Netizen Report: Cyberattack Edition

Originally published on October 11, 2012 on Global Voices Advocacy

This report was researched, written, and edited by Alex LavertyWeiping Li, Renata Avila, Sarah Myers, and Rebecca MacKinnon.

Last week tens of thousands of Gmail users received warning messages stating “We believe state-sponsored attackers may be attempting to compromise your account or computer.” This is the second wave of such warnings since Google initiated a new policy in June 2012 of warning users when the company’s systems detect signs that their account has been targeted. Acting on new intelligence about evolving state-sponsored attack methods, the company decided to send warnings to thousands more users. To see what the warning looks like, click the image below to enlarge:

Source: Google Online Security Blog


While China has been suspected of being behind attacks in the past, Google reported seeing more state-sponsored attacks coming from the Middle East in recent months.

The Iranian government said there were attacks on the nation’s infrastructure and communication companies on October 2. An official said the effect of the attack was “unwanted slowness”, despite the country’s possession of one of the strictest internet filtering barriers in the world. Five days later, Iran claimed to have repelled an Israeli-launched cyberattack against their oil platforms. According to Farsnet, Iranian oil companies were shielded by having their intranet isolated from the Internet, and only telephone networks were affected.

Censorship

A petition on Change.org by PeopleOverPolitics.Org on behalf of Facebook Users & Pages United Against Facebook Speech Suppression calls for an end to Facebook “continuously and arbitrarily removing our posts and other forms of speech without notice or an opportunity to be heard” and a Pay-to-Share algorithm which encourages users to pay to have their posts seen by others.

Google and Gmail have been unblocked in Iran after the government faced a barrage of complaints over the week-long ban, including some from Iran’s own parliament. However, Iran’s Filtering Committee has found more sophisticated approaches to censorship, now implementing a protocol that blocks audiovisual material hosted on external servers from entering Iran.

Thuggery

Cuban blogger and human rights activist Yoani Sanchez was arrested on October 4 in Bayamo, Cuba where she had traveled to report on the trial of a Spanish national accused of vehicular manslaughter in the deaths of two rights activists. She was released 30 hours later following complaints by international press and human rights groups, as well as governments.

Azeri opposition activist and blogger Zaur Gurbanli was arrested on September 29, as part of an ongoing crackdown on media and civil society in Azerbaijan ahead of the October 2013 presidential election, say Reporters without Borders.

Malala Yousufzai, a 14 year old girl, and the author of “Diary of a Pakistani Schoolgirl” on the BBC, advocating for girls’ rights to education, was shot and wounded on October 9 by the Taliban in North-West Pakistan.

Surveillance

In response to a parliament inquiry, the German government has admitted that the Ministry of Home Affairs and the German police has monitored Skype communication, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, and Facebook when they found it necessary. The document submitted by the government also detailed project expenditures and contractors.

The United States Supreme Court has terminated a 6-year long lawsuit by the Electronic Frontier Foundation challenging the National Security Agency’s warrantless eavesdropping program.

Privacy

A survey by the University of California at Berkeley’s Center for Law and Technology found that a majority of Americans do not want information collected about their online activities, and that they are unaware of a proposal by the Federal Trade Commission for a “do not track” mechanism enabling users to opt out of having their personal data collected by websites that serve tailored advertising.

Google is facing a potential class-action lawsuit in Canada over concerns that Gmail invades users’ privacy by scanning emails. Gmail requires users to agree to its terms of service enabling algorithmic scans of all email content in order to use the service.

Cybersecurity

Human rights groups are reporting a surge in targeted, Mac-focused malware.

United Arab Emirates pro-democracy activist Ahmed Mansoor reported being the target of sophisticated spyware embedded in a Microsoft Word attachment delivered to him via email.

National Policy

The Philippine Supreme Court suspended a controversial cybercrime law that would curb online freedoms. The law was widely protested by human rights organizations, media and netizens, highlighted in last week’s Netizen Report: Cybercrime Edition.

Vietnam has issued a draft decree which “aims to regulate cross-border Internet activity” according to Vietnamnet, a website run by overseas exiles.

The government of Malawi has introduced legislation, labeled the E-Bill, that would regulate and control online communications. The bill purports to encourage the development of ICT technologies in ways that balance and protect community and individual interests, but has been criticized for provisions that restrict freedom of expression by requiring user information to be divulged and the use of “cyber inspectors” to monitor activity online.

The Indian government has announced plans to acquire code-busting software that would help access and recover data from 4,000 types of mobile phones, in an effort to combat smartphone crime.

Russia’s Communications and Press Ministry has proposed banning children under the age of 18 from using public Wi-Fi networks.

Copyright

Automated tools used by copyright holders to identify infringing materials have resulted in tremendous mistakes. In a recent example, Microsoft erroneously asked Google to censor nearly 5 million webpages, including those from the BBC, Wikipedia, Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Washington Post, and the US government, claiming violation of copyright.

YouTube has made revisions to the appeal process of its Content ID system which detects videos infringing on copyright, and allows copyright holders to block others from making money from the content. The new process offers more options to users who have received copyright infringement notices, giving them an appeals process should a Content ID dispute be rejected.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has decided to delay until 2013 the application of Pirate Party International, the umbrella organization of Pirate Parties in European countries, for observer status. A report by Knowledge Ecology International pointed out specifically that France, Switzerland and the United States raised objections to the application.

Sovereigns of Cyberspace

Facebook, which just hit a new record by having one billion active monthly users, is aiming for the market in Russia and recruited local talents to build tailor-made applications.

Spanish telecommunications company Telefónica has marched into the business of “big data” with the launch of a new business unit, Dynamic Insights. The carrier will aim its first product at companies and public sector organizations to “measure, compare and understand what factors influence the number of people visiting a location at any time.”

The US House Intelligence Committee released an investigative report on Chinese telecommunications companies Huawei and ZTE, warning that the two companies’ equipment might enable network espionage and transmit unauthorized data back to China.

Leading Mexican telecommunications company, Telmex, is now offering free connectivity [es] in rural areas.

Internet Governance

On October 9 in Geneva, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) held a briefing session for civil society stakeholders about the controversial upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. An audio recording of the event can be found here.

Also on October 9, the Internet Society of Kolkata held an Asia Internet Symposium titled “The Twin Challenges of Security & Privacy: Balancing the Requirements.”

The world’s first Arab Internet Governance Forum is also being held this week (Oct 9-11) in Kuwait.

Nigerian Minister of Communications Technology Omobola Johnson called for international agreement and collaboration among government, private sector, civil society and international organizations in Internet governance at a one day Nigeria Internet Governance Forum.

Netizen Activism

NetProphet profiles Rails Girls, a global non-profit volunteer community dedicated to providing tools and a community for women to understand technology and build their ideas.

October 15 is will mark Blog Action Day, a day where bloggers around the world join forces to raise awareness on important issues. This year’s theme is “The Power of We”. Any blogger can register to take part here.

Cool things

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, co-founder of digital rights advocacy group La Quadrature du Net Jeremie Zimmermann, and Andy Müller-Maguhn of German hacker association Chaos Computer Club are co-authors of a new book on Internet freedom. The book is scheduled to hit the shelves in November 2012.

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For upcoming events related to the future of citizen rights in the digital age, see the Global Voices Events Calendar.

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Netizen Report: Cybercrime Edition

Originally published on October 4, 2012 on Global Voices Advocacy

Image courtesy Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance

Most of this report was researched, written, and edited by Tom Risen, Weiping Li, Renata Avila, Alex Laverty, Sarah Myers, and Rebecca MacKinnon

A new law in the Philippines, which took effect on October 3, 2012, is intended to combat cybercrime but could jeopardize online free expression. The Philippines was ranked sixth for the freest Internet in the world according to the Freedom on the Net 2012 report published by the Washington D.C.-based advocacy group Freedom House. Yet the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, filed as Republic Act (RA) No. 10175, broadens the coverage of libel as a punishable offense and also adds identity theft, cybersex and child pornography to a list of “cybercrimes”. Some charges such as cybersex would carry penalties of up to 12 years in jail. See previous Global Voices coverage of the law, and reactions to it, here and here.

Social media is a major focus of the law, prompting protests on October 2 by netizens across the Philippines who blacked out text and photos on their social media pages. Six petitions requesting a temporary restraint against implementing the law have been sent to the government by academics, lawmakers and bloggers, claiming it is “unconstitutional due to vagueness.” Several government websites were hacked and blacked out by a group identified as ‘Anonymous Philippines.’

Human Rights Watch has condemned the passage of the new law and called for it to be revised or repealed to better preserve free speech. The Electronic Frontier Foundation also criticized the law’s potential for misuse because of the broad legal interpretation of libel in the Philippines.

Censorship

Two Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Paraguay blocked access to a website entitled ABColor.me, without a warrant. After free speech and consumer rights advocates raised criticisms of the censorship the ISPs resumed access to the website, which allows uploading of user generated content but resembles a Paraguayan newspaper called ABC Color [es].

Swedish police raided web host PeRiQuito AB, which hosts whistleblower website WikiLeaks and used to host the content-sharing website Pirate Bay.

After pressure from the Sudanese security forces, a newspaper, Al-Intibaha [ar], censored a print edition opinion article about provisions of an independence treaty between Sudan and the recently created South Sudan. Yet on its website the paper published an article debating the pros and cons of the treaty and decryring government censorship pressure.

During the United Nations General Assembly meeting, Egypt’s democratically-elected President Mohamed Morsi called for legislation to limit speech that mocks Islam in response to the YouTube video “Innocence of Muslims”. Also speaking at the UN, President Obama called for nations to uphold the right to free speech “even when it is hateful.”

Google’s Chief Executive in Brazil, Fabio Jose Silva Coelho, was detained briefly by police after the company resisted a court order to remove a campaign video that attacked a mayoral candidate in that nation’s elections. Brazilian judges have historically held executives responsible for resisting removal of online videos. Google censored access to the political video, but now faces another court order to remove the anti-Islam film clip also hosted on YouTube.

Meanwhile, Google announced it would censor access to the anti-Islam film in Russia, after a court in Chechnya upheld censorship of the film on the grounds that it could incite extremist reactions.

Chinese search engine company Baidu is seeking to quash a lawsuit filed against it in New York for censoring content created by New York-based pro-democracy groups.

Thuggery

According to the Twitter account of livestreaming video phone application Bambuser, a Syrian activist has been arrested by secret police simply for having the phone application, which has been very useful for publishing content as civil war continues to rage in that country.

Russian blogger Alexey Navalny is facing criminal investigation after a former corporation director alleged he was involved in embezzlement. Navalny has claimed innocence in this case.

Russian police also raided the Internet site URA.ru after prosecutors in the Urals region opened an embezzlement case against the publication, which critics state is politically motivated by the publication’s criticism of authorities in the region.

Tensions in Bangladesh flared up between Muslims and the minority Buddhists after a Facebook post of a desecrated Islamic Koran was blamed for instigating the destruction of 10 Buddhist temples and 40 homes near the border with Myanmar. Muslim Rohingyas from neighboring Myanmar and political opponents of the Bangladesh government were cited as instigators of what the government called a premeditated attack. The Facebook account hosting the photo was closed. For background on these tensions see the Netizen Report: Transition Edition.

Surveillance

Warrantless surveillance of electronic communications by federal agencies has dramatically increased the past few years, according to United States Department of Justice documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Also in the United States, this week marked the opening of a new Supreme Court term, during which cases on the docket will include the Amnesty et al v. Clapper case assessing the right of journalists and activists to challenge the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the constitutionality of warrantless government surveillance.

Privacy

According to a blog post by Joey Tyson, a Facebook privacy engineer, Facebook’s new advertising features to “help people discover products that are interesting to them.” Privacy groups disagree. The EFF has a detailed analysis of Facebook’s partnership with the marketing company Datalogic with instructions on how to opt out.

Cybersecurity

Software company Adobe’s internal server was hacked and the hackers created malicious files signed with a valid Adobe certificate. Adobe has investigated the hacking and plans to revoke the impacted certificates.

The White House confirmed an attempted attack on an unclassified network via “spear phishing” malware last week.

National policy

A Russian organization named the Foundation for the Development of Civil Society (which does not yet have its own website) will soon publish research on the current state and trends of the Russian Internet. The research shows that Russia’s Internet population has increased significantly, and highlights the close connections RuNet’s top websites have with foreign capital. This research has been deemed as controversial not only because of its conclusions but also because the creator of the foundation is the former deputy head of internal politics under President Dmitri Medvedev.

Metamorphosis: Foundation for Internet and Society has issued a statement urging the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia to reject a draft law on civil liability for insult and defamation.

Copyright

Japan updated its copyright law to penalize downloaders of copyright infringing material with a two-year jail sentence or a fine of 2 million yen, which is approximately US$ 25,680.

Online radio station Pandora finds itself on the same side as the National Association of Broadcasters and Clear Channel on the Internet Radio Fairness Act, which would lower the rates Pandora and other Internet radio stations pay to performers and record labels. Pandora is using its Internet radio platform to generate support from its listeners for the legislation.

In an open letter to the Panamanian President, a number of civil society groups and NGOs called on the President to reject proposed legislation passed by the country’s legislature which one report has called “the worst copyright bill in history.” The letter describes the legislation as compromising citizens’ privacy and empowering rights-holders in ways that hamper the exchange of ideas.

Portugal’s Attorney General decided it is legal to share copyrighted works for personal use, and that an IP address is not enough evidence to identify a person.

Sovereigns of cyberspace

Social media site Odnoklassniki.ru has expanded its Central Asian and Eastern European presence by launching a Kyrgyz language version of its mobile site.

Online payment service Stripe has announced new measures to improve transparency on legal process: the company is cooperating with Chilling Effects, a project run by Electronic Frontier Foundation and several law schools to track takedown demands, and will report legal requests from third parties which ask Stripe to stop providing service to users; the company has also promised to first notice the users when the company is required by governments or litigants to disclose the users’ information.

Internet governance

The Article 29 Working Party of the European Union wrote to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) calling proposals for stricter identification of domain name registration on the Whois database “excessive and therefore unlawful.” The working party criticized the potential misuse of the Whois database, a feature maintained by ICANN to help them manage the global domain name system.

During a speech about the upcoming World Conference on Telecommunications (WCIT), Hamadoun Touré, secretary general of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), reasserted that Internet governance would not be a focus of the international conference slated for December, when the ITU will examine the international telecom treaty signed in 1988.

Netizen activism

A bus tour organized by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian will begin in early October to showcase the Declaration of Internet Freedom he helped endorse.

After criticism from groups such as press freedom advocacy group Reporters Without Borders the Ukrainian Parliament rejected a draft law [uk] that proposed sentences of up to five years in prison for defamation speech.

Cool things

Wikipedia ran a global contest through September 30, called Wiki Loves Monuments, to boost photo submissions to the website. Prizes include paid trips to the Wikimania 2013 conference in Hong Kong.

An ‘Enemies of the Internet’ infographic published on Mashable and created by OpenSite illustrates statistics and maps on global Internet freedom.

Publications and studies

Subscribe to the Netizen Report by email

For upcoming events related to the future of citizen rights in the digital age, see the Global Voices Events Calendar.

Netizen Report: Search Edition

Last week’s Netizen Report on Global Voices Advocacy started off in the Googleplex, looking at a series of challenges Google has faced over the management of its search results:

In our latest Netizen Report we focus on the busy week Google is having as the world’s biggest search engine seeks to manage concerns from governments, businesses and users. Google’s decision to punish copyright violators by lowering their rankings on the search engine’s algorithm is a reminder of the how search results have far-reaching effects. The move to decrease the page rankings of sites that have repeatedly received DMCA “takedown” notices of copyright infringement is a nod to Hollywood’s concern over content piracy, but some technologists argue it will do little to stem illegal downloads because the links on Google will merely be harder to find. Privacy advocates say the move threatens the reliability of search results.

Another search engine change Google announced is a beta test of a tool that will include results from Gmail in search requests when a user is logged in to their account. This announcement is arousing privacy concerns similar to when Google used its users’ personal data in 2010 to create the now-defunct Google Buzz chat network. As a result of the 2010 Google Buzz concerns the United States’ Federal Trade Commission (FTC) required Google to undergo privacy audits for 20 years. The FTC also announced last week that Google will pay a $22.5 million settlement for violating that privacy settlement with the agency by placing behavioral tracking cookies in Apple’s Safari Web browser. The settlement is the largest ever filed with the FTC, but it is reportedly equal to the amount Google makes in five hours. More government pressure on Google comes from India, which just launched an anti-trust investigation of the company over alleged anti-competitive practices on Monday. When questioned on the investigation Google replied to Reuters, “We’re confident that our products are compliant with competition law in India.”

From there, we turn to other Sovereigns of Cyberspace, including Craigslist, Facebook and Apple, each of which is reshaping the Internet environment through a series of policy changes. Then we turn to Hong Kong, the Ukraine, and beyond. Click here to read the whole thing.

Netizen Report: Pan-African Edition

This week’s Netizen Report on Global Voices Advocacy starts out in Sub-Saharan Africa, where we look at how Pan-African organizations and a number of countries are debating issues of free expression online. Here’s how it begins:

This week the spotlight turns to Sub-Saharan Africa where Internet freedom advocates are demanding reform as a range of governments across the continent continue policies of censoring dissent. In Nairobi, Kenya, a Pan African Civil Society Workshop on “Who Controls the Internet?” published a statement calling for African nations to prioritize the UN Human Rights Council Resolution affirming freedom of expression online. The participating organizations also called on governments across Africa to endorse the African Platform for Access to Information and to apply its principles.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch has called upon United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to increase pressure for free expression during her 11-day tour of the region. In one of her first stops on the tour Clinton visited South Africa, where proposed legislation could mandate up to 25 years in prison for journalists and government whistleblowers who leak, possess or publish classified government documents. This week Clinton is also visiting Nigeria, whose Senate President David Mark has called for a clampdown on social media. Amidst a backlash by Nigerian netizens, Mark said that his comments were taken out of context.

From there, we move on to cover the latest developments in the struggle for freedom and control of the Internet in Myanmar, China, France, United States, the United Nations, Facebookistan, and beyond. Read the whole thing here.

Netizen Report: Olympic Edition

This week’s edition of the Netizen Report on Global Voices Advocacy begins with the Olympics:

While the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics was meant to celebrate freedom and creativity, its organizers have exercised strict copyright control. World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee appeared at the opening ceremonies of Games amid a dance about social media with a lights display of his live-tweet “This is for everyone.” Yet at the same time, the International Olympic Committee was busy censoring unauthorized videos of the ceremonies. In the offline world, a British florist was nearly sued for displaying the Olympics’ five-ring logo while the Games’ organizers have restricted vast amounts of online content linking to the official website or referencing combinations of words such as “games” and “gold.” With the help of YouTube, the Games are being live streamed to 64 countries, but users in the US still need to pay for cable or use a proxy server to access coverage. In opposition to these restrictions the file-sharing platform Pirate Bay re-labeled itself The Olympic Bay for sports fans seeking coverage, with a tagline echoing Berners-Lee’s message: “This is for everyone.”

We also discuss the challenges Twitter has faced as a primary platform for discussions online during the Games. After leaving London, we go to China, Tajikstan and beyond. Click here to read the whole thing.

Netizen Report: Security Edition

This week’s Netizen Report on Global Voices Advocacy begins with an update on cybersecurity legislation in the US and UK:

We begin this week’s Netizen Report in Washington DC, where supporters of the revised Cybersecurity Act of 2012 are pushing for a vote before Congress goes on break in August. The revised bill was released on Sunday by five senators including Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). New amendments would make any government cybersecurity standards optional. The bill would establish a National Cybersecurity Council to coordinate with network managers in critical infrastructure industries such as emergency services, energy, banking, health care and communications. Privacy advocates such as the American Civil Liberties Union support the amendments as an improvement, but have called for vigilance on privacy concerns ahead of a Senate vote. President Barack Obama also wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal supporting the Cybersecurity Act of 2012.

The European Commission is considering similar cybersecurity requirements for critical infrastructure companies to report security breach notifications to the government and institute risk management. There is a public input forum on the upcoming EU Strategy on Cyber Security running until October 12.

From there, we move to the Europe, where the European Commission has opened up a forum for public input on similar legislation. Then, we continue on to survey the struggle for freedom and control of the Internet around the world. Click here to read the whole thing.

Netizen Report: Neutrality Edition

Last week’s Netizen Report on Global Voices Advocacy began with a net neutrality debate in South Korea:

We begin this week’s Netizen Report with South Korea’s net neutrality advocates and telecommunications companies, who are at odds after the Korean Communications Commission allowed three domestic mobile carriers to block access or add surcharges for mobile voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) services. The decision, which would also affect peer to peer apps such as Skype, emerged after Korean mobile telecoms SK Telecom, KT and LG U+ claimed their data networks would be degraded by the expanding use of applications such as KaKao Talk, which is used by 36 million Koreans. Net neutrality advocates protesting restricted access include several civil society groups and Google’s Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf, who told the Korea Times it would stifle innovation.

From there the Netizen Report team moves on to net neutrality debates in the United States and Brazil, before embarking on our global tour of the ongoing struggle over freedom and control of the Internet. Click here to read the whole thing.

 

Netizen Report: Blackout Edition

This week’s Netizen Report on Global Voices Advocacy begins in Russia:

This week’s Netizen Report continues our coverage of the Russian government’s censorship of the Russian Internet (Ru Net), which could escalate to include a draft bill that would create a blacklist for websites dedicated to pornography, drugs, or extremist activity. Global Voices reported on Tuesday 10 July that this censorship effort could resemble the Great Firewall of China, and would require a website owner to delete content deemed controversial within 24 hours or risk being shut down. Wikipedia’s Russian website went dark on Tuesday in protest, mimicking a prior website blackout that helped galvanize criticism of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the United States. The Russian blackout coincided with a debate on the bill in the Russian parliament on Tuesday. More posts on this issue can be found at Global Voices’ RuNet Echo, a project that aims to expand and deepen understanding of the Russian language Internet and related online communities.

Click here to read the rest of our global roundup on the struggle for freedom and control of the Internet.

Netizen Report: Journalism Edition

The July 5th edition of the Netizen Report on Global Voices Advocacy begins with two positive stories of online journalism in different parts of the world:

The past few weeks have seen promising developments in the use of online journalism to counter official narratives in countries under political upheaval.

The Network for Iraqi Reporters for Investigative Journalism launched in mid-June, becoming the first investigative journalism website in Iraq devoted to stories of “corruption, mismanagement of funds and power across Iraq.” Its articles will be published in Arabic, English and Kurdish. Syrian video activists have also launched an effort to create an online alternative to state-run media. Rami Jarrah, founder of the Activists News Association, hopes the network will transform the activists, who have been using video cameras to document the uprising, into citizen journalists whose work could eventually supplant that of the state media should Syrian President Bashar al-Assad be forced from power.

Independent websites have also played an important role in covering the Mexican presidential election, which took place on July 1, as an alternative to the mainstream media which have been accused of favoring the front-runner candidate Enrique Peña Nieto. Online news websites such as Animal Político, SinEmbargo.com, and ADN Político have provided investigative reporting and data analysis.

In this week’s Netizen Report, we cover more Internet innovations created by netizens to promote political and social change, alongside other developments related to the global struggle for freedom and control on the Internet.

Click here to read the rest.

Netizen Report: Copyright Edition

The June 27th edition of the Netizen Report on Global Voices Advocacy begins in several countries where over-zealous copyright laws and treaties threaten online free expression.

Disproportionate penalties for copyright violations have reached new heights in Japan with the passage of a new bill this month that will make downloading copyrighted material punishable by imprisonment or fines. Previously, imprisonment was possible for uploading files, but this bill expands the penalty to downloaders as well. The bill will go into effect on October 1.

This is not the only recent law to criminalize copyright infringement. Canada’s House of Commons has passed a copyright bill that penalizes circumvention of digital rights management as well as imposes fines on copyright violations. The bill is expected to pass the Senate. Artists in Hong Kong are also resisting an amendment to criminalize copyright infringement beyond “beyond minor economic damage” in a manner eliminates fair use for the creation of derivative works. A French law called HADOPI instituted in 2009 requires Internet Service Providers (ISP) to sever a user’s Internet connection after downloading copyrighted content three times, a law which United Nations Special Rapporteur Frank la Rue called “a violation of article 19” on the right to free expression of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In Europe, due to civil society pressure, governments are increasingly attentive to how copyright enforcement affects human rights and free expression. For this reason, the European Union’s (EU) International Trade Committee recommended that the European Parliament reject the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which seeks multinational standards for intellectual property rights. This is the fifth EU committee to vote against the agreement. The European Parliament is expected to vote on the agreement on July 4.

Click here to read the rest of the report’s global roundup on the global struggle for freedom and control of the Internet.