The Global Digital Download is a weekly publication that aggregates resources on Internet freedom, highlighting trends in digital and social media that intersect with freedom of expression, policy, privacy, censorship and new technologies. The GDD includes information about relevant events, news, and research. To find past articles and research, search the archive database.

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

  • (Global Voices, Thursday, April 10, 2014)

    In Ecuador, the debate continues over compensatory remuneration for private copying, also known as the private copying levy. The debate was sparked by regulations proposed by the Ecuadorian Institute of Intellectual Property (IEPI, according to its Spanish name) that would impose an additional tax of 4%-10% on the importation of all music and video devices, such as cellphones, personal computers, and tablets, as well as blank media (CDs, DVDs, etc).

  • (Global Voices, Tuesday, April 8, 2014)

    Data collection in the Caribbean has traditionally been a clunky exercise, heavily dependent on phone calls and focus groups – but ever since mSurvey (a mobile surveys company which started in Kenya) set up shop in Trinidad and Tobago, the region has started to experience data collection very differently. The company recently undertook its largest project to date, “interviewing” more than 11,000 people across Trinidad and Tobago, all via mobile phones and SMS, in less than three weeks. The survey was commissioned by the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT), the regulatory body for telecommunications in the country, in an effort to assess the gap that exists between people in the twin island republic who have access to basic telecommunications and broadcasting services and those who do not

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Monday, April 7, 2014)

    Last February, the Colombian media revealed that the country’s intelligence service carried out widespread surveillance of key NGOs, journalists, and leftist politicians, including their own governmental team responsible for negotiating a peace agreement with the Colombian guerilla. Fundacion Karisma, a Colombian NGO focusing on human rights in the digital age, along with other Colombian NGOs, sent a letter this week to the Colombian President requesting the ability to participate in a high-level commission responsible for revising and analysing the national intelligence legal framework. This secretive committee currently includes government officials, national security experts and “selected” private sector companies—but no representatives from the NGO community.

  • (Mashable, Friday, April 4, 2014)

    A misguided attempt by the U.S. government to create a Twitter-like social network in Cuba — which ended with $1.6 million spent and just 40,000 users to show for it — has put the state of the Internet on the communist island back on the spotlight. Cuba has long been one of the least connected countries in the world. Indeed, the country rivals North Korea in the extent to which it has shut itself out from the Internet. Here are five things you need to know about Internet freedom in Cuba, a country that blogger and Cuban dissident Yoani Sanchez calls "the Island of the disconnected."

  • (The Washington Post, Thursday, April 3, 2014)

    According to documents obtained by The Associated Press and multiple interviews with people involved in the project, USAID's plan was to develop a bare-bones “Cuban Twitter,” using cellphone text messaging to evade Cuba’s strict control of information and its stranglehold restrictions over the Internet. In a play on Twitter, it was called ZunZuneo — slang for a Cuban hummingbird’s tweet. Documents show the U.S. government planned to build a subscriber base through “non-controversial content”: news messages on soccer, music, and hurricane updates. 

  • (Access, Wednesday, March 26, 2014)

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

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

    Internet rights activists were in Brasilia on 3/12 to pressure the National Congress to approve the Brazilian bill of rights for Internet users, known as the Marco Civil.

  • (Index on Censorship, Tuesday, March 11, 2014)

    Brazil’s government and security forces have put themselves on a war footing ahead of this summer’s FIFA World Cup, hosted by the South American country. The security apparratus designed to stop demonstrations from disrupting the tournament consists of a set of procedures for general intelligence and data surveillance during the conduct of major sporting events – both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, which will be held in Rio. It is a strategically integrated operation involving the Ministries of Defence and Justice, the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (Abin), the Armed Forces, the Metropolitan Polices, the Federal Police and the Highway Police. In addition to high-tech security equipment, the security plan could see state agents embedded in demonstrations.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Tuesday, March 4, 2014)

    The Mexican website 1dmx.org, was set up in the wake of a set of controversial December 1st 2012 protests against the inauguration of the new President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto. For a year, the site served as a source of information, news, discussion and commentary from the point of view of the protestors. As the anniversary of the protests approached, the site grew to include organized campaign against proposed laws to criminalize protest in the country, as well as preparations to document the results of a memorial protest, planned for December 1, 2013.

  • (Reporters Without Borders, Friday, February 28, 2014)

    Reporters Without Borders reiterates its call for the release of  Cuban Angel Santiesteban-Prats, a writer who completes a year in detention today and who began a blog in 2008 called Los hijos que nadie quisothat was openly critical of the government. Santiesteban-Prats was arrested on 28 February 2013 to begin serving the five-year jail sentence on trumped-up charges of “home violation” and “injuries” that he received at the end of a hasty and arbitrary trial on 8 December 2012. No hard evidence was produced in support of the charges.
     

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Thursday, February 20, 2014)

    For the last month, Venezuela has been caught up in widespread protests against its government. The Maduro administration has responded by cracking down on what it claims as being foreign interference online. As that social unrest has escalated, the state's censorship has widened: from the removal of television stations from cable networks, to the targeted blocking of social networking services, and the announcement of new government powers to censor and monitor online. Last night, EFF received reports from Venezuelans of the shutdown of the state Internet provider in San Cristóbal, a regional capital in the west of the country. The censorship began early last week when the authorities removed a Columbian news network, NTN24, from Venezuelan cable, and simultaneously published a reminder that TV stations could be in violation of a law that forbids the incitement or promotion of "hatred", or "foment citizens' anxiety or alter public order." Venezuelan Internet users on a variety of ISPs lost connectivity last Thursday to an IP address owned by the content delivery network, Edgecast. That address provided access to, among other services, Twitter's images at pbs.twimg.com. A separate block prevented Venezuelans from reaching the text hosting site, Pastebin.

  • (Global Voices, Wednesday, February 19, 2014)

    Recent amendments to Brazil's pioneer bill of rights for Internet users, the “Marco Civil da Internet” (Internet Civil Rights Framework), put net neutrality and users’ privacy at stake. The bill is expected to be voted on by Congress during the last week of February 2014. Activists have launched an online campaign asking for the removal of one of the new provisions, Article 16, that mandates service providers to store personal data of their users. The hashtag in use is #16igualNSA (“Article 16 leans towards NSA surveillance”). Joana Varon, a Brazilian researcher from the Center for Technology and Society at Fundação Getúlio Vargas, points to an article on the PrivacyLatam blog as the “most accurate post in English regarding changes on #privacy protection at #marcocivil".

  • (TelecomPaper, Wednesday, January 29, 2014)

    Cuban operator Etecsa plans to launch mobile internet services in the second half of this year, Cuban news agency ACN report, citing unnamed company directors. The service will initially be available in the Havana capital area. Etecsa customers will soon be able to access e-mail services, browse the internet, as well as transfer airtime to other Etecsa mobile customers. According to the same source, Etecsa also plans to reduce the rates of its voice and international SMS services, as well as allow its customers to pay for various services directly from their mobile phones.

  • (Internet Policy Observatory, Monday, January 20, 2014)

    In the summer of 2013, Edward Snowden’s extraordinary leaks about U.S. National
    Security Agency (NSA) surveillance destabilized the foundations of international Internet governance. Speaking at the UN General Assembly on September 24, 2013, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff denounced NSA spying in the strongest terms. This created fears among many Internet governance organizations that all Western-oriented Internet governance institutions would be held responsible for the NSA’s actions, and that trust and cooperation on the Internet would break down into national walled gardens. One result was that the heads of the world’s leading Internet organizations, including ICANN, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the IETF’s parent organization the Internet Society, all five regional Internet address registries, and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) issued a statement decrying the NSA activities and calling for the “globalization” of ICANN and the IANA functions.

  • (The Guardian, Thursday, January 9, 2014)

    It is one thing to say the internet can broaden people's horizons – but a Brazilian project is literally aiming for the skies, putting isolated communities online using balloons that transmit internet signals. The Conectar (Portuguese for "connect") project, which is being overseen by Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE), is not the first to launch balloons in an effort to bring internet-transmitting stations to hard-to-reach locations such as rainforests. In June 2013, Google ran a pilot test for a similar venture known as the Loon project. Some in the development community say the project is misguided as it fails to address poor people's most urgent needs. But Jose Ângelo Neri, an INPE researcher, says his organisation's project and the Google scheme should not be compared as they are different technologies and independent proposals. "The balloon will work as a transmission tower," he says. "Being at an altitude above conventional towers – 300 metres from the ground – it will reach a large area through wireless connections."