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 discusses European Blind Union attempt to draw attention to clauses in the current draft of the Treaty for the Visually Impaired that make it unworkable
You can keep up to date on the latest stories to catch the Information Program team’s attention on our Pinboard page.
European Blind Union petitions EU for workable copyright treaty
As final negotiations around the text of the hard-fought-for Treaty for the Visually Impaired (TVI) continue at the World Intellectual Property Organization, the European Blind Union has written an open letter to European Council and Commission heads to draw their attention to clauses in the current draft that could make the treaty—intended to provide accessible reading materials to the print-disabled—unworkable. Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) provide a detailed account of the current state of play with regard to the treaty text.
Letter | KEI
LeaseWeb releases transparency report
LeaseWeb, one of the world’s largest internet hosting and IT infrastructure companies, has released a transparency report detailing their interactions with law enforcement bodies, including requests for information about their customers, and content takedowns. The report was released after a request from Dutch digital rights group Bits of Freedom.
Report | Bits of Freedom analysis (Dutch)
Elsevier acquires Mendeley
Academic journal publisher Elsevier has acquired Mendeley, a specialist social network that lets academics connect with one another around the academic research papers they author and read. According to TechCrunch, Elsevier, a company which has developed a reputation among scholars for its opposition to open access publishing, paid between $69 million and $100 million for the site. Like any social network, Mendeley’s value is to a great extent contingent on its continued popularity with its estimated 2.3 million users, a fact which makes this report for paidContent about the negative reaction to the sale from some high profile users significant.
TechCrunch | paidContent
UK seeks opt-out of “right to be forgotten”
The Guardian report that the UK is seeking to opt out of new laws that would permit citizens to delete their personal details from online service providers. The so-called “right to be forgotten” forms part of Europe’s Data Protection regulations, which are currently being reframed. The same newspaper carries a special report on the right to be forgotten, including advice on “how to delete yourself from the internet.”
Opt–out | Special report
Privacy International seeks Research Officer
Privacy International is seeking to hire a Research Officer responsible for producing submissions and advocacy materials to help further their mission “to defend the right to privacy across the world, and to fight unlawful surveillance and other intrusions into private life by governments and corporations.” The deadline for applications is May 7.
India’s patently wise decision
Last week’s news that India’s Supreme Court has rejected a patent Novartis claimed on cancer drug Gleevac on the basis that it was too similar to an earlier drug is welcomed by Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, writing with Arjun Jayadev for Project Syndicate. As this New York Times editorial outlines, the decision has worldwide significance. Writing in IPWatch, Law Professor Frederick Abbott provides detailed analysis of the judgement. Open Society Foundations' Els Torreele and Roxana Bonnell chart the history of the decision and predict its impact in a post for the Open Society Foundations' blog. Anand Grover from the Lawyers Collective, who led the lawsuit, responds to the threat by Norvartis not to register any new drugs in India as a result of the court’s decision.
Stiglitz | New York Times | IPWatch | OSF blog | Grover
Russia’s war on internet freedom
In this piece for Foreign Policy, Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan chart Russia’s changing approach to internet censorship, framing its increased efforts to control content online as a reaction to the Arab Spring.
China’s internet: a giant cage
This special report for the Economist details how Chinese authorities have “achieved something few had thought possible: the construction of a distinct national internet.”
Our hidden wealth
In this extract from his book On Common Wealth, Jonathan Rowe eloquently explains why the commons needs protecting, and why it is worth fighting for.
What Google should do in Africa
Steve Song makes the case for Africa performing an act of technological leapfrogging similar to the continent’s fast-paced adoption of mobile telephony, but this time in TV.
Report: New technologies against petty corruption
This report produced by research outfit The Engine Room and supported by the International Anti-Corruption Conference provides useful guidance to anyone considering developing a data-based transparency project.
Video: Bruce Schneier and Jonathan Zittrain on IT, security and power
Media Berkman publishes video from a recent event hosted at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society where security expert Bruce Schneier and policy savant Jonathan Zittrain discuss ubiquitous surveillance, the rise of cyberwar and “how those in power are using information technology to increase their power, at the expense of users.” Ethan Zuckerman live-blogged the event.
Video | Zuckerman