January Media Law Roundup

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

The Great Firewall of Turkey: Increased Control of the Internet


A legislative proposal introduced the ruling AK party seeks to increase government control over Internet access by giving the transport and communication minister the ability to compel Internet service providers (ISP) to keep information on their customers’ movements online, and block websites deemed to infringe privacy. The legislation would also require ISPs to restrict access to proxy sites that can enable users to circumvent censorship. This continues a worrying trajectory for Internet freedom in Turkey. In 2011 the country’s Information Technologies and Communications Authority introduced an Internet filtering system that, though instituted to protect children from pornography, blocked a range of “objectionable” content. In its most recent transparency report, Google revealed the Turkish government requested the removal of 9,610 items from the Internet in the first half of 2013. Google complied with only 13 percent of the Turkish requests.

CENTR Issue Paper: “Internet Governance in 2013 and What’s Coming Up in 2014

The Council of European National Top Level Domain Registries (CENTR) recently published a report outlining the Internet governance landscape in 2013 and what to look for in 2014. CENTR highlights debates and initiatives emerging in late 2013 that point to a more intergovernmental future for Internet governance. The report references Brazil’s April 2014 multistakeholder conference, the Global Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance, as well as discussions on Internet-related public policy issues in the ITU CWG-Internet meeting in February, the Chair’s report on enhanced cooperation by the CSTD Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation in March, the ITU World Telecommunication Development in March and the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in late October.

DC District Court Ruling Strikes Down Net Neutrality

On Tuesday January 14th the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck a blow to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) net neutrality rules. In the case Verizon v. FCC, the court ruled that the FCC lacks the authority to determine how Internet Service Providers (ISPs) grant access to content, though the agency has the ability to regulate broadband providers on more general terms. The FCC’s Open Internet rules, adopted in 2010, are intended to keep ISPs from blocking or unreasonably discriminating against lawful online content, and promote ISP transparency. Many groups and individuals promoting net neutrality believe the court’s ruling is a serious blow open Internet, citing this as the death of net neutrality.

Change in Privacy Policy Prompts France to Sue Google

The French government’s privacy watchdog, the Comission Nationale de L’Informatique et des Libertes (CNIL), has fined Google US$204,000 over changes made to the company’s privacy policy in March 2012. In 2012, Google decided to merge the privacy policies of approximately 60 of its services. CNIL’s investigation revealed that Google failed to sufficiently inform users about how the services would use their personal information, and that the changes did not comply with the French Data Protection Act. The sanctions committee ordered Google to publish the agency’s decision at Google.fr and keep it up for 8 days.

Localized YouTube in Pakistan Unlikely Until 2015

Due to the slow implementation of Pakistan’s ‘prevention of electronic crimes bill,’ a localized YouTube for Pakistani users is unlikely to materialize until 2015. The ‘prevention of electronic crimes bill’ formed the foundation of the negotiations between the Pakistani government and YouTube, with initial hopes of a localized site running as early as June 2014. YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan since 2010 after YouTube’s failure to remove blasphemous content uploaded by an America filmmaker.

Documentary Reveals Chinese Internet Addict Detox Camps

The new documentary “Web Junkie,” by filmmakers Shosh Shlam and Hilla Medalia explores one of approximately 400 Chinese detox centers for adolescents considered to be addicted to the Internet. China is the first country to acknowledge web dependency as a clinical disorder. For 10,000 yuan a month, teenagers ages 13-18 can be sent to military-run bootcamps which includes medical treatment, family therapy, and military obstacle courses. The film focuses on three boys sent to the center.


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