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July 2015

This is the newsletter of the Freedom Online Coalition. The aim of the newsletter is to share information among Coalition members, highlight both emerging threats and positive new initiatives as well as help coordinate action that promotes the Coalition's objectives for a free and secure internet for all. 



CPJ Report finds that Egypt's imprisonment of journalists is at an all-time high

A special report by the Committee to Protect Journalists finds that Egyptian authorities continue to imprison critical journalists while openly pledging media freedom. A prison census CPJ conducted on June 1, 2015, found that Egyptian authorities were holding at least 18 journalists behind bars in relation to their reporting, the highest in the country since CPJ began recording data on imprisoned journalists in 1990. Most of those imprisoned have been accused of affiliation with a banned group.

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Obama signs bill reforming US surveillance program 

US President Barack Obama signed into law on June 2, legislation passed by Congress reforming a government surveillance program that swept up millions of Americans' telephone records. The Freedom Act limits the degree to which the government can engage in the mass collection of telephone data, instead leaving telecommunications companies responsible for collecting and preserving phone data. Government authorities now need to provide an order issued by the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court according to the ACT, and on 29 June The FISA Court approved an 180-day extension of the NSA’s cell phone metadata collection plan in accordance with this.

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Columbia University Launches Online Global Database of Case Law on Freedom of Expression

Columbia University has launched an online global database of case law on freedom of expression.  The database currently includes some 250 rulings from 65 nations and will be updated and expanded with relevant judicial decisions on a weekly basis. The database is available free to the general public. In addition to the analyses of court rulings, the digital platform includes, comparative reviews of jurisprudence, blogs and other publications by international freedom of expression experts.

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France passes law to strengthen intelligence service powers

The French parliament passed a law on Wednesday June 24, strengthening state intelligence powers in the face of opposition from some civil society groups. The law defines a framework in which the need for judicial warrants is waived for intelligence services to monitor phones, cameras and microphones as well as other intelligence gathering techniques. The bill subjects the implementation of technical intelligence to the Prime Minister's authorisation, after consulting an independent administrative authority.

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Civil Society joint statement submitted to UNHRC to promote strong encryption and anonymity in the digital age

At the 29th session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva on June 17 2015, a group of more than 25 civil society organisations submitted a joint statement that calls on all governments to promote the use of strong encryption technologies, and to protect the right to seek, receive, and impart information anonymously online. The groups submitted the joint statement to the Council in concert with the presentation by David Kaye, the new UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, of his landmark report on encryption and anonymity.

Upcoming Events 

30 June-03 July
Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum (APrIGF) 2015
Hosted by HNET.Asia, the registry for the ccTLD of Macau (.mo), APrIGF 2015 will be held from 30 June to 3 July, at the Cotai Central, Macau, in conjunction with an annual local telecommunications event – CommuniMacao (3-5 July). The Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum (APrIGF) is one of the key regional initiatives on Internet governance which provides an open platform for multiple stakeholders to discuss and identify issues and priorities.

01-02 July
WSIS +10 Review: 1st Preparatory Meeting of the Member States and Informal Interactive WSIS Stakeholder Consultation
The UN General Assembly, in its resolution 68/302, decided that the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) review will be concluded by a two-day high-level meeting of the Assembly, to be preceded by an intergovernmental preparatory process that also takes into account inputs from all relevant stakeholders of the WSIS. The first preparatory meeting of the review process will take place on Wednesday, 1 July and aims to provide a venue for Member States to share their expectations and preliminary inputs on the elements to be addressed by the review. W
ritten submissions that will feed into the non-paper on the WSIS are due on 31st July. The President of the General Assembly will also convene an informal interactive WSIS stakeholder consultations with all relevant stakeholders on 2 July 2015 in order to collect their inputs for the intergovernmental negotiation process.

06-10 July
ECOSOC 2015 Annual Ministerial Review (AMR)

The 2015 Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) will be convened as part of the ECOSOC High-level Segment in July 2015, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The theme of the 2015 AMR is “Managing the transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the sustainable development goals (SDGs): What will it take”. The advance, unedited report of the Secretary-General on the theme is available here. 

20-31 July
Intergovernmental Negotiations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda 7th and 8th Sessions

The seventh and eighth sessions of the intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda will take place back-to-back from 20-31 July 2015. The sessions are both scheduled to focus on negotiating the outcome document of the September 2015 Summit to adopt the post-2015 development agenda.  


FOC Updates

Costa Rica announced as new Chair of the FOC

The 2015/2016 chairmanship of the Freedom Online Coalition passes on to Costa Rica this summer, the Costa Rican Foreign Minister, Mr. Manuel González, confirmed earlier this week. As the new Chair of the Coalition, the Minister noted, “Costa Rica hopes to share its renewed commitment to defending, respecting, and promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms online”.

In assuming the role, Costa Rica will become the first Latin American country to chair the Coalition as it succeeds the government of Mongolia that served as the FOC Chair in 2014/2015. The chairmanship of the Coalition rotates among member states on an annual basis, and was previously held by the Netherlands, Kenya, Tunisia, Estonia, and most recently Mongolia.

The FOC member states unanimously welcomed Costa Rica as the incoming chair and expressed their support for the next annual Freedom Online Conference to be held in Costa Rica in 2016.

FOC Joint Statement presented at the 29th Session of the UNHRC

Members of the FOC worked together to produce a Joint Statement on online freedoms that was read on behalf of the Coalition by the Ambassador of Mongolia on Monday, June 22 under Agenda Item 3, General Debate.

The statement reiterated the Coalition's commitment to seek further implementation of the Tallinn Agenda for Freedom Online and voiced concern over increasing measures by States to restrict internet freedom for their citizens, and in many instances measures that unduly interfere with the Internet use of individuals residing beyond their borders.

Copyright © 2015 Freedom Online Coalition, All rights reserved. 
To contact the FOC Secretariat for any further information on any of the events or news items mentioned in this newsletter, please email:
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