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 is about the Indian government’s decision to block hundreds of websites for fear they are inciting racial hatred.
You can keep up to date on the latest stories to catch the Information Program team’s attention on our Pinboard page.
India: Hundreds of websites blocked for inciting hate and panic
The Washington Post reports that the Indian government blocked more than 250 websites accused of inciting racial hatred this week, amid fears of escalating violence between opposing ethnic and religious factions in the country. Authorities have also barred the sending of text messages to more than five people at once.
Pakistan: Government suspends mobile services in major cities on Eid
Global Voices reports that the government of Pakistan ordered mobile phone services in four major cities—Karachi, Lahore, Multan and Quetta—to be suspended last weekend during the festival of Eid-ul-Futr “to prevent terrorist attacks.”
US: Further developments in gene patent case
Intellectual Property Watch reports on a U.S. Court of Appeals decision to partially reverse elements of a ruling by a lower court against patentability of two human genes associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. The American Civil Liberties Union, who brought the original case, have called the decision a setback and “devastating... for a women’s health.” The case will now go to the U.S. Supreme Court. Knowledge Ecology International provide further analysis of the decision.
Report | Analysis
China: Microblogging services disrupted during Gu Kailai trial
The BBC reports that users of Sina Weibo, China’s popular microblogging platform, suffered a disrupted service during the trial of Gu Kailai, the wife of a former high profile member of the Chinese Communist party, accused, and later convicted, of the murder of a British businessman.
Spotlight: digital security
Two takes on personal and institutional digital security, one from Danny O’Brien of the Committee to Protect Journalists and the other from Benetech’s Patrick Ball, one of the creators of human rights database tool Martus. Each piece highlights the security complications that relying on third-party hosted services can bring about for individuals at risk.
O’Brien | Ball
“Keeping your site alive”: New guide to surviving DDoS attacks
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have released a new guide for journalists, bloggers and activists under threat from digital censorship in the form of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. The guide, which is accompanied by a video produced by the Tactical Technology Collective, concentrates on two strategies: backing up the content of your website and mirroring it across the web.
Safety on the line: Exposing the myth of mobile communication security
This new report from Freedom House examines the security of multiple mobile technologies, including operating systems, network security and application security. It focusses on 12 countries: Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Egypt, Iran, Libya, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
Does copyright matter?
Author Tim Parks imagines a world without copyright in this blog post for the New York Review of Books. “Copyright keeps the writer in the polis, and indeed it is remarkable how little creative writing today is truly revolutionary, in the sense of seeking a profoundly different model of a society. Perhaps this is a good thing. Perhaps it is limiting. Perhaps good things are inevitably limiting.”
Audio: Unlocking research
The Radio Berkman podcast interviews Peter Suber about his new book on Open Access publishing.
Video: Can democracy exist without trust?
Ivan Krastev’s talk at this year’s TED Global bemoans the erosion of people’s trust in the tools of democracy: “Democracy is the only game in town. The problem is [when] people start to believe that it is not a game worth playing.”