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 New York Times, Friday, March 14, 2014)

    It’s almost that time of year again. Wash off the car. Take the cover off the grill. And figure out who has access to your social accounts. Whether you realize it or not, dozens — if not hundreds — of apps and services have access to your social accounts and can see everything you’re doing online. Tweets, Likes, your location, are all there for the taking. What’s worse, there’s a pretty good chance you unwittingly gave them permission.

  • (Center for Democracy & Technology, Friday, March 14, 2014)

    In January, President Obama delivered a speech regarding the Snowden disclosures of excessive government surveillance; that speech described a review of big data practices in both the private and public sectors, to be headed by presidential counselor John Podesta. The first public event in that review, co-sponsored by MIT in Cambridge, took place last week with a particular focus on technical issues raised by big data practices. While we welcome the review, we hope that the final report will adopt the Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPPs) from the White House’s 2012 report on consumer privacy – which remain relevant even in a big data environment – and recommend limitations on pervasive collection and retention of consumer data.

  • (The New York Times, Friday, March 14, 2014)

    The United States will give up its role overseeing the system of Web addresses and domain names that form the basic plumbing of the Internet, turning it over in 2015 to an international group whose structure and administration will be determined over the next year, government officials said on Friday. Since the dawn of the Internet, the United States has been responsible for assigning the numbers that form Internet addresses, the .com, .gov and .org labels that correspond to those numbers, and for the vast database that links the two and makes sure Internet traffic goes to the right place.

  • (Center for International Media Assistance , Thursday, March 13, 2014)
    During his run for the presidency of Iran, Hassan Rouhani made a bold promise. If he won, he would push for greater Internet freedom in a country where citizens risk imprisonment and torture for what they post online. After Rouhani's victory in June 2013 a wave of optimism swept the Iranian blogosphere. In a post-election speech, he declared, "The age of monologue media is over; media should be interactive . . . in a country whose legitimacy is rooted in its people, then there is no fear from free media." He described social networking as a "welcome phenomenon," a far cry from Tehran's official line. For netizens, his words signaled relief from cyber spies and persecution. Months later, hope for a freer Internet has faded. Attacks against online users are escalating. According to one cyber security expert: "Censorship of the Internet has only gotten worse, but it's more and more clear that Rouhani does not have complete control over this process." 
  • (Index on Censorship, Thursday, March 13, 2014)

    On 3 March 2011 a group of Emirati intellectuals sent a petition to the country’s rulers that politely requested democratic reform and political participation. Authorities have responded by spending the past three years jailing and torturing those who supported the petition. Now citizens are using social media platforms to criticise security services for growing levels of repression with authorities responding in kind by arresting and torturing them. Since punitive legislation governing use of the internet was passed in November 2012 at least six people have been sent to prison for comments made on Twitter. The latest to be convicted are Khalifa Rabeiah and Othman al-Shehhi who were both sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay fines of £81,875 on 10 March for criticising security services on Twitter.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Thursday, March 13, 2014)

    Representing a large group of top computer science experts and professors, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today submitted a brief to a federal appeals court supporting the American Civil Liberties Union's lawsuit over the NSA's mass call records collection program. At the core of the brief is the argument that metadata matters.

  • (ArsTechnica, Thursday, March 13, 2014)

    In a new federal court filing, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has asked for a preservation order similar to one that it already received years ago in one National Security Agency-related case (Jewel v. NSA) to be extended to a second case (First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles et al v. NSA) that the group filed after the Snowden leaks began last summer. Such an order compels the government to retain everything it collected even after the standard five-year deletion period, so that the plaintiffs can pursue civil discovery and if necessary, prove that their calls were among those swept up.

  • (Reuters, Thursday, March 13, 2014)

    Russia blocked access to the internet sites of prominent Kremlin foes Alexei Navalny and Garry Kasparov on Thursday under a new law critics say is designed to silence dissent in President Vladimir Putin's third term. The prosecutor general's office ordered Russian internet providers to block Navalny's blog, chess champion and Putin critic Kasparov's internet newspaper and two other sites, and, state regulator Roskomnadzor said.

  • (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.”