How India's government is taking the privacy out of VPNs
Also, a journalist was killed in the line of duty in Palestine, press freedoms in Ethiopia and Mali drop due to conflict, and Telegram fails to contain misinformation in Brazil
We hope you’re keeping well.
In this edition, we highlight a directive by the Indian government to companies offering virtual private network (VPN) services requiring them to collect and hold user information for up to five years.
We also look at a shocking development in Palestine, where a journalist was killed while covering an Israeli army raid in the occupied West Bank, as well as updates on ongoing attempts to regulate misinformation on Telegram in Brazil, and a worrying drop in press freedom rankings in Ethiopia and Mali.
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On April 28, the Narendra Modi–led government directed companies offering virtual private network (VPN) services to collect and store user data — names, addresses, contact numbers, email, and IP addresses — for up to five years. Under the new directive, VPN companies will need to hand over this information to the government if asked, and companies that do not comply with the rules can face a fine or their officials can be imprisoned.
"If the government says it will increase cybersecurity, they must come up with a justification and explanation. At the moment, it looks like an excessive data retention policy that is going to lead to state-sponsored mass surveillance, that too, in the absence of a data protection law" — Tejasi Panjiar, Capstone Fellow at Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF)
Israeli forces have shot dead Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Abu Akleh, a longtime TV correspondent for Al Jazeera Arabic, was killed while covering Israeli army raids in the city of Jenin in the northern occupied West Bank.
“We were going to film the Israeli army operation and suddenly they shot us without asking us to leave or stop filming” — Ali al-Samoudi, Al Jazeera journalist also wounded at the scene
Telegram has failed to meet its commitment to prevent misinformation and limit the spread of fake news in Brazil (O Globo)
An analysis by GLOBO has found that Telegram, which had made a commitment to prevent misinformation on popular channels in Brazil, continues to harbor posts with misinformation related to the elections, the Covid-19 vaccine and mask use. The commitment to adopt measures to combat electoral fake news was made in an agreement signed on March 20 in response to a blocking order issued by the Superior Electoral Court (TSE). However, Telegram is yet to implement this agreement, and has not yet presented to the Court what will actually be done.
"Part of Telegram's promises involves complex issues, which require time and investment. Telegram needs to show what has been done. There is no need to demand that everything be ready in a month, but if you want to have it ready for the elections, time is short. So, what was actually done this month?" - Francisco Cruz, director of InternetLab
The 2022 press freedom rankings have highlighted a rapid reduction in the space for free expression in Mali, where disinformation and inflammatory content have led to political tensions, which have proven difficult to stamp out, and in Ethiopia, where journalists and human rights groups have reported serious abuses linked to the ongoing conflict in the country. Ethiopia dropped 13 places to 114, and Mali dropped 12 places to 111 out of 180 countries ranked in the latest World Press Freedom index.
“The RSF uses five indicators to compile the index: political context, legal framework, economic context, sociocultural context and security. Whereas the most worrying part for Mali is the political context, Ethiopia scores extremely low on the security indicator” — Dr Bruce Mutsvairo, associate professor at Utrecht University
What’s new at Meedan
On the Meedan engineering team we are trying to clean up the way we write Gitmits in order to help our engineers communicate more clearly with one another and to make our jobs that much easier in the future when we’re looking back at old code. One strategy we are attempting is to write longform Git commits.