European Member States sign ACTA amid widespread protest
Wired.co.uk reports that representatives from the European Union and from twenty of its members states signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) this week, a controversial treaty that has the potential to mandate intellectual property enforcement measures that go beyond international norms. News that member states were about to sign led to protests across Europe online and off: street protests in Poland attracted thousands of participants, and the European Parliament’s website was taken down in a suspected DDoS attack. Campaigners against the treaty, including Panoptykon, La Quadrature du Net and the Open Rights Group, are advising EU citizens to contact their representatives in the European Parliament, who still have a chance to stop the treaty in a vote scheduled to take place later this year.
Wired | Polish protests | Panoptykon | La Quadrature du Net | Open Rights Group
“The internet spoke and, finally, Congress listened!”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) celebrates the halt to progress of SOPA and PIPA, two controversial proposed intellectual property enforcement laws with traits very similar to ACTA (see above), through the US legislative system. An internet blackout, led by Wikipedia last week, is thought to have directly influenced the decision of US legislators to rethink the two proposed laws.
Iran arrests wave of bloggers, writers and programmers
Deutsche Welle reports on a wave of arrests in Iran, thought to be timed ahead of Parliamentary elections to be held in early March.
Apple enters US textbook market
CNET TV reports on Apple’s announcement last week that it would be entering the US K-12 market for textbooks, offering them through the iPad, and releasing a free app – iBook Author – that allows anyone to create a textbook for the platform. Philipp Schmidt, co-founder of the Peer 2 Peer University, analyses the impact the endeavour will have on the Open Educational Resources movement.
News | Analysis
EU proposes revisions to Data Protection law
EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding announced proposed revisions to Europe’s Data Protection laws this week, including tough penalties for firms which break the law, a data breach notification requirement, and the right of citizens to demand that data held on them be deleted if there are no legitimate grounds to keep it (“the right to be forgotten”). The European consumer organisation BEUC welcomed the new proposals.
News | BEUC statement
US Supreme Court issues important privacy judgement
In a case originally brought to dispute the warrantless use of a GPS tracking device on the car of a man suspected by police of involvement in drug-dealing, justices at the US Supreme Court have issued an overlapping set of opinions which, the New York Times reports, indicate that they “are prepared to apply broad privacy principles to bring the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches into the digital age”. The case is of particular interest given the increasing use of sophisticated, privacy-invasive technologies by law enforcement.
ITU Member States urged to guarantee free flow of information
As a meeting of the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) begins this week in Geneva, Reporters Without Borders have issued a statement urging the ITU “to firmly condemn countries that do not respect the fundamental principles of the free flow of information”.
Google user data to be merged across all sites under contentious plan
The Guardian reports on an announcement this week by Google that it intends change its privacy policies to allow the company to merge data it collects about a user across several different services, creating a single profile that will be used to refine search results and target advertising: “Users will have no way to opt out of being tracked across the board.” The Atlantic carries a good article about what the changes will mean for Google’s users.
Guardian | Atlantic
DDoS attacks: protest? direct action? terrorism?
Gabriella Coleman kicks off an engaging debate on the Concurring Opinions blog that explores how to interpret and respond to politically-motivated DDoS attacks.
Should the World Bank be partnering with Google?
The New York Times publishes an editorial by the World Bank’s Caroline Anstey that argues that their recent partnership with Google – which gives World Bank partners free access to Google’s Map Maker platform – is a step towards plugging crucial information gaps about public infrastructure in the developing world. Ushahidi’s Patrick Meier is less optimistic about the partnership, fearing most of its benefits will accrue to Google.
Anstey | Meier
Book review: Standards
Evgeny Morozov precises Lawrence Busch’s new book “Standards: Recipes for Reality”, in which the author sees standards as “complex technical and moral devices that can be abused as easily as they can be put to noble causes”.
Video: Beth Kolko on Hackademia
In this video from the Berkman Luncheon series, Beth Kolko examines the conflict between expertise and innovation, and what it has to teach those in academia.