Global Policy Weekly - June 14, 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.
SECURITY AND SURVEILLANCE
In response to recently exposed information about United States surveillance activities, a coalition of civil society groups delivered a statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) requesting swift action on the issue of government surveillance. CDT contributed to the effort and signed on to the statement, which now has more than 280 supporters. The statement, given by the Association for Progressive Communications and Reporters without Borders, urges the Human Rights Council to examine the United States surveillance case, press UN member countries to report on current surveillance laws and practices and how they can be brought in line with human rights standards, and work towards a new statement on the right to privacy in light of technological advancements, following recommendations in a recent landmark report by UN Special Rapporteur on the freedom of opinion and expression Frank La Rue.
Google has discovered thousands of phishing attacks originating in Iran and targeting tens of thousands of email accounts owned by Iranian Internet users. The volume of phishing attacks has grown significantly in the weeks leading up to national elections. Google reported that the attacks appear to be “politically motivated.” The elections, which have spurred unrest in Iran, are the first to be held since 2009.
Internet users in Singapore are protesting new licensing requirements for “news websites,” voicing concern that the rules are vague and open to abuse. Under the plan, the government can ask licensed sites to remove content within 24 hours. If the sites fail to comply, the owners be subject to significant fines. The government initially targeted 10 websites for licensing, but Internet users fear that blogs and other smaller sites will be subject to similar requirements in the future. Global Voices reports on a growing opposition effort that participants are calling the “Free My Internet” movement.
Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza approved new media legislation that the national parliament passed earlier this year. The law weakens protection of press sources, bans media from writing about national security and public safety issues, establishes significant fines for violating press restrictions, and requires members of the press to have a university degree. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a statement raising concern about the law’s impact on press freedom. Reporters Without Borders condemned the law, saying “The country has gone backwards more than 20 years.”
The government of Jordan blocked hundreds of news websites that the Press and Publications Department identified as unregistered and unlicensed. The press law was amended in 2012 with new provisions allowing the government to censor sites that fail to register. A thousand websites voluntarily blacked out in August to protest the new rules, and some sites are still refusing to register despite growing pressure. It appears that the government has blocked access not only to local news sites, but also to international outlets including Al Jazeera and Time Out magazine. Index on Censorship provides additional context and and analysis on the issue.
Taiwan’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) announced that it is dropping plans to block foreign websites that break copyright law. Under the abandoned plan, government agencies would have gained the authority to block Taiwanese users from accessing foreign websites that specialize in copyright-infringing content. Taiwanese netizens protested the initiative and planned an Internet blackout in opposition. The government withdrew the plan one day before the planned blackout, reporting that the the IPO never intended to harm free expression rights in Taiwan.
Nigeria’s telecommunications regulator is working with a a private sector contractor called Bio-Key International to implement a SIM card registration program using fingerprint biometric technology. The program collects fingerprints and associates user identity with SIM card and mobile phone numbers. The government say that the program exists to fight fraud and other crimes in Nigeria. The program has “biometrically enrolled” owners of more than 110 million SIM cards so far.