EDRi-gram newsletter - Number 10.17, 12 September 2012

EDRi-gram edrigram at edri.org
Wed Sep 12 09:29:45 PDT 2012



biweekly newsletter about digital civil rights in Europe

Number 10.17, 12 September 2012


1. Belarusian authorities harass online opposition groups
2. Spanish website gets back seized domain names. After 18 months.
3. Russia: Old and new in online censorship
4. Unitary patent brings back the software patents debate
5. EDRi on child protection policy
6. EDPS opinion on the EU database for asylum seekers
7. ENDItorial:CET(A)CTA bCriminal sanctions provisions broadly identical
8. Recommended Action
9. Recommended Reading
10. Agenda
11. About

1. Belarusian authorities harass online opposition groups

As elections in Belarus approach, independent or pro-opposition
journalists and Internet users are harassed by the Belarusian
authorities, pressured and even put to jail.

"The call for an election boycott by some opposition figures has joined
the long list of subjects that are off limits. Those who mention the
boycott, such as opposition groups on social networks, are immediately
sanctioned. It is illusory to talk of free elections in such a media
environment," stated Reporters Without Borders.

As reported by the human rights group Viasna on 31 August, the mobile
phone company BelCel blocked access to the pro-opposition news websites
Charter97 and BelPartizan.

The State Security Committee arrested a series of moderators of online
communities who were interrogated and beaten, their apartments were
searched and their laptops confiscated. Pavel Yeutsikhiyeu, one of the
moderators of the "Webve had enough of this Lukashenkob group on the
Russian social network VKontake, was sentenced by Minskbs Kastrychnitski
district court on 31 August to five days in prison on a charge of
disturbing public order and Andrey Tkachou, the administrator of the
Only SHOS group, was sentenced to seven days in prison on the same
charge. The authorities also hacked into two online discussions groups
obtaining the names of their presumed moderators and administrators and
removed much of the content of these groups. The group bWebve had enough
of this Lukashenkob is now controlled by the State Security Committee
after having been hacked, deleted and restored. The secret services do
not delete information from the community, but publish libel against
group's administrators.

Also OSCE has again showed deep concern over the situation in Belarus.
bI have repeatedly called on Belarusian authorities to stop persecuting
journalists and bloggers. Unfortunately, recent detentions and searches
in Minsk and elsewhere in the country show continued efforts to muzzle
dissenting voices and clamp down on freedom of expression online,b said
the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic who
added:  bThe Belarusian authorities are using such charges to control
the media and Internet communities. The detentions are a strike against
freedom of expression and contravene OSCE commitments which Belarus has
pledged to uphold.b

Opposition journalists and cyber-dissidents hounded in run-up to
election (3.09.2012)

OSCE Press Release - OSCE media freedom representative concerned by
arrest of social media activists in Belarus (4.09.2012)

KGB continues crackdown on social network groups (4.09.2012)

Crackdown on social networks: interrogations, searches, arrests (31.08.2012)

2. Spanish website gets back seized domain names. After 18 months.

After one year and a half battle with the US authorities, the sports
streaming and download Spanish site Rojadirecta has succeeded in winning
back its domain names, after the authorities dropped the lawsuit against
it on 29 August 2012.

The .org and .com domains of Rojadirecta were seized in January 2011 as
part of operation bOperation In Our Sitesb, on a very questionable basis
of intellectual property rights violation, and without any court order.
The site had already been considered as legally operating in Spain by
two Spanish courts.

After the seizure, Rojadirecta continued its operation as usual under
.es and .me domains and decided to fight back and sued the US
government.  bWe immediately initiated talks with the government,
through our legal representatives in San Francisco and New York, in
order to obtain the return of (our domains). Since it was impossible at
that stage to recover domains amicably, we filed a complaint against the
Government, the Department of Homeland Security and the Immigration and
Customs Enforcement agency of the United States of America,b said
Rojadirectabs  owner, the Spanish company Puerto 80.

This is not the first case of this type. In 2010 music blog Dajaz1 had
its domain name seized which was returned after more than 12 months. It
turned out that the seizure, initiated by the RIAA, was a mistake.

The concern is that the US government may repeat such abuses without any
consequence for them. bI expect that we may see a few more such cases as
well. Unfortunately, though, we may not get a clear legal ruling telling
the government it can't do this b meaning that they'll be free to
continue to abuse their powers in such a manner going forward,b stated
Mark Lemley from Puerto 80 legal team.

U.S. Returns Seized Domains to Streaming Links Site (After 18 Months)

Oops: After Seizing & Censoring Rojadirecta For 18 Months, Feds Give Up
& Drop Case (29.08.2012)

The U.S. Government withdraws complaint against the Rojadirecta domains
and the Court orders their return (up-dated 5.09.2012)

Rojadirecta wins the fight with the USA Government and recovers its
domains (only in Spanish, 30.08.2012)

EDRi-gram: Spanish sports streaming domain seized by US authorities
without warning (9.02.2011)

3. Russia: Old and new in online censorship

A new Russian law intended to protect minors from bharmfulb content
entered into force on 1 September 2012 bringing forth confusion and, at
the same time, hilarious and even dangerous results.

"The lawbs vagueness and inconsistencies render its repressive
provisions even more threatening and are encouraging journalists to
censor themselves. The vague definition of bharmful contentb leaves too
much room for interpretation and increases the probability of
overblocking. As defined, the requirement to put age ban labels on
content is absurd and dangerous. On the grounds of protecting minors,
this law is likely to place serious obstacles on the mediabs ability to
provide the public with general news coverage. We urge parliament to
clarify this law and to strike out those provisions that violate the
constitution and international agreements that Russia has ratified,"
stated Reporters Without Borders said.

Under the final version of the law, the media must prevent children from
seeing content that contains violence, sex or rude words or content
encouraging them to smoke or drink alcohol. Vladimir Pikov, the
spokesman of Roskomnadzor (the Federal Service for Supervision in the
Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications),
said on 29 August 2012 that, with the exception of news agencies, all
online media had to place age bans on their content. Moreover, Pikov
stated that when it was complicated to place a ban label to individual
articles, then the entire website had to be labelled.

This has led to cases when online media representatives decided to label
their entire site in order to avoid any risk.

A Russian channel will censor bThe Simpsonsb cartoon series banning
scenes of violence, drinking, and smoking before 11 pm.  bUnder the new
law we cannot show bThe Itchy & Scratchy Showb from bThe Simpsonsb
before 11 pmb, said general director Lev Makarov.

Moreover, the majority party of the Russian Parliament has announced the
intention to introduce new amendments to the libel law to find and
punish those posting anonymous insults on the Internet.

Russia amended the law on libel during this spring adding harsh new
administrative punishments for defamation. In October 2011, the Upper
House Commission for Development of Civil Society approved a draft law
"Against Internet Extremism," suggesting all postings on the Internet
are public and thus, Internet libel would be punished with sentences of
up to five years in prison just as the mass-media libel.

bThe law already includes the norms providing responsibility for
journalists b both the media companies and authors. But what shall we do
if some anonymous user makes insulting statements? We will consider the
questions connected with legislation improvement in this direction so
that anonymity no longer gives such people the illusion of impunity,b
said deputy speaker of the Lower House and member of the Culture
Committee Sergey Zheleznyak.

This new amendment will allow police officers to find the identity of
anonymous libels and, according to Zheleznyak, it will apply to Internet
users, not just journalists.

Major threat to news coverage from law "protecting minors" online

Russia To Censor bSouth Parkb and bThe Simpsonsb (30.08.2012)

United Russia mulls amendments to track anonymous Internet slanderers

4. Unitary patent brings back the software patents debate

The Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) of the European Parliament is
preparing these days in view of the discussion on unitary patent on
17 and 18 September 2012. The issue of interest is whether these
discussions will bring back the return of software patents as it seems
to be the case, having in view the recent patent wars in the US (like
that of Apple against Samsung). There is also the threat of letting
companies monopolise the market thus preventing innovation and the
introduction of new products.

Several groups, like April and FSFE, call for a general mobilisation to
contact all MEPs, so that the European Parliament finally tackles the
issue of the software patentability.

"Software patents are a real scourge for companies and software
developers. They do not contribute to innovation whatsoever, but prevent
us from developing new products while exposing us to ever increasing
legal uncertainty," stated GC)rald SC)drati-Dinet, April's patent advisor.

Although European laws prohibit software patents, the European Patent
Office (EPO) has been trying for years to legalize software patents and,
under the new proposal to be discussed, the power and control on the law
on patentability would be left to an organisation, without any
democratic control or the opinion to go before an independent court.

Under the current proposal, the EPO has the right to award a patent,
but also takes the final decision on whether it remains valid when
someone complains, while the final court to decide on patent complaints
should be the European Court of Justice which has already warned that
the current proposal is incompatible with EU laws. The patent system
should be politically controlled by the European Parliament and should
benefit of proper checks and balances.

Ideally, the European Parliament must ensure that computer programs are
excluded from patentability, making clear that they cannot be patented
just because they run on generic data processing hardware.

I call!

General mobilisation against the return of software patents in Europe

No patents on software: Unitary patent threatens innovation in Europe

EU: the unitary patent (5.09.2012)

5. EDRi on child protection policy

The interests of children should be put first, even if that means
allowing them to learn and adapt to online risks

An unseen threat is the scariest threat of all. An unseen threat to our
children provokes our most basic protective instincts, which is exactly
as it should be.

The internet is a public space and it is as safe or dangerous to allow a
child to wander in its various neighbourhoods as for them to wander
through any city. The challenge is to fight the temptation to be
over-protective and instead allow our societybs children and young
people to develop into responsible adults.

Panic and assumptions lead to policies that are counterproductive.
Effective child protection measures are those based on facts and not
fear. The European commission has sought the facts, financing truly
impressive research on which solid policy can be based. The European
Unionbs kids online research project on the experience of European
children online is excellent, setting global standards for both scope
and quality.

Bizarrely, however, the commissionbs recent communication on a bEuropean
strategy for a better internet for childrenb only briefly references
this research. Instead, it is pushing internet companies to adopt
unspecified voluntary measures that will not be subject to the rigours
of democratic decision-making, will not be based on research and risk
being either useless or, even worse, counterproductive.

The threat of the implementation of bad policies as a result on
over-reliance on industry bsolutionsb is very real. For example, it
would seem logical for internet providers to offer strong internet
filtering to protect children. The public relations value of such a
service is tempting. However, research from the UK office for standards
in education indicates that students are safest when they are not using
strongly filtered internet connections. Instead, children gain better
knowledge, awareness and security by using open services, which allow
them to learn about, confront and adapt to risk.

The commission has been funding child abuse image (child pornography)
prevention hotlines for several years. On the basis of direct or
indirect reports from these hotlines, internet providers in many EU
countries voluntarily remove images or sites from their services. The
commission is now demanding a quicker takedown of such images. However,
despite funding the hotlines, the commission can produce no statistics
as regards how fast sites are removed in each EU member state, nor on
the causes of delays. In other words, the commission is asking for an
unspecified improvement on an unknown baseline value that it is unable
to make available. This is simply not good enough.

Worse still, the commission cannot produce any reliable data on the
number of prosecutions b or even investigations. Criminal activity must
be treated more seriously than this.

It is difficult to understand the basis of the commissionbs apparent
belief that companies instinctively know what is in the best interests
of children and society and will put these interests ahead of their own
profits. Companies frequently have conflicts between their own interest
and that of the public. It is unwise and inappropriate to devolve
policy-making to them on such an important issue. Children deserve
better, a policy for child protection must be based on evidence and not
the public relations needs of parts of industry or even of the
commission itself.

If any policy area deserved to be treated with more diligence, it is
this one. We need European leadership on this issue, not facile nonsense
about corporations regulating children, free speech and our digital

Article published in TheParliament.com (7.09.2012)

(Article by Joe McNamee - Executive Director of European Digital Rights

6. EDPS opinion on the EU database for asylum seekers

On 5 September 2012, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS)
issued his opinion on the amended Commission proposal for a Regulation
of the European Parliament and of the Council on the establishment of
EURODAC database for the comparison of the fingerprints of asylum seekers.

EURODAC was established by an EC regulation on 11 December 2000
concerning the establishment of a database for the comparison of the
fingerprints of asylum seekers for the effective application of the
Dublin Convention. On 30 May 2012, the Commission adopted a proposal
concerning a modification of the EURODAC Regulation that also provides
access to EURODAC data for law enforcement purposes by Member
States' law enforcement authorities and Europol. Peter Hustinx, EDPS,
stated in his opinion that while the availability of a database with
fingerprints could be a useful additional tool in combating crime, this
new amendment represents "a serious intrusion into the rights of a
vulnerable group of people in need of protection."

"Just because the data has already been collected, it should not be used
for another purpose which may have a far-reaching negative impact on the
lives of individuals," said Peter Hustinx who added that such an
intrusion risking the stigmatisation of individuals should have a strong
justification and that the Commission has not bprovided sufficient
reason why asylum seekers should be singled out for such treatment."
Hustinx asked the Commission to provide solid evidence and reliable
statistics for the need to access EURODAC data and added that in case
such a need is supported by evidence, the access to the database should
be subject to strict, appropriate safeguards.

The EDPS also recommended that the access to the data by law enforcement
entities should also be subject to bspecific and clearly defined
criteria such as a substantiated suspicion that the perpetrator of a
terrorist or other serious criminal offence has applied for asylumb and
that the request for access for law enforcement purposes should be
verified by an independent authority or, preferably, submitted for prior
judicial authorisation.

Other recommendations are that the proposal should clearly emphasize
that the transfer to third data is prohibited, that it should specify
more clearly the rules on retention or deletion of data and that it
should include an improvement of the provisions on data security.

Among the conditions for access, the EDPS included the consultation of
the Visa Information System, the existence of a substantiated suspicion
that the perpetrator of a terrorist or other serious criminal offences
has applied for asylum and the bsubstantial contribution for law
enforcement purposes and clarifying what is understood by reasonable

Privacy czar: Civil rights at stake in asylum database proposal (6.09.2012)

EDPS Press Release - EURODAC: erosion of fundamental rights creeps along

Opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor on the amended
proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council
on the establishment of "EURODAC" (5.09.2012)

7.ENDItorial:CET(A)CTA b Criminal sanctions provisions broadly identical

Towards the end of July 2012, a rather strange and surprising e-mail was
sent from the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union
to the Member States and the European Commission. The e-mail explained
that the criminal sanctions provisions of the draft EU/Canada trade
agreement are modelled on those in ACTA. This, the General Secretariat
of the Council worries, presents a problem as, on the one hand, the
conclusion and implementation of CETA are a declared priority of the
Union while, on the other, the European Parliament will need to be asked
to approve the final text of the Agreement.

Member States told EDRi were baffled by the e-mail. On the one hand,
after all the controversy surrounding ACTA, they could not understand
why such a blunt e-mail was sent in the first place. After all of the
leaks surrounding ACTA, a more subtle message would have been logical.
Secondly, after the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty, the task of
coordinating such policies is now the responsibility of the Commission,
so it was not clear why the Council took it upon itself to even ask the

Member States are not the only ones that are somewhat surprised by the
Council's e-mail b the European Commission told the press only two weeks
previously bthat language being negotiated on CETA regarding Internet is
now totally different from ACTA.b Has the Council been given the wrong
draft of CETA? This seems like the only possible explanation. After
everything that happened with ACTA, it hardly seems possible that the
Commission would be seeking to mislead the public.

Many Member States still do not understand the political problems that
surrounded ACTA and are therefore generally not opposed to provisions
from ACTA being put into CETA. However, only two Member States clicked
on breply allb when responding to the Council's e-mail b one was a
well-known supporter of ACTA from western Europe and, surprisingly, the
other was one of the bnewb Member States from South-East Europe.

The response from the South-East European member state also raised
opposition to the inclusion of camcording in the draft Agreement.
Camcording is such a non-issue that it was abandoned by the negotiating
parties in ACTA, so it is bizarre that even stronger wording has now
made its way into CETA. Even more strange is that a policy has
found its way into the draft EU/Canada trade deal that is neither an EU
policy nor a Canadian policy, but a US one. Michael Geist points in a
blog post to a Wikileaks cable where the US described as bdisingenuousb
a Canadian claim that their anti-camcording legislation was an
independent policy change that was not the result of lobbying pressure
from the US.

Michael Geist blog: Wikileaks Cables Show Massive U.S. Effort to
Establish Canadian DMCA (29.04.2011)

Council E-Mail (07.2012)
Cannot publish yet to protect source

Don't believe every leak you read says EU Commission on CETA (11.07.2012)

(Contribution by Joe McNamee - EDRi)

8. Recommended Action

Join Global Advocates: Oppose Expanding ITU Authority to the Internet

9. Recommended Reading

Chip and Skim: cloning EMV cards with the pre-play attack (10.09.2012)

Illegal file-sharing activity generally logged within three hours,
according to new study (6.09.2012)

Europeanabs huge cultural dataset opens for re-use (12.09.2012)

10. Agenda

14-17 September 2012, Brussels, Belgium
Freedom not Fear 2012

17-22 September 2012, Helsinki, Finland
Open Knowledge Festival

20-21 September 2012, Trier, Germany
The proposed general Data Protection Regulation. Strengthening the EU's
Data Protections Architecture?

26 September 2012, Cambridge, UK
Open Data across Europe in Local and National Government - Practical
achievements and challenges

27 September 2012, Paris, France
Open Data - La Conferance

7-10 October 2012, Amsterdam, Netherlands
2012 Amsterdam Privacy Conference

11-12 October 2012, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Economies of the commons 3 - Sustainable Futures for Digital Archives

25-28 October 2012, Barcelona, Spain
Free Culture Forum 2012

3-4 November 2012, Baku, Azerbaijan
Best Bits b a strategic gathering of NGOs around Internet governance and
Internet principles

6-9 November 2012, Baku, Azerbaijan
Seventh Annual IGF Meeting: "Internet Governance for Sustainable Human,
Economic and Social Development"

9-11 November 2012, Fulda, Germany
Digitalisierte Gesellschaft - Wege und Irrwege
FIfF Annual Conference in cooperation with Fuldaer Informatik Kollquium

4 December 2012, Brussels, Belgium
3rd Annual European Data Protection and Privacy Conference

23-25 January 2013, Brussels, Belgium
CPDP 2013 Conference - Reloading data protection
CfP by 19 October 2012

6-8 May 2013, Berlin, Germany
re:publica 2013

31 July b 4 August 2013, Geestmerambacht, Netherlands
Observe. Hack. Make. - OHM2013

11. About

EDRi-gram is a biweekly newsletter about digital civil rights in Europe.
Currently EDRi has 32 members based or with offices in 20 different
countries in Europe. European Digital Rights takes an active interest in
developments in the EU accession countries and wants to share knowledge
and awareness through the EDRi-grams.

All contributions, suggestions for content, corrections or agenda-tips
are most welcome. Errors are corrected as soon as possible and are
visible on the EDRi website.

Except where otherwise noted, this newsletter is licensed under the
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. See the full text at

Newsletter editor: Bogdan Manolea <edrigram at edri.org>

Information about EDRI and its members:

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