Week in Review: October 14, 2015

by Muira McCammon

Afghanistan: Blocked Facebook Page on Political Satire Returns

"Kabul Taxi," said to be the first satirical Facebook page in Afghanistan, poked fun at President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, Abdullah Abdullah, and other key Afghan politicians. The moderator of the blog was anonymous though suspected to be a 31 old Afghan man and member of the ethnic Hazara minority; he wrote fictitious - though plausible - discussions in Dari between politicians on the economy, culture, and corruption. Najiba Madadi from Global Voices reported, "Facebook blocked the page shortly after it picked on President Ghani’s National Security Advisor, Hanif Atmar, and his cohort of 27 young advisors, who Kabul Taxi portrayed as the spoiled children of warlords and the Afghan political elite." At the time of writing, it appears that Kabul Taxi is back online.

Turkey: After Ankara Bombing, Uncertainty Looms Online

Across the country, social media users on Twitter and Facebook reported service issues, after a suicide bombing killed 97 people in the capital, Ankara. IT experts explained that the Turkish Telecommunications Directorate (TIB) has not shut the sites down entirely; rather, they have opted to slow access to a trickle. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, some individuals, like Ugurcan Taspinar, a news editor at Turkish tech site Techno Today, struggled to open their email accounts. The Turkish Supreme Board of Radio and Television also imposed a ban on broadcasting images of the blast. Uncertainty continues to loom online, as many Turks wonder when they will regain normal (that is, faster) access to Facebook and Twitter [TR].

USA: Former Reuters' Journalist Found Guilt of Aiding Anonymous

On October 7, 2015, Matthew Keys was convicted of conspiring with members of Anonymous to help hack the Tribune Company's website. In March of 2013, he was charged with conspiracy to cause damage to a protected computer, transmission of malicious code, and attempted transmission of malicious code. Now facing a maximum prison of sentence of 25 years in jail, Keys is attempting to appeal his conviction, which was facilitated largely thanks to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a law previously used to prosecute Aaron Swartz and many others. Keys' case has gained international attention [DE], [GR] [IT] and also united many digital activists, who cite Keys' case as an example of prosecutorial overreach. 

USA: California Passes Landmark Legislation on Digital Privacy 

On Thursday, October 8, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (“CalECPA”), which was originally introduced by California State Senator Mark Leno. Netizens are saying that California now has the "nation's best digital privacy law" in part because it requires all state and local law enforcement officials to obtain a warrant before accessing any "electronic communication information." This is a landmark win for digital privacy and all Californians,” Nicole Ozer, technology and civil liberties policy director at the ACLU of California, noted. Though members of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association initially opposed SB 178, they later shifted their position to "neutral."