Global Policy Weekly - April 9, 2013
CDT's Global Policy Weekly highlights the latest Internet policy developments and proposals from around the world, compiled by CDT's Global Internet Freedom Project.
The Wikimedia Foundation in France reported that the French intelligence agency DCRI (Direction Centrale du Renseignement Intérieur) pushed a volunteer Wikipedia contributor to delete a Wikipedia post allegedly containing classified military information. DCRI initially asked the foundation to remove the offending post, but Wikimedia denied the request because the organization needed more information. In response, the French authorities allegedly brought the Wikipedia contributor — who had no connection to the post — into their offices and asked him to delete the content. Wikimedia reports that the volunteer complied, concerned that he was at risk of prosecution if he refused. Wikipedia contributors have since re-posted the content.
An official in the Brazilian government pressured Google to remove user-generated content considered offensive to legislators. The Chamber of Deputies’ Attorney General, who is charged with protecting the image and honor of the lower congressional house, denies that his request was an attempt to restrict free expression. Index on Censorship reports that Chico Alencar, another representative, has expressed concern about the Attorney General’s practices and said, “Public opinion would consider this as censorship and a privilege for people that already have many other privileges. We should learn how to reply to websites by creating another websites and, if that’s the case, asking those who offend us for the right to reply. That would be enough.”
The deputy head of Egypt’s National Telecom Regulatory Authority announced that the government is taking steps to enforce a national ban on Internet pornography. A court ordered the ban late last year. It is likely to cost millions of dollars to implement filtering technologies that block access to porn. Observers worry that once filtering mechanisms are in place the technology will be leveraged to block other forms of content.
The UK defamation bill will return to the House of Commons for consideration on April 16th. MPs will debate and consider amendments introduced by the House of Lords. (The Prime Minister has reportedly given assurances that controversial amendments introduced in the House of Lords will be rolled back.) The proposed legislation would add truth as a defense in defamation cases and take steps to limit “libel tourism” (in which plaintiffs around the world bring their defamation claims in the UK because of friendly laws there). It would also provide some protection for website operators against liability for user-generated content, but only when the identity of the user is apparent. CDT has expressed concern that such provisions raise free expression concerns because they disfavor anonymous communication.
Vladimir Grigoryev, head of Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (FAPMC), announced that the government does not plan to prosecute internet users who download content illegally. Grigoryev commented on piracy while attending the launch of “Read Legally”, a project to promote legal download of e-books. According to Grigoryev, “We do not plan to hold Internet users liable for downloading as they do in the US, where owners of computers can end up in court.” Instead of targeting users, the Russian government will place responsibility on pirating websites.
The European Commission closed its latest consultation relating to the IP Rights Enforcement Directive last week. The purpose of this ‘technical survey’ was to gather specific information on the efficiency of proceedings and accessibility of enforcement measures for intellectual property rights. CDT responded with a statement focused on the importance of balance and fair process in copyright enforcement. CDT warns against the dangers of imposing obligations on intermediaries to monitor, control, and intervene in citizens' online activities. Such obligations would cause unacceptable limitations of the rights to privacy and free expression, and can discourage investment in innovative services that facilitate the exercise of human rights online.
SECURITY AND SURVEILLANCE
Activist group Anonymous has launched a series of attacks targeting Israeli government websites. The cyber attacks follow an Anonymous announcement that it was planning to protest Israeli policy against Palestinians. The group claims that the attack impacted 100,000 websites, 40,000 Facebook pages, 5,000 Twitter accounts and 30,000 bank accounts, but the Israeli government reports that the hack caused little harm. According to Ben Yisrael, a representative of the National Cyber Bureau, "So far it is as was expected, there is hardly any real damage."
Russian and Ukrainian authorities arrested the alleged leader of the Carpberg botnet group, which stole millions of dollars from Russian and Ukrainian bank accounts beginning in 2010. The Carpberg ring used a unique botnet to spread malware to a widely-used banking application. The group has since put two versions of the malware up for sale to other hackers. It has been most recently used in the "Eurograbber" botnet system that impacted PCs and phones last fall.