Flyers for Turaj Zaim, an Iranian activist and musician living abroad. Iran's new crackdowns target Iranians worldwide. Photo by Steve Rhodes, licensed Creative Commons: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ari/3920395667/.
Welcome to our weekly series, highlighting the most newsworthy events under the Open Technology Initiative’s three key areas: Freedom of Expression, Telecom Policy, and Privacy and Security. Contact us with story ideas at email@example.com.
Freedom of Expression: Iran Expands Crackdowns on Activists and Journalists Worldwide
Relatives of foreign-based bloggers, journalists, and digital activists are facing increased levels of violence and oppression in the Iran. According to Reporters Without Borders, the end of May brought a wave of arrests of students and others accused of “insulting Islam.” Reporters Without Borders notes that much of the identification and arrests were carried out by the Organized Crime Surveillance Centre, an agency that grew out of the Revolutionary Guards.
The arrests highlight the ways in which Iran’s control over free speech extends beyond its national borders. Even as Iranian journalists and activists settle in countries with robust free speech laws, they remain unable to leverage digital media and journalism outlets without fear of repercussions. Read more about Iran’s crackdowns on free speech here.
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Privacy and Security: Sonic.net's CEO Urges ISPs to Limit User Data Logs
In a recent Q&A with Forbes, Dane Jasper, CEO of San Francisco-based ISP Sonic.net, urged Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to delete user logs after two weeks. Noting that Comcast, AT&T, and other large ISPs store logs for 18 to 36 months, Jasper argued that this timeframe is excessively long and negatively affects consumer privacy. “I looked at law enforcement subpoenas and tried to balance an ability to help law enforcement when it’s morally right to do so with an inability to help anybody beyond a certain window,” Jasper said, explaining that he and his team decided that “two weeks was a good window that would allow us to address some things–both our own needs in the long term and the law enforcement’s dire needs in the mid-term–while omitting any ability to assist in what we felt was like an extortion racket.” Read more about ISPs and data retention here.
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Spectrum Policy: FCC Imposes 14-day Hold Period For Verizon/T-Mobile Sharing Deal
Earlier this week, Verizon Wireless announced a proposed spectrum sharing/swapping deal with T-Mobile, highlighting the ways in which sharing spectrum would benefit both companies, as well as users. However, on June 27th, the Federal Communications Commission imposed a 14-day hold on the deal, inviting comments and feedback from interested parties. The deal has raised concerns about anti-competitive practices. Marguerite Reardon of CNET notes that “the deal may still fall apart, since it's also tied to a controversial co-marketing agreement that Verizon Wireless has struck with cable operators. Regulators are also examining this portion of the deal to ensure it doesn't violate antitrust laws. Without the co-marketing aspect of the deal, cable operators are likely to pull out. And if that happens, Verizon won't swap spectrum with T-Mobile. Read more about the FCC's latest statement on Verizon and T-Mobile's spectrum proposal here.
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