Too much information: links for week ending 11 May 2012

Brazil: Lawmakers approve forensic DNA database regulations
Genewatch UK and The Center for Technology and Society, at Rio de Janeiro’s Fundação Getulio Vargas have written to Brazil’s president asking him to reject a proposed law regulating the collection of forensic DNA, following its approval last week in Congress. They have expressed concerns that the regulations do not mandate the destruction of biological samples, or provide enough clarity about the timescale for retention of innocent people’s records.

US: FBI demand “wiretap-ready” websites
CNET reports on discussions between the FBI and various social network, VoIP and email providers about new proposals that would require them to build security backdoors into their products, in order to provide access to their users’ communications to FBI agents.

UK: Proposed libel reform makes Parliamentary timetable
A long-awaited proposed law to reform the UK’s draconian libel provisions has finally made it onto the Parliamentary timetable. Jonathan Heawood, Director of English PEN, who have led the campaign for reform, welcomed the news: “Over the past three years, the Libel Reform Campaign has shown how our unfair libel laws are causing legitimate books to be pulped and publishers to engage in unnecessary self-censorship”.

Avaaz President answers cyber attack doubters
Last week, online campaigns group Avaaz announced it had been the victim of intense cyber-attacks, and launched a fundraising campaign to beef up its security. The move was greeted with some scepticism by the security community, and requests for more information on the attacks. Ricken Patel, the president of Avaaz, has spoken to Teck Week Europe to answer some of the criticisms levelled at the campaign.

Online education developments roundup
The New York Times reports on two recent developments in online learning in the US. The first is a partnership – edX – between Harvard and MIT, and the second is a major cash investment in an online education startup called Coursera.
edX | Coursera

Spotlight: Facebook
Ahead of their stock market launch in a few weeks’ time, Facebook have released a video showcasing their company and outlining their future ambitions. In his essay “The economics of digital sharecropping”, Nicholas Carr outlines from where most of that value derives: us. And in a long feature for Politico, Michelle Quinn details the concerted political investments Facebook are making in Washington, to make sure privacy regulation doesn’t curb their ambitions for “frictionless sharing” of our personal data.
Video | Carr | Quinn

Everything you know about Anonymous is wrong
In this feature for Al Jazeera, Gabriella Coleman addresses recent essays on Anonymous by Yochai Benkler and Evgeny Morozov (both featured in previous digests) and argues that both the utopian and the dismissive view of the online rabble-rousing group are misguided.
Coleman | Benkler | Morozov

“Why the open data movement is a joke” – follow up
Tom Slee’s blog post criticising the open data movement (featured in the digest last week) drew a lot of attention. This new, more considered, follow-up post, has attracted engagement from top names in the movement, including John Wonderlich of the Sunlight Foundation, and Tim O’Reilly.

Is Stanford too close to Silicon Valley?
This long feature in the New Yorker examines how Stanford University “has established itself as the intellectual nexus of the information economy”, and scrutinises the ethics and consequences of its close ties to Silicon Valley.

Paper: Political Activism 2.0
This paper by Mohammed El-Nawawy and Sahar Khamis compares the role of social media in the 2011 Egyptian revolution and the “Green movement” uprising following the elections in Iran in 2009.

Audio: The digital human
The BBC has begun airing a new series investigating the social effects of digital technology. The latest episode – Control – explores the psychological effects of maintaining separate online and offline lives.

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