Links for week ending 18 February 2011

US Government shuts down 84,000 websites by mistake
Torrent Freak report that in a second round of domain name seizures aimed at targeting counterfeit goods and child sex abuse images, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement authority wrongly pulled over 84,000 websites from the web. Many of the sites belonged to small businesses and individuals, whose visitors were diverted to a message which implied they trafficked in images of child sex abuse.

EU Civil Liberties Committee rejects mandatory EU-wide internet blocking
European Digital Rights (EDRi) Advocacy Coordinator Joe McNamee reports that this week the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee rejected flawed proposals to mandate blocking of illegal images by internet service providers. The so-called “orientation vote” sets up the negotiations at the Council of Ministers and is a – qualified – success for digital rights campaigners.

Swedish government announces fund for Internet Freedom
[via Google Translate] The Swedish government has announced its intent to use 150 million kronor ($23M) of its annual foreign aid to support for online activism and democratic development.

“Freedom Box” could protect privacy and liberate internet users
Renowned free software lawyer Eben Moglen has proposed a solution to growing concerns around internet freedom at a conference in New York. By encouraging internet users to store personal data on their own, encrypted “Freedom Box”, a low-power plug server running lightweight, free software, the consolidation of the net around platforms like Facebook could be reversed, Moglen argued, and the original, decentralised architecture of the internet restored.
NYTimes report | More details at ZDNet

How cyber-pragmatism brought down Mubarak
This feature in the Nation gives a compelling account of the core of digitally-networked activists that seeded the recent revolution in Egypt: “Oppressive social conditions do stoke a common hunger for change; however, a movement isn’t born until a core group of extraordinarily brave activists take that extra step, translating their outrage into public action”.

Should business fear Tim Wu’s FTC appointment?
This blog post for Forbes explores why the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC)’s recent appointment of net neutrality champion Tim Wu to their office of policy planning has got businesses in the US nervous, and speculates whether the news heralds upcoming anti-trust investigations against Google.

Interview: Siva Vaidhyanathan
Inside Higher Ed interviews digital scholar Siva Vaidhyanathan on the launch of his latest book “The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry)”.

Facebook officials keep quiet on its role in revolts
This New York Times feature examines the “countervailing pressures” keeping Facebook quiet on its role in the uprisings in Egypt: “While it has become one of the primary tools for activists to mobilize protests and share information, Facebook does not want to be seen as picking sides for fear that some countries — like Syria, where it just gained a foothold — would impose restrictions on its use or more closely monitor users”.

How the internet gets inside us
Adam Gopnik takes an aerial – and faintly dry – view for the New Yorker of the books written recently about the internet’s likely effects on humanity: “A series of books explaining why books no longer matter is a paradox that Chesterton would have found implausible, yet there they are, and they come in the typical flavors: the eulogistic, the alarmed, the sober, and the gleeful”.

Resources: Wireless best practices
Aspiration Tech’s facilitation wiki offers superbly useful and practical guidelines for planning connectivity at events and conferences.

Audio: Crunching numbers for human rights
Listen to Patrick Ball, vice president of the Benetech Human Rights Data Analysis Group, deliver a lunchtime talk at OSF’s offices in New York, where he uses examples from Guatemala, El Salvador, Kosovo, Colombia, Timor-Leste, and Sierra Leone to highlight the common pitfalls faced by human rights practitioners as they interpret data gathered from the field.

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