Week in Review: July 8, 2015

by Jenny Shore

India: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Launches Digital India Week

Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi launched Digital India week to spur greater efforts to bring technology and innovation to India. His nine-pillar agenda involves improvement of e-governance (e.g. e-banking, e-health care), the growth of jobs in the tech sector, universal access to phones, and the expansion of broadband. In announcing the initiative, he said, “To me technology used wisely is a catalyst to magically transforming the way we live. The future belongs to social media. It is egalitarian and inclusive.” The initiative has attracted $70 billion dollars in investments from Indian tech companies.

Italy: Hacking Team is Hacked

The spyware company Hacking Team has been hacked and 400 gigabytes of documents including company emails, contracts, and internal presentations have been made available online. Among other things, this data has provided evidence that Hacking Team is selling its surveillance technologies to so-called repressive countries. Contrary to these reports and prior research, Hacking Team has previously denied such sales “to governments that are blacklisted by the E.U., the U.S.A., NATO and similar international organizations or any "repressive" regime.”

While the group or individual behind the hack remains unconfirmed, the Phineas Fisher Twitter account that was used to publicize the hacking of Gamma International UK (a company similar to Hacking Team) has indicated it would take responsibility.

Kenya: Wi-Fi Users Must Register with National ID Cards

Kenya is planning to require citizens to register devices with wireless networking capability using national identity cards and telephone numbers, according to the head of Kenya's Communications Authority, Francis Wangusi. The purported aim is “to be able to trace people” in order to identify cybercrime. Businesses that fail to comply with this regulation could face having their Wi-Fi cut off. This announcement comes several months after Kenya became the second country in East Africa (following Rwanda) to offer free public Wi-Fi.

Russia: Right to Be Forgotten Bill Passed

The lower house of parliament in Russia has passed a “right to be forgotten” bill which would require Internet search engines to delete links to some information about individuals. The bill now awaits a decision by the Federation Council and President Putin’s approval (which Global Voices reports that he is expected to provide). The bill would be similar to the European Union ruling requiring Google and similar search engines to remove certain information about individuals, upon request. Since the lower house passed the bill, Leonid Levin, head of the State Duma committee on information policy, has indicated that the fines for search engines failing to remove information may be relaxed.

United Kingdom: Prime Minister David Cameron Calls for an End to Strong Encryption

British Prime Minister David Cameron indicated (not for the first time) his intention to ban strong encryption in the UK. He said that he does not want to allow “a safe space” for terrorists to communicate, and that “we must look at all the new media being produced and ensure that, in every case, we are able, in extremis and on the signature of a warrant, to get to the bottom of what is going on.” Following that announcement, security expert and cryptographer Bruce Schneier said that Cameron’s plan could “destroy the Internet.”

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