The Turkish government has pushed draconian internet censorship legislation through parliament. The new law was met with outrage in Turkey, with opposition parties accusing the government of wanting to introduce ever tighter control by bypassing
The regulations were adopted after a heated parliamentary debate during which one MP of the main opposition People's Republican party (CHP) compared the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to Hitler. Hasan Oren said:
When you came into power you talked of increasing democracy in Turkey, but now you are trying to implement fascism. Remember that Adolf Hitler used the same methods when he rose to power.
The law now needs to be signed by the Turkish president, Abdullah Gul, to come into effect.
The new measures will allow Turkey's telecommunications authority (TIB) to block any website within 24 hours without first seeking a court ruling. The law also obliges internet providers to store all data on web users' activities for two years and
make it available to the authorities upon request.
Turkey's president, Abdullah Gul has signed into force a repressive law voted in by the government that would introduce further censorship of web use.
Gul said on his Twitter feed he promulgated the law - which the opposition and rights groups say infringes on citizens' freedoms - after the government assured him it would soften parts of it through later amendments. He claimed:
I am aware of the problems mainly on two points.... These concerns will be taken into account in the new law
The government is now proposing that the internet censors of TIB will have to inform a judge about any decision to block a web page, according to the Hurriyet newspaper. The judge would then have to issue a ruling within 48 hours or the TIB move
would be deemed invalid.
Police used water canon and tear gas on Saturday against hundreds of people protesting against a new Internet law introducing even more censorship for Turkish surfers.
Protesters threw glass bottles, stones and other objects in the direction of heavily armed police officers, who made several arrests. Later Saturday evening the demonstrators erected barricades and lit fires in garbage cans. The protests are
taking place in Istanbul's main shopping area in Istiklal street, near Taksim Square, the site of clashes between protesters and police in August.
The Turkish Parliament has amended the Internet censorship bill that has caused outrage in Turkey.
The bill was approved by President Abdullah Gul last week, but he asked lawmakers to revise several articles he considered to be anti-democratic. One of the points he highlighted was the need to seek a court order for blocking websites in the hope
of avoiding arbitrary decisions.
Two articles of the controversial Internet censorship law which were considered problematic by the president have been changed three weeks after the bill was approved in Parliament.
According to the changes, the Telecommunications Directorate (TIB) will be able to obtain Internet traffic data only with a court order, except when there is the threat of cyber attack or viruses. The TIB will now need the decision to block
content to be approved by a criminal court of peace within 24 hours and the court will have 48 hours in which to reach a decision.
The fact that this new form of censorship is being directed by a government that has overseen widespread electronic mass surveillance of its people suggests they may soon alienate those that value their freedom.
For the last month, Venezuela has been caught up in widespread protests against its government. The Maduro administration has responded by cracking down on what it claims as being foreign interference online. As that social unrest has
escalated, the state's censorship has widened: from the removal of television stations from cable networks, to the targeted blocking of social networking services, and the announcement of new government powers to censor and monitor online.
Last night, EFF received reports from Venezuelans of the shutdown of the state Internet provider in San Cristo'bal, a regional capital in the west of the country.
The censorship began early last week when the authorities removed a Columbian news network , NTN24, from Venezuelan cable, and simultaneously published a reminder that TV stations could be in violation of a law that forbids the incitement or
promotion of hatred , or foment citizens' anxiety or alter public order.
Venezuelan Internet users on a variety of ISPs lost connectivity last Thursday to an IP address owned by the content delivery network, Edgecast. That address provided access to, among other services, Twitter's images at pbs.twimg.com. A
separate block prevented Venezuelans from reaching the text hosting site, Pastebin .
No official explanation for the loss of access to these general purpose communication platforms was given by either the government or the ISPs (the country's largest ISP, CANTV , is government-owned).
William Castillo , the director of CONATEL , the country's media regulator, later claimed that Internet censorship was necessary to fight off online attacks. He said that his organization had blocked several links where public sites were
Last week also saw the Venezuelan government prepare more systematic monitoring and blocking online. The country's official gazette published last Thursday the details of a new government institution , CESPPA ( The Strategic Center for
Security and Protection of the Country ). Among its broad powers, CESPPA can unilaterally classify and censor any information it sees as a threat to national security. Its structure includes two new Directorates: the Directorate of
Information and Technology Studies, which will be in charge of processing and analyzing information from the web ; and the Directorate for Social Research, intended to neutralize and defeat destabilization plans against the nation
. The Center will also provide for a network of situation rooms to be placed in all public institutions (the state ISP, CANTV, is defined as a public institution).
When first announced in October, CESPPA was criticized for being an unconstitutional attack on press freedom. With its new details revealed, it's clear that it will also have a wide mandate to monitor and control all online communications in
the defence of the state.
Even before CESPPA can flex its new powers, however, the Venezuelan government appears to have taken the most drastic step yet against its citizens' free expression online. Starting late Tuesday night, reports reached EFF of the shutdown of
CANTV's Internet access in areas of San Cristobal, the capital of the state of Tachira , and one center of the protests. Venezuelan technologists have been organizing online to spread information about bypassing censorship and restoring
connectivity via the Twitter account @accesolibreve .
With shifting excuses for increasingly heavy-handed Internet controls, the government is undermining its own legitimacy abroad and among its own citizens. The censorship and blackouts must end.
Microsoft's Bing search engine has been found out returning pro-state results for Chinese-language searches, even when those searches come from outside of China, activists claim.
The Guardian noted that a number of Chinese-language activist blogs are reporting that the results they have been seeing on Bing searches from within the US are very different than those returned from English-language search queries. Using
similar tactics to search both Chinese and English terms on Google Search showed no such discrepancy, as the engine returned similar page results in both language searches.
Among the censored queries were searches in Chinese for the Dalai Lama, Falun Gong, and the June 4 (Tienanmen Square) protests.
Microsoft, for its part, has denied the censorship, claiming that a combination of systems errors and incorrectly-flagged pages led to the results noted in the reports. Bing senior director Stefan Weitz told the Reg:.
Due to an error in our system, we triggered an incorrect results removal notification for some searches noted in the report but the results themselves are and were unaltered outside of China.
Offsite: Not so fast. A deeper analysis of Bing search results
The strong representation of harmonious results on the US version of Bing would understandably raise eyebrows. But allegations that Microsoft is kowtowing to the Chinese government ought to be treated with the same skepticism.
The Daily Telegraph has decided to take a pop at Google's Play Store for mobile apps. There doesn't seem much evidence of 'outrage' but when did that ever stop the tabloids.
The Telegraph rolls out the outrage bandwagon:
Google is profiting from the sale of hundreds of pornographic images and books depicting sadistic acts, incest and rape which are readily available to children. It is selling titles with graphic images and content alongside children's
literature on its Google Play book store.
More than 100 of the books are in fact little more than pornographic magazines and openly advertise the fact that they contain hundreds of graphic images. Free samples are available to download, and they can be accessed on computers, tablets
and mobile phones.
Despite the graphic nature of the images Google has no age verification in place or parental restrictions, other than requiring a child to declare that they are aged 13 and above to use the Google Play store.
One parent wrote to her MP, Stephen Barclay to raise her concerns after discovering that her son had been downloading the images on his phone:
I feel they are not bothered about this problem. I don't think many parents are aware of this situation so [they] are unable to keep their children safe, as Google keeps advertising. I would like ... to find a solution through government to
put a stop to this situation and make Google more responsible.
A Google spokesman said that the company did not issue age-ratings for books because there is no certification system. The company argues that:
A 13--year-old could freely walk into any book store and browse/purchase any book he/she chose to pick up.
City workers in Paris have been instructed to remove political messages from street art this week, including several paintings protesting against local anti-piracy law Hadopi . Among the targets were several creations by Finnish artist
Sampsa, who painted dozens of anti-Hadopi statements across the city.
One of the works, which displayed the text The Blood Sucking Hadopi alongside a kid being chased by a giant mosquito. The city workers decided that the text went too far and removed it in its entirety. The rest of the mutilated painting
remains in place, although its original message has been completely lost.
The irony of the city's actions is that it has censored an artist who has spoken out against a law that is supposed to protect artists. Needless to say, the move was heavily criticized by many members of the public.
TorrentFreak talked to Sampsa who is disappointed that his work was destroyed, but is also glad for the public support he's received.
Creating street art is simply a tool for activism. I am glad people in France are upset about what happened in Butte aux Cailles -- it shows at least someone is paying attention to certain lines that shouldn't be crossed.
Despite the setbacks Sampsa is not going to stop, on the contrary in fact. The French three-strikes law is about to be transformed into system where alleged file-sharers will receive automatic fines , something the artists is heavily
Does publishing a hyperlink to freely available content amount to an illegal communication to the public and therefore a breach of creator's copyrights under European law? After examining a case referred to it by Sweden's Court of Appeal, the
Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled today that no, it does not.
One of the key roles of the EU's Court of Justice is to examine and interpret EU legislation to ensure its uniform application across all of those member states. The Court is also called upon by national courts to clarify finer points of EU
law to progress local cases with Europe-wide implications.
One such case, referred to the CJEU by Sweden's Court of Appeal, is of particular interest to Internet users as it concerns the very mechanism that holds the web together.
The dispute centers on a company called Retriever Sverige AB, an Internet-based subscription service that indexes links to articles that can be found elsewhere online for free.
The problem came when Retriever published links to articles published on a newspaper's website that were written by Swedish journalists. The company felt that it did not have to compensate the journalists for simply linking to their articles,
nor did it believe that embedding them within its site amounted to copyright infringement.
The journalists, on the other hand, felt that by linking to their articles Retriever had communicated their works to the public without permission. In the belief they should be paid, the journalists took their case to the Stockholm
District Court. They lost their case in 2010 and decided to take the case to appeal. From there the Svea Court of Appeal sought advice from the EU Court.
Today the Court of Justice published its lengthy decision and it's largely good news for the Internet. The Court writes:
In the circumstances of this case, it must be observed that making available the works concerned by means of a clickable link, such as that in the main proceedings, does not lead to the works in question being communicated to a new public
The public targeted by the initial communication consisted of all potential visitors to the site concerned, since, given that access to the works on that site was not subject to any restrictive measures, all Internet users could therefore
have free access to them.
Therefore, since there is no new public, the authorization of the copyright holders is not required for a communication to the public such as that in the main proceedings.
However, the ruling also makes it clear that while publishing a link to freely available content does not amount to infringement, there are circumstances where that would not be the case. the Court explains:
Where a clickable link makes it possible for users of the site on which that link appears to circumvent restrictions put in place by the site on which the protected work appears in order to restrict public access to that work to the latter
site's subscribers only, and the link accordingly constitutes an intervention without which those users would not be able to access the works transmitted, all those users must be deemed to be a new public.
So, in basic layman's terms, if content is already freely available after being legally published and isn't already subject to restrictions such as a subscription or pay wall, linking to or embedding that content does not communicate it to a
new audience and is therefore not a breach of EU law.
The Snowden revelations have confirmed our worst fears about online spying. They show that the NSA and its allies have been building
a global surveillance infrastructure to "master the internet" and spy on the world's communications. These shady groups have undermined basic encryption standards, and riddled the Internet's backbone with surveillance equipment. They
have collected the phone records of hundreds of millions of people none of whom are suspected of any crime. They have swept up the electronic communications of millions of people at home and overseas indiscriminately, exploiting the digital
technologies we use to connect and inform. They spy on the population of allies, and share that data with other organizations, all outside the rule of law.
We aren't going to let the NSA and its allies ruin the Internet. Inspired by the memory of Aaron Swartz, fueled by our victory against SOPA and ACTA, the global digital rights community are uniting to fight back.
On February 11, on the Day We Fight Back, the world will demand an end to mass surveillance in every country, by every state, regardless of boundaries or politics. The SOPA and ACTA protests were successful because we all took part, as a
community. As Aaron Swartz put it, everybody "made themselves the hero of their own story." We can set a date, but we need everyone, all the users of the Global Internet, to make this a movement.
Here's part of our plan (but it's just the beginning). Last year, before Ed Snowden had spoken to the world, digital rights activists united on 13
. The Principles spelled out just why mass surveillance was a violation of human rights, and gave sympathetic lawmakers and judges a list of fixes they could apply to the lawless Internet spooks. On the day we fight back, we want the world to
sign onto those principles. We want politicians to pledge to uphold them. We want the world to see we care.
Here's how you can join the effort:
1. We're encouraging websites to point to the Day We Fight Back website, which will allow people from around the world to sign onto our 13 Principles, and fight back against mass surveillance by the NSA, GCHQ, and other intelligence agencies.
If you can let your colleagues know about the campaign and the website ( thedaywefightback.org
) before the day, we can send them information on the campaign in each country.
2. Tell your friends to sign the 13 Principles! We will be revamping our global action center at en.necessaryandproportionate.org/take-action
to align ourselves with the day of action. We'll continue to use the Principles to show world leaders that privacy is a human right and should be protected regardless of frontiers.
3. Email: If you need an excuse to contact your members or colleagues about this topic, February 11th is the perfect time to tell them to contact local politicians about Internet spying, encourage them to take their own actions and understand
the importance of fighting against mass surveillance.
4. Social media: Tweet! Post on Facebook and Google Plus! We want to make as big of a splash as possible. We want this to be a truly global campaign, with every country involved. The more people are signing the Principles, the more world
leaders will hear our demands to put a stop to mass spying at home and overseas.
5. Tools: Develop memes, tools, websites, and do whatever else you can to encourage others to participate.
6. Be creative: plan your own actions and pledge. Take to the streets. Promote the Principles in your own country. Then, let us know what your plan is, so we can link and re-broadcast your efforts.
All 6 (or more!) would be great, but honestly the movement benefits from everything you do.
The British government is attempting to block all online extremist videos that they claim are helping to radicalise impressionable young men. The Home Office is in talks with internet companies to block violent religious films that are hosted
abroad. The plans have been drawn up by James Brokenshire, the ex-security minister who is now the immigration minister.
One minister told the BBC that about 2,000 Europeans are thought to be fighting in Syria, including at least 200 known to the British security services. It is feared that fighters returning to the UK will seek to radicalise young men in
particular to launch terrorist attacks both at home and abroad.
Since February 2010, the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit, or CTIRU, has taken down more than 21,000 pieces of illegal terrorist online content. If the CTIRU and prosecutors deem material to be illegal it can be blocked from parts of
the public sector, including schools and hospitals. But this does not extend to domestic users - and filters can be turned off.
James Brokenshire said
Through proposals from the extremism taskforce announced by the prime minister in November, we will look to further restrict access to material which is hosted overseas - but illegal under UK law - and help identify other harmful content to
be included in family-friendly filters.
The Home Office also hopes it can also make it easier for people to report extremist content online.
Emma Carr, deputy director of campaign group Big Brother Watch, said:
Politicians and civil servants should not be deciding what we can see online. If content is to be blocked then it should be a court deciding that it is necessary and proportionate to do so.
When the large ISPs rolled out their poorly-named porn filters in December, they all arrived missing an essential feature: a tool to check whether each filter blocked a specific URL or not. Without these tools from
Sky , BT or TalkTalk , anti-filter campaigners resorted to using the only such service available, which happened to be from O2 . O2 , being a mobile provider, had actually been filtering content since 2004, but its URL checker (
urlchecker.o2.co.uk ) had largely been ignored for several years.
The storm of abuse that O2 received in December was therefore quite unfair: it was targeted, not for being the worst offender, but for being the most transparent of all the mobile and broadband Internet providers.
Unsurprisingly, it wasn't long before O2 took its URL checking service offline; and although the company denies this was done to stop people sending angry tweets, the page is still offline today, displaying the message:
Our URL checker is currently unavailable as we are updating the site.
Perhaps the provider really is updating the site... but let's not hold our breaths. If I were a manager at O2 , I probably would have reached the same conclusion: there's no point being transparent when transparency is
bad for business. Every other ISP, watching O2's support Twitter ID get bombarded during early December, will have also decided not to offer an online URL checker. Quite simply, market forces will punish any provider that breaks from the pack
and provides information about how its filter works, and which sites it blocks.
It is therefore disgraceful that the government allowed the filtering to be put in place without mandating provider transparency. Countless sites have undoubtedly been blocked in error, but it is very difficult to find
out which ones are blocked by which providers.
Sadly, we cannot expect Claire Perry MP, who is responsible for this mess, to call for this problem to be remedied. Transparency will reveal the huge extent of overblocking, which will be as bad for her career as it is
for ISPs reputations.
It is up to the public to expose this deliberate suppression of information, and to shame government into action. If you care about Internet freedom, please tweet BT , TalkTalk , Sky , David Cameron and Claire Perry to
ask why we cannot easily see what is being censored; and also ask O2 when their URL checker will be back online. Use the #CensoredUK hashtag in your tweets, and we will retweet them!
In two tense meetings last June and July the cabinet secretary, Jeremy Heywood, explicitly warned the Guardian's editor, Alan Rusbridger, to return the Snowden documents.
Heywood, sent personally by David Cameron, told the editor to stop publishing articles based on leaked material from American's National Security Agency and GCHQ . At one
point Heywood said: "We can do this nicely or we can go to law". He added: "A lot of people in government think you should be closed down."
With the threat of punitive legal action ever present, the only way of protecting the Guardian's team -- and of carrying on reporting from another jurisdiction -- was for the paper to destroy its own computers. GCHQ officials wanted to inspect
the material before destruction, carry out the operation themselves and take the remnants away. The Guardian refused [and did the job themselves].