News Digest: The “Trojan Horse” of American Information and Communications Technology in Russia

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 a report on internet sovereignty making headlines in Russia.

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

Russia: The Kostin Report and the Trojan Horse of American ICT
Global Voices gathers reactions from around the Russian blogosphere to a draft report produced by an organization with ties to the Medvedev government on “foreign penetration of the Russian internet and the potential manipulation of the country’s future elections."

Macedonia: New law on insult and defamation risks danger of censorship
The Metamorphosis Foundation for Internet and Society reports on a draft law currently being considered by the Macedonian Parliament which contains insult and defamation provisions they say could encourage third party service providers to censor online content overzealously.

Japan: Penalties for illegal downloads introduced
The BBC reports that Japan has introduced criminal sanctions, including 2–year prison sentences or fines of up to 2 million yen ($25,700), for internet users who download copyright–infringing files: “In theory the new download punishments can be enforced if a user is found to have copied a single pirated file."

US: Schools should move from print to digital content by 2017, says report
US education technology group the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) has issued a report arguing that schools should switch to digital educational materials by 2017. The report includes “a blueprint for states and districts looking to switch over to digital content”.

Global Integrity launch Innovation Fund “Testing 123”
Global Integrity are calling for “brand–new, half–crazy, never tried before ways of addressing the challenges of transparency and accountability” to be submitted by November 16, 2012 for a chance to win $10,000 to develop and test the ideas. Up to fifteen prizes are up for grabs.

EIFL announces winners of public library innovation award
Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL) have announced two winners of their second Public Library Innovation Program award which recognizes “innovative services that use ICT to improve lives and livelihoods”. The winners—public libraries from Uganda and Romania who will each receive $1,500—offered services that improved community health. The deadline to apply for the next round of EIFL Public Library Innovation Program awards—for libraries that improve social inclusion in the community—is November 30. The awards are funded by the Gates Foundation.
Community Health award winners | Social Inclusion award

Smartphone malware in the lab and in the wild
Two reports from Fast Company magazine on vulnerabilities in smartphone—and particularly Android—software. The first details an experimental smartphone Trojan called PlaceRaider, developed by security researchers to demonstrate how an Android phone’s camera, accelerometer, and gyroscope functionalities could be hijacked to remotely construct “3–D models of users’ apartments for burglars and assassins”. The second details a new report from McAfee that found nearly 4,500 pieces of mobile malware in the second quarter of 2012: “The vast majority of the new malware discoveries were for Android phones... Barely any iPhone or iPad malware was discovered."
In the lab | In the wild

New Surveillance Frontier: Your license plates
This Wall Street Journal feature reports on an upsurge in routine, automated tracking of vehicle license plates, creating huge datasets on the physical movements of entire populations. “The rise of license–plate tracking is a case study in how storing and studying people’s everyday activities, even the seemingly mundane, has become the default rather than the exception. Cellphone–location data, online searches, credit–card purchases, social–network comments and more are gathered, mixed–and–matched, and stored in vast databases.”

Open Aid Data: 106,780 German development aid projects at a glance
Open Knowledge Foundation Germany (OKF–DE) have launched a new open data portal providing graphic representation and in depth analysis of the activities of the German state development cooperation over the last ten years.

History, as recorded on Twitter, is vanishing from the web
Technology Review reports on research highlighting how the loss of Tweets posted during key historical events such as the Egyptian uprising might affect our understanding of those events in the future.

Ireland: Closing the door to Open Government?
The Open Government Partnership blog accuses Ireland of closing the door on open government initiatives after it withdrew its support for open standards in the way it publishes the Irish National Parliament records: “when presented with the Open Government Partnership argument, [the] response was to challenge the cost of OGP rather than seek out the most beneficial advantage."

Audio: Robotics
Podcast from the BBC’s Outrider’s series that examines issues in robotics including funding, ethics, language and humanity.
 

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