Last weekend, at a signing ceremony in Japan, Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore and the United States all signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), a bilateral treaty with provisions for copyright and patent enforcement which have the potential to go beyond norms established by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). James Love of Knowledge Ecology International argues the case for why the US signing may be subject to challenge based on its inconsistencies with US law, while Michael Geist outlines the legal changes that must take place in Canada before the treaty can be ratified. The EU, which was also party to negotiations, is yet to receive authority from the European Parliament to sign the treaty, report Out-Law.com. La Quadrature du Net are among the European civil society voices urging the European Parliament to withhold its consent.
Report | Love | Geist | Out-Law.com | La Quadrature
Italian Wikipedians shut down Wikipedia in protest at draft censorship law
The Italian Wikipedian community replaced the entire Italian Wikipedia with a message to Wikipedia users about a draft Italian “Wiretapping Bill” which they threatens the existence of Wikipedia because it would require websites “to publish, within 48 hours of the request and without any comment, a correction of any content that the applicant deems detrimental to his/her image”. The Wiretapping Bill has the full support of Silvio Berlusconi, and is in danger of passing through the legislative process without scrutiny. The Wikimedia Foundation has issued a statement saying it “stands with our volunteers in Italy”.
Italian Wikipedians’ statement | Wikimedia Foundation’s statement
Tunisia secretly tested censorship software for Western companies
Arab Bloggers reports: “The new chairman and CEO of the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI), Moez Chakchouk, told participants at the Arab Bloggers Meeting today that western companies offered significant discounts on use of censorship software to the Tunisian government in exchange for testing and bug-tracking. He said confidentiality contracts preclude him from naming the companies, but said the Internet Agency has extracted itself from these partnerships and thus can no longer afford to censor, even if they wished to.”
Iran blocks TOR, TOR unblocks itself later that day
The TOR project carries a short report detailing Iran’s successful attempt to block its citizens from accessing TOR, and TOR’s subsequent workaround which allowed it to resume its service in Iran the same day. TOR (which stands for “The Onion Router”) is a system which allows online anonymity.
EU restricts export of surveillance technology
The European Parliament has revised EU rules on the export of surveillance technologies to make companies wishing to export such technologies seek permission from the authorities first. IT News reports “the new rules limit the risk of sensitive technologies being exported to certain foreign regimes such as China, Russia, India and Turkey, as well as those subject to arms embargoes”.
Anonymous attacks official Syrian websites
Global Voices reports on coordinated attacks by Anonymous against the official websites of every major city in Syria, whose homepages have been replaced with an interactive map of the country, showing the names, ages and date of deaths of victims of the Syrian regime since the protests started in March.
Access Info Europe launches AsktheEU.org
Access Info Europe have launched a new web portal that radically simplifies the process of requesting information from the EU. Built on the Alaveteli software that underpins mySociety’s successful WhatDoTheyKnow.com platform for Freedom of Information requests in the UK, AsktheEU.org sends an email to the relevant EU body, making responses it receives public and allowing users to rate the responses for quality and comprehensiveness.
The Geopolitics of the Open Government Partnership
This short piece by David Eaves frames the recently announced Open Government Partnership, an international effort to make governments more transparent led by the US and Brazil, as “the first overt, ideological salvo in the what I believe will be the geopolitical axis of Open versus Closed”.
US: “Phone and web clampdowns in crises are intolerable”
In this opinion piece for Bloomberg, Susan Crawford urges the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to recognise the decision by the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit System (BART) to shut down mobile phone services during a protest in August as a violation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which prohibits discontinuing or impairing service without due process.
Special Issue: Global human rights challenges of forensic DNA
The new issue of GeneWatch magazine produced by the Council for Responsible Genetics, focuses on the increasing risks posed by the proliferation of forensic DNA collection around the world, with articles from experts and activists from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, China, Germany, India, Pakistan and Portugal.
Report: Truth, lies and the internet
This new, UK-focused report from DEMOS about young people’s ability to critically evaluate information they access online includes a comprehensive literature review as well as a survey of over 500 teachers. It concludes that young people are “vulnerable to the pitfalls of ignorance, falsehoods, cons and scams”.
“Recognition of internet freedom as a trade issue growing”
The Huffington Post carries an op-ed by Edward J. Black, President of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, detailing how “the internet’s evolution as a platform to enable commerce has also put the issue of internet restrictions on the radar of the international trade system”.
Book review: “Surveillance or Security?: The risks posed by new wiretapping technologies”, by Susan Landau
In this piece for the Boston Review, Evgeny Morozov provides a summary of Susan Landau’s detailed new book on surveillance, which argues that FBI-mandated surveillance “back doors” may not be the most realistic or effective response to the proliferation of secure communications products ushered in by the digital age.
Book reviews: “Dark Market – Cybertheives, cybercops and you”, by Misha Glenny
Evgeny Morozov reviews Misha Glenny’s new book on cybercrime for the Wall Street Journal, calling it “a bold attempt to write a biography of a single obscure website that, between 2005 and 2008, served as the premier destination for criminals engaged in online fraud”. For the UK’s Independent, computer security expert Ross Anderson also highlights the book as an important work which has much to teach experts about the human element of computer crime, but regrets the work’s technical inaccuracies.
Morozov | Anderson