Links for week ending 17 December 2010

Venezuela: Last minute law proposes tight internet controls
The Venezuelan government has introduced a bill to reform existing telecommunications law in order to give authorities greater power to regulate and control the internet. Proposals include the creation of a national Network Access Point to give the government the ability to “manage” all Venezuelan internet traffic, as well as measures to prevent anonymity online. “Watershed” proposals, regulating different types of content at different times of day in order to protect minors, are also said to be included in the bill, which will come before the outgoing National Assembly just weeks before it is replaced in 5th January by newly elected members. Critics have called the proposals arbitrary and unworkable.

Trouble brewing at the UN over internet governance
The United Nations is preparing to renew the mandate of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) for a further five years. IP Watch report that civil society and industry groups are jointly preparing a letter of protest against the UN’s decision to exclude them from processes intended to improve the IGF. Meanwhile, Brazil has called on the UN to establish an international body that would allow governments “to multilaterally address efforts by some to control the internet”, in reaction to recent unilateral action taken by the United States to suppress WikiLeaks.
IGF | Brazil

Hungarian Government ready to give access to communist-era files report that the Hungarian government is likely to give the go-ahead to publish classified data on communist-era informers. The data was originally stored on magnetic tapes and has been digitised with the oversight of a committee of experts headed by historian Janos Kenedi. Kenedi has previously argued that the files should be made public long before their official declassification date of 2060.

Berkman Center announces digital public library initiative
The Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School have announced a new initiative, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, to plan a “Digital Public Library of America”. The planning program aims to define the scope, architecture, costs and administration of the library, and will be guided by a steering committee that includes Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle, historian Robert Darnton, and freedom of information activist Carl Malamud.

“Cuba opens new online frontline in war of words”
The UK Guardian reports that Cuba has unveiled its own version of Wikipedia – “EcuRed” – this week. The site was developed by Cuba’s Youth Club of Computing and Electronics, an affiliate of the Communist Youth Union. Unlike Wikipedia, the site requires would-be editors to seek authorisation from administrators before they can make changes.

Global Voices: Around the world with WikiLeaks
Global Voices comes into its own with this collection of reactions from countries and regions around the world to the leaked US Embassy cables.
Africa | China | Ecuador | Latin America | Morocco | Singapore | Taiwan | Tunisia

In defence of DDoS
Evgeny Morozov uses the recent campaign of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, launched by internet collective Anonymous against corporations who have denied goods and services to WikiLeaks, to discuss if and when DDoS attacks should be viewed as a valid form of civil disobedience in this article for “While Anonymous’ attacks fall short of Rawls’ high standard for civil disobedience, we should not prejudge all DDoS attacks to be illegitimate.”

How data analysis helped secure conviction in historic human rights case
Benetech founder Jim Fruchterman provides a detailed account of how the work of the Benetech Human Rights Program helped lead to the conviction of two former police officers in Guatemala, for the forced disappearance of student and union leader Edgar Fernando García in 1984: “The García case is the first in Guatemala based primarily on archive documents and paves the way for judges to trust these records – and statistical findings – as evidence in future trials.”

@MedvedevRussia, are you listening?
A review of Russian President Dmitri Medvedev’s first six months on Twitter, as seen through the Russian blogosphere: “Apple should almost be paying him for the publicity”.

Goodbye to the printed newspaper?
John Lanchester examines the state of the newspaper industry, and plots one path towards a viable future, in this long essay for the London Review of Books.

Leaving Facebook
A Diaspora beta tester details her experiences for Technology Review: “The goal isn’t to replace Facebook or any other service as a way to interact online but to eliminate the need to store private data on multiple websites, many of which seem geared to an all-or-nothing sharing of personal information.”

Podcast: Milton Mueller on internet governance
Milton Mueller, Professor and Director of the Telecommunications Network Management Program at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies, tries to bring back some cyber-libertarianism to the internet governance discussion for the podcast series “Surprisingly Free”.

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