A Week in Review: November 30, 2018

by Hannah Ellis

Proposed Russian legislation to regulate tech companies

While Russia has imposed rules regulating the Internet and tech companies in the past, a new piece of legislation imposes stricter measures in an attempt to insure that technology companies comply with Russian laws. According to a document obtained by Reuters, “technology companies failing to comply with Russian data laws could be subject to a fine of one percent of its annual revenue in Russia.” This could be a cause for concern for activists and tech companies alike. Tech giants, like Google, would be mandated to censor content or face steep fines if they do not comply.

Google employees protest against Project Dragonfly

This week Google employees have gone public in protest of Google’s plan to build a censored search app, codenamed Project Dragonfly. The project is in cooperation with the Chinese government to create a Google search engine that adheres to the Chinese government's online censorship and surveillance rules. On November 27, over 600* employees have signed a petition in resistance, “Our opposition to Dragonfly is not about China: we object to technologies that aid the powerful in oppressing the vulnerable, wherever they may be,” stated the petition, published on Medium.

*649 at the time of publication, the number is still rising

Internet control used as a weapon in Yemen conflict

As Yemen approaches its fourth year of a bloody civil war, actors in this conflict are employing new tactics of repression. Factions are not only vying for geographic control—they are vying for control of the Internet as well. Right now Internet controls are in the hands of Houthi rebels who have at times blocked social media and news sites that often report and alert civilians of Houthi troop movement. In December 2017 the group cut complete access to the entire country for thirty minutes, and this past July the rebel group cut access to 80 percent of users. Since that incident many have regained access, however shutdowns are still a common occurrence.