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.
Australia’s Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) has called for journalists to be exempt from government access to phone and web data, warning that the government’s data retention proposal risks making it impossible for a free press to function.
The plan to retain web and phone data will mean that a range of telecommunications and service providers will need to keep an as-yet-unspecified set of data.
The bill does not limit the range of offences that can be investigated, which means that phone and web metadata may be used to investigate confidential sources and whistleblowers who provide information to journalists without the approval of the government.
The Chinese government called for a system that would require all authors to register their real names with publishing platforms on the Internet. Under the guidelines, creators of online content will still be allowed to publish under pen names. But unlike before, when some writers registered accounts under fake names, websites will know exactly who is publishing what.
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.
Senators are now working around the clock to re-introduce a bill that would put trade agreements on the fast track to passage in the US after those deals are finalized. Deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) have been negotiated in almost complete secrecy, except for private industry advocates serving on trade advisory committees who can read and comment on these texts. That has enabled these agreements to include extreme copyright and other digital policy provisions that would bind all signatory nations to draconian rules that would hinder free speech, privacy, and access to knowledge. Under fast track, also referred to as Trade Promotion Authority, lawmakers would only have a small window of time to conduct hearings over binding trade provisions and give an up-or-down vote on ratification of the agreement without any ability to amend it before they bind the United States to its terms.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has joined dozens of civil society groups from around the world in calling for the release of the secret text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—a massive proposed trade agreement that could quash digital rights for Internet users everywhere in the name of intellectual property protection. "The TPP has been under negotiation for five years, but the only real information we have about it has been through leaks," said EFF Global Policy Analyst Maira Sutton. "Those leaks show extremely troubling provisions, including expanding laws that hurt fair use and free speech along with a number of privacy-threatening enforcement proposals.