In the recent days, several things happened, that seem to be really bad for the Internet.
- Barack Obama suggests a NSA reform, which is not worth the paper it is written on, especially for everyone non-american nothing changes. Take a close look at the comparison chart at the Guardian. The only thing that changes is instead of 5 years data storage, it is now two (in Germany and other European countries its 6 month and even shorter periods are debated). Second, the data is stored with the ISP, which sounds like a good thing, but does not really change the nature of the gag-orders and the nature of the PRISM Program itself, which allows the NSA to get data from the big Internet companies. Third, a judicial approval is required, which sounds like a good thing and makes very clear, that the previous rule with the FISA court was just a democratic hoax. However, judges tend to approve wiretapping, especially if the NSA does not provide detailed reports, why wiretapping is needed. That it does not really change that much.
- Turkey basically becomes an autocratic regime, where the freedom of expression and freedom of the press is severely damaged. Twitter and Youtube are blocked by government order, with the old cry of the oppressor: “our national security is in danger!”
- Britain follows. British officials made it clear to the Guardian, that they are not really welcome anymore and tried to shut down its operation. Instead of starting a debate about the nature of surveillance and intelligence agencies, like in the rest of Europe and finally, even in the USA, the debate is stopped with dubious threats.
- The European court allowed blocking of websites if they violate copyright and intellectual property law. Provider can be ordered to shut down websites containing intellectual property. The court argues: ““The decision by the ECJ today confirming that website blocking does not infringe fundamental rights in the EU is an important clarification that will strengthen the ability of the music and other creative industries to tackle piracy.” However, it wouldn’t be the first time that an information censorship infrastructure, which was put in place for copyright violations and piracy, was later used for other types of “unwished” content. It remains to be seen, but this is a very first step in a dangerous direction.