#IMWeekly: January 31, 2014

China & Iran
Iran’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology announced this month that it is in talks with China’s Information Council about best practices for implementing a closed internal “National Information Network.”

Egypt
A new anti-terrorism law in Egypt, which will come into effect next month, enables the government to censor websites that “instigate terrorism.” Critics of the law worry that this framing could be applied to popular social media sites, including Facebook.

Netherlands
After The Hague ruled that blocking access to peer-to-peer file sharing websites such as The Pirate Bay had no measurable effect on piracy, the government of the Netherlands has decided to unblock these sites.

Russia
Mashable reports that the Russian government has ramped up surveillance in anticipation of the 2014 Winter Olympics, which begin in Sochi next Friday. The country’s System for Operative Investigative Activities (SORM) allows the Federal Security Service to access servers directly, and according to independent reports from within Russia, the government recently has been experimenting with Deep Packet Inspection as well.

#IMWeekly: December 16, 2013

North Korea
The North Korean government began an effort to remove all Internet content and references on state-run sites related to Jang Song Thaek, the former top government and party official who was recently executed. Jang, who was the uncle of supreme leader Kim Jong Un, was one of the most powerful men in the country. Since his death, the state has effectively tried to erase him from the country’s official history.

United Kingdom
Amnesty International filed a legal claim against the UK government based on concerns that “the organization’s communications have been unlawfully accessed by the UK intelligence services.” Amnesty’s concerns first arose following the release of documents by Edward Snowden in June 2013 that revealed how UK authorities had access to information obtained by the US NSA’s previously secret PRISM program—the concerns were amplified when it was revealed the UK’s GCHQ had its own program, Tempora, that may have subjected people to blanket surveillance.  Amnesty’s claim is one in a series of recent legal challenges to spying that have emerged in the UK.

United States
Documents released by Edward Snowden revealed that American and British intelligence agencies have infiltrated globally popular online games, such as World of Warcraft and Second Life, in order to conduct surveillance and gather data on game users. The documents suggest that the spy agencies were concerned that terrorists might use the online games to communicate, exchange funds, and/or plot attacks.

#imweekly is a regular round-up of news about Internet content controls and activity around the world. To subscribe via RSS, click here.

2013 Internet Monitor Annual Report: “Reflections on the Digital World”

Internet Monitor is delighted to announce the publication of Internet Monitor 2013: Reflections on the Digital World, our first-ever annual report. The report—a collection of essays from roughly two dozen experts around the world, including Ron Deibert, Malavika Jayaram, Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, Molly Sauter, Bruce Schneier, Ashkan Soltani, and Zeynep Tufekci, among others—highlights key events and recent trends in the digital space:

To mirror the collaborative spirit of the initiative, we compile—based on an open invitation to the members of the extended Berkman community—nearly two dozen short essays from friends, colleagues, and collaborators in the United States and abroad.

The result is intended for a general interest audience and invites reflection and discussion of the past year’s notable events and trends in the digitally networked environment. Our goal is not to describe the “state of the Internet” in any definitive way, but rather to highlight and discuss some of the most fascinating developments and debates over the past year worthy of broader public conversation.

Our contributors canvass a broad range of topics and regions—from a critique of India’s Unique Identity project to a review of corporate transparency reporting to a first-person report from the Gezi Park protests. A common thread explores how actors within government, industry, and civil society are wrestling with the changing power dynamics of the digital realm.

The full report and individual chapters are available for download on our Annual Report page.

An interactive, full text version of the report is available on H2O, where you can remix, share, excerpt, and comment on each essay: H2O: Internet Monitor 2013.

#IMWeekly: December 9, 2013

Brazil
A senior Brazilian lawmaker said that a vote on a law that would require global Internet companies, like Google and Facebook, to store the data of Brazilian citizens inside Brazil will be delayed until next year due to disagreements about the bill’s content.

China
Chinese telecom giant Huawei announced that it will no longer be pursuing business opportunities in the US. US officials and lawmakers have regularly accused Huawei of being a proxy for Chinese military and intelligence agencies and have encouraged public and private efforts to inhibit Huawei’s influence in the US.

Iran
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard arrested 16 cyber journalists and activists “accused of working against the country’s national security, having ties with foreign ‘enemy media’ and designing anti-regime websites.” The arrests followed on the heels of other recent government actions that have infringed on Internet freedom, despite promises by the administration of President Hassan Rouhani to peel back repressive government policies.

USA
Documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that the US National Security Agency is collecting vast amounts of cellphone location data to track the whereabouts and movements of hundreds of millions of cellphones around the world. The wide scope of the newly revealed programs has again raised concerns about privacy and is likely to provoke further resentment among foreign citizens and governments who have already expressed displeasure with US spying.

#imweekly is a regular round-up of news about Internet content controls and activity around the world. To subscribe via RSS, click here.

#IMWeekly: December 2, 2013

Canada
Documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that Canada allowed the US National Security Agency to conduct widespread surveillance during the G8 and G20 summits that were held in Toronto in 2010. It is unclear who the specific targets of the surveillance operation were. Both US and Canadian officials declined to comment on the new revelations.

Netherlands
A seven-month investigation by the Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) found that Google’s policy of combining personal data from the various online services that it provides violates Dutch data protection law. The DPA’s recent conclusions are based in part a new privacy policy that Google introduced in March 2012 and implemented, according to the DPA, without adequately informing users about what it would be collecting and why. The same policy is under investigation in five other European states: France, Spain, Germany, Italy, and Britain.

South Africa
South African President Jacob Zuma signed a Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Bill into law. According to a statement issued by a presidential spokesman, “The act will give effect to the right to privacy, by introducing measures to ensure that the personal information of an individual is safeguarded when it is processed by responsible parties.” The new POPI law is designed to protect consumers’ right to privacy while not overly burdening online businesses and entrepreneurs who seek to legitimately use their customers’ personal information to provide better services.

Vietnam
The Vietnamese government issued two new decrees that create new fines for various offenses related to e-commerce and social media. The full impact of the decrees remains to be seen. Critics fear, however, that the new commerce fines place undue restrictions on young e-commerce sites. Activists are also concerned that the new social media fines, which penalize “propaganda against the state” and expressions of “radical ideology”, could be used to further suppress online activity and activism.

#imweekly is a regular round-up of news about Internet content controls and activity around the world. To subscribe via RSS, click here.