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Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, April 14 2014

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.

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China's Crackdown on Online Rumors Escalates with First Public Trial

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, April 11 2014

Today marks China's first public trial of an online "rumormonger" convicted of spreading false information via China's popular micro-blogging service Weibo. The government's move comes amidst an escalating crackdown on online rumors that began last summer. Read More

WeGov

In Pakistan, A Hypocritical Gov't Ignores Calls To End YouTube Ban

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, April 10 2014

Screenshot of Anusha Rehman's profile at www.na.gov.pk

YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan by executive order since September 2012, after the “blasphemous” video Innocence of Muslims started riots in the Middle East. Since then, civil society organizations and Internet rights advocacy groups like Bolo Bhi and Bytes for All have been working to lift the ban. Last August the return of YouTube seemed imminent—the then-new IT Minister Anusha Rehman spoke optimistically and her party, which had won the majority a few months before, was said to be “seriously contemplating” ending the ban. And yet since then, Rehman and her party, the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), have done everything in their power to maintain the status quo.

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The #NotABugSplat Campaign Aims to Give Drone Operators Pause Before They Strike

BY Rebecca Chao | Thursday, April 10 2014

Rather than tiny bug-sized dots, this is what activists hope drone operators will now see (notabugsplat.com)

In the #NotABugSplat campaign that launched this week, a group of American, French and Pakistani artists sought to raise awareness of the effects of drone strikes by placing a field-sized image of a young girl, orphaned when a drone strike killed her family, in a heavily targeted region of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Its giant size is visible to those who operate drone strikes as well as in satellite imagery. Read More

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#StopSurveillanceinKS: A Draft Law in Kosovo Proposes Dragnet Surveillance à la NSA

BY Sonia Roubini | Thursday, April 3 2014

The Republic of Kosovo may soon join the list of countries with a government-led mass surveillance program. Kosovo’s Ministry of EU Integration is bringing the first draft of a surveillance law before Parliament tomorrow. The draft law proposes sweeping data collection and retention measures that could affect a set of Kosovo citizens loosely defined as "one or more persons identified in a lawful authorization and whose incoming or outgoing communications are to be intercepted and monitored." Read More

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EU Net Neutrality Vote Disappoints Everyone

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, March 19 2014

McKayla is not impressed with the EU Net Neutrality law (Pete Souza / Wikipedia)

A draft law on net neutrality passed an European Parliament committee Tuesday 30 to 12, with 14 members abstaining. Although the draft law purports to protect net neutrality, it contains vague language that would allow ISPs to charge websites more for higher quality of service, provided it does not degrade other online services. This gives both industry groups and consumer watchdog groups something to complain about.

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The Largest Loomio Project Yet

BY Rebecca Chao | Thursday, March 13 2014

Loomio goes to Greece (credit: screenshot of www.eda.org)

In many ways, open source is like a sperm bank: you never know what your offspring will look like or where they will end up unless they take the initiative to reach out. Benjamin Knight, a founder of the open source group decision-making platform known as Loomio, had his own Vince Vaughn "Delivery Man" moment when he got a call from Giorgio Mariotti from the Pirate Party of Hellas. Mariotti says he had used Loomio's open source to create 461 Loomio groups for each of the municipal to national levels of government in his country. Mariotti wanted to kickstart a process of direct democracy and needed to know: could Loomio's servers handle this many groups? Knight reassured Mariotti it could but that it was certainly the largest Loomio project to date. Read More

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Can the Internet Help Build Democracy in Tunisia?

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, March 4 2014

The website of the NGO I WATCH (screenshot)

As January 26, 2014 approached, the day Tunisia's National Constituent Assembly would vote on passing a Constitution that had been snarled in debate for two years, rather than feel relief, activist Achref Aouadi tells techPresident he had grown dismayed after his failed attempts to create an online platform that would allow Tunisian citizens to debate, discuss and vote on the provisions of the draft Constitution. A day before the vote, he had not yet found a viable platform nor the funds for a developer. A crucial opportunity would be lost for stirring civic participation, which he sees as a vital step in the building of Tunisia’s democracy. Then, an online search turned the tide in Aouadi’s favor. Read More

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Snowden and the War On Whistleblowers: An Interview With Annie Machon

BY Carola Frediani | Tuesday, February 11 2014

Annie Machon, a former British intelligence officer turned whistleblower, was known in the 1990s for disclosing illegal wiretapping, among a number of alleged crimes, by the UK Security Service, MI5. She is now again in the spotlight for creating a fund to help Edward Snowden and protect others like him. Machon talks to techPresident about her new initiative, the Courage Foundation to Protect Journalistic Sources, as well as her thoughts on mass surveillance and its erosion of civil liberties. Read More

Tomorrow the Internet Puts Collective Foot Down to Say "No" to Mass Surveillance

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, February 10 2014

Just over two years after the successful action against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), Internet companies are banding together once again to protest mass surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA). The Day We Fight Back was announced January 10, the eve of Aaron Swartz's death, and will take place February 11. More than 5,000 websites will participate tomorrow in a concerted effort to get people to tell Congress to protest mass surveillance, oppose the FISA Improvements Act and support the USA Freedom Act. The Day We Fight Back is an even more ambitious campaign than Stop SOPA; participants are not trying to stop legislation, they're trying to pass it, no small feat in today's political climate.

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