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Global Policy Weekly – June 7, 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.


China: Google has begun notifying its search engine users of which search terms it is unable to process, due to content restrictions imposed by Chinese government authorities. Users attempting to search terms that have been banned now receive a message stating “Please note that searches from mainland China for ‘[search term]’ may lead to the user’s connection with Google being temporarily blocked. Google has no control over this interruption.” CPJ has more information on this change.
EU: Late last month, the EU telecommunications advisory panel (BEREC) released a series of studies showing that the degree to which both broadband and mobile Internet subscribers in the EU receive services where some kinds of websites and services, such VoIP, are restricted. EU Commissioner for Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes has called on companies to be more transparent in these practices, while civil society advocates argue that the EU should adopt net neutrality legislation, following the lead of the Netherlands, which passed a net neutrality law earlier this spring.
EU: EP Committees on Civil Liberties, as well as the Legal and Industry Committees, announced that they will vote against ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) last week, further ensuring ACTA opponents that the agreement will not be approved by the EP when it comes to a vote on July 3. The Industry committee stated that ACTA “fails to balance intellectual property rights, business freedom, protection of personal data and the freedom to receive or provide information.”
France: The Paris High Court ruled in favor of Google in a case involving a claim by television channel TF1 that clips from its programs appearing on YouTube violated anti-counterfeiting law. The Court ruled that YouTube is merely a hosting service, and should therefore not be obligated to police content posted by its users.
Germany: Germany’s largest credit bureau, Schufa, has plans to begin scanning individuals’ social network profiles as an additional measure for determining creditworthiness. Consumer protection groups and data protection authorities in Germany are concerned about this plan and have called on Schufa to be fully transparent about its efforts.
US/world: In a June 5 blog post, Google’s VP for Security Engineering Eric Grosse announced that the company will begin giving notice to users whose accounts appear to be vulnerable to state-sponsored surveillance or security threats. A simple message will appear at the top of a user’s browser window will state the following, “Warning: We believe state-sponsored attackers may be attempting to compromise your account or computer,” and include a link to information about how to increase security for one’s account. Critics have questioned Google’s capacity to determine whether or not attackers are in fact state-affiliated.
Egypt: Officials at Egypt’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology are exploring options for creating a digitized national identification card system, wherein citizen ID cards would hold personal, employment, health, financial, and other sensitive information. Authorities say that such a system will help the state to streamline citizen records and to decrease paper flow in the country’s state offices.
US: The US House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing last week on the upcoming renegotiation of the International Telecommunication Regulations, which form the underlying treaty of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN specialized agency that sets standards for international interoperability of telephony. Many countries are proposing that the treaty expand its authority to cover Internet governance-related issues such as cybersecurity, data protection, and IP routing. Experts at the hearing expressed grave concern about this possible shift in the dynamics and power balance of global Internet governance. Members also have introduced a resolution urging the executive branch to oppose this effort. See CDT’s information page on the treaty to learn more.
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