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Digital Restrictions

I(ra)nternet – Internet censorship and sanctions in Iran

This is not an in-depth blog post about the internet censorship in Iran. If you look for that you find better stuff ‘out there’ or maybe start with the dedicated wikipedia page, instead. This is mere a simple story about my own experience, using the internet in Iran.

Recently I was in Iran for educational purposes (the thing other people call vacation). I directly came from Bucharest where I was at FSFE’s General Assembly and where I used Airbnb to find a proper accommodation. For those who do not know: Airbnb is a service that offers private accommodations, provided by local people. To prove reliability of the hosts, it comes with a built-in recommendation system. So I was in Iran now and I wanted to write a recommendation about my host in Bucharest inside Airbnb. But, when I tried to log in, I was facing this:

Airbnb as seen inside Iran

Own translation:

Why can I not use Airbnb from my location?
Airbnb has to keep to the law of the United States, that says that people of distinct countries are not allowed to use our service. That is why our service is not available in Cuba, Syria, Iran and Sudan.

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Internet (un)governance in Turkey

Do you remember the protests around #GeziPark in Istanbul, Turkey, in June 2013? People were heavily using Twitter and other social media to mobilize and organize an opposition against Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government. Since then, the Internet is Erdogan’s personal enemy.

If we look at a rough timeline of Erdogan’s recent turkish government decisions on internet policy:

  • February 2014: Turkey passes a new internet law No 5651, to censor the web and for data retention (Guardian, BoingBoing). content:
    • block any website within four hours without first seeking a court ruling
    • store all data on web users’ activities for two years and make it available to the authorities upon request
  • March 2014: Turkish government blocks Youtube and Twitter ahead of national elections. (anmnesty international)
  • April – June 2014: Twitter compiles with court decisions to aid and assist Turkish authorities in ceonsoring political content. (Daily Sabah)
  • May to July 2014: Turkey blocks access to approximately 48.000 websites

… we can see that Internet governance in Turkey equals censorshop. However …

What t f?
#IGF2014’s agenda is about reforming ICANN, privacy, fundamental rights, surveillance and net neutrality. Now, guess, who sends most participants into the discussions and decisions about these important topics? Erdogan’s government and authorities.

If you are interested in more details about Turkish governments attack on the internet, read why Yaman Akdeniz and Kerem Altiparmak are boycotting the Internet Governance Forum.
Both are speaking at the Internet Ungovernance Forum, instead. It’s first sentence reads:

We’re organizing the Internet Ungovernance Forum on September 4-5, for people who demand that fundamental freedoms, openness, unity and net neutrality remain the building blocks of the Internet.

Das Recht auf eigene Gerätehoheit als Bedingung der Privatsphäre

Inzwischen verschenkt Netzpolitik.org das im November letzten Jahres erschienene Buch “Überwachtes Netz. Edward Snowden und der größte Überwachungsskandal der Geschichte”. Ein Sammelband, in dem rund 50 Autorinnen und Autoren aus aller Welt die Folgen des NSA-Überwachungsskandals reflektieren und vorausschauen. Von den mit den FSF* assoziierten Personen finden sich Beiträge von Georg Greve, Richard Stallman und mir. Weil das Buch nun verschenkt wird (es wurde von Anfang an unter CC-BY-SA 3.0 vermarktet), veröffentliche ich heute meinen eigenen Beitrag:

Das Recht auf eigene Gerätehoheit als Bedingung der Privatsphäre

Zusammenfassung: Das Thema Überwachung dreht sich meist um die Überwachung des öffentlichen Raumes, spätestens seit Prism auch um die der Telekommunikation. Im eigenen Zuhause oder im Kreise der Freunde hingegen denkt man nur selten an die Möglichkeit einer allgegenwärtigen Überwachung. Doch genau diese Gefahr droht durch den zunehmenden Kontrollverlust über unsere technischen (Kommunikations-)Geräte. Immer häufiger implementieren Hersteller Möglichkeiten des Fernzugriffs in ihre Produkte. Daraus resultierende Zugangs- und Kontrollmöglichkeiten seitens der Hersteller machen aus diesen Produkten zugleich willkommene Werkzeuge für Geheimdienste. Das persönliche Eigentum wird so zum Spion in der Tasche oder im eigenen Wohnzimmer. Um dieser Entwicklung entgegen zu treten, bedarf es sowohl eines aufgeklärten Konsumverhaltens als auch eines aktiven Verbraucherschutzes, der dem Kunden die eigene Gerätehoheit garantiert.

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About ownership, remote control and privacy

Recently, I made a blogpost about the ownership of your own device and how control of technology is directly linked with the freedom of society – as well as with the freedom of each individual. The argument made in that post was, that remote control of technology in the hands of manufacturers put users out of their own control and makes censorship, supervision and control of society more and more easy and – therefore – likely to happen. Image of a router that looks like a camera

Just some weeks later, Edward Snowden leaked documents that show how the NSA was granted access to users data from US internet giants like Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and many more. These documents show that remote storage of private data puts users out of control of their privacy. As we will see, the worst still is to come: remote private data storage by a machine that is under remote control.

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Digital and physical restrictions on your own device

Ownership of content and devices

About digital restrictions

Today, May 3rd 2013, is the international day against Digital Restrictions Management, powered by the Free Software Foundation. Usually, the term Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) refers to various restrictions that companies – or any other content provider – impose on digital media and data. These restrictions are there to let providers decide what you can do with your media and data and what not. By this, they keep you out of having true ownership of your data. This data is defective by design – no matter how much money you maybe paid for it. And it brings us into a world where we do not longer “buy” anything but only “license” the use of it. Restrictions like these evolve, just until one day when a licenser may legally decide to suddenly delete everything you have bought – remotely!

This year’s day against DRM focusses on a new and global threat to everything we are used to know about the World Wide Web: the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is discussing an Encrypted Media Extensions proposal (EME), that aims at incorporating support for DRM into HTML5. HTML is in the very heart of the Internet. Establishing DRM into HTML might become a terrific threat to the freedom of the Internet, to Free Software browsers and users freedom in general.
I hope, many people around the world join FSF and FSFE or align with other organisations in their fight against DRM in HTML5. Please, sign the petition and ring the bells as loud as you can to make other people aware of this misleading development.

Now, I would like to use this day to shed light on another issue. Something, that DRM not necessarily relates to, but, is indeed related to it: ownership of your own device.

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The right to install Free Software on any device

Last weekend, the German Pirate Party held its federal party convent to discuss and potentially agree on various amendments to their manifesto. Among them, there was amendment number 551: “Freie Softwareinstallation statt App-Store-Zwang” (German). A proposal, that aims at giving every user the right to install whatever software he likes on any computer-like device – instead of being locked to the vendors app-store.

More precise, the content of this proposal reads like:

Given by law, there is the right for free installation of whatever software you like on any ‘computer-like’ device. For the vendor, it’s legal to sell a locked device – but unlocking the device by the user must be implemented in an easy way by the default operating system. All software that will be installed, must be given the possibility for full access to all interfaces of the device. In addition, warranty may not be declared void after installation of software by the user. This must be true for manufacturers warranty as well as the one from your provider.
‘computer-like’ devices, and therefore affected by this law, are all information-processing devices whose operating system basically allows to install additional software. Not included should be devices for industrial or security purposes as well as devices that can physically harm someone, eg. cars or kitchen inventory.

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