Links for week ending 10 December

EFF takes stand against internet censorship
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) this week asked its supporters to join it in taking a stand against internet censorship, condemning the extra-judicial censorship of WikiLeaks in the United States: “Like it or not, WikiLeaks has become the emblem for one of the most important battles for our rights that is likely to come along in our lifetimes. We cannot sit this one out.”

Russia drops piracy case
Russian authorities have dropped charges of software piracy against Russian environmental NGO Baikal Environmental Wave after Microsoft indicated it would not support the case. Police raided the group’s offices in Irkutsk in January this year, confiscating 12 computers in what environmentalists say was a politically motivated operation.

Disruption to mobile services in Turkmenistan may be linked to licence negotiations
Reports are appearing on the Russian-language web that telecommunications company MTS is coming under pressure from authorities in Turkmenistan to share a greater proportion of its profits, ahead of negotiations for a new licence to operate in the country. MTS services went dark on 3 December in the capital Ashgabat due, according to a spokesperson, to an “accident…not caused by our company”. Via Google Translate: “Analysts do not rule out that the aspiration of the Turkmen authorities to take control of an extremely lucrative telecommunications business is related to a critical decrease in receipt of money in the coffers [from] the sharp drop in sales of Turkmen gas.”

Phone messages to boost African farmers
The International Finance Corporation and the Soros Economic Development Fund have invested $2.5 million in Esoko, a mobile-driven platform that delivers real-time market data to African farmers. The system is currently being piloted in northern Ghana. “The farmers seem to be getting between 20-40% revenue improvements,” Esoko founder Mark Davies told Reuters.

Venezuelan regulator proposes more controls on Internet content
A memo written by the national telecoms regulator of Venezuela to the country’s Vice President has been published by TV network Globovision. The memo recommends that the regulator, Conatel, be empowered to remove content from the internet and to apply sanctions where necessary, and includes outlandish proposals for “supervising” social networks at key times of day when they are used by minors.

WikiLeaks controversy shines a light on the limits of techno-politics
This blog post by writer Tom Slee outlines the challenge that the unfolding case of WikiLeaks presents to those who have previously eulogised the net for its disintermediating qualities and transformative potential: “The cables prompt some tough questions, but the fault lines those questions reveal run perpendicular to digital attitudes, not parallel…the Internet is a new terrain, but the battles being fought on it are old ones.”

Briefing: routing on the internet
This overview from Security Week provides a fairly accessible introduction to current issues in internet routing and their likely effects on the security of the net.

The mismeasurement of science
Michael Nielsen discusses the difficulties of measuring scientific contributions: “heavy reliance on a small number of metrics is bad for science”.

Russia: Competing models of internet politics
This Global Voices feature characterises the many sides of public debate currently taking place in Russia about the role of the internet in politics: “Despite the government ideologists’ efforts to sell the idea of preserving the hybrid regime by introducing superficial – though hi-tech – innovations, the internet provides a new environment that no one, not even the government, can fully control”.

Video: Tom Steinberg on Open Government Data
Presenting at the Open Knowledge Foundation’s Open Government Data Camp last month, mySociety’s Tom Steinberg attempts to chart a smooth course for the open data movement now it has the attentions of government. You can watch the talk on video, where Tom is joined by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Nigel Shadbolt, or read a transcript of the talk on Tom’s blog.
Video | Transcript

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