Links for week ending 4 February 2011

US: Internet ‘kill switch’ legislation back in play
Proposals that grant the US president power to “switch off” the internet will be re-introduced into the Senate soon, according to this Wired report. Senator Susan Collins, who is floating the legislation, argues it would not give the US president the same power Hosni Mubarak exercised in Egypt last week in order to quell dissent.

ICE domain name seizures under fire
The US Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division was under fire this week as Senator Ron Wyden questioned its programme to seize the domain names of websites linked to copyright infringement. On Tuesday reports began to emerge that ICE had seized the domain name of Spanish website, effectively booting it from the web despite the fact that the site has twice been declared legal by Spanish courts.

Brazil: Ministry of Culture abandons Creative Commons
This Global Voices post by Diego Casaes analyses the decision of the new Brazilian Minister of Culture, Ana de Hollanda, to remove Creative Commons licences from the Ministry’s website.

Facebook enables HTTPS so you can share without being hijacked
Facebook will soon give its users the option to use the site over secure https connection, the company announced the day after its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, appeared to have had his own account hijacked. Wired report that: “It’s not clear if the option would have prevented the hijacking of Zuckerberg’s account, but it almost certainly would have prevented Tunisia’s snooping on users if they had the protection option turned on”.

OpenLeaks goes live
OpenLeaks, the whistleblowing website set up by former WikiLeaks spokesperson Daniel Domscheit-Berg, went public last week. Although the site is not yet operational, interested parties can now read more about the organisation’s plans and ambitions, and the practices that will set them apart from WikiLeaks. In December, Domscheit-Berg spoke to the BBC about his hopes for the site.
OpenLeaks | BBC interview

New computer program predicts likelihood of violent civil unrest
Talking Points Memo report on a project sponsored by the US Air Force Research Laboratory to devise a statistical model that predicts where civil unrest is most likely to occur around the world.

Google finds it hard to reinvent philanthropy
This New York Times article picks apart the track record of (“DotOrg”), the search giant’s philanthropic arm: “Although Google intended to tackle major problems like climate change, global poverty and the spread of pandemic diseases, it declared that DotOrg would not be “conventional” — a four-letter word in Google-speak… Nearly five years later, however, the hyperbole looks more like hubris”.

Lost & found: How Refugees United aims to be a Google for refugee search
This Wired feature tells the stories of users of Refugees United, a website for helping displaced people get back in touch with their families and friends.

On science publishing
Creative Commons’ John Wilbanks addresses the future of scientific publishing in Seed Magazine.

Report: The slide from “self-regulation” to corporate censorship
European Digital Rights (EDRi) has published a study which focuses on measures being undertaken in Europe “to outsource policing activities to private companies in the internet environment and [their] significance for fundamental rights, transparency and openness on the internet”.

Who needs textbooks?
This Newsweek feature examines open educational resources through the lens of Washington State’s Open Course Library project.

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