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.

EU Authorities: Implementation of Net Surveillance Directive Is Unlawful
European privacy officials have this week released a report into EU member states’ implementation of the 2006 EU Data Retention Directive, a controversial law which compels EU telecommunications providers to retain information about their customers’ communication activities for access by law enforcement agencies. They found several aspects in which implementation of the Directive was unlawful, including the way ISPs and telcos handed over the data, what they stored and how long they stored it for. They also criticised member states for failing to record how often retained data turned out to be useful in law enforcement activity.

Ugandan Parliament passes interception of communications bill
The Parliament of Uganda have approved a draft law which authorises government security agencies to tap private phone conversations, and compels mobile phone users to register their SIM cards. The bill still requires the assent of the President to pass into law, but if it does, the new phone-tapping powers will be applicable in terrorism, drug-trafficking and human-trafficking investigations, and intercepted conversations will be admissible as evidence in court. The bill, which was first mooted 2007, was passed by Parliament four days after terrorist attacks in Kampala killed 76 people.

Human Rights Groups challenge US ‘Special 301’ IPR sanctions
At this week’s International Aids conference in Vienna, a coalition of human rights groups filed a complaint against the United States’ with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Anand Grover. They argue that the US continues to breach international human rights obligations by using its ‘Special 301’ program to threaten trade sanctions against countries that do not agree to increase intellectual property protections beyond those required by the WTO TRIPS agreement.

Increased internet censorship in Belarus
The Belarus government have adopted new measures to control the internet, issuing a decree that creates a new body, reporting to the President, which will monitor (and censor) web content originating in Belarus. The decree also mandates internet blocking of black-listed foreign websites, and the identification and surveillance of internet cafe users.

First hearing of FRPAA by US Congress committee
The first hearing of the Federal Research Public Access Act, a draft law which would mandate public (and therefore global) access to publicly-funded research, will take place next week in front of the US Congress’ Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Information Policy, the Census and National Archives.

France stalling on three strikes warnings?
The New York Times reports that although legislation to set up a three strikes-style online copyright enforcement regime in France was passed last September, the agency created by that legislation has yet to send out a single warning letter, let alone cut anyone off the internet: “News reports have shown growing unease about the legislation. Even some lawmakers in Mr. Sarkozy’s party have expressed doubts.”

The Web means the end of forgetting
Jeffrey Rosen investigates how social media is undermining society’s need to forget: “What seemed within our grasp was a power that only Proteus possessed: namely, perfect control over our shifting identities. But the hope that we could carefully control how others view us in different contexts has proved to be another myth.” Registration required for access to this article.

Why Kenya’s attempts to put IPRs in its constitution is a mistake
Pirate Party MEP Amelia Andersdotter urges Kenya not to include intellectual property rights protection in their constitution: “Moving the Kenyan legislation towards the European will shift power from Kenyan entrepreneurs to European big business. Ownership concentration is one of the most harmful tendencies we have seen with intellectual property rights in Europe.”

Time to challenge plus-size IPRs (India)
The director of the Indian Department of Commerce’s Trade Policy Division, Mr. Prashant Goyal, airs his view on TRIPS-plus intellectual property protections and calls on Indian industry – beyond the pharmaceutical industry – to get involved in the debate.

Top Secret America
This rich, data-based Washington post exposé on the United States’ ramping up of spending on national security after 9/11, and on the dubious accountability pathways that have since been created, is a great example of the future of data-driven journalism, and includes some good data visualisations.

The science is fine – it’s scientists that need to change
This Economist feature highlights two reports into contested climate science data, both of which confirm the science, but suggest the need to reform our scientific institutions.

Podcast: Technology for Transparency Network
The Technology for Transparency Network is a participatory research project designed by Information Program grantee Rising Voices which aims to understand the current state of online technology projects that increase transparency, government accountability and civic engagement. As part of the project, the Rising Voices team produced a weekly podcast featuring five-minute interviews with leaders of some of the most interesting technology for transparency projects they came across. You can subscribe to the series via iTunes, or listen to some of the individual interviews listed below.
Subscribe to the series via iTunes
Waheed Al-Barghouthi (Ishki)
Ory Okolloh (Mzalendo)
Felipe Heusser (Vota Inteligente)

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