US Senate Committee approves internet censorship bill
The EFF report that the Senate Judiciary Committee has approved the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA). The draft law proposes giving the government power to use the Domain Name System to boot copyright-infringing websites off the net, and has attracted expert and bi-partisan criticism. Debate on the bill will now move to the Senate at large.
India finalises policy on open standards
The Centre for Internet and Society report that after three years of intense lobbying and debate, India has finalised its policy on Open Standards for e-Governance. The policy represents an important victory for the open source software community, as it excludes patented software that requires royalty payments from being considered an open standard.
Google charges US authorities $25 a head for user surveillance
The results of a Freedom of Information request to the US Drug Enforcement Administration have turned up information about how much different internet companies charge to wiretap their customers. While Microsoft does not charge authorities who make authorised requests for wiretaps, Google charges $25 and Yahoo! $29 per customer wiretapped. The Register report that in 2010 the DEA paid ISPs, telcos, and other communication providers $6.5 million for wiretaps.
Syrian bloggers brace for fresh blow to Middle East press freedom
Media analysts say that parliamentary approval for a draft law in Syria that would require bloggers to register as journalist union members is likely to come soon. The Christian Science Monitor reports: “Online journalists and bloggers in Syria, already subject to harassment and imprisonment, are concerned that the law is designed to crack down on their activities and restrict freedom of expression.”
WIPO to work on library and archive copyright exceptions
EIFL report that the new workplan for WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), agreed earlier this month, not only includes proposals to take forward a treaty to guarantee access to reading materials for the visually impaired, but also allocates time for “text-based work on appropriate exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives”. EIFL, who have been working with the SCCR to reach this point for six years, call it an “unprecedented opportunity for libraries and archives”.
Long live the web: a call for continued open standards and neutrality
Tim Berners-Lee makes the case for why the web will flourish in the future only if we protect the medium’s basic principles, in this long essay for Scientific American.
Information technologies & international development
This special collection of essays includes contributions from Amartya Sen, Ethan Zuckerman, Yochai Benkler and Lawrence Liang.
This long essay by James Harkin for the London Review of Books uses the publication of three new books on technology and geopolitics to launch a critique of the US State Department’s “internet freedom” agenda in the Middle East.
Russia’s Cyrillic cybernauts
This Financial Times feature on the Russian internet examines patterns of ownership among major Russian technology and media companies, their links to the Kremlin and the potential ramifications for privacy and free expression those links might have.
This Economist feature sums up the findings of a recent UNESCO report into the current status of science around the world. It finds that although emerging economies are increasing the amount of money they spend on R&D, citations originating from these countries remain low.
Blog: Don’t trade our lives away
The Delhi Network of Positive People (DNP+) and Medecin Sans Frontiers have set up a new blog – Don’t Trade Our Lives Away – to share documents, pictures and news on the draft India-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA). NGOs in India are campaigning against the FTA, and against related international trade arrangements such as ACTA – citing their catastrophic effects on access to medicines.