Links for week ending 1 April 2011

Uzbekistan tightens control over mobile internet
The Uzbek Agency for Communications and Information has demanded that mobile operators notify them of mass distributions of SMS messages containing “suspicious content”, telling operators they would also have to switch off access to the internet at the behest of the Uzbek authorities. reports: “until now, internet users surfing the Web through their mobile phone browsers have been able to access otherwise blocked sites unimpeded”.

Iranian hackers obtain fraudulent HTTPS certificates
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) reports on a hacking incident at one of the web’s 650 Certificate Authority organisations, Comodo. The work of Certificate Authorities underpins secure (HTTPS) web-browsing, and the EFF have been at the centre of research and awareness-raising about current flaws in the system: “the incident got close to — but was not quite — an internet-wide security meltdown”. Strong circumstantial evidence locates the perpetrators of the attack in Iran.

Chinese government crackdown on dissent growing
The New York Times reports that the recent sentencing of democracy activist Liu Xianbin to ten years in prison, based largely on articles he had written advocating for human rights and democracy, is part of a growing crackdown. “In recent weeks nearly two dozen writers, lawyers and civil society advocates have been detained on criminal charges and 11 more people have vanished into police custody.”

Sudan to unleash “cyber jihadists”
Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party has warned anti-government campaigners that attempts at organising protests online will be crushed by the government’s own “cyber-battalion”. However, according to this BBC report, “despite the NCP’s threat, there is little evidence regarding the size or nature of the cyber battalion”.

US develops “panic button” for democracy activists
This New York Times report details some of the projects being targeted by the US State Department’s $50m “Internet Freedom” fund, including a mobile phone application that will wipe its own address book and emit emergency alerts to other activists if confiscated by police.

More Google Books analysis
The Director of Harvard University Library Robert Darnton analyses the recent Google Books decision and sets out his case for a Digital Public Library of America, while the Chronicle of Higher Education interviews Pamela Samuelson, the law professor whose amicus brief proved highly influential in the recent case.
Darnton | Samuelson

Report: Use of Western technologies by Middle East censors
Building on their work documenting internet filtering across the globe, the Open Net Initiative analyse the use of tools manufactured in the West to censor social and political content in at least nine Middle Eastern and North African states.

Interview: Elizabeth Eagen
Information Program Officer Elizabeth Eagen outlines the strategy behind the Human Rights and Information Initiative, a joint initiative with the Human Rights and Governance Grants Program that focuses on equipping human rights practitioners with documentary and advocacy tools and skills fit for the digital world, in this interview with David Sasaki.

Book Review: The Information, by James Gleick
Cory Doctorow’s exuberant review of James Gleick’s masterly “biography” of information theory, The Information: “Gleick takes us through Wikipedia and the meaning of information, the debates about it, the helplessness of information overload, the collisions in namespaces – even through his beloved chaos math – until he has spun out his skeins so that they wrap around the world and the universe”.

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