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UNHRC Backs Freedom of Expression on the Internet

BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, July 5 2012

Reuters reports that "...the U.N. Human Rights Council's 47 members states agreed on Thursday that this right should be protected by all states and access to the Internet should also be guaranteed." Both Cuba and China supported the resolution, though internet access is limited by the governments of both countries. US Ambassador Eileen Donohoe called the resolution "momentous," adding: Read More

[OP-ED]: With Facebook's "Reporting Guide," A Step in the Right Direction

BY Jillian C. York | Wednesday, June 27 2012

Facebook recently released this graphic explaining how it handles material reported to be a violation of policy.

Writing about Facebook's recent disclosure of its reporting guidelines, Jillian York writes: "Facebook should be commended for lending transparency to a process that has long come under criticism for its seeming arbitrariness. Such transparency is imperative to help users understand when their behavior is genuinely in violation of the site’s policies; for example, several activists have reported receiving warnings after adding too many new “friends” too quickly, a result of a sensitive spam-recognition algorithm. Awareness of that fact could help users modify their behavior so as to avoid account suspension." Read More

Google Reports "Alarming" Government Requests for Censorship in 2011

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, June 18 2012

Google says it continues to see cases of governments asking Google to remove political speech, which are alarming "not only because free expression is at risk, but because some of these requests come from countries you might not suspect—Western democracies not typically associated with censorship." This interpretation comes alongside newly released data from July to December 2011 detailing governmental requests to remove content from its search results or websites. Read More

WeGov

[OP-ED]: My Government's Commitment to the Surveillance State – the UK Queen's Speech

BY Jon Worth | Monday, May 14 2012

Jon Worth argues that the Queen's Speech, delivered last week, presages a return to the "Big Brother" state in the UK. Read More

Thierer: Ahead of ITU in December, Call for "Hands Off the Net"

BY Nick Judd | Monday, May 7 2012

Writing for Forbes, the Mercatus Institute's Adam Thierer has a little fun with hyperventilation about the U.N. International Telecommunication Union meeting coming in December, at which several nations are expected to argue for increased government regulation of the Internet — that's their governments, as opposed to the largely U.S.-based regulatory bodies that oversee core Internet infrastructure today.

This won't be an opportunity for a U.N. takeover of the Internet, Thierer writes. But it could be a chance for international actors to make more room for their narrow national interests to influence the flow of communications online. Without clearly enumerating a list of threats — though the dangers of colluding with individual countries that might want to separate themselves from the rest of the web, a la Iran or China, is a central theme — Thierer calls for a new "Hands Off the Net" policy from the U.S. and allies.

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Obama: Network Disruption in Syria, Iran, Facilitates Human Rights Abuse

BY Nick Judd | Monday, April 23 2012

In an executive order signed Sunday and released by the White House on Monday as President Barack Obama spoke at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial in Washington, D.C., the president called for financial restrictions on entities involved in the disruption, monitoring, or tracking of computers and networks by the Syrian or Iranian governments. The order would block property in the U.S. owned by people involved firsthand in network tracking and disruption, as well as people who provided technology, finances or expertise. It calls out Syrian and Iranian Internet service providers by name, but may be inclusive enough to cause problems for the Swedish telecommunications supplier Ericsson, which has supplied Syrian telecommunications firm Syriatel, said the Electronic Freedom Foundation's Jillian C. York. Read More

Controversial Arizona Anti-Bullying Bill, Seen as Attack on Free Speech, Said to be Stalled

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, April 3 2012

The Media Coalition, Anonymous and others are speaking out against anti-bullying legislation in Arizona that they say would censor electronic speech. Local station ABC 15 reported late last night that the law "did not make it to [Brewer's] desk, and that it is likely being reworked due to a public outcry calling the measure 'internet censorship.'" Read More

Bahrain and Belarus named Enemies of the Internet

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, March 13 2012

Reporters without Borders released an updated report yesterday of the countries that it has designated Enemies of the Internet. Read More

Access Is Trying to Block Pakistan from Blocking Internet Access

BY Raphael Majma | Monday, March 12 2012

Activist group Access has started an online petition that asks international software firms to not bid on creating the Pakistani government’s national firewall. On Feb. 23, the Pakistani government placed out an advertisement in the national press calling for software firms and local institutions to bid on “the development, deployment and operation of a national level URL Filtering and Blocking System.” For a number of years, the government has practiced blocking sites that they consider to be “obscene” or offensive to Islam. This new system, which officials want to be capable of blocking up to 50 million URLs, would be a substantial tightening of an already heavily regulated Pakistani Internet. As of December 2011, Pakistan had over 29 million Internet users, all of whom will be affected if the system is put in place. Read More

Amid Protests and a Court Case, ACTA Set to Come Before EU Parliament

BY Antonella Napolitano | Friday, February 24 2012

Anti-ACTA sign in Helsinki, Finland. Photo: Frikjan / Flickr

Next week the European Parliament will start discussing the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA, a controversial treaty that would set new international standards for dealing with copyright infringements. Next June, the European Parliament will have to vote to ratify or reject the treaty, but what seemed to be little more than a technicality now represents a crucial moment in a public debate on Internet freedom and digital rights. Read More