The Free Internet Project

privacy

South Africa considers the Films and Publications Amendment Bill that critics claim would equal Internet censorship

South Africa's National Assembly is considering the Films and Publications Amendment Bill [text], which is intended to amend the Films and Publications Act of 1996. The bill has sparked great controversy in the Internet community. Many critics call it the "Internet censorship bill."  

What are the fears of censorship?  Part of the controversy is the section establishing an independent rating system for "digital films, digital games and certain publications." Critics argue that the provision is overly broad and could apply to every creator of videos on YouTube in South Africa, even user-generated content--thereby subjecting them to register as a distributor with the Film and Publication Board (FPB's).  Section 24A treats failure to register as a potential criminal offense subject to fine or imprisonment ("(1) Any person who knowingly distributes or exhibits in public a film or game without first having been registered with the Board as a distributor or exhibitor of films or games shall be guilty of an offence and liable, upon conviction, to a fine not exceeding R150 000 or to imprisonment for a period.").

In addition, any distributor under the FPB's jurisdiction would be required to maintain controls to prevent individuals under 18 years of age from accessing material classified as "X18," including the following verification:

  • the distributor shall keep, solely for his or her private records, a register of all instances where access was granted to a user, whose name, address and verifiable age must be noted in the register kept for that purpose.
  • the register referred to in paragraph (e) must be kept for one year from the date when distribution took place.

Critics argue this registry could chill adults from accessing legal content and constitute an invasion of privacy.  According to new reports, the Democratic Alliance, "MultiChoice, eNCA, eTV, Right2Know, Media Monitoring Africa, the SOS Coalition, the South African National Editors Forum, the National Association of Broadcasters, Google and the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)" have all opposed the bill.   

Russia enacts right to be forgotten law

Russian Premier Vladimir Putin signed a new "right to be forgotten" law, which becomes effective Jan. 1, 2016 in Russia. People in Russia have a right to request search engines to remove links to stories generated by a search of their names if the information (1) violates Russian law, (2) is false, or (3) “become outdated due to later events or actions of the individual.”  Excluded from such requests are criminal activity for which the statute of limitations has not expired and convictions for which the punishment has been completed or removed. Unlike the EU right to be forgotten, the Russian law sets forth a time frame of 10 days for search engines to respond to a person's RTBF request.  If the search engines fails to respond within 10 days, the person can seek a court order.  [More from Global Voices and the Runet]

Russia closer to passing right to be forgotten law

Russia's Duma voted in favor of a bill recognizing a right to be forgotten in Russia, by a 423 in favor and 1 against.  If enacted, the law would give people the right to request search engines to remove links to articles containing personal information about them that is erroneous or false. If the bill is finally passed, it would go into effect in Jan. 2016. Critics fear the law would enable politicians and others to censor truthful information about them. [via Global Voices, June 16, 2015]

80 Professors Ask Google to Release Data on How It Decides Right to Be Forgotten Requests

Professor Ellen Goodman of Rutgers University (US) and Researcher Julia Powles of Cambridge University (UK) co-authored an open letter, signed by 80 professors from the US and Europe, asking Google to release data on how it decides EU right to be forgotten requests.

Google wins first appeal of right to be forgotten rejection in Finland

After Google decides whether to accept or reject a right to be forgotten removal request from a person in the European Union, the claimant can appeal any adverse decision to the national data protection authority.  Finland just reported its first appeal.  Finnish Data Protection Ombudsman Reijo Aarnio agreed with Google's decision to reject a businessman's attempt to remove links to articles about his past business mistakes.

Kakao Talk CEO Lee apologizes for allowing South Korean law enforcement to access user information in crackdown against online rumors

Sirgoo Lee, the co-CEO of Kakao Talk, the leading instant-messaging service in South Korea, held a press conference to apologize to Kakao's 35 million users, many of whom had reportedly began leaving the popular service due to privacy concerns.  This year, the South Korean law enforcement started cracking down on false and malicious online posts.  The government effort was, in part, a response to unflattering posts related to President Park Geun-Hye, who complained about insults and rumors made about her online, especially related to her handling of the tragic Sewol ferry capsizing.

 

Google tells EU regulators of problems in implementing "right to be forgotten" requests

After losing a landmark decision before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in May 2014 (Google Spain v. Costeja, C-131/12), Google has begun enforcing the controversial EU right to be forgotten.  Under the right that is recognized in EU countries, people in the EU may request search engines such as Google to remove links to web pages describing them (presumably in an unflattering way) after a certain period of time.  For example, imagine that a Google search for your name resulted in the first entry being an old article about your arrest for drunk driving as a teenager.  Since the decision, Google has received over 90,000 requests from Europeans to remove links from search terms involving people's names.

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