Growing the Internet

Internet Situation in Egypt

In June 2017, the Internet Society Egypt Chapter issued a statement in reaction to some of the recent blocking activities observed over the preceding months. Over this time, several incidents have caused unusual service disruption and have made access to some online applications and services much more difficult. This was followed by the blocking of a considerable number of websites in May 2017.

The Internet Society Egypt Chapter (Internet Masr) observes these developments with caution and calls “upon all Internet stakeholders in Egypt from service providers, government, private sector, and civil society to promote and maintain an open, and unfragmented Internet access for all”.

The full statement is available here.

Growing the Internet

En Internet Society estamos profundamente preocupados por los bloqueos de Internet en Venezuela

Internet Society está profundamente preocupada por el aumento de los bloqueos en Internet y los recientes reportes de la creciente vigilancia de contenidos en Internet en Venezuela.

El 13 de mayo, Venezuela emitió el Decreto Presidencial no. 2849, que declara un Estado de Excepción y Emergencia, ejecutado inmediatamente por el período de 60 días, extendiendo un Estado de Excepción y Emergencia preexistente en el país.

Según lo publicado en la Gaceta Oficial, el objetivo de este decreto es adoptar medidas urgentes, contundentes, excepcionales y necesarias, para asegurar a la población el disfrute pleno de sus derechos, preservar el orden interno, el acceso oportuno a bienes, servicios, alimentos, medicinas y otros productos esenciales para la vida.

Entre las disposiciones del decreto, se autoriza el filtrado y vigilancia de contenidos en Internet, bajo la justificación de que los factores locales e internacionales están interfiriendo en la economía nacional a través del uso de las TICs y el uso del ciberespacio para promover el discurso de odio y crear distorsión de la economía venezolana.

Esto se produce después de que los sitios web de tres medios de TV por Internet y streaming de noticias fueran bloqueados en los principales proveedores de Internet sin fallo judicial; en el primer cuatrimestre de 2017 han sido bloqueados cuatro nuevos sitios de noticias o de medios a los usuarios de Internet venezolanos. El capítulo de Internet Society en Venezuela mostró públicamente su preocupación por el uso recurrente y excesivo de bloqueos en Internet desde 2014, incluyendo una carta abierta al regulador de telecomunicaciones CONATEL emitida el último 7 de abril.

Internet es una red de redes global, distribuida y descentralizada. Instamos a todas las partes involucradas a que respeten los principios básicos de la interoperabilidad global y la apertura de Internet.

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Crédito de la imagen: Andrew Huff, Flickr CC BY NC

Growing the Internet

Internet Society Deeply Concerned About Internet Blocking in Venezuela

The Internet Society is deeply concerned with the increase of Internet blocking and recent reports of growing content surveillance on the Internet in Venezuela.

On May 13th, Venezuela issued the Presidential Decree no. 2849, which has declared an State of Exception and Emergency, enforced immediately for the period of 60 days, extending a pre existing State of Exception and Emergency in the country.

According to the Official Gazette publication, the purpose of this decree is to adopt urgent, severe, exceptional and needed measures to ensure people’s rights, to preserve the internal order and access to goods, services, food, medicine and other essentials for life.

Among the decree provisions, it authorizes the content filtering and surveillance on the Internet, under the justification that local and international factors are harassing the national economy through the use of ICTs, and the use of cyberspace to promote hate speech and to create distortion of the Venezuelan economy.

This comes after the websites of three Internet TV and streaming news operations were blocked on all major ISPs without court ruling, totaling four news and media sites newly blocked to Venezuelan Internet users in the first four months of 2017. The Venezuela chapter of the Internet Society has publicly shown its concern for the recurrent and excessive use of Internet blocking since 2014, including an open letter to the Telecommunications Regulator issued on April 7.

The Internet is a global, distributed, and decentralized network of networks. We urge all parties involved to uphold the core principles of global interoperability and openness of the Internet.

Read more:

Image credit: Andrew Huff on Flickr CC BY NC

Building Trust Growing the Internet

Tell Policy Makers to Think Twice Before Blocking Content or Flipping the Internet Kill Switch

RightsCon 2017 is kicking off today (29-31 March, Brussels) so we wanted to give you an update and also ask for your help amplifying our message.    

Restrictions to Internet access are on the rise globally. Data shows that between 2015 and 2016, the number of Internet shutdowns bumped up from 15 to 56 worldwide. Not only is this causing collateral damage to the Internet, but we’re also putting the society and economy at risk. If we don’t do anything, we are at serious risk of eroding the trust that people have in the Internet – to the point of no return.

So, before they take action, governments need to #ThinkTwice: Internet shutdowns and content filtering are not the answer, they must #KeepItOn!

Here’s what you can do to help:

  • Share our new policy paper on Internet content blocking. We need to put this in the hands of policy makers and our partners around the world so they know that merely blocking access to content deemed illegal is not the solution. A special thanks to our members for providing invaluable input on this paper in its consultation phase!
  • Watch our Twitter feed and retweet calls to action for the week. We will also be posting messages on Facebook so please share if you can.
  • Reach out to top influencers on social.  Are you following people who would be able to contact governments? Reach out to them on social and share our paper.
  • Use the hashtags. We have joined the #KeepItOn campaign and will also be testing the hashtag #ThinkTwice. We’ll be watching both and will happily signal boost you on ISOC’s channels!

If we all work together we can send a strong message that Internet shutdowns and content filtering are not the answer!

Domain Name System (DNS) Growing the Internet Public Policy

Quebec to require ISPs to block websites

The provincial government in Quebec recently passed legislation that will require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block access, at the Domain Name System (DNS) level, to gambling websites that originate outside its borders.

Known as DNS blocking, this practice is not normally seen in highly-developed democracies like Canada (though it’s certainly not unheard of). It forms part of China’s Great Firewall, and was used during the Arab Spring to limit communications between protestors. I think Canadian legal scholar Michael Geist said it best when he wrote that DNS blocking violates the first rule of the Internet in Canada: “thou shall not block.”

Simply put, DNS blocking is an affront to the principles of a free and open Internet. It erodes the unified nature of the global Internet and interferes with with cross-border data flows. Putting aside the technical and security issues inherent to the practice (discussed here, and in this 2012 paper from ISOC), it’s fraught with potential negative consequences, and fundamentally isn’t very effective.

Under the new legislation, known as Bill 74, Loto Quebec will provide a list of offending sites to ISPs. Those ISPs will then be legally bound to block those sites within the province. If they don’t comply, they could face stiff fines – up to $100,000.

While the provincial government now says Bill 74 is meant to protect consumers, their motivations are possibly less altruistic. In Canada, most gambling activities are run by provincial government-controlled monopolies. Like many other businesses, Loto Quebec has been experiencing increased competition from online gambling sites. As a result, it has not been meeting its revenue targets. When the legislation was first proposed, it was framed as a way to increase the corporation’s revenue. Take away the competition, the theory goes, and consumers will have to use your service.

Only the reality is very different. The legislation will, in all likelihood, create a financial burden for both Loto Quebec and ISPs, and yet prove itself to be ineffective. Blocking a website at the DNS level does nothing to remove the offending material from the Internet. It will result in an online game of whack-a-mole; when one site is blocked, another will pop up. It’s easily circumvented – there are many services available to bypass DNS and geo-blocking.

The legislation may in fact be a nonstarter. According to many sources, the law would not survive a likely court challenge. Some argue that it limits freedom of expression guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and others question whether a provincial government has the jurisdiction to enact such legislation at all as telecommunications is the exclusive responsibility of the federal government.

Regardless, it is unfortunate the Quebec government chose to pursue DNS blocking as policy. As the 2012 ISOC paper states, “The negative impact of DNS filtering far outweighs the short-term legal and business benefits.”