Too much information: week ending 10 June

UN rejects copyright enforcement approach in new report on free expression
The UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, has this week published a report warning governments they should refrain from restricting the flow of information on the internet, and not hold intermediaries such as internet service providers liable for content which travels across their wires. The report singled out measures designed to enforce copyright that would disconnect users from the internet, labelling them a violation of article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Report (via Article 19) | Analysis (via the Center for Democracy and Technology)

Egypt used Western tools to intercept Skype
Memos uncovered following raids of the Egyptian state security agency earlier this year show the agency was intercepting calls made using Skype before the fall of Hosni Mubarak. The wall Street Journal reports that Skype “is the communications tool of choice for dissidents around the world because its powerful encryption technology evades traditional wiretaps”, while going on to highlight “a cottage industry of US and other companies” designing tools to either block or eavesdrop on Skype conversations.

Kazakhstan: Google redirects users away from
Citing concerns over network efficiency, “but also about user privacy and free expression”, Google announced this week that it will redirect all users of its Kazakh search service to The news follows an order issued by the Ministry of Communications and Information in Kazakhstan that requires all .kz domain names to operate on servers located inside Kazakhstan.

Microsoft ready to cooperate with FSB over Skype?
Following its acquisition of the internet telephony company last month, conflicting reports have emerged this week over the extent to which Microsoft intends to cooperate with Russian state security and hand over details about the software’s functionality. This Bloomberg report repeats claims in the Russian business press that Microsoft may disclose Skype’s source code to the FSB, but has no plans to make Skype’s encryption codes available: “The FSB… won’t be able to listen to individual Skype calls with only the source codes, though the data may help it hack the service”.

Nigeria: internet and mobile shutdown during presidential inauguration
The Open Net Initiative reports that: “internet and mobile networks were inaccessible for 12 hours in Abuja during President Goodluck Jonathan’s inauguration on Sunday, May 29”.

YouTube introduces Creative Commons support
YouTube has begun offering its users the option to license their videos using a Creative Commons licence which allows third parties to remix and share their work. In conjunction with the new policy, YouTube has launched a Creative Commons video library containing 10,000 CC-licensed videos from organisations including C-SPAN and Al Jazeera, and a special CC-only search functionality.

A click away from the KGB: internet revolution in Belarus?
Belarus Digest publishes an up-to-date overview of online censorship and surveillance practice in Belarus which explains why, despite levels of internet penetration comparable to Egypt and Tunisia, Belarus is unlikely to experience its own internet revolution soon.

Digital mappers plot the future of “maptivism”
A helpful summary by Nancy Scola on the current and future use of mapping in activism with highlights from Russia, Japan, Haiti, and the Philippines.

When social networks become tools of oppression
In this column for Bloomberg, Jilian York highlights the dangers to cyber-activists in repressive regimes posed by using commercial social networking platforms, and identifies steps both companies and governments can take to mitigate against them.

Report: the case of the Syrian Electronic Army
This new report from the Open Net Initiative studies the rise of pro-government computer hackers the Syrian Electronic Army, who actively target political opposition and Western websites.

Book Review: Information in search of meaning
This multi-book review for the Australian takes in recent books by Evgeny Morozov, James Gleick, Timothy Wu and others to try and make sense of current thinking on the future of technology and society.

Evgeny Morozov guest edits the Browser
Evgeny picks his favourite technology-related articles of the week for The Browser, including insights into industrial espionage, a progress report from the Library of Congress on its project to archive the world’s tweets, and a provocative essay from Dissent magazine that argues the transparency agenda is being undermined by data fetishism.

Video: What the internet is hiding from you
The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal discusses how social media is distorting our consumption of news and culture with Eli Pariser, author of “The Filter Bubble”.

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