News special: Hackers and internet freedom
Four stories from the world of hackers and internet freedom this week. The French investigative news platform OWNI.eu has published a detailed story about controversies in the hacker community arising from the decision of Maker Faire, a key annual hackerspace conference, to take sponsorship from the US military research agency DARPA. Meanwhile, TOR developer Jacob Applebaum has published a report on security vulnerabilities in the Ultrasurf censorship circumvention software produced by Ultrareach, a US-government backed company that was founded by Chinese dissidents, allegations to which the company has responded. Applebaum sits on the Advisory Board of a new company profiled by CNet this week, which offers privacy-friendly internet and mobile connectivity and was founded by a man who spent several years fighting a request from the FBI to disclose information about its customers. Finally, the New York Times profiled a young Lebanese man on a visit to New York to meet like-minded hackers to help him improve his encrypted chatroom software, Cryptocat.
Maker Faire controversy | Ultrasurf vulnerabilities report | Ultrareach response | Privacy friendly connectivity | Cryptocat
New research shows South African mobile prices among the highest in Africa
Research ICT Africa released a research report this week ranking countries in Africa according to the affordability of mobile telephones. Several news outlets picked up on the fact that South Africa’s regulatory regime has allowed it to slip to 30th place in the 46 countries studied. In a stirring op-ed reacting to the report, Steve Song condemns the South African government for its failures of vision and leadership in telecommunications policy.
News | Full Report | Op-ed
EU: Key legislator recommends rejection of ACTA
IPWatch.org reports that the rapporteur of the lead European Parliament committee on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), David Martin, has recommended that the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement be rejected, stating that “while the problems ACTA seeks to address are real, the unintended consequences [of the proposals] are too grave”.
US: Concerns mount over proposed cyber-security law
The Obama administration has expressed concern over the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), a proposed law currently being discussed by legislators in the US, stating “legislation that would sacrifice the privacy of our citizens in the name of security, will not meet our nation’s urgent needs”. Digital Journal has more details on the bill, including a long interview from Russia Today with the Campaign for Democracy and Technology’s Kendall Burman. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and others declared this week “Stop Cyber-Spying Week”, encouraging their supporters to contact elected representatives with their concerns about CISPA.
News | More details | Stop Cyber-Spying Week
The Economist: “When research is funded by the taxpayer or by charities, the results should be available to all without charge”
The Economist declares itself firmly in the open access camp in this week’s editorial arguing for public access to publicly-funded research.
The coming book wars
In this feature for the Atlantic, independent publisher Peter Osnos takes a snapshot of the various controversies surrounding digital books, including the recent United States Department of Justice anti-trust lawsuit against several major publishers and Apple.
Guardian series: The battle for the internet
All this week the UK Guardian has been publishing in-depth reports on internet issues, including articles on the militarisation of cyberspace, the intellectual property “wars” and the end of privacy. On Wednesday Tim Berners Lee, the godfather of the worldwide web, spoke to the newspaper about his concerns that online surveillance legislation being put forward by the UK government will undermine human rights.
Series | Berners Lee
Reflections on building a Chinese censorship program
Global Voices publishes an English translation of a pseudonymous posting by a Chinese computer programmer about his experiences developing a program for keyword filtering on mobile devices.
Debate: When it comes to politics, is the internet closing our minds?
TechPresident precis a debate hosted by Intelligence Squared in New York this week on whether today’s worldwide web can be blamed for the polarisation of American political debate. Eli Pariser of MoveOn.org, together with Siva Vaidhyanathan, spoke for the motion, with Evgeny Morozov and Slate.com’s Jacob Weisberg speaking against. You can watch the full debate online.
Precis | Full Debate