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Cybersecurity & Standards

Global Policy Weekly – September 9, 2013

CDT’s Global Policy Weekly highlights the latest Internet policy developments and proposals from around the world, compiled by CDT’s Global Internet Freedom Project.


Sections of northern Syria lost connection to the Internet on August 30 during clashes between rebel and army forces. Renesys confirmed that Turk Telekom service to Syria was disrupted, just as it was in a similar incident on August 13. While it is possible that the blackout was a result of technical failure, the Washington Post notes that previous outages have corresponded to major political and military events. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that shortly before the outage, rebel forces took over a town of strategic importance just outside of Aleppo. Reports .indicate that users in the region continue to have trouble connecting to the internet.

The Finnish Supreme Administrative Court ruled that police did nothing illegal when they blocked a website that criticized web blocking. In 2006, Finland passed a law to create a “blocklist” for websites distributing child pornography, but the government did not publicly reveal which sites were being blocked. A concerned citizen started a website criticizing the practice and listing links known to be blocked. His website ended up on the blocklist even though it contained no child porn. TechDirt provides a critical analysis of the court’s ruling, which argues that the interests of children must come before free speech.

According to the Institute for Reporters Freedom and Safety, Internet cafes are closing in Nakhchivan, an autonomous republic of Azerbaijan. Local sources report that Nakhchivan’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has ordered the shops to shut down. Human rights advocates in the region accuse the government of attempting to silence speech in advance of the presidential election. The ministry has denied involvement in the closing of Internet cafes.


The South African Parliament passed the country’s first comprehensive data protection regulation, which the president is expected to sign into law. The Protection of Personal Information Bill establishes a Data Protection Regulator that will have investigation and enforcement authority. The bill sets notice and consent requirements for processing data and limits the processing of sensitive personal information. It also mandates data breech notification practices. Groups will need to begin complying with new rules one year after the bill is signed into law.


Taiwan released what is reportedly the first open malware database in the world. The tool is free and available to the public, cataloguing 200,000 forms of malware. The database also tells users how to remove thousands of types of computer viruses. Access to the database is available by application.

Access produced a new report examining the issue of fake domain attacks and their influence on civil society and independent media. Attackers create pages that closely mimic news and advocacy sites but exist for malicious purposes, often to spread misinformation or serve malware. The Access paper analyzes types of attacks and mitigation strategies, drawing on case studies from Belarus, Iran, Vietnam, and Kazakhstan. Access also produced an online tool called “Fake Domain Detective” to help users identify malicious imposter websites.