The Data Localization Paradox

//Tatevik Sargsyan, a doctoral candidate at the School of Communication at American University, explores the economic and trade implications of data localization on governments and citizens. In lieu of the recent ‘Safe Harbor’ agreement, Sargsyan considers localization within the contexts of human rights and commercial exchange. 

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) decision to invalidate the Safe Harbor agreement on October 6, 2015, and the subsequent legal uncertainty surrounding data transfer between the United States and European Union (EU), have sparked conversations about data localization. As the US and EU negotiate a new transatlantic data transfer regime and internet companies consider moving data to Europe, it is worth reflecting on the potential consequences of data localization.  

Most commonly, “data localization” refers to legal restrictions on data location and export, which mandate online service providers to physically locate servers containing data belonging to a country’s residents within that country’s jurisdiction, and/or ban the export and processing of data elsewhere. China, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Korea, Russia, Canada, and Australia are among the many countries where such restrictions exist or are being considered.

The 2013 revelations about the US National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance PRISM program have particularly pushed countries to turn to data localization as a reasonable solution to privacy and security concerns related to intrusive foreign intelligence. This is the rationale behind German authorities’ proposal to store Europeans’ data on servers inside EU. This is also the claim that Russian authorities used to enforce the Data Localization Law on September 1st of this year.

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How are the African nations of Mauritania and Rwanda doing when it comes to human rights online?

//This blog post by Ephraim Percy Kenyanito was originally published on Access, an online international human rights organization focused on extending digital rights to users around the world. Click here to read the original post. 

Right now the United Nations Human Rights Council is holding its 23rd Universal Periodic Review (UPR) working group session (November 2nd-13th, 2015). The Universal Periodic Review is the cooperative process by which the Human Rights Council reviews the human rights records of all 193 U.N. member states.

Here’s a look at the digital rights landscape in Mauritania and Rwanda, and the implications for people at risk of human rights violations in these countries.

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Mauritania – domestic and international human rights obligations

Mauritania has signed on to various international human rights instruments, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention against Torture (CAT), the Convention against Enforced Disappearance (ICCPED), and the Optional Protocol to the CAT (OPCAT).

Article 10 of Mauritania’s constitution (PDF) guarantees to all citizens the freedom of expression, assembly, and association. However, according to the UPR, these rights are being violated.

Violation of digital rights in Mauritania

There has been systematic disregard of digital rights in Mauritania. These include:

  • Violation of access to information/ freedom of expression

June 13–21, 2011: The Emirati government applied pressure on an Emirati company to block the website of a Mauritanian newspaper El Badil Al Thalith. This censorship took place after the newspaper published articles criticising Arab leaders, including the United Arab Emirates government.

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#IGF2015 – Setting the Scene

Just before the official opening of the 2015 UN Internet Governance Forum (IGF) on November 10, 2015, the core of the current challenges of internet governance were laid out by a panel in a Scene Setting session. Speakers’ interventions corresponded with the sub-themes of this year’s IGF under the overarching topic “Evolution of Internet Governance: Empowering Sustainable Development.” Check out the following infographic to explore the eight challenges outlined during this session.

Please click image to view full infographic. 

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Content for the infographic was provided by Christian Möller.

The Internet Policymaking Landscape in Pakistan

// Usama Khilji, a research associate at Bolo Bhi, discusses Bolo Bhi’s recent study analyzing internet policymaking in Pakistan which makes suggestions for crafting ideal internet policy. Click here to learn more about Bolo Bhi.

Internet policymaking in Pakistan has been an uphill task for all stakeholders involved, a process whereby the government justifies proposals for greater control over internet activity with language about security and counter-terrorism while other stakeholders, especially civil society and technology-related businesses, mobilize campaigns to resist such attempts. Through our research on the internet policymaking landscape in Pakistan,  our team at Bolo Bhi  has interviewed key internet policymaking stakeholders to identify the main drivers of Pakistan’s incoherent internet policy: these issues include lack of expertise on technology related matters in the government, a lack of transparency in policymaking processes, ad hoc censorship policies, and failure to have a multi-stakeholder forum where input from stakeholders is taken for the laws and policies under consideration.

The near three-year YouTube ban in Pakistan epitomizes this tense relationship and the push and pull between government, civil society, the private sector, and other actors. The website was banned to appease violent protestors after a video that was deemed blasphemous appeared on YouTube in September 2012 The lifting of the ban has become an ego tussle between Google and the Pakistani government; with academia and civil society criticizing the restriction of access to the website.

Click here to read more.

 

 

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