The GovLab SCAN – Issue 67

Shruti Sannon also contributed to this post.

This is our 67th edition of The SCAN – Selected Curation of Articles on Net-Governance. Feel free to share your suggestions with us at [email protected]


  • The French Interior Ministry blocked five websites deemed to promote terrorism, sparking concerns about freedom of expression.
  • Reuters is the most recent website to be blocked in China. Great Fire, a website that monitors blocked websites in China was also under fire from a strong DDOS attack this week. Many suspect the attack was initiated by the government.
  • The Global Commission on Internet Governance released a report that describes digital intelligence and promotes international norms in this area.


Esmat, Baher. Two Years Later: The Domain Industry in the Middle East. ICANN Blog. March 19, 2015.

  • Recently, ICANN has focused on a Middle East Strategy to ensure DNS development in this area of the world. ICANN will hold two training sessions on DNS Business Development and Registry Best Practices over the next two weeks. Additionally, they announced a request for proposals to conduct a DNS market study of the Middle East region. This work is being done in parallel with the Middle East DNS Forum that kicked off last year, as well as ICANN’s participation in Arabnet, the largest digital summit in the region.

Swinehart, Theresa. Seeing the Big Picture: A Reflection One Year into the IANA Stewardship Transition. ICANN Blog. March 19, 2015.

  • In this blog post, Swinehart gives an update on the state of the IANA transition, and the work that has been done since the NTIA made it’s initial announcement. According to Swinehart, the progress since last March has been “remarkable and is a demonstration of the community working together to achieve this historical milestone.” Swinehart provides specific details within the two parallel processes of work: the IANA stewardship transition, and enhancing ICANN accountability, and concludes that she is confident that in the end they will prove that the multistakeholder model works.

Internet Governance

Byers, Alex and Kate Tummarello. FCC chief heads into Hill storm. Politico. March 16, 2015.

  • Over the next two weeks, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will face off with Republicans in the Senate and the House of Representatives over the recent FCC decision to regulate the Internet under Title II. Republicans plan on pressing Wheeler “on the potential negatives of his plan, including telecom industry complaints that it will put a chill on broadband investment.” According to the authors, at this point there is little Republicans can do without Democratic support to roll back the FCC’s order.

Davis, Wendy. FCC Turns Attention To Online Privacy. MediaPost. March 12, 2015.

  • While privacy violations have been policed by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) thus far, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) “is expected to exercise oversight over how broadband providers treat consumers’ privacy” now that broadband has been classified as a public utility. The FCC will hold a workshop next month “to address how it should handle broadband providers’ privacy practices”, and the full net neutrality rules released last week suggest that ‘the agency is still figuring out how to evaluate privacy practices of Internet service providers.”

Greenwald, Glenn. US Threatened Germany Over Snowden, Vice Chancellor Says. The Intercept. March 19, 2015.

  • According to German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, the U.S. government “threatened to cease sharing intelligence with Germany if Berlin offered asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden or otherwise arranged for him to travel to that country.” This statement was made in the context of a sustained debate in Germany over whether the country should grant asylum to Snowden. According to Greenwald, a similar situation happened in the UK, where the US allegedly, “threatened an allied government to withhold evidence of possible terror plots as punishment.”

Greenwald, Glenn. What’s scarier: terrorism, or governments blocking websites in its name? The Intercept. March 17, 2015.

  • In this article, Glenn Greenwald discusses this week’s order by the French Interior Ministry to block five websites deemed to promote terrorism. He cites a memo from the European Commission’s counter-terrorism coordinator and efforts of the United Kingdom’s Counter-Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU), a new Canadian bill,  to illustrate that “Forcibly taking down websites deemed to be supportive of terrorism, or criminalizing speech deemed to “advocate” terrorism, is a major trend in both Europe and the West generally.” Greenwald points out that censorship efforts often fail online, and states that the “futility of these efforts is exceeded by their profound dangers.”

Keane, Jonathan. UAE Police Issues Warning to VPN Users. VPN Creative. March 12, 2015.

  • Dubai police have issued a warning that the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) is illegal and punishable under United Arab Emirates law. While the use of VPNs has always been illegal according to the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, “police would now take a firmer stance in enforcing it.” The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has also begun cracking down on social media use by monitoring social media networks for inappropriate behavior.

Masnick, Mike. French Government Starts Blocking Websites With Views The Gov’t Doesn’t Like. TechDirt. March 18, 2015

  • This week, the Interior Minister of France ordered that five websites be blocked in France. Anyone who visited the site was redirected to a message that said, “You are being redirected to this official website since your computer was about to connect with a page that provokes terrorist acts or condones terrorism publicly.” The author is critical of these state actions against freedom speech, and points to an example of a site that was shut down without judicial review, and no information was provided to the owner about what content was deemed to be “supporting terrorism.”

Masnick, Mike. Yahoo Rolls Out End-To-End Encryption For Email. TechDirt. March 17, 2015.

  • Alex Stamos, Yahoo’s Chief Security Officer, just announced that Yahoo Mail will offer an end-to-end encryption extension. The author argues that it is exciting to see “big webmail providers like Yahoo and Google taking the issue more seriously.”  According to Masnick, “Focusing on the user first is always going to be the right solution, and that includes encrypting emails, even if it means slightly less ad revenue in the short term. Hopefully, Google, Yahoo and others remember this simple fact.”

Price, Rob. Facebook has banned revenge porn. Business Insider. March 16, 2015.

  • Facebook updated its Community Guidelines to include a ban on “revenge porn” which is defined as “intimate photos or videos of an individual shared without the subject’s permission.” The ban comes in the context of a growing backlash against this practice. Twitter and Reddit also outlawed “the sharing of sexual imagery without permission.”

RSF unblocks 9 censored sites in 11 countries with Operation #CollateralFreedom. The Online Citizen. March 12, 2015.

  • On March 12, Reporters Without Borders marked World Day Against Cyber-Censorship by unblocking “nine censored websites in 11 countries that are its list of ‘Enemies of the Internet.’”  To make these sites public again, Reporters Without Borders “created mirror copies” and placed each copy “with hosting services in the cloud provided by Amazon, Google, and Microsoft.” According to the article, the countries concerned could block these services but almost certainly will not.”

Russell, Jon. Reuters Is The Latest News Organization To Get Blocked In China. TechCrunch. March 20, 2015.

  • Reuters reported that their website is not reachable as of today to audiences in China. Both the English and Chinese sites were affected by the block, and Reuters staff are unaware of the reason. The article also highlights that in related news, the website Great Fire has been “under fire from a strong DDOS attack over the past few days.” While the source of the attack has not been identified, the Wall Street Journal recently published a story about “how Great Fire is using cloud storage to bypass China’s censorship regime.”

Papers and Reports

Daigle, Leslie. On the Nature of the Internet. The Global Commission on Internet Governance. March 16, 2015.

  • This paper “examines three aspects of the nature of the Internet: the Internet’s technology, general properties that make the Internet successful and current pressures for change.” The author concludes that “technology considerations may be at the heart of determining what works (or doesn’t) for the Internet, but a non-technical framework for discussing eventual tradeoffs is imperative.”

Omand, David. Understanding Digital Intelligence and the Norms That Might Govern It. The Global Commission on Internet Governance. March 19, 2015.

  • This paper, “describes the nature of digital intelligence and provides context for the material published as a result of the actions of National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.” The paper concludes by suggesting areas “where it might be possible to derive international norms, regarded as promoting standards of accepted behaviour that might gain widespread, if not universal, international acceptance, for the safe practice of digital intelligence.”

Rainie, Lee and Madden, Mary. Americans’ Privacy Strategies Post-Snowden. Pew Research Center. March 16, 2015.

  • This survey examined if and how Americans changed the ways they use technology after learning of the government’s surveillance programs. According to the results, “In all, 12% of those who are aware of the programs say they changed their behavior in at least one of these activities a ‘great deal’ and 25% have changed their behavior in at least one of these activities a ‘great deal’ or ‘somewhat.’ That amounts to 22% of all adults who say they have changed their use of various technology platforms since the Snowden revelations.”


(The below includes both past and upcoming events. See The GovLab’s Master Events Calendar for more Internet Governance events)

The Disrupters: Eric Schmidt on technology and the case for optimism. American Enterprise Institute. March 18, 2015.

  • This past Tuesday, Google Executive Eric Schmidt visited AEI to discuss “the role of technology in human flourishing, happiness, and entrepreneurship.” Full video of the event will be posted on this site.

Fighting Cybercrime through closer International Cooperation. Geneva Internet Platform. March 30, 2015.

  • The second Cybersecurity Day, held at the Geneva Internet Platform, will convene experts, engineers and diplomats to discuss “international cooperation in the fight against cybercrime in the context of preparations for the forthcoming 13th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.”

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