China & Iran
Iran’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology announced this month that it is in talks with China’s Information Council about best practices for implementing a closed internal “National Information Network.”
A new anti-terrorism law in Egypt, which will come into effect next month, enables the government to censor websites that “instigate terrorism.” Critics of the law worry that this framing could be applied to popular social media sites, including Facebook.
After The Hague ruled that blocking access to peer-to-peer file sharing websites such as The Pirate Bay had no measurable effect on piracy, the government of the Netherlands has decided to unblock these sites.
Mashable reports that the Russian government has ramped up surveillance in anticipation of the 2014 Winter Olympics, which begin in Sochi next Friday. The country’s System for Operative Investigative Activities (SORM) allows the Federal Security Service to access servers directly, and according to independent reports from within Russia, the government recently has been experimenting with Deep Packet Inspection as well.
Documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that Canada allowed the US National Security Agency to conduct widespread surveillance during the G8 and G20 summits that were held in Toronto in 2010. It is unclear who the specific targets of the surveillance operation were. Both US and Canadian officials declined to comment on the new revelations.
South African President Jacob Zuma signed a Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Bill into law. According to a statement issued by a presidential spokesman, “The act will give effect to the right to privacy, by introducing measures to ensure that the personal information of an individual is safeguarded when it is processed by responsible parties.” The new POPI law is designed to protect consumers’ right to privacy while not overly burdening online businesses and entrepreneurs who seek to legitimately use their customers’ personal information to provide better services.
The Vietnamese government issued two new decrees that create new fines for various offenses related to e-commerce and social media. The full impact of the decrees remains to be seen. Critics fear, however, that the new commerce fines place undue restrictions on young e-commerce sites. Activists are also concerned that the new social media fines, which penalize “propaganda against the state” and expressions of “radical ideology”, could be used to further suppress online activity and activism.
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