News Digest: Hidden Threats To Free Expression In New Online “Bill Of Rights” In Brazil

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 threats to free expression hidden in Brazil’s new internet “bill of rights.”

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

Brazil: “Internet Bill of Rights” now threatens free expression due to last–minute amendment
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) report on a last–minute amendment to Brazil’s proposed “Internet Bill of Rights,” the Marco Civil, which could remove the need for a judicial order before internet service providers are forced to take responsibility for copyright–infringing content posted by their users. The amendment, which has been described as “clumsy” by consumer groups, comes following pressure from Brazil’s Culture Minister: “This is an unacceptable and careless move by the Brazilian government that does not take into consideration the significant chilling effects this would have on Brazilians’ free expression, due process rights, and right to innovate freely.”

Australia: Controversial net filtering plans abandoned
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Australian government has abandoned legislation that would have introduced a mandatory internet filter to block access to content deemed unacceptable by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. The legislation—the subject of controversy in the country for five years—has been rejected in favor of using existing powers to compel Australian Internet Service Providers to block access to a more limited list of child sex abuse imagery maintained by Interpol.

US: Pivotal DNA privacy case gets Supreme Court hearing
Wired reports on the news that the Supreme Court will hear a case with wide-ranging implications for whether authorities in the US can lawfully take genetic samples from people arrested in serious crimes: “Without comment, the justices opted to take on an April decision from Maryland’s top court, which said it was a breach of the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure to take, without warrants, DNA samples from suspects who have not been convicted.”

Egypt prosecutor orders internet porn ban
AFP reports that “Egypt’s state prosecutor on Wednesday ordered a ban on internet pornography, after a previous court order to do so was not implemented.”

How “Open” are MOOCs?
Inside Higher Ed publish a report on the terms and conditions associated with so-called Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) such as Coursera and Harvard and MIT’s edX, which, despite their aspirations toward openness, often fall short of being truly Open Educational Resources (OERs).

The rise and fall of social media in American politics
TechPresident present their analysis of the total irrelevance of social media to the 2012 U.S. Republican and Democrat Presidential campaigns: “In truth, the most interesting uses of social media in this election cycle were not directly focused on the presidential campaigns, but outside them.”

Facebook’s false faces
This piece for the New York Times examines the phenomenon of false identity on Facebook and details the steps the company takes to combat the problem.

Report: Digital freedom of expression in Uzbekistan
This New America Foundation paper examines the relationship between political activism and internet freedom in Uzbekistan, and the increasing repression of online speech. The paper recommends supporting interventions that encourage censorship circumvention efforts, develop safe spaces for online discourse, and translate, copy and preserve Uzbek media.

Design Principles for Government Digital Service
The UK Government Digital Services team have released a set of ten simple design principles, together with examples of how they’ve been putting these principles into practice. The team are behind the much-praised new e-government portal.

Audio: Political organizing on the net
This Radio Berkman podcast features David Karpf in conversation with David Weinberger, exploring different approaches to online organizing by politically engaged groups on the left and right in U.S. politics.

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