Two great news before the end of December:
(1) The release of the latest Freedom on the Net report, featuring the rise of fake news and increasing governments attempt to tighten control over netizens’ data. I work with Freedom House since 2015 on the section related to Internet Freedom in France.
Key developments in France from June 1, 2017 to May 31, 2018 were the following:
- A hotly debated legislative proposal presented at the end of March would enable candidates to require judges to swiftly decide whether to stop the dissemination of allegedly false information online during electoral periods (see Media, Diversity, and Content Manipulation section of the report).
- For the second time in 2017, the Constitutional Council struck down a provision that criminalized the regular consultation of websites deemed to incite or glorify terrorism. On the other hand, users continued to be sentenced for inciting or glorifying terrorism online (see Legal Environment and Prosecutions and Detentions for Online Activities section of the report).
- While the prolonged state of emergency officially ended in November 2017, certain emergency measures were enshrined into ordinary law through the “Act to reinforce internal security and the fight against terrorism.” A provision obliging suspects to provide all their electronic identifiers to authorities was omitted from the final text (see Legal Environment section of the report).
(2) I have been recently hired by the Sorbonne Business School (IAE de Paris) as an Associate Professor in Information Systems. I will develop my research on cybersecurity, cybercrime (of course!), and Information Systems governance. Feel free to drop me an email at this updated address.
Since June 2016, 32 of the 65 countries assessed in Freedom on the Net saw internet freedom deteriorate. (1) Empowered restriction laws (Etat d’Urgence) and (2) fake news and disinformation both during and after the presidential election contributed to a score decline in France’s otherwise generally free environment.
I am glad to have participated in the redaction of this latest Freedom on the Net report.
Key Findings (global overview)
- Governments manipulated social media to undermine democracy: Governments in 30 countries of the 65 countries assessed attempted to control online discussions. The practice has become significantly more widespread and technically sophisticated over last few years.
- State censors targeted mobile connectivity: An increasing number of governments have restricted mobile internet service for political or security reasons. Half of all internet shutdowns in the past year were specific to mobile connectivity, with most others affecting mobile and fixed-line service simultaneously. Most mobile shutdowns occurred in areas populated with ethnic or religious minorities such as Tibetan areas in China and Oromo areas in Ethiopia.
- More governments restricted live video: As live video gained popularity with the emergence of platforms like Facebook Live, and Snapchat’s Live Stories internet users faced restrictions or attacks for live streaming in at least nine countries, often to prevent streaming of antigovernment protests. Countries likes Belarus disrupted mobile connectivity to prevent livestreamed images from reaching mass audience.
- Technical attacks against news outlets, opposition, and rights defenders increased: Cyberattacks against government critics were documented in 34 out of 65 countries. Many governments took additional steps to restrict encryption, leaving citizens further exposed.
- New restrictions on virtual private networks (VPNs): 14 countries now restrict tools used to circumvent censorship in some form and six countries introduced new restrictions, either legal bans or technical blocks on VPN websites or network traffic.
- Physical attacks against netizens and online journalists expanded dramatically: The number of countries that featured physical reprisals for online speech increased by 50 percent over the past year—from 20 to 30 of the countries assessed. In eight countries, people were murdered for their online expression. In Jordan, a Christian cartoonist was murdered for mocking Islamist militants’ vision of heaven, while in Myanmar, a journalist was murdered after posting on Facebook notes that alleged corruption.
To view the report, see www.freedomonthenet.org.
About the Journal of Strategic Threat Intelligence
I would like to pay a special tribute to the team in charge of the Journal of Strategic Threat Intelligence (JSTI). The journal celebrates today its first anniversary! I am very glad to collaborate with Harvard toward the success and growth of this journal.
Journal of Strategic Threat Intelligence (ISSN 2476-1990) publishes one issue per year and is already widely indexed and abstracted. It has been established as part of a joint academic project with ESSEC Business School on Cybersecurity awareness.
Journal of Strategic Threat Intelligence publishes research reports informed by a wide array of theoretical perspectives (from Sociology to Computer Science, through Criminal Law), innovative in form and content, and focused on both traditional and emerging topics in the fields of Cybercrime, Cyberwarfare and Cybersecurity. It welcomes articles concerned with managerial and strategic issues.
ISIS Cyberstrategy; A strategic Approach to the Tor Network; Ethical and Societal Challenges of Privacy; Blockchain Regulatory Framework