Global Digital Download
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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ICANN is beginning to look more and more like a government. It assesses taxes, it has amassed an enormous treasury, it passes laws with international effect, and it has developed an ad hoc judiciary system to enforce its laws. This paper will take a look at that judiciary system and ICANN as dispenser of Internet justice. ICANN has a well founded aversion to being involved in litigation. It has managed to fend off attacks from the operators of alternative roots and attacks based on the United States antitrust laws. By its very nature, however, it could find itself making judgments about violations of its rules or resolving conflicting claims to domain names. Any or all of these judgments are invitations, especially in the United States, to litigation. As a result, ICANN has developed an extensive system of referring them to outside parties.
Four LinkedIn users have filed a lawsuit accusing the business-oriented social network of accessing their e-mail accounts without permission, harvesting the addresses of their contacts and spamming those people with repeated invitations to join the service. In their most explosive claim, the plaintiffs say that LinkedIn is “breaking into” external e-mail accounts, like Gmail or Yahoo Mail, by pretending to be the account owner, although the legal complaint offers no details about that assertion. Larry Russ, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, declined to comment beyond the suit.
At the 24th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday, six major privacy NGOs, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), warned nations of the urgent need comply with international human rights law to protect their citizens from the dangers posed by mass digital surveillance. The groups launched the "International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance" at a side event on privacy hosted by the governments of Austria, Germany, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. The text is available in 30 languages at http://necessaryandproportionate.org.
Most of us have moved beyond the tired debates about whether interactions online are the same as ones in person. Now the legal system is finally catching up on what constitutes free speech in the digital age. Facebook's "Like" button got some key support as an expression of speech when an appellate court overturned a perverse lower court ruling that had ruled clicking a button wasn't the same as saying something out loud. The case involved employees in a Virginia sheriff's department who were making clear their support for their boss' challenger by "liking" some of the other candidate's Facebook posts. The sheriff fired them. They sued for reinstatement. A lower court had thrown out their case, saying that clicking a button wasn't an "actual statement". They appealed, and for now they seem to be prevailing. It's a good thing, because this case had created plenty of consternation in legal and free-speech circles.
Governments around the world should aggressively protect online privacy through stronger laws and policies as pervasive electronic surveillance increases. There is an urgent need to overhaul national surveillance practices to protect everyone’s privacy, or risk severely limiting the potential of the Internet. Global growth in digital communications, coupled with increased government computing powers, have fueled expansive, new surveillance practices. Justifying the use of these tactics under outdated legal frameworks has permitted overbroad and highly invasive intrusions on the right to privacy. To guide countries in modernizing privacy protections, Human Rights Watch has endorsed a set of International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance, released on September 20, 2013, by a broad group of civil society organizations in Geneva.
Chinese authorities have detained a 16-year-old schoolboy for posting "fabricated facts" on the internet amid an extensive crackdown on the country's relatively free-wheeling online communities. The boy from Zhangjiachuan county in north-west Gansu province, identified only by his surname, Yang, was detained after rebuking local police on Sina Weibo, China's most popular microblogging service. Local authorities have accused Yang of "picking quarrels and provoking disputes", Chinese media reported. This summer, Beijing launched a draconian campaign against what it calls "internet rumours", a thinly veiled move to tighten its grip over the censored, yet often surprisingly critical, online communities. On 9 September, China's top court and prosecutor issued a new "judicial interpretation" stipulating that an internet user could be sentenced to three years in jail for posting a "defamatory" message that receives more than 5,000 views or is forwarded more than 500 times.
ARTICLE 19 is urging the Brazilian Congress to adopt “Marco Civil da Internet” Bill (the Bill), a new law that offers progressive protection for freedom of expression online and establish guidelines for the regulation of the internet in the country. Congress is currently in the process of reviewing the Bill. The original draft of the Bill included protection for the right of freedom of expression, restricts data retention, and offers protection to online companies – including search engines and social media platforms – from being penalised for the actions of their users. ARTICLE 19 cautions against amendments to the Bill and in particular warns that any alteration to Article 15 of the original draft Bill will risk imposing a regime of liability on internet intermediaries, to the detriment of the right to freedom of expression.
"Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on," declared Edward Snowden, the former computer technician at America's National Security Agency (NSA) responsible for leaking a trove of documents about his erstwhile employer's activities, in an online question-and-answer session in June. The revelations published on 5 September by the Guardian, the New York Times and ProPublica, explain his careful choice of words. Many cryptographic systems in use on the internet, it seems, are not "properly implemented", but have been weakened by flaws deliberately introduced by the NSA as part of a decade-long programme to ensure it can read encrypted traffic.
Patch reporter Joseph Hosey must give up the source of police reports about a grisly murder he covered or face jail, Will County Circuit Court Judge Gerald Kinney ruled Friday. SouthtownStar/Sun-Times reporter Casey Toner reported on Twitter that one of the attorneys pressing for this ruling told the court “he didn’t think ‘any legitimate journalist should fear the outcome of this.’” Hosey has 180 days to give up his source, Kinney said. He’ll be fined $300 per day as well. The report had ghastly details like two of the accused murderers purportedly confessing to having sex on top of the bodies of their victims.
Media professionals in Kenya are warning journalists to guard against using inflammatory language when expressing their views on social media as they do in their day jobs. Hate speech in the Kenyan media was blamed for contributing to the widespread violence that followed the presidential election of December 2007. More than 1,100 people were killed and 650,000 others were displaced after the disputed results triggered violence along ethnic lines. Former broadcaster Joshua Arap Sang is one of three defendants - with President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto - facing trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, on charges of orchestrating the chaos. Prosecutors accuse Sang of acting as "the voice of the post-election violence" in the western Rift Valley province.
All content presented in the Global Digital Digest is aggregated from public news sources. This information does not reflect the opinions of Internews, and is not produced or verified by Internews.