Following the European Court of Justice ruling on the UPC Telekabel v Constantin in April 2014, Austrian internet access providers have started “blocking” several websites. In the case in question, the Court established that an injunction may be imposed on an internet access provider (ISP) “prohibiting an internet service provider from allowing” its customers access to a website “when that injunction does not specify the measures which that access provider must take”.
Recent reports that China has imposed further restrictions on Gmail. This loophole has now been closed, which means determined Chinese users have had to turn to more advanced circumvention tools.
And it’s not just the Chinese. A new law that came into effect last summer obliges all internet companies to store Russian citizens’ data on servers inside the country. This has already prompted Google to close down its engineering operations in Moscow. The Kremlin’s recent success in getting Facebook to block a page calling for protests in solidarity with the charged activist Alexey Navalny indicates that the government is rapidly re-establishing control over its citizens’ digital activities.
Brazil toyed with the idea of forcing American companies to store user data locally – an idea it eventually abandoned. However, Russia, China and Brazil are simply responding to the extremely aggressive tactics adopted by none other than the US.
On April 24, 2014, Brazil’s President, Dilma Rousseff, signed Marco Civil Da Internet, a civil-rights based framework for the Internet which Brazilian activists have long fought. Dubbed the “Internet Constitution,” the law seeks to reinforce the protection of fundamental freedoms in the digital age. One of the most damaging concessions, fiercely opposed by digital rights activists, was a data retention mandate that compels the collection and storage of connections logs of any innocent individual.
Brazil is now in the midst of rolling out the Marco Civil’s secondary legislation, together with a comprehensive data protection law that will heavily influence how online companies and governments can treat personal data in the country. The Ministry of Justice has announced a public online consultation over these two pieces of legislation in the style of the Marco Civil’s process, where all the stakeholders can contribute to the development of the bills. These results of these consultations will determine how Marco Civil is enforced in practice.
The European Parliament is going to adopt a Resolution on TTIP. A resolution is a political statement which does not have binding effects. However, a strong resolution from the Parliament could be a step in the right direction.
The Committee on International Trade (INTA) is in charge of the dossier and it will be guided by Opinions from 14 other Committees before it submits its report to Plenary (vote scheduled 18-21 May).
Today, leading digital rights organizations — including Access, EDRi, Privacy International, and Panoptykon — published new leaked documents showing that European Union member states are working to undermine the right to personal data protection for citizens.
In December 2014, the Spanish Congress passed the Citizens’ Security bill by 181 votes to 141. Now, the bill will be discussed in the Senate until the end of March 2015.
Not only does the proposed bill introduce several restrictions to the freedoms of assembly and expression in protests, but it also lays down measures that would severely undermine digital rights.