Too much information: Links for week ending 23 March

US: Senator says ACTA requires Congressional support
Wired reports that US Senator Ron Wyden has called into question President Obama’s decision to sign the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) by executive order, rather than seek Congress’s approval of the treaty. The call comes as the treaty continues to draw concerns from citizens and legislators in Europe.

ICANN should tighten conflict of interest rules, says departing head
The CEO of the organisation that manages the internet’s domain name system, the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), told a meeting of the group last week that it needs to strengthen its conflict of interest rules. Rod Beckstrom, who will leave his post later this year, made his comments in the context of a recent and contested ICANN decision to allow the creation of new “generic” top level domains (such as .apple, .nyc), Businessweek reports. Crooked Timber provides some much-needed context to the news, and observes: “Remarks such as Beckstrom’s play right into the hands of governments that have no interest in allowing anyone else into the room when they decide on how to run the Internet”. In related news, Techdirt point to a white paper recently issued by ICANN, hinting that the organisation intends to “work more closely with governments around the world to help them seize and censor domains”.
Businessweek | Crooked Timber | Techdirt

Brazil: Blogger chased for royalty payments for embedding Youtube videos
The IP Tango blog tells the story of a Brazilian blogger who took his site offline after receiving a letter from Brazilian collecting society ECAD claiming he needed to pay royalties for videos he was embedding from YouTube and Vimeo. Following pressure from the media and Google, ECAD eventually revised their position, calling the letter an “operational misunderstanding”.

South Africa: Free textbook project reaches millions
The Times in South Africa reports that “an innovative education project has enabled the government to print more than 2.4 million free maths and science textbooks for a nominal cost”. The initiative – Siyavula – is driven by the work of the Shuttleworth Foundation’s Open and Collaborative Resources Fellow, Mark Horner.

Sweden: Pirate Bay plans sky-high flying proxy servers
The Register reports on plans announced by BitTorrent site the Pirate Bay to investigate hosting their website on servers mounted onto aerial drones, in what would be a bizarre new twist in their efforts to avoid copyright enforcement authorities.

My smartphone, the spy
This long feature for Ars Technica details the many privacy concerns that accompany the rise in popularity of smartphones.

The Open Data Handbook
The Open Knowledge Foundation have launched an “Open Data Handbook”, a definitive guide to the legal, social and technical aspects of open data, designed for anyone seeking to take advantage of networked digital technologies to open up their data to the world.

Book Review: “The Idea Factory”
Michiko Kakutani reviews Jon Gertner’s new history of Bell Labs, the research and development wing of AT&T that “was behind many of the innovations that have come to define modern life”.

Book Excerpts: “Imagine: How Creativity Works”
The New Yorker and the Wall Street Journal have each published different essays by Jonah Lehrer adapted from or inspired by his new book “Imagine: How Creativity Works”. The book argues that creativity, far from being something bestowed on just a few of us, is instead a natural human potential. The Economist reviews the book.
WSJ essay | New Yorker essay | Economist review

Video: The $8 billion iPod
In this six-minute TED talk, comic author Rob Reid satirises the alarmist economic statistics put forward by the US rightsholder lobby to justify the need for ever more powerful copyright enforcement legislation.

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