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Global Policy Weekly – November 9, 2011

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.


From November 1-3, the 33rd Annual Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners took place in Mexico City. The conference focused on issues of privacy in the global age; resolutions adopted at the conference will be posted shortly. The Hunton & Williams Privacy and Information Security Law Blog ran a short post offering highlights from different events at the conference.

EU: EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission, and the German Federal Minister for Consumer Protection, Ilse Aigner, met in Brussels on November 7 to discuss pending reforms to the 1995 Data Protection Directive, which will be presented in January of 2012. See Europa Press Release here. V3 reports that “The European Commission (EC) wants all companies that store data on European citizens, whether based in the EU or not, to be subject to an updated version of the Data Protection Directive due to be unveiled in January.”

EU: In an address to the European Newspaper Publishers Association, EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding spoke on the “right to be forgotten”:  “[The] ‘right to be forgotten’…builds on existing principles such as the “data minimisation principle”, in respect of which personal data should be processed only when strictly necessary. […] I will ensure that when an individual no longer wants his data to be processed or when there are no legitimate grounds to retain the data, it will be deleted. […] Let me be clear: the rules are about empowering private individuals in relation to data-processors, not about erasing past events, rewriting history or restricting freedom of the press.”

OECD: The Working Party on Information Security and Privacy released a document “Terms of Reference for the Review of the OECD Guidelines Governing the Protection of Privacy and Transborder Data Flows of Personal Data.”  “OECD members have agreed on terms of reference to ensure the continued relevance of the OECD framework for privacy and transborder flows of personal data. These terms of reference articulate a shared view about current issues and approaches and provide the rationale for further work.”



Brazil: Currently pending in the House of Representatives is a cybercrime bill that would have chilling effects on free speech and freedom of information, and would impose substantial data retention requirements on intermediaries. It would also undercut a civil regulatory framework for the Internet that has been proposed in Congress. CDT has issued comments on the proposed law, and written a blog post describing how the law would impact Internet policy-making in Brazil.

Russia: The Russian government is currently testing an Internet monitoring system that will aim to trace “extremist” content on the Internet, and require that hosts remove the content within three days of notice from authorities. Techdirt reports that the system will go launch in December of 2011. In April of 2011, Global Voices wrote that the system “will be based on two elements: a storage that would contain illegal materials (some sort of ‘thesaurus of illegal keywords’) and the search system that will scan through the online space and compare the online text with the illegal content in the storage.”

OAS/Mexico: The Special Rapporteurs for Freedom of Expression for the UN and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) have called on Mexican authorities to implement recommendations made in their 2010 reports on Free Expression in Mexico. In response to the recent murders of three social media users by drug cartels, the IACHR has also issued a statement urging that authorities extend special protections against violence for print and broadcast journalists to bloggers and social media users.

COE: On the 7th of November, the UK took over the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers for the next 6 months.  Its chairmanship programme noted that, “The UK strongly supports an open internet, not only in terms of access and content but also freedom of expression. Our Chairmanship will work towards the adoption of the Council of Europe Internet governance strategy by the Committee of Ministers. We will also give impetus to the principles that the Council of Europe has developed to uphold freedom of expression on the internet and provide support to other initiatives, to ensure that all member states live up to their international obligations in this area.”

COE/EU: The COE Parliamentary Assembly recently issued a Report on Combating Child Abuse Images. The report stated that, “The Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (Lanzarote Convention, CETS 201) […] and the Convention on Cybercrime (Budapest Convention, CETS 185) will soon be completed by the upcoming European Union (EU) Directive on combating sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography expected to be adopted by the European Parliament and Council before the end of 2011. These texts constitute a strong legal basis, but need to be reinforced concerning certain aspects such as the criminalisation of the intentional consultation of child abuse images (as far as the Lanzarote Convention is concerned) and the mandatory character of website blocking when deleting is not possible, which has, to the regret of the Parliamentary Assembly, not found its way into the final EU draft Directive.”



Thailand: A pending cybercrime bill in Thailand would threaten free speech, freedom of information, and individual privacy. Index on Censorship reports that the proposed law would give the National Police Chief the power to “prohibit publication, distribution, import, or import for distribution of printing material deemed offensive to the monarchy institution or undermining national security, public order, or good morals.”

UK: Metropolitan police authorities are using surveillance mechanisms to monitor mobile phones. The Guardian reports that this covert surveillance technology “can masquerade as a mobile phone network, transmitting a signal that allows authorities to shut off phones remotely, intercept communications and gather data about thousands of users in a targeted area.”



COE: On November 24th and 25th, the COE and the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs of Austria are co-hosting a conference: “Our Internet — Our Rights, Our Freedoms: Towards the Council of Europe Strategy on Internet Governance 2012-2015“.  The conference is open to people with a professional interest in the Internet; the aim of the conference is the elaboration of a new four-year Council of Europe strategy to advance the protection and respect for human rights, rule of law, and democracy on the Internet.

UN: On October 26, at a meeting of the UN general assembly, India proposed the formation of a UN Committee for Internet-Related Policies. IP Watch reports that “The proposal comes within the context of efforts by developed countries to build support for an open internet and by the UN to address gaps in global internet governance and increased unilateral moves to block content online.”