Media Law Roundup: December 13th

Welcome to the Media Law Roundup, a survey of  the week’s developing media news.

France Passes Internet Surveillance Laws
On December 10th, the French Senate voted to pass a controversial new law giving French intelligence and government officials the ability to spy on Internet users in real time and without prior legal authorization. In the controversial Defense Bill 2014-2019, Article 13 allows government agencies to view “electronic and digital communications” in real time enabling them to uncover who is connected to whom, where they are, and what they are communicating. The article also authorizes the harvesting and capturing of “data and documents treated or stored by their networks or services,” extends the reason for which surveillance may be requested, and extends the list of public offices that may request surveillance including the Ministry of Economy and Finance. Government officials claim the article is necessary to prevent terrorism, organized crime, and economic or scientific espionage, and that an “independent authority—CNCIS—and parliament” will oversee the spying. Many civil society groups, as well as technology firms including Google, Microsoft, and Facebook, expressed concern over the extent of spying outlined by the legislation and the law’s infringement on personal liberties.

MTN Pushes for Cheap Internet on Phones
On Wednesday MTN, a South African-based multinational mobile telecommunication company, introduced SurferLite, a pilot project aiming to enable current non-data phones to access the Internet. The pilot low-cost Internet program would target feature phones, which are cheaper than smartphones but tend to facilitate a poor Internet experience due to smaller screens. Spectrum for broadband, however, continues to be an issue for mobile providers in sub-Saharan Africa as mobile Internet and 3G penetration increases.

AgCom Approves New Online Copyright Laws for Italy
Italy’s communications regulator AgCom unanimously approved new online copyright regulations after receiving authorization from the European Commission. The new regulation reinforces actions against online copyright infringes and the need for copyright holders to initiate proceedings, and introduces measures for developing a culture of legality for online copyrighted content. Individual users and peer to peer activities are not targeted by the regulation which will enter into force on March 31, 2014.

Ukraine to Study Estonia e-Government Experience
Minister of Social Policy of Ukraine Natalia Korolevskaya announced that Ukraine is interested in studying international experiences of building an electronic government so the country can build its own e-government system. According to Korolevskaya, Estonia has agreed to partner with the Ukraine to assist with its e-government endeavors. Estonia is one of the leading countries to have introduced electronic systems for administrative and social services and the Ukraine’s current priority is to build a new system of social services online that are transparent and user-friendly.


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