Welcome to the Media Law Roundup, a survey of the week’s developing media news.
Following Wednesday’s constitutional court ruling, on April 3rd Turkish authorities lifted the two-week-long ban on Twitter. The court cited that the ban was a breach of freedom of expression. Soon after Twitter returned, the hashtag #TekrarHoşgeldinTwitter (“Welcome back Twitter”) was used over 40,000 times and many Turkish tweeters uploaded satirical images highlighting the ineffectiveness of the block. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was not pleased with the court’s ruling stating, “I don’t find it right and patriotic that the Constitutional Court has adopted such a decision… While they are protecting an American company, our national and moral values are being disregarded.” Erdogan initially ordered the Twitter block after recordings of corruption allegations were posted and shared online. An April 4th court order lifted a ban YouTube, which was also blocked last week after an audio recording that allegedly revealed officials discussing military action was uploaded. This court ruling did however state that 15 videos should remain blocked.
As part of a planned reform of Europe’s telecommunication industry, on April 3rd the European Union Parliament passed a proposal that would ensure that all internet traffic is treated equally. In addition to keeping big telecom operators from selectively slowing down web traffic, the provision also eliminates cell phone roaming, creates a single EU communications market, defends consumer rights, and changes the way countries allocate spectrum to mobile phone service providers. The proposal outlines future regulatory policy and will be negotiated by the 28 member states. A final agreement on the package is expected by the end of 2014 on Europe’s first net neutrality legislation. Thus far, only the Netherlands and Slovenia have put this concept into national law.
Telecom operators were not happy with the EU Parliament’s proposal. While groups such as the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association (ETNO) said the vote is “a step in the wrong direction,” digital-rights groups claim the vote made the EU an example for the U.S.
On April 3rd, the Associated Press (AP) published recent revelations that the US government and USAID founded a fraudulent Twitter company to force democracy in Cuba. An AP investigation revealed that the Cuban text-message social network ZunZuneo, dubbed the ‘Cuban Twitter,’ has ties to fake shell companies directed through foreign banks. ZunZuneo’s mission was to obtain as many “organic” Cuban followers and then push them into political unrest by introducing political messages with the hope of spurring users into dissent from their government. At its height, the social media platform had 40,000 subscribers. The White House has confirmed that the US government and aid agency were behind ZunZuneo project which closed in September 2012 when a government grant ended.
Internet and Policy News from Mozambique
The Alliance for Affordable Internet (AA4I), a global coalition working to make broadband affordable, announced a partnership with the Mozambican government. Mozambique is the first Southern African Development Community (SADC) country and the third developing country (including Nigeria and Ghana) to join A4AI. A4AI’s coalition is made up of more than 50 private sector, public sector, and civil society organizations, working to reach the UN Broadband Commission Broadband target of entry-level broadband services priced at less than 5% of average monthly income.
In Mozambique, the Council of Ministers (the executive government of Mozambique) approved a bill to be submitted to the parliament that proposes tough penalties for online communications that are considered “insulting” or that jeopardize the security of the state. Minister of Science and Technology Louis Pelembe suggested that the bill aimed to ensure consumer protection and to increase confidence in electronic transactions. Pelembe also pointed out that text messages have created “turmoil” in the country, acting as a medium for organizing protests.