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March 2014 in Retrospect: Intermediary Liability News and More from the Internet and Jurisdiction Project

March 2014 Retrospect is available here:

http://www.internetjurisdiction.net/observatory/retrospect/2014-march

Retrospect is the monthly newsletter of the Internet & Jurisdiction Project - a global multi-stakeholder dialogue process that explores the tension between the cross-border nature of the Internet and national jurisdictions. Every month, the members of the Internet & Jurisdiction Observatory expert network identify the 20 most relevant cases through a progressive filtering process to inform the participants of the Internet & Jurisdiction Project on emerging trends around the world.

MARCH 2014 IN RETROSPECT

  1. Brazilian Congress approves Marco Civil bill
  2. US Department of Commerce intents to give up control over IANA function
  3. Twitter blocked in Turkish jurisdiction at IP level
  4. European Parliament adopts EU data protection reform
  5. Freedom of Expression lawsuit against Chinese Baidu dismissed in US jurisdiction
  6. Turkish regulator blocks YouTube without court order
  7. Google’s YouTube and Viacom settle lawsuit in US jurisdiction
  8. ISPs blocks for copyright infringements are possible, says European Court of Justice
  9. Google encrypts searches in Chinese jurisdiction
  10. US and British privacy agencies sign Memorandum of Understanding
  11. ECPA reform in US might end stop access to emails without warrants
  12. French NGO opts for priority flagging instead of lawsuits against Twitter
  13. Google and Yahoo publish new numbers on data requests
  14. “Sponsored Stories” lawsuit against Facebook in Brazilian jurisdiction
  15. US Congress considers DMCA takedown regime reform
  16. French consumer group sues Google, Facebook and Twitter for Terms of Service
  17. UK court orders ISPs to block infringing streaming websites
  18. Terms of Service: Facebook restricts gun sales on its platform
  19. Macedonia blocks foreign gambling sites in its jurisdiction
  20. Apple bans sale of book with nude cover in France

 

 

1. Brazilian Congress approves Marco Civil bill

 On March 25, 2014 the Brazilian Chamber of Commerce approved the Marco Civil bill. It’s scope and drafting process attracted international attention: The legislation was drafted in 2009-10 in a crowd-sourced, public process in which nearly 2000 people participated. Moreover, the bill provides a first comprehensive legislative framework for the Internet in the Brazilian jurisdiction that has been compared to an Internet bill of rights. The Marco Civil now needs to be approved by the Federal Senate before being signed by President Dilma Rouseff. After long deliberations in the Congress, a data sovereignty provision introduced after the Snowden revelations was dropped on March 18, 2014. It would have obliged Internet platforms serving Brazilian citizens to store personal data on the ground. The bill now considers that data of Brazilians is under Brazilian jurisdiction, regardless of the location of servers where they are stored. Intermediaries would only be liable for user-generated content if they do not comply with a court order. The bill also establishes net neutrality and data retention rules in the Brazilian jurisdiction.

Read further:
InfoJustice: Brazilian Chamber of Deputies approves Marco Civil bill 
Reuters: Brazil to drop local data storage rule in Internet bill
Brazilian Congress: House approves Marco Civil for the Internet

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2. US Department of Commerce intents to give up control over IANA function

On March 14, 2014 the US Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced its intention to relinquish the US control over the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) function. Linked to the invention of the Internet in the US jurisdiction, NTIA has contracted ICANN to perform the IANA function, which includes tasks such as the addition of new top-level domain name strings in the root zone database. Under the current arrangement, which expires in September 30, 2015, NTIA validates requests for changes in the root made by ICANN before VeriSign executes changes and updates the root zone file. NTIA appointed ICANN to lead a global multi-stakeholder consultation process to identify a global accountability mechanism for overseeing the IANA function. The announcement is not linked to the general question of ICANNs internationalization and jurisdiction over the organization that is headquarteredin California. US House Republicans introduced the DOTCOM Act to stop any oversight transition.

Read further:
Computerworld: US government to end formal relationship with ICANN
Gigaom: The US seems ready to give up control of the Internet
Domain Incite: US to give up control over ICANN

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3. Twitter blocked in Turkish jurisdiction at IP level

On March 21, 2014 Turkish ISPs started blocking the US-based microblogging service Twitter. After addresses of alternative DNS servers circulated widely in Turkey to circumvent the URL ban, the country extended the Twitter block to the IP address level on March 22, 2014. Even requests to public DNS servers that were used to circumvent the blocks were re-routed. The Twitter block is based upon the request of a public prosecutor and three court orders. Twitter complied with two court orders and removed the content in question, which also violated its global Terms of Service. The company refuses to comply with the third Turkish court order, a takedown request for an account that accused a former minister of corruption and filed a petition with a Turkish court on March 26, 2014. On the same day, the administrative court of Ankara ordered an injunction. The Turkish High Council for Telecommunication TIB was obliged to restore access to Twitter within 30 days until a full judgement is pronounced.

Read further:
Guardian: Turkey blocks use of Twitter after prime minister attacks social media site
BBC: Court in Turkey moves to suspend ban on Twitter
Techcrunch: Turkey moves to block Twitter at the IP level

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4. European Parliament adopts EU data protection reform

On March 12, 2014 the 766 members of the European Parliament passed the proposed EU data protection reform package. It formally adopted the text of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (621 votes in favor) and adopted the Police and Criminal Justice Directive for personal data (371 votes in favor). Under the new package, privacy protections would apply extraterritorially, regardless of the jurisdiction in which European personal data is processed. The two documents will now be discussedby the EU Council of Ministers. The European Parliament also supported a resolution by the Civil Liberties Committee that would veto the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership unless US data protection standards are raised and calls for a suspension of the Safe Harbor framework. On March 26, 2014, the EU and US announced in a joint statement to improve Safe Harbor privacy standards and create “a meaningful and comprehensive data protection umbrella agreement for data exchanges in the field of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, including terrorism”.

Read further:
Gigaom: 
Hunton Privacy Blog: European Parliament adopts draft general data protection regulation 
BlawBlaw: The European Parliament’s vote on extraterritoriality in data privacy – one step forward, and one step back

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5. Freedom of Expression lawsuit against Chinese Baidu dismissed in US jurisdiction

On March 28, 2014 a US judge dismissed a 2011 lawsuit filed in the district court of Manhattan that accused the Chinese search engine Baidu of suppressing political speech. The group of eight plaintiffs, all writers from New York, were seeking 16 million US dollar in damages for violations of their civil rights. The US judge decided that “[t]he First Amendment protects Baidu’s right to advocate for systems of government other than democracy (in China or elsewhere) just as surely as it protects plaintiffs’ rights to advocate for democracy”. The judge moreover argued that blocking content on search engines on political grounds would constitute “in essence editorial judgements”, similar to print publications. The plaintiffs plan to appeal the verdict.

Read further: 
New York Times: U.S. Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Chinese Search Engine
Reuters: China’s Baidu defeats U.S. lawsuit over censored search results
IT World: US judge rules Baidu’s censorship is protected as free speech

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6. Turkish regulator blocks YouTube without court order

On March 27, 2014 the Turkish High Council for Telecommunications TIB blocked access to youtube.com in the Turkish jurisdiction without a court order. It was the first time that the agency used the new powers conferred upon it by amendments to the Law Nr. 5651 that were adopted in February 2014. TIB reacted to a leaked recording of a high-level security meeting on Syria that circulated on YouTube.

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7. Google’s YouTube and Viacom settle lawsuit in US jurisdiction

On March 18, 2014 Google settled a multimillion-dollar copyright lawsuit with Viacom after seven years of litigation in the US. Viacom sued YouTube for 1 billion US dollar back in 2007 for hosting 79.000 infringing videos between 2005 and 2008. The settlement was not revealed. The case was considered as a test-bed for the limits of the Safe Harbor protection for intermediaries under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

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8. ISPs blocks for copyright infringements are possible, says European Court of Justice

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) decided on March 27, 2014 that ISPs can be ordered to block access to websites that contain content that infringes copyright. The case was brought to the ECJ by the Supreme Court of Austria. However, such orders must be proportionate and balance copyright protections with fundamental rights.

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9. Google encrypts searches in Chinese jurisdiction

Google rolled out SSL-encrypted search by default for users located in the Chinese jurisdiction in March 2014. The company announced to establish encrypted search by default progressively worldwide to limit the interception of online searches in national jurisdictions.

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10. US and British privacy agencies sign Memorandum of Understanding

The US Federal Trade Commission and the UK Information Commissioner’s office signed on March 6, 2014 a Memorandum of Understanding on “Mutual assistance in the enforcement of laws protecting personal information in the private sector”. This will increase cooperation between the two agencies for both investigation and enforcement.

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11. ECPA reform in US might end stop access to emails without warrants

The US House of Congress is discussing a reform of the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act that regulates how law enforcement can access private data such as emails. The Email Privacy Act is gaining support. Currently, US law enforcement can access personal communication data such as emails if they are stored for more than 180 days without a warrant.

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12. French NGO opts for priority flagging instead of lawsuits against Twitter

The French anti-homophobia NGO SOS Homophobie operates since March 2013 a Twitter account to flag discriminatory tweets and hashtags with priority. One year later, this partnership with Twitter appears to work well and the NGO did not file lawsuits against the micro-blogging website since August 2013, after an anti-gay hashtag became a top trending topic in France.

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13. Google and Yahoo publish new numbers on data requests

During the second half of 2013, Google witnessed an increase of requests for user data from different national jurisdictions, while Yahoo observed a decrease, compared to the first six months of 2013. New transparency reports show that between July and December 2013, Google received 27,477 requests from 65 different jurisdictions and Yahoo 21,425 requests from 17 jurisdictions.

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14.  “Sponsored Stories” lawsuit against Facebook in Brazilian jurisdiction

Accusing Facebook of violating the privacy rights of 76 million Brazilian Facebook users, the Brazilian Institute of Computer Law has filed a 24 million euro lawsuit against Facebook. The social networksettled a similar lawsuit in the US jurisdiction and announced to end domain and open graph sponsored stories on April 9, 2014.

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15. US Congress considers DMCA takedown regime reform

The Judiciary Committee of the US Congress is considering changes to the US Digital Millennium Act. During a hearing on March 13, 2014 copyright holders demanded a reform of the notice and takedown system. They want that platforms that host user generated content employ filtering technologies.

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16. French consumer group sues Google, Facebook and Twitter for Terms of Service

Google, Facebook and Twitter have been sued by the French consumer protection group UFC-Que Choisir and have to appear before the High Court of Paris. The group accuses the online platforms of having unclear Terms of Service that do not comply with French law. It is criticized that they link they link to conditions that are not translated into French.

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17. UK court orders ISPs to block infringing streaming websites

The High Court of London has ordered six British ISPs to block the access to four websites. They allow the streaming of copyright protected movies on their platforms or through links to third-party websites.

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18. Terms of Service: Facebook restricts gun sales on its platform

Facebook announced on March 5, 2014 new policies that will restrict the sale of guns through its platform. In detail, the platform “will not permit people to post offers to sell regulated items that indicate a willingness to evade or help others evade the [US] law”. This new policy will also be enforced on Instagram, which was acquired by Facebook.

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19. Macedonia blocks foreign gambling sites in its jurisdiction

To prevent the outflow of capital, the Macedonian government has announced the blocking of gambling sites incorporated outside of the Macedonian jurisdiction for two years staring in March 2014. The blocking measures will be administered by the Agency for Electronic Communications and the Ministry for Information Society.

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20. Apple bans sale of book with nude cover in France

Apple has decided, based on its Terms of Service, 

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