Links for week ending 25 February 2011

EFF responds to Hilary Clinton’s second Internet Freedom speech
Last week, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton delivered her second speech on Internet Freedom, on the same day the US Department of Justice was justifying its demands that Twitter hand over data on five of Wikileaks’ staff and supporters in a Virginia court. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have responded to Clinton’s speech, noting that “for every strong statement about preserving liberty, freedom of expression, and privacy on the global Internet, there exists a countervailing example of the United States attempting to undermine those same values”. Plus analysis from Evgeny Morozov, Rebecca MacKinnon and Ethan Zuckerman.
Speech | EFF response | Morozov | MacKinnon | Zuckerman

Did the KGB hack Belarusians social network accounts?
[via Google Translate] Charter 97 report that several of their readers arrested during demonstrations against fraudulent elections in Belarus in December last year have since told them that while they were under arrest, their contacts on the social networks Facebook and Vkontakte saw them online and even received messages containing provocative questions. The reports prompt the newspaper to conclude that the Belarusian secret service, the KGB, hacked into the accounts.

Ugandan Communications Commission issued order to intercept SMS messages in week before election
This week, Uganda held its presidential elections, amid accusations of fraud. The Daily Nation reports that in the week before the elections took place, the Ugandan Communications Commission issued instructions to mobile phone companies to intercept SMSs and flag them if they contained one of 18 keywords, including “Tunisia”, “Egypt” and “dictator”.

Forensic DNA records to be wiped in UK
Under proposed law called “The Freedom Bill”, the United Kingdom would remove the DNA records of up to 1m UK citizens from its forensic DNA database, Genewatch UK report. Only the profiles of people suspected of serious offences of sex or violence will be retained and then only for a maximum of five years. The UK forensic DNA database is currently the largest in the world.

Video sparks debate, anger and scepticism in Cuban blogosphere
Global Voices report on the emergence of a 52-minute video presentation, leaked onto the web, which allegedly shows a Cuban intelligence official demonstrating US cyberwar tactics. Speculation around the Cuban diaspora has focussed on whether the video was released to dissuade Cubans inside the country from staging Egypt-like uprisings.

Yochai Benkler: A free irresponsible press
Yochai Benkler highlights the “deep vulnerability of the checks imposed by the first amendment in the context of a public sphere built entirely of privately-owned infrastructure”, in this important analysis of the wide-ranging legal and ethical implications of events surrounding Wikileaks in 2010. The paper is in draft and will be published in the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review.

Protecting Human Rights in the Digital Age
This report, commissioned by the Global Network Initiative, “describes the evolving freedom of expression and privacy risks faced by information and communications technology (ICT) companies and how these risks can be more effectively mitigated by the industry.”

Safaricom – A Modest Proposal
This blog post from Steve Song responds to statements from Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore by calling on the Kenyan mobile incumbent to open up their spectrum to non-profit players if they can’t cope with making less than 50% profit on supplying connectivity to rural Kenyans.

Free trove of music scores on web hits sensitive copyright note
This New York Times feature tells the story of the International Music Score Library Project, a crowdsourced scanning project for musical scores. The website has adapted its practices to attempt to conform with copyright law, yet still gets a mixed reception from traditional score publishers.

Interview: Rebecca MacKinnon on the internet in China
The New Yorker interview Chinese internet expert Rebecca MacKinnon, to understand how the Chinese regime is reacting to online organising in the Middle East, and to assess the effect Hilary Clinton’s speech will have on Chinese internet policy. During the interview, MacKinnon exposes the different camps in Washington vying to influence where the US State Department spends the $30m it has earmarked for “Internet Freedom”.

Middle East internet Scorecard
Craig Labovitz, chief scientist at Arbor Networks, presents his analysis of internet traffic in the Middle East over the past few weeks of unrest: “Overall, our data shows pronounced changes in Internet traffic levels in two Middle East countries last week: Bahrain and Libya. While network failures and other exogenous events may play a role in decreased traffic volumes, we observe the changes in Bahrain and Libya are temporally coincident with the onset of recent protests.”

Visualisation: Egypt influence network
This breath-taking visualisation by Kova Boguta, based on the “follows” of Twitter users covering recent events in Egypt, maps networks of influence across the Arab- and English-speaking web: “Experts say Egypt is the crystal ball in which the Arab world sees its future. Now that Mubarak has stepped down, I can share the work I’ve done making that metaphor tangible, and visualizing the pro-democracy movement in Egypt and across the Middle East.”

Video: Margaret Atwood on the author as “primary source”
In her keynote at O’Reilly’s Tools of Change for Publishing conference, Margaret Atwood gives an engaging and incisive author’s perspective on challenges faced by the publishing industry by changing technology.

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