Global Voices Advocacy's Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world. We begin this week’s report in China, where a man in Shenzhen is suing China Unicom, his Internet service provider, for leaving him unable to access Google online services.The Chinese government instituted a block on most Google products beginning in May, in anticipation of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests. Although Wang Long, a social activist and expert on local law, is unlikely to be successful, he hopes to draw attention to the restrictions through the lawsuit. The court is expected to issue a decision later this month.
Iran: News sites without a license will be blocked
Under recent changes to the Iranian government's already-stringent media regulatory regime, all online newspapers are now required to register with the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. Although the ministry has yet to define exactly what constitutes a news site, officials announced this week that all sites failing to comply with the measure would be blocked “without discrimination.” Sites that do comply will receive six-month subsidies from the ministry, along with press passes for national events.
Surveillance: German surveillance tech companies are selling most of their products under the table.
After conducting a meticulous review of public data released by the German government, researchers at the Centre for Internet and Human Rights at European University found that the majority of surveillance technologies sold to foreign governments by German companies appear to have been sold without a license. Cross-referencing these findings with technical research by the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, they posited that British-German corporation Gamma International exported its highly invasive spyware product FinFisher to countries including Bahrain, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Netherlands, Estonia, Australia, Mongolia, and Nigeria without obtaining state-required licenses. As they vie for the support of German citizens increasingly concerned about government surveillance, both the Social Democrat and Green parties in Germany are demanding further government regulation of surveillance tech sales.
Internet Governance: Russia to set up its own Internet?
A deputy in the Russian parliament asked the minister of communications to prepare a “civil defense plan” that authorities would deploy if the United States were to shut down the country’s Internet. Although there is no credible evidence that this could or would ever happen, the parliamentarian has used this concern as a rationale for Russia to develop a more autonomous Internet that can function without being connected to the global Internet