Links for week ending 15 October

French police accused of maintaining illegal Roma database
French police are denying accusations that they maintain a secret and illegal database of Roma and other travelling minorities. The Register report that the existence of the database “came to light by chance, when a 48-page powerpoint presentation…turned up on the internet.” Human rights groups are calling for a swift public response to the revelations, and Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP has urged the European Commission to investigate France’s “anti-Roma policies”.

UAE will not ban BlackBerrys
The BBC report that telecommunications regulators in the United Arab Emirates have been satisfied that BlackBerrys are compliant with the country’s security needs, and will not therefore ban the service this week, as had been originally threatened. Research in Motion, makers of the handheld device which routinely encrypts communications data, said it would not reveal the details of their discussions with UAE regulators.

iCow wins Apps 4 Africa competition
Apps4Africa, a competition funded by the US government, has awarded its first $5,000 prize to a voice-based application which uses smart phones to track the fertility of cows. The creator of “iCow” is Charles Kithika from Kenya.

Libya takes hard line on .ly link shortening domains
The co-founder of an “adult friendly” url shortening service that used the Libyan top level domain .ly has warned that the Libyan domain registry service may deregister other .ly domains without warning, after his site was taken off the web.

HTML5 may weaken privacy
The New York Times reports on the next version of Hypertext Markup Language, HTML5, focussing on the new capabilities for online behaviour tracking the website programming language will introduce. Privacy campaigners have called HTML5 a “Pandora’s Box”, but the World Wide Web Consortium, which is overseeing the specification of HTML5 say they are taking questions of user privacy “very seriously”.

Creating a National Digital Library
Director of the Harvard University Library lays out the path toward a US National Digital Library in this excellent post on the New York Review of Books blog.

A civic hacktivism abecedary
Tony Bowden has been working with the OSI Information Program and mySociety for the past year identifying viable and exciting civic hacktivism projects in Central and Eastern Europe. This ABC guide will eventually list the 26 favourite lessons he’s drawn from the experience. Topics so far include “B – Bypass Bureaucracy” and “F – Facebook Will Destroy You”.

Interview with Chiranuch Premchaiporn of Thai Netizen Network
The EFF interview Chiranuch Premchaiporn (known as Jiew), a Director and webmaster of alternative Thai news website Prachatai, and founding member of the Thai Netizen Network. Jiew was recently charged under the Thai Computer Crime Act, and may face a sentence of 82 years. She discusses flaws in the law under which she was charged, and the effect the charges have had on her life.

The Atlantic syllabus series
Starting in August, the Atlantic magazine has been running articles which ask academics teaching courses on ethical, cultural and social issues in technology to share their syllabi. The result is this fascinating series.

Who’s Who in Internet Politics
A concise, US-focused primer for decision makers on the advocates and issues that surround regulation of the internet: “Some might argue that these issues are transitory and will recede in importance as the digital economy matures. But there is good reason to believe otherwise: The debates that pit online consumers against resistant middlemen are likely to continue as new forms of online distribution evolve.”

Video: Public domain calculators
This short video explains the European Public Domain Calculators project, which aims to create an algorithm to establish whether a particular work is in the public domain. In a separate but complementary development, this week Creative Commons have launched a new, machine-readable “public domain mark”, which will help users of the web search for public domain material. Both projects aim to exploit the power of new technology in order to make better use of public domain works.
Public domain calculators | Public domain mark

Infographic: The True size of Africa
Like any good infographic, this image speaks for itself.

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