Between 26 and 29 September, the annual Freedom not Fear (FNF) conference and barcamp will take place in Brussels. Privacy advocates will tackle surveillance, censorship, net discrimination. Simon Davies, publisher of the Privacy Surgeon and co-founder of Privacy International, will present the first global analysis of the impact of the Snowden revelations and Paul Nemitz, Director at DG Justice of the European Commission, will discuss the data protection reform and the future of the EU-US umbrella and Safe Harbor agreements.
The ninth Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was held in Istanbul, Turkey, on 2-5 September. Alternative Informatics Association (AIA) submitted four proposals to the IGF, but all of them were rejected. As a result, AIA decided to organise a parallel event, the Internet Ungovernance Forum (IUF). The IUF attracted considerable interest among Internet researchers and activists who wished to address urgent issues, such as censorship and surveillance, in a more inclusive manner.
Despite many setbacks, bad publicity, budget cuts and a change of government, France is persisting with its Hadopi, a “three strikes law” and government agency to enforce copyright laws and fight online “piracy”. Even more worrying, the country’s Minister of Culture is now making moves to curb online rights even further.
When state officials seek to censor online speech, they're going to use the quickest and easiest method available. For many, copyright takedown notices do the trick. After years of lobbying and increasing pressure from content industries on policymakers and tech companies, sending copyright notices to take media offline is easier than ever.
The copyright law that state actors most often invoke is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The DMCA was the first major digital copyright law passed in the United States, creating strict procedural rules for how and when a copyright holder can claim that uploaded content infringes on their copyright. US-based tech companies that receive these infringement notices must comply with these rules to receive their safe harbor—the protection they have from being liable for hosting unlawful user content.
The DMCA has become a global tool for censorship, precisely because it was designed to facilitate the removal of online media. The law carries provisions on intermediary liability, among many other strict copyright enforcement rules, which induce websites, Internet service providers, and other such "intermediaries" to remove content that is alleged to be a copyright infringement.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee called for the Internet to be recognised as a basic human right. Sir Tim noted that in our increasingly unequal world, the Web has the potential to be a great equalizer, but only “if we hardwire the rights to privacy, freedom of expression, affordable access and net neutrality into the rules of the game.”
The 2014-15 edition of the Web Foundation’s annual Web Index examines key Web issues — including privacy, censorship, gender-based violence, equality and, for the first time ever, net neutrality — across 86 countries. The findings from this year’s Index point to a Web that is becoming less free and more unequal.
California-based journalist Darwin BondGraham tweeted a document he had obtained under the state’s public records act. It showed an email exchange between an employee and a customer of the law enforcement contractor, PredPol. Shortly afterwards, the employee responded on Twitter by asking BondGraham not to publish personal information publicly. The request apparently referred to the fact that the office phone number was visible in the emails. After BondGraham refused to remove the Tweet, he received a notification from Twitter that his account had been suspended.