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, compiled by Wendy M. Grossman, a freelance writer specializing in science and technology. This week’s top story announces the launch of an EU campaign around the Brussels Privacy Declaration, which calls for enhancement and enforcement of privacy rights in the EU.
You can keep up to date on the latest stories to catch the Information Program team’s attention on our Pinboard page.
EU: Launch of European privacy campaign
Timed to coincide with EU discussions and votes on the data protection reform package, 36 civil rights and data protection organizations including EDRI, Privacy International, La Quadrature du Net, Bits of Freedom, EPIC, ORG, Panoptykon, and the Chaos Computer Club have signed the Brussels Privacy Declaration calling on MEPs and all EU governments to enhance and enforce privacy rights and launched an EU–wide campaign.
Russia: Internet censorship “experiment”
Global Voices reports that a Russian federal region, Kostroma, is about to initiate an “experimental” project, the League of Safe Internet, aimed at censoring the internet. The governor of Kostroma, Sergey Sitnikov, is the former head of the organization that runs the nationwide blacklist created in November, 2012 to support a new law requiring ISPs to block online resources that contain child pornography or promote drug use or suicide.
USA: Supreme Court to consider the legality of DNA collection
The official page for the legal case, Maryland v. King, due to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on February 26, includes links to the amicus curiae briefs being filed by myriad organizations and experts, including the Electronic Privacy Information Center, EFF, and the Council for Responsible Genetics. The court will consider whether the Fourth Amendment permits states to collect and analyze DNA samples taken from people arrested for and charged with serious crimes.
Maryland v. King | EFF
EU: European Commission launches plan for copyright licensing
Intellectual Property Watch reports that the European Commission has launched “Licenses for Europe,” an initiative intended to promote copyright licenses as a way to maintain traditional copyright for the digital era. La Quadrature du Net has criticized the move as “an outrageous attempt to avoid copyright reform.”
IP Watch | La Quadrature
Drones getting ready for prime time
Time magazine's Lev Grossman reports on the imminent arrival of commercial drones, currently banned from U.S. airspace but expected to be allowed when the Federal Aviation Authority reviews its rules in 2015 under the FAA Modernization and Reform Act signed into law by President Obama in February 2012. The article reviews the state of play in a number of countries, and notes that one difficulty is the frequency of crashes.
U.S: New York Times a target of Chinese hackers
In a detailed and revelatory analysis, the New York Times reports that it was the target of (apparently) Chinese hackers; the paper spent four months tracking their activities, which anti–virus software and other systems failed to block. The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post followed up with reports that they had also been attacked, apparently for the purpose of monitoring their China coverage.
Non–profits need open data
In this blog posting at TechPresident, WeGov's David Eaves argues that non–profits, just like governments and corporates, should share their data and are failing to take advantage of the opportunities available to them. In related postings, the National Council of Voluntary Organizations outlines some of its interest in this area and Tim Davies discusses the skills and techniques needed for voluntary and community organizations to make use of open data.
TechPresident | NCVO | Tim Davies
UK: Open access policy
In this commentary, Steven Harnad analyzes errors of interpretation in testimony (linked as a video clip) given to the UK House of Lords Select Committee on UK Open Access Policy by the CEOs of Research Cancer UK and the Higher Education Funding Council for England on green versus gold open access. Harnad argues that the UK has chosen “the losing strategy in a global Prisoner's Dilemma.”
U.S: “Aaron's Law” seeks to modify the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act
In this Reddit posting, Representative Zoe Lofgren publishes the second draft of her bill seeking to exclude breaches of terms of service or user agreements from the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and wire fraud statute. The goal is to bar future prosecutions like the one directed at Aaron Swartz. Lofgren believes that with public support and engagement it is possible to get this bill passed.
Open wireless versus licensed spectrum
In this paper, newly updated and published by the Berkman Center, “Open Wireless vs Licensed Spectrum: Evidence from Market Adoption,” Yochai Benkler reviews evidence from eight wireless markets to suggest principles for the future design of open wireless allocations. The paper also includes case studies and a literature review.
Making the digital dividend pay out in Africa
In this blog posting, Steve Song suggests ways to use the wireless spectrum freed up by the conversion to digital broadcasting (“television white spaces”) to create a “digital dividend” for Africa by spawning a vibrant rural access industry.
Morozov & Johnson on “Internet–centrism”
In this article and responses from the New Republic, Evgeny Morozov reviews Steven Johnson's new book, "Future Perfect" and critiques “internet– centrism” as an intellectual framework. In follow–ups, Steven Johnson rebuts and Morozov responds.
Morozov | Johnson
Podcast: Tom Sorrell on surveillance and privacy
In this podcast, Tom Sorell, a professor of politics and philosophy at Warwick University, asks how surveillance impacts privacy and why we value the latter, linking it to principles of autonomy and trust.