Monthly Archives: September 2013

7iber Conducts Jordan’s First Internet Governance Research Project

In June 2013, Jordan’s Press and Publications Department initiated a ban on all Jordanian news websites that have not registered and been licensed by the government agency. 7iber was among the more than 300 news websites blocked as a result of this initiative. Since its website was blocked, 7iber has been working with lawyers and other media groups to challenge the law and has used the opportunity to raise awareness about Internet filtering and freedom of expression.

Jordan’s Press and Publications Law, first proposed in 1998, was amended in August 2012 to extend to digital media restrictions that have long been in place on print, radio, and television news. Among the restrictions are stories deemed insulting to the royal family, publications that promote sentiment antithetical to the Jordanian nation or “Arab-Islamic values,” and anything that might incite sectarian conflict or violence. The amendments effectively granted the government the power to block any website it deems to be in violation of the above provisions without obtaining a court order. The amendments also established the liability of publishers and website owners for the comments their readers post.

7iber develops content to raise awareness about Internet security, surveillance, and censorship circumvention in Jordan and the Middle East more broadly through  initiatives such as its Wireless blog. 7iber has organized multiple public sessions with the aim of discussing Internet issues with lawyers, cyber crimes experts, and activists working on Internet freedom and online freedom of expression.

It aims to map the scope of control of the Jordanian government, the private sector, and civil society over the Internet within its various physical and virtual layers. As part of the Cyber Stewards Network and partly inspired by the recent blocking of its website, 7iber has been working on the first-ever research project on Internet governance in Jordan. The project explores the roles of different stakeholders in shaping the state of Internet governance in Jordan and their impact on digital rights.

7iber’s research will analyze the implications of the jurisdiction of relevant physical and virtual entities on the fundamental rights of Jordanian netizens defined in the International Bill of Human Rights, mainly: the freedom of communication; the freedom of association; and the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authorities regardless of frontiers and through any medium, freedom from surveillance and intrusion into one’s private life and social and political activities.

Bytes for All Challenges Censorship in Pakistani Court

 A poster from B4A’s “Access is My Right” campaign criticizing the ban on YouTube.

The Citizen Lab has documented a pattern of Internet filtering in Pakistan that is inconsistent and intermittent with with filtering primarily targeted at content deemed to be a threat to national security and at religious content considered blasphemous. In recent years, Twitter, Facebook, and certain pages on Flickr and Wikipedia have been periodically blocked in the country due to what was considered blasphemous content circulating on those sites. Bytes for All (B4A), has been campaigning for the online rights of Pakistani citizens and an active participant in the debate on the use of information communications technologies for sustainable development and strengthening human rights movements in the country.

In January 2013, B4A collaborated with the Media Legal Defense Initiative, a non-governmental organisation which helps journalists and independent media outlets around the world defend their rights, in submitting a petition to the Lahore High Court claiming that the civil and political rights of Pakistanis have been violated in the government’s censoring of various popular sites on the Internet. The censorship of YouTube as a consequence of the site hosting the controversial Innocence of Muslims video in particular was highlighted by the groups. B4A Country Director Shahzad Ahmad, however, argued that the ban is an excuse to “curtail, limit and curb citizen freedom of expression” in Pakistan. Reports by B4A on the court proceedings have indicated that part of the motivation for banning the entire YouTube site was based on the difficulty posed by blocking individual URLs.

The court’s District Attorney General asked the court on April 2013 to dismiss the petition on the grounds that B4A had appealed to Frank La Rue — UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression — through a written Letter of Allegation calling for the end of website filtering in Pakistan. The judge denied this appeal and the court case continues.

Further hearings by the court in August 2013 yielded little movement as Minister of State for Information Technology Anusha Rehman and her secretary failed to appear before the Lahore High Court. Around the same time, the Minister also stated that there were no plans to unblock YouTube, and that the government is interested in developing software that can automatically block objectionable content.

When requested for a comment on the court case, Google made a statement saying that “It is Google’s goal to offer local versions of YouTube to more places worldwide, but it takes time…The localization process can be lengthy as we research laws and build relationships with local content creators.”

A hearing on September 19 has been scheduled for the Lahore High Court. Further updates to this ongoing case will be posted as they arise.


The Centre for Internet and Society Launches its Cybersecurity Video Series

The Centre for Internet and Society (CIS), India has launched its CIS Cybersecurity video series, a video documentary project which features interviews conducted by Laird Brown with cybersecurity stakeholders from various sectors on hotly debated aspects of cybersecurity. The project aims to encourage wider public discussion around cybersecurity issues.

The project kicked off at the 2013 Cyber Dialogue conference, presented by the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto. The conference convened global leaders from government, civil society, academia, and private enterprise to participate in conversations around cyberspace security and governance.

At the conference, interviews were conducted with: members of European Parliament, Mariejte Schaake and Amelia Andersdotter; Chief Security Officer for ICANN, Jeff Moss; Director of the Tibet Action Institute, Lhadon Tethong; Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Afilias Limited and member of the ICANN Board of Directors, Ram Mohan; Principal Technologist and a Senior Policy Analyst with the Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, Christopher Soghoian; former Policy Advisor to the Netherlands government, Jochem de Groot; and Global Policy Analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Eva Galperin.

Topics discussed ranged from the tensions between privacy and cybersecurity; the impact of the “digital arms trade” on human rights; mobile digital threats; and surveillance.

Interviews on cybersecurity issues specific to India have since been conducted with co-founder of the Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore, Lawrence Liang; and Resident Editor of DNA, Saikat Datta.

The Centre for Internet and Society is a Bangalore-based non-profit research organization that works on policy issues relating to freedom of expression, privacy, accessibility, access to knowledge, and intellectual property reform.

Paradigm Initiative Nigeria and the Economic Cost of Cybercrime

In 2013, the Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) published “The Economic Cost of Cybercrime in Nigeria,” a report written by ‘Gbenga Sesan, Babatope Soremi, and Bankole Oluwafemi. The authors provide quantitative data for measuring the extent of cybercrime in Nigeria and propose recommendations for combating its influence in the country. PIN’s report is the first major study dedicated entirely toward quantitatively measuring the costs of cybercrime in Nigeria.

PIN administered online and offline surveys to 2,980 total participants between February 15 and March 8, 2013.The survey consisted of five questions to gauge participants’ experience with cybercrime and resultant economic loss. Results indicated that 41% of respondents considered themselves victims of cybercrime, though only 30% claimed that they had fallen victim to cybercrime in the past year. In total, respondents suffered a monetary loss of N226,927,810.10 (or $1,432,172.99). However, many indicated that opportunity costs due to loss of time incurred by cybercrime magnified that economic loss: over 27,000 hours were reportedly lost due to dealing with cybercrime. Respondents also reported losing goods and personal data, most notably banking information. The authors used the survey data to estimate a figure for total national economic loss based on Nigeria’s 48.3 million Internet users: N2,146,666,345,014.75 (or $13,547910,034.80). The authors call for “firm and fair cybercrime legislation” as a solution.

The Nigerian government has historically taken an active approach to combating cybercrime, including through national initiatives, working groups, and draft legislation. Among the most notable are the National Cybercrime Working Group (NCWG) and the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT). The former is a multi-stakeholder initiative composed of representatives from law enforcement, business, and the ICT sector, while the latter is a pilot project of the NCWG and National Information Technology Development Agency dedicated to providing support for computer and network security incidents. Draft legislation specifically tailored toward stemming cybercrime includes the Computer Security and Critical Infrastructure Bill (2005), Criminal Code Amendment for Offences Relating to Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes (2011) and the Electronic Transfer of Funds Crime Bill (2011). However, to date none of the bills have been passed into law.

In August 2013, the Nigerian executive council drafted the Cyber Crime Bill (2013) and sent it to the National Assembly for approval and passage into law. Labaran Maku, Nigeria’s Information Minister, has stated the bill is “in conformity with existing Nigerian law” as well as with the Budapest Convention, an international treaty seeking to harmonize international laws on cybercrime through the pursuit of a “common criminal policy.” The status of the bill was uncertain as of October.