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February 27 2014

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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.

China: Prostitution Crackdown Reveals Mass Mobile Surveillance Abuses

The Chinese government has launched a massive crackdown on prostitution in Dongguan, a well-known sex industry hub in southern China.

In addition to a news feature  on China Central Television about the corruption of the sex industry in Dongguan, the official Sina Weibo published an eight-hour population in-flow and out-flow map of Donguan city, which has been interpreted as the escape path of “prostitutes” and “prostitution clients” during the crackdown. Generated by Baidu Qianxi with data from Baidu map, the map indicated that most people fleeing the crackdown “escaped” to Hong Kong.

Baidu's 8-hour population flow map during the crackdown on prostitution in Dongguan city was released through Sina Weibo official account. Image via Apple Daily.

Baidu's 8-hour population flow map during the crackdown on prostitution in Dongguan city was released through Sina Weibo official account. Image via Apple Daily.

Originally, Baidu Qianxi was designed as a visualization tool that could map population flows during the Chinese Lunar New Year. But as Luo Changping at Letscorp pointed out [zh], the fact that Baidu Qianxi was able to appropriate the data surrounding the prostitution crackdown suggests that authorities are using mass surveillance to track these patterns, rather than only targeting criminal suspects, and thereby violating the personal privacy of untold numbers of citizens.

Some technology bloggers such as Lui Xuewen noted that the so-called “escape route” shown on the map was highly misleading as there were other reasons behind the population flow. In fact, in an ordinary day, population flow between the two cities can even be higher as many factories in Dongguan are owned by people from Hong Kong.

The use of geolocation tracking technology in this crackdown by the party propaganda authority indicates to the public that the police authority, through Baidu and other mobile application developers, is capable of tracking mobile phones and thus the real identity of individuals, as nearly all mobile numbers are linked with the owner's identity card. In reaction to this threat, many Hong Kong netizens said that they planned to shut down their mobile when traveling in China.

Reposted bycheg00 cheg00

January 13 2014

Hong Kong 2013: A Burgeoning New Media Sector and a Backward Government

Edward Snowden supporters rally in Hong Kong. Photo by Voice of America. Released to public domain.

Edward Snowden supporters rally in Hong Kong. Photo by Voice of America. Released to public domain.

Written by Michelle Fong and translated by Sharon Loh, the original version of this article was published on in Chinese. 

Many new media initiatives, both commercial and citizen, have blossomed in Hong Kong over the past two years. These newly founded online media outlets have strong potential to transform not only the professional media sector, but also political processes in Hong Kong, as grassroots voices gain more attention both from the public and from political leaders. Below is an incomplete list:

Burgeoning New Media Initiatives

Hong Kong Dash – a collective blog operated by student activists, established after the anti-national education campaign in Hong Kong in 2012

The House News – a commercial news portal, following the Huffington news model, curating news and offering commentaries to readers

Pentoy – the online version of local newspaper, Mingpao, commentary page

Urban Diarist – an online magazine to record oral history in Hong Kong, sponsored by an architecture firm as a corporate social responsibility project

Post 852 – a newly launched “breaking views” platform formed by a group of media workers who collectively resigned from a local newspaper, Hong Kong Economic Journal

Bastille Post – an online news portal partially funded by media corporations, Singtao News Corporation Limited. The Group's founder and chairman, Charles Ho Tsu Kwok, is also a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Hong Kong SOW – a social enterprise with an online platform that showcases the practice of “solutions” journalism. The social enterprise was founded by Vincent Wong, director of Strategic Planning of HK Commercial Broadcasting.

Some groups are also making use of Facebook pages to distribute topical news:

Tai Kung Pao: a distributor of labor news.

United Social Press: a page run by social activists, reporting and distributing news related to local social movements.

Online news outlets sidelined by government

With the new media sector is clearly increasing in strength and numbers, the Hong Kong government has been unable to keep up with the changing landscape. Many independent media projects have faced limitations on their work, particularly when seeking to cover government events — obtaining press passes has been a constant challenge.

Last year, citizen news portal's contributing reporters were kicked out of several press events by government civil servants. These included the second public forum on population policy and the 2013 summit on district administration. In another incident, Home Affairs Department staff barred House News reporters from entering a public consultation where HK mayor Leung Chun-ying was present. The staff claimed that the venue had limited space and was only open to the mainstream media. The Information Service Department, an authority responsible for handling government press conferences and news releases, has routinely refused to send press invitations to online news outlets as they are not recognized as proper media institutions.

In response to this out-dated approach, Hong Kong In-Media, an independent and citizen media advocacy group affiliated with, issued several statements demanding that the Information Service Department review its policies with an eye towards the changing media landscape, and to place particular attention on the definitions of the terms “media” and “news organization”. The agency has thus far refused to make any changes to its terms.

Technological innovation has resulted in the introduction of new media forms, from newspaper to radio and TV to the Internet — now an essential part of people's everyday lives. If we were to define the notion of “mainstream media” based on audience, many online news outlets would have out-numbered print media such as the pro-Beijing newspapers Wen Wei Po and Tai Kung Pao. It is backward and ridiculous for the government to limit its definition of “media” merely to printed media.

Malicious hacking a persistent threat

Although government restrictions are a substantial barrier for these new groups, online media's biggest enemy is hackers. Last year, a number of online news platforms weathered malicious hacker attacks. suffered Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks in May 2013, with a large number of HTTP requests coming from China. A few months later, in September, The House News became the next DDoS attack victim. Amnesty International Hong Kong‘s website was hacked around the same time. The hackers replaced some images on the sites with pornographic photos. SocREC, a social movement documentary video team had its Youtube account stolen in October. Hackers deleted over one thousand videos published under their account.

Internet freedom and privacy in HK and around the world

Government plans to pass the controversial Copyright (Amendment) Bill failed in 2012. To address public concern over the potential criminalization of parody, the government put forward a public consultation on the exemption of legal liability for parody in the Copyright (Amendment) Bill in October 2013. So far, major copyright holders and concerned citizens are divided in their opinions on the issue. But civil society has managed to put together a counter proposal calling for the exemption of legal liability on all non-profit user generated content.

Last but not least, the most significant event of 2013 concerning Internet freedom was the series of documents leaked by Edward Snowden that revealed the massive online surveillance practices of the US National Security Agency. As Hong Kong was the first stop in Snowden's escape route, Hong Kong In-Media quickly assumed a coordinator role in the organization of local support including producing a public statement and organizing a rally to condemn US spying activities.

Building public awareness about online privacy
Last August, the Journalism and Media Studies Centre of The Hong Kong University and Google Inc. worked together to launch the Hong Kong Transparency Report. The report showed that between 2010 to 2013, various government departments had made more than ten thousand requests for users’ personal data and more than seven thousand content deletion requests to local Internet service providers (ISPs) without a court order. A majority of the requests, 86 percent, came from the Hong Kong Police.

The Chief Executive's political reform package, slated to include universal suffrage in Hong Kong beginning in 2017, will be announced in 2014. As civil society prepares to exercise mass civil actions and independent press coverage to promote a fair candidate nomination process, conventional mainstream media are facing substantial political pressure to censor and tailor their content. In the coming years, we believe Internet-based independent and citizen media will play a crucial role in the democratization process.

December 30 2013

In the Internet Policy World, Who Gets to be Civil Society?

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.

Written by Ellery Roberts Biddle, with inspiration from Hisham Almiraat.

There was plenty of hot air at the 2013 Internet Governance Forum, both on the beach and in the Nusa Dua Conference Center. Held this year in Bali, Indonesia, the UN-sponsored IGF is almost entirely open—save for a few “high level” meetings, anyone can attend and ask questions at whatever session they wish. Experts and advocates come to talk about everything from access and infrastructure, to industry regulations, to child protection, to the exercise and protection of human rights online.

During this four-day circus of workshops, panels and coffee-fueled hallway chatter, Advox Director Hisham and I attended many sessions on the issues we care most deeply about: free expression, privacy, and other fundamental rights in the digital environment. Panelists spoke of human rights, but typically through a lens of principles and doctrine—real stories about user experience seemed few and far between. There was plenty of talk about human rights—but not so much about human beings.

During Global Voices’ brief session we explained our mission: to tell stories about people who use the Internet for a civic purpose. When we opened the floor for questions, activists from a diverse range of countries—Azerbaijan, Sudan, Mexico, and Morocco, to name a few—all shared stories of colleagues who had been harassed, arrested, or worse because of their actions online. As the conversation continued, we discovered we had all been feeling slightly out of place at the conference. Why weren't there more conversations like the one we'd just had?

At a meeting that prides itself on openness and an emphasis on civil society (i.e. the public), you might think this kind of omission wouldn't happen. These issues are supposed to the bread and butter of Internet rights groups. Yet time after time, I watched my colleagues point to human rights violations in discussions with “civil society” representatives, and the typical response was polite and dispassionate. One got the impression that it was seen as immature or obvious to speak of actual human rights violations. It was as if the majority of attendees, many of them IGF “veterans,” had decided this was understood and therefore no longer worthy of discussion.

This raised a few questions.

First, who exactly makes up civil society? By IGF standards, anyone who wishes to may attend the meeting as a representative of the public interest. Of course, with a few exceptions, there are no processes by which the public can elect Internet policy representatives. Civil society members typically attend as individuals or on behalf of an NGO or academic institution with a policy agenda that seeks (or at least claims) to serve the public interest.

How can we be sure they mean it? There is no official process for determining the legitimacy of this claim. And this is probably not a bad thing—if the act of deciding who represents the public interest were to become bureaucratized, the bulk of “civil society” would probably look and sound more government-like than it currently does. So the proof is in the pudding—over time, a group's actions typically make it clear where their priorities lie. And groups are often dissolved or excluded from conversations if their motives seem especially dubious.

In the end, civil society at the IGF is a mishmosh of people, most of whom do care about the public interest, but are often sidetracked by competing priorities such as funding, personal politics, and media attention. Within this group, principles and process are often the tie that binds. Individuals who I know and respect have spent years working on documents like the Internet Rights & Principles charter, a critical act of leadership within the Internet governance world, but something that does not exactly cut at the heart of human rights challenges facing Internet users in many countries every day.

In a session that our colleague Reem Al Masri dissected beautifully in a previous post, a representative from the Arab League explained that we cannot address human rights violations until we've determined a process and approach that all entities (governments, industry, and civil society) agree with. This is a bad answer—in so many national contexts, this is not possible. Organizations that claim to represent civil society could spend infinite quantities of time and money working to perfect process. And those who claim to represent civil society while working almost wholly in the interests of the government can continue to push state agendas. In the meantime, the fate of the Internet and the users that these organizations claim to represent will be sealed. National-level policy will move in whatever direction the more powerful government and corporate entities want it to—they understand how it affects them and they have the time, money, and institutional muscle to make things change.

At a broad scale, it makes me wonder what this means for Internet policymaking in much of the world. If those who claim to represent the public choose not to address the worst violations of human rights in their respective countries or regions, what will become of the world's most vulnerable online speakers?

I recognize that there are many pressing issues that bring people to this event, and I don't think it would be practical for all of us to focus only on those online speakers whose circumstances are most dire. But I fear that process and principles may be taking up more than their fair share of the agenda, while individuals most in need are getting short shrift. I don't know why this is, but I suspect that after years of attempting to work on Internet-related policy with bureaucrats and corporates, civil society has found that working on process and principle can lead to real outcomes, while trying to change blasphemy laws or surveillance practices feels like banging one's head against a wall.

Apart from a few statements of support for one initiative or condemnation of another, no policies or laws are actually made at IGF—the conference is literally all talk. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it depends on what you talk about.

If your organization has enough money to send you to Bali to talk about Internet policy for five days, do some talking that is worthwhile. If we attend IGF next year, I think we will make a point of listening to the stories of human beings, and working to protect the rights they need and deserve.


December 23 2013

Facing New Licensing Rules, Leading Political News Site Closes in Singapore

breakfastA Singaporean news site known as Breakfast Network was forced to close down after it rejected “onerous” new government registration requirements. Founded by former Straits Times journalist and blogger Bertha Henson, the site features social and political news and commentary. Henson elected to cease website operations after failing to submit documents demanded by the Media Development Authority (MDA). Despite warnings from the MDA, Breakfast Network is maintaining an online presence through its Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Under a section of the Broadcasting (Class License) Act introduced last June, a corporate entity or website providing political commentary must register with the MDA to ensure that it does not receive foreign funding. Aside from revealing its funding source, the website must submit the personal information of its editors and staff.

Breakfast Network was ordered by the MDA to register on or before December 17 but the website editor said the government’s technical requirements and registration forms contained too many vague provisions.

For its part, the MDA said the “registration requirement is simply to ensure that Breakfast Network will not receive foreign funding.” It directed Breakfast Network to “cease its online service,” including its Facebook and Twitter publications:

Since Breakfast Network has decided not to submit the registration form, and will therefore not be complying with the registration notification, MDA will require that Breakfast Network cease its online service.

MDA would like to reiterate that the content is not the issue. Rather, it is the mode of operation, i.e. via a corporate entity which means there is greater possibility for foreign influence. Should Breakfast Network Pte Ltd remain active as a company, it must not operate any iteration of on other Internet platforms as doing so would contravene MDA’s registration requirements. These other Internet platforms include Breakfast Network’s Facebook page and Twitter Feed.

Netizens and media groups quickly denounced the “overly-intrusive requirements” imposed by the government and warned against excessive media regulation. Cherian George described the site's closure as “death by red tape.” Braema Mathi of the human rights group Maruah worried that the “registration requirement has chilled and reduced the space for free expression in Singapore.” She continued:

As a regulator tasked with developing the media landscape in Singapore, MDA should consider the substantive impact of its decisions, not just its own subjective intent. Registration requirements can operate to censor free expression as effectively as, and more insidiously than, outright demands to remove content.

Blogger Ng E-Jay accused the government of being a “highly sophisticated oppressor” by “forcing the removal via legislation” of a website that is known for advocating “constructive and critical dialogue” in the country.

MDA insisted that it merely implemented a policy that seeks to prevent foreign interests from manipulating the local media. It added that the registration procedure is not a form of censorship.

Nevertheless, the closure of a leading socio-political website has put a spotlight on what the Singaporean government calls a “light touch“ approach Internet regulation. Many groups believe this and other new policies are undermining media freedom in the country.

December 15 2013

Dirk Brengelmann: Die Fragmentierung des Netzes ist eine der großen Gefahren

Dirk Brengelmann ist zuständig für die Cyber-Außenpolitik des Auswärtigen Amts. Ein Gespräch über die Spähaffäre und Vertrauen, Netzneutralität und Menschenrechte – und ob im AA eine Hand weiß, was die andere tut.

Die Süddeutsche Zeitung berichtete, der Posten des Sonderbeauftragten sei zum einen als eine Antwort auf die Ausspähaffäre geschaffen worden. Zum anderen seien die Diplomaten schon länger bemüht, das Thema Cyber-Politik nicht an andere Ressorts zu verlieren. So wurde bereits 2011 im Auswärtigen Amt ein Koordinierungsstab für Cyber-Außenpolitik eingerichtet. Das US-Außenministerium hat seit 2011 einen Cyber-Beauftragten. Dirk Brengelmann, der Sonderbeauftragte für Cyber-Außenpolitik des Auswärtigen Amts, erklärt, was er macht und wieso sein Job wichtig ist. Herr Brengelmann, was ist Cyber-Außenpolitik?

Dirk Brengelmann ist seit August 2013 Sonder­beauf­­­­trag­­ter für Cyber-Außenpolitik des Auswärtigen Amts. Davor war er bei der NATO, in den Bot­schaften in Port-au-Prince, London und Washington, im Kanzleramt sowie als Refe­rat­sleiter Sicherheits- und Verteidigungspolitik im AA tätig. Foto: DPA.

Dirk Brengelmann: Wenn es um Cyber-Außenpolitik geht, dann geht es um das Thema Internet und Menschenrechte, um Privacy und Datenschutz. Das hat Auswirkungen auf unsere Firmen, auf die wirtschaftliche Entwicklung, auf die Agenda in der Europäischen Union. Warum gibt es Ihren Job?

Dirk Brengelmann: Schon nach ein paar Tagen hier in die­­sem Amt merkt man, dass Cyber-­Außen­politik im Auswärtigen Amt ein Querschnittsthema ist, das eine Reihe von Arbeitsbereichen betrifft. Eine meiner Aufgaben ist es, diese verschiedenen Stränge zusammen zu halten. Das liegt auch an den verschiedenen Akteuren bei dem Thema. Das war etwas, was ich sehr schnell lernen musste.

Es ist eben kein klassisches Spiel zwischen Nationalstaaten, sondern ein Konzert mit sehr vielen verschiedenen Musikanten: Nichtregierungsorganisationen, Staaten, Wirtschaft, Wissenschaft. Ich komme aus einem Hintergrund, wo man eher unter Staaten verhandelt. Dieser Aspekt war für mich eine neue Erfahrung. Stichwort Wirtschaft: Deutschland ist eine führende Exportnation. Das Wirtschaftsministerium hat daher traditionell einen sehr starken Einfluss bei internationalen Verhandlungen zur Internet-Regulierung. Gibt es Ihre Position deshalb, um dem Wirtschaftsministerium etwas entgegenzusetzen?

Dirk Brengelmann: Das ist nicht fokussiert auf ein Ministerium. Wir stimmen uns innerhalb der Bundesregierung sehr eng ab. Dies gilt für das Wirtschaftsministerium genauso wie für das Innenministerium, das Kanzleramt, oder auch das Justizministe­rium, etwa wenn es um Datenschutz geht. Ich spreche häufig mit den Kollegen, die im Innen- und Wirtschaftsministerium auf meiner Ebene tätig sind. Ich habe bisher keinerlei Probleme gehabt und ich sehe auch keine kommen. Wissen Sie immer, mit wem Sie in den anderen Ministerien sprechen müssen?

Dirk Brengelmann: Ja. Glauben Sie, dass die neue Bundesregierung diesen Bereich stärken wird? Wird es möglicherweise zwischen den Ministerien eine stärkere Kooperation geben? 

Dirk Brengelmann: Ich glaube, das Themenfeld als solches braucht keine Aufwertung mehr, das ist einfach da und für jeden erkennbar. Die Frage, wie das strukturell bekleidet wird, ist für mich eine zweite Frage. Ob es also einen Internetminister geben wird?

Dirk Brengelmann: Darüber entscheiden andere. Haben Sie eine Aufgabenliste für die nächs­ten Jahre? Und wenn ja, was steht drauf?

Dirk Brengelmann: Das, was ich mache, wird im Augenblick zu einem Gutteil von den Auswirkungen der sogenannten Spähaffäre bestimmt, auch wenn ich nicht derjenige bin, der in Washington die Gespräche mit den Geheimdiensten führt. Da sind Dinge in Bewegung geraten, die sonst vielleicht nicht so schnell in Bewegung geraten wären. Ob Internet-Regulierung oder Privatsphäre, ob Menschenrechte oder Datenschutz – wie darüber in der EU verhandelt wird, und wie unsere Firmen darauf reagieren: Überall können Sie sehen, die Ausspähvorwürfe bestimmen das Thema.

Dieses neue Momentum, diese neue Bewegung, wird die Debatte mindestens ein bis zwei Jahre lang bestimmen. Keiner kann vorhersagen, wo wir beim Thema Internetregulierung in einem Jahr sein werden. Die Dinge sind in Bewegung geraten, jetzt muss man versuchen, sie zu gestalten. Aber zu sagen, in zwei Jahren will ich, was das anbelangt, unbedingt da oder dort sein, das wäre vermessen. Stellen Sie sich vor, ich bin Unternehmer und im Multi-Stakeholder-Prozess engagiert, weil ich irgendwie mit Internet zu tun habe. Jetzt lese ich von der NSA, vom GCHQ, aber zum Beispiel auch davon, dass der BND angeblich Informationen geliefert hat, die dabei geholfen haben, die extrem fortgeschrittene Schadsoftware Stuxnet zu entwickeln, die in iranische Atomanlagen eingeschleust wurde. Kann eine Regierung in diesem Multi-Stakeholder-Prozess noch ein Partner der Zusammenarbeit sein?

Dirk Brengelmann: Ich habe bisher nicht das Gefühl, dass man uns mit mangelndem Vertrauen entgegentritt. Und ich habe es bisher nicht erlebt, dass man mich gefragt hat: „Können wir überhaupt noch mit euch reden?“ Dann drehen wir das mal um. Wir wissen inzwischen genau, dass bestimmte Firmen sehr eng mit Nachrichtendiensten kooperieren. Warum glauben Sie, dass Sie in diesem Multi-Stakeholder-Prozess, der historisch etwas ganz Neues ist, mit Unternehmen vertrauensvoll zusammenarbeiten können?

Dirk Brengelmann: Können? Müssen! Wir müssen mit allen, die in diesem Bereich wichtig sind, im Gespräch bleiben. Wir sind mit den Regierungen im Gespräch, und da gibt es ja nicht wenige kritische Kandidaten. Wir sind mit allen Vertretern der Zivilgesellschaft im Gespräch. Und wenn wir das weiter entwickeln wollen, müssen wir auch mit allen Firmen im Gespräch sein. Die Dinge sind so im Fluss, dass man vorsichtig mit Schlussfolgerungen sein sollte, wem man wann, wo und wie trauen kann. Hat Sie in diesem ganzen Skandal, in dieser Entwicklung etwas überrascht? Oder waren das meist Informationen, die Sie bereits geahnt hatten?

Dirk Brengelmann: Ich gestehe zu, dass ich auch gelegentlich überrascht war. Die Bundesregierung muss abschätzen,­ welche Gefahren bei Außenpolitik, Wirt­schaftspolitik und -spionage bestehen. Wie wichtig ist es, dass die Geheimdienste möglichst viel wissen? Wo muss man nachrüsten, um beim nächsten Mal nicht so überrascht zu sein? 

(Brengelmann lacht.) Oder, um es wie Herr Dobrindt zu formulieren: Cyber-Supermacht Europa als Gegenpol zu China und den USA.

Dirk Brengelmann: Es gibt jetzt viele Forderungen wie: Wir müssen mehr bei der Hardware machen, wir müssen mehr bei der Software machen und so weiter. Es gibt das Thema „Digitale Agenda“ bei den Beratungen der EU, die Vorschläge der EU Kommission. Was davon am Ende wirklich möglich ist, ist eine andere Frage. Ja, wir müssen mehr tun, aber wir sind natürlich gleichzeitig eine Exportnation, die im Welthandel tätig ist. Bei aller Liebe zu nationalen Initiativen müssen wir immer sehen, wie Firmen, die wir hier auf unserem Boden haben, zum Beispiel SAP, weiter tätig bleiben können. Da gibt es sehr unterschiedliche Interessenlagen. Was halten Sie dann von Forderungen nach einer Nationalisierung des Internets, nach „EU-Clouds“, „Deutschland-Clouds“ oder „Deutschland-Mail“?

Dirk Brengelmann: Bisher ist es so, dass die Firmen ihren Kunden bestimmte Möglichkeiten anbieten und die Kunden dann entscheiden, ob sie das wahrnehmen wollen. Das ist erst einmal eine autonome Entscheidung des Konsumenten. Man kann bestimmte Entwicklungen fördern, aber es ist eine ganz andere Diskussion, ob man bestimmte Dinge reglementieren will. In den Diskussionen kommt das Thema Fragmentierung des Netzes sehr schnell auf, dass also viele Länder nationale Regeln aufstellen wollen. Viele sagen, dass es bereits stattfindet.

Ich glaube, das ist eine der großen Gefahren aus dem, was wir jetzt erlebt haben: dass solche Neigungen weiter befördert werden, aber auch gelegentlich als Argument für andere Dinge dienen – denen, die das Internet stärker im Griff haben wollen, um Kontrolle auszuüben. Die Nationalisierung wird durchaus als Möglichkeit gesehen, Staaten – und damit dem Bürger als Souverän – wieder Einfluss zu verschaffen.

Dirk Brengelmann: Natürlich sind auch die Nationalstaaten Player in diesem sogenannten Multi-Stakeholder-Prozess. Bei den Vereinten Nationen gibt es die sogenannte Group of Governmental Experts, die darüber berät, wie das Völkerrecht, das internationale Recht, zur Anwendung kommen kann. Wir gehen grundsätzlich davon aus, dass es zur Anwendung kommt, dass man also kein neues Völkerrecht entwickeln muss. Aber unter dem Dach des Völkerrechts gibt es möglicherweise doch Bedarf für Normen und Verhaltensregeln, die auch für den Cyberspace gelten – darüber beraten wir zum ­Beispiel in den Vereinten Nationen, wo wir gemeinsam mit Brasilien einen Resolutionsentwurf zum Schutz der Privatsphäre im digitalen Zeitalter eingebracht haben. Sehen Sie die Gefahr, dass bestimmte Staaten, in denen Bürger- und Menschenrechte nicht gut geschützt sind, darauf drängen, eine stärkere Kontrolle über das Internet und seine Regulierung und Verwaltung zu bekommen?

Dirk Brengelmann: Wir nehmen durchaus wahr, dass in bestimmten Ländern die Zügel weiter angezogen werden. Es gibt die Arbeitsgruppen bei den Vereinten Nationen und woanders, aber da geht es nicht um einen neuen, internationalen Vertrag. Sehen Sie den kommen?

Dirk Brengelmann: Wir haben genug Möglichkeiten, Normen zu entwickeln. Wir haben einen Vertrag im Bereich Cybercrime, die so genannte Budapest Convention, die den Vorteil hat, dass auch Staaten außerhalb des Europarats diesem Vertrag beitreten können. Die Forderung nach einem Vertrag unter dem Stichwort Code of Conduct, etwa von den Russen und Chinesen, ist schon länger im Umlauf. Ich sehe ihn bisher nicht kommen und wir unterstützen das auch nicht. Die Group of Governmental Experts macht gute Arbeit; wir arbeiten dort gerade an einer Resolution im Rahmen der Vereinten Nationen, die das indossieren wird und die hoffentlich die Neuauflage einer solchen Gruppe zulässt, sodass man diesen Prozess weiter voran treiben kann. Normalerweise rechnet man bei Vertragsverhandlungen nicht in Monaten, sondern in Jahren und Jahrzehnten.

Dirk Brengelmann: Das ist ein Punkt, warum wir sagen: Die Dinge sind so im Fluss, dass ein Vertrag als Instrument nicht wirklich dafür geeignet ist. Es heißt, Staaten haben keine Freunde, Staaten haben Interessen. Welche Möglichkeiten haben Sie, als Vertreter des Auswärtigen Amts und der Bundesregierung, Einfluss auf Partner auszuüben, mit deren Verhalten Sie nicht einverstanden sind?

Dirk Brengelmann: Es gibt auf der Staatenebene einen relativ kleinen Kreis von Leuten, die dieses Geschäft betreiben, in der Civic Society ist es ein großer Kreis. Das heißt, die informellen Strippen unter den Staaten sind relativ kurz. Man ist sehr schnell in Kontakt miteinander, man kann sehr schnell Signale untereinander austauschen und sich über die richtigen Schritte verständigen. Dann noch zu einem ganz konkreten Thema: Wie wichtig ist Netzneutralität?

Dirk Brengelmann: Die Federführung liegt beim Bundeswirtschaftsministerium. Aber für mich ist klar, dass man das nicht nur als Wirtschaftsthema, sondern als Menschenrechtsthema sehen sollte. Wenn es um den menschenrechtlichen Aspekt geht, teile ich die Forderung nach Netzneutralität.

Dieser Text ist auch im Magazin „Das Netz – Jahresrückblick Netzpolitik 2013-2014“ erschienen. Sie können das Heft für 14,90 EUR bei iRights.Media bestellen. „Das Netz – Jahresrückblick Netzpolitik 2013-2014“ gibt es auch als E-Book, zum Beispiel bei Amazon*, beim Apple iBook-Store* (Affiliate-Link) oder bei Beam.

December 04 2013

Video: Who Controls the Internet?

Cloud cartoon from Fundacion Karisma video.

Cloud cartoon by Fundacion Karisma (CC BY-SA)

This original version of this post appeared on RedPaTodos, in Spanish.

We all know how important the Internet is, but we know less about how it is controlled, something fundamental to defending it. The term “Internet governance” refers specifically to the development and application of principles, norms, policies, procedures, and programs that have contributed to the evolution of the Internet and how it is used. To teach users more about Internet governance, Colombian NGO Fundación Karisma, with financial support from Mozilla, created this video. Volunteers from Fundación Karisma and Global Voices translated the script into English.

Note: If English subtitles to not automatically appear, click the language tab on the lower left side of the video screen and select “English”.

Post translated by Ellery Biddle.

November 25 2013

The Internet as a Catalyst for Change in Yemen

Demonstrators gather in Sana'a in 2011. Photo by Sallam via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Demonstrators gather in Sana'a in 2011. Photo by Sallam via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Walid Al-Saqaf is the Chair of ISOC-Yemen.

The economy is suffering, illiteracy levels are among the highest in the world, and most high school and university graduates are struggling to find work. Even worse, the security situation is dire: assassinations, kidnappings, and other violent acts have become routine. This is the state of Yemen today. But one segment of society that is trying to reverse the country’s fortunes is Yemen’s youth. Young Yemenis today could prove the greatest asset in getting the country back on its feet. Technology has a big role to play here.

Young people who are trying to find new ways to find work, engage, do research and get a break from daily hardships have found that the Internet has given them some relief and hope.

The recent launch of Yemen’s chapter of the Internet Society gives me reason to be hopeful. More than 200 people attended the launch event that took place in a remote part of Sana’a City. This leaves me optimistic about the strong desire of Yemenis, particularly youth, to have a stronger, more resilient, more accessible Internet.

Why now?

ISOC-Yemen launch, November 2013. Photo used with permission.

ISOC-Yemen launch, November 2013. Photo used with permission.

With so many problems facing Yemen, one of the questions posed by some audience members at the event was ‘Why now?’ hinting at the many other difficulties that Yemen faces -– severe water shortages and power outages have become a daily norm, and many don’t dare leaving home after midnight for fear of armed gangs. In the face of such direct threats to health and safety, some have asked: Why should one invest time, energy and money in the Internet?

The Internet could bring change, foster ideas and ultimately, play an integral role in lifting people from poverty. A small minority of Yemenis have pioneered this space, developing their own businesses on social media or using the Internet to find work. Success stories of Internet-based development and entrepreneurship could inspire more action. Events such as TEDxSanaa, TEDxAden and Sanaa Startup Weekend have highlighted these achievements.

These examples were fascinating because the Internet was able to help change lives at a personal level despite a poor and relatively expensive connection. One can only imagine how a more open, easily accessible Internet could impact Yemeni society.

ISOC-Yemen is a step towards making Yemen a country more connected to the world.  With a population of 25 million, the majority of whom are under 40, Yemen could become one of the fastest growing countries when it comes to Internet penetration and use. It shows tremendous promise that can help shape the future of the country both at an individual and national level.

Affordability, awareness and transparency

There is much work to be done. At 15%, Yemen's lowest Internet penetration rate is currently the lowest in the Arab World. The country also lacks 3G connectivity – although this is due in part to the government’s monopoly over telecommunications services, infrastructure has also been decimated by acts of violence – in 2012 alone, fiber cables were cut 180 times in attacks against the state and intertribal conflict.

We must start taking bold and strategic steps to seize the moment and use the Internet to its fullest potential. As ISOC-Yemen, we plan to do this with three primary initiatives.

We plan to engage with Internet service providers and public policy makers in an effort to end the government telecom monopoly once and for all. The current system, in which the country has one ISP operated by the government, has proven unsustainable. Yemen is the only country in the region that does not have 3G connectivity and lacks many services that are taken for granted in the region. It is time to open the market with clearly-defined conditions that will protect consumers and establish an environment of healthy competition. Without competition, government-run services could lag behind, failing to satisfy the needs of the public and the market.

We also will focus on awareness. Yemenis need to wake up to the global information revolution. It is unacceptable for students and teachers not to have email accounts and not understand what the Internet is and how it is used. And we must take advantage of the resources that the Internet can offer, not only for economic development, but also for education.

We also plan to promote transparency and e-government initiatives. Recent history has proven that a lack of transparency has led to corruption that has resulted in greater levels of poverty in Yemen. In many countries new and effective e-government services have brought the elimination middle-men and fixers. Having the government publish valuable and relevant information for public scrutiny will allow the public to hold officials accountable for their actions and to ensure that tax-payer money is spent appropriately.

ISOC-Yemen will undertake many other initiatives—these are merely a starting point. As a civil society organization, ISOC-Yemen can help shape the future of the Internet not only in Yemen, but also in the region. As ISOC is soon establishing a Middle East bureau, Yemen could be a prominent beneficiary and partner of the bureau, due to its pressing need for support, its great market potential, and its strategic location for cable connectivity to Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

The bright side

Despite the troubles Yemen faces, I can see a bright side that should not be overlooked. It could be summarized in the youth of Yemen, this untapped resource that can fundamentally change the country’s status from being the least developed in the Middle East, to the most competent, skilled and fastest-growing country in the region. It can do so because it possesses something that other oil-rich neighboring countries do not: a robust youth population that is determined to rise up and defeat the odds with a spirit of hard work and dedication.

I felt from my last visit to Yemen eagerness in the eyes of many young Yemenis who wish to surprise the world, turn the fortunes of the past around, and prove that we could once again become a good world citizen. The Internet could help make that a reality.

ISOC is a non-profit non-governmental organization based in the US with the aim of supporting an open and robust Internet. It serves as the umbrella of Internet Architecture Board, the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Internet Engineering Steering Group, and the Internet Research Task Force. Learn more here.


November 13 2013

China: Over 100,000 Weibo Users Punished for Violating ‘Censorship Guidelines’

The “ideological battle” against online public opinion leaders and “Internet celebrities” constitutes only one front on the ever-broadening battlefield of online censorship in China. On another front lies a new “code of conduct,” a series of punishments to penalize netizens who act out of line.

According to the Beijing District Joint Platform Against Rumor, more than 103,673 Sina Weibo users have been penalized since August 2013 for violating the Weibo “community code of practice (CoP)” and the “Seven Self-Censorship Guidelines“.

An official release alleges [zh] that among the penalized Weibo users:

  • 1,030 distributed untruthful information
  • 75,264 published personal attack comments
  • 14,357 harassed other users
  • 3,773 published indecent and obscene materials
  • 9,246 engaged in other forms of misconduct such as copying other users’ content

The newly implemented community penalties range from temporary account suspension to permanent deletion of accounts.

The Joint Platform Against Rumor is a self-governing platform formed by 22 online media outlets and led by the Beijing City Internet Information Office and Beijing Internet Society. The online media outlets are supposed to contribute to the battle against online rumors according to the Seven Self-Censorship Guidelines put forward by the State Internet Information Office on August 10, 2013.

22 online media outlets signed up to joint-hands in cracking down rumors. Screen capture image.

22 online media outlets signed up to join hands in cracking down rumors. Screen capture image.

Originally, the Weibo CoP implemented by the CoP Community Center only sought to suppress the spread of commercial spam, indecent material, and rumors. However, judging from the newly released data, the target of the crackdown has shifted. Roughly 75% of the users are being punished for posting “personal attack comments” — but what constitutes a “personal attack” is highly arbitrary and entirely at the discretion of authorities. As one netizen pointed out, “this is just an excuse to silence those who are critical of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)”. Another user pointed out that the Party-sponsored online commentators are “immune to” the community rule even when they have launched personal attack comments against political liberals. It appears that the so-called “community” rule only applies to dissenting voices.

The Sina Weibo data has shed some light on the disappearance of online “critical comments” in the past three months – dissenters have been forbidden to speak out online and ordinary netizens are slowly being disciplined into behaving as passive consumers of online information through the imposition of “community code of practice.”

November 07 2013

Chinese Government is “Winning” Internet Ideology Battle

A new study shows that China's Communist Party is winning an “ideological battle” against public opinion leaders on social media and other commentary platforms in China.

At the recent China Internet Media Forum, People’s Daily Public Opinion Monitoring Unit director Zhu Huaxin (祝華新)presented a study illustrating the initial impact of an online offensive launched by the Chinese Communist Party in August of this year. The results show a marked drop in political commentary and conversation on social networks and other platforms over the past two months.

The offensive began on August 10, when the State Internet Information Office convened a group of major online opinion leaders and Internet celebrities and compelled them to adopt and promote a set of seven “self-censorship guidelines.”

Later that month, at a meeting of Party propaganda chiefs, Chinese President Xi Jinping told Party leaders that ideological control needed to become the Party's number one priority. Xi ordered the CCP propaganda machine to build “a strong Internet army” of government censors who would focus on eliminating online “rumors”. For many, this signaled a new, even tougher era for Internet users in China, where any piece of information that does not come from official government channels can be considered a rumor.

The report shows that the CCP has successfully maintained a dominant position in the online public sphere since the battle began. Zhu explained in his presentation that over the past two months, on leading social media platforms, the total number of messages posted by state-controlled media outlets and government branches have well out numbered messages posted by “public opinion leaders” or those who use online platforms simply to share their own personal views.

Government and Party suddenly dominate online spaces

The study drew from fourth months’ worth of observations of a set group of public opinion leaders’ micro-blogging accounts on Sina Weibo. Two months before August 10, these account holder had posted a total of 72,481 messages on Sina Weibo. In the two months following the launch of the censorship campaign, the accumulated number of messages fell to 65,126, yielding a 10.2% drop. Between September 11 to October 10, the number fell by 24.9%.

The chart below presents data from Zhu's report, showing the total number of messages in three major sectors according to a his research samples.

Comparing the total number of tweets made by public opinion leaders, state controlled media outlets and government branches from August to October 2013.

Sina Weibo messages posted by public opinion leaders, state controlled media outlets and government branches from August to October 2013.

Zhu considered the result a victory of the Party's ideological battle and suggested that the Party further the effort by encouraging academics and writers to shape Chinese internet culture and inviting people with professional backgrounds to comment on issues that relate to their expertise. He also emphasized the need to maintain continuous efforts to crack down on Internet Water Armies (paid online commenters working for private companies) and to let state-run media take the lead in channelling public opinion.

Critical comments have vanished

Zhu's findings on Sina Weibo posting trends are troubling, but they are purely quantitative. From my own observations, I would argue that the total number of original posts made by Internet celebrities has seen a far more tremendous drop.

Apart from social media, online forums and communities also have been affected by the party's ideological battle. Zhu Huaxin took “the society and people” section of a popular portal, Tianya Forum, as an example. In September, the total number of posts had fallen by 60% — the site saw 34% fewer “positive and constructive” posts and 63% fewer “negative and critical” posts. The number of posts related to individual rights and corruption had fallen by 70%.

Between January to August 2013, an average of two corruption cases were exposed online each month. But in September 2013, not a single citizen-initiated anti-corruption case was exposed online.

There also appears to be a drop in reporting on natural disasters, an issue that has been sensitive for the Chinese government in the past. While rainstorms and flooding in Beijing last July generated a flurry of online reports and commentary, some of which criticized government relief efforts, floods in Yuyao in October generated far fewer reports. While 60% of citizen posts on the Beijing rainstorms contained some amount of subjective commentary, only 15% of posts on Yuyao floods included subjective remarks. But “objective description” increased from 10% in July to 56% in September. The proportion of re-posts from state news agency reports, however, remained the same.

The Weibo user just wrote the location of the photo scene without telling readers what exactly happened there. By doing so, the Web censors cannot identify the photos and delete it.

The Weibo user who posted this photo wrote only the location of the photo scene without telling readers what exactly happened there. This leaves web censors unable to identify and delete photos.

It is clear that netizens are not expressing their opinions on the Yuyao Flooding even though the incident is highly controversial–thousands of local residents protested in front of the government offices and some even attacked local police out of frustration with the government's flood relief efforts. The lack of online conversation about this is worrying. Citizen reporting on disasters can be critical to helping improve relief efforts and in emergencies, to get aid to those in need quickly.

Instead of reporting on people's grievances, state media outlets praised government relief efforts in Yuyao. In the past, netizens would have openly criticized the official media and government officials for this kind of behavior. But perhaps due to the party's new ideological offensive, many netizens just uploaded photos with objective descriptions and avoided making any subjective comment or judgement.

On top of this, most of the photos showing the confrontations between local residents and police officers have vanished from Sina Weibo. The very few surviving photos of Yuyao protests have either been posted by users whose accounts have not been verified (who do not fall into the category of “opinion leaders”) and have very few followers, or by users who have not used terms like “protest” or “confrontation” to describe their photos.

Meanwhile, overseas news outlets have collected the online photos and published them on their own platforms. NTDTV has a full collection of online photos and they explained the background of the confrontation. But this has little direct impact in China, where most overseas Chinese news websites are blocked.

NTDTV collected this photo from online sources. It pointed out that the confrontation took place because the local police had removed the sand-bags that blocked water from entering local villages in Yuyao.

NTDTV collected this photo from online sources. It pointed out that the confrontation took place because the local police had removed the sand-bags that blocked water from submerging local villages in Yuyao. This photo is taken at the same spot of the above photo.

The CCP may have won a battle in blocking critical opinions from spreading online. However, when people cannot find a way to release their anger towards injustice, they will find another outlet. The recent bombing incidents in Beijing and Shanxi may indicate the emerging of another battlefield, one in which everyone will lose.

October 24 2013

GV Face: Advox at #IGF2013

Governments have a lot of power when it comes to the Internet — and so do corporations like Google, Yahoo, and Facebook. But does that mean that people like us – the regular users –  have no say in how we use the world's most powerful space for communication? That's the big question at the Internet Governance Forum. Live from Bali, Indonesia, watch Advoxers Hisham Almiraat, Ellery Biddle, Sana Saleem, Nighat Dad, and other friends of GV talk about what's at stake for user rights at this year's event.

GV Face: Advox at #IGF2013

Reposted bycheg00 cheg00

October 22 2013

Rouhani’s Tweets Leave Users Wondering: Does Real Change Lie Ahead?

Screenshot of Hassan Rouhani's Twitter page.

Screenshot of Hassan Rouhani's Twitter page.

In recent months, Iranians who use Facebook and Twitter have begun to see a new, more intimate side of government officials who have opened accounts on these social media platforms. Simple messages like a shared personal photo of President Hassan Rouhani boarding his plane, or a tweet describing his intention to allow access to international information for all Iranians appear to be generating a more direct connection between officials and Iranians both at home and abroad.

Personal and quotidian posts from Foreign Minister Zarif have also garnered emotional responses. After Zarif wrote a Facebook update one day, complaining that he was stuck in traffic, a follower responded: “You are a source of pride. Every post we read gives us hope for the future.” Yet many are questioning the use of these two websites, which are filtered within Iran. In a widely shared twitter exchange, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey questioned the President’s decision to use the platform, given that it is inaccessible for other Iranians inside the country. Rouhani responded by restating his commitment to ending this form of censorship. However, he has yet to formally lay out his plans to unfilter social media, but many opportunities lie ahead.

It is widely known that segments of the government, such as the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB)[1] access an unfiltered Internet. Most likely, Iran’s government officials are accessing social media using circumvention tools, or through an unfiltered Internet–either way, officials’ ability to use and access these platforms stands in violation of international human rights norms and Iran’s constitution.

While many agree it is unjust that Iranian politicians are using a tool that they deny to their citizens, this is still a positive exercise in free expression. These officials freely state their views on these social networks, and directly communicate with ordinary Iranians. Iranians don’t have to rely on state-dominated news sources, such as hardline newspapers like Kayhan to wait for these statements. Javad Zarif has nearly half a million likes on Facebook; President Rouhani’s English Twitter account has nearly 117, 000 followers (his Farsi account has roughly 30,000). While these accounts do a great deal to boost the popularity of these individuals with Iranians both inside and abroad, there is potential to utilize the popularity of these accounts to achieve greater goals. It is now time to take the next steps forward and give all Iranians the same online opportunities and privileges as these individuals.

In 2009, Iran's Committee Charged with Determining Offensive Content (CCDOC) decided to block both Facebook and Twitter. Following the contested 2009 Presidential elections, Iran’s Cyber Crime Law was developed and implemented, giving rise to the CCDOC, the centralized censorship body affiliated with the Ministry of Justice, that determines which websites are filtered.

Both the CCDOC and Iran’s former Minister of ICT have stated that using anti-filtering tools is illegal and punishable. Mehdi Akhavan Behabadi, the former Secretary of the Supreme Council of Cyberspace (SCC) has also explained that membership in social networks is not a crime, but that bypassing the country’s filtering system is an offense according to the law.

Under this policy, ordinary Iranian people must commit a crime (of using a circumvention tool) in order to access their Facebook and Twitter accounts, while government officials face no such restrictions. Whether individuals like Zarif are using circumvention tools, or an unfiltered Internet, there is an inherent form inequality at play, both within Iranian law, and under international norms.

The theme of equality appears throughout the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, with the most notable example in Article 107, which states that the Supreme Leader, the highest form of authority within Iran, “is equal to every Iranian citizen before the law.” Article 7 of the UDHR similarly states, “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.” While the Islamic Republic of Iran is a non-abiding signatory of the UDHR, it is also signatory to the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, which similarly stipulates that all individuals are equal before the law, “without distinction between the ruler and the ruled.”

The recent activities of Iran’s new administration have directed us to this apparent inequality in the ability of Iranians to practice free expression and access to information. However, this new administration has also introduced new possibilities for change that must be seized upon. The President has gone as far as to mention that social media is not a threat to the nation, but a valuable opportunity to engage with people. In his speeches he has acknowledged the power of social media in gaining him support throughout his election, and it is now aiding his administration.

As of October 2013, the majority of CCDOC members are directly affiliated with the Rouhani administration. Seven out of the six members were appointed by Rouhani’s office, including representatives of the Ministry of ICT, Culture and Islamic Guidance, Justice, Science, Education, and a representative of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution. The ability to make this decision is within firm grasp of this new government. While Facebook and Twitter were briefly unfiltered during what was called a “technical glitch” in Iran’s filtering system on September 15, the Ministry of ICT has announced that the official decision to unfilter both websites is now under assessment. It is now time for this new administration to place their own rhetoric, and personal actions into governing practice, and unfilter Facebook and Twitter.


[1] This blogger gives readers step-by-step instructions on how to connect to the IRIB’s unfiltered Internet.


October 16 2013

China Beefs Up '50 Cent’ Army of Paid Internet Propagandists

An icon of internet police in China to remind netizens to avoid unlawful behavior online. Photo from flickr user Harald Groven. CC BY-SA.

An icon of Internet police in China to remind netizens to avoid unlawful behavior online. Photo from Flickr user Harald Groven. CC BY-SA.

For more than a decade, the Chinese government and the Communist Party have been hiring Internet commentators to publish favorable comments about them in an effort to manipulate public opinion. But the irregular work nature of the so-called 50 Cent Party, a nickname that refers to the average pay per comment, has made it difficult for the party to gain an upper hand on online discussion.

Judging from the major hot topics on Chinese social media over the past few years, such as the China Red Cross scandal (2011-2013), the Wenzhou Train Crash Incident (2011), and Hawker Xia Junfeng's self-defense court case (2009-2013), public opinion leaders known as “Big Vs” and commercially hired commentators known as the Online Navy have been more potent in influencing the narrative.

But now, China is stepping up its game.

In the latest round of ideological struggle, both the Big Vs and the Online Navy have become the target of censorship and crackdown. In fact, the judiciary guidelines issued in early September, has also criminalized commercial post-deletion services as a form of blackmailing.

On the other front, the Chinese government is building a more professional 50 Cent Party as well as a more controllable commercial Online Navy sector by giving online commentators a professional status through its licensing system. In September 2013, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security endorsed the Internet opinion analyst's official occupation status and registered the profession at the China Employment Training Technical Instruction Center, an institution “responsible for providing technical guidance to the employment and vocational training work nationally and organizing occupational skill testing all over the country”. The official recognition means that government authorities can now open new “Internet opinion analyst” positions under their regular budgets rather than squeezing the budget or applying extra budget to hire spare-time commentators.

The news has been met with anger from Chinese netizens who are unhappy that their tax money will now officially go toward employing people who will censor and monitor them. He Qinglian, an prominent online commentator, explained to Voice of American (via International Business Times):

These jobs are funded with taxes, but the work goes against the taxpayer. The difference between this and other industries in society is that its purpose is to strengthen political control. The specialty of this industry is that it consumes social wealth, but doesn't create any value. interviewed an expert from an institution specializing in Internet opinion analysis who said the current market salary of a junior Internet opinion analyst is about 6,000 to 8,000 yuan, which is equivalent to about 1,000 to 1,200 US dollars.

According to Beijing Morning post's estimation, there are about two million people engaged in work such as collecting, managing and analyzing online public opinion for decision-makers in the propaganda department, as well as for the portal websites in the commercial sectors. In order to obtain a professional license, they have to take eight courses, including public opinion analysis, critique, crisis management and responses.

The Internet opinion analysts also use surveillance software to monitor the opinions surrounding a number of keywords for their clients. There are different price levels of software, ranging from 50,000 to three million yuan (9,000 to 500,000 US dollars), as well as levels of functionality – some monitoring software can even crawl data from overseas websites and analyze the results. For opinion analysts working for the government and the Communist Party, they can also delete posts assisted by the surveillance software.

October 15 2013

Brazil: the New Internet Freedom Champion?

Dilma Rousseff addresses the UN General Assemby in 2012. Photo by Blog do Planalto via Picasa (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Dilma Rousseff addresses the UN General Assemby in 2012. Photo by Blog do Planalto via Picasa (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff recently delivered a speech before the United Nations General Assembly that was very well received among Internet freedom advocates. In her speech, President Rousseff criticized the United States for spying and also mentioned that Brazil “will present proposals for the establishment of a civilian multilateral framework for the governance and use of the Internet and to ensure the effective protection of data that travels through the web.” Her words are, without a doubt, a very good starting point for Brazil if it wants to be the new international leader that guarantees Internet freedom. However, it is necessary that Brazil take concrete actions in support of Rousseff’s words.

For instance, if Brazil were to join the Freedom Online Coalition, a group of governments committed to advance Internet freedom, it would send a positive message to the international community. Countries that join the coalition endorse a statement supporting the principle that all people enjoy the same human rights online as they do offline. From Latin America, only Costa Rica and Mexico are part of the coalition. On the other hand, other countries that are not members of the coalition, such as Russia, China and India, have taken steps in the wrong direction. For example, in the past, they have presented draft resolutions to the UN General assembly, which would have put in risk Internet governance. For Brazil, joining the Freedom Online Coalition would be a turning point and a step in the opposite direction, demonstrating that it takes some distance from its partners in groups such as the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa).

Another action that Brazil could take to support the President’s speech is to implement domestic public policies and to push laws that guarantee freedom online, particularly freedom of expression. The situation in Brazil up to date is not encouraging. Reports by International NGOs –such as the recent Freedom on the Net report published by Freedom House that indicates that Brazil is a “partial free” country– or reports by private companies –such as the Google Transparency Report that shows that Brazil is one of the countries with the most requests to take down content from the Internet- shows that there is lots to do at the domestic level to improve Internet liberties. The bill known as the “marco civil” or “civil framework” for the Internet, that could improve the situation for better freedom online is still pending before the Brazilian Congress, though the President stated in her speech that she supports and will continue to support the initiative.

Finally, Brazil should assure it would work for an Internet governance approach that will not damage Internet infrastructure, and more importantly, will not impose risks on basic human rights. Last week's announcement that Brazil will host a global Internet governance summit next year could be positive, but it is not yet clear what Brazil's position on this issue will be: Earlier this year, Brazil signed the ITU treaty in Dubai that was criticized by advocates and experts as a document that could undermine Internet freedom. Brazil should distance itself from these initiatives.

Speeches delivered within the framework of inter-governmental organizations, like the UN, should be taken seriously. But while very important, they are only words if they are not followed by concrete actions in the right direction adopted by all branches of government. A true champion does not stop at words.


This article was authored by Eduardo Bertoni, Director of the CELE, the Center for Studies on Freedom of Expression at University of Palermo School of Law in Argentina.

October 14 2013

Internet and Statecraft: Brazil and the Future of Internet Governance

After cancelling her October visit to DC, Brazilian president Dilma Rouseff addressed the United Nations General Assembly on September 24th during the High Level Meeting for the Rule of Law. The UNGA is the main deliberative, policymaking, and representative organ of the United Nations and comprises all 193 Members of the United NationsBrazilians welcomed their president’s decision to cancel her October trip and address US Internet surveillance in a public, global forum.

Marco Civil campaign image by Access. (CC BY 2.0)

Marco Civil campaign image by Access. (CC BY 2.0)

President Rouseff noted that illegally intercepting communications, information, and data cannot be sustained among friendly nations.  In saying this, she was not simply speaking in the manufactured outrage so typical of politics. She was instead speaking from a very different experience fighting against the dictatorship in Brazil in her youth. In dictatorships, surveillance is an essential tool that protects the regime. This is what makes the right to privacy a pillar for freedom of expression, freedom of opinion, and fundamental to democracy. That’s the sad irony of the US government’s relentless push to monitor the Internet, including domestic metadata. It’s the kind of thing that dictatorships do. The only thing different is the intent.

I’m well aware that nation-states spy on each other[1]. Most of us who have spent time in international relations know this. But it’s usually a matter of spying on each other’s governments (or in some cases, businesses) and not on ordinary citizens. (I am a Brazilian citizen living in the US, so I can only assume the NSA monitors my Skype calls home – and, for that matter, my Amazon purchases). We may have simply been naive in believing this was because of principle, when instead it was merely a matter of cost. Now that the transaction costs are low enough, however, anyone may become fair game.

However, Brazil is not a small country, and Rouseff is not a fearful president. She looked directly at President Obama while affirming, categorically, that without respect, there is no basis for the relationship among nations. She was also very specific in her stance, demanding a multilateral mechanism to ensure core principles for the world wide web. In an act that may invite deeper governance influence for Brazil at the UN and its International Telecommunication Union (ITU) – the international organization that is trying to extend its authority over digital networks –  Rouseff  called out five essential affirmations for digital rights on the Internet:

  1. “Freedom of expression, privacy of the individual and respect for human rights.”
  2. “Open, multilateral and democratic governance, carried out with transparency by stimulating collective creativity and the participation of society, Governments, and the private sector.”
  3. “Universality that ensures the social and human development and the construction of inclusive and non-discriminatory societies.”
  4. “Cultural diversity, without the imposition of beliefs, customs and values.”
  5. “Neutrality of the network, guided only by technical and ethical criteria, rendering it   inadmissible to restrict it for political, commercial, religious or any other purposes.”

These principles were applauded by international civil society and mirror the national debate of the Brazilian Constitution for the Internet, locally known as the Marco Civil. The Marco Civil would be a domestic groundbreaker, guaranteeing civil rights in the use of the Internet. Internationally, Marco Civil would be for the highest benchmark for “open” Internet legislation ever to be enacted. Rouseff recently expressed her support for Marco Civil and has ordered it to be processed in the Congress under a 90-day fast track review (45 in the House and 45 days in the Senate).

In thinking that national sovereignty includes the right to live a private life within one’s own borders, Rouseff is not alone. But Brazil is uniquely able to push back at the infrastructure level to encode this principle into the network itself. The country first connected to the Internet in 1990, and connectivity is now available in most areas through a variety of technologies. We constitute more than 94 million of Internet users, and are 2nd worldwide in number of Facebook users. Brazil now wants to provide internet connection beyond its borders and build more Internet exchange points in an effort to have more control over its communication infrastructure, a core economic element that also allows for better control over what happens to the privacy of its nationals.

As reported by Bill Woodcock for Aljazeera America last Tuesday, Rouseff also announced measures to increase domestic Internet bandwidth production, increase international Internet connectivity, encourage domestic content production, and encourage use of domestically produced network equipment. However, some of these measures are not new nor an immediate response to Snowden’s revelations. Brazil has been in investing in ICTs for some time, including massive government investments on broadband connectivity with the Brazilian 2010 Broadband Plan – which is late on its deliverables but still is underway. Ultimately, this move suggests that rather than relying on US cables, US companies, and US state policy, Brazil aims to achieve a leading role on Internet governance by providing core Internet infrastructure to the country and by connecting the country with other countries in the Global South.

That is to say, the Brazilian government may take one of the classic principles of the Internet and apply it to statecraft: interpret the surveillance as damage, and route around it. Brazil is one of the few countries that can simply lay new cables over which the US has no control, and impose privacy by default in those systems. See for instance, the BRICS cable. By the time it is completed, the BRICS Cable will be the third longest undersea telecommunications cable in the world, covering a distance of 34,000km.

For all the rhetoric of a stateless cyberspace, the raw physicality of the network makes it vulnerable to statecraft. Until now, that statecraft has been dominated by a state that places a prime on certain priorities at the expense of civil liberties. But there is nothing in the network that prevents a state with other priorities from joining the fray.

Does this mean that by creating its own infrastructure, Brazil wants to have more control over the Internet?  This is the question we all should have in the back of our minds while the infrastructure is being laid. Brazilian civil society should also demand a series of checks and balances, so we are not surprised later with intelligence programs that the Brazilian government might impose. This need for transparency and accountability is even more pressing now with the 2014 World Cup approaching – Brazil has deployed a massive technology infrastructure to surveil the games and proximal events in the name of security. It will be interesting to see if, how, and when this setup is dismantled. This ICT infrastructure may be able to help or hurt the open Internet depending on its design and its use. Again, we all should watch and see if the distributed design is the mode of this enterprise and if Brazil is really part of the group of countries that support in action, not just in words, the future of and open and free Internet.

Reposted bycheg00 cheg00

October 13 2013

Digitale Weltbürger, Regulierung im Netz: Neue Bücher von Ethan Zuckerman, Ian Brown und Chris Marsden

Ethan Zuckerman will den „imaginären Kosmopolitismus” im Netz überwinden, Ian Brown und Christopher Marsden skizzieren eine bessere Internetregulierung: Zwei neue Bücher zur Netzpolitik mit unterschiedlichen, aber komplementären Perspektiven.

Mit dem Internet als weltumspannendem Kommunikationsnetzwerk sind wir auch zu digitalen Weltbürgern geworden – zumindest halten wir uns dafür. Denn dass wir trotz weltweiter Netze in Wahrheit weniger kosmopolitisch sind als wir glauben, ist die These von Ethan Zuckerman. „Rewire – Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection” beginnt mit der Beobachtung: Zwar können wir leichter als jemals zuvor Informationen aus aller Welt bekommen und in alle Welt verbreiten, doch das Bild, das wir uns von der Welt machen, ist meist ein kleiner Ausschnitt, der nicht viel größer ist als in Zeiten vor der digitalen Vernetzung.

Wir halten uns für digitale Kosmopoliten, so Zuckerman, doch „dieses Narrativ ist zugleich eine Marketingkampagne und eine unvermeidliche Konsequenz unserer Imagination”. Mit anderen Worten: Er konstatiert eine „unvollendete Globalisierung”: Wirtschaft und Handel sind schon lange global geworden, ausgerechnet die Bits aber hängen hinterher. Die Ursachen dafür sieht er zum einen in unseren Präferenzen und Gewohnheiten. Wer keine persönliche Beziehung dazu hat, was in Sambia passiert, wird schwerlich Blogs aus Lusaka lesen. So wie es in den Großstädten der Welt ein Viertel für diese, ein anderes für jene Minderheit gibt, so hängen wir auch im Netz immer wieder mit den gleichen Kreisen herum. Die Filterbubble von Eli Pariser lässt grüßen.

Neue Verbindungen herstellen

Zum anderen sucht Zuckerman, Direktor des Center for Civic Media am MIT und Mitgründer von Global Voices, und Geekcorps nach Erklärungen, die über individuelles Verhalten hinausgehen und macht dabei Station bei soziologischen Theorien: Bei Georg Simmel und seinen Triaden etwa: Wenn Jim mit Bob und Bob mit Sue befreundet ist, werden wahrscheinlich auch Jim und Sue Freunde. Das Dreieck schließt sich – mit dem Ergebnis, das existierende Verbindungen eher als andere verstärkt werden.

Vor allem interessiert sich Zuckerman für das, was die Sozialforscher Robert K. Merton und Paul Lazarsfeld Homophilie nannten: Den Effekt, nach dem wir uns eher mit ähnlichen Menschen umgeben – ethnisch, religiös, sozial, ökonomisch usw. –, ohne deswegen andere bewusst zu diskriminieren. Eine Idee, die auch den heutigen Empfehlungs-, Freundes- und Followeralgorithmen zugrundeliegt.

Zuckerman sieht darin eine Gefahr: „We can, and we must, rewire”, proklamiert er. Wer ein Bürger der Welt werden will, muss sich neu „verkabeln” – was technisch klingt, aber eher das Herstellen neuer Verbindungen meint. Drei Lösungen hat er auf dem Plan: Neben Übersetzungsarbeit wie bei Global Voices – Zuckerman erinnert daran, dass Englisch schon lange nicht mehr die herrschende Sprache im Netz ist – stellt er die Brückenfigur als Modell: Menschen, die sich zwischen verschiedenen Welten bewegen und Ideen in neue Kontexte bringen. Die CEOs multinationaler Unternehmen wie Indra Nooyi (Pepsi) oder Muhtar Kent (Coca Cola) sieht er als Pioniere einer solchen, globalen Klasse.

Global Voices

Man liegt aber wohl nicht verkehrt, wenn man bei den Brückenfiguren auch an Zuckerman selbst denkt, der lange Zeit in Ghana verbrachte, sein Blog „My heart is in Accra” nennt und dafür um die halbe Welt pendelte. In einer einprägsamen Passage beschreibt er genau das: Auf seinen regelmäßigen 20-stündigen Flügen von Massachusetts nach Accra las er den Economist, den Guardian und die New York Times. Dort angekommen, reichte er sie weiter. Auf dem Rückflug las er dann Accra Mail, African Business, Daily Graphic und New African und tat das gleiche in Massachusetts.

Zuckermans Projekt Global Voices überträgt die Idee ins Netz – Freiwillige übersetzen Blogs und Tweets aus allen Ländern. Doch den Aufmerksamkeitsfokus besonders der US-Medien zu ändern, gelang dem Projekt nicht, wie Zuckerman zugibt: Die Plattform wird zumeist erst dann konsultiert, wenn irgendwo ein Konflikt ausbricht. So berichtete Global Voices schon seit 2008 über die Entwicklungen in Tunesien – bis zur Jasminrevolution 2010 aber praktisch ohne Resonanz.

Die Filterbubble umkehren

Als dritten Ansatz schließlich denkt Zuckerman an ein Konzept names engineered serendipity. Darunter lässt sich soviel wie die technische Antwort auf die Filterbubble verstehen – Algorithmen, die nicht nur nach Ähnlichkeiten suchen und mehr als das empfehlen, was der soziale Graph nahelegt. Vorbild sind ihm hier die Stadtplanung und Konzepte wie das der Urbanistin Jane Jacobs. Durch diese werden – wenn der Ansatz gelingt – Mischungen und zufällige Begegnungen ermöglicht, statt geschlossene Bereiche abzuzirkeln. Sein Vorschlag klingt spannend, aber seine Schilderung bleibt hier noch etwas unkonkret.

So oder so: Man mag Zuckerman an einem Punkt zustimmen, am nächsten nicht. Seine Kunst aber liegt darin, wie er persönliche Erfahrungen mit Theorien verwebt, seine Argumente abwägt und man als Leser stets folgen kann, warum er sie vertritt. Seine desillusionierende Botschaft bringt ihn in die Nachbarschaft der Thesen Evgeny Morozovs, doch im Unterschied zu diesem fehlt bei Zuckerman zum Glück der denunziatorische Unterton.

Alte und neue Regulierung

Ganz anders wiederum der Ton in „Regulating Code”: Ian Brown und Christopher Marsden schreiben so auffällig distanzierte, nüchtern-akademische Texte, dass man den netzpolitischen Gehalt fast überliest. Man muss schon bereit sein, sich durch Erörterungen über ihren projektierten „vereinheitlichten Forschungsrahmen” und die allgegenwärtigen, penibel zusammengestellten Tabellen durchzuarbeiten. Dann aber bieten Brown und Marsden – der eine Informatiker und Forscher am Oxford Internet Institute, der andere Rechtsprofessor an der Uni Essex – eine Perspektive an, die viel dazu beitragen kann, Entwicklung und Irrwege in der Internetregulierung zu verstehen.

Wer beim Wort „Regulierung” schon nervös wird, sollte es übrigens nicht falsch verstehen: Auch die Selbstregulierung fassen sie darunter, gerade weil sie einen weitgehenden Verzicht auf staatliche Eingriffe darstellt. Und sie stellen sie zwei weiteren Modellen gegenüber: dem Souveränitätsansatz einerseits – sozusagen der staatlichen Holzhammermethode, besonders deutlich in Zensurbestrebungen erkennbar. Dem Koregulierungsmodell andererseits – in der Internet Governance als Multistakeholder-Ansatz bekannt, der Wirtschaft, Regierungen, Zivilgesellschaft und Forschung zusammenbringt. Für diesen lassen sie deutliche Sympathien erkennen.

Code is law, law is code

In fünf case studies untersuchen Brown und Marsden die Auseinandersetzungen über Regulierung in Datenschutz und Urheberrecht, bei Zensur, sozialen Netzwerken und Netzneutralität. Zu ihren Forschungsfragen gehört, wer die zentralen Akteure sind, welche Ergebnisse erreicht wurden, wie Menschen- und Bürgerrechte dabei eingeflossen sind, wie die Auswirkungen auf Wettbewerb und Allgemeinwohl waren.

Wie schon Lawrence Lessig („Code is law”), betonen sie die Wechselwirkungen von Code und Recht: So hat die Entwicklung und Verfügbarkeit von kryptographischen Verfahren oder von Peer-to-peer-Protokollen bis heute Auswirkungen darauf, welche Regulierungsmacht der Staat hat und wie er Informationsflüsse kontrollieren kann. Umgekehrt wirken regulatorische Maßnahmen – etwa Exportregeln oder die Durchsetzungspolitik im Urheberrecht – auf technische Entwicklungspfade und Möglichkeiten zurück.

„Regulating code”: Slides von Ian Brown und Chris Marsden


In der Urheberrechtspolitik etwa machen sie als durchsetzungsstärkste Akteursgruppe die Rechteinhaber aus – was nicht heißt, dass sie auch die erfolgreichste wäre. Im Gegenteil, so schreiben sie: „Die großen Rechteinhaber haben fast zwei Dekaden damit verbracht, die Beschaffenheit des Internets und des Computers im Sinne von Geschäftsmodellen zu ändern, die auf der Knappheit von Kopien und der Kontrolle über sie basieren – mit wenig Erfolg”. So wurden die gerichtlichen Auseinandersetzungen um Napster – dem ersten weitverbreiteten Filesharing-System – eher zum Pyrrhussieg: spätere Systeme wurden ausgetüftelter, machten die Haftungsfrage schwieriger, die technische Entwicklung im legalen Bereich stand lange weitgehend still, damit auch die Entwicklung neuer Erlösmodelle für Urheber und Verwerter.

Weitgehend durchsetzen konnten die Rechteinhaber ihre Vorstellungen dagegen auf internationaler Ebene – etwa beim rechtlichen Schutz für Kopierschutz im Rahmen der WIPO-Verträge, später beim TRIPS-Abkommen. Zum Preis, die Zivilgesellschaft auszuschließen, die Wissenschaft weitgehend zu ignorieren und Entwicklungs- und Schwellenländer zu schikanieren, wie die Autoren festhalten. Erst mit dem Stopp von SOPA und ACTA ergab sich ein anderes Bild – ob auch eine Trendwende, lassen die Autoren offen. Am Ende zeige die Entwicklung der Urheberrechtspolitik jedenfalls, welchen Schaden eine an den lobbynomics einzelner Interessengruppen ausgerichtete Urheberrechtspolitik anrichten könne.

Ziel: Interoperabilität

Im Vergleich der jeweiligen case studies konstatieren die Autoren schließlich monopolistische Tendenzen in allen untersuchten Märkten, angetrieben durch Netzwerk- und Skaleneffekte: „Der Nutzer wird zum Gefangenen seines eigenen Tuns”. Dagegen erweise sich die Wettbewerbspolitik sowohl in den USA als auch in der EU als zu langsam und ineffektiv, etwa im Fall der Microsoft-Kartelluntersuchungen. Umso wichtiger wird für Brown und Marsden eine am Ziel der Interoperabilität ausgerichtete Regulierung, für die sie Ansätze im Interoperability Framework der EU-Kommission erkennen.

Solche Ansätze gelte es auszubauen, um offene Daten und offene Standards voran zubringen und die Meinungsfreiheit zu stärken. Statt langwieriger Kartellverfahren ziehen sie etwa in Erwägung, Must-carry-Regeln und Vorschriften zur Offenlegung von Schnittstellen auch auf Drittentwicklungen und die Protokolle von geschlossenen Plattformen auszuweiten. Die walled gardens von Amazon, Apple, Facebook und Google könnten damit geöffnet werden.

Mit ihrem Plädoyer, zivilgesellschaftliche Organisationen wie Creative Commons oder die Free Sotware Foundation etwa bei Standardisierungsfragen stärker einzubeziehen, wird ihre Advocacy-Perspektive noch deutlicher, die Brown auch in seiner Tätigkeit für die Open Rights Group und Privacy International einnimmt.

Wohin das Netz sich entwickelt

Mit „Regulating Code” setzen Brown und Marsden zugleich dort an, wo Zuckerman aufhört (oder anfängt): Dass es ein weltumspannendes, offenes Internet gibt, wird in „Rewire“ praktisch vorausgesetzt. Brown und Marsden zeigen, wie stark genau dieses weltumspannende, offene Internet ein Ergebnis regulatorischer Entwicklungen und Entscheidungen ist – wenn auch häufig gegen den erklärten Willen des Regulierers, aber als Folge des Wechselspiels von Code und Recht.

Interessant wäre es, die Perspektiven von Zuckerman, Brown und Marsden um die Auswirkungen des Überwachungs- und Spionageskandals zu erweitern (beide Bücher sind vor den Enthüllungen erschienen). Welche Folgen er auf Internet Governance und -Regulierung haben wird, lässt sich erst an Ansätzen erkennen. Ob das „Multistakeholder-Modell“ mit vagen Formeln wie „internet freedom“ noch so tragfähig ist wie bisher, muss sich erst erweisen. Auch ob Entwicklungen wie jetzt etwa in Brasilien das offene Internet erhalten oder zu einer Renationalisierung durch die Hintertür führen, scheint keineswegs ausgemacht. Jedenfalls: Sowohl Brown und Marsden als auch Zuckerman verdienen es, gelesen und weitergedacht zu werden.

Ethan Zuckerman: Rewire – Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection, Norton, 2013 , ca. EUR 18,95 (Print), EUR 17–19 (E-Book).

Ian Brown, Christopher T. Marsden: Regulating Code – Good Governance and Better Regulation in the Information Age, MIT Press 2013, ca. EUR 29,95 (Print), ca. EUR 20,72 (E-Book).

October 11 2013

GV Face: Fighting for an Open Internet in Brazil

Do you care about free speech on the Internet? What about your privacy online? What if your government created a law that could protect these rights, rather than threatening them?

Brazilian digital rights advocates have been working for years to pass the Marco Civil da Internet, a one-of-a-kind law that would protect key rights and freedoms on the Internet.

US government surveillance programs have brought new momentum to the issue, galvanizing support from civil society and even Brazil's president, Dilma Rousseff.

This week on GV Face, our Advocacy Editor Ellery Biddle (@ellerybiddle) talks with leading experts on the issue, including GV author Raphael Tsavkko @Tsavkko, Carolina Rossini (@carolinarossini) and Joana Varon (@joana_varon) an original author of the bill.

For some more links and comments on this issue, check out our Google + event page.

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