Week in Review: July 1, 2015

by Muira McCammon

Facebook: Transgender Former Facebook Employee Challenges the Company's Username Policy

Zip, a former Facebook employee, came out online and criticized the way the company expects its users to follow its "one-to-one mapping" of their names. The company reportedly blocked her account the day the Supreme Court made same sex marriage legal in the United States. While names remain notoriously tricky entities for most social networks, Facebook's policy in particular has irritated many members of the LGBT community, who, for safety or other reasons, prefer to not use the names linked to their birth certificates or passports. In an online town hall meeting, Mark Zuckerberg responded, "Real name does not mean your legal name." Other groups, like EFF, have noted that Facebook's name verification policies still remain difficult to navigate.

Google: The Search Engine Makes "Revenge Porn" Harder to Find

Google Search Senior Vice President Amit Singhal announced in a blog post that Google would begin to remove sexually explicit images from search listings, if they were posted without the subject's consent. The decision has been hailed as a step forward by the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, but questions still remain on how to limit the distribution of nonconsensual pornography online. Google follows in the footsteps of Facebook, which banned the sharing of "revenge porn" earlier this year.

Iraq: Intentional Internet Outages Aim to Prevent Academic Dishonesty

On Saturday, June 27, the Iraqi government shut down all Internet service for three hours. Reports [AR] are suggesting that this recent outage was an attempt to prevent academic dishonesty on Iraqi junior high entrance exams. As Sean Gallagher of Ars Technica noted, "In Iraq, education is only required for all students up to the sixth-grade level; those who fail to score well enough on exams at the end of the sixth year generally don't continue their education."

Russia: The Country's Attorney General Blocks the Internet Archive

Russian digital activists are reporting that the Natalia Poklonskaya, Russia's current Attorney General, has banned Internet users from accessing some parts of the Internet Archive, a San Francisco-based non-profit digital library with the stated mission of "universal access to all knowledge." The Internet Archive hosts the WayBack Machine, which currently stores 485 billion snapshots of the world's web pages at different dates. While the Attorney General's block only covered one page titled "Solitary Jihad in Russia," the Internet Archive employs HTTPS, making it impossible for Russian ISPs to differentiate between when a user is accessing distinct pages on the website. Many Internet providers have, as a precaution, gone ahead and blocked the entirety of the Internet Archive. As one Reddit user noted, this is not the Internet Archive's first experience with censorship in Russia, as government officials have previously restricted access to other pages.

USA: Federal Communications Commissioner, O'Rielly Says Broadband Isn't a Human Right

Federal Communications Commissioner Michael O'Rielly, in a speech to the Internet Innovation Alliance, claimed that it is "ludicrous to compare Internet access to a basic human right." His comments provoked concern amongst digital activists as well as greater dialogue in the American blogosphere about cyber rights. The Federal Communications Commission is still required by Congress to expand broadband access.

What Else We're Reading This Week

The Internet Monitor Week in Review is a weekly round-up of news about Internet content controls and online activity around the world.