Links for week ending 14 January 2011

EFF calls for immediate action to defend Tunisian activists against government cyber-attacks
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have pointed Tunisian citizens participating in ongoing demonstrations and protests to several tools intended to protect them from their own government’s attacks on login credentials. They report that Tunisian authorities are siphoning off the usernames and passwords of Tunisians logging in to Google, Yahoo, and Facebook, using a JavaScript-based attack. The EFF further call on the three US companies to take action to protect the privacy of their users “by alerting them of the potential compromise of their accounts”.

UK commits to libel reform
The UK’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced details of proposed reforms to defamation law in the UK. Commenting after his speech, Clegg paid tribute to the Libel Reform Campaign “who have led the debate on this issue for so long”. The UK law has become notorious for enabling “libel tourism”, with well-resourced plaintiffs from countries such as Saudi Arabia and Ukraine suing investigative journalists and organisations like Human Rights Watch and Global Witness.

India to spy on every net user in the country?
The Indian Intelligence Bureau (IB) have asked internet service providers (ISPs) to retain records of their users’ online activity for six months. IB have also asked telecoms operators “to put in place a system that can uniquely identify any person using the internet across the country”.

Icelandic MP fights US demand for Twitter account details
The US Department of Justice has ordered Twitter to hand over account details of several people it believes are connected with Wikileaks. One of them, Birgitta Jonsdottir, is an Icelandic member of Parliament. Twitter fought to make the DoJ subpoenas public. It is widely speculated that other online media services have also been subject to similar orders, but have not publicised them.

State of Washington to offer online materials instead of textbooks
The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges has begun a program to develop shareable, low-cost, online instructional materials for its community and technical colleges. This report in the Chronicle of Higher Education details the thinking behind the new “Open Course Library”, and hints at the efficiency it could eventually bring to higher education in America and across the world.

Experts advise Brussels to call for limited “preferential use” period on digitised public works
Experts in cultural preservation have advised the European Commission to limit to seven years the period of time companies like Google, who digitise works in the public domain, can exclude competing commercial uses of the resulting works: “During a period of preferential use, a public domain book, for instance, that was digitized by Google would be available only through a library’s Web site, through Google’s Web site, or through non-commercial Web sites for that seven-year period.”

“A Walled Wide Web for Nervous Autocrats”
Evgeny Morozov uses Russia’s recent decision to mandate the use of open source software for all its public institutions by 2015 as a platform to speculate on how global competition in software and internet services might clash with issues of national security in the future.

African Human Rights Case Law Analyser
The African Human Rights Case Law Analyser, launched jointly by the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa and HURIDOCS in November last year, provides easy access to primary case law, text and analysis of the decisions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The tool is available in English and French.

The Next Net
In light of recent developments around net neutrality and online censorship, Douglas Rushkoff makes the argument for redesigning the network from scratch: “I propose we abandon the Internet, or at least accept the fact that it has been surrendered to corporate control like pretty much everything else in Western society. It was bound to happen, and its flawed, centralized architecture made it ripe for conquest.”

Special Report: Music industry’s lavish lobby campaign
According to analysis from the Center for Responsive Politics, the past decade has seen the music industry spend tens of millions of dollars on lobbying US government officials at home and abroad for more restrictive copyright laws. In this special report, IP Watch detail the spending breakdown, and speculate as to its impact.

Will the real mobile impact please stand up?
Steve Song demands better research into the impact of mobile phones in Africa.

Audio: Amanda Cox on data visualisation
Amanda Cox creates interactive data visualisations for the New York Times. In this interview with CBC’s Spark radio show, she speaks about the challenges and rewards of telling stories through data.

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