China has today passed a controversial cybersecurity bill, tightening restrictions on online freedom of speech. The bill also imposes new rules on online service providers, raising concerns it is further cloistering its heavily controlled internet. The legislation, passed by China's largely rubber-stamp parliament and set to take effect in June 2017, is an'objective need' of China as a major internet power, a parliament official said. Amnesty International, however, said it was'draconian' measure that violates people's rights to freedom of expression and privacy. China's new cybersecurity law requires companies to verify a user's identity, effectively making it illegal to go online anonymously The law is largely focused on protecting the country's networks and private user information.
The Russian government has denied claims by activists that its plan to make the Russian internet separable from the rest of the internet has anything to do with clamping down on online freedoms. Legislation for the potential independence of the Russian internet space – the so-called Runet – was proposed at the end of last year. The idea, which is roughly analogous to China's Great Firewall, is to be able to block outside content and keep Russian traffic within the country's borders. A test of the idea's viability is scheduled to take place on April 1. Last weekend, as many as 15,000 protesters rallied in Moscow against the internet sovereignty law, which was cleared in February by the Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament.
Political mudslinging is a concept as old as politics itself, but in recent years it's found its way off the podium and onto the internet, and a new report now shows the extent of the problem. According to findings from Freedom House, governments in no less than 30 countries are now "mass producing their own content to distort the digital landscape in their favor". Furthermore, these manipulation efforts may have affected elections taking place in 18 countries. The report follows attempts by Russia to meddle with the US presidential election between June 2015 and May 2017, when adverts paid for by a Russian organization called the "Internet Research Agency" appeared on American citizens' Facebook pages in an apparent bid to fuel political discord. According to Freedom House, internet freedom in the US has now declined since the previous year.
After the Associated Press reported that certain Google apps still track you even if you turned off location history, Google has changed its help pages and tried to clarify the issue. "We have been updating the explanatory language about Location History to make it more consistent and clear across our platforms and help centers," Google told the AP in a statement. The AP's investigation found that with Location History off, Google still stores your coordinates when you open Maps or even do searches, even if they're not related to where you are. After the report first surfaced, Google effectively denied there was a problem, saying "we provide clear descriptions of these tools." Google has now removed the misleading language on the Location History help page.
Two-thirds of all internet users live in countries where criticism of the government, military, or ruling family are subject to censorship, the new report found. A map showing the worst offenders (dark red) and the least (pale pink) is shown. China passes'draconian' cyber security law: Controversial... WhatsApp finally launches video calls: Feature will come to... Silicon Valley issues plea to Donald Trump to support strong... Is Apple expanding into smart GLASSES? China passes'draconian' cyber security law: Controversial... WhatsApp finally launches video calls: Feature will come to... Silicon Valley issues plea to Donald Trump to support strong... Is Apple expanding into smart GLASSES? The report said 34 of the 65 countries assessed in the report have seen internet freedom deteriorate since June 2015.