Week in Review: December 2, 2015

by Rebekah Heacock Jones

3.2 billion people now online

The International Telecommunication Union released its annual Measuring the Information Society report this week. Among the findings: 3.2 billion people are now online, and mobile subscriptions have reached over 7 billion. Mobile cellular and broadband access continue to exceed fixed telephone and broadband: in the last year alone, the global mobile broadband subscription rate has risen from 37 to 47 percent. Worth noting, as TechCrunch points out, is despite these advancements, 350 million people in countries like Malawi, Madagascar, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Chad are still entirely without access.

Mali: Customers boycott mobile service provider Orange

Malians have organized a one-day boycott of telecom company Orange. Customers are frustrated by high tariffs in Mali, compared to those in neighboring Senegal and Niger. Orange, a subsidiary of France Telecom, provides mobile service to 16 countries in Africa.

South Africa: Computer crime bill may pose threat to coders

A draft computer crime bill (PDF) in South Africa is raising concern among programmers and free speech activists. As written, the bill would criminalize software and hardware tools that simulate attacks or demonstrate vulnerabilities. According to the EFF, these tools are crucial for security testing, and outlawing them would threaten both developers and researchers who do "legitimate, socially desirable" work.

Turkey: European Court of Human Rights rules YouTube block violated freedom of expression

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Turkey's block of YouTube from 2008 to 2010 violated the European Convention on Human Rights. The site was initially blocked due to the presence of several videos that were "insulting to the memory" of Mustapha Kemal Ataturk, the country's first president. In 2010, a group of Turkish lawyers challenged the block, bringing the case to the ECHR. In its ruling, the court noted that "there was no provision in the law allowing the domestic courts to impose a blanket blocking order on access to the Internet, and in the present case to YouTube, on account of one of its contents." Turkey has since instituted new legislation allowing for the blocking of websites without a court order.