News Digest: Twitter Blocks Access to Neo–Nazi Group in Germany

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 Twitter’s first deployment of its country–level filtering policy, to block the account of Neo Nazi group to users in Germany.

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

Germany: Twitter blocks access to neo–Nazi group
The New York Times reports that Twitter have blocked access for their German users to the account of a neo–Nazi group banned by Germany’s government: “The move was the first time that Twitter acted on a policy known as ‘country–withheld content,’ announced in January.”

India: Draft law to establish DNA database
The Hindu reports on India’s Human DNA Profiling Bill, a proposed law to store the DNA profiles of people accused of serious crimes, and the civil liberties concerns it is arousing.

Petition calls for Pan–African Intellectual Property Organization rethink
A petition to be delivered at the 5th African Union Ministerial Conference on Science & Technology next month is seeking to delay the formation of a new Pan–African Intellectual Property Organization (PAIPO) in order to rethink the body’s founding principles. Signatories to the petition argue that PAIPO’s draft statute, due to be adopted at the conference, “reflects a narrow vision of intellectual property that runs contrary to the aspirations of Africans to devise more balanced intellectual property regimes that effectively promote innovation while also being supportive of public policy objectives in areas such as public health and access to knowledge.” The petition is open to new signatories until November 10.

Netherlands: Government proposes new powers to break into foreign computers
Bits of Freedom highlight draft proposals from the Dutch Ministry of Justice to allow police to seek court orders to remotely search for and destroy data and install spyware on computers, even if the computers are located outside the Netherlands. The group are calling for international opposition to the proposals.

Canada: Provincial government supports open educational resources
Creative Commons reports that “the government of British Columbia, Canada’s westernmost province, has announced its support for the creation of open textbooks for the 40 most popular first– and second–year courses in the province’s public post–secondary system.”

Philippines: Legislative crowdsourcing law proposed
TechPresident reports that Filipino Senator Teofisto D. Guingona III, a vocal critic of the country’s recently suspended Cybercrime Law, has put forward a new law, the “Crowdsourcing Act of 2012”, that calls for several measures to enable participative law–making, including allowing the public to comment online on the text of proposed laws: “When people are allowed to participate, we have better laws.”

Megaupload reveal details of new cloud storage service
The Wired Threat Level blog reports details of a new service to be offered by two of the founders of Megaupload, Kim Dotcom and Mathias Ortmann, which they describe as “a unique tool that will solve the liability problems faced by cloud storage services.” Dotcom and Ortmann, along with two other Megaupload executives, are facing extradition to the U.S. on criminal copyright infringement charges.

International Open Access Week: Setting the default to open
This year’s International Open Access (OA) Week is themed “Setting the Default to Open” and began with an event and webcast hosted by SPARC and the World Bank. Meanwhile, OA journal BioMed Central (BMC), an OA Week sponsor, published research that attempts to quantify the rapid rise of OA approaches to scholarly publishing from 2000–2011. The report, according to the Guardian, shows that “academic publishing is changing faster than anyone has realized.” The Irish government chose this week to launch a national policy on Open Access, agreed by all Irish research funding councils and research institutes.
SPARC/World Bank webcast | BMC Research | Guardian Report | Irish mandate | Open Access Week

Report: Privacy in the developing world
Privacy International have launched a series of reports on the state of privacy protections across countries in the developing world. Their series of country reports includes Thailand, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Communities at risk of losing their land speak
ActionAid blog their recent online action to give those dispossessed of land in Africa a voice on World Food Day. The project used Frontline SMS to connect farmers from five countries to the Twittersphere, kickstarting a global conversation they intend to use to “lobby governments to improve, reform and implement better land laws.”

Getting it right: Gov.uk
Writing for TechPresident’s WeGov blog, David Eaves celebrates the design, technology and data decisions that have made the UK’s new e–government portal, Gov.uk, comparable to Facebook and Google in its simplicity and ease of use.

Fablabs and the US military
A short report in the New Scientist on the use by the US military of mobile hackerspace–like labs equipped with 3D printers, plasma cutters and jigsaws. The labs allow US military units deployed in remote regions to meet their own equipment needs better than centralized equipment distribution, and have even led to innovations made by individual units being shared back up the chain.

Interview: Justin Isaf on communities at scale
The Poynter Institute blog interviews Huffington Post Community Director Justin Isaf about the manpower and technology behind keeping meaningful conversation going on a website that has attracted more than 70 million comments this year alone.

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