Links for week ending 3 December 2010

US shutters 82 sites in crackdown on downloads and counterfeit goods
Following investigations by federal agents, 82 websites accused of supplying counterfeit goods or facilitating music piracy had their domain names “seized” on Monday this week by ICE, the United States’ Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Warrants for the seizures were issued by a District court.

Free media under siege in Egyptian elections
Foreign Policy reports details of a concerted media crackdown in Egypt ahead of last Sunday’s parliamentary elections. Mass text messaging and live television coverage of election-day events are also reported to have been restricted.

Internet blocking: key decisions in the pipeline for Europe
European Digital Rights (EDRI) report that a legislative process to implement internet blocking of images of child sex abuse is about to accelerate. Campaigners fear that the proposals will establish a Europe-wide online censorship infrastructure ready to be extended to more controversial blocking requests, while at the same time doing little to combat the sexual abuse of children. EDRI have prepared a booklet aimed at informing EU officials about the complex issues surrounding the issue, which is available in several European languages.
Report |Booklet

European Commission launches investigation into Google
The European Commission has launched an anti-trust investigation into Google’s business practices, following complaints from three companies, including Microsoft, that the online giant is abusing its dominant position in the web search market to promote its other services. The investigation will be the first of its kind directed at Google and is likely to last several years.

India district bans cell phones for unmarried women
A local council in Uttar Pradesh state, India, has banned unmarried women from carrying mobile phones, following concerns phones were being used by young couples who planned to marry against their parents’ wishes.

Shunned profiling technology on the verge of a comeback
The Wall Street Journal reports that deep packet inspection, “one of the most potentially intrusive technologies for profiling and targeting Internet users with ads”, is about to make a comeback in the United States, thanks to deals being struck by two ad-targeting companies, Phorm Inc and Kindsight Inc. The news comes two years after an outcry by privacy advocates in the US and Britain appeared to kill the technology.

If Amazon has silenced Wikileaks…
Ethan Zuckerman reacts to reports that Amazon has responded to political pressure from the US Senate and booted whistle-blowing website Wikileaks from their cloud-hosted web server service: “If Amazon did respond to pressure… it should open a conversation about the responsibilities of cloud providers towards clients who host political content. If Amazon’s policy is ‘we can terminate you if we’re uncomfortable with what you say’, that cannot be acceptable to anyone who is concerned with freedom of speech online.”

Uganda: ICT boom for economy is a bust for some women
Anecdotal evidence that the rise of mobile phone ownership in Uganda has also seen a rise in “SMS stalking, monitoring and control of partners’ whereabouts”, is backed up by a new study showing that nearly half of mobile phone owners had problems with spouses in relation to their use: “The research shows that communities are having difficulties coming to terms with the power of technology to bring about freedom for women.”

What to watch out for in Free Trade Agreements with the United States
This detailed factsheet, produced by Médecins Sans Frontiers, is aimed at civil society groups operating in countries with whom the United States is negotiating Free Trade Agreements. It explains some of the technical terms associated with new patent and enforcement provisions, and these provisions’ implications for access to medicines.

Africa Portal
The Africa Portal aims to equip users with research and information on Africa’s current policy issues. It includes an open access repository of over 2,500 books journals and digital documents. “A portion of the digital documents housed in the library have been digitized for the first time as an undertaking of the Africa Portal project. Facilitating new digitization projects is a core feature of the Africa Portal, which aims to improve access and visibility for African research.”

Podcast: Radio Berkman
In the latest edition of the excellent Radio Berkman podcast series, David Weinberger interviews Joseph Reagle about his new book, “Good Faith Collaboration”, which examines the evolution of cultures of collaboration in the Wikipedia community.

Data visualisation: Mapping a day in the life of Twitter
This 3-minute video plots 530,000 tweets (the sum of all geo-coded tweets posted to Twitter on one day in November) on a map showing, in accelerated form, a day in the life of Twitter across the world.

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