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Global Policy Weekly – April 16, 2012

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.


Colombia: Law 201, which aims to regulate online copyright infringement in accordance with Colombia’s free trade agreement with the United States, was approved by the nation’s congress last week. The bill was fast tracked through the review process in an effort to coincide with Barack Obama’s visit to Colombia for the Summit of the Americas this week. The bill will be written into law pending signature by President Juan Manuel Santos. Free expression and open Internet advocates say they will work to challenge the law in Colombia’s Constitutional Court.

EU: As the European Parliament prepares for a June vote on ACTA ratification, the Parliament’s Industry, Research, and Energy committee has issued a draft opinion on ACTA, calling on Parliament to reject the treaty.

Vietnam: Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications has released draft regulations that, if adopted, would create hugely burdensome liability for online speakers and online intermediaries, thereby dramatically reducing the space for free expression in Vietnam. Reporters Without Borders reports that the rules would also require that all information posted by individual Internet users be attached to users’ real names.

Lebanon: Lebanon’s Minister of Information has proposed a new censorship law, the Lebanese Internet Regulation Act. The Act would prohibit a wide gamut of online speech, would create registration obligations for website owners, and would place limitations on who is allowed to “own” a website.  The Act would also apply existing broadcast and press laws to the Internet. NGO’s and activists have been protesting the law; the associated hashtag is #stopLIRA.

Saudi Arabia: A woman in Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to 50 lashes for using swear words in a text message to a friend.

France: The French Hadopi authority has published a report discussing the French anit-piracy statute, Hadopi, and its impact in its first 18 months since enactment. According to the report, “Benchmarking studies covering all of the sources available shows a clear downward trend in illegal P2P downloads. [However,] [t]here is no indication that there has been a massive transfer in forms of use to streaming technologies or direct downloads.”


EU: The European Commission’s Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes has opened a public consultation on the “Internet of Things.” The consultation focuses on the privacy, safety and security, ethics, interoperability, and governance issues raised by new technologies. Responses are due on July 12.

EU: The EU’s Article 29 working Party, which offers expert advice on data protection to member states and to the Commission, has issued an “Opinion on facial recognition in online and mobile services.”


UK: The British government is preparing new surveillance legislation to be revealed next month. The legislation would reportedly allow domestic intelligence agencies to monitor all private communications (phone, email, text messages, Internet use, social network use) without a warrant. The surveillance plan, known as the Communication Capabilities Development Programme will likely be featured in a May 9 speech by the Queen.

Poland: In 2011, Polish authorities submitted 1.85 million requests to ISPs and other telecommunications companies for users’ traffic data, data that these companies must store under Poland’s transposition of the EU’s Data Retention Directive. Poland’s data retention law is extraordinarily broad: among other things, it does not require that police receive judicial permission before accessing the data, it grants police the authority to use the data for a wide range of “preventive measures,”  and it mandates that data be retained for two years, the longest permitted retention period under the Directive. Moreover, Polish authorities have a history of abusing their access to this data: in 2010, the Polish press reported that, as part of a politically motivated plot, agents accessed mobile phone location and traffic data stored under the country’s data retention law and compiled lists of high-profile journalists’ sources.


ITU: Government officials and Congresspeople in the US are growing increasingly vocal with their concerns about the threat of ITU-imposed Internet regulation. CDT has written extensively about why the ITU’s efforts to regulate the Internet would threaten its success as a platform for innovation, economic growth, human development, and economic participation. 

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