Netizen Report: Russia Arms Itself to Block Web Content Ahead of Sochi Games

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Jan. 22 2014 10:10 AM

Netizen Report: Russia Arms Itself to Block Web Content Ahead of Sochi Games

464016731-russias-president-vladimir-putin-looks-on-during-his
Vladimir Putin is getting ready for the Olympics.

Photo by ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/AFP/Getty Images

The Netizen Report originally appears each week on Global Voices Advocacy. Hae-in Lim, Sonia Roubini, Alex Laverty, Richard Teverson, Mohamed ElGohary, Ellery Roberts Biddle, and Sarah Myers contributed to this report.

GVA logo

Global Voices Advocacy's Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world. This week's report begins in the United States, where rights advocates are responding to President Barack Obama’s highly anticipated speech on surveillance reforms, delivered last Friday. Obama pledged to dismantle the system of collecting phone call metadata “as it currently exists.” Other changes will include the addition of a public advocate in the FISA court who will be responsible for approving surveillance requests; the adoption of stricter standards for accessing metadata; and raising the threshold for authorizations for spying on foreign leaders. Despite the reforms, Obama’s speech came under criticism for not going far enough. Reactions from rights advocates in the United States and around the globe were mostly critical.

PEN International’s Deji Olukotun noted the historical irony in Obama’s treatment of state surveillance, an issue that plagued civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. “[It] makes little sense for the President to open the door on the deeply-flawed surveillance program that plagued King while making cosmetic reforms to his own far-flung surveillance program.

Advertisement

Global privacy leaders largely reiterated the need to take further steps to protect privacy rights. Government officials in the EU, U.K., and Germany had mixed reviews, while Brazilian leaders, who have been highly critical of the NSA program, refused to comment publicly.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation put together a scorecard rating the reform plan 3.5 out of a possible 12.

Free Expression: Winter Olympics bring chilling effects to the RuNet.
New legislation in Russia allows security authorities to block websites and social networks that host calls for "participation in mass public events." The policy goes into effect in Russia on Feb. 1, just ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Other laws still under consideration would introduce new data collection requirements for websites and restrict online money transfers for NGOs.

Ukraine’s Parliament passed a law that openly restricts free speech, peaceful protest and free communications in the country.

Thuggery: “Watchdog” journalists threatened over leaked draft constitution.
Zambian police are threatening to prosecute the operators of independent news site the Zambian Watchdog after the embattled site published a new draft constitution that lawmakers wrote but failed to release to the public. This is one in a series of attempts to shut down the Zambian Watchdog.

Privacy: Canada spanks Google.
Canadian authorities found that Google illegally violated a user’s privacy rights—and its own privacy policy—when it used medical information from his search history to target ads. A yearlong investigation by Canada's federal privacy watchdog found Google responsible, with consequences that could be “industry-wide,” according to Interim Privacy Commissioner Chantal Bernier.

Industry: China expands its reach in Africa.
The Kenyan government will award national digital television distribution rights to Chinese company PANG, a decision that has caused alarm among local TV stations and activists who fear the change could lead to censorship. The government’s Digital Transition Committee says that PANG is required to be a “neutral signal carrier.”

Cool Things
Syria Untold
, a Web platform that aims to highlight creative and journalistic projects coming out of Syria’s nonviolent uprising, is now offering a newsletter. Sign up here.

Publications and Studies

Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

TODAY IN SLATE

Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company

Science

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

Food

How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

Scotland Is Inspiring Secessionists Across America

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Sept. 18 2014 10:42 AM Scalia’s Liberal Streak The conservative justice’s most brilliant—and surprisingly progressive—moments on the bench.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 18 2014 11:25 AM Gays on TV: From National Freakout to Modern Family Fun
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 12:03 PM The NFL Opines on “the Role of the Female”
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 11:48 AM Watch the Hilarious First Sketch From Season 4 of Key & Peele
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 10:07 AM “The Day It All Ended” A short story from Hieroglyph, a new science fiction anthology.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 18 2014 7:30 AM Red and Green Ghosts Haunt the Stormy Night
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.