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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.”
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Internet Defamation Double Whammy In The UK: New Court Decision Plus New Legislation Threaten Online Free Expression
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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 UN/ITU Respond To Google’s #freeandopen Campaign As The EU Votes To Condemn Changes To Internet Governance
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.
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 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.
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".
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.
Regulating Privacy Enhancing Technologies: Seizing The Opportunity Of The Future European Data Protection Framework
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.
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.
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.
"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?
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.
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 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.
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.
Dutch Propose Powers For Police To Break Into Computers, Install Spyware And Destroy Data -- Anywhere In The World
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Facebook Turns Off Facial Recognition In The EU, Gets The All-Clear On Several Points From Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner On Its Review
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Partners with the Danish Institute for Human Rights for Support and Review of Its Corporate Human Rights Work
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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).
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