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, Tuesday, March 11, 2014)

    Edward Snowden chose to make his first public appearance since his spectacular ex-filtration of thousands of secret NSA documents to an audience of technology people at the annual SXSW Interactive festival in Austin, Texas on Monday.Snowden quickly explained why he’d opted to speak to this audience: SXSW’s technologists were “the people who can really fix” the deficiencies in the internet and its applications “to enforce our rights and protect standards, even though Congress hasn’t gotten to the point of doing that.” Spies have treated the internet as “an adversarial global freefire scenario, and we need to protect people against it. The NSA has advanced policies that erode Fourth Amendment protections through the proactive seizure of communications. This demands a policy response, but we need a technical response from makers. The NSA is setting fire to the future of the internet and you guys are the firefighters.”

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Tuesday, March 11, 2014)

    This past Monday, the Human Rights Committee commenced its one hundredth and tenth session in Geneva from March 10-28.  During this session, the Committee will review the reports of several countries on how they are implementing the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), an international human rights treaty and one of the bedrocks of human rights protections. We are pleased that the Human Rights Committee has the opportunity to clarify the scope of United States legal obligations under Article 17 on the right to privacy, especially in light of the recent revelations on mass surveillance leaked by Edward Snowden. Worldwide, the general public is privy to the fact that several US programs have the potential for serious privacy rights violations in the form of mass surveillance both at home and abroad; a blatant violation of the United States' ICCPR obligations.

  • (Center for Democracy & Technology, Tuesday, March 11, 2014)

    The Supreme Court has been doing a pretty good job of resisting government arguments that interpretation of the Fourth Amendment should ignore the implications of modern technology. This year, the Court is being urged by the government in a pair of cases to limit privacy rights by extending to cell phones another doctrine from centuries past, the “search-incident-to-arrest” exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant clause. As a general rule, the Fourth Amendment requires police to obtain a warrant from a judge before conducting a search, including before asking you to empty your pockets. However, there has long been an exception to this rule, allowing the police, when they arrest someone, to search the arrestee and any items in his immediate possession and to seize any weapons or evidence that the person might have.

  • (Center for Democracy & Technology, Tuesday, March 11, 2014)

    With more interactions between educators and students taking place online and through apps, increasing amounts of sensitive data are collected, retained, and used by schools and companies. Data related to education tends to be very personal, so the need for appropriate standards on protecting this data are important to encourage greater adoption of educational technologies. To that end, the Department of Education (DoE) recently released a report on requirements and best practices in protecting student privacy while using online educational services. The report is a good step towards promoting effective privacy and security standards, but in order to effectively protect students, DoE should also update existing regulations and pursue enforcement actions against providers that don’t measure up.

  • (The Guardian, Tuesday, March 11, 2014)

    The inventor of the world wide web believes an online "Magna Carta" is needed to protect and enshrine the independence of the medium he created and the rights of its users worldwide. Sir Tim Berners-Lee told the Guardian the web had come under increasing attack from governments and corporate influence and that new rules were needed to protect the "open, neutral" system. Speaking exactly 25 years after he wrote the first draft of the first proposal for what would become the world wide web, the computer scientist said: "We need a global constitution – a bill of rights."

  • (Committee to Protect Journalists, Tuesday, March 11, 2014)

    The Internet, and Facebook in particular, is central to disseminating news in Nigeria, where traditional media are characterized by high operating costs, hampered by power cuts, or subject to external editorial interference from the government and advertisers. Nigeria has the highest number of Internet users in Africa, according to an Internet World Stats report from 2012, and Facebook is among the three most visited websites in the country, according to Web analytics company Alexa. On January 3, 2014, the Premium Times website came under a denial-of-service (DOS) attack, with users across continents getting a "website blocked" message, Emmanuel Ogala, Premium Times' online editor, told CPJ. The website crashed on January 5 and took nine hours to restore, Premium Times reported.

  • (Reuters, Monday, March 10, 2014)

    A Saudi court sentenced a man to 10 years in jail and a 100,000 riyal ($26,700) fine for joining protests against the kingdom's rulers and using Twitter to urge people to do the same, state news agency SPA said on Monday. SPA quoted Justice Ministry spokesman Fahd al-Bakran as saying the unidentified defendant had also retweeted messages against the monarchy, Muslim scholars and security services.

  • (The Guardian, Monday, March 10, 2014)

    Malcolm Turnbull is the ideal salesman for media deregulation because he’s an optimist and an internet utopian. He absolutely believes technological change and a combination of market forces and inspired philanthropy are in the business of sorting out Australia’s diversity problem. If that’s actually your core belief then the logical thing for a communications minister to do is precisely what he’s foreshadowing – rip up the outmoded regulation, let the industry rationalise while guiding some traffic behind the scenes – like a form of intelligent design, but for the media.

  • (The New York Times, Monday, March 10, 2014)

    Several weeks before pro-Russian forces intervened in Crimea, President Vladimir V. Putin won another important victory. On Jan. 24, the social network VKontakte, with its 60 million daily users, came under the control of businessmen allied with the Kremlin. VKontakte is Russia’s Facebook and the largest independent medium in the country. The founder of VKontakte, Pavel Durov, had long resisted all pressures to step down. But he sold his 12 percent share of the company to Ivan Tavrin, a partner of the pro-Putin oligarch Alisher Usmanov, and is leaving.

  • (The New York Times, Monday, March 10, 2014)

    It is not hard to understand why veterans of the National Security Agency argue that 2013 was the worst year since Harry S. Truman got the place running 62 years ago. The man chosen by Mr. Obama to navigate this bureaucratic, political and public relations disaster is Vice Adm. Michael S. Rogers, who on Tuesday will face members of the Senate at his confirmation hearing, an event not likely to be accompanied by the thunderous applause that greeted Mr. Snowden in Texas. Friends of Admiral Rogers in the intelligence community, who have worked with him in his current job running the Navy’s Fleet Cyber Command, say they wonder whether he has a sense of what he is wading into.