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Global Policy Weekly – May 3, 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.


Thailand: The verdict in a case against Ms. Chiranuch Premchaiporn (known as Jiew), director of the popular online newspaper Prachatai, has been postponed by a month. The verdict was originally to be released on April 29. Jiew faces criminal charges under Thailand’s Computer Crime Act, with a potential penalty of twenty years in prison. Jiew’s alleged crime? The government has accused her as operator of Prachatai’s web forum of allowing ten user-generated posts to remain online for too long, even though the offending posts were removed far before her arrest.
Australia: ISPs are not obligated to act on notices of copyright infringement that they receive from rights holders, held the Australian High Court in a recent ruling. The Court wrote that the notices were mere allegations that did not provide “reasonable basis for sending warning notices.”
Colombia: Last month, in the lead-up to President Obama’s visit, the Colombian government rushed to pass into law the copyright portions of the US-Colombia free trade agreement. The resulting law, known as Law 201, promotes copyright protection at the expense of a free an open Internet. CDT’s Andrew McDiarmid and Ellery Roberts Biddle offer some context in their recent blog post about the situation in Colombia.
Palestine: Last week we wrote that government officials in the Palestinian Authority had ordered that several websites known for criticizing President Mahmoud Abbas be blocked. Now the Palestinian Communications Minister, Mashour Abu Daqa, has resigned in protest,  saying that the decision to block the websites was “bad for the image of the Palestinian Authority in the modern world.” 
UK: The High Court has ruled that five major Internet providers must begin blocking access to The Pirate Bay, a Swedish bit torrent site. The decision follows a February 2012 decision in which a High Court judge ruled that The Pirate Bay and its users were committing copyright infringement and that the sites’ operators were trying to “incite or persuade” copyright infringement. 
EU: The European Court of Justice has ruled on a case that dealt with the question of whether the Data Retention Directive prevents a court from compelling disclosure, for the purposes of copyright enforcement, of personally identifying data retained by ISPs. The facts of the case were complex and EDRi has a good discussion here. The Court ruled that provided the court order for disclosure was evidence-based, proportionate, and necessary, neither the Data Retention Directive nor the E-Privacy Directive would prevent the disclosure of this data.
Italy: Legislative language so bad that, back in 2011, it prompted Wikipedia to disappear its Italian version protest, has reemerged in an Italian wiretapping bill. The language would require online publications and websites to publish a correction within 48 hours of receiving notice about any content that any third party believes is detrimental to his or her image, with scant safeguards against abuse or judicial involvement. Failure to publish a correction could result in a €12,000 fine. As CDT wrote in 2011, this requirement could profoundly chill freedom of expression and innovation online. Individual bloggers and platforms for user-generated content – including any website that allows users to comment on content – could face potentially enormous liability risk if the blogger or a third party user expresses an opinion that could offend the most delicate sensibilities. 
India: Online and offline protests against India’s Internet regulations, which include notice-and-takedown provisions that lack countervailing protections for free expression, are mounting. A member of Parliament has introduced a statutory motion to have the Rules annulled and a petition protesting the rules is gaining steam.
EU: The European Commission has released a “European Strategy for a Better Internet for Children.” In the Strategy, the Commission writes that it “intends to propose in 2012 a pan-European framework for electronic authentication that will enable the use of personal attributes (age in particular) to ensure compliance with the age provisions of the proposed data protection regulation.” As CDT has written before, age verification mandates simply do not work and pose a host of additional privacy and freedom of expression concerns. They violate adults’ rights to access information anonymously, by requiring them to provide personal  information (age/date of birth or credit card information) prior to accessing a website; minors’ rights to access information, because many sites simply bar minors rather than face liability due  to imperfect age verification; and website operators’ rights to reach their audience, because of the prohibitive costs of age verification systems and the chilling effect that requests for personal information have on users’ willingness to access information.
France: The French Data Protection Authority (“CNIL“) has announced its 2012 enforcement agenda. The CNIL will be focusing on a range of issues related to data protection, including data collection by mobile operators and apps, health data security, police records, and databases maintained by providers of services like water, electricity, and gas.

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