Links for week ending 7 January 2011

Independent media sites in Belarus reportedly hijacked during election
Hal Roberts of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society details reports that BELPAK, the Belarusian national ISP, redirected visitors trying to access independent media sites to mirrors of those sites with subtly different content during last month’s election. Meanwhile, Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter report on how Swedish firm Ericsson supplies surveillance equipment to Belarusian authorities.
Roberts | Dagens Nyheter

Venezuela passes new law drastically limiting internet freedoms
The Venezuelan National Assembly has approved changes to media and telecommunications law that will place burdens on internet service and digital media providers to restrict access to content and messages that “incite or promote hatred”, “foment citizens’ anxiety or alter public order”, “disrespect authorities”, “encourage assassination”, or “constitute war propaganda”, expanding existing broadcasting regulations to the internet. The Committee to Protect Journalists is calling on President Hugo Chavez to veto the reforms.

FCC approves net neutrality rules for fixed line internet
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved new regulation aimed at preserving net neutrality on fixed line internet connections. The controversial rules have been criticised for setting different standards for fixed line and mobile operators.

How Wikileaks killed Spain’s anti-p2p law
Ars Technica report that a new law that would have made it easier for judicial authorities to shut down websites that link to copyright-infringing content has been rejected by the Spanish Parliament. The news comes after US diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks and Spanish national newspaper El Pais revealed significant US pressure on the Spanish government to crack down on copyright infringement in Spain.

Turkmenistan clamps down on mobile and internet users
Amnesty International is calling on Turkmenistan’s telecommunications authority to immediately lift the operating licence suspension it has imposed on MTS, the Russian mobile operator and largest service provider in Turkmenistan. The licence was suspended on 21 December following reports that MTS was coming under pressure from authorities in Turkmenistan to share a greater proportion of its profits. The country’s only alternative provider, Altyn Asyr, is state-owned, and blocks access to independent news sites and the websites of opposition groups.

Hackers demonstrate cheap and easy way to intercept GSM mobile phone calls
Hackers at the 27th annual Chaos Computer Congress have demonstrated a low cost way to intercept phone calls and text messages sent over the majority of the world’s mobile networks. The news follows on from a presentation to the same conference the previous year, which showed how the encryption of the GSM mobile network standard could be cracked. The new hack is understood to be a direct response to GSM industry groups’ lacklustre reactions to the security flaw at that time.

“Internet blackout” protest at new Hungarian media law
La Quadrature du Net and the Pirate Bay are among those who promised to “black out” their websites on 5 January in protest against a new law passed in Hungary at the end of last year which, among other restrictive measures, requires bloggers to register with the government. Websites replaced their homepages with code provided by, transforming them into black screens containing a short, stark protest message.

Report: DDoS attacks against independent media and human rights sites
The Berkman Center for Internet and Society have released a 66-page report of their investigations into distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against independent media and human rights sites. The report includes an introduction to DDoS, a survey of current experiences with DDoS in nine countries including Russia, Kazakhstan, Egypt and Tunisia, and initial recommendations for organisations and funders on how to mitigate against such attacks.

Video: Hackers in the age of Chaos
The keynote lecture at the 27th annual Chaos Computer Congress was delivered by Dutch hacker and activist Rop Gonggrijp. Measured and thoughtful, it plots a way forward for a community which, in the wake of the Wikileaks controversy, has found itself very much in the international spotlight.
Video | Transcript

Civic hackers seek to find their feet in India
This feature article from India’s Centre for Internet and Society maps India’s nascent community of civic hackers, “programmer(s) driven by the urge to create applications that will allow fellow citizens to help themselves and further the democratic process.”

Opening up spectrum can prevent Kenya from running out
The Association for Progressive Communications present alternatives to Kenya’s current strategy for allocating spectrum that they argue could ensure greater access to affordable communications into the future.

Open Access 2010 in Review
Peter Suber presents a thorough and compelling review of open access milestones in 2010 for Open Access News.

Book: The Net Delusion
“The Net Delusion”, a book by Evgeny Morozov published this week, calls on policy-makers to reject cyber-utopianism in their quest to encourage democracy around the world. Reviewing the book, The Economist calls it provocative, enlightening and highly readable, while Adam Theirer accuses Morozov of over-playing his contrarian streak.
Economist | Theirer

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