News Digest: Plans for Large–Scale Communications Surveillance in Europe Leaked

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 concerns leaked plans for large–scale communications surveillance in Europe.

You can keep up to date on the latest stories to catch the Information Program team’s attention on our Pinboard page.

EU: Leak reveals plans for large–scale communications surveillance
European Digital rights have published a document containing a worrying set of draft recommendations emerging from the European Commission’s CleanIT project discussions, originally established “to fight terrorism through voluntary self–regulatory measures that defend the rule of law.” The document details proposals that, far from defending the rule of law, include mass internet filtering and surveillance regimes, as well as dramatic, detrimental changes to legislation around liability and privacy.

Argentina: Two proposed laws spell good news for access to knowledge
Intellectual Property Watch reports on two laws being proposed in Argentina—one to extend exceptions and limitations to copyright law for the benefit of libraries, archives and museums, and one to mandate public access to publicly–funded scientific research.

UK: Public prosecutor to issue guidance following Twitter cases
Following several high–profile cases of criminal charges being brought against users of Twitter in the UK, the country’s Director of Public Prosecutions has issued a statement outlining his intentions to publish guidelines for such cases in the future, inviting contributions to the guidelines from stakeholders including civil society groups.

New research uncovers dramatic disclosures smartphones make about their users
The Register reports on new security research showing how easy it is to obtain a smartphone users’ home address simply by “passively listening” to the device’s attempts to join a wireless network: “Smartphones tend to keep a record of Wi–Fi base stations their users have previously connected to [which] makes it too easy for the researchers to link home addresses and other information to individually identifiable devices”.

Knight News Data Challenge winners announced
The Knight Foundation has announced the winners of its “Knight News Challenge: Data” competition. The six winners, who will share a funding pot of $2.22m consist of “ventures that make it easier to access and use information on local communities, air quality, elections, demographics and more”.

Traditional scholarly publishing: How do you recognize a catastrophe?
Kevin Smith, Scholarly Communications Officer at Duke University, has published an investor report produced by Bernstein Research analyzing “catastrophic” threats to Reed Elsevier from the rise of Open Access publishing. Smith argues that the key to survival for traditional publishers will be in reducing their costs.

Journalistic deficit disorder
Mainstream media often report dramatic scientific findings based on a single study, but systematically fail to note later studies which contradict or complicate the initial finding.  This piece in the Economist argues that popular reporting on science suffers from a widespread failure to appreciate a core value of scientific culture, namely that “the refutation of plausible hypotheses is the way that science progresses."

The Open Government Partnership’s make or break year
This post on the Global Integrity blog details the challenges facing the Open Government Partnership in the next year, including its ability to fill a gap in its leadership, and to live up to its good governance ambitions.

Ushahidi in (sobering) numbers
The Democracy Spot blog summarizes an external evaluation of the crowd–sourced mapping platform Ushahidi conducted by Internews.

Infographic: Open Educational Resources
Created by the 20 Million Minds Foundation, this infographic provides details on and explanations for recent legislative developments in California that have paved the way for mass adoption of Open Educational Resources in colleges across the state.

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