Media Law Roundup: September 5th

Welcome to the Media Law Roundup September 5, 2014 — a survey of the week’s developing media news.

IGF held in Turkey despite media bans, user prosecution

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) took place last week in Istanbul, Turkey, which prompted criticism of the country’s “double standards on freedom of expression online.” Earlier this year, the country banned Twitter and Facebook and also blocked tens of thousands websites under its Internet Law No. 5651. Citing these incidents, in addition to laws that threaten user privacy, Kerem Altıparmak and Yaman Akdeniz boycotted the 2014 IGF.  Amnesty International’s Sherif Elsayed-Ali said “It’s astounding to see Turkish authorities plough on with the prosecution of Twitter critics, even as they host a discussion on Internet governance where human rights are a key theme.” The Turkish government defended its policies, citing the potential of the internet to be used for terrorism and other criminal activity.


Weaknesses and Leaks on Apple’s iCloud

Last month, several female celebrities saw sensitive personal photos appear online after they were targeted by internet users who exploited a weakness in Apple’s security processes.  While Apple touts its two-step verification process as the best way for users to secure their Apple data, this security process only protects purchases, Apple support, and account management–anything stored in iCloud or the Photo Stream is not covered by two-factor verification. Apple admitted that certain steps could have been taken to prevent such occurrences, such as sending notifications to users when a password change is attempted. These upgrades are expected to roll out in the next two weeks.


Iranian Youths and Internet Filtration

Iran’s Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports published a study that showed 69% of Iranian youth internet users are using illegal software to visit websites such as Facebook and YouTube. Users are accessing these and other banned websites through proxy servers (servers based outside of the country). According to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, these youths are rendering the Iranian internet filtration system pointless for “When [the government] create[s] filters, they create proxies.” Rouhani called on the clerics of the Islamic Republic to take a more lenient stance regarding internet access. He argued that Iran’s excessive control of the internet will have more of a negative impact on Iranian youth than a less restrictive internet saying, “We cannot close the gates of the world to our younger generation.”


“African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedom” has IGF Unveiling

The African Declaration Drafter’s Group presented its “African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms” during last week’s Internet Governance Forum. From its announcement: “The Declaration is intended to elaborate on the principles which are necessary to uphold human and people’s rights on the Internet.” This declaration joins a series of other documents that lay out principles regarding human and media rights in Africa. To read or endorse the declaration, click here.


Restrictive Media Policies in Bangladesh

The government of Bangladesh is developing a new media policy for the online media industry. The online media policy requires all media organizations to obtain a license, which can be revoked if the organization is found to be noncompliant. The draft policy includes a ban on any information that “may spark separatism and unrest,” “satirise national ideals,” or “impede state security and hurt religious values and non-communal spirit.” This news follows the passing of a broadcast media policy that placed restrictions on the criticism of the government and law enforcement by television, newspaper, or radio outlets. Human Rights Watch called for Bangladesh to immediately revoke the broadcast media policy, calling it “a frontal assault on media freedom.”


Corporate Social Media Policy Concerns in the US

Several US companies have adopted social media policies in an attempt to control what their employees post online. While the goal of such policies is to protect the company from defamation or liability, the implementation of these policies may result in a lawsuit. The National Labor Relations Board is closely observing whether social media policies impinge on employees’ “rights to engage in concerted activity” as outlined in the National Labor Relations Act. The National Law Review describes cases in which social media policies were found unlawful and provides some tips for crafting a successful media policy. The lawyers of King and Spalding also suggested steps that companies can take protect themselves should their social media policies fail and leave them open to liability. Media companies in other countries, such as the Times of India, have taken measures to control what their employees post online, though not without garnering a significant amount of criticism.


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