A Week in Review: December 14, 2018

by Hannah Ellis

More than 50% of Earth is now using the Internet

This week the ITU, the United Nations specialized agency for Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), released its year end report on Earth connectivity. The report estimates that by the end of 2018 “51.2 percent of the global population, or 3.9 billion people, will be using the Internet.” Further, the report found that Internet growth has tapered off in Europe, the Americas, and in the Asia Pacific region, but has continued to show strong growth in Africa where the percentage of people using the Internet increased from 2.1 per cent in 2005 to 24.4 per cent in 2018. This report also measured telecommunication networks and found that nearly the entire world population (96 percent) now lives within reach of mobile cell service.

The EU Council releases Terrorist Content Online proposal, concerning some rights groups

In other news this week, the EU Council released their proposal on the prevention of dissemination of online terrorist content. European Digital Rights (EDRi), an association of civil and human right organizations across Europe, responded by calling the proposal “a step towards pre-emptive censorship.” EDRi argues that this proposal has been introduced too quickly and lacks adequate safeguards protecting fundamental rights or access to remedies should content be taken down unnecessarily. Rights groups worry that this proposal will inadvertently affect journalists, NGOs and other individuals “based on their perceived activism, political affiliation, gender, race or origin.”

Google CEO testifies before Congress

On December 11, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai testified before the House Judiciary Committee. The hearing touched upon many concerns from Congress; Democrats raised concerns over privacy while Republicans members raised concerns over bias and Google’s possible entry into the Chinese market with Project Dragonfly. The hearing exposed the increasing discontent between Silicon Valley and Washington DC and the need for greater cooperation and education between the two.