The Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world. It originally appears each week on Global Voices Advocacy. Ellery Roberts Biddle, Mohamed ElGohary, Hae-in Lim, and Sarah Myers West contributed to this report.
Iranian activist and artist Atena Farghadani is facing charges of spreading propaganda against the system and insulting members of parliament and the supreme leader for a cartoon she drew and published online depicting Iran’s members of parliament as animals voting on a law that would restrict women’s access to contraception. Atena has been held in solitary confinement for prolonged periods since her arrest in August 2014 and went on a hunger strike to protest prison conditions three weeks after her second confinement. Amnesty International is leading a call to action in support of Atena.
Bahraini activist back to prison over tweets
A Bahraini court upheld a six-month sentence for Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Human Rights Centre, for comments he made on Twitter criticizing police defectors who joined ISIS. He may face a longer jail term pending an investigation for other tweets.
PayPal blocks donations for Russian opposition report
Electronic payment service PayPal has blocked an account that sought to collect donations to print a report written by late opposition politician Boris Nemtsov presenting evidence of Russia’s involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. According to PayPal’s support team, PayPal does not allow “any political parties or political causes in Russia to receive donations due to the complexity of complying with local rules which require validating the identity of users.” It is unclear how it defines “political causes” or whether these rules apply to accounts registered in other countries.
Hacking is illegal in Britain (unless you’re the government)
The British government may have changed its anti-hacking laws to ensure that government intelligence and law enforcement agencies are exempt from criminal prosecution. According to London-based advocacy group Privacy International, changes were made to the Computer Misuse Act shortly after Privacy International and seven Internet service providers began a legal challenge to the government’s use of computer hacking to gather intelligence, claiming it was unlawful under the act. In response, the U.K. Home Office said there have been no changes made to the act that “increase or expand” authorities’ investigatory powers.
Belgium slams Facebook over unauthorized tracking
Belgium’s Privacy Protection Commission lambasted Facebook for disregarding European privacy laws by tracking users without prior consent and for dodging inquiries from regulators. According to Reuters, the commission urged Internet users to install privacy software to protect themselves from Facebook’s tracking systems, whether or not they have a Facebook account (which is good advice all around).
- “Freedom of Expression, Encryption and Anonymity: Civil Society and Private Sector Perceptions”—Web Foundation, CIHR, ITS Rio, Derechos Digitales
- “A Chatty Squirrel: Privacy and Security Issues with UC Browser”—Citizen Lab
- “Inside Google’s Secret War Against Ad Fraud”—AdAge