South China Morning Post: Internet access, social media shutdowns cost world over US$8 billion in 2019. “The total economic cost of major internet access and social media shutdowns around the world topped US$8 billion last year, according to a new report, which predicted that these disruptions would continue amid ongoing political turmoil.”
Washington Post: A top Google exec pushed the company to commit to human rights. Then Google pushed him out, he says.. “For years, Google tasked Ross LaJeunesse with executing its plan to protect human rights in China, after Google announced a decade ago it would stop censoring search results there to safeguard security and free speech. LaJeunesse took the mission to heart: He later devised a human rights program to formalize Google’s principles supporting free expression and privacy. He began lobbying for it internally in 2017 — around the time when the tech giant was exploring a return to China, in a stark reversal of its 2010 move that made its search engine unavailable there. Now, the 50-year-old is alleging that Google pushed him out for it in April.”
New Atlas: Social media surveillance drives 2019 drop in global internet freedom. “An annual report tracking internet freedom across the world has found global declines for the ninth consecutive year. Underpinned by domestic election interference and social media surveillance, the report identified internet freedom deterioration in more than half of the 65 countries assessed.”
The Next Web: India’s internet shutdowns have cost its businesses billions of dollars. “India has implemented more than 350 internet shutdowns across the country since 2014 — the most notable of which is the ongoing blackout in the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir, which has already lasted 135 days (it is now active only in the Kashmir valley). The aforementioned shutdown was implemented after the Central government announced its intention to revoke Jammu & Kashmir’s special constitutional status, forcing it to abide by national legislation.”
BBC: Iran internet ‘disrupted’ ahead of protests. “Internet services have been disrupted in parts of Iran amid reports it is being cut off ahead of planned anti-government protests on Thursday. BBC Persian audiences reported outages, while internet monitoring service NetBlocks confirmed a drop in usage.”
Carnegie Mellon University: Machine Learning Tool Helps Human Rights Workers Seek Justice. “Interdisciplinary researchers at CMU created a tool that can scan thousands of hours of multimedia in a matter of minutes. It can help human rights practitioners build cases against war criminals.”
TechCrunch: India shuts down internet once again, this time in Assam and Meghalaya. “India maintained a shutdown of the internet in the states of Assam and Meghalaya on Friday, now into 36 hours, to control protests over a controversial and far-reaching new citizen rule. The shutdown of the internet in Assam and Meghalaya, home to more than 32 million people, is the latest example of a worrying worldwide trend employed by various governments: preventing people from communicating on the web and accessing information.”
The Diplomat: How to End the Internet Shutdown in Kashmir. “The contradictions in the availability of digital liberties in India continue to be glaring. Even as the state of Kerala declared the internet to be a basic right and approved a fiber optic network project to provide connectivity to every household in the state, Kashmir entered its fifth month of being in a digital void.”
University of Toronto: Global Database of Atrocities on Cameroon Crisis. “The database will aggregate, verify, secure, and publish information about atrocities or crimes against humanity committed by Cameroonian military and non-state armed groups. It is non-partisan and apolitical. All documentation will be securely stored and published online with four main objectives in mind: international justice processes; a possible national truth, justice, and reconciliation commission; advocacy, journalism, academic research; and deterrence from further violence and gross impunity.”
CNET: Iran’s internet freedom is on life support. “In November, Iran’s government announced a price hike on oil prices, leading to mass protests in Tehran. To quell the spreading unrest, the Iranian government effectively shut down the internet. After a week of Iranian security forces cracking down on protesters, including an estimated death toll between 140 and 208, internet access was gradually restored around the country. Judging by statements made by President Hassan Rouhani, the internet shutdowns could be a harbinger of more censorship in 2020 and beyond.”
CBC: ‘Learn how to read English’: Kijiji discrimination case highlights human rights law online. “Eight years after the complaint was made, a decision has come down in a St. John’s human rights case that centres on discrimination in the world of online commerce. The decision in Zaid Saad’s case appears to be one of the first of its kind, according to the Human Rights Commission of Newfoundland and Labrador, which explicitly states a person cannot be discriminated against on online commerce websites, like Facebook Marketplace, Kijiji or NL Classifieds.” I’m going to be thinking about this one a long time.
Slate: How Iran Turned Off the Internet. “Ten years ago, a Senate bill proposed by Sens. John Rockefeller and Olympia Snowe spurred considerable controversy. The bill, which never even came up for a vote, would have made it possible for the U.S. government to build an ‘internet kill switch’ that would allow it to shut off the internet in the event of an emergency. The proposal drew significant criticism, and U.S. politicians backed off relatively quickly, but in other countries around the world, the kill switch model was—and is—very real, as Iran’s government has just demonstrated.”
CNET: Facebook, Google ‘surveillance’ threatens human rights, Amnesty International says. “Amnesty International joined the ranks of Facebook and Google critics on Wednesday, saying the two companies have ‘surveillance-based business models’ that threaten human rights and undermine privacy. The human rights organization also called on governments to enact and enforce legislation that restricts the amount of personal data companies collect. “
TechCrunch: Iran shuts down country’s internet in the wake of fuel protests. “Iran, one of the countries most strongly identified with the rise cyber terrorism and malicious hacking, appears now to be using an iron fist to turn on its own. The country has reportedly shut down nearly all internet access in the country in retaliation to escalating protests that were originally ignited by a rise in fuel prices, according to readings taken by NetBlocks, an NGO that monitors cybersecurity and internet governance around the world.”
EurekAlert: Free Internet access should be a basic human right — study. “Free internet access must be considered as a human right, as people unable to get online – particularly in developing countries – lack meaningful ways to influence the global players shaping their everyday lives, according to a new study.” This is a few steps beyond the United Nations’ declaration from 2011.