Links for week ending 10 September

Brazil’s proposal on monetizing P2P
The Brazilian government closed its far-reaching public consultation on copyright law reform last week. Among the proposals for reform was one put forward by a group of academics, musicians and cultural producers that would legitimise non-commercial peer-to-peer filesharing by charging broadband users a small fee. The fee would be distributed to artists via collecting societies.

India to ask Google, Skype, VPN providers to give data access
The Times of India report that the Indian government will ask Google and Skype, as well as operators of virtual private networks (VPNs), to set-up in-country servers that allow the Indian authorities access to conduct lawful communications monitoring. The news follows last month’s announcement that the government was considering banning the use of BlackBerrys unless authorities could be granted access for lawful communications monitoring. The government have given BlackBerry manufacturer Research In Motion a two-month grace period to provide a permanent solution, in order to avert a ban on its messaging services.

Latest ACTA text leaked
A leaked version of the latest draft of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement reveals that negotiators may be ready to abandon clauses that would leave internet service providers liable for copyright infringement conducted on their networks. But the text also reveals that the United States is pushing to maintain measures that would mandate legal protection against the circumvention of digital rights management technology, and even prohibit the sale of tools to allow such circumvention.

UN reveals global disparity in broadband access
A new UN study has revealed the global disparity in access to communications. While it costs between 0.3 and 0.6% of average per capita monthly income to get online in countries such as the US, Israel, China and Singapore, in countries such as Niger, Guinea, Malawi, Ethiopia and the Central African Republic it can cost between 1000 and 4000%.

US withdrawal from Iraq raises questions about future of biometric database
As the US combat mission in Iraq came to an end last week, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) repeated concerns they had raised in 2007 about the creation of “secret profiles on hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, tied to unique biometric identifiers, including digital fingerprints, photographic images, iris scans, and even DNA”. Together with Human Rights Watch and Privacy International, EPIC have warned that such practices contravene international treaties, and that misuse of secret files containing personal data has taken place in other conflicts.

Public consultation on access to information and open government data launched
In collaboration with the Information Program, Access Info Europe and the Open Knowledge Foundation are holding a public consultation on open government data and the right of access to information. The consultation is based on a new report which identifies the practical, technical and legal challenges facing these movements.

The future of the internet: A virtual counter-revolution
This Economist feature shows how a combination of government assertiveness and corporate exploitation may balkanise the net.

The Importance of Being Local
What is the real cost of SMS in Africa? Steve Song digs through the corporate literature.

Is Mexico a Model for the Rest of the World?
David Sasaki contrasts the accepted picture of Mexico’s exemplary Freedom of Information provisions with the reality for activists on the ground.

The Impact of Open Notebook Science
Interesting interview with organic chemist and open notebook scientist Jean-Claude Bradley: “In the interests of openness, Bradley makes the details of every experiment done in his lab freely available on the web. He doesn’t limit this to just a description, but he includes all the data generated from these experiments too, even the failed experiments.”

War on Science
A short interview with Simon Singh, who for more than two years fought a libel case brought by the British Chiropractic Association that threatened to harm the ability of scientists to speak freely.

Video: Suzanne Gildert on Quantum Computing
This talk “separates hope from hype” around quantum computing. Dr Suzanne Gildert explains why quantum computers are useful, dispels some of the myths about what they can and cannot do, and plots a realistic timescale for the development of commercially useful systems.

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