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.
FREE EXPRESSION AND INTERNET OPENNESS
PAKISTAN: There are some indications that the IT Ministry of Pakistan has abandoned plans to outfit its cities’ Internet infrastructure with mass filtering equipment. The International Tribune has quoted one Pakistani legislator on the matter: “Secretary IT Farooq Ahmed Awan said to me that the URL project has been withdrawn due to the concern shown by various stakeholders.” Until an official announcement is made by the Pakistani government, however, vigilance will remain necessary. CDT has joined digital rights groups in Pakistan and other parts of the world in urging technology companies not to bid on a government RFP for the filtering system.
INDIA: Facebook, Google, and other companies remain on trial in India on criminal charges that they didn’t censor material created by their users and are therefore liable for that content. The case was brought by a private citizen, but the government’s decision to authorize the prosecution, along with the summons order issued by Judge Sudesh Kumar in this case, suggests that some in the Indian government are turning a blind eye to the protections for intermediaries that are already built into India’s Information Technology Act. Charges were initially brought against Microsoft and Yahoo! as well but both companies successfully petitioned to be removed from the case.
NEW ZEALAND: New Zealand is preparing to deploy a new technology, developed in consultation with Microsoft, that will identify and delete exploitative images of children. At this time, it does not appear that ISPs will be required to use the new technology to filter their networks but rather that it will be used as an aid for investigators.
EU: BEREC, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications, recently announced preliminary findings from a study of landline and mobile operators. BEREC found that the throttling of VoIP and peer-to-peer traffic is increasingly common by these operators but that it these actions are often taken in the interest of congestion management and network security.
FRANCE: In a televised speech, French President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed laws that would make criminals of those who access websites that are associated with hate groups or with advocates of terrorism. Sarkozy argued that such laws would be essentially extensions of existing French laws that criminalize the act of visiting sites that host child abuse images.
EU: When representatives from the European Commission and the US Department of Commerce talked recently, Commissioner Viviane Reding urged the US to copy the EU’s stricter, more heavily-regulated approach to protecting privacy. Reding also called for “regulatory convergence” on data protection issues.
SECURITY AND SURVEILLANCE
SWEDEN: Reversing its long-standing opposition to transposing the EU Data Retention Directive, opposition that put the country at risk of heavy fines from the EU, the Swedish parliament this week passed a data retention bill that requires ISPs to store data about subscribers’ Internet use for 6 months.
ITU: As the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) meeting draws closer, concerns are being voiced about the threat posed by ITU entry into Internet regulation. In December, the ITU will convene a meeting of the world’s governments to renegotiate the ITU’s underlying treaty, the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs). Currently, the ITRs do not address Internet technical standards, infrastructure, or content. However, some states, notably China and Russia, are advocating for an expansion of the ITRs to include Internet regulation.