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Global Policy Weekly – January 22, 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. Subscribe to Global Policy Weekly by clicking the RSS icon on the right.


India: A private citizen in New Delhi has filed a lawsuit alleging that Internet intermediaries such as Google and Facebook have illegally hosted material that offends India’s religions and demanding that Internet intermediaries pre-screen and filter user-generated content. The punishment for such crimes is financial penalty or jail time. Google and Facebook have petitioned to quash the suit and the Delhi High Court recently postponed hearings on these petitions until February. The companies have pointed out that India’s Information Technology Act of 2008 states that Internet intermediaries cannot be held liable for information posted by 3rd parties. Under the law these companies must, however, remove specific content that is “ethically objectionable,” blasphemous,” or “grossly harmful” where they have been notified of its existence. A judge reviewing the case did state that “like China,” India might decide to block websites that host offensive content.

Germany: The Administrative Court of Dusseldorf has ruled that German ISPs are not required to block access to foreign gambling sites that are illegal under German law. The Court’s finding  was based on its interpretation of Europe’s E-Commerce Directive, which offers protection from liability for certain Internet intermediaries. 
Netherlands: A Dutch Court has ordered two ISPs to block Pirate Bay, a site where users share (sometimes illegally distributed) film and music files. The two ISPs, Ziggo and XS4ALL, had refused to accommodate copyright holder organizations that were pressuring them to block access to Pirate Bay. The Court held that due to the “reciprocal” nature of the Bit Torrent protocol, users who were downloading copyrighted files (which is not illegal under Dutch law) were also uploading such files (which is illegal).
Global: Recent protests against two proposed US copyright laws, SOPA and PIPA, received international attention. The Sydney Morning Herald gave space to the protests and the fate of the bills, and even Chinese bloggers are discussing the blackouts on sites across the web.
Europe: Europe is preparing for a Wednesday announcement of new data protection regulations.  While the regulations are expected to be similar to the draft regulations that were leaked in December, some of the details of the regulation are expected to have changed. 
Hungary: The European Commission has launched enforcement actions against Hungary, where a new constitution has gone into effect. The Commission believes alleges the data protection authority under the new constitution is not sufficiently independent.