Too much information: links for week ending 25 November 2011

South Africa passes secrecy bill
The Telegraph report that the South African Parliament have passed a Protection of Information Bill to replace apartheid-era secrecy legislation, amid protests from journalists, businesses and civil society groups. The bill does not include exceptions for journalists who publish suppressed material exposing government wrongdoing or corruption, meaning that if they do so, they could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison.

Turkish authorities introduce internet filter
Deutsche Welle reports on the Turkish telecommunications authorities plans to switch on the country’s much-contested internet filter this week: “tens of thousands of Turks have held protests across the country under the motto ‘Hands off my Internet!’ Media outlets and Internet forums have also sharply criticised the plan.”

Most countries not following their own FOI laws
Associated Press reports the worrying results of their investigation – begun in January this year – into the practice of governments in 105 countries and the European Union when it comes to responding to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests: “Only 14 countries responded with the full information we asked for within their legal deadline. Most countries did not provide us with any of the information we asked for. Three out of 10 requests were completely ignored.”

China’s Great Firewall tests mysterious scans on encrypted connections
Forbes details reports from administrators of services with encrypted connections that indicate that China many be testing new software to detect and block censorship circumvention tools provided for Chinese citizens by the West.

Big plans for biometric data in Afghanistan
The New York Times reports on the rise of biometric data collection at Afghanistan’s airports, and at the country’s eight major border crossings. The data is being shared with the United States Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security.

Dutch MEP claims European politicians gagged over US data-sharing deal
Computerworld UK reports that a leading Member of the European Parliament (MEP) has revealed that MEPs have been banned from talking about the content of a deal to share information about European airline travellers with the United States, and may only read the contents of the deal in a “sealed room”.

Special: internet and privacy
In an essay for Slate, Evgeny Morozov attacks Facebook for its real names policy, calling it “part and parcel of Facebook’s noxious vision for the future of the internet, where privacy, rather than hard-earned cash, becomes the currency of the day”. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal has published extracts from a debate between privacy commentators and experts Stewart Baker, danah boyd, Jeff Jarvis and Chris Soghoian about the value of online privacy. Also this week, Wired ran a feature on Soghoian and his work exposing companies’ poor privacy practice.
Morozov | Debate | Wired on Soghoian

#Occupy: The tech at the heart of the movement
This is the first in a series of essays to be published in the Atlantic about the tech at the heart of the Occupy movement: “a set of mobile technologies that didn’t exist ten years ago offered protesters new human capabilities that they used to record and disseminate information, as well as organise – or maybe more properly, design – the protests”.

Reports: Mapping Digital Media
The Open Society Foundations Media Program has released a series of detailed reports examining the impact of digitisation on media and journalism in several countries, and introducing specific issues related to free expression in the digital environment, including net neutrality and legal liability for content online.

What’s your DNA worth?
Forbes examines the possible implications of a patent application submitted by VISA relating to the collection of DNA data for marketing purposes.

Filtering and blocking closer to the core of the internet?
This in-depth report from IP Watch examines new policies and technologies to control the content that flows across the internet by intervening at the layer which controls how web domain names work.

Audio: the history of the mobile phone
Stephen Fry charts the early history of the mobile phone, in part two of his series on the history of phone communications for the BBC.

Audio: Were the Luddites right?
To mark the 200th anniversary of the Luddite movement, which began when artisans in the North of England started protesting against new machines that were destroying their way of life, the Free Thinking Festival invited participants including historian of the Luddites Katrina Navickas, BBC technology correspondent Bill Thompson and fellow of the New Economics Foundation Andrew Simms to explore what the Luddites can teach us in the digital age.

Video: Communication, power and the state in the network society
This is the first in a series of three lectures delivered over the last two weeks at Cambridge University by influential network communications scholar and social scientist Professor Manuel Castells.

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