ORG policy update/2015-w32

This is ORG's Policy Update for the week beginning 31/07/2015

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National Developments

Coalition calls for a “right to remove” content for children

iRights, a civil society initiative led by Crossbench peer Baroness Beeban Kidron, has launched this week a list of five “iRights” for children, one of them being the “right to remove”. This right is defined as 'the unqualified right [for children and young adults], on every Internet platform or service, to fully [and easily] remove data and content they have created”. The aim is to allow young adults to get away from potentially embarrassing past experiences.

This proposal is likely to be taken seriously, as iRights is backed by European Union commissioner Neelie Kroes and Internet safety and security minister baroness Joanna Shields. The Children's Commissioner is reportedly inspired by these proposals in her work to establish a “Growing Up Digital” taskforce this autumn.

Questions have been raised on the feasibility of this proposition. It would require that a website knows that a particular user was a child at the time he posted something, and implies that users know where all copies of the information the users wants to be deleted are located. It also raises the question of the geographical scope, especially as Google re-affirmed last week that it won't apply the de-indexing of inaccurate or irrelevant informations (the “right to be forgotten') demanded by users to its worldwide and extra-European search services.

European Union

EU – US data sharing agreement negotiations are coming to an end

The European Union and the United States are, according to a leaked document, very close to reaching a deal on the Safe Harbor, the data sharing agreement that was put back into question after the Snowden revelations. It set standards that companies could voluntarily comply to in order to facilitate the transfer of data between the EU and the US. In 2013, documents leaked by the whistleblower have shown that the standard set by this programme are insufficient and not properly enforced, so much so that the European Parliament had called for an end to the programme altogether.

The European Commission and the United States have been negotiating a new agreement for more than two years. This went far beyond the expected schedule, as no agreement could be reached on the exception for data interception in case of national security concerns. Without providing many details, the leaked document asserts that this problem has been solved and that a final agreement is near.

International developments

German chief prosecutor fired over Netzpolitik's treason investigation scandal

Harald Range, the German senior prosecutor who was investigating two Netzpolitik's journalists and one of their sources for treason, was fired on Tuesday, August 4th, by the Justice Minister after a major public and political outrage. This is the first time that journalists have been charged with treason in Germany since 1962, and the news has sparked street protests and outrage by major opposition parties. The journalists published classified documents on the government's plan to further mass surveillance in Germany.

The Chief prosecutor argued that this forced early retirement was an “intolerable encroachment on the independence of the judiciary” and that “freedom of the press and of expression [,]including on the Internet, is not limitless”. The investigation is suspended, but not terminated, and the scandal could go on, as opposition parties have asked for details on the Justice Minister and the Minister of the Interior's involvement and knowledge in this investigation.

ICANN unveils plan for its independence from the US Department of Commerce

ICANN, a key infrastructure of the Internet whose main function is to establish the correspondence between a domain name and numeric address, has published this week a report on how it intends to deal with its new independence from the US Department of Commerce. ICANN was under contract from the United States since 1998, but is now moving further into a “multi-stakeholders” model free for government interference.

The report proposes that the technical aspect of handling Internet's name and addresses should be transferred to a separate subsidiary which the experts, academics and public interest advocates composing ICANN could hold under scrutiny and replace with another if its performance is not good enough. The organisation is calling for comments on its report.

The transition is expected to take place next summer, despite the unwillingness of senior American politicians to hand over the keys of this major Internet infrastructure. Ex-president Bill Clinton has expressed fear that this would be a danger for free and open Internet; the Republicans have argued that the “multi-stakeholders model” will allow for foreign government, such as Russia, to "grab” control of the Internet. Human Rights organisation such as Human Rights Watch or Freedom House have welcomed the advancement of the multi-stakeholders model, giving more transparency to the internet governance. The argument between both sides is mostly symbolic, as the attribution of domain name does not have massive privacy or free speech implications.

India blocks porn – and then turns it back on

On Saturday, August 1st, more than 800 pornographic websites were blocked by Internet Service Providers (ISPs)in India, by order of the Indian government's Department of Telecommunications. Proponents of the ban argued that this was a first step to fight against “violence against women and moral corruption”. The current Indian government tightened its control over the Internet earlier this year, in a move that was controversial and criticised as a blow against freedom of expression.

The ban was lifted on Tuesday after public outcry, and now only applies to child pornography. ISPs still express discontent as they are held legally responsible if they give access to a website containing child pornography.

ORG Media coverage

See ORG Press Coverage for full details.

2015-08-06 – BoingBoing - UK govt wants your opinion on sending file-sharers to jail for 10 years
Author: Cory Doctorow
Summary: Quotes Jim Killock on the consultation on raising maximum jail sentence for copyright infringement
2015-08-06 – Advanced Television - ORG questions 10 year online piracy sentence proposal
Author: Colin Mann
Summary: Quotes ORG's response to the consultation on raising maximum jail sentence for copyright infringement
2015-07-31 – BBC News - Rise of facial recognition queried by US agency
Summary: Quotes Jim Killock on the implications for privacy of the rise of facial recognition
2015-08-02 – Torrent Freak - Anti-Web Blocking Site More Popular in the UK than Spotify & Skype
Author: Andy
Summary: Quotes Jim Killock on why Cameron's plan to ban porn for minors won't work

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