Too much information: links for week ending 4 May

Austria: Thousands stand up against data retention
European Digital Rights (EDRI) reports on a complaint against Austria’s implementation of Europe’s Data Retention Directive that has been filed with the Austrian Constitutional Court and joined by 7,000 Austrian citizens. The Austrian government had resisted implementing the directive until a European Commission infringement procedure was brought against them. The constitutional complaint looks set to be the biggest complaint in Austria’s history.

US: Controversial “cybersecurity” law approved by legislators
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) reports on the decision of US legislators to approve the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), “a bill that would allow companies to bypass all existing privacy law to spy on communications and pass sensitive user data to the government”. Their campaign to stop the damaging legislation will now move on to the next stage of the legislative process. President Obama has already indicated that he disapproves of the proposed law.

UK: British ISPs ordered to block the Pirate Bay
Wired Threat Level reports that the UK High Court has ruled that five UK internet service providers (ISPs) must block their users from accessing the Pirate Bay, a popular torrenting site, on the basis that the website assists copyright infringement.

US releases Special 301 report
The office of the United States Trade Representative has released its annual report (known as the “Special 301 report”) naming countries it claims do not meet adequate standards to safeguard intellectual property. As Knowledge Ecology International observes, the choices of countries named “are largely driven by lobbying efforts of right holders, and often bear no real relationship of more objective standards regarding intellectual property policies”. Michael Geist analyses the report, concluding that it does not stand up to even passing scrutiny, and observing “perhaps the most shameful inclusion in this year’s report are a series of countries whose primarily fault is being poor”.
KEI | Geist

Google Wifi data harvesting “was not a rogue act”
The New York Times reports that, according to new details from the full text of a regulatory report, “Google’s harvesting of e-mails, passwords and other sensitive personal information from unsuspecting households… was neither a mistake nor the work of a rogue engineer, as the company long maintained, but a program that supervisors knew about”.

Spotlight: Digital rights in India
The Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) uses a recent visit from Privacy International to reflect on growing concerns around online privacy in India. Meanwhile, a report in India’s details the various laws that mean “there are more ways to ban content online than there are to ban physical books and other forms of media” in the country. Global Voices details grassroots and civil society responses to India’s encroaching online censorship: “Indian Netizens are not sitting idle”.
CIS | FirstPost | Global Voices

“Why the open data movement is a joke”
Tom Slee attacks the Open Data movement for its corporate sensibilities and ability to provide cover for governments that are anything but transparent. Meanwhile, the FierceGovernmentIT blog reports on a recent research paper detailing the usability failings of several government open data portals.
Slee | Research

“Why Hillary Clinton should join Anonymous”
Evgeny Morozov’s thought-provoking column for Slate shows how both the US State Department’s Internet Freedom agenda and the activities of Anonymous may end up significantly reducing our online rights.

The rise of electronic monitoring in criminal justice
This short piece for Counterpunch details how “prison overcrowding and state budget crises have made electronic monitoring an alternative of choice”, observing the complex issues that arise from the fact that “electronic monitoring is not only a policy device, but an industry”.

“I spy, with my big eye”
The Economist detail developments in facial recognition technology, and their application in mass surveillance projects around the world.

The Data Journalism Handbook
Last weekend saw the launch of the Data Journalism Handbook, a joint initiative of the European Journalism Centre and the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF). The handbook includes contributions from dozens of data journalism’s leading advocates and best practitioners, and is available for free download.

The Land Matrix
The Land Matrix is a public database of large-scale land deals worldwide. A joint project of Tactical Tech and the Land Coalition Partnership, it documents over 2,300 large-scale land acquisitions over the past 15 years. There are three different ways to view the information: big picture summaries that give insights in to the content of the database, more in-depth views that pick out major trends, and direct access to the data in map and table format for more in-depth exploration and analysis”.

Data visualisation: Three years of Kickstarter projects
The New York Times charts the history of the Kickstarter crowd-sourced funding platform in numbers.

Audio: The Library of the Future
Matthew Battles and David Weinberger talk about approaches to information management in the 21st century, in this recorded conversation for Radio Berkman.

When Funny Goes Viral
This weekend sees the third instalment of ROFLCon, a conference exploring net culture hosted in Boston, US. This memorable essay from the New York Times about a previous ROFLCon makes the case that some of the weird and offensive aspects of internet culture such as trolling, micro-celebrity and satirical internet memes need to be taken seriously as part of public discourse.

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