their blogs, so it was still available and shared on social networks. Because of this incident, B92 editor-in-chief Veran Matić apologized for the “reckless” removal of the text from the website. This example shows that “traditional methods” of censorship in the media don’t work in the digital environment. If content is intentionally removed from one website, it quickly re-appears on many other platforms with a completely new kind of aura of interest in the online community. The latest case of (self)censorship on a news portal occurred when the website of “Radio 021” published a story on how the daughter of Jorgovanka Tabaković, the Governor of the National bank of Serbia, received a state-funded car and a driver so she could attend classes in Belgrade, which was removed shortly after being published. The text was also taken down from the website of the daily newspaper “Alo”, but it later appeared on blogs and other portals. Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (NUNS) and Independent Journalists’ Association of Vojvodina (NDNV) expressed their concern about the removal of the disputed story. Also, Jorgovanka Tabaković publicly reacted to the story, asking the Media Council to react and announcing that she is going to sue the media that published the news.

  • (CircleID, Saturday, November 16, 2013)

    ISOC-Bulgaria has been following the developments around Internet governance on the global arena since 2001, when we started participate in the WSIS process. Our representatives supported the efforts of the Bulgarian government to make sure the Internet is developed in an open, bottom-up, and transparent way. Last week in Geneva (November 11-12) at the ITU there was a meeting of the ITU Council Working Group on international Internet-related public policy issues. The group finished its discussions with a question that the ITU will send to all member states (note: that means to governments!), and the text accepted by the group is: "Recognizing the scope of work of ITU on international Internet-related public policy matters, represented by the list of topics in Council Resolution 1305 Annex 1 which was established in accordance with decisions of ITU membership at the Plenipotentiary Conference, the Council Working Group on International Internet Related Public Policy invites Member States to provide their position on following question: What actions have been undertaken or to be undertaken by governments in relations to each of the international Internet-related public policy issues identified in Annex 1 to Resolution 1305 (adopted by Council 2009 at the seventh Plenary Meeting)?"

  • (ZDNet, Wednesday, November 6, 2013)

    Google isn't exactly in the European Union's good-books at the moment, as the Internet giant continues to negotiate a settlement with the 28 member state bloc amid allegations of anticompetitive business practices. After a series of back and forth's between the two, Google's latest settlement package may be just enough to appease regulators, who are eyeing a $5 billion fine or a partial block of its business in the region as a backup last resort. First published by London's Financial Times (paywalled), leaked images show what Google may look like in Europe after a antitrust settlement is hammered out. The new competition links, which appear under the paid-for "sponsored" search results, are a subtle but important change. With larger text and icons, it allows users to check results from rival search engines and services.

  • (The New York Times, Wednesday, October 30, 2013)

    Even with Europe in an uproar over intrusive United States surveillance, its leaders are looking for ways to slow down legislation aimed at preventing violations of privacy at home. Two days after Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany telephoned President Obama to complain about the monitoring of her cellphone by the United States, she joined fellow European leaders at a summit meeting in Brussels last week in agreeing not to rush into a new data privacy law, perhaps putting it off until 2015, after elections next May for a new European Parliament. Kicking decisions into the future is a permanent feature of Europe’s cumbersome decision-making process. But Germany’s acquiescence in a British-led effort to freeze the privacy measures highlighted what appear to be contradictions between the verbal support for privacy among European leaders and their own policy decisions. “Everyone is very eager to protect privacy in their public statements,” said Miriam Artino, a policy analyst at La Quadrature du Net, a French organization that promotes digital rights and liberties. “But we can see that government leaders are not very enthusiastic and are looking for ways to delay the process.”

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

    The British like to ban things, but we don't like to change things. This week, there's been yet another conflict between Silicon Valley permissiveness and British censoriousness, as our politicians attacked Facebook for hosting graphic videos. Elsewhere, the latest flagship campaign in mainstream UK feminism focuses on pressuring Tesco to remove lads' mags from its shelves, as if by some sympathetic magic sexism might thereby be solved. In a country with no constitutional protection for freedom of speech, calling for censorship lets the moderate left politely ask for progress without really asking. The question of lads' mags has been irritatingly divisive, at a time when there are a great many pressing issues of structural sexism to consider and only a limited number of hours to argue on Twitter. Many of the feminists I've spoken to agree that getting supermarkets to pull already ailing softcore porn magazines from circulation might not be the Equal Pay Act of our generation – but it was felt that the issue could be a "gateway" to a greater understanding of sexism and sexual objectification, particularly among the young.

  • (Access, Wednesday, October 23, 2013)

    Since last year, Access has been working to raise the profile of net neutrality and stop network discrimination in Europe. As result of this work, today Access has launched its policy paper on “Net neutrality: Ending Network Discrimination in Europe”. Net Neutrality is quickly becoming a hot-button global issue. In addition to being the first internet issue ever raised in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly, it is one of the major topics under discussion this year’s Internet Governance Forum (IGF) taking place right now in Bali, Indonesia. The fight to maintain the neutrality, openness, and universality of the internet is an escalating struggle, with open fronts around the globe. In the US, network neutrality is the subject of a high profile legal case, Verizon v. FCC in which U.S. telco giant Verizon is challenging the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Open Internet Order on First Amendment grounds. Verizon is arguing that it has a constitutionally protected right to First Amendment freedom of speech protections that should allow it the ability to choose what is “said” over its networks -- i.e., apply restrictions to content it finds less valuable. And in Brazil, the debate on the Marco Civil internet legislative framework -- heralded by some as a bill of rights for the internet -- has hinged on efforts by telecommunications providers to encourage politicians to eliminate key net neutrality provisions, in exchange for their support of the bill.

  • (The Guardian, Wednesday, October 16, 2013)

    Today a coalition of three Polish NGOs are submitting 100 detailed questions to the Polish authorities relating to the Prism affair. We are asking about the reaction of Polish diplomats to various disclosures made by Edward Snowden, measures taken to protect civil rights and the confidentiality of governmental communication, secret agreements between security agencies and the documentation of Snowden's asylum proceedings. Up to now, the authorities have avoided any serious discussion of the issue, in contrast to their German counterparts. We hope to change this. Surveillance remains a major human rights concern, no matter how developed the democracy concerned. However, those countries that carry totalitarian baggage, such as Poland, find an open public debate on this issue particularly challenging. Urgent problems such as an ineffective judiciary, overcrowded prisons and the discrimination of marginalised minorities make privacy concerns not less relevant but certainly more abstract. Polish citizens will not take to the streets to protest against abuses by the secret services, mass surveillance or the proliferation of CCTV. Even those who remember what it meant to live under total surveillance are now ready to accept the argument that national security has to prevail over individual freedoms. Poor education, low social capital and a popular belief that politics no longer matters pave the way for a new surveillance society.

  • (The Guardian, Friday, October 11, 2013)

    Skype is being investigated by Luxembourg's data protection commissioner over concerns about its secret involvement with the US National Security Agency (NSA) spy programme Prism, the Guardian has learned. The Microsoft-owned internet chat company could potentially face criminal and administrative sanctions, including a ban on passing users' communications covertly to the US signals intelliigence agency. Skype itself is headquartered in the European country, and could also be fined if an investigation concludes that the data sharing is found in violation of the country's data-protection laws. The Guardian understands that Luxembourg's data-protection commissioner initiated a probe into Skype's privacy policies following revelations in June about its ties to the NSA.

  • (Index on Censorship, Thursday, October 10, 2013)

    An alarming judgment has been issued by the European Court of Human Rights that could seriously affect online comment threads. The judgment in the case Delfi AS v Estonia suggests that online portals are fully responsible for comments posted under stories, in apparent contradiction of the principle that portals are “mere conduits” for comment and cannot be held liable. Further, the unanimous ruling suggests that if a commercial site allows anonymous comments, it is both “practical” and “reasonable” to hold the site responsible for content of the comments. The ruling concerns a case against Estonian site Delfi.ee. In 2006, Delfi ran a story about a ferry operator’s changing of routes. This story lead to some heated debate in the comments thread, with, according to the judgment “highly offensive or threatening posts about the ferry operator and its owner”. The owner sued in Estonia, and in 2008, a court found Delfi responsible for defamation. Delfi appealed on the grounds the the European eCommerce Directive suggested it should be regarded as a “passive and neutral” host. The case eventually ended up in Strasbourg.

  • (ArsTechnica, Thursday, October 3, 2013)

    Three United Kingdom-based nonprofit organizations and a German Internet activist have filed a lawsuit against the British government at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), arguing that the UK's electronic spying network is illegal. Documents provided by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden have shown that the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the sister organization to the NSA, has been one of the most prominent players in digital surveillance, particularly of European traffic. The lawsuit was filed Thursday at the ECHR in Strasbourg, France by Big Brother Watch, Open Rights Group, English PEN, and Constanze Kurz, who has been a longtime spokesperson for the Chaos Computer Club, a well-known German hacker group.Three United Kingdom-based nonprofit organizations and a German Internet activist have filed a lawsuit against the British government at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), arguing that the UK's electronic spying network is illegal. Documents provided by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden have shown that the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the sister organization to the NSA, has been one of the most prominent players in digital surveillance, particularly of European traffic. The lawsuit was filed Thursday at the ECHR in Strasbourg, France by Big Brother Watch, Open Rights Group, English PEN, and Constanze Kurz, who has been a longtime spokesperson for the Chaos Computer Club, a well-known German hacker group.

  • (ArsTechnica, Thursday, October 3, 2013)

    In August, the editor of the Guardian rang me up and asked if I would spend a week in New York, reading the GCHQ files whose UK copy the Guardian was forced to destroy. His suggestion was that it might be worthwhile to look at the material not from a perspective of making news but from that of a novelist with an interest in the way we live now. I took Alan Rusbridger up on his invitation, after an initial reluctance that was based on two main reasons. The first of them was that I don't share the instinctive sense felt by many on the left that it is always wrong for states to have secrets. I'd put it more strongly than that: democratic states need spies.

  • (The Guardian, Wednesday, September 25, 2013)

    More than half the UK's public Wi-Fi services allow access to pornography and adult content with no age verification, researchers have found. One third of the UK's cafes and restaurants have no safety filters to prevent children viewing inappropriate content, according to research by security firm AdaptiveMobile, with one in five failing to restrict customer access to online sex dating sites such as AdultFriendFinder.com. The research examined 179 locations across Birmingham, Manchester and London, including cafes, restaurants, shops, hotels and public spaces, and found that 51% of free Wi-Fi hotspots allowed unfiltered access to adult content.

  • (The Independent, Wednesday, September 25, 2013)

    What’s happened to Edward Snowden and his revelations about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programme? As stories keep emerging from one of the largest leaks in US history, we learn more and more about the Americans’ ability to monitor communications, but seem less sure how to respond. Most people would acknowledge that the state does retain some right to monitor suspect activities. But this is a very different proposition from the population-wide mass surveillance suggested by the documents leaked by Snowden. Clearly the balance has tipped much too far in favour of default data gathering. So how do we move it back? This is a complex discussion, and it’s not really being had in the UK right now. The Guardian’s Simon Jenkins has suggested an establishment conspiracy has kept the public from talking about this - it’s certainly true that the response here has not been on the level of that in other countries (not least in Brazil, where a national Internet redesign to avoid US surveillance is being considered).

  • (Social Science Research Network, Monday, September 23, 2013)

    Search engines can be portrayed both as champions of freedom and as agents of surveillance. By facilitating the retrieval of online data, they enable a global public to seek, receive and impart information. Where information about individuals is concerned, however, search engine services can also pose a risk to the privacy of data subjects. Due to the increase in personal information available online, search engine providers are frequently confronted with requests to remove certain web pages from their search results. A ‘notice-and-takedown’ procedure, similar to the one employed for copyright purposes, could offer considerable relief for the individuals’ concerned. However, questions have been raised regarding the compatibility of such mechanisms with the fundamental rights to freedom of expression, due process, as well as the principle of proportionality. The objective of this paper is to analyze whether the different interests at stake can be adequately reconciled within the framework of EU Data Protection Directive 95/46, using Google Spain (C-131/12) as a case study.

  • (IFEX, Tuesday, September 17, 2013)

    Slovak authorities should stop pressuring a Slovak journalist to divulge his source for reports on wiretapped conversations between alleged organised crime figures and senior police officials, the International Press Institute (IPI) and its affiliate, the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), said today. Journalist Tom Nicholson told IPI that prosecutors investigating the leak of transcripts of the conversations suggested that he was not entitled to protect his sources under Slovakia's Press Act because he does not have a full-time contract or carry a press card.  

  • (Access, Tuesday, September 17, 2013)

    The day has finally come: last Thursday, after two years of delay, the European Commission published a proposal for the Regulation of the Telecom Single Market that promises Net Neutrality but delivers just the opposite. Expected last Monday, the publication of the Regulation was delayed following an internal vote during which 25 out of 28 Commissioners agreed the proposal still needed improvements before being sent to the European Parliament. This happened just a few hours after a leaked internal document published by European Digital Rights (EDRi) showed that many services of the European Commission had serious concerns on the Regulation’s net neutrality provisions. In particular, Directorate General (DG) Justice was said to be worried about the negative impact that these provisions would have both on fundamental rights – notably freedom of expression – and on the competitiveness of the European digital market.

  • (Openforum Academy, Monday, September 16, 2013)

    During the past months the European Union has been trying to give an answer to the debate on net neutrality that is currently ongoing within Europe, which centres on traffic management and what constitutes reasonable traffic management. The goal is to preserve an open internet and to ensure that it can continue to provide high quality services to all and to foster innovation. Net neutrality is the principle that all traffic going through a network should be treated equally, independent of content, application, service, device, source or target. By ensuring technical intermediaries do not discriminate on this basis, it ensures a true level-playing field to the mutual benefit of Internet users and service providers. OpenForum Academy (OFA) has conducted a research to determine the situation of the debate in each Member State so that a clear view and some initial conclusions can be established.

  • (Poynter, Thursday, September 5, 2013)

    Lawyers for former Formula One President Max Mosley asked a French court to “block any further search results referring to a ‘Nazi-themed’ sex party.” Google says such a move “would create unprecedented censorship on the Internet,” Stephanie Bodoni reports. The now-shuttered News of the World reported that Mosley engaged in such an party, but a British court found in July 2008 that the “five-hour sadomasochistic sex session with prostitutes” was not Nazi-themed and awarded him £60,000 (about $119,700 at the time). A French court added about £20,000 to the judgment in 2011 because some copies of the newspaper were sold in France.
     

  • (Intellectual Property Watch, Tuesday, September 3, 2013)

    European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes, responsible for the European Digital Agenda, today launched the Future Internet Labs in London with a vision of what the internet could look like in the coming years. Her vision? Massive changes, millions of things talking to things, European technological independence, and a greater degree of security and privacy for people online. “Tomorrow’s internet landscape could look very different,” she said. “New smart systems, available on the go. New social media replacing the old. Cloud computing that is scalable, flexible, everywhere. Enormous data sets, used to benefit science, healthcare, our economy, and our everyday lives. And a more secure and a more private Internet.”
     

  • (The Guardian, Monday, August 26, 2013)

    David Cameron has been told that the government's attempt to destroy sensitive leaked documents about mass surveillance was "an act of intimidation" that risks a chilling effect on press freedom. The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) has written to the prime minister over the government's "deeply regrettable" response to files leaked by the National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. The body, which represents 18,000 publications from 3,000 companies, condemned officials for their "symbolic" attempt to restrict reporting by destroying computer hard drives held by the Guardian.

  • (Index on Censorship, Friday, August 23, 2013)

    Though it has a reasonably good freedom of expression environment, the United Kingdom is wrestling with the fallout from mass surveillance leaks, press regulation, web filtering and social media guidelines. With an unwritten constitution, the right to freedom of expression comes from the practice of the common law, alongside the UK’s accession to international human rights instruments. There have been positive developments in the UK on free speech in the last year with reform to defamation law and reform of section 5 of the Public Order Act. The law of libel has been reformed by the Defamation Act which received Royal Assent on 25 May 2013. The reformed law, when enacted will restrict “libel tourism”, bring in a hurdle to prevent vexatious claims, update the provisions on internet publication, force corporations to prove financial loss and introduce a reasonable public interest defence. This reform will strengthen freedom of expression protections for academics, journalists and bloggers, scientists and NGOs.

  • (Index on Censorship, Wednesday, August 21, 2013)

    The situation with regards to freedom of expression in Germany is largely positive. Freedom of expression is protected by the German Constitution and basic laws. There is room for improvement, with Germany’s hate speech and libel laws being particularly severe. Germany’s biggest limits on freedom of expression are due to its strict hate speech legislation which criminalises incitement to violence or hatred. Germany has particularly strict laws on the promotion or glorification of Nazism, or Holocaust denial with paragraph 130(3) of the German Criminal Code stipulating that those who ‘publicly or in an assembly approve, deny, or trivialise’ the Holocaust are liable to up to five years in prison or a monetary fine. Hate speech also extends to insulting segments of the population or a national, racial or religious group, or one characterised by its ethnic customs.

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

    From the moment the first story revealing sweeping surveillance of domestic phone records by the National Security Agency appeared in early June, the Guardian ignited a storm of public and political debate in the US that has been noticeably absent in the UK response to similar revelations about GCHQ spying. Within hours, former vice-president Al Gore declared this "secret blanket surveillance [was] obscenely outrageous", setting the tone for weeks of mounting criticism from both left and right and a series of follow-up investigations that have forced the administration to consider major reforms.

  • (Scribd, Monday, August 19, 2013)

    In the fight against the unauthorised sharing of copyright protected material, aka piracy, Dutch Internet Service Providers have been summoned by courts to block their subscribers’ access to The Pirate Bay (TPB) and related sites. This paper studies the effectiveness of this approach towards online copyright enforcement, using both a consumer survey and a newly developed non-infringing technology for BitTorrent monitoring. While a small group of respondents download less from illegal sources or claim to have stopped, and a small but significant
    effect is found on the distribution of Dutch peers, no lasting net impact is found on the percentage of the Dutch population downloading from illegal sources.
     

  • (The Guardian, Monday, August 19, 2013)

    Privacy campaigners have condemned Google for responding to British users' claims that it had illicitly tracked their web browsing by claiming that UK laws do not apply to it. In a response to legal documents filed by a group of British users seeking to sue Google, the company said the case should be served in California, where it has its world headquarters, and refused to accept the lawsuit in Britain. It plans to contest the right of UK users to bring a case in the country where they live and use Google's services.

  • (IFEX, Monday, August 19, 2013)

    Freedom of expression is generally protected in France, although is limited by strict defamation and privacy laws. Several laws have passed since 1972 that have further restricted this fundamental right. In addition to strict privacy laws, France's libel laws make it easy to sue for defamation. Losing a libel case against a public official carries a higher fine (€45,000) than libel against a private individual (€12,000), which chills public interest criticism of politicians and government officials. France has some of the toughest hate speech laws in the EU. The number of legal actions for hate speech have multiplied after the 1881 Law on Press Freedom was amended to introduce the offence of inciting racial hatred, discrimination, violence, or contesting the existence of crimes against humanity, which has been very broadly interpreted as the right not to be offended or criticised. Some civil society groups have even managed to force the cancellation of public debates in order to prevent potentially libellous or racist remarks.

  • (Index on Censorship, Thursday, August 15, 2013)

    While the revelations around mass surveillance by the US and some European governments were reported by Bulgaria’s media, the country’s focus in recent months has been the fallout from the country’s elections. After a polarising election in May, tens of thousands went out to protest against the new Bulgarian government and staged daily rallies for over nearly two months. As a result, the significance of the NSA revelations was not enough to elevate it above domestic political skirmishes. The Snowden affair had all the ingredients for the media sensation other European countries experienced: a huge cover-up affirming most citizens’ suspicions about governments spying on them, a global chase through Hong Kong and Moscow (with possible sequels in Vienna, Havana and Caracas) and – most importantly – a local context.

  • (Digital Trends, Thursday, August 15, 2013)

    Any Web user is familiar with the 404 Page Not Found error message that appears on broken links. And some of us have happened upon the more mysterious ’403 Forbidden’ error. But now, a digital rights group from the United Kingdom has launched a campaign this week to add yet another error message to the mix: ’451 Unavailable,’ to be used anytime a webpage or website is blocked by a government for legal reasons. Evoking the anticensorship message of late author Ray Bradbury’s famous novel Fahrenheit 451, the 451 Unavailable campaign is the brainchild of Open Rights Group (ORG), a U.K.-based public advocacy group that seeks to defend free speech and consumer rights on the Internet.

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

    An EU parliament vote on amendments to data protection law has been postponed for the third successive time, with the impasse leaving citizens' rights inadequately protected. MEPs had been set to decide whether to ratify the latest set of proposals in early July but the vote is now scheduled to take place in October, with a view to publishing the amended legislation before the European elections in May 2014.

  • (The Guardian, Thursday, August 8, 2013)

    David Cameron's government has laid out plans to crack down on internet pornography by forcing internet service providers to enable filters by default. In theory, those who leave the filter unchanged will not be able to access online material that is classified as inappropriate for those under the age of 18. "About time!" say those who fear the pervasiveness of adult material. "Censorship!" say those who fear encroaching state powers. But can it even work?

  • (Reporters Without Borders, Wednesday, August 7, 2013)

    Reporters Without Borders (RSF) supports the motion for a resolution regulating surveillance programmes and protecting whistleblowers that was tabled on 31 August by 23 members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe representing more than 10 countries and all political groups. Tabled on the initiative of Pieter Omtzigt of the Group of the European People’s Party, the proposed resolution would call on member states to regulate and control surveillance and to pass legislative provisions at the national level to protect whistleblowers.

  • (The Guardian, Wednesday, August 7, 2013)

    Police investigating threats made on Twitter against the Labour MP Stella Creasy and the writer and campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez have arrested a man in Bristol. In a statement, Scotland Yard said: "Detectives from the MPS [Metropolitan police service] have this morning, 7 August, arrested a 32-year-old-man, on suspicion of committing an offence under the Protection of Harassment Act, 1997. "He was arrested at an address in Bristol by officers from the MPS police central e-crime unit as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations relating to threats made on Twitter."

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

    Researchers at the UK's Internet Watch Foundation have discovered the motive behind the hacking of innocent websites, including a furniture retailer, to host extreme child abuse images. The move is part of an attempt by cybercriminals to take control of users' PCs – and seems to have been timed to take advantage of prime minister David Cameron's high-octane rhetoric over access to child abuse images in mid-June. The IWF, a Cambridge-based charity which checks for child abuse and "extreme" pictures online and cooperates with ISPs to get them removed or blocked, says that criminals used the hacked servers to infect viewers' PCs with malware hosted there.

  • (ArsTechnica, Tuesday, August 6, 2013)

    The Latvian government says it will extradite a 28-year-old man accused of creating the Web injects for the highly destructive Gozi malware, which targeted over a million computers globally, specifically aimed at bank accounts. US prosecutors say the malware was used to steal millions of dollars from its targets. According to the Associated Press, Latvian ministers voted Tuesday (7 to 5, with one abstention), to extradite Deniss Calovskis to the United States. Calovskis has previously denied involvement in the Gozi operation.

  • (Hurriyet Daily News, Monday, August 5, 2013)

    A pomegranate is the logo of Ötekilerin Postası (The Others’ Post), an alternative media outlet on Facebook, whose raison d’être is to become “the collective voice of minorities, the outcast, the marginalized and those whose voices have been rendered invisible in the media; in short, the others.” But the pomegranate also allegedly violates Facebook’s community standards, as, last week, the logo in the profile picture of Ötekilerin Postası was reported to Facebook for investigation, resulting in the editors being banned from posting to the page for 30 days.

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

    When the Guardian published the news about the Prism case, it soon became clear that the Czech Republic was also one of the countries monitored by the NSA. In a country in the midst of political turmoil, the news of mass surveillance generated little interest from the media or the public. “Friends should not be spied on,” commented Angela Merkel on the discovery that US intelligence spied on European citizens and authorities by exploiting their private data gained from internet companies, including Google. But no such clear comments have been made by the majority of Czech politicians.

  • (The Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email, Wednesday, July 31, 2013)

    Today we publish an overview of domains registered through Domain Silver, Inc, a registrar operating in the .pl domain. This Registrar started operating in May 2012. Since that time, the CERT Polska team started to observe a large increase in the amount of malicious domains registered in .pl and to receive many complaints concerning domains registered through Domain Silver. Most of the malicious domains present in the .pl were registered through Domain Silver.

  • (Huffington Post, Wednesday, July 31, 2013)

    Not long after David Cameron announced the UK's remarkable proposals to block and ban online pornography, commentators were quick to point out similarities with what has been common practice in China. One Twitter user even came up with the term "Hadrian's Firewall," echoing the metaphor of the "Great Firewall" so often employed in media reports about China. The irony that the UK government is proposing to introduce the exact same internet censorship mechanisms that it has routinely condemned in China has so far received little attention. Part of the reason for this is that many people in the UK tend to have an exaggerated view of what goes on in China to begin with and therefore the comparison seems far-fetched. But is it, really?

  • (Computer World UK, Wednesday, July 31, 2013)

    Yesterday I wrote about the slide into censorship and self-censorship that the UK government's misbegotten plans to impose a default set of Net blocks could bring about. Of course, the UK is not alone in seeking to introduce disproportionate schemes. Here's one from Russia: State Duma Deputy Yelena Mizulina intends to make further amendments to the Law "On the Protection of Children." The chairwoman of the Committee on Family, Women and Children put forward a suggestion to punish people for using dirty language in social networks. According to politician, the pages full of posts and messages containing swear words, will have to be blocked within 24 hours, if harmful information is not deleted. This should apply to pages on social networks, websites, and various forums. According to Mizulina, children can begin to see profanity as a norm.

  • (Index on Censorship, Monday, July 29, 2013)

    Following a court decision that became effective last Monday, independent French news website Mediapart has had to withdraw the infamous Bettencourt “butler tapes” from its website, as well as 72 articles including quotes from the recordings, prompting a campaign of solidarity in the French and international media. In the balance between freedom to inform and right to privacy, the court ruled that it was more important to protect the right to privacy. Reporters Without Borders published the censored content on Wefightcensorship.org, a website that has until now published content from countries more commonly associated with abuses of press freedom, such as Turkmenistan, China and Belarus.

  • (CNet, Saturday, July 27, 2013)

    After an outcry in Britain over rape threats on Twitter, the company said a feature designed to make it easier to report abusive tweets when using Twitter on the iPhone would be coming to other platforms. The recipient of those threats expressed approval but added that the service needs "to step up and take responsibility for what is tweeted on their site." Earlier Saturday, an executive with Twitter UK said the service was testing ways to make abuse reporting simpler. Twitter UK General Manager Tony Wang sent a series of tweets saying that the service takes online abuse seriously and directing users to the company's report form. He also said, "we're testing ways to simplify reporting, e.g. within a Tweet by using the 'Report Tweet' button in our iPhone app and on mobile Web."

  • (The Guardian, Monday, July 22, 2013)

    The Daily Mail's preening claim to have "won" the battle against internet pornography had an appropriate sidebar beside it online, showing multiple celebrities wearing teeny bikinis and flaunting their curves. Such is the contradiction of David Cameron's "war" on porn on the web. Cameron's crusade conflates two things. First are the child abuse images, which anyone sensible wants removed: they are records of exploitation of children who could not consent, who are being abused, and show criminal acts whose viewing criminalises others.

  • (Index on Censorship, Monday, July 22, 2013)

    There have been some sharply contrasting political reactions to the US and UK’s mass surveillance programmes in European countries in recent days. Could the US perhaps play divide and rule in managing the fallout from Snowden’s revelations in Europe? Or is there enough common ground between German, UK or even Russian politicians to push for real changes in US (and UK and French) snooping? At first glance, it seems the issue is being damped down in the UK in contrast to angry and sustained political debate in Germany, and a more nationalist and opportunistic response by Russian politicians.

  • (The Guardian, Sunday, July 21, 2013)

    The prime minister is looking at porn. For research purposes, of course. He's not sitting in cabinet meetings peeking under the table at a looped three-second clip of a woman's bra falling off that Michael Gove e-mailed to him by mistake. He is looking for a way he can pretend to be fighting it. He wants to declare himself the first prime minister to win the war on online porn. And, according to a letter leaked to the BBC last week, he reckons he has found one: default-on.

  • (European Commission, Thursday, July 18, 2013)

    The internet is a wonderful tool for openness, freedom and innovation. No wonder it is so important to so many citizens. And no wonder the debate over “net neutrality” can seem so charged. For me this debate is not about dogma and slogans – it’s about understanding what’s important online, and preserving it. It’s a complex debate about a complex network. A debate where we must understand, not just the struggles of the past, but the opportunities of the future.

  • (ArsTechnica, Wednesday, July 17, 2013)

    A parliamentary intelligence committee has concluded that the United Kingdom’s intelligence agency, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), did not violate British law by using data provided by the PRISM program. In a short three-page statement (PDF) released on its website, the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament said the allegations that the GCHQ “circumvented UK law by using the [National Security Agency’s] PRISM program to access the content of private communications” are “unfounded.”

  • (The New York Times, Monday, July 15, 2013)

    Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany is calling for the European Union to adopt legislation requiring Internet companies to disclose what information about users they store and to whom they provide it. Ms. Merkel’s remarks, in a television interview on Sunday night, reflected the anger throughout much of Europe, including Germany, over recent accounts of government surveillance by the United States National Security Agency..

  • (CNet, Friday, July 12, 2013)

    The company had resisted for months, but finally relents, hoping to "put an end to the dispute" and saying it will do its part to "fight racism and anti-Semitism."

  • (The New York Times, Thursday, July 11, 2013)

    European Union antitrust authorities said on Thursday that they had investigated major telecommunications companies, including Deutsche Telekom of Germany, on suspicion that the companies were using their dominant market positions to limit Itnernet providers’ access to their networks.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Wednesday, July 10, 2013)

    Demonstrators in Turkey have occupied Istanbul’s Taksim Square since last May, in a movement that began as an effort to protect a city park, but has evolved into a larger mobilization against the ruling party’s increasingly autocratic stance. Prime Minister Erdogan and the ruling AKP party have used many tools to silence voices of the opposition.

  • (The Guardian, Tuesday, July 9, 2013)

    The 'three strikes' anti-piracy measure, introduced under Nicolas Sarkozy, would have cut off users' access to the internet.

  • (Privacy International, Monday, July 8, 2013)

    In the wake of revelations that the UK Government is accessing wide-ranging intelligence information from the US and is conducting mass surveillance on citizens across the UK, Privacy International today commenced legal action against the Government, charging that the expansive spying regime is seemingly operated outside of the rule of law, lacks any accountability, and is neither necessary nor proportionate.

  • (CNet, Friday, July 5, 2013)

    The U.K. Information Commissioner's Office is the latest to order Google to amend its controversial policy or face a fine.

  • (ArsTechnica, Friday, July 5, 2013)

    While Americans were celebrating the July Fourth holiday, French newspaper Le Monde was busy stirring up controversy across the Atlantic with news that the French security services are involved in NSA-style tapping of Internet and phone communications, text messages, and faxes. They have been successful enough that most electronic communications in France are now vacuumed up by the direction générale de la sécurité extérieure (DGSE), which warehouses them in servers occupying three floors of the DGSE's Parisian headquarters.

  • (Index, Monday, July 1, 2013)

    The revelations that the United States allegedly spied on European Union diplomats marks a low in what should be a special relationship of trust between major democracies. The EU needs to remind the US that surveillance is unacceptable in the digital age, Sean Gallagher writes. 

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

    Dearly beloved: our subject this morning is online pornography and what to do about it. The fact that there is a good deal of erotic material on the net is beyond dispute, though the precise amount is unclear. Let us assume that X % of websites contain porn, where X is a number between 5 and 15. What does that tell us? Answer: an awful lot of people seem to be interested in pornography. If there wasn't a demand, then presumably there wouldn't be such an abundant supply.

  • (Taylor & Francis Online, Monday, June 24, 2013)

    A timely look at the implications of a society more deeply pervaded by surveillance technologies, this paper analyzes various web-based efforts in Britain that involve the identification of suspicious persons or activity. The researcher examine Facewatch, CrimeStoppers UK, Internet Eyes, and Shoreditch Digital Bridge, all of which had commercial elements attached to crowdsourcing projects where participants monitored feed from surveillance cameras of public spaces. 

  • (Open Society Foundations, Monday, June 24, 2013)

    The protests that started in Istanbul’s Gezi Park two weeks ago have spread across Turkey and show little sign of dying down. They signify a clash between a modernising Turkish society and a still rigid and old-fashioned political system. The protests have resulted in the tragic loss of several lives and are endangering Turkey’s hard-won economic stability as investors take fright. But they also have a silver lining. They might force the government to reconsider its rejection of pluralism. And they might even help to revive Turkey's moribund accession process to the EU.
     

  • (Intellectual Property Watch, Monday, June 24, 2013)

    The surveillance affair around the US Prism programme left its mark on the 2013 European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG) in Lisbon last week. Legal experts at the sixth edition of the European version of the Internet Governance Forum pondered possible legal reactions, companies revealed as targets or (unwilling) partners of the programme tried to limit the damage, while Swedish ambassador Olaf Ehrenkrona admitted that state surveillance programs need to be reconsidered given the ease of mass surveillance in the era of a public internet space.

  • (CNET News, Friday, June 7, 2013)

    The U.K. government may have been complicit in secretly gathering intelligence from Internet companies, which were named on Thursday by a Washington Post report. According to The Guardian, which has covered the brewing and ever-developing privacy saga extensively, the ability for the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) -- the U.K. government's electronic intercepts and listening station -- to tap directly into the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) PRISM database, may bypass mutual intelligence and information sharing treaties.

  • (Access, Thursday, June 6, 2013)

    A week after Commissioner for Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes requested that the European Parliament help save European citizens’ “right to access the open internet by guaranteeing net neutrality” in a speech on May 30 in Brussels, Kroes avoided language that would have directly supported net neutrality while speaking at a panel event organized by Access at the European Parliament. In her speech, Kroes identified “transparency,” “consumer choice,” and the ability for consumers to switch providers without encountering “countless obstacles” as key priorities, rather than endorsing net neutrality. “For me, an open platform is built on competition, innovation transparency, and choice,” she said.

  • (Al Jazeera, Thursday, June 6, 2013)

    Turkish authorities have freed 33 protesters who were detained in Izmir for posting "misinformation" via Twitter, hours before Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan returns from an overseas trip to face angry demonstrators. The Tweeters were detained on Tuesday as part of a crackdown on hundreds of people fighting to save a park in Istanbul's Taksim Square. A police officer also died on Thursday after he fell from a bridge while pursuing protesters in Adana, bringing the total death toll during the unrest to three, Al Jazeera confirms.

  • (USA Today, Wednesday, June 5, 2013)

    In a repeat of a phenomenon that helped fuel the Arab Spring uprisings, citizen protestors in Turkey are using a free VPN service to thwart reported Internet censorship. Over the weekend, some 120,000 people inside Turkey downloaded Hotspot Shield, a free mobile app supplied by U.S. vendor Anchorfree that sets up a VPN (virtual private network) linked up to the outside world. Usually, the company sees about 10,000 new VPN sign ups per day from the nation of about 73 million, says David Gorodyansky, Anchorfree's founder and CEO.

  • (The Guardian, Thursday, May 30, 2013)

    The five biggest internet companies in the world, including Google and Facebook, have privately delivered a thinly veiled warning to the home secretary, Theresa May, that they will not voluntarily co-operate with the "snooper's charter". In a leaked letter to the home secretary that is also signed by Twitter, Microsoft and Yahoo!, the web's "big five" say that May's rewritten proposals to track everybody's email, internet and social media use remain "expensive to implement and highly contentious".

  • (Access, Wednesday, May 29, 2013)

    After the recent announcement by Germany's largest telecommunications company, Deutsche Telekom (DT), of further restrictions on internet access for their customers, people took to the streets. Frustrated citizens gathered in front of the company's annual general assembly to protest against the ongoing violations of their fundamental right to access an open and neutral internet.

  • (Committee to Protect Journalists, Friday, May 24, 2013)

    Turkish authorities should reverse on appeal the jail term handed down this week to a Turkish Armenian author and blogger who was convicted of insulting the Prophet Muhammad, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. On Wednesday, a criminal court in Istanbul handed a 13.5-month jail sentence to Sevan Nişanyan in connection with a September 2012 post on his personal blog that allegedly insulted the prophet, according to news reports. The court ruled that the blogger had violated a part of the criminal code by "demean[ing] the religious values held by a section of the population."

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Thursday, May 9, 2013)

    Since January 2012, the European Union institutions have been debating draft legislation to reform European rules on data protection (commonly referred to as the Data Protection Regulation (DPR)). Article 17 of the proposed DPR presents the concept of a "Right to Be Forgotten". Article 17 would allow a user to request that an online service provider delete all data – including data that has been made public – it has about that user. While CDT is sympathetic to the concerns that underlie Article 17, we have recommended that it be redrafted and narrowed substantially.

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Thursday, May 9, 2013)

    CDT released a paper analyzing the free expression implications of the proposed “Right to Be Forgotten” in the draft European Data Protection Regulation (DPR). The Right to Be Forgotten concept has received much attention since the DPR was first introduced, and while we understand the concerns that motivate the proposal, CDT continues to have serious misgivings about the DPR’s approach to the concept. As described in Article 17, the Right to Be Forgotten would put private companies in the position of balancing users’ free expression and privacy rights – a difficult task that has traditionally been the purview of courts and legislatures, and one that companies are not equipped to undertake. Further, the DPR puts a heavy thumb on the scale on the side of privacy, promising high fines if companies violate the regulation, but providing only narrowly scoped safeguards for journalistic and artistic expression.

  • (CircleID, Wednesday, May 8, 2013)

    In 2012 I wrote a blog on CircleID called State hacking: Do's and don'ts, pros and cons. In this post I give some thoughts to the concept of a government "hacking back" at criminals. The reason for this was an announcement by the Dutch government that it contemplated law along these lines. The proposed law is now here: the Act Computer Criminality III. Although the idea originally was to hack into untraceable servers that could (most like would) be based abroad, now it appears that the Dutch government has used its imagination some more. Hacking devices, the obligation to cooperate in an investigation against oneself by providing passwords, tapping devices and e.g. Skype, it's all in the concept.

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Wednesday, May 8, 2013)

    This post is part of our ‘Shielding the Messengers’ series, which examines issues related to intermediary liability protections, both in the U.S. and globally. Without these protections, the Internet as we know it today – a platform where diverse content and free expression thrive – would not exist. A long-fought-for bill to reform libel law in the UK received final passage and became law late last month. The Defamation Act makes many needed changes to the law and is largely a victory for free expression advocates, but its partial liability protections for website operators leave something to be desired, and pose significant risk to the ability to speak anonymously on the Internet.

  • (The Drum, Thursday, April 25, 2013)

    Facebook is facing allegations of political censorship after a post critical of NHS privatisation which featured the story of a cancer sufferer's campaign to raise awareness by taking his protest to Downing Street was removed, raising fears its procedures are open to abuse. Blogger Kerry-Anne Mendoza from Bristol, who runs the Scriptonite Daily blog, published an article charting the story of artist and college lecturer Mark McGowan, who is being treated for bowel cancer, and his #wheresdaddyspig journey from his treatment centre at Kings College Hospital to Downing Street.

  • (Bloomberg, Thursday, April 25, 2013)

    Google Inc. (GOOG) and Facebook Inc. (FB) were criticized by German data protection regulators for “delay tactics” and “impertinent” behavior when responding to probes into their privacy policies. Experience has shown that “Google will keep making attempts to delay investigations through continuous correspondence and always freshly packaged arguments,” Peter Schaar, Germany’s federal data protection commissioner, said in a report yesterday. Facebook was separately described earlier this month as having “impertinent” behavior by Thilo Weichert, the privacy regulator for the German state of Schleswig- Holstein.

  • (The New York Times, Tuesday, April 23, 2013)

    Regulators in Germany, one of the most privacy-sensitive countries in the world, unleashed their wrath on Google on Monday for scooping up sensitive personal information in the Street View mapping project and imposed the largest fine ever assessed by European regulators over a privacy violation, Claire Cain Miller reports in The New York Times. The penalty? $189,225. Put another way, that’s how much Google made every two minutes last year, or roughly 0.002 percent of its $10.7 billion in net profit.

  • (The Guardian, Friday, April 19, 2013)

    Bloggers with a turnover of less than £2m annually and fewer than 10 employees will be excluded from certain punitive elements of the proposed new press regulation regime, under a legislative amendment agreeed by the three main political parties. The Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour have reached an agreement laying down the definition of what constitutes a "micro business" that will be exempt from the government's controversial plans which could allow courts to impose exemplary damages on newspapers who refuse to join an approved regulator and lose libel cases.

  • (IFEX, Wednesday, April 17, 2013)

    Privacy International have filed an application for judicial review of the United Kingdom's HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) refusal to release information about the potentially unlawful export of Gamma International's FinFisher surveillance technology. HMRC has categorically refused to provide any details regarding any investigation into Gamma's export practices, arguing it is statutorily barred from releasing information to victims or complainants. The law enforcement agency denies that it has any obligation to be transparent about any activities relating to the potentially illegal exports of British surveillance technology by Gamma International.  

  • (Slate, Tuesday, April 16, 2013)

    It has been linked to attacks on activists and dissidents and traced to servers operating across the world. But the next stop for a government spy technology that can infiltrate computers and eavesdrop on Skype chats could be a courtroom in England. On Tuesday, human rights group Privacy International announced that it is challenging the British government for “unlawful” conduct during an investigation into exports of a surveillance tool known as FinFisher, sold by England-based Gamma Group. 

  • (The New York Times, Monday, April 15, 2013)

    A court here handed down a suspended 10-month prison term on Monday for Fazil Say, an internationally acclaimed Turkish pianist and composer convicted of insulting Islam and offending Muslims in postings on Twitter. Mr. Say, 42, who has performed with major orchestras in places around the world, including New York, Berlin and Tokyo, said during earlier hearings that the accusations against him went “against universal human rights and laws.” 

  • (Access, Friday, April 12, 2013)

    The Dutch hosting provider Leaseweb, has released its first transparency report, joining the growing ranks of internet companies engaged in proactive disclosure of their human rights impacts. The company, headquartered in Amsterdam, is a large infrastructure-as-a-service provider, whose clients account for 3-4% of total internet traffic by its own estimates. As the first of its kind released by a hosting company, the Leaseweb report provides insight into both the type of requests faced by hosting companies and provides a model for hosting companies seeking to undertake similar disclosure efforts.

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Thursday, April 4, 2013)

    Last week, CDT submitted its response to the European Commission's consultation on copyright enforcement. The Commission has previously held public consultations, conferences, and ‘stakeholder dialogues’ on this issue, and the present consultation was structured as a 'technical survey' to gather specific information on the efficiency of proceedings and accessibility of measures used for civil enforcement of intellectual property rights.

  • (The Guardian, Tuesday, April 2, 2013)

    Google could face fines from six European countries' privacy regulators, including the UK and Germany, after refusing to reverse changes to its privacy policies made in March 2012. The search company has infuriated the regulators by declining to respond to their demands made over multiple months – even as research shows that user concerns about online privacy are high.

  • (Computer World UK, Tuesday, April 2, 2013)

    Six European data protection authorities will conduct formal investigations of Google's privacy policy after the company repeatedly rejected their requests that it reverse changes it made to the policy last March, they announced today. Data protection authorities in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the U.K. have resolved to conduct investigations or inspections of Google's privacy policy, following an initial investigation by the French data protection authority. The precise nature of the actions will depend on how the European Data Protection Directive has been transposed in their respective national laws.

  • (The Guardian, Thursday, March 28, 2013)

    I've sat through more presentations about the way to solve the copyright wars than I've had hot dinners, and all of them has fallen short of the mark. That's because virtually everyone with a solution to the copyright wars is worried about the income of artists, while I'm worried about the health of the internet.

  • (The Guardian, Monday, March 25, 2013)

    The government has moved to exclude small-scale bloggers from the threat of media regulation, and will hold a miniconsultation with the newspaper industry on how best to construct a workable definition of the bloggers that need to be protected. Ministers concede that the definitions offered so far may have loopholes, and will attempt to put in place a clear watertight amendment after Easter when the crown and courts bill returns to the Commons.

  • (comScore, Thursday, March 21, 2013)

    The report provides a comprehensive overview of the European market and identifies the prevailing trends in web usage, online video, mobile and search. There is also a special scorecard section, which shows the top sites for all 18 European countries measured by comScore as well as an overview of top news, retail and online banking sites per market. “European consumers are more digitally-engaged than ever before and their usage of mobile, internet-enabled devices is re-defining the media landscape,” said Paul Goode, Chief Advisor Industry Relations for comScore in Europe. “Advertisers, agencies and media owners need to understand the rising number of multi-platform consumers and the more complex digital ecosystem that has developed over the past years. Insights about key trends and underlying drivers enable clients to manage their digital investments effectively.”

  • (The Guardian, Tuesday, March 19, 2013)

    Bloggers could face high fines for libel under the new Leveson deal with exemplary damages imposed if they don't sign up to the new regulator, it was claimed on Tuesday. Under clause 29 introduced to the crime and courts bill in the Commons on Monday night, the definition of "relevant" bloggers or websites includes any that generate news material where there is an editorial structure giving someone control over publication.

  • (The New York Times, Tuesday, March 12, 2013)

    The French government on Tuesday called for a law requiring Internet service providers to give all the traffic on their networks equal priority, saying existing rules were insufficient for protecting free speech online and ensuring fair competition among Web publishers. The proposal would mark a big shift in French policy and a break with existing European Union practice on the thorny issue of so-called net neutrality. And though almost certain to meet resistance from some Internet service providers, it could fuel calls for similar rules throughout the 27-country European Union.

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Tuesday, March 5, 2013)

    CDT establishes a full-time presence in Brussels, where we will seek to apply our unique approach to Internet policy making to the deliberations of the European Union (EU) and other Europe-based institutions. Our new European representative is Jens-Henrik Jeppesen, who brings to CDT more than 15 years of experience working on tech policy issues in Europe.

  • (La Quadrature du Net, Friday, March 1, 2013)

    Following an intergovernmental seminar on digital policy, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced a law “on the protection of digital rights and freedoms” for early 2014. While this announcement offers hope for the defense of freedoms online, recent statements made by members of the French government suggest it is not yet ready to break away from the repressive trend initiated by its predecessors.

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Wednesday, February 27, 2013)

    Online free expression took a hit in the United Kingdom last week when a court ruled that Google may be held liable for defamatory comments made on its Blogger platform. The court’s final position in Payam Tamiz v Google Inc. is that online providers can be held liable if they don’t quickly take down material that’s alleged to be defamatory, which opens the door for increased intermediary liability under UK law. At the same time, a new bill is being considered in Parliament that might help provide new protections for online intermediaries. However, language in the bill suggests that it may be at the cost of Internet users‘ ability to speak anonymously online.

  • (Access, Wednesday, February 27, 2013)

    The Industry, Research, and Energy (ITRE) Committee of the European Parliament recently voted through its Opinion on the Data Protection Regulation, sending a clear message to European citizens that a majority of the Committee believes the interests of large corporations should trump the protection of their fundamental right to privacy. A number of European political parties had a hand in the Opinion. The ITRE Committee Opinion is led by Sean Kelly, Irish member of the European People’s Party (EPP). While the Greens and the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) were more or less united in their rejection of the Opinion, it was the Liberals (ALDE) that really could have turned the tables with key votes.

  • (Global Voices, Wednesday, February 27, 2013)

    In February 2012, Twitter introduced a policy that enables individual tweets and accounts to be blocked on a country-by-country basis. If a government submits a court order to Twitter, asking for a tweet or account to be blocked, Twitter will comply. But the blocking will only occur in the country in question — to users throughout the rest of the world, the affected content will look no different.

  • (IFEX, Tuesday, February 26, 2013)

    The Court of Justice of the European Union will today consider a request from Spain's National Court for an interpretation of European law on online data protection and, in particular, its applicability to a legal case involving Google and a Spanish citizen. The European court's interpretation will affect future judicial decisions throughout the European Union. The Spanish citizen, Mario Costeja, filed a complaint with the Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD) against Google and the newspaper La Vanguardia on 9 March 2012 after discovering that a Google search for his name produced results referring to the auction of real estate property seized from him for non-payment of social security contributions.  

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

    Europol, the European police agency, said Wednesday that it had dismantled one of the most efficient cybercrime organizations to date, led by Russians who had managed to extort millions of euros from online users across more than 30 countries — mostly European — by persuading them to pay spurious police fines for abusive use of the Internet. The Russian head of the crime network was arrested in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in December. This month, the Spanish police arrested 10 other people — six Russians, two Ukrainians and two Georgians — along the Costa del Sol, a popular vacation destination in southern Spain, where the criminals are believed to have had their main base of operations.

  • (Jurist, Wednesday, February 6, 2013)

    The ghost of Yahoo v. LICRA has come back to haunt us. In 2000, after a criminal lawsuit was filed by the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA), a French judge ruled that auctions of Nazi-related paraphernalia hosted by what was then the hippest online service — US-based Yahoo — were illegal in France. The judge consequently ordered Yahoo to "take all necessary measures to dissuade and make impossible" for France-based Internet users to access these auctions.

  • (The Guardian, Sunday, January 27, 2013)

    Google is facing a fresh privacy battle in the UK over its alleged secret tracking of the internet habits of millions of iPhone users. An estimated 10 million Britons could have grounds to launch a privacy claim over the way Google circumvented Apple's security settings on the iPhone, iPad and desktop versions of its Safari web browser to monitor their behaviour.

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

    Although online issues were not covered in great detail by the Leveson inquiry, Robert Jay QC's comments to the Singapore Academy of Law concerning the liability of internet service providers (ISPs) earlier this week are startling. The lead counsel to the inquiry appears to have suggested that a possible answer to the problem of online libel is the "imaginative solution" of bringing ISPs "within the scope of 'publishers' for the purposes of the law of defamation" and putting ISPs under a duty to ensure that they do not enable their customers to access defamatory content. Not surprisingly, that suggestion has received something of a backlash from internet enthusiasts.

  • (The New York Times, Friday, January 25, 2013)

    A French court on Thursday told Twitter to identify people who had posted anti-Semitic and racist entries on the social network, Eric Pfanner and Somini Sengupta report in Friday’s New York Times. Twitter is not sure it will comply. And so goes yet another dust-up in the struggle over speech on the Internet, and which countries’ laws prevail.

  • (The New York Times, Sunday, January 20, 2013)

    France, seeking fresh ways to raise funds and frustrated that American technology companies that dominate its digital economy are largely beyond the reach of French fiscal authorities, has proposed a new levy: an Internet tax on the collection of personal data. The idea surfaced Friday in a report commissioned by President François Hollande, which described various measures his government was taking to address what the French see as tax avoidance by Internet companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook.

  • (The New York Times, Friday, January 18, 2013)

    E.U. justice ministers reacted coolly on Friday to a plan that would give consumers the ability to expunge the personal details Internet businesses have collected on them, essentially allowing individuals to block most kinds of online ads. During an informal meeting in Dublin, the ministers expressed reservations about elements of the proposal, which would impose new limits on data collection and profiling and give national regulators the ability to levy hefty fines equal to 2 percent of sales on companies that failed to comply.

  • (Quartz, Thursday, January 17, 2013)

    Germans take their privacy seriously and have coined a term—gläserner Bürger, or “the glass citizen”—to describe a dystopic future in which Germans are surveilled around the clock. The news that that Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), Germany’s version of the FBI, is testing software by a controversial surveillance firm is sure to raise the glass citizen image yet again. A leaked document (PDF in German) from the German ministry of the interior, which was published on Wednesday by netzpolitik.org, reveals that BKA has acquired software from Gamma Group for monitoring computer and internet use in “case it will be necessary to use.”

  • (The Guardian, Wednesday, January 9, 2013)

    Eleven civil servants at Iain Duncan Smith's department for work and pensions have been sacked for using Twitter or Facebook. The 11 sacked officials are among 116 DWP employees to have faced disciplinary action for blogging and social networking since January 2009, according to figures revealed under the Freedom of Information Act.Of these 116, 34 were given a final written warning, 35 received a written warning and 36 were reprimanded orally for their use of social media.

  • (New York Times, Monday, January 7, 2013)

    In a potential test case for Europe, the French government on Monday ordered a big Internet service provider to stop blocking online advertisements, saying the company had no right to edit the contents of the Web for users. The dispute has turned into a gauge of how France, and perhaps the rest of Europe, will mediate a struggle between telecommunications providers against Internet companies like Google, which generate billions of dollars in revenue from traffic that travels freely on their networks.

  • (The New York Times, Sunday, January 6, 2013)

    Xavier Niel, the French technology entrepreneur, has made a career of disrupting the status quo. Now, he has dared to take on Google and other online advertisers in a battle that puts the Web companies under pressure to use the wealth generated by the ads to help pay for the network pipelines that deliver the content. Mr. Niel’s telecommunications company, Free, which has an estimated 5.2 million Internet-access users in France, began last week to enable its customers to block Web advertising. The company is updating users’ software with an ad-blocking feature as the default setting.

  • (The Guardian, Friday, January 4, 2013)

    A German state data protection agency has threatened Facebook's billionaire founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg with a €20,000 (£16,000) fine if Facebook does not allow Germans to have anonymous accounts on the social network. In letters to Zuckerberg in California, and also to Dublin-based Facebook Ireland Ltd, the data protection commissioner for the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, Thilo Weichert, said the current rules violated German law by requiring users to provide their identities. "It is unacceptable that a US portal like Facebook violates German data protection law, unopposed and with no prospect of an end," said Weichert.

  • (The Guardian, Wednesday, January 2, 2013)

    Writing in the Guardian today, Jason Farago praises France's women's rights minister, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, for demanding that Twitter help the French government criminalize ideas it dislikes. Decreeing that "hateful tweets are illegal", Farago excitingly explains how the French minister is going beyond mere prosecution for those who post such tweets and now "wants Twitter to take steps to help prosecute hate speech" by "reform[ing] the whole system by which Twitter operates", including her demand that the company "put in place alerts and security measures" to prevent tweets which French officials deem hateful. 

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Monday, December 17, 2012)

    A little over a year ago, EFF raised concerns about the UK government's plans to force Internet service providers (ISPs) to enact automatic filtering to rid the Web of pornographic content. Now, thanks to efforts led by organizations like the Open Rights Group (ORG), the plans have been thwarted, with a joint report from the country's Home Office and Department for Education claiming that the UK public has "little appetite" for default filtering.

  • (Reporters Without Borders, Tuesday, December 11, 2012)

    The European Union should enact new controls on internet surveillance technologies that have enabled human rights violations, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders said today. The European Parliament adopted a new digital freedom strategy in EU foreign policy in the plenary on December 11. Marietje Schaake, a Dutch Member of the European Parliament and its Rapporteur for the Digital Freedom Strategy in EU foreign policy, has proposed controls over internet surveillance tools as part of a critical report on the role of European exporters of such technologies and the impact on human rights. Schaake said that these technologies need to be regulated just “as we verify the quality of foods and medicine, or conventional weapons.”

  • (Index, Tuesday, December 11, 2012)

    The British government’s Communications Data Bill is to be redrafted after the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he would block the current bill. The bill, which would give government agencies unprecedented access to email, web and phone traffic, has been described as a “snooper’s charter” by free speech and privacy groups. Earlier today, a joint committee of MPs and Lords published a damning report describing the draft bill as “too sweeping”, and criticising the vague definitions of the powers given to the Home Secretary by the proposed law.

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Tuesday, December 4, 2012)

    Just before Thanksgiving, the European Network and Security Agency (ENISA) — an agency of the European Union tasked with improving network and information security — issued an extensive analysis of the controversial “Right to be Forgotten” contained in recently proposed European privacy legislation. CDT has been generally supportive of the proposed Regulation (a reboot to the current, inconsistent Directive was long overdue), but we’ve criticized some elements — such as the Right to be Forgotten — as impractical and ultimately counterproductive for consumers.

  • (Interdisciplinary Centre for Law and ICT (ICRI), Monday, December 3, 2012)

    Especially after its appearance in the European Commission's recent proposal for a new Data Protection Regulation, the 'right to be forgotten' has provoked quite some criticism. Much of the opponents, however, seem uninformed on the actual scope and meaning of the proposed provision. Additionally, the concept is often confused with the much older 'droit a l'oubli', which finds its rationale in the protection of privacy as a fundamental human right. This text starts by giving an overview of the more traditional droit a l'oubli and how it is applied throughout Europe.

  • (The Sociable, Sunday, November 25, 2012)

    An intergovernmental organisation, which few people have heard of, wants to take control over the management of the internet potentially harming freedom of speech and increasing censorship, according to a chilling warning from Google. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) @ITU, an organ of the United Nations which consists of world governments and telcos, will be convened on December 3 2012 in what Google is calling a “closed door meeting” to debate whether governance of internet (as distinct from the web) should be handed over to it.

  • (Center for Democracy and Technology, Thursday, November 22, 2012)

    The European Parliament today approved a Joint Resolution calling on EU Member States to promote and protect Internet openness at the upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT). The resolve of the Parliamentarians who drafted the resolution deserves recognition. The result is a strong statement of confidence in the civic and economic value of the open Internet, as well as the virtues of transparent, inclusive models for Internet governance.

  • (The Telegraph, Saturday, November 17, 2012)

    The new measures will mean that in future anyone buying a new computer or signing up with a new internet service provider (ISP) will be asked, when they log on for the first time, whether they have children. If the answer is "yes", the parent will be taken through the process of installing anti-pornography filters, as well as a series of questions on how stringent they wish the restrictions to be, according to a newspaper.

  • (The Guardian, Sunday, November 11, 2012)

    Police in Kent have arrested a man after a picture of burning poppy was posted on a social networking site. The force said in a short press release posted on its website that the man, from Aylesham, had been arrested on suspicion of "malicious telecommunications".

  • (Tech President, Thursday, November 8, 2012)

    The EU is about to launch "a global monitoring system that will help chart digital repression by mapping the Internet’s "cyber geography" in near real time," reports Slate. The idea builds on last year's EU initiative No Disconnect, which offers tools and training to activists using the Internet in repressive / authoritarian regimes like Syria. The new initiative will map cyber repression across the world.

  • (Taylor and Francis Online, Tuesday, October 30, 2012)

    Privacy enhancing technologies (PETs) have long been discussed as a valuable tool to protect personal data. Apart from some examples at the Member State level (such as Germany), however, there is still a lack of legal instruments and requirements concerning these technical instruments. Without mandatory requirements and legal incentives, there is the risk that developers and controllers will not provide PETs to their respective customers. As European data protection law will undergo substantial changes in the coming years, there is now an opportunity to implement at least basic legal instruments to supplement and foster the development and implementation of PETs. This opportunity must not be missed: given the long reform cycles of European data protection law, any regulation that does not end up being part of the current reform may have to wait for another 15–20 years for the next opportunity.

  • (The Chicago Tribune, Monday, October 29, 2012)

    President Francois Hollande told Google's chief executive on Monday that France would legislate to force the Web search engine to pay for displaying links to news articles unless it struck a deal with French media outlets. Press associations in France and other European countries want Google to pay when it displays links to newspapers in Internet searches. In reply, Google has threatened to stop indexing articles from the French press.

  • (Journal of Edemocracy and Open Government, Friday, October 26, 2012)

    The paper examines the participation characteristics within internet-based collective action by analysing the case of digital rights campaigning. Drawing upon empirical findings from a case study (the “Telecoms Package” campaign, 2007-2009), we discuss how digital rights activists organise, collaborate and mobilise using websites, mailing lists, wikis and instant messaging channels. Participation is individualised and malleable. However, successful digital rights’ campaigning requires political, technical and social skills. To intervene in EU policy-making, activists need technical and political expertise and technological skills.

  • (Committee to Protect Journalists, Thursday, October 25, 2012)

    "The rules of the game have changed," then-Prime Minister Tony Blair said after the July 7, 2005, terrorist attacks in London as he announced that the U.K. government would clamp down on terrorists "whatever it takes." Now, the limits of such bold but vague intentions are on show as the draft Communications Data Bill undergoes pre-legislative scrutiny in a joint committee of British Members of Parliament and Peers. Is gathering digital data from the general population a necessary upgrade of law enforcement capabilities, as the British Government argues, or does it dilute the liberal tenets of British democracy for the sake of security? 

  • (Access, Wednesday, October 24, 2012)

    Recently, Access attended a two-day hearing bringing together parliamentarians from EU member states about the Data Protection Reform Package (proposal for a Regulation and Directive) in the European Parliament. The overarching theme of the conference was building “trust,” which is particularly important for ensuring consumer protections and fostering commerce in the online environment. As Vice-President of the Commission Viviane Reding pointed out, only 1% of Europeans had internet access when the current Directive was passed in 1995, so the framework must be strengthened and adapted to suit the realities of ubiquitous computing, and be “future proof” to withstand more technological changes. This will be no easy task.

  • (Marietje Schaake, Tuesday, October 23, 2012)

    European Parliament endorses stricter European export control of digital arms. By endorsing amendments proposed by Dutch Member of European Parliament Marietje Schaake (D66/ALDE) the European Parliament wants EU export control regulation to include additional binding export controls for technologies that are used by authoritarian regimes to monitor, track and trace citizens. Companies should ask for export authorization if they have reasons to believe that certain exports might harm human rights. 

  • (The Times of Malta, Monday, October 22, 2012)

    The internet has become the global public space for the 21st century. It unites not only internet users in Malta but also about two billion people around the globe, who connect every day on the world wide web. In this digital age, the internet acts as the world’s town square, its classroom as well as the international community’s meeting place. Its value lies in the variety of activities that people can pursue and in the ability to communicate about such activities with each other instantaneously.

  • (Index, Thursday, October 18, 2012)

    Fazil Say, a Turkish pianist and composer, was put on trial in Istanbul today (18 October) for insulting Islam in Twitter posts. The musician is charged with inciting hatred and public enmity, and with insulting “religious values”. He could face 18 months in prison if found guilty.

  • (Tech Dirt, Thursday, October 18, 2012)

    Techdirt readers with long memories may recall a fantasy proposal from Orrin Hatch that would have seen technological means deployed to destroy the computers of those who downloaded unauthorized copies of files. Of course, the idea was so ridiculous it went nowhere. Now, nine years later, a similar idea has turned up, but with a rather better chance of being implemented.

  • (The New York Times, Thursday, October 18, 2012)

    Twitter waded into potentially perilous territory on Thursday when it blocked users in Germany from access to the account of a neo-Nazi group that is banned by the government here. The move was the first time that Twitter acted on a policy known as “country-withheld content,” announced in January, in which it will block an account at the request of a government. 

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Wednesday, October 17, 2012)

    On Oct. 16, European Union data protection authorities issued a letter to Google CEO Larry Page calling upon the search engine giant to revisit its privacy policy. Earlier this year, the policy was unified into one policy covering a wide range of different Google services and integrating data from Google search history and YouTube accounts. When Google first unveiled its new privacy policy, European regulators greeted it with skepticism and requested Google to delay instituting the revised policy. Google refused. The letter followed a months-long exchange between Google and EU privacy regulators, stemming from a formal investigation as to whether Google’s new privacy policy adheres to EU privacy regulations.

  • (Access, Tuesday, October 16, 2012)

    The Conference of European Posts and Telegraphs (CEPT) determined on October 17/18 that the ITU is not the appropriate forum to discuss ETNO's proposals. This decision renders the ETNO proposal politically dead in Europe, however it has not yet been officially withdrawn. However, governments in other regions may still endorse it, and a number of other troubling proposals at the upcoming WCIT in December. 

  • (Standard Mail, Sunday, October 14, 2012)

    Google, Facebook and Twitter are set to torpedo Home Office plans to spy on every citizen's emails and website visits. The internet giants have threatened to block the so-called 'snoopers' charter', which requires them to store all data for a year so that security agencies, police and councils can request its disclosure. Civil liberty groups claim the powers would create a surveillance state, but Britain's security and intelligence agencies insist they are vital to investigate crime and protect the national interest.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Wednesday, October 10, 2012)

    EFF welcomes a strong voice in the fight against data retention mandates: on Wednesday, a group of Slovak MPs filed a complaint challenging the constitutionality of Slovakia's mandatory data retention law. The law compels telcos and ISPs to monitor the communications of all citizens including those not suspected or convicted of any crime, and in case law enforcement officials demand them for any reason.

  • (The Guardian, Tuesday, October 9, 2012)

    The director of public prosecutions is exploring whether Facebook and Twitter should take more responsibility for policing their networks for abuse and harassment in an attempt to reduce the number of cases coming to court. On Monday a 12-week jail sentence was handed out to Matthew Woods, a teenager who made "sick jokes" on Facebook about the missing five-year-old April Jones. On Tuesday a Dewsbury man was sentenced for writing an abusive post about the deaths of British soldiers.

  • (IFEX, Tuesday, October 9, 2012)

    A new project aimed at "countering illegal use of the Internet" is making headlines this week. The project, dubbed CleanIT, is funded by the European Commission (EC) to the tune of more than $400,000 and, it would appear, aims to eradicate the Internet of terrorism. European Digital Rights, a Brussels-based organization consisting of 32 NGOs throughout Europe (and of which EFF is a member), has recently published a leaked draft document from CleanIT. 

  • (The Christian Science Monitor, Tuesday, October 2, 2012)

    Blasphemy laws have been the subject of hot debate in recent weeks around the world, particularly in the Muslim world, where such laws are commonplace. But the latest controversy isn't somewhere in the Muslim world, it’s the cradle of Western civilization: Greece. A man was arrested last week in Evia, Greece, on charges of posting “malicious blasphemy and religious insult on the known social networking site, Facebook” according to a press release by the Greek police.

  • (Reuters, Tuesday, October 2, 2012)

    Turkey said on Tuesday it had won a long-running battle to persuade the video-sharing website YouTube to operate under a Turkish web domain, giving Ankara a tighter rein over the site's content and requiring the firm to pay Turkish taxes. Turkey, which banned the popular website for more than two years in 2008, has long come under international criticism for its restrictive internet laws and over the EU-candidate's record on freedom of expression.

  • (Electronic Frontiers Foundation, Wednesday, September 26, 2012)

    A new project aimed at “countering illegal use of the Internet” is making headlines this week. The project, dubbed CleanIT, is funded by the European Commission (EC) to the tune of more than $400,000 and, it would appear, aims to eradicate the Internet of terrorism. European Digital Rights, a Brussels-based organization consisting of 32 NGOs throughout Europe (and of which EFF is a member), has recently published a leaked draft document from CleanIT. On the project’s website, its stated goal is to reduce the impact of the use of the Internet for “terrorist purposes” but “without affecting our online freedom.” While the goal may seem noble enough, the project actually contains a number of controversial proposals that will compel Internet intermediaries to police the Internet and most certainly will affect our online freedom.

  • (The New York Times, Tuesday, September 25, 2012)

    What’s up with Estonia? The tiny Baltic nation affords its citizens the greatest measure of digital freedom as measured by Freedom House, a Washington advocacy group. Freedom House’s rankings are based on things like access to the Internet and online free expression laws. Estonia has a national digital identification system, allows its citizens to vote online and has announced plans to teach computer coding to public school students as early as first grade, according to the technology blog UbuntuLife.

  • (The Baltic Course, Monday, September 24, 2012)

    Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who is currently on a working visit to the USA during which he will attend the regular session of the UN General Assembly, confirmed at his meeting with Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General, Estonia's continued readiness to offer support to other countries for the development of e-governance systems and public e-services. "An e-health system, e-governance, e-tax board, Internet-based elections and a number of other similar solutions all serve to increase efficiency and reduce expenses and corruption.

  • (CNET News, Sunday, September 23, 2012)

    A trade association of 41 European telephone companies responded last week to mounting concerns over its controversial proposal to turn Internet traffic management over to the International Telecommunications Union, a regulatory body of the United Nations.
    The European Telecommunications Network Operators Association, or ETNO, made its proposal in June, part of a year-long process to revise an ITU treaty known as the International Telecommunications Regulations. Changes to the treaty, which has not been revised since 1998, will be finalized later this year in Dubai at the World Conference on International Telecommunications.

  • (Tech Crunch, Friday, September 21, 2012)

    The ongoing investigation into Facebook’s transparency on user data and privacy by Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner has come to a positive conclusion for the social network. The DPC, whose decisions had wider-ranging implications for all of Facebook’s business in Europe, had made several recommendations earlier in the year to bring Facebook’s policies in line with that of data protection regulations in the region. 

  • (DW Akademie, Wednesday, September 19, 2012)

    German firms are reportedly selling spyware to Middle Eastern dictatorships, and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has called for an EU-wide ban. But another ministry refuses to limit the lucrative trade, say critics. As many have pointed out, not least Chancellor Angela Merkel in her weekly internet broadcast, the wheels of the Arab Spring have been oiled by social networks and the availability of cheap mobile phones with video cameras.
     

  • (The Guardian, Thursday, September 13, 2012)

    Twitter has warned that government plans to record the internet and mobile phone use of Britons could expose it to a spate of privacy lawsuits from web users outside the UK. The social networking company said it was highly likely that the online activity of non-UK citizens would be unwittingly collected under the controversial surveillance plans, leaving communications firms vulnerable to legal action taken in foreign jurisdictions.

  • (The Guardian, Saturday, September 8, 2012)

    The continuing export of British-made surveillance technology has been thrown into question after the government admitted it had moved to restrict sales of spying software to Egypt. Human rights campaigners say the government's decision to restrict the export of Gamma International's software, the first time it has taken action on such an issue, is a significant step towards the regulation of surveillance technologies. However, many other products remain a cause for concern, they say.

  • (IPTegrity.com, Tuesday, September 4, 2012)

    Can Britain slide in a filtered Internet by the back door of so-called 'parental controls'? It’s not a consultation, it’s a survey. It has been speeded up so that the government can implement the policy by October. It’s run by a failing department that cannot do its day job. The British government wants to make Internet service providers offer a filtered Internet to everyone, under the pretext of protecting children. A government consultation on so-called ‘parental controls’ closes this week on Thursday. The policy proposal is that Internet Service Providers should put in place filters as a default, only removing them if people specifically ask.

  • (RT News, Tuesday, September 4, 2012)

    A European Commission policy review may stealth-impose ACTA-like draconian rules on online service providers, internet freedom activists warn. They accuse the backers of “weasel wording” in an attempt to sell the restrictions to the public. The feared change to the e-commerce directive may come after a standard public consultation and review process, which is closing this week. Entitled “A Clean and Open Internet”, the review focuses on the provisions of the directive which govern exemption from liability for illegal activity or information for content hosts and internet service providers.

  • (BBC News, Monday, August 20, 2012)

    Police and prosecutors in the UK are accused of being "incredibly heavy-handed" when dealing with online trolls and abusive messages. It follows several cases where young people have been arrested, fined or jailed after posting insulting comments on their Twitter and Facebook accounts.

  • (Computer World UK, Sunday, August 12, 2012)

    Facebook's facial recognition feature will be investiaged by the Norwegian Data Protection Agency, a spokesman said yesterday. Last year, Facebook added the ability to use facial recognition technology to help to tag images as a default feature to users worldwide. Ove Skåra, communications manager at the Norwegian Data Protection Agency or Datatilsynet said: "Facial recognition, is a technology that it is important to have critical view of, and see how it is actually used."

  • (ARS Technica, Thursday, August 9, 2012)

    Delegates from Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Europol—the European Union's criminal intelligence agency—will gather in London this September as part of a project to cleanse the Internet (or at least the European section of the Internet) from "terrorist websites." And they have European Union money to do it.

  • (Electronic Frontiers Foundations, Wednesday, August 8, 2012)

    Citing extraordinary costs and scant results, a high-level French official has announced intentions to defund Hadopi1, the government agency charged with shutting off Internet access of individuals accused of repeat copyright infringement. Under the French three strikes law, Internet subscribers whose connection is repeatedly used to share copyrighted material may be disconnected from the Internet and may even have to continue paying for the service (the so-called "double pain"). The three strikes law in France runs contrary to principles of due process, innovation, and free expression—yet has unfortunately served as a template for similar legislation in countries like New Zealand, the UK, and South Korea under pressure from the entertainment industry. 

  • (The Register, Tuesday, July 24, 2012)

    Google does not have to proactively remove copyright infringing content that has been re-posted on YouTube because such a measure would breach EU law, France's highest court has ruled. The Court of Cassation said it would be "disproportionate to the aim pursued" for Google to prevent online postings of infringing videos from being re-posted by users in circumstances where they have not been notified of the suspected illegal content and its location.

  • (European Commission, Monday, July 23, 2012)

    Right now what is lacking across Europe is a standard law to handle notice-and-take-downs of illegal sites like the U.S.'s DMCA. Right now illegal content across Europe is subject to non-standard takedown letters, some of which include no mention of what law was allegedly infringed, nor in which jurisdiction in Europe it's infringed, or who to contact in your jurisdiction to challenge the claim, or even which company it is that is being represented by the law firm that gets in touch with the site owner. The EU is now holding a public consultation discussing notice-and-take-down laws.

  • (OpenNet Initiative, Thursday, July 19, 2012)

    The French entertainment industry is claiming that web search companies are aiding online piracy. To combat this, they are trying to require Google "to censor search terms for words like 'Torrent,' 'RapidShare,' and 'Megaupload.'" France's Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of the entertainment industry, however, Google plans to take this to the Appeals Court.

  • (TeliaSonera, Tuesday, July 17, 2012)

    TeliaSonera has engaged the Danish Institute for Human Rights to support and review its human rights impact assessment. DIHR will develop a tool tailored to TeliaSonera and its human rights risk profile. It will include freedom of expression and privacy issues and be benchmarked on the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. DIHR will also assess TeliaSonera’s consequential mitigation plan.

  • (Associated Press, Thursday, July 5, 2012)

    The European Parliament overwhelmingly defeated an international anti-piracy trade agreement Wednesday after concern that it would limit Internet freedom sparked street protests in cities across Europe. The vote — 39 in favor, 478 against, with 165 abstentions — appeared to deal the death blow to the European Union's participation in a treaty it helped negotiate, though other countries may still participate without the EU.

  • (The Guardian, Wednesday, July 4, 2012)

    The European Parliament has overwhelmingly defeated the international Acta anti-piracy agreement, delighting its opponents and plunging its supporters into gloom. The vote is the first time that the parliament has used its powers under the Lisbon Treaty to reject an international trade agreement. However, other countries such as the US and Japan are expected to continue with implementing it.

  • (OpenNet Initiative, Thursday, June 28, 2012)

    The UK government is to consider putting extra pressure on computer users to filter out pornography when setting up internet accounts. Ministers are suggesting that people should automatically be barred from accessing unsuitable adult material unless they actually choose to view it. It is one of several suggestions being put out for a consultation on how to shield children from pornography. Websites promoting suicide, anorexia and self-harm are also being targeted.

  • (Open Society Foundations, Friday, June 22, 2012)

    The media in Macedonia have been at the center of acute political instability in recent years, affecting the country’s path toward digitization in many ways. Overall, this report finds that the digital promise of greater openness, empowerment, and autonomy has been eclipsed, for the time being, by countervailing forces. As for the current outlook: the post-election climate seems to have prompted a degree of acquiescence on the part of the political opposition, which does not bode well.

  • (The Guardian, Thursday, June 21, 2012)

    European lawmakers rejected the global Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta) on Thursday, signalling that the European Parliament may soon use new-found rights to derail an international agreement for the first time. "This vote is the penultimate nail in Acta's coffin," Jan Philipp Albrecht, a German Green politician in the legislature said, after the European Parliament's International Trade Committee (Inta) recommended 19-12 that the European Parliament reject the treaty in its upcoming vote on 4 July. The decision was the fifth European committee in a row to recommend against Acta.

  • (Washington Post, Friday, June 15, 2012)

    British authorities on Thursday unveiled an ambitious plan to log details about every Web visit, email, phone call or text message in the U.K. — and in a sharply-worded editorial the nation’s top law enforcement official accused those worried about the surveillance program of being either criminals or conspiracy theorists. The government insists it’s not after content. It promises not to read the body of emails or eavesdrop on phone calls without a warrant. But the surveillance proposed in the government’s 118-page draft bill would provide authorities a remarkably rich picture of their citizens’ day-to-day lives, tracking nearly everything they do online, over the phone, or even through the post.

  • (BBC, Thursday, June 14, 2012)

    Civil liberty groups and ISPs have voiced concerns over the UK's newly-published draft communications bill. The controversial bill extends the type of data that internet service providers must keep. The government said that updated legislation to take account of new technology was vital in the fight against criminals and terrorists. But activists have dubbed it a snooper's charter.

  • (ZDNet, Thursday, June 14, 2012)

    The United Kingdom could soon become a “surveillance superpower” — more so than it already is — following today’s publication of the draft Communications Data Bill by the U.K. government. HM the Queen outlined the plan in her annual speech to the U.K. Parliament in May. The plan to monitor data associated with all Web, email and call activity, and give the U.K. intelligence agencies “near-realtime” access, has been met with extreme criticism from privacy advocacy groups and ordinary citizens alike.

  • (The Guardian, Tuesday, June 12, 2012)

    Major reforms of the libel laws will see a duty placed on internet service providers to try to identify internet trolls without victims needing to resort to costly legal action. Websites will also be given greater protection from being sued if they help to identify those posting defamatory messages, under government plans. The defamation bill, which will be debated in the Commons on Tuesday, will also see would-be claimants having to show they have suffered serious harm to their reputations, or are likely to do so, before they can take a defamation case forward.

  • (Internet Sans Frontieres, Monday, June 11, 2012)

    The regime of Meles Zenawi in Ethiopia has undertaken to control the online activity of citizens. It is now fitted with the general surveillance technology called Deep Packet Inspection, thanks to the help of France Telecom, of which the French state is the main shareholder. In a country where dissidents are imprisonned over accusations of terrorism, this news could undermine current efforts of freedom of expression activists.

  • (The Guardian, Sunday, June 10, 2012)

    Which country in the world currently imprisons more journalists than any other? The People's Republic of China? Nope. Iran? Wrong again. The rather depressing answer is the Republic of Turkey, where nearly 100 journalists are behind bars, according to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Yes, that's right: modern, secular, western-oriented Turkey, with its democratically elected government, has locked away more members of the press than China and Iran combined.

  • (ZDNet, Tuesday, May 29, 2012)

    Europeans are a step closer to seeing new net neutrality rules put in place, after the release of an EU regulators' report on how often ISPs and operators throttle their services. On Tuesday, digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes said the release of the report from by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) means she will make recommendations to the EU on preserving net neutrality, which aims to make sure ISPs do not unfairly restrict customers from accessing the service or application or their choice.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Friday, May 18, 2012)

    According to a recent investigation by the Swedish news show Uppdrag Granskning, Sweden’s telecommunications giant Teliasonera is the latest Western company revealed to be colluding with authoritarian regimes by selling them high-tech surveillance gear to spy on its citizens. Teliasonera has allegedly enabled the governments of Belarus, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Georgia and Kazakhstan to spy on journalists, union leaders, and members of the political opposition. One Teliasonera whistle-blower told the reporters, “The Arab Spring prompted the regimes to tighten their surveillance. ... There’s no limit to how much wiretapping is done, none at all.”

  • (Foreign Policy, Wednesday, May 16, 2012)

    The digital networks and platforms we depend upon for all aspects of our lives -- including the civic and political -- are for the most part designed, owned, operated, and governed by the private sector. Internet and mobile services empower us to organize and communicate in exciting new ways, and indeed have been politically transformative in democracies and dictatorships alike. But the connectivity they provide has also created tough new problems for parents, law enforcement, and anybody wanting to protect their intellectual property. Democratically elected governments face political pressure from a range of vocal and powerful constituencies to take urgent action to protect children, property, and reputations. Increasingly, however, the job of policing the Internet is falling to private intermediaries -- companies that are under little or no legal obligation to uphold citizens' rights. In effect, they end up acting simultaneously as digital police, judge, jury, and executioner.

  • (Radio Sweden, Friday, May 11, 2012)

    The Swedish government has decided to pass a hotly debated law regulating the monitoring of phone and internet activity. The law regulates how and when the police will be able to listen in on phone conversations and monitor internet activity. According to the law, the police would be able to monitor people's activity on the internet and on the phone in secret, even before those people have been suspected of a crime.

  • (New York Times, Wednesday, May 9, 2012)

    Even as the British government delves into evidence of excesses at its notorious tabloids, it appears ready to offer new legal protection for serious journalism. In a traditional speech to open a new session of Parliament, Queen Elizabeth II announced Wednesday that the coalition government of Prime Minister David Cameron would introduce a bill overhauling Britain’s libel laws, which critics see as overly friendly to claimants.

  • (Global Voices , Tuesday, May 8, 2012)

    May 8th, 2012 is a day to celebrate in The Netherlands as it becomes the first country in Europe to protect its citizens by enshrining net neutrality into law. The Netherlands is also implementing privacy protections for users against wiretapping and disconnection by the Internet Service Providers (ISPs), which will no longer be able to interrupt traffic of users unless it is proven to be in the public interest.

  • (The Wall Street Journal, Friday, May 4, 2012)

    ACTA is effectively dead, the European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda admitted Friday. An official spokesman said the “political reality” was the fight was over. Neelie Kroes, speaking at a conference in Berlin, told delegates: “We have recently seen how many thousands of people are willing to protest against rules which they see as constraining the openness and innovation of the Internet."

  • (Index on Censorship, Tuesday, May 1, 2012)

    Nordic Telecom giant TeliaSonera forced to act after evidence that its data has been abused to target, harass and jail activists in Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Belarus.

  • (The Guardian, Tuesday, May 1, 2012)

    Governments across the world – including those in the US and UK – are posing a threat to internet freedom through "hasty" legislation passed due to security fears, the head of an international media watchdog has warned. Dunja Mijatovic, the representative for freedom of the media for the 56 countries that make up the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), said that both democratic and transition governments in her remit were often acting against openness in the media and on the internet.

  • (TechDirt, Friday, April 27, 2012)

    Last week, the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament decided to vote against the ratification of ACTA; now the Liberals and Democrats are following suit. According to a press release out today: The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament cannot support ACTA (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement).