EU and U.S. Stalling on Right to Read for Visually Impaired

The Information Program works to increase access to knowledge and protect civil liberties in the digital environment. The following is a roundup of news and analysis that the program team has been watching in the past week. This week’s top story comes from the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organization where proposals to help enable much greater access to reading materials for the visually impaired were discussed.

Advocates call out EU/U.S. stalling on right to read for visually impaired
IP Watch and the Hindu report on the outcome of the 24th meeting of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), where proposals to standardize exceptions to copyright law in order to enable much greater access to reading materials for the visually impaired were discussed. Although progress towards an international treaty establishing the policy remain “on course,” access to knowledge advocates including Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) and Trans-Atlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) expressed disappointment at what they saw as stalling tactics from the EU and U.S. delegations.
IP Watch report | The Hindu | KEI | TACD

Israel: High Court judges express concerns over “harmful” biometric database
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) reports on a heated debate taking place in Israel over whether the government should move forward with its creation of a biometric database containing digital fingerprints and facial photographs of Israeli citizens.

UK: Twitter “caught out” in journalist ban
The Independent reports on a story involving one of their own journalists, Guy Adams, whose Twitter account was suspended after he tweeted the publicly-available email address of an NBC television executive, encouraging his followers to complain to the executive about NBC’s coverage of the Olympics opening ceremony. Twitter have since reinstated the account, but not before the story caused outrage among Twitter users, and suspicion that Twitter’s actions may have been motivated by its commercial relationship with NBC.
Report | Op-ed

Peru: Online crime bill harms privacy and free expression
TheEFF reports on a proposed law in Peru that it says would criminalize legitimate security research, as well as compromise citizens’ privacy: “the Peruvian Congress should postpone voting on the bill, and hold an open and democratic debate.”

Spain: security researchers reveal iris scanners can be tricked
The BBC reports on news that researchers in Spain have successfully recreated the image of an iris from information about real irises stored in security databases: “While researchers have been able to create realistic iris images for some time, it is thought that this is the first instance where the fake image can be generated from the iris code of a real person—a method which could be used to steal someone’s identity.”

Mobile participatory budgeting helps raise tax revenues in Congo
This long report for O’Reilly Tech Radar analyses the positive outcomes from a technology-mediated participatory governance project convened by the World Bank in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Social Impact Games: Do They Work?
The Knight Foundation publishes evaluation reports of two projects it funded—Macon Money and Battlestorm—that used gameplay to achieve a social impact.

Digital Freedom of Expression in Uzbekistan
This paper, produced by the New America Foundation, makes policy recommendations aimed at strengthening freedom of expression in Uzbekistan, including “encouraging circumvention efforts, developing safe spaces for online discourse and translating, copying and preserving Uzbek online media.”

Surveillance briefing: Bahrain
This briefing, produced by Privacy International, “provides an overview of privacy and surveillance laws, policies and practices in Bahrain.”

Infographic: Timelines of technology adoption
The Atlantic’s Alex Madrigal analyses two graphs showing how quickly technologies from radio to mobile phones have been adopted in the United States.

Video: Privacy tricks for activist web developers
EFF web developer Micah Lee’s presentation from the Hackers on Planet Earth 9 conference held in New York City earlier this month. Highly technical, it includes expert advice on how to avoid the tricks major platforms like Google, Facebook and Twitter employ to harvest data from users of your website by employing some tricks of your own, and should be required viewing for web developers working on activist websites.

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