Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt has led a delegation on Cuba in order to promote censorship-free Internet access. The visit lasted two days with time spend meeting figures in the public sector and digital scene. Schmidt confirmed his visit in a Google+ post, saying that “approximately 3 – 4 percent of Cubans have access to the Internet in internet cafes and in certain universities. The Internet is heavily censored and the infrastructure, which we toured, is made out of Chinese components.”
Ambassador Olof Ehrenkrona, Senior Advisor to the Swedish Foreign Minister, interviewed at the WSIS+10 conference in Geneva.
As internet penetration increases around the globe, the world’s autocrats deal with different ways to control the web. Meanwhile, a couple of them contradict their own restrictive policies by using Twitter and Facebook to connect to the world.
In an interview with Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman, Ambassador Olof Ehrenkrona, Senior Advisor to the Swedish Foreign Minister, gives his views on recent developments in Turkey and the country’s new Internet law.
NBC News’ Richard Engel’s computer was hacked almost immediately upon arrival in Sochi. Together with an American computer expert, Engel decided to test the Russia’s privacy system with bringing to brand new computers with a false identity. Upon connecting the computers to the Internet in Sochi, Engel started to receive suspicious e-mails at the very same minute which hijacked the computer immediately after opening one of them. Within 24 hours, both of Engel’s computers were hacked as well as his phone; giving the hackers ability to tap and record phone calls.
“The State Department warns that travellers should have no expectation of privacy, even in their hotel rooms. And as we found out, you are especially exposed as soon as you try to communicate with anything”, Engel told NBC.
A disruption lasting as long as eight hours affected China’s 600 million Internet users Tuesday. Experts suspect the cause to be a flawed effort by Chinese Web censors to block sites the government deems subversive, reports the Washington Post.
In a recently published paper, the Center for Strategic & International Studies examines the conflicts on internet freedom in the Gulf, with the United States and its allies on one side, and Iran and Russia on the other.
Freedom House reports that a new law is being considered in the Russian Duma that would threaten and decrease the freedom of the net in Russia even more. The new law would give prosecutors the right to block websites on their own authority without court order to prevent “encouraging participation in extremist activities, unsanctioned public event, or mass disorder”, Freedom House reports. The Russian government already blocks number of popular websites including Facebook and Gazeta.ru.
A proposed bill seeks to permit authorities to limit access to the Internet and to keep records of its citizen’s online activities for two years, Today’s Zaman reports. The proposed bill will also allow officials to limit keywords more easily, with the aftermath that all websites dependent on keywords such as YouTube and Twitter risk to be blocked.
Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Carl Bildt, wrote at Twitter that it’s a “worrying proposal in Turkey that if passed could seriously limit net freedom” and that he urges reconsideration. Read the article from Today’s Zaman here.
Ashley Greco-Stoner from Freedom House says in a blog post that Latin American countries are slowly changing their legislations in a way that in the long term can threaten the internet freedom in their countries. In Brazil intermediaries can now easier be held responsible and subjected to criminal charges with help of the country’s new electoral law, “which prohibits coverage of candidates for three months prior to elections and bans any online content that might ‘offend the dignity or decorum’”, Greco-Stoner reports. As an effect of the new legislation, two Google executives are now being charged for failure to remove content posted by users on sites owned by Google.
In Argentina similar legislations are being adopted to hold mediates such a search engines responsible for their contents and in Ecuador, the newly passed Organic Law of Communication holds all intermediaries with ultimate responsibility for all hosted content – including reader comments – that opposes and criticizes President Rafael Correa and his administration.
According to Greco-Stoner, these tendencies poses the threat of expanding governmental control of editorial content to the point that dissent is eliminated and critical voices are stifled.
Read more at Freedom House.