Internet censorship in 2015
Fri 2 Jan 2015, 12:45

On Wednesday, Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, signed the latest version of a personal data law that will require companies to store data about Russian users on computers inside the country, where it will be easier for the government to get access to it.

PEN report reveals concerns about the impact of mass surveillance
Wed 14 Jan 2015, 20:00

On 5 January 2015, PEN American Center published a report “Global chilling: The impact of mass surveillance on international writers”. The report introduces the results of a survey of writers, to investigate how mass surveillance influences their thinking, research and writing, as well as their views of government surveillance by the US and its impact around the world.

 

Calls for ISPs to filter content could be illegal, EU council documents suggest
Wed 21 Jan 2015, 19:40

Last week justice ministers from across the European Union called on ISPs to conduct voluntary censorship of online content—but documents in preparation for a meeting of telecoms ministers suggest such a move could be illegal. The documents, prepared by the Latvian presidency of the Council of the EU, note that calls to allow Internet service providers to block or filter content in the “public interest” as part of a proposed net neutrality law could violate privacy laws that protect the confidentiality of communication.

EFF comments the Motion Picture Association of America schemes for Internet censorship
Thu 22 Jan 2015, 23:40

Documents that were brought to light by the December 2014 Sony hack revealed the MPAA's plans to create SOPA-like Internet censorship mechanisms through agencies outside of the federal legislature in order to purposefully skirt the public oversight that comes with Congressional rule making. The first explosive revelation was that the MPAA had been colluding with, and even financing, state attorneys generals to go after Google.

But another set of documents revealed Hollywood's other crooked plan—to persuade the International Trade Commission (ITC) into forcing Internet service providers to block sites that allegedly distribute copyright-infringing content. The ITC is a federal, quasi-judicial agency that regulates the importation of goods coming into the United States. It recently held in a patent case (which is under appeal) that its authority extends to data transmitted online. The MPAA wants to take advantage of the ITC's expansive new interpretation of its mandate to fight contraband online, and extend that to blacklist content in the name of fighting piracy.

China blocks VPN access to the Internet
Sat 24 Jan 2015, 11:52

The Global Times newspaper in Beijing reported that China announced it is "upgrading" its Internet censorship to disrupt VPN services inside the nation of 1.3 billion people. The Great Firewall of China has long blocked those within the country from reaching popular international sites such as Google, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. To get around it, people must purchase access to a virtual private network, or VPN. These services allow a user to create a private pipeline to the Internet, bypassing China's online censors.

Under Chinese law, companies and individuals that use VPN services are required to register with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, though few do. Astrill, one of the more popular VPN providers in China tweeted that "due to increased censorship in China," VPN usage on Apple devices was being blocked "in almost real-time."

EFF warns about the threats of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP)
Fri 20 Feb 2015, 12:28

The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) will force other TPP signatories to accept the United States' excessive copyright terms of a minimum of life of the author plus 70 years, while locking the US to the same lengths so it will be harder to shorten them in the future. It contains DRM anti-circumvention provisions that will make it a crime to tinker with, hack, re-sell, preserve, and otherwise control any number of digital files and devices that you own. The TPP will encourage ISPs to monitor and police their users, likely leading to more censorship measures such as the blockage and filtering of content online in the name of copyright enforcement. And in the most recent leak of the TPP's Intellectual Property chapter, we found an even more alarming provision on trade secrets that could be used to crackdown on journalists and whistleblowers who report on corporate wrongdoing.