Links for this week

Here are the links from this week’s Information Program mailout, a weekly update of interesting information policy stories and features I help to compile.

Iceland passes world’s strongest press freedom laws
Iceland’s parliament has unanimously passed the “Icelandic Modern Media Initiative”, giving themselves a mandate to create the world’s most stringent laws protecting free speech and the free press. The initiative was created with the help of the whistleblowing website Wikileaks, and is intended to transform the country into a safe harbour for investigative journalism.

University of California takes stand against Nature publishing group
University of California (UoC) library administrators have written to their faculty members informing them of radical action they plan to take against Nature publishing group’s proposal to quadruple the cost of California’s license for its journals. The letter proposes suspending some 67 subscriptions UoC currently buys from Nature, and encourages faculty members to cease contributing to Nature’s journals, and resign from their positions on Nature’s editorial boards.

Hyper-connected South Koreans face shrinking internet freedom, says UN
A UN Special rapporteur has raised concerns over the “shrinking space for freedom of expression” in South Korea, following a visit to the country. South Korea has one of the highest percentages of broadband connectivity in the world. But new and restrictive applications of existing free expression laws are making online censorship of anti-government speech more routine, said a local free expression group.

Dominant IT suppliers team up with World Bank on Africa project
Microsoft, Cisco and Intel have formed a consortium with the World Bank to help build capacity around the governance and integration of information technologies in African schools. According the report, “the formation of a consortium is likely to result in stiff competition by international companies providing computers and software in Africa’s education system.”

US NGOs go after GWU-sponsored Indian IP summit
Access to medicines advocacy groups including Medecins Sans Frontiers, Knowledge Ecology International and Oxfam have called on the United States’ George Washington University to stop sponsoring an annual intellectual property conference in India they say has been hijacked by lobbyists from major pharmaceutical companies. India is a key supplier of generic medicines to the developing world.

US lifts telecommunications trade sanctions
The US will lift certain sanctions to allow the export of telecommunications equipment and services to Iran, Cuba and Sudan. The policy is intended to promote access to global education and culture and to strengthen grassroots organisations around the world.

Steven Pinker on media and mind
“Yes, every time we learn a fact or skill the wiring of the brain changes; it’s not as if the information is stored in the pancreas. But the existence of neural plasticity does not mean the brain is a blob of clay pounded into shape by experience”. A renowned cognitive scientist weighs into the debate over whether the internet makes us smart or stupid.

Labour movement enabled by technology in China
“Wielding cellphones and keyboards, members of China’s emerging labor movement so far seem to be outwitting official censors in an effort to build broad support for what they say is a war against greedy corporations and their local government allies.” This New York Times report details how affordable technology is enabling China’s most disadvantaged workers to stand up for their rights.

“We’re from the government, and we’re here to help”
Should the US government spend tens of millions of dollars funding anti-censorship technology? This O’Reilly radar blog post begins to unpick the issues around US government intervention to promote “internet freedom” worldwide. Includes perspectives from Rebecca MacKinnon, Ethan Zuckerman and Evgeny Morozov.

China’s “networked authoritarianism”
China expert Rebecca MacKinnon analyses China’s recently released policy on “Guaranteeing Citizens’ Freedom of Speech on the Internet”, for the benefit of readers “not based in China, for whom such cognitive dissonance is normal.”

Russia’s online isolationism
Global Voices’ Gregory Asmolov extrapolates an isolationist trend emerging in Russian internet policy from events of the past year.

The Pervasive Legal Consequences of Modern Geolocation Technologies
This paper examines the implications of geolocation technology such as GPS-enabled mobile phones, for three bodies of law: privacy, e-commerce, and the jurisdiction of the courts. It raises the question of whether geolocation will relocalise the internet, allowing local rules to once again be enforced, and also highlights the need for stronger privacy protections as geo-location technologies become more advanced.

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