copyright

In the digital era, copyright should be implemented in a way which benefits creators and society. It should support cultural work and facilitate access to knowledge. Copyright should not be used to lock away cultural goods, damaging rather than benefitting access to our cultural heritage. Copyright should be a catalyst of creation and innovation. In the digital environment, citizens face disproportionate enforcement measures from states, arbitrary privatised enforcement measures from companies and a lack of innovative offers, all of which reinforces the impression of a failed and illegitimate legal framework that undermine the relationship between creators and the society they live in. Copyright needs to be fundamentally reformed to be fit for purpose, predictable for creators, flexible and credible.

25 Feb 2015

Report on our fundraising campaign

By Kirsten Fiedler

Thanks to everyone who contributed during our fundraising campaign to support us. It brought in 27 271 Euro from 336 donors in 22 countries. It has been our second and most successful campaign. Here are a few statistics:

  • Total amount raised: 27 271 EUR
  • Number of donations: 336
  • Number of fundraising days: 66
  • Donations from countries: 22
  • Average donation: 81,16 EUR
  • Best day: 13/02/2015

donations-countries

Your donation will go straight into the defence of your rights and freedoms. Our Advocacy Manager, who was the center of the fundraising campaign, is working hard to defend your right to privacy, fight for a legal safeguard for net neutrality and against new European proposals for mass surveillance. Here is how we will use your donations in the next six months:

  • Advocacy Manager: 24 475 EUR
  • Production of campaign material: 611 EUR
  • IT costs: 540 EUR
  • Office space: 1 645 EUR

Although your donations already help us a lot, our financial situation for this year is still not stable. In August 2015, our two biggest contracts (which represent 71 percent of our budget) with foundations will both end. We are working on new funding proposals and will know the result in a couple of months if these are successful.

In any event, with EDRi being far smaller than equivalent organisations in, for example, the USA, we need to grow and remain rigorously independent. For this, donations are absolutely essential. Therefore, if you want to contribute on a regular basis, you can become an official “EDRi supporter”. Please contact us at supporters(at)edri.org. If you want to learn more about our work, you can subscribe to our newsletter, read our donation FAQ or follow us on Twitter.

ourspendings

Support our work
https://edri.org/donate/

Donation FAQ
https://edri.org/donation-faq/

EDRi-gram newsletter
https://edri.org/newsletters/

(Contribution by Kirsten Fiedler, EDRi)

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25 Feb 2015

Net neutrality: Freedom also means banning positive discrimination

By Guest author

Zero rating, also known as “sponsored data”, is the policy of mobile network providers and mobile virtual network providers to not charge their clients for using specific services, such as Facebook or YouTube. Zero rating is a bad idea for several reasons: You give specific services an advantage over their competitors, and push users towards using a certain service and disadvantage all others.

This is particularly dangerous in third world countries, because the markets there are still in development. It’s now come to light that in certain African and Asian countries the number of Facebook users is larger than the number of (open) internet users. Which is bad news. It increases Facebook’s ever-growing data monopoly. It’s also detrimental for these countries because it puts the mobile market under pressure: The larger mobile operators that can offer these kinds of bundles are able to easily push the competitors aside.

Many of these concerns are also true for Europe: these kinds of plans consolidate the power of large mobile providers, and force internet users towards the existing monopolists on the individual service market. This is not only bad for freedom of communication, but also for innovation, because new businesses don’t stand a real chance.

In the Netherlands, net neutrality policy explicitly prohibits price discrimination. This restriction can be negative, meaning that Internet providers may not offer more expensive specific individual services in combination with internet access, and positive, meaning that Internet providers may not offer cheaper individual services in combination with internet access. This is beneficial for both freedom of information and innovation.

As previously reported in EDRi-gram, Vodafone was recently fined for such practices in the Netherlands. They wanted to offer the “HBO go” app to Vodafone clients without its data use being deducted from their data limit for the first three months.

Negotiations about the European rules that must regulate net neutrality are delicate. Not surprisingly, when the large Member States can feel the large telecom companies breathing down their necks. In the most recent compromise proposal, this sort of price discrimination is not banned, but it does state the need to avoid the kind of agreements being made that lead to the stifling of competition. Dutch EDRi-member Bits of Freedom together with other European civil rights organisations, submitted comments and suggestions at every stage of the discussions in Council, hoping that policy-makers see the advantages an open an innovative online environment that protects net neutrality. Such an environment needs a clear ban on zero rating.

Net neutrality: freedom also means banning positive discrimination (11.20.2015)
https://www.bof.nl/2015/02/11/net-neutrality-freedom-also-means-banning-positive-discrimination/

Millions of Facebook users have no idea they’re using the internet (09.02.2015)
http://qz.com/333313/milliions-of-facebook-users-have-no-idea-theyre-using-the-internet/?utm_source=howtogeek&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter

In the Netherlands, where zero-rating is banned, KPN just doubled (free of charge) the mobile internet volume caps to encourage a carefree usage of its online videos (06.02.2015)
http://dfmonitor.eu/downloads/Banning_zerorating_leads_to_higher_volume_caps_06022015.pdf

EDRi-gram: Netherlands: Two telcos fined for net neutrality violations (11.02.2015)
https://edri.org/netherlands-two-telcos-fined-for-net-neutrality-violations/

(Contribution by Floris Kreiken, EDRi-member Bits of Freedom, Netherlands; translated from Dutch by Natasha Baron)

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25 Feb 2015

Activist Guide to the Brussels Maze updated

By Heini Järvinen

After the major changes in 2014 to the Brussels activist landscape – with the European Parliament elections in May and the new European Commission that took office towards the end of the year – EDRi’s booklet “Activist Guide to the Brussels Maze” has been updated. The version 2.0 is now available on our website.

The purpose of this booklet is to provide activists with an insight into where EU legislative and non-legislative proposals come from, and what can be achieved at each stage of the legislative process. As the lifetime of some EU proposals can be very long, it is important to know where to target any activity at any given moment. Every institution is very powerful and influential at certain moments and very much a spectator at other moments. We hope that this guide will help serve as a map of the Brussels maze.

Activist guide to the Brussels maze 2.0
https://edri.org/files/activist_guide_to_the_EU.pdf

EDRi papers
https://edri.org/papers/

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25 Feb 2015

Turkish academics threaten Twitter with legal action

By Heini Järvinen

On 20 January 2015, two Turkish law professors sent a legal notice to Twitter representatives in Turkey and the US demanding to cease the removal of content and blocking individual accounts that have been requested by Turkish government. The notice points out examples of alleged violations of freedom of expression in court orders restricting internet access.

Assistant Professor Kerem Altiparmak and Professor Yaman Akdeniz warned the the US social media company that they would “take all possible forms of legal action in both Turkey and the United States” if the blocking continues. The notice was sent right after the Turkish government brought before parliament a bill attempting to reintroduce some elements of legislation granting the Turkish Telecommunications Authority (TIB) the power to block websites without a court order, and that was annulled by the the Turkish Constitutional Court on 2 October 2014. The notice was also published on the website privacy.cyber-rights.org.tr. Twitter has not yet so far responded to the notice.

Twitter’s transparency report about the second half of 2014 reveals that the number of removal requests from Turkey is far above the number of requests from all other countries combined. Online censorship has raised serious concerns in Turkey during recent years. The government is repeatedly taking measures to tighten its control over the Internet that remains one of the few channels for free speech in the country.

Altiparmak and Akdeniz have previously initiated several successful legal actions related to freedom of speech and online censorship in Turkey. They are now in the shortlist of the “Campaigning Award Nominees 2015″ of the Index on Censorship, a non-profit organisation campaigning for freedom of expression.

Sadly, Turkish citizens may soon be less able to hope for protection of their rights from the European Union. The current draft text on net neutrality (thanks to a suggestion from Sweden) supports the new Turkish approach to censorship. It proposes that internet intermediaries should be free to restrict content if they are implementing a legal obligation (for which Turkey has been condemned in the European Court of Justice already) or an order of an administrative authority (an approach already condemned by the Turkish constitutional court) or any unspecified other “measure” (like is now being proposed in Turkey for online intermediaries). We can only hope that there are some EU Member States that still remember adopting the European Charter of Fundamental Rights in 2009 and what it means not just in the EU, but globally.

Legal notice of 20.01.2015
http://cyber-rights.org.tr/docs/Twitter_ihtar_ENG.pdf

Turkish academics threaten Twitter with legal action (24.01.2015)
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2015/01/turkish-academics-threaten-twitter-legal-action-150124175734757.html

Turkish academics threaten Twitter with legal action (24.02.2015)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWuSxGOq5cA

Is Twitter giving in to Turkish censorship? (19.20.2015)
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/02/turkey-twitter-collaborating-with-turkish-censorship.html

Twitter transparency report: Removal requests July 1 – December 31, 2014
https://transparency.twitter.com/removal-requests/2014/jul-dec

Three years of increased #transparency … and counting (09.02.2015)
https://blog.twitter.com/2015/three-years-of-increased-transparency-and-counting

EDRi-gram: Yet another internet blocking law in Turkey (11.02.2015)
https://edri.org/yet-another-internet-blocking-law-turkey/

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25 Feb 2015

Did GCHQ spy on you? Find out now!

By Guest author

Since its launch on 16 February 2015, over 25 000 people have joined an international campaign to try to learn whether Britain’s intelligence agency, GCHQ, illegally spied on them.

This opportunity is possible thanks to court victory in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), a secret court set up to hear complaints against the British Security Services. As previously reported in the EDRi-gram, Privacy International won the first-ever case against GCHQ in the Tribunal, which ruled that the agency acted unlawfully in accessing millions of private communications collected by the US National Security Agency (NSA), up until December 2014.

Because of this victory, now anyone in the world can try to ask if their records, as collected by the NSA, were part of those communications unlawfully shared with GCHQ. We feel the public has a right to know if they were spied on illegally, and Privacy International wants to help make that as easy as possible.

Unfortunately, the IPT can’t act by itself, and that’s why it needs people to come forward and file complaints. Privacy International plans to assist as many people as possible in jumping through the hoops the process will probably entail. It is going to be a long fight, and it will likely take months for the IPT to process all the complaints. However, it is important to bear in mind that if the IPT find that your communications were illegally shared with GCHQ, they will be obligated to tell you.

Through their secret intelligence-sharing relationship with the NSA, GCHQ has intermittently enjoyed unrestricted access to PRISM, the NSA’s means of directly accessing data and content handled by some of the world’s largest Internet companies, including Microsoft, Yahoo!, Google, Facebook, Skype, and Apple. GCHQ has also had access to other parts of the NSA’s Upstream collections, through which telephone and internet traffic data is accessed as it flows through communications infrastructure, including CO-TRAVELER, which collects five billion mobile phone locational records a day, and DISHFIRE, which harvests 194 million text messages daily. The top five programs within Upstream created 160 billion interception records in one month alone.

Chances are, at some point over the past decade, your communications were swept up by one of the NSA’s mass surveillance programs and passed onto GCHQ. We think you have a right to know whether that’s the case, and if so, to try and demand that data be deleted. Privacy International wants to help you assert those rights.

Privacy International’s campaign “Did GCHQ illegally spy on you?”
https://privacyinternational.org/illegalspying

FAQ: Did GCHQ Spy On You?
https://privacyinternational.org/?q=node/495

(Contribution by Eric King, Privacy International)

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25 Feb 2015

UN report on copyright – is the EU really a beacon of human rights?

By Guest author

Copyright has seen a spectacular rise in importance, both politically and legally, in recent decades. The digitisation of cultural and scientific goods has led many rights holders to see strengthened copyright protection as the only means of ensuring the survival of the cultural industry. To a large extent the rights holders’ quest for more legal protection has succeeded – today’s copyright protections are as strong and broad as never before.

According to Farida Shaheed, the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, this has caused increasing tension between copyright law and human rights law. Her report on “Copyright policy and the right to science and culture” is diplomatically worded but argues strongly that we need to pay more attention to the human rights repercussions of granting authors – and rights holders – exclusive rights over authorial works.

Much of the report is based on the two principles enshrined in article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Paragraph one thereof bestows upon everyone the right to culture and science – the right to participate in the cultural life of a community and to profit from the advancement of science. This paragraph is complemented by a second one, which asserts that authors’ moral and material interests must be protected.

The second paragraph of article 27 is often interpreted as supporting copyright protection (while the first paragraph provides the rationale for exceptions and limitations). Shaheed’s central thesis is that this analysis is wrong. She writes that “[t]he human right to protection of authorship is […] not simply a synonym for, or reference to, copyright protection, but a related concept against which copyright law should be judged. Protection of authorship as a human right requires in some ways more and in other ways less than what is currently found in the copyright laws of most countries.”

In the European Parliament, there are two reports currently being discussed, one by German Pirate Party parliamentarian Julia Reda and one by Czech conservative parliamentarian Pavel Svoboda.

Copyright regimes are for example lacking, says Shaheed, when it comes to enhancing authors’ unequal bargaining positions vis-à-vis corporate rights holders. This is also something that EU legislators have realised, and Reda’s Draft Report on the implementation of the InfoSoc Directive calls for improving the “contractual position of authors and performers”.

It also follows from the report’s central thesis that the protection of authors’ material interests does not require granting them exclusive rights. In fact, as Shaheed writes, authors’ material interests concern their ability to “enjoy an adequate standard of living”, and this could be guaranteed also with a “right to remuneration”. Therefore, a legal system that ensures an adequate standard of living for authors using, for instance, statutory licenses could also serve to protect authors’ material interests. Statutory licenses allow the use of copyrighted works without the permission of the author if adequate compensation is paid.

Shaheed also underlines the potential of open licenses, which she calls “an agile, low-overhead copyright-management regime, benefiting both copyright owners and licensees.” Therefore states could do more to (financially) support open licenses – such as Creative Commons – thereby ensuring both authors’ livelihoods as well as free access to culture and science. At the EU level, there is unfortunately little support for such schemes. While Svoboda’s Draft Report on intellectual property rights (IPR) enforcement mentions the development of new business models, there is no reference to the potential of open licenses.

The human rights impact of copyright regulations must always be assessed, both at national and international level. In this regard it is worrying that Svoboda’s Draft Report completely forgoes any mention of fundamental rights. His Draft Report is worrying in other regards, too. Shaheed writes that “website blocking, content filtering and other limits on access to content” could lead to disproportionate infringements of people’s freedom of expression and their right to science and culture. Therefore “[a]lternatives to criminal sanctions and blocking […] should be envisaged”. This points in a direction diametrically opposed to the one pursued by Svoboda.

According to the UN report “[c]opyright exceptions and limitations constitute a vital part of the balance that copyright law must strike.” Here, Reda’s Draft Report chimes well with many of the ideas advanced in the UN report. Her intention to introduce an “open norm” to complement the existing limitations and exceptions can be seen as combining the advantages of a fair-use system – flexibility – with that of clearly defined exceptions – legal certainty. And making the exceptions and limitations mandatory is a step towards fulfilling “the positive obligation to provide for a robust and flexible system of copyright exceptions and limitations.”

Free access to culture and knowledge should only be limited if it is compatible with the right to science and culture and if it “is strictly necessary for the promotion of general welfare.” This means that we need well-researched and unbiased information about copyright’s effects on general welfare – something that is sadly absent at EU level. EU institution’s continued use of statistics that have been proven to be inadequate only attests to the disproportionate influence of rights holders, who – as Shaheed writes – “must not be presumed to speak for the interests of authors.”

The UN report also calls for transparency and public participation in policy-making. The EU’s record in this matter is not exactly stellar and could most certainly be improved. Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was negotiated amid high secrecy, and today’s copyright reform suffers from an imbalance where rights holders have far more influence than both users and authors.

Corporate rights owners’ IPR are not protected as human rights, writes Shaheed. Even if the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights calls for the protection of intellectual property – unlike the UN Convention, which only contains a general right to property – this does not require any specific type of copyright regime. Human rights considerations do not mandate a specific type of copyright protection, but merely oblige states to protect the intellectual property they have instated.

The report is bold in making very clear the connections – and sometimes the lack thereof – between copyright law and human rights law. It puts the stress back on the essentials – the interests of authors and society at large – and thereby manages to envision a protection of authorial works that is fundamentally more human than most of today’s existing regulations. If the EU wants to live up to its often proclaimed status as a beacon of human rights, it had better take the UN report into account.

UN Special Rapporteur Farida Shaheed’s report on copyright policy and the right to science and culture (24.12.2014)
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session28/Documents/A_HRC_28_57_ENG.doc

Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (30.3.2010)
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2010:083:0389:0403:en:PDF

Draft Report on the implementation of the InfoSoc Directive by Rapporteur Julia Reda (15.01.2015)
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-%2f%2fEP%2f%2fNONSGML%2bCOMPARL%2bPE-546.580%2b02%2bDOC%2bPDF%2bV0%2f%2fEN

Draft Report on the enforcement of intellectual property rights by Rapporteur Pavel Svoboda (05.02.2015)
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-%2f%2fEP%2f%2fNONSGML%2bCOMPARL%2bPE-549.140%2b01%2bDOC%2bPDF%2bV0%2f%2fEN

(Contribution by Julian Hauser, EDRi intern)

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25 Feb 2015

European Parliament failing to support copyright reform

By Diego Naranjo

Everyone is talking about EU copyright reform. However, in the European Parliament, everyone is having the same discussions on enforcement that they were having ten years ago – and talking about stopping any reform.

The Draft Report “Towards a renewed consensus on the enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights: An EU Action Plan” (2014/2151(INI)) presented by Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Pavel Svoboda reacts supportively to the rather bland, regressive and unimaginative Commission Communication of the same name. Sadly, Mr Svoboda seems to be choosing to support the mistakes that the Commission’s view that the failures of the last ten years should be the model for the next decade.

The Draft Report mixes, sometimes in the same phrase, totally different issues in Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), such as counterfeit goods and online content. This leads him to write that “the enforcement of intellectual property rights plays a significant role in ensuring consumers’ health and safety”, although this connection seems somewhat vague. Svoboda also uses terms which we already rejected in the Communication on which this Report is based, and talks about the “commercial scale infringement” that even the Commission publicly admitted that, particularly the online environment, would also require a clearer definition of “commercial scale”, although everyone now appears to have forgotten this.

More worryingly, the Report appears to call for the implementation of certain enforcement measures which do not require public or judicial supervision. The Report refers to “due diligence” procedures, without being clear about whether it is talking about online or offline, where this would have very different meanings. It speaks supportively of “follow the money”, without any particular definition or understanding of what this might be. The whole Report might be understood as wholesale privatisation of regulation of freedom of communication. Or not.

The Report also applauds the work of the Observatory on IP Infringements, presumably because the European Commission asked it to. One would have to search for a long time to find anything of high quality produced by the body since its inception.

There are, however, some positive aspects of this Draft Report. For example, it states that there is the need for more information about what citizens are allowed to do with protected content. EDRi has been calling for a modernised and harmonised system for copyright, since the system which is still in force is not in line with the uneeds of users in the 21st century. Svoboda also expresses his concerns on the “divergent interpretations of certain provisions of the directive result in differences in its application in the Member States”. Indeed the fact that national courts have been implementing the IPR Enforcement Directive in order to clarify what the legislator could not clarify, which is why reform is needed. The situation is that critical that, if the EU legislator just took the opportunity to make sense of the copyright regime, it would be already a victory.

The Opinions proposed by the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) and Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) do not give any more hope. We can find in both of them the same references to the same vague and misleading terms (“commercial scale infringement”, “follow the money approach”, etc) and reference to the same statistics that EDRi and the Copyright for Creativity (C4C) coalition have already definitively debunked to “describe” the impact of infringements. The amendments tabled by MEPs in the CULT committee are beyond parody. One, for example, removes demands for statistics to be reliable, precised and unbiased!

Draft Report: Towards a renewed consensus on the enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights: An EU Action Plan” (2014/2151(INI))
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:52014DC0392

Roadmap for renewal of IPRED
http://ec.europa.eu/smart-regulation/impact/planned_ia/docs/2011_markt_006_review_enforcement_directive_ipr_en.pdf

CULT Opinion
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+COMPARL+PE-544.344+01+DOC+PDF+V0//EN&language=EN

CULT Amendments
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=COMPARL&reference=PE-544.345&secondRef=01&language=EN

IMCO Opinion
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-%2f%2fEP%2f%2fNONSGML%2bCOMPARL%2bPE-546.649%2b01%2bDOC%2bPDF%2bV0%2f%2fEN

Copyright for Creativity – Myths and facts
http://copyright4creativity.eu/myths-facts/

(Contribution by Diego Naranjo, EDRi)

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11 Feb 2015

Final push for our crowdsourcing campaign

By Heini Järvinen

European Digital Rights’ existence is at stake. Our main funding projects all end in 2015. In December 2014, we launched a campaign asking help to ensure we can continue our work to transform Europe into a free and open society, where your civil rights and freedoms are reliably guaranteed. Now, the last days of the campaign are here, and there is still work to be done to reach our goal.

The campaign: https://edri.org/campaign/support-digital-rights-europe/

In the past five years, EDRi has evolved from being a decentralised alliance with no staff to an influential organisation with a Brussels office and professional staff. Since it opened its office in Brussels in 2009, EDRi has become a strong voice for freedoms in the digital environment. It is often the first contact point for policy makers in the EU institutions on digital rights matters.

Imagine what the world would look like if EDRi didn’t exist! Would we have ACTA, EU-wide mandatory web blocking, a non-neutral Internet and more widespread censorship? EDRi is asking for support in order to be able to fund one advocate who will fight to keep private information private, to fight against surveillance and censorship measures.

EDRi-main

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11 Feb 2015

Macedonia: Massive surveillance revelation: 20 000 people wiretapped

By Guest author

On 10 February, EDRi-member Metamorphosis, expressed grave concern about the publicly announced allegations of mass and unauthorised surveillance of citizens. Invasions of privacy directly affect freedom of expression in Macedonia, and fuel the overall climate of fear and silence.

On 9 February 2015, the Macedonian opposition leader Zoran Zaev held a press conference in Skopje, announcing that his party, the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) had obtained evidence that over 20 000 Macedonian citizens were subject to unauthorized surveillance. He stated that he is pressing charges for the massive wiretapping against PM Nikola Gruevski and his cousin, the director of the Counterintelligence Service, and an associate. Zaev also revealed that the evidence was provided by whistleblowers working for the Security Service who are now seek an amnesty for their cooperation.

According to META.mk report from the 9 February conference, Zaev said that all persons of some significance in the society, “all the judiciary, the Synod of the Orthodox Church, NGOs, and journalists were tapped.” He played leaked conversations between current government ministers, indicating that surveillance also extended to officials of the ruling party, VMRO-DPMNE, and their coalition partners. He said that only the Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and the Director of the Intelligence and Security Sasho Mijalkov were not tapped. They allegedly received daily reports from the 24/7 surveillance operation that especially targeted political opponents during elections. Zaev also implied complicity of the major telecom operators with this massive operation.

After the initial revelation, SDSM announced that they will continue to publish evidence of alleged government corruption, gradually showing the overall effects of the control by the leadership of VMRO-DPMNE on the society. The allegations incited number of reactions demanding impartial investigation by independent media, civil society and international community, as issues of independence of the judiciary have been noted as one of the main obstacles to building democracy and preserving human rights in Macedonia, within reports issued by the EU and the US.

“The right to privacy is an extremely important human right, and the threat to privacy is also a direct threat to our freedom. Authorities must make the decisions on wiretapping and surveillance in accordance with the applicable laws. Those decisions must not be arbitrary decisions made by individuals who have the power to do so. The allegations for mass eavesdropping of more than 20 000 citizens are very serious and the public must seek responsibility from the relevant institutions,” said Bardhyl Jashari, director of the Metamorphosis Foundation.

Metamorphosis reminded the public that the protection of privacy, the protection of personal data, and the protection of human rights related to freedom and dignity that may be violated by eavesdropping, are protected by the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia and by number of laws, including the Law on Personal Data Protection, while the Criminal Code sanctions unauthorized wiretapping. On the other hand, the 2014 European Commission Progress Report on the Republic of Macedonia indicated that it is necessary to further adjust the sector-specific laws in order to fully comply with the European regulations on personal data protection.

Setting the protection of privacy as a priority in building an information society, Metamorphosis has, since 2004, publicly indicated, on a number of occasions, the possibility for abuse due to the lack of mechanisms for supervision over institutions that have the capacity to conduct eavesdropping. In 2008, 2010 and 2012 it advocated against increasing of that capacity without any accountability mechanisms for a number of state bodies, contesting amendments to the Law on Electronic Communications and the laws affecting investigative procedures.

Press Release: Unauthorized Eavesdropping is Unlawful and Unconstitutional (10.02.2015)
http://metamorphosis.org.mk/en/aktivnosti_arhiva/press-release-unauthorized-eavesdropping-is-unlawful-and-unconstitutional/

Macedonia PM accused of large-scale wire-tapping (09.02.2015)
http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/eavesdropping-bombshell-explodes-in-macedonia

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia progress report, October 2014
http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/pdf/key_documents/2014/20141008-the-former-yugoslav-republic-of-macedonia-progress-report_en.pdf

2013 Human Rights Reports: Macedonia
http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/eur/220304.htm

Twitter: #Macedonia-related links in English
https://twitter.com/macedonia_en

EDRi-gram: Macedonian investigative magazine fined in defamation case (22.10.2014)
https://edri.org/macedonian-investigative-magazine-fined-in-defamation-case/

(Contribution by by Filip Stojanovski and Bardhyl Jashari EDRi-member Metamorphosis, Macedonia)

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11 Feb 2015

Yet another internet blocking law in Turkey

By Heini Järvinen

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: Neues Gesetz über Internetsperren in der Türkei

In recent years, online censorship and the deteriorating situation regarding the freedom of speech has raised serious concerns in Turkey. The large majority of the traditional mainstream media is either directly or indirectly under the government control, and the Internet remains one of the few channels for free speech. However, the government is repeatedly taking measures to control also the Internet.

On 2 October 2014 the Turkish Constitutional Court overturned an amendment to the Internet law that would have given additional censorship powers to the Turkish Telecommunications Authority (TIB). Among other things, the suggested amendment allowed the TIB (hence the government) to issue “preventive” website blocking orders to the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) without a court decision. The blocking was to be executed for “national security, public order or crime prevention”.

Unperturbed by the decision, the government prepared a nearly identical bill and brought it before parliament on 20 January 2015. Like the previous one, the suggested amendment would oblige the ISPs to execute the blocking of contents within four hours after receiving the order from the TIB, enabling the government to block web sites quickly and without due process of law. The parliamentary commission has already passed the bill, and it’s expected to come to the general assembly in the next few weeks.

The government might be counting on the Constitutional Court not annulling the amendment this time, because some of its key members are in the process of retiring. But the tug of war between the those defending freedom of speech online and those wanting to restrict it continues. As EDRi-member Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recently stated in its press release:

“Turkey has been a bastion of Internet censorship for so long that EFF could write a regular feature called ‘This Week in Turkish Internet Censorship’ and never run out of content.”

Unlike in the past, the international community is not being helpful. The Turkish government has followed the UK model of putting pressure on private companies to censor content outside the rule of law, coercing Facebook into restricting content. Blocking on the basis of ad hoc decisions by the telecoms regulator is currently in place (subject to a constitutional court ruling) in Italy and the Council of Europe’s draft Recommendation on Net Neutrality still (after a new revision) says that it is acceptable for restrictions can be imposed by regulatory authorities (or simply “in cooperation with public authorities”).

Facebook caves to Turkish government censorship (29.01.2015)
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2015/01/facebook-caves-turkish-government-censorship

Turkish parliamentary commission approves bill for tighter website blocking (05.02.2015)
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-parliamentary-commission-approves-bill-for-tighter-website-blocking.aspx?pageID=517&nID=77924&NewsCatID=339

Government defies constitutional court on website blocking (22.01.2015)
http://en.rsf.org/turkey-government-defies-constitutional-22-01-2015,47525.html

Turkey: Internet freedom, rights in sharp decline (02.09.2014)
http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/09/02/turkey-internet-freedom-rights-sharp-decline

Turkey proposes tighter internet law, pursues Twitter critic (22.01.2015)
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/22/us-turkey-internet-idUSKBN0KV1Y720150122

EDRi-gram: Turkey: Constitutional Court overturns Internet law amendment (08.10.2014)
https://edri.org/turkey-constitutional-court-overturns-internet-law-amendment/

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