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February 27 2014

February 23 2014

February 11 2014

February 11: Activists Say No to “Cyber Martial Law”, Digital Surveillance in Philippines

“Our fight against Cybercrime Law is not yet over. The Supreme Court still has not decided on its constitutionality or unconstitutionality and while we are waiting for a decision, we will continue fighting for our right to privacy and right to freedom of expression.”

Netizens and activist groups in the Philippines put out the statement of  on February 11 as part of the global action against mass surveillance. They added that the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 or Republic Act 10175, whose constitutionality is being questioned in the Supreme Court, can be used as a tool to justify mass surveillance in society:

The Cybercrime Law, once declared to be implemented, will become a tool for the Philippine government’s mass surveillance. As defenders of Internet freedom, we will be one with the world in the global protest.

The law was questioned a month after its signing in 2012 by media groups and citizens alarmed by provisions in the bill that would seriously undermine human rights and media freedom in the country. They questioned the insertion of provisions on libel and the delegation of power to the government to take down websites and restrict access to computer data systems suspected of violating the law. The bill's restrictions on freedom of expression inspired netizens to give the bill the nickname “cyber martial law.

Fortunately, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order which prevented the government from implementing the law. But the high court is expected to finally deliberate and decide on the petition before the end of February. This has emboldened netizen groups to launch a series of activities aimed at pressuring the court to junk the “draconian” law.

Below are some photos of the February 11 protest in front of the Supreme Court:

But supporters of the controversial law are urging the lifting of the restraining order so that it can be used to combat serious cybercrimes, especially child pornography.

A flurry of news stories about the proliferation of child pornography in the Philippines suddenly appeared in the face of the controversy. It is unclear whether or not this is by coincidence.

Police claimed that they can nab cyber child porn syndicates if the restraining order on the law is lifted. The president’s spokesman and some senators supported this position.

But the anti-cybercrime law is in fact not needed to arrest child pornography site operators — ample existing legislation can do the job. Authorities can invoke the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, and most importantly the Anti-Child Pornography Act to swiftly act against suspected criminals.

Apart from reminding Philippine officials that they can maximize the provisions of the anti-child porn law to combat online sexual content involving children, journalist Raïssa Robles warned against the dangers of the anti-cybercrime law

I cannot stress enough the dangers of the Cybercrime Law. Its atrocious lack of safeguards can easily enable rogue cops and government officials to commit crimes of extortion and blackmail using the digital highway.

Poverty eradication is the best solution to child pornography, according to the Manila Times:

…online child pornography is a byproduct of poverty. It is a problem that needs a total government approach. Our officials should find ways of helping the families that have been caught in the web of child pornography get out and rebuild their lives.

Instead of pushing for the implementation of a notorious law, the Philippine government should consider asking Congress to draft a new bill that would address growing cyber security threats without violating the human rights of individuals.

February 10 2014

The Day We Fight Against Surveillance and in Support of Privacy

Paris, 11 February 2014 — Over the last year the public across the globe was made aware of massive global surveillance conducted by the NSA and its partners or counterparts, but also by private tech companies. In response, and in celebration of the victory against SOPA, PIPA and ACTA two years ago and in memory of one of its key architects, Aaron Swartz, La Quadrature du Net joins this day of mobilisation The Day We Fight Back against mass surveillance, which will mark actions by civil rights groups from all over the world. This day is a perfect occasion for all citizens to get informed, and to act to defend our privacy against private and public surveillance. Below are actions carried out by La Quadrature and its supporters today.

“Together we will push back against powers that seek to observe, collect, and analyze our every digital action. Together, we will make it clear that such behavior is not compatible with democratic governance. Together, if we persist, we will win this fight.”

This Tuesday 11 February is a global call to arms against surveillance. Many organisations around the world defending human rights in all its forms, such as freedom of speech, privacy, or press freedom, have joined forces for a day of mobilisation against mass surveillance. The global problem is that surveillance, public and private, has gone way beyond embarrassement between countries. It is undermining the basis on which our democratic systems and thus our rights as citizens rely, such as the protection of journalistic sources or confidential communication with a lawyer. As the Necessary and Proportionate petition, signed by La Quadrature du Net and more than 300 other NGOs stated, any legitimate surveillance has to be, amongst other things, established by legal statutes, transparent, have a legitimate aim, be necessary and proportional to the threat, involve user notification and have adequate public oversight.

Several actions, online and offline, are planned by organisations across the globe. Events are listed here. Since the first Snowden revelations, La Quadrature du Net has consistently advocated new asylum rules for whistle-blowers reporting serious violations of fundamental rights, but also the suspension of the Safe Harbour agreement between the EU and the US for all companies listed as participating to PRISM and other NSA programs, reinforcement of the data protection regulation against similar circumvention of fundamental rights and support to decentralized free software applications based on strong cryptography. Today, La Quadrature has coordinated the launch of several projects:

Reclaim Our Privacy

Thanks to the generosity of supporters who helped crowd-fund it, and of Benoît Musereau who volunteered to direct it, La Quadrature du Net publishes ”Reclaim Our Privacy”, a three-minute movie that explains the threat to, the importance of protecting, and the tools to reclaim our privacy online. If you want to contribute to the funding of this movie, it is still possible to do so here. Any funds received above the target amount will be shared between Benoît Musereau and La Quadrature du Net. The movie is released under CC BY-SA, so feel free to share or remix it! <3


Download it!

NSA Observer Website

Volunteers supported by La Quadrature du Net put together a website about “Things the NSA doesn't want you to know (and why you should know about it)”: NSA-observer.

The numerous revelations on NSA surveillance represents a lot of information that no one had presented in a format that was easy to access and understand. The authors gathered the information into a public-domain licensed website and freely-downloadable database. Moreover, in order to comprehend the system, the website provides visuals of the connections between NSA programs, attack vectors and compartments. The website is a work in progress and the authors welcome involvement by others in order to keep the data up to date and make it more accessible to the general public.

“Nothing To Hide” by La Parisienne Libérée and Jérémie Zimmermann

La Parisienne Libérée is a French journalist who sings the news once a week. She invited Jérémie Zimmermann, cofounder of La Quadrature du Net, for a song on personal data and privacy.

On this global day of action, La Quadrature encourages all citizens to get informed and share information about surveillance and the need for better legal and technical protection for privacy in the digital age. For more information, visit:



Support La Quadrature du Net!

January 31 2014

Support the Making of the Animated Movie "Reclaim Our Privacy!"

Paris, 31 January 2014 — La Quadrature du Net launches a crowd-funding campaign to support the making of the upcoming animation movie about privacy, mass surveillance, and the urgency to rethink our relationship with technology. Help us finance this project!


Benoît Musereau, which whom La Quadrature du Net collaborated on the “NO to ACTA” movie, will be the director, as a volunteer, to make this new movie. The €3000 objective of this crowd-funding campaign will help pay for Marion Leblanc, the graphic designer, and Mawashi, the musician and sound designer. A movie such as this would usually cost around €10-15000. Funding above €3000 will be split equally between Benoît and La Quadrature du Net.

Help us fund it and “Reclaim Our Privacy!” should be released by the 11th of February as part of The Day We Fight Back, a day of mobilisation against mass surveillance. Nice rewards, including posters of the movie, are available to supporters, and the names of all supporters will be included in the credits.

Reposted bycheg00 cheg00

January 21 2014

China: Free Ilham Tohti — Support Ethnic Reconciliation

Free Ilham Tohti! by Twitter user @HisOvalness

Free Ilham Tohti! by Twitter user @HisOvalness

Ilham Tohti, founder of Uyghur Online and a moderate advocate for ethnic autonomy policy in China was arrested by police on January 15. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) mouthpiece labelled him as separatist. Many public intellectuals are arguing that his prosecution could result in an irreparable situation on ethnic reconciliation in China.

But current Chinese leaders seem to think otherwise. The CCP propaganda machine represented by Global Times claimed in a January 18 editorial that Ilham Tohti had a close connection with the World Uyghur Congress, an overseas group which has been labelled by the CCP as an extreme separatist group. The report also accused Ilham Tohti of inciting students in his class and spreading rumors and dissent through Uyghur Online, a website founded in 2006 to address ethnic conflicts in China from the Uyghur perspective. The site has been inaccessible since Ilham's arrest.

As highlighted in an online petition signed by more than 1,000 Chinese intellectuals for the release of Ilham Tohti, the Uyghur professor teaching in Beijing Minzhu University has played a significant role in ethnic reconciliation in China:

Ilham Tohit has always opposed Xinjiang independence and violence of any kind. He actively pushes for friendly communication between Uighurs and Chinese. He put his faith of solving the Xinjiang issue in the Chinese government adjusting its problematic Xinjiang policy. Because of this, he has criticized the Chinese government’s Xinjiang policy, and at the same time, proposed various changes. His criticism and suggestions are all based on serious academic research. He is regarded by the intellectual community as a precious man who bridges Uighurs with Chinese, and by the local Xinjiang people as a courageous representative of Uighurs. In the future, he should be an important civic leader in solving the Xinjiang issue, and play an irreplaceable role in ethnic reconciliation.

Since the 2008 Lhasa violence to the 2009 Urumqi riots to today, the failure of China’s ethnic policy is obvious to all. The detention of Ilham Tohti demonstrates that the Chinese government is continuing its mistakes. The Communist Party’s grip on power is temporary, but the wellbeing of the Chinese people should be lasting. The Chinese Communist Party maintains present stability by sacrificing the future of the people. Every Chinese citizen has the right to hold the Communist party accountable, taking shared responsibility for the sake of the future of the country. Citizens of other countries may also pay attention to this event, because the suffering of the Uighur people is the suffering of all human beings, and China’s failure could jeopardize the entire world.

According to Ilham's wife, in an account recorded by Tibetan writer Woeser, Ilham was arrested in front of his sons and his computers were confiscated:

Probably between 3:30 and 4:00, there was knocking on Ilham’s door. Ilham opened the door and a line of Xinjiang police burst in, pushing him onto the sofa. There were a lot of police and Ilham was quickly taken away by one group of them. The eldest son was frightened and began to cry. Ilham had time to tell his son not to cry.

The police began to search everywhere throughout the home, including the closets and the children’s bedroom. Afterwards they took away the family’s four computers, three cell phones (including Guzelnor’s cell phone), portable hard drives, flash drives and writeable CDs/DVDs. They also took Ilham’s lesson plans, his student’s exams and essays, and books, etc. In addition, they carried off his small strongbox containing his official papers and bank cards.

On the same day, the dormitories of Ilham's seven students were raided and five male students were detained.

Yesterday, while Ilham was being taken away by the police, 7 Uyghur students who were studying at Central Minzu University (5 males, 2 females) were taken by the police from their individual dormitories. Their cell phones, computers and bank cards were also taken. Late that night the 2 female students were released and sent home. However there is absolutely no word about the 5 male students, just as is the case with Ilham.

Currently Ilham's family is under house arrest and cannot be reached by phone. Many believe the arrest is meant to criminalize speech. The online petition urges the Chinese authorities to release Ilham Tohti immediately, or to otherwise provide concrete evidence to prove their case and allow his lawyer and family to meet with him.

January 15 2014

Civil Society Calls on the ECHR's Grand Chamber to Overturn Delfi v. Estonia Ruling

Paris, 15 January 2014 — Last October, the European Court of Human Rights issued a ruling against an Estonian news portal (“Delfi”), making the platform liable for defamatory comments posted by third users. This ruling threatens to encourage privatised censorship and to severely undermine public debate online. From a legal perspective, as NGO Article 19 wrote at the time, “this judgment displays a profound failure to understand the EU legal framework regulating intermediary liability. In addition, it conveniently ignores relevant international standards in the area of freedom of expression on the Internet”. Many organizations and companies all across Europe have sent the following letter to the ECHR's president to support Delfi's appeal to the Court's “Grand Chamber”, which still has the power to overturn this dangerous ruling.

To:
Dean Spielmann
President ofEuropean Court of Human Rights
Council of Europe
F-67075 Strasbourg cedex
France

13 January 2014

Re: Grand Chamber referral in Delfi v. Estonia (Application no. 64569/09)

Dear President Spielmann and members of the panel:

We, the undersigned 69 media organisations, internet companies, human rights groups and academic institutions write to support the referral request that we understand has been submitted in the case of Delfi v. Estonia (Application No. 64569/09). Signatories to this letter include some of the largest global news organisations and internet companies including Google, Forbes, News Corp, Thomson Reuters, the New York Times, Bloomberg News, Guardian News and Media, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers and Conde Nast; prominent European media companies and associations including the European Newspaper Publishers’ Association, Sanoma Media Netherlands B.V. and the European Publishers Council; national media outlets and journalists associations from across the continent; and advocacy groups including Index on Censorship, Greenpeace, the Center for Democracy and Technology and ARTICLE 19.

We understand that the applicant in the above-referenced case has requested that the chamber judgment of 10 October 2013 be referred to the Grand Chamber of the Court for reconsideration. We are writing to endorse Delfi’s request for a referral due to our shared concern that the chamber judgment, if it stands, would have serious adverse repercussions for freedom of expression and democratic openness in the digital era. In terms of Article 43 (2) of the Convention, we believe that liability for user-generated content on the Internet constitutes both a serious question affecting the interpretation or application of Article 10 of the Convention in the online environment and a serious issue of general importance.

The case involves the liability of an online news portal for third-party defamatory comments posted by readers on the portal’s website, below a news item. A unanimous chamber of the First Section found no violation of Article 10, even though the news piece itself was found to be balanced and contained no offensive language. The portal acted quickly to remove the defamatory comments as soon as it received a complaint from the affected person, the manager of a large private company.

We find the chamber’s arguments and conclusions deeply problematic for the following reasons.

First, the chamber judgment failed to clarify and address the nature of the duty imposed on websites carrying user-generated content: what are they to do to avoid civil and potentially criminal liability in such cases? The inevitable implication of the chamber ruling is that it is consistent with Article 10 to impose some form of strict liability on online publications for all third-party content they may carry. This would translate, in effect, into a duty to prevent the posting, for any period of time, of any user-generated content that may be defamatory.

Such a duty would place a very significant burden on most online news and comment operations – from major commercial outlets to small local newspapers, NGO websites and individual bloggers – and would be bound to produce significant censoring, or even complete elimination, of user comments to steer clear of legal trouble. The Delfi chamber appears not to have properly considered the implications for user comments, which on balance tend to enrich and democratize online debates, as part of the ‘public sphere’.

Such an approach is at odds with this Court’s recent jurisprudence, which has recognized that “[i]n light of its accessibility and its capacity to store and communicate vast amounts of information, the Internet plays an important role in enhancing the public’s access to news and facilitating the dissemination of information generally.”1 Likewise, in Ahmet Yildirim v. Turkey, the Second Section of the Court emphasised that “the Internet has now become one of the principal means of exercising the right to freedom of expression and information, providing as it does essential tools for participation in activities and discussions concerning political issues and issues of general interest”2.

Secondly, the chamber ruling is inconsistent with Council of Europe standards as well as the letter and spirit of European Union law. In a widely cited 2003 Declaration, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe urged member states to adopt the following policy:

“In cases where … service providers … store content emanating from other parties, member states may hold them co-responsible if they do not act expeditiously to remove or disable access to information or services as soon as they become aware … of their illegal nature.

When defining under national law the obligations of service providers as set out in the previous paragraph, due care must be taken to respect the freedom of expression of those who made the information available in the first place, as well as the corresponding right of users to the information.”3

The same position was essentially adopted by the European Union through the Electronic Commerce Directive of 2000. Under the Directive, member states cannot impose on intermediaries a general duty to monitor the legality of third-party communications; they can only be held liable if they fail to act “expeditiously” upon obtaining “actual knowledge” of any illegality. This approach is considered a crucial guarantee for freedom of expression since it tends to promote self-regulation, minimizes the need for private censorship, and prevents overbroad monitoring and filtering of user content that tends to have a chilling effect on online public debate.

Thirdly, it follows from the above that the Delfi chamber did not thoroughly assess whether the decisions of the Estonian authorities were “prescribed by law” within the meaning of Article 10 § 2. Under the E-Commerce Directive and relevant judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), it was not unreasonable for Delfi to believe that it would be protected by the “safe harbour” provisions of EU law in circumstances such as those of the current case4. The chamber ruling sets the Court on a potential course of collision with the case law of the CJEU and may also give rise to a conflict under Article 53 of the Convention.

Finally, the chamber ruling is also at odds with emerging practice in the member states, which are seeking innovative solutions to the unique complexities of the Internet. In the UK, for example, the new defamation reforms for England and Wales contain a number of regulations applicable specifically to defamation through the Internet, including with respect to anonymous third-party comments. Simply applying traditional rules of editorial responsibility is not the answer to the new challenges of the digital era. For similar reasons, related among others to the application of binding EU law, a recent Northern Ireland High Court judgment expressly chose not to follow the Delfi chamber ruling5.

For all these reasons, we strongly urge the Court to accept the applicant’s request for a referral that would allow the Grand Chamber to reconsider these issues, taking into account the points raised by the signatories in this letter. There is no question in our minds that the current case raises “a serious question affecting the interpretation” of Article 10 of the Convention as well as “a serious issue of general importance” (Art. 43).

Sincerely,

  • Algemene Vereniging van Beroepsjournalisten in België
  • American Society of News Editors
  • ARTICLE 19
  • Association of American Publishers, Inc
  • Association of European Journalists
  • Bloomberg
  • bvba Les Journaux Francophones Belges
  • Center for Democracy and Technology
  • Conde Nast International Ltd.
  • Daily Beast Company, LLC
  • Digital First Media, LLC
  • Digital Media Law Project, Berkman Center for Internet & Society – Harvard University
  • Digital Rights Ireland
  • Dow Jones
  • Electronic Frontier Finland
  • Estonian Newspapers Assocation (Eesti Ajalehtede Liit)
  • EURALO (ICANN’s European At-Large Organization)
  • European Digital Rights (EDRi)
  • European Information Society Institute (EISi)
  • European Magazine Media Association
  • European Media Platform
  • European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (ENPA)
  • European Publishers Council
  • Federatie van periodieke pers, the Ppress
  • Forbes
  • Global Voices Advocacy
  • Google, Inc.
  • Greenpeace
  • Guardian News & Media Limited
  • Human Rights Center, Ghent University
  • Hungarian Civil Liberties Union
  • iMinds-KU Leuven, Interdisciplinary Centre for Law and ICT
  • Index on Censorship
  • International Press Institute
  • Internet Democracy Project
  • La Quadrature du Net
  • Lithuanian Online Media Association
  • Mass Media Defence Center
  • Media Foundation Leipzig
  • Media Law Resource Center
  • Media Legal Defence Initiative
  • National Press Photographers Association
  • National Public Radio
  • Nederlands Genootschap van Hoofdredacteuren
  • Nederlands Uitgeversverbond (NUV)
  • Nederlandse Vereniging van Journalisten
  • Net Users’ Rights Protection Association
  • News Corp.
  • Newspaper Association of America
  • North Jersey Media Group, Inc
  • NRC Handelsblad
  • Online News Association
  • Open Media Coalition – Italy
  • Open Rights Group
  • Panoptykon
  • PEN International
  • PEN-Vlaanderen
  • Persvrijheidsfonds
  • Raad voor de Journalistiek
  • Radio Television Digital News Association
  • Raycom Media, Inc.
  • Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
  • Sanoma Media Netherlands B.V.
  • Telegraaf Media Groep NV
  • The New York Times Company
  • Thomson Reuters
  • Vlaamse Nieuwsmedia
  • Vlaamse Vereniging van Journalisten
  • Vrijschrift
  • World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers
  • 1. Times Newspapers Ltd v. the United Kingdom (Nos. 1 and 2), Judgment of 10 March 2009, para. 27. See also Editorial Board of Pravoye Delo and Shtekel v. Ukraine, Judgment of 5 May 2011.
  • 2. Judgment of 18 December 2012, para. 54.
  • 3. Declaration on freedom of communication on the Internet, 28 May 2003, adopted at the 840th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies.
  • 4. The CJEU has ruled, with reference inter alia to Article 10 ECHR, that an Internet service provider cannot be required to install a system filtering (scanning) all electronic communication passing through its services as this would amount to a preventive measure and a disproportionate interference with its users’ freedom of expression and information. See Scarlet v. Sabam, Case C-70/10, Judgment of 24 November 2011; and Netlog v. Sabam, Case C-360/10, Judgment of 16 February 2012.
  • 5. J19 & Anor v Facebook Ireland [2013] NIQB 113 (15 November 2013), at http://www.bailii.org/nie/cases/NIHC/QB/2013/113.html.

January 10 2014

La Quadrature du Net, Version 2.0

Paris, 10 January 2014 — After almost six years as spokesperson and coordinator of La Quadrature du Net, Jérémie Zimmermann's role will change at the end of January. He will continue to act as part of our Strategic Directions Council1, but will leave his position as coordinator and spokesperson. We thank him for his superhuman efforts, which were rewarded in 2012 by the Electronic Frontier's Pioneer Award, and are happy for him that he will regain time to develop his personal activities. This collective and considered decision was taken in the context of the consolidation of our structure, following our registration as a French association [fr] one year ago. Here is how La Quadrature du Net will reorganise itself.

Due to your continued support La Quadrature du Net's team has grown over the last year to include seven paid staff in the operational team (including three interns) – without counting Jérémie – and six active members in the Strategic Directions Council (which will increase in size in the coming months). Moreover, numerous volunteers are heavily involved in our activities, which allows La Quadrature to function on a daily basis. The change in Jérémie's position will accelerate the establishment of the new organisational structure.

Firstly, La Quadrature is hiring a Campaign Manager [fr]. Their role will be to communicate with decision makers, parliamentarians, other citizen organisations and the wider public on La Quadrature's projects, and to coordinate volunteers involved in these actions. It requires a particular kind of engagement and work style, and Jérémie was until now in the front line of all this, especially on the European level.

Secondly, the management of La Quadrature's public voice, including its interaction with the media, for which Jérémie was solely responsible until now, will become more inclusive. Initiated six months ago, this change is the occasion to make use of the different approaches, styles and points of view represented in our organisation. This shift towards a more collective work dynamic in La Quadrature du Net will ensure our ability to react quickly and in-depth to events and requests, from journalists, politicians, associations or citizens. It is also represent a development opportunity for everyone in our enlarged team.

You can count on us to do the utmost to ensure that this reorganisation makes La Quadrature du Net more efficient in its defence of Internet freedom and its promotion of citizens' ability to act in the digital sphere. And if you have the slightest concern, remember that Jérémie will be right there in the Strategic Directions Council, ready to spur us on. <3

The Administration and the operational team of La Quadrature du Net

  • 1. Strategic Directions Council which in our structure [fr] corresponds to the Board of Directors and which can be extended to include the operational team and participating members
Tags: general news

January 04 2014

Botched Bureaucracy Mars SIM Card Registration in Zambia

SIM card. Released to public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

SIM card. Released to public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

In autumn of 2012, the Zambian government issued a new policy requiring citizens to register their mobile phone SIM cards, using their real identities. Some weeks ago, officials began threatening to deactivate services on mobile phones with unregistered SIMs.

Two days before the December 31 SIM card registration deadline, thousands of people flocked to registration centers to avoid losing their mobile phone service. Thousands more, who had registered their cards when the exercise began in September, discovered their records had gone missing from the national SIM database, leaving them at risk of losing their service.

Amidst mass confusion, one subscriber reported the CEO of Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA), the regulatory agency behind SIM card registration campaign, to the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) for professional misconduct by misinterpreting the law on SIM registration.

Many mobile phone users reported errors in the registration process. On the Facebook walls of some subscribers who registered their SIM cards in the early days of the campaign, Ministry of Finance public relations officer Chileshe Kandeta, wrote:

SIM REGISTRATION…is it goodbye to my beloved sim cards. [...] Maybe, coz [because] I registered my numbers several months ago at Manda Hill [shopping mall in Lusaka]. Upon checking to make sure everything is ok, I discover that I have not been registered on the system. AGONY!

Commenting on Kandeta’s status, Sonnile Nsakali Phiri wrote:

Esp[ecially] on MTN. I made 3 attempts, where I was only “partially registered”. I'd to go and make noise at the Arcades centre to somebody at the till before she punched a few times on her pc then I was fully registered. Meanwhile, the girl doing the sim registration had been holding on to the forms for 4wks instead of submitting them

Jean Serge wrote:

 Yesterday, I did registration for the 5th time! at the time I do try *538# , the feedback is that I am not registered. My registration slip serial number is 11 00 71 47 and my Dealer Code : HQ

During the last-minute rush in the capital, Lusaka, Facebook activist Gift Tako Linyada Mbewe poked fun at stereotypes in his commentary on the drive:

OK THERE ARE SOME BEHAVIOURS WHICH WILL NEVER LEAVE AN AFRICAN.

OK I PARKED AT ZAMPOST [Lusaka Main Post Office] AND STARTED WALKING TO CAIRO CHEMIST. AT ZAMPOST, I SAW A LONG QUEUE, VERY LONG. SO I ASKED, “WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE?”, SOMEONE ANSWERED, “WE ARE REGISTERING OUR SIM CARDS BEFORE TOMORROW THE DEAD LINE”. WHAT!? KEKEKEKE [laughter]!!!
AFRICANS WITH LAST MINUTES. I THINK THE GOVERNEMENT IS ALSO TO BLAME, WHY DO THEY LIKE TO EXTEND DEADLINESS? ANYWAY, THEY ARE ALSO AFRICANS.

AS FOR ME, I DONT EVEN REMEMBER HOW LONG AGO I REGISTERED MY SIM CARDS…

Journalist and researcher Kasebamashila Kaseba has taken matters further by reporting ZICTA managing director Margaret Chalwe-Mudenda, a lawyer herself, to LAZ, a body regulating legal practice in the country, alleging that she has misinterpreted the statutory instrument SI 65 of 2011 on SIM card registration and deactivation.

Kaseba, in his letter to LAZ, wrote:

In a follow up to my letter to ZICTA Director General dated 15th November, 2013 copied to Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) and in accordance with the Chapter 31 LAZ Act on professional ethics of lawyers, I write to file a complaint of professional misconduct against the ZICTA Director General (Ms) Margaret Chalwe-Mudenda with regard to ZICTA interpretation and implementation of SI 65 of 2011 on SIM card registration and deactivation.

In view of the above, I write for your attention to the fact that Director General Chalwe-Mudenda, a lawyer by profession, thus answerable to LAZ, despite my letter on professional and legal issues, neglected, failed and refused to cite, publish or accordingly communicate SI 65 of 2011 on SIM registration that threatened extreme punishment of deactivation. Instead, ZICTA emphasised misinformation, miscommunication of its countdown and deadline while spending public resources on issues outside the law.

Instead, ZICTA emphasised misinformation, miscommunication while spending public resources on its countdown and deadline which are outside the law.

A government junior minister in charge of communication, Colonel Panji Kaunda, extended the deadline for SIM card registration to February 15 when subscribers would lose all services on unregistered cards, while ZICTA initially maintained the December 31 deadline, but has now moved it to January 31. Confusion reigns.

A few days into February, the nation may be counting the number of people who will have had their SIM cards de-registered.

 

December 26 2013

La Quadrature Welcomes You at 30C3 for some Tea, Massages and Strategic Thinking

Hamburg, 26 December 2013 — La Quadrature du Net's staff, supporters and volunteers will build a common space for cosyness and strategic thinking at the 30th Chaos Communication Congress (30C3) in Hamburg, from Dec 27th to Dec 30th. This unique event will happen for its 30th annual edition the very year Edward Snowden and the GNU project turn 30. La Quadrature du Net's space will be a new iteration of "La Quadra'Tea House", initiated at Ohm, last summer's hacker camp.

Everyone is welcome to enjoy cups of delicious tea (green tea, oolong, pu erh, panyong among others) and yerba mate. One can also participate in "Hacking with Care", a program by Emily and Baba aiming at bringing balance, embodiment, body & soul awareness and care to the hackers’ communities, or book a wonderful massage with Emily. It will also be an occasion to discover La Quadrature du Net's book scanner and scan your rare books to contribute them to our library.

La Quadrature du Net aims at providing 30C3 with a shared, common infrastructure for relaxation and cozyness, a perfect place for sharing knowledge and projecting strategic thinking about the crucial challenges ahead on the fronts of surveillance, privacy, net neutrality, copyright, life the Universe and everything!

Come and share Datalove on La Quadrature du Net's village located on the top floor, near saal2!

For more information, use La Quadrature du Net's village page on 30C3 wiki:
https://events.ccc.de/congress/2013/wiki/Assembly:LaQuadratureDuNet

Tags: general news

December 21 2013

Zambia: Register Your SIM Card, or Lose Your Service

Mobile phone shop in Lusaka. Photo by Curious Lee (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Mobile phone shop in Lusaka. Photo by Curious Lee (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

In autumn of 2012, the Zambian government issued a new policy requiring citizens to register their mobile phone SIM cards, using their real identities. Now they are threatening to deactivate services on mobile phones with unregistered SIMs.

Mobile service providers in Zambia mainly offer pay-as-you-go services, meaning that mobile phone customers can acquire SIM cards anonymously and pay for air time as needed. Many Zambians also rely on their mobile phones to access the Internet. This is critical, given that dial-up and broadband services are not only expensive but poorly distributed throughout the country.

Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA) stated that citizens must register their SIM cards by December 31, 2013, or they will begin to lose certain services. Phones will be fully de-registered by February 15, 2014 if owners do not comply with the registration order.

An MTN call to its subscribers to register their SIM cards.

An MTN call to its subscribers to register their SIM cards.

Citizen media website Zambia Reports quoted Communications and Transport junior minister Colonel Panji Kaunda saying subscribers would have a window of up to February 15 when their SIM cards would be completely de-registered.

Kaunda reportedly said that 5,360,093 SIM cards were registered as of December 16, out of a total of 10,343,527 mobile phone subscribers in the country.

On Facebook, media worker John Chola, apparently after receiving a promotional message from one mobile phone service provider, wrote:

“Your number will be disconnected if it is not registered by December 31, 2013. Visit your nearest MTN Agent or Zampost to register your SIM card today!”
Isn't this appaling and silly coming to one who has done so more than twice and even made several stopovers to verify with a particualr service provider? Go ahead cut them off, am out!

One comment on Chola’s post by Mwamba Kanyanta reads:

[…] I have been opting out on as many promotional messages as possible from these carriers. Receiving a message like the one ba (Mr) Chola got can be very irritating considering that he had just done the needful.. Does the law oblige a subscriber to disseminate the ZICTA message? If I register my sims, I shouldn't be made to preach to my neighbour about sim registration. In fact, campaigns of threats never yield tangible results. By January, no single sim will have been blocked. Bet?

When ZICTA announced SIM card registration last September, the agency warned that failure to register SIM cards after the deadline would result in SIM deactivation, leaving subscribers unable to communicate. The action by ZICTA was in apparent compliance with the Information Communication Technologies (ICT) Act No.15 of 2009 and the Statutory Instrument on the Registration of Electronic Communication Apparatus No. 65 of 2011.

When ZICTA initially faced resistance from mobile phone users, it explained that the mandatory registration of SIM cards was being done to create a security data base for users.

December 10 2013

Podcast: news that reaches beyond the screen

Reporters, editors and designers are looking for new ways to interact with readers and with the physical world–drawing data in through sensors and expressing it through new immersive formats.

In this episode of the Radar podcast, recorded at News Foo Camp in Phoenix on November 10, Jenn and I talk with three people who are working on new modes of interaction:

Along the way:

For more on the intersection of software and the physical world, be sure to check out Solid, O’Reilly’s new conference program about the collision of real and virtual.

Subscribe to the O’Reilly Radar Podcast through iTunesSoundCloud, or directly through our podcast’s RSS feed.

Will Our Parliamentarians Consent to a Democratorship?

Numerous reactions are now being voiced against the inclusion in the 2014-2019 Defense Bill of article 13 whose provisions enable a pervasive surveillance of online data and communications. Gilles Babinet, appointed in 2012 as French Digital Champion to Nellie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe, was quoted [fr] in the French newspaper Les Echos, “This law is the most serious attack on democracy since the special tribunals during the Algerian War” (our translation).

This statement comes after the public declaration [fr] by the Association of Community-based Internet Services (ASIC), the press release by La Quadrature du Net and the opinion of the Conseil National du Numérique [fr] (The French Digital Council) which calls on the suppression of article 13.

News articles in the press refer to the extensive attack on freedom and fundamental rights that the adoption of this article would represent. Such criticism is still building up. But time is running out because the government is using cynically the urgency of adopting the Defense Bill in order to push the article 13 through Parliament. If, on this Tuesday, 10 December, the French Senate adopts the text unchanged compared to the one adopted on first reading on 4 December by the National Assembly, then only the government would be allowed to present an amendment to withdraw article 13 in the National Assembly. If government does not backtrack, then to rescue our fundamental rights, the National Assembly would be left with the only option to reject the bill in its entirety and face the consequences that such a full rejection would entail.

It is evident that faced with a bill that threatens our fundamental rights, every parliamentarian must take their decision on the basis of their own personal choice and ethics. There is no hiding behind party affiliation that could limit their ability to vote according to their personal conscience on this matter.

Summary of the measures included in article 13

  • Article 13 renders permanent a provisional measure introduced in the anti-terrorism legislation of 2006, extended in 2008 and 2012, and valid until 31 December 2015 (there was no urgent security need to legislate it). Not only will it be made permanent, its nature and scope are also significantly extended.
  • Before, the authorities were allowed to collect connection data. Now authorities may request the live capturing of data and digital documents from both Internet Service Providers and hosting services.
  • The type of information that may be captured and requested would include all data and documents treated or saved by these entities' networks or services.
  • The agencies that are allowed to request this type of information would be extended beyond those directly concerned with National Defense and Security to include, for instance, the Department of Economy and Finance.
  • The goals of the surveillance will be extended to include any information related to scientific and economic potential of France, or the fight against criminality.
  • Finally, not only will the judiciary be simply bypassed, but the only measure of control, let to the National Commission of Control of Electronic Surveillance, will only be to emit a (secret) "recommendation" to the Prime Minister, a process that carries with it no weight whatsoever.

This piece was initially published [fr] on the blog of Philippe Aigrain, founding member of La Quadrature du Net.

December 02 2013

Surveillance or Privacy… ? Support La Quadrature du Net!

Paris, 30 November 2013 — Today we find ourselves at a crossroads: surveillance or privacy? Net neutrality or discrimination of our communications? “Copywrong” threatening the public or copyright reform to sanctuarize our cultural practices? These decisions will have a radical impact on our relationship with technology and power and affect society as a whole. We all know this. And we also know that without a concerted effort by citizens, the political and economic powers will take the line that will lead us to the worst case scenario.

Support La Quadrature du Net!The outline of surveillance states based on spying on citizens and their behaviours is begin drawn more precisely by the day. Social and cultural movements experience an increasing online repression. Big U.S. American Internet and entertainment companies have become police auxiliaries by engaging everywhere in this surveillance. We are faced with a critical choices for the future of our society. The future depends on each one of us, but the defence and the reconstruction of a free and open Internet for all will only be feasible if organisations, independent of private and governmental pressure, such as La Quadrature du Net, are there to contribute.

Support La Quadrature du Net!La Quadrature du Net is a team of five permanent staff members and one intern who labour every day to inform citizens and to help them to engage in the public debate. More than 50% of its budget is covered by individuals' donations. Most of the rest is met by general interest foundations and a small part is covered by social funds. Your impressive generosity has allowed us to exist for more than five years and to build up a considerable body of work on a great amount of topics and issues. The budget of the current year 2013 is however falling short of €35 000. This is why we are soliciting you again.

Supporting La Quadrature du Net financially ensures the independence of the association and gives it the means to continue its actions on a long-term basis. The above mentioned crucial questions will not be solved in a couple of weeks or even in a couple of months, but we are certain that collectively and democratically we can find answers to them that are appropriate to their gravity. For this, your support is needed.

It is more of a symbolic compensation, but your support will be represented by a "Pi-xel" in the logo on this page. If you have already supported La Quadrature du Net this year, your previous contributions will be taken into account when we send you thank you gifts. And you will also be able to upgrade your “Pi-xel” and make it blink!

<3

Tags: general news

November 27 2013

Japan’s ‘State Secrets’ Bill Passes Lower House

People rallied in front of the Diet during the plenary session of passing Japan's State Secrecy Protection Bill

People rallied in front of the Diet during the plenary session of passing Japan's State Secrecy Protection Bill. Image captured from live stream on IWJ.

Japan's House of Representatives passed the controversial State Secrecy Protection Bill on Tuesday, November 26, 2013 at the plenary session. The session began in the evening, five hours after its originally scheduled time, due to opposition party requests to withdraw the legislation.

The bill will introduce harsher punishments for leaking national secrets related to defense, diplomacy, counter-terrorism, and counter-espionage. The bill uses a definition of “special secret” that is vague and broad. It remains unclear how information will be categorized as such, and what entities will be charged with this task.

Human rights advocates, journalists, and citizens in Japan and worldwide have expressed strong opposition to the bill. Locally, it has hit a nerve among those who were most affected by the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. According to numerous sources, government officials systematically limited reporting on environmental conditions following the disaster, to the detriment of many peoples’ health.

Commenting on the bill on his blog [ja], journalist Ryusaku Tanaka quoted Tamotsu Baba, the mayor of Namie town in Fukushima prefecture, looking back on the Fukushima disaster. The mayor reflected on the painful experience that resulted from the lack of public information immediately following the disaster:

SPEEDIの情報が的確に公開されず、避難に活かせなかった。情報公開さえしてくれれば何らかの方法があった。東電と通報協定を結んでいたが守られなかった。我々は民主主義の拠り所である幸福追求権、生存権、財産権を全て侵害されている。人権を守って、情報公開してほしい。明るみに出せるところは出してほしい。もうちょっと慎重な対応をするべき。国民と論議を尽くすことが大切だ

[After the earthquake and nuclear accident in March 2011], The SPEEDI information was not made public promptly, and residents were not able to make use of the SPEEDI information. There might have been other ways to operate evacuation if the information had been made public. The agreement of TEPCO and [the local government] to report was not kept. All of our rights― right pursuit happiness, right to live, right to property―were violated. Information should be made public to protect human rights. Anything that can be brought to light should be. The legislative measure should be more careful. It is crucial that officials discuss this with the public.

The Lower House held a public hearing before the special committee for national security in Fukushima City, shortly before the vote. Community representatives at the hearing expressed strong opposition to the bill.

In an interview [ja] with Our Planet TV, a non-profit online broadcast station, Mayor Baba said that while he appreciated the fact that the hearing was held in Fukushima, he felt that the hearing “is almost like a stunt.”

The bill has an impressive range of critics around the world. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights called the bill a threat to transparency and the New York Times called it “illiberal.” Journalism professor Yasuhiko Tajima charged that it would go against Tshwane Principles, a set of global principles covering national security and the right to information. The bill has also been criticized by former United States National Security Council member Morton Halperin [ja].
After earning approval from an ad-hoc Lower House committee on Tuesday morning, the bill passed the lower house in the evening of the same day with strong support from the Liberal Democratic Party. Meanwhile, protesters held a vigil out side of the Diet to show their opposition to the bill.

Video footage of the bill's hasty approval in the committee on the morning November 26 was uploaded on Youtube by user named fukusima311.

Rights advocates, journalists, and citizens fear that the law could restrict right to information before what is already considered a non-transparent government. Reporters Without Borders’ 2013 Press Freedom Index ranked Japan at 53 in April. The report highlighted the lack of transparency and access to information, particularly on information related to Fukushima.

PEN International released a statement last week, pointing out that the bill may not necessarily be about protecting secrets.

The Japanese government’s “Designated Secrets Bill” is not about the needs of the state or real secrets or the protection of the public good. It seems to be about politicians and employees of the state hiding behind an inflated idea of secrecy and an obsession with security verging on the hysterical, all in order to gather more power for themselves by undermining the rights of citizens to information and to free speech.

Agence France-Presse quoted Prime Minister Shinzo Abe insisting that the bill would neither restrict media freedom nor encourage authorities to “arbitrarily” designate information as restricted. Abe also has said it is vital for Japan to prepare a legal framework for exchanging sensitive information with other countries.

Counter intelligence guidelines adopted [ja] in August 2007 by Japan's Counter Intelligence Promotion Committee [temporary translation] include approximately 420,000 pieces of “secret” information, mostly consisting of space satellite images and cryptogram. Abe said that secret information would be selected strictly, urging people not worry about an over classification of data as “secret”.

The bill now awaits debate and a vote in Upper House, expected to take place in early December.

November 06 2013

Netizen Report: China Targets Dalai Lama for Spreading “Propaganda”

The Dalai Lama speaking in Berlin. Photo by Jan Michael Ihl via Fotopedia (CC BY NC SA 2.0)

The Dalai Lama speaking in Berlin. Photo by Jan Michael Ihl via Fotopedia (CC BY NC SA 2.0)

Hae-in Lim, Lisa Ferguson, Renata Avila, Ellery Roberts Biddle, and Sarah Myers contributed to this report.

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 in Tibet, where Chinese party chief Chen Quanguo of Tibet has announced plans to silence the Dalai Lama’s voice in the region and to prevent his “propaganda” from reaching the public. Quanguo claims the spiritual leader’s voice has incited dissent in Tibet. Officials reportedly plan to confiscate illegal satellite dishes, increase monitoring of online content and require real-name registration of telephone and Internet users. China Digital Times notes similar claims were made in 2012, but the recent announcement indicates the revival of hard-line policies toward Tibet.

Free Expression: Are Korean gamers dangerously addicted to StarCraft?

South Korea’s national legislature has proposed a bill that would regulate online gaming under a policy regime similar to that which applied to drugs and alcohol, treating it as a major addictive element meriting government control. The proposal has drawn criticism from gamers and gaming industry leaders alike.

In Vietnam, Dinh Nhat Uy was sentenced to 15 months in prison after using Facebook to campaign for the release of his brother, who was jailed for distributing anti-state propaganda. Dinh was convicted of violating criminal code Article 258, which censures those who “abuse freedoms to infringe upon the state.” Several of the many supporters who gathered outside of the courthouse during Dinh’s trial were arrested.

Individuals representing hacker group Anonymous hacked Singapore’s main newspaper, The Straits Times, making good on its promise to “wage war” on the Singaporean government for its new media licensing requirements. Enacted in June 2013, the regulations prohibit websites with more than 50,000 visitors from publishing “prohibited content” that “undermines racial or religious harmony.” Singapore’s Government IT Security Incident Response Team alerted all government agencies to the possibility of attacks after Anonymous posted a warning video on October 29.

India’s Election Commission released a set of guidelines for the use of social media for election campaigning. All candidates will have to declare their social media accounts, and political parties will have to pre-certify advertisements with the Election Commission before they are placed on social media websites. In addition, both candidates and parties will have to adhere to a moral code of conduct in their social media use — according to the Times of India, this will prohibit candidates from engaging in “personal attacks” or promoting “communal hatred.”

Surveillance: Europol director thinks “anonymity is dangerous”

Representatives from Europol and the Dutch National Police argued before an RSA Europe panel that they should be allowed to hack into computers in order to collect evidence on cybercrime. Discussing a law due to come before Dutch parliament, Europol Assistant Director Troels Oerting argued that the differences between cybercrime and traditional crime require new tools for policing. “I think that we need to have a balance between privacy, which I think we should respect, and anonymity, which I think is dangerous,” Oerting said.

The Russian government is expanding its surveillance requirements for Russian ISPs in a decree due to come into force next year. Under the decree [ru], ISPs will be required to monitor all Internet traffic, IP addresses, telephone numbers and usernames, and traffic will have to be stored for 12 hours after collection.

The German Federation of Journalists, which represents around 38,000 journalists, advised its members not to use Google or Yahoo! for e-mail and search engine services, citing possible surveillance by the NSA and UK spy agency GCHQ. This follows the Washington Post’s revelations last week about MUSCULAR, a joint effort by the NSA and GCHQ to tap into the fiber-optic cables connecting Google and Yahoo! data centers.

The US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court revealed that no telecommunications company has ever challenged the court’s orders for bulk phone records under the Patriot Act, despite there being a mechanism for doing so. But the court’s claims contrast with those of some Internet companies who say they fought against NSA surveillance: Yahoo! is petitioning the court to disclose an incident in 2008 in which it claims it refused to comply with NSA data requests until compelled by the court.

Industry: Apple disclosed data for somewhere between zero and 1000 user accounts

Apple released its first transparency report yesterday. The report offers some information about the number of user data requests the company received from different governments. In the preface, the company explains: “The US government has given us permission to share only a limited amount of information about these orders, with the requirement that we combine national security orders with account-based law enforcement requests and report only a consolidated range in increments of 1000.” The report thus states that the company disclosed content data for “0-1000″ accounts. Transparency indeed.

Facebook, Google, Apple, AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo have signed a letter urging members of the US Senate Judiciary Committee to enact reforms to government surveillance programs that would include greater transparency, oversight and accountability. The text of the letter is available here.

Copyright: Keep TPP on the slow track

Lawmakers in the US may move to put the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, an expansive trade deal between the US and several pacific rim countries, on a “fast track” through Congress. This would eliminate opportunities for public hearings about the agreement. Despite the secret nature of negotiations around the agreement, advocates have learned that the TPP could threaten users’ rights of privacy and access to information. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is urging the public to voice concern about the fast-tracking proposal here.

Netizen Activism

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights received Norway’s Rafto Prize for human rights. The Centre provides critical support for many online activists currently facing legal action for their work.

Cool Things

The Harvard Law School Library is partnering with over 30 libraries and non-profits to combat the impact of linkrot, when websites disappear and webpages are taken down. The project, Perma.cc, works with the Internet Archive to take particular webpages at the request of authors and place them in the hands of a community of libraries for safe-keeping.

Publications and Studies

 

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October 30 2013

Netizen Report: Surveillance Looms Large at IGF Bali

Global Voices members meet at IGF 2013 in Bali, Indonesia. Photo by Hisham Almiraat, used with permission.

Global Voices members meet at IGF 2013 in Bali, Indonesia. Photo by Hisham Almiraat, used with permission.

By Hae-in Lim, Lisa Ferguson, Bojan Perkov, Ellery Roberts Biddle, and Sarah Myers.

Global Voices Advocacy's Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world. This report begins in Bali, Indonesia, where government officials, techies, Internet companies, and human rights advocates gathered for the 2013 Internet Governance Forum last week. Although issues in discussion ranged from access and infrastructure to sexual harassment online, US government surveillance programs and Brazilian efforts to spearhead a new global Internet governance agenda held the spotlight.

Throughout the conference, US officials brushed off concerns about NSA  spying programs, arguing that “everyone does it”. Meanwhile, Brazilian officials met with civil society advocates to discuss the government’s recently announced plan to co-host a global Internet governance event with ICANN in Rio de Janeiro this coming spring. Advocates stressed the need for civil society to have equal footing in the planning process, and for the event to be fully open to the public.

Global Voices staff and community members participated in the event and held an impromptu installment of GV Face, Global Voices’ weekly video hangout series where they reported on various policy issues and political dynamics at the IGF.

Thuggery: Anti-leaking law creeps ahead in Japan

In Japan, the cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe approved a bill that provides special penalties for leakers of sensitive information that could harm national security. Public response to the Secret Information Protection Act has been mixed but generally negative — according to Global Voices’ Keiko Tanaka, of the 90,480 public comments submitted in a two-week span in early September, 69,579 were against the bill. The bill must be approved by Parliament before passing.

A young Saudi writer, detained on blasphemy charges in 2011, was released from prison. Hamza Kashgari was charged after tweeting an imaginary conversation between himself and the Prophet Mohammed. At the time of his arrest, Index on Censorship described the conversation as reflecting “admiration, reproach and confusion” regarding the religious figure. Prior to his arrest, Kashgari had used Twitter to comment on gender inequality and the lack of political rights in Saudi Arabia.

Moroccan journalist Ali Anouzla, who was arrested in mid-September after publishing an article about an Al-Qaeda video that criticized the Moroccan king, was granted provisional release from pre-trial detention last week. He is scheduled to appear in court on today (10/30) where he will face terrorism-related charges.

A US district court ruled that criminal suspects who self-identify as “hackers” can be subject to the search and seizure of their electronic devices without warning. The judge ruled that because “hackers” are able to wipe sensitive data from their machines, prior notice of search and seizure could result in suspects erasing or destroying information before seizure can take place.

Surveillance: Argentina’s surveillance regime goes sci-fi

The Argentine government is launching a biometric information database that will allow officials to identify individuals by their photographs, fingerprints, iris information and even the way they walk. In a recent Global Voices opinion post, human rights lawyer Ramiro Álvarez Ugarte warns that the country has a “chronic lack of control” over its intelligence agencies, and calls for these surveillance practices to change.

German officials expressed outrage last week after leaked documents indicated that the NSA had monitored Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone. The nature of the monitoring, and whether or not it extended to eavesdropping on phone calls, remains unclear. On October 25, Merkel and French President Francois Hollande announced a plan to propose new transatlantic rules on surveillance and intelligence-gathering practices.

Thousands of people gathered in front of the US capitol to demonstrate against the NSA and its mass surveillance programs. Protesters delivered a petition signed by more than 500,000 people from all over the United States, demanding reforms. A statement on behalf of whistleblower Edward Snowden was read during the event.

Copyright: Italian agency says ‘ciao’ to checks and balances

Italy’s Electronic Communications Authority drafted new regulations that would allow the agency to remove online content that it deems a violation of copyright law without the need for court approval. NGOs, ISPs and consumer groups have banded together in their criticism of the legislation, which is currently awaiting approval from the EU.

Industry: Experts question security of supposedly secure tools (made by Google)

At the Google Ideas summit the company unveiled two new services intended to aid users in bypassing online censorship. The first, uProxy, enables encrypted peer-to-peer sharing of Internet connections. While some net freedom activists praised it, others remain concerned about the security of the service. The second initiative, Project Shield, will aid news organizations and human rights groups by helping protect them from cyberattacks. Both services are currently running on a trial basis.

Netizen Activism

The use of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter by Iranian officials has led many to wonder if Internet policy will change under Iran’s new administration. While the digital presence of officials like President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif enables them to communicate more directly with those who use the services, many have questioned their use of tools that are inaccessible for Iranian citizens. In a recent Advox article, online filtering researcher Mahsa Alimardani calls on the government to lift blocks on social media services in Iran.

Hong Kong civil society groups, who have been targeted by hackers for years, are arming themselves to fight back. A collective civil disobedient action, Occupy Central, is planned for July 2014 to advocate for universal suffrage and an end to the manipulation of candidate nomination. Anticipating a wave of malicious hacking approaching July, media advocacy group Hong Kong In-Media held a forum to discuss building a tech activist team to support local civic groups and activists.

Cool Things

The New York Times updated its style guide to allow the verb to “tweet” to be published in the newspaper. But it remains skeptical of “to google.”

Google has launched a Digital Attack Map, which allows users to visualize DDoS attacks occurring worldwide in real time.

Publications and Studies

 

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October 23 2013

Netizen Report: Tajikistan’s ICT Ethics Code Forbids Online Harassment, “Unpleasant Sounds”

This image portrays smiling Tajik President as saying, “Have you read the Ethical Code? It was written by Beg [Zukhurov]“. Image from Digital Tajikistan blog, used with permission.

This image portrays smiling Tajik President as saying, “Have you read the Ethical Code? It was written by Beg [Zukhurov]“. Image from Digital Tajikistan blog, used with permission.

Hae-in Lim, Alex Laverty, Juan Arellano, Hisham Almiraat, Weiping Li, Lisa Ferguson, Ellery Biddle, and Sarah Myers contributed to this report.

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 in Tajikistan, where a new “Ethics Code for an e-Citizen” was released on Oct. 11. Developed by the executive branch, the state telecommunications authority, telco industry associations, and a handful of NGOs, the code covers personal data protection and human rights (+1) but also includes a mandate that “positive thinking, positive communication, and positive action should prevail in virtual space.” It also forbids talking loudly on cell phones in public areas, playing loud music, and using “unpleasant sounds” online. Authorities say the code is not a law but rather a guiding tool for ICT users. Tajik Twitter users nevertheless suspect the government will use the code to stifle online speech.

Free Expression: China introduces real salaries for 50-centers

The Chinese 50 Cent Party of government-paid social media commenters is being professionalized by the Chinese government. The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security has given the title “Internet Opinion Analyst” an official status, enabling the government to hire for these positions under their regular budgets rather than squeezing them in secretly.

Two Ethiopian journalists are serving jail sentences of 18 months and five years, respectively, under the country’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. Though still in prison, the journalists are now challenging the law by applying to a Pan-African court that has the power to issue a binding ruling against the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation of 2009, which facilitated the closure of all independent publications in the country.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that online portals are fully responsible for the comments posted under stories. In the case Delfi AS v. Estonia, the court found news site Delfi.ee, responsible for threatening posts made to a ferry operator and its owner in the comments thread of a story. According to Index on Censorship, the ruling is not yet final and is subject to further review.

Surveillance: ¡Viva el espionaje!

The latest Snowden leak does not bode well for US-Mexico relations. Not only did the NSA hack into and spy on President Peña Nieto’s email during the 2012 election season—the US surveillance agency also managed to sneak into the private communications of former president Felipe Calderón, who had been an extremely cooperative American ally. The NSA reportedly gained access to the e-mail accounts of Calderón and other high-level officials, and has been spying on President Peña Nieto since early in his candidacy for office.

Ecuador passed a new version of its penal code that criminalizes various online activities, including slander on social media networks. The code could also leave institutional WiFi providers (Internet cafes and libraries, among others) responsible for collecting and storing user data in order to serve government interests—it even includes a provision requiring that Internet cafes install security cameras to surveil monitor their customers.

Thuggery: Websites blocked in Morocco

In Morocco, where users are not happy about the arrest of journalist Ali Anouzla and subsequent ISP filtering not only of Anouzla’s online publication Lakome, which was blocked on October 19. Reflets.info, an independent hacker media outlet based in France, has also been blocked. Anouzla is being charged with terrorism for writing an article about a YouTube video allegedly made by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb that disparaged the Moroccan king and called the country a “kingdom of corruption and despotism.” Although the authorities’ response to Anouzla’s work is nothing new, the Electronic Frontier Foundation notes that in the past Moroccan authorities have responded to outside pressure to uphold human rights.

Reporters Without Borders expressed concern about the disappearance of Kenyan journalist Dickson Bogonko Bosire, who is the editor of Jackal News, an online publication that covers corruption and malfeasance. He has been missing since September Sept. 18, 2013. Due to the nature of his blog, he has received threats and has had to go into hiding several times before.

National Policy: Peru approves IT Crimes Act

Peru’s IT Crimes Act, approved by Congress in September, was signed into law by President Ollanta Humala yesterday, despite robust civil society efforts [link in Spanish] to halt the legislation. Although a public version of the text of the law had endured thorough scrutiny from civil society and substantial revisions over time, the version that ultimately passed was prepared by a small committee in the final hours before the vote, giving the public no opportunity to review or respond to the text. The law contains provisions on crimes “affect[ing] computer systems and data” written so vaguely that they could be applied to perfectly legal activities.

Privacy: RuNet Data Scuffle

The Mail.ru group, Russia’s leading webmail service, was fined 50,000 rubles (approximately US$15,000) by the Bank of Russia for refusing to comply with user data requests. The bBank requested information about users’ correspondence and whom they were in contact with over a set period. Anton Malginov, the head of Mail.ru Group’s legal service, said they had no right to disclose any user correspondence without a court order. They plan to contest the fine in court.

E-Government: Faulty fax machine leaves US citizens FOIA-less

Freedom of Information Act requests sent to the US the Department of Defense are coming back undeliverable because of a faulty fax machine that may not be fixed until November. Despite the massive defense budget, the Office isn’t exactly in step with the latest technology, requiring FOIA requests to be sent in by fax, mail, or a clunky online request portal.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced plans to set up a website for citizens to report cases of corruption within the government. In a speech before the Women and Youth Expo, he told government officials, “We have reached a point where if you want to keep your Ggovernment job, you must be satisfied with the salary you are paid.”.

Internet Governance: Arab IGF is civil society-poor

The second annual Arab Internet Governance Forum [link in arArabic], held in Algiers, was marked by the absence of local representation from Algerian civil society, particularly young people. According to Tunisian human rights activist Wafa Ben Hassine, who attended the Fforum, at times the conference “was emblematic of the very issues it aimed to address” and needed greater interactivity.<<I might delete this one from the Slate version, since it’s pretty inside-baseball—unless you want to add more about what “civil society” means in this context. That phrase tends to be a bit too jargony for us.>>

Cool Things

A new survey [PDF] by Afrobarometer of 51,000 people in 34 African countries found that while 84 percent use mobile phones usage had reached 84%, only 18 percent % of the population used the Internet. OAfrica noted that radio remains the dominant medium for news outside of North Africa.

Los Angeles artist Daniel Rehn is posting snippets of online conversations from the early days of the Internet under Twitter account @wwwtxt. Example: “Apparently, if you put a floppy disk containing GIFs or computer games in the freezer, the colors of the graphics will be more vivid.”

Publications and Studies

October 16 2013

Reclaim Control Over Your Data!

Paris, 16 October 2013 – Few days before a crucial vote on the protection of our privacy, citizens supported by La Quadrature du Net start a campaign and information website: reclaimyourdata.eu. This site clearly shows the issues of this Regulation and proposes solutions to allow citizens to reclaim control over their personal data.

Next 21 October, the “Civil Liberties” committee (LIBE) of the European Parliament will vote on the future European Regulation on the protection of our personal data. The outcome of this vote will determine the content of the law protecting the privacy of European citizens against predatory behaviours of the Internet giants and the rise of global surveillance. Few days before this vote, the website reclaimyourdata.eu aims at clearly explaining the main issues of this Regulation and at proposing tutorials allowing citizens to try to reclaim control over their data by themselves.

La Quadrature du Net invites all citizens which want to take part in the debate to get informed and contact the Members of the “Civil Liberties” (LIBE) Committee and ask them to demand an open debate and the establishment of solid protections of their privacy. To do that, the association provides the PiPhone, a web tool allowing everyone to call MEPs free of charge and make their voices heard.

Act now !

Netizen Report: Russian State Search Engine a Surefire Flop?

Bojan Perkov, Ellery Biddle, Lauren Finch and Sarah Myers contributed to this report.

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 in Russia, where state efforts to build a uniquely Russian search engine are receiving low marks from bloggers and government officials alike.  

E-Government: Medvedev pooh-poohs Sputnik.ru

Dmitry Medvedev addresses the Russian Internet Forum in 2008. Photo by Yuri Sinodov via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Dmitry Medvedev addresses the Russian Internet Forum in 2008. Photo by Yuri Sinodov via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

In Russia, a planned government-sponsored Internet search engine, Sputnik.ru, will be a surefire flop, according to blogger and RuNet guru Anton Nosik [ru]. Surprisingly, Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev seems to agree – he told a state commission last month that the work on an e-government portal was “low quality” and “a discredit to the project.” State-controlled telecom company Rostelecom has already spent US $20 million developing Sputnik.ru, which Nosik says is unlikely to be able to compete with RuNet’s leading search engine, Yandex, without the government resorting to administrative levers.

The Azeri Central Election Commission made the untimely mistake of releasing the results of its presidential election via an official smartphone app – before voting had even started. As few anticipated the election would be free or fair, it was perhaps not so surprising that President Ilham Aliyev “won” 72.76 percent of the vote a full day before voting had started. While the data were quickly recalled with the excuse that developers had mistakenly sent out 2008 election results as a test, Aliyev was officially re-elected a day later with nearly 85 percent of the vote.

Thuggery: China's online rumors crackdown claims another user

A Chinese journalist, Liu Hu, has been arrested after writing a series of posts on Sina Weibo accusing four high-ranking state officials of corruption. His arrest comes as part of an ongoing crackdown on online rumors, which now appears to be having chilling effects on discussion online – the few voices of support for Liu have become the target of “trash feedback” in support of the government from the 50 Cent Party, according to netizens.

Surveillance: Zambian tribal leader’s throne bugged by executive branch

In Zambia, Chief Jumbe of the Kunda people has publicly criticized President Michael Sata's government. In response, Sata has warned Jumbe that he has wide surveillance capabilities. According to news website Zambia Reports, President Sata enjoys listening in on the telephone conversations of people in his cabinet and has sought to extend surveillance more broadly to monitor citizens in the country’s capital.

Copyright: Torrent sites face smackdown in UK

A new unit of the UK police focused on prosecuting intellectual property crime has called for the domain names of several major torrent sites to be suspended. The newly founded Intellectual Property Crime Unit of the City of London Police reached out to several domain name registrars asking that they shut down SumoTorrent, MisterTorrent, and ExtraTorrent. easyDNS has refused to comply with the order, calling it an abuse of power.

Industry: Facebook leaves users with nowhere to hide

Facebook changed its privacy settings so users will no longer be able to “hide” from searches. The company will disable a setting called “Who can look up your Timeline by name?”, which means that almost everyone’s profile could be found using the Graph Search tool. Users will still be able to choose which posts they want to share publicly.

Google is lobbying the South Korean government over unusual restrictions dating back to the Korean War that limit online mapping services in the country out of fears that the information could fall into the hands of the North. Local maps rival Naver does not fall under the same restrictions because its servers are housed within the country. The government’s National Geographic Information Institute promises to provide an official English-language digital map for Internet companies to use beginning next year.

Internet Insecurity: For NSA, No Forest for the Tor Trees

The open-source anonymity network Tor is as “strong as it ever was,” according to an article in the Columbia Journalism Review. It cites a FOIA request submitted by the Electronic Privacy Information Center concluding that while the National Security Agency may have targeted the communications of individual Tor users, it has not made any efforts to undermine the security or reliability of the network as a whole, and has not been able to target individual people for cyberattacks or surveillance.

The New Yorker profiled Ladar Levison, the owner and operator of secure email service Lavabit, which went dark after it was revealed NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden was using the service. According to Levison, the investigation into Lavabit pre-dated the Snowden affair, and he believes Lavabit would eventually have reached the same position because it “constitutes a gap” in the government’s intelligence.

Cool Things

The MIT Center for Civic Media has released What We Watch, a new site that lets you explore how culture spreads around the world over YouTube. Among other findings, Russia is one of the few countries that has held out against the popularity of Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” music video – and we can’t blame them.

Publications and Studies

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