Strict new cyber-security legislation is not aimed at limiting foreign companies operating in the country, Chinese officials have said.
The law, due to come into effect on 1 June, bans the collection and sale of users' personal information.
Firms will also have to store user data on servers inside China, and people will be given the right to have their information deleted.
International business groups have appealed against its implementation.
In a letter to the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) seen by the Reuters news agency, a group representing European business interests warned that it would lead to "great uncertainties and compliance risks".
The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China told the CAC that the law was "fraught with weaknesses" and called for its introduction to be delayed to "allow sufficient discussion".
But the CAC said the law would come into force this week as planned.
"The purpose is to safeguard [China's] national cyber-space sovereignty and national security... rather than to restrict foreign enterprises," it said in a statement on its website.
"It does not restrict foreign companies or their technology and products entering the Chinese market, neither does it limit the orderly, free flow of data in accordance with the law."
The legislation comes in at the same time as tighter regulations governing online news content.
Companies that publish, share or edit news will need government-issued licences to operate, and senior staff must be approved by the authorities.
Organisations that do not have a licence will not be allowed to post news or commentary about the government, economy, military, foreign affairs, and "other areas of public interest".
When those measures were announced, the CAC said they would "promote the healthy and orderly development of internet news".
Published on BBC on May 31, 2017.
The New York Times has published a story with details of a memo written by former FBI Director James Comey documenting a conversation he had with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office in February. The memo was shared with senior FBI officials and close associates of Comey, and read to Times reporters. According to the story, the president told Comey that he should consider putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information.
Reporters Committee Executive Director Bruce Brown made the following statement:
"The comments attributed to President Trump cross a dangerous line. But no president gets to jail journalists. Reporters are protected by judges and juries, by a congress that relies on them to stay informed, and by a Justice Department that for decades has honored the role of a free press by spurning prosecutions of journalists for publishing leaks of classified information.
"Comments such as these, emerging in the way they did, only remind us that every day public servants are reaching out to reporters to ensure the public is aware of the risks today to rule of law in this country. The president’s remarks should not intimidate the press but inspire it."
Published on Reporters' Committee on May 16, 2017.
Raising alarm over the impact of internet and social media restrictions imposed by authorities in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, United Nations human rights experts have called on the Government to protect the right to freedom of expression and to pursue an open and democratic dialogue to address the region's social and political conflicts.
In a news release issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression and Michel Forst, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders stressed that the scope of the restrictions also undermined “the Government's stated aim of preventing dissemination of information that could lead to violence.”
“The internet and telecommunications bans have the character of collective punishment [and] fail to meet the standards required under international human rights law to limit freedom of expression,” said Mr. Kaye in the news release.
“Denying such access disrupts the free exchange of ideas and the ability of individuals to connect with one another and associate peacefully on matters of shared concern,” added Mr. Forst.
The ban was imposed on 17 April following widespread student demonstrations.
According to information from the media and individuals in Kashmir, the Government blocked access to 22 websites and applications, including the messaging service WhatsApp, and social media Facebook and Twitter, noted the news release.
3G and 4G internet data services for mobile phones and other devices have also been suspended.
The news release also noted that since 2012, there have been an estimated 31 reported cases of social media and internet bans in the Indian state and such developments seemed to be a worrying pattern aimed at curbing protests and social unrest in the region.
“We call on the Indian authorities to guarantee freedom of expression in Jammu and Kashmir and to seek a solution for the social and political conflicts of the region through an open, transparent and democratic dialogue,” the experts said.
Further in the release, the human rights experts also recalled the concerns raised by the UN Human Rights Council – the central inter-governmental body within the UN system responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe – over online disruptions and the call upon UN Member States to avoid such shutdowns.
Special Rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.
Published on the UN News Centre's website on May 11, 2017.
The United Nations high commissioner for human rights called on President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan on May 10 and 11, 2017, to turn his government’s pledges for reform into concrete human rights improvements and fulfill its obligations under human rights law, eight human rights groups said today. The rights groups endorsed the high commissioner’s recommendations, calling on Mirziyoyev to end ongoing abuses and deliver on Uzbekistan’s human rights commitments in full.
UN High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein met with the president, government officials, and representatives of nongovernmental groups in Tashkent and Samarkand. He urged the government to release political prisoners, cooperate with UN rights monitors, and work to end systematic torture, among other issues. He emphasized that the “successful implementation” of human rights reforms could have a “transformational impact” on Uzbekistan’s future.
“While welcoming President Mirziyoyev’s indicated willingness to engage on Uzbekistan’s abysmal rights record, the UN high commissioner rightly called on him to turn positive rhetoric into concrete action,” said Steve Swerdlow, Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The burden of proof now lies with the Uzbek government to make good on its promises for reform.”
The rights groups are the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, Civil Rights Defenders, the Cotton Campaign, Human Rights Watch, International Partnership for Human Rights, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Reporters Sans Frontières, and the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights.
Hussein’s visit was the first by a UN high commissioner for human rights to Uzbekistan. It came on the heels of Tashkent’s recent efforts to step up engagement with various intergovernmental organizations and financial institutions, such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
Hussein acknowledged certain positive developments, such as Mirziyoyev’s newly adopted Action Strategy, which includes pledges to improve public administration, strengthen protections for vulnerable segments of the population, and liberalize the economy, as well as new legislation to strengthen the independence of the judiciary. But the high commissioner stressed that “frameworks and plans are one thing, and results are another.”
“In recent months President Mirziyoyev may have directed the government to pass laws and regulations that, at face value, carry great potential,” said Brigitte Dufour, director of International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR). “But the proof of change is when we start seeing all wrongfully imprisoned activists released from prison, UN human rights monitors and human rights organizations able to visit the country, an end to forced labor, and independent civil society and media able to function without harassment.”
In his remarks, the high commissioner urged authorities to allow a strong, vibrant, and dynamic civil society and media to operate without fear of repression or reprisal, and to release political prisoners as soon as possible. The rights groups have documented the imprisonment of thousands of people on politically motivated charges in Uzbekistan, including dozens of human rights defenders, journalists, and political activists.
He cited torture as “one of the issues that has been most damaging to Uzbekistan’s international reputation.” And he said the government should allow independent monitoring of Uzbekistan’s prisons and other places of detention with the aim of eradicating torture and other forms of ill-treatment and urged it to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture. The protocol creates a monitoring system and requires that independent entities responsible for such monitoring be able to enter detention facilities at any time, unannounced. In 2013, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) halted its monitoring of Uzbekistan’s prison facilities, citing interference by authorities.
“The high commissioner’s visit brings hope for positive change,” said Ivar Dale, senior adviser at the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, “but will only have lasting significance for Uzbekistan’s 32 million citizens if President Mirziyoyev opens the country to the credible scrutiny of rights activists, journalists, and international monitors who have been unable to do their critical work for so many years.”
Hussein also recommended that Uzbekistan cooperate with UN human rights bodies, noting that none of the 14 human rights monitors who have asked to visit the country had been allowed to visit since 2002. The high commissioner announced that an invitation has been extended to the UN special rapporteur on the freedom of religion or belief.
The visit came just before the anniversary of the May 13, 2005, Andijan massacre, when government forces shot and killed hundreds of largely unarmed protesters in the city of Andijan. In his public remarks, he underlined the importance of ensuring justice and accountability for the “terrible events” in Andijan that day. “While it is important to look forward, it is also important to come to terms with past events and ensure that victims are not forgotten and their grievances are addressed,” he said.
Before dawn on May 13, 2005, armed men broke into the prison in Andijan, a city in the Fergana Valley in eastern Uzbekistan. The gunmen freed 23 local businessmen who had been sentenced for “religious extremism” and took over local government buildings. Throughout the day, thousands of unarmed peaceful protesters flocked to the town’s central square to speak out against poverty, unemployment, and government repression. Government forces in armored vehicles and snipers fired indiscriminately on the crowd, blocking off the square as people attempted to flee, killing hundreds. Government troops then moved through the square and executed wounded people where they lay.
“There is no statute of limitations for the mass killings of hundreds of innocent civilians 12 years ago in Andijan,” said Nadejda Atayeva, president of the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia. “We fully support the high commissioner’s call that the Uzbek government ensure accountability for these terrible events, which should include a review of the criminal sentences of the hundreds imprisoned in the aftermath of the massacre, an end to harassment of witnesses to the killings, and access for human rights organizations to investigate.”
Published on HRW's website on May 13, 2017.
By AMANDA HESS
Last month, the true cost of Unroll.me was revealed: The service is owned by the market-research firm Slice Intelligence, and according to a report in The Times, while Unroll.me is cleaning up users’ inboxes, it’s also rifling through their trash. When Slice found digital ride receipts from Lyft in some users’ accounts, it sold the anonymized data off to Lyft’s ride-hailing rival, Uber.
Suddenly, some of Unroll.me’s trusting users were no longer so happy. One user filed a class-action lawsuit. In a blog post, Unroll.me’s chief executive, Jojo Hedaya, wrote that it was “heartbreaking to see that some of our users were upset to learn about how we monetize our free service.” He stressed “the importance of your privacy” and pledged to “do better.” But one of Unroll.me’s founders, Perri Chase, who is no longer with the company, took a different approach in her own post on the controversy. “Do you really care?” she wrote. “How exactly is this shocking?”
This Silicon Valley “good cop, bad cop” routine is familiar, and we spend our time surfing between these two modes of thought. Chase is right: We’ve come to understand that privacy is the currency of our online lives, paying for petty conveniences with bits of personal information. But we are blissfully ignorant of what that means. We don’t know what data is being bought and sold, because, well, that’s private. The evidence that flashes in front of our own eyes looks harmless enough: We search Google for a new pair of shoes, and for a time, sneakers follow us across the web, tempting us from every sidebar. But our information can also be used for matters of great public significance, in ways we’re barely capable of imagining.
When I signed up for Unroll.me, I couldn’t predict that my emails might be strategic documents for a power-hungry company in its quest for total road domination. Such privacy costs often become clear only after they’ve already been paid. Sometimes a private citizen is caught up in a viral moment and learns that a great deal of information about him or her exists online, just waiting to be splashed across the news — like the guy in the red sweater who, after asking a question in a presidential debate, had his Reddit porn comments revealed.
But our digital dossiers extend well beyond the individual pieces of information we know are online somewhere; they now include stuff about us that can be surmised only through studying our patterns of behavior. The psychologist and data scientist Michal Kosinski has found that seemingly mundane activity — like the brands and celebrities people “like” on Facebook — can be leveraged to reliably predict, among other things, intelligence, personality traits and politics. After our most recent presidential election, the company Cambridge Analytica boasted that its techniques were “instrumental in identifying supporters, persuading undecided voters and driving turnout to the polls” on Donald Trump’s behalf. All these little actions we think of as our “private” business are actually data points that can be aggregated and wielded to manipulate our world.
Years ago, in 2009, the law professor Paul Ohm warned that the growing dominance of Big Data could create a “database of ruin” that would someday connect all people to compromising information about their lives. “In the absence of intervention,” he later wrote, “soon companies will know things about us that we do not even know about ourselves.” Or as the social scientist and Times contributor Zeynep Tufekci said in a recent talk: “People can’t think like this: I didn’t disclose it, but it can be inferred about me.” When a peeping Tom looks between the blinds, it’s clear what has been revealed. But when a data firm cracks open our inboxes, we may never find out what it has learned.
Privacy has not always been seen as an asset. The ancient Greeks, for instance, distinguished between the public realm (“koinon”) and the private realm (“idion”). In contrast to those public citizens engaged in political life, humble private citizens were known as “idiotai,” a word that later evolved into “idiots.” Something similar is true of the English word “privacy.” As Hannah Arendt wrote in “The Human Condition,” privacy was once closely associated with “a state of being deprived of something, and even of the highest and most human of man’s capacities.” In the 17th century, the word “private” arose as a more politically correct replacement for “common,” which had taken on condescending overtones.
And yet somewhere along the way, privacy was recast as a necessity for cultivating the life of the mind. In George Orwell’s “1984,” the proles are spared a life of constant surveillance, while higher-ranking members of society are exposed to Big Brother’s watchful eye. The novel’s protagonist, Winston, begins to suspect that real freedom lies in those unwatched slums: “If there is hope,” he writes in his secret diary, “it lies in the proles.” In the influential 1967 book “Privacy and Freedom,” Alan Westin described privacy as having four functions: personal autonomy, emotional release, self-evaluation and intimate communication. This modern understanding of privacy as an intimate good grew up right alongside the technology that threatened to violate it. At the end of the 18th century, the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protected Americans from physical searches of their bodies and homes.
One hundred years later, technological advancements had legal minds thinking about a kind of mental privacy too: In an 1890 paper called “The Right to Privacy,” Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis cited “recent inventions and business methods” — including instant photography and tabloid gossip — that they claimed had “invaded the sacred precincts of private and domestic life.” They argued for what they called the right “to be let alone,” but also what they called “the right to one’s personality.”
Now that our privacy is worth something, every side of it is being monetized. We can either trade it for cheap services or shell out cash to protect it. It is increasingly seen not as a right but as a luxury good. When Congress recently voted to allow internet service providers to sell user data without users’ explicit consent, talk emerged of premium products that people could pay for to protect their browsing habits from sale. And if they couldn’t afford it? As one congressman told a concerned constituent, “Nobody’s got to use the internet.” Practically, though, everybody’s got to. Tech companies have laid claim to the public square: All of a sudden, we use Facebook to support candidates, organize protests and pose questions in debates. We’re essentially paying a data tax for participating in democracy.
The smartphone is an intimate device; we stare rapt into its bright light and stroke its smooth glass to coax out information and connect with others. It seems designed to help us achieve Westin’s functions of privacy, to enable emotional release and moments of passive reflection. We cradle it in bed, at dinner, on the toilet. Its pop-up privacy policies are annoying speed bumps in the otherwise instantaneous conjuring of desires. It feels like a private experience, when really it is everything but. How often have you shielded the contents of your screen from a stranger on the subway, or the partner next to you in bed, only to offer up your secrets to the data firm tracking everything you do?
The surveillance economy works on such information asymmetry: Data-mining companies know everything about us, but we know very little about what they know. And just as “privacy” has grown into an anxious buzzword, the powerful have co-opted it in order to maintain control over others and evade accountability. As we bargain away the amount of privacy that an ordinary person expects, we’ve also watched businesses and government figures grow ever more indignant about their own need to be left alone. Companies mandate nondisclosure agreements and demand out-of-court arbitration to better conceal their business practices. In 2013, Facebook revoked users’ ability to remain unsearchable on the site; meanwhile, its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, was buying up four houses surrounding his Palo Alto home to preserve his own privacy. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, has defended President Trump’s secretive meetings at his personal golf clubs, saying he is “entitled to a bit of privacy,” and the administration has cut off public access to White House visitor logs, citing security risks and “privacy concerns.” When The New York Times reported that the president takes counsel from the Fox News host Sean Hannity, Hannity indignantly tweeted that his conversations were “PRIVATE.”
We’ve arrived at a place where public institutions and figures can be precious about their privacy in ways we’re continually deciding individual people can’t. Stepping into the White House is now considered more private than that weird rash you Googled. It’s a cynical inversion of the old association between private life and the lower class: These days, only the powerful can demand privacy.
Published on the NY Times' website on May 9, 2017.
Bahrain’s authorities have referred a civilian to trial before a military court for the first time since 2011, after the King of Bahrain ratified a disastrous constitutional amendment in April 2017. Bahrain’s public prosecution referred the case of Fadhel Sayed Abbas Hasan Radhi, a victim of enforced disappearance, to the military court earlier today.
“This is a shameful move by the authorities designed to strike fear in the heart of the population. It is also a serious blow for justice in Bahrain. Military trials in Bahrain are flagrantly unfair. And trying civilians before military courts is contrary to international standards,” said Samah Hadid, Director of Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office.
“The decision to transfer Fadhel Sayed Abbas Hasan Radhi to the military court must immediately be quashed. He must be given immediate access to proper legal representation, informed of the charges against him, and tried in a civilian court, according to international fair trial standards.”
Fadhel Sayed Abbas Hasan Radhi was forcibly disappeared for over seven months after his arrest on 29 September 2016 by Criminal Investigations Directorate officers at his family home in Hamad Town, south-west of the capital, Manama. During that time he was not allowed access to a lawyer and was cut off from the outside world raising fears he faced torture and other ill-treatment in detention. The organization is also concerned that he may have been forced into making a “confession” which will be used as evidence during his trial before the military court.
His family were not told where he was being taken or the grounds for his arrest, and did not hear from him until two weeks later, when he called and told them his whereabouts for the first time. Since them his family have had only very sporadic contact with him by phone.
Despite the numerous inquiries made by Fadhel Radhi’s family and by Amnesty International to the Public Prosecution Office (PPO) and the Ombudsman of the Ministry of Interior, the latter of which has a mandate to investigate all allegations of torture and other ill-treatment, no answers had been received until his family were told this morning by the PPO that Fadhel Radhi’s case has been transferred to the court. His lawyer has not been informed about this decision nor has he been told any information about his client’s case or charges.
Amnesty International also fears that another individual who has been subjected to enforced disappearance for more than six months, Al-Sayed Alawi Hussain al-Alawi, will be referred to military court. He too has been cut off from the outside world since his arrest in October 2016, has had no access to a lawyer throughout his detention and his charges are also unknown. He remains at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.
Published on Amnesty International's website on May 9, 2017.
The conviction and imprisonment of Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as “Ahok”, will tarnish Indonesia’s reputation for tolerance, Amnesty International said today.
"This verdict demonstrates the inherent injustice of Indonesia's blasphemy law, which should be repealed immediately," said Champa Patel, Amnesty International's Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
"Despite protests of his innocence and evidence that his words were manipulated for political purposes, he has been sentenced to two years in jail. The verdict will tarnish Indonesia's reputation as a tolerant nation."
Amnesty International calls on the Indonesian authorities to repeal blasphemy laws, including Articles 156 and 156(a) of the Criminal Code that have been used to prosecute and imprison people may be imprisoned for “defamation” of religion for as long as five years simply because they have peacefully exercised their right to freedom of expression or to freedom of thought, conscience or religion, which are protected under international human rights law.
BackgroundThe prosecutor demanded the judges sentence Ahok for one year’s imprisonment during two years of probation and charged him for “insulting or making hostility” towards a certain group in public under Article 156 of the Criminal Code and dropped the blasphemy charges. However, the North Jakarta District Court convicted Ahok of blasphemy under Article 156(a) of the Criminal Code and sentenced him to two years' imprisonment. Ahok is now imprisoned at the Cipinang Detention Facility.
Although the blasphemy law (Presidential Decree No. 1/PNPS/1965) and Article 156(a) of the Criminal Code were enacted in 1965, they were used to prosecute only around 10 individuals between 1965 and 1998, when former President Suharto was in power during which time the right to freedom of expression was severely curtailed. Between 2005 and 2014 Amnesty International has recorded at least 106 individuals who have been prosecuted and convicted under blasphemy laws.
Published on Amnesty International's website on May 9, 2017.
A civil right is an enforceable right or privilege, which if interfered with by another gives rise to an action for injury. Examples of civil rights are freedom of speech, press, and assembly; the right to vote; freedom from involuntary servitude; and the right to equality in public places. Discrimination occurs when the civil rights of an individual are denied or interfered with because of their membership in a particular group or class. Various jurisdictions have enacted statutes to prevent discrimination based on a person's race, sex, religion, age, previous condition of servitude, physical limitation, national origin, and in some instances sexual orientation.
Source: Cornell University Law School