What follows is a hyperlinked version of the weekly newsletter of the Information Program of Open Society Foundations. Next week Becky Hogge will take up the newsletter one again. You can continue to follow new editions at her blog.


Turkey’s 138 Forbidden Words

The Turkish Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) has sent web-hosting companies a list of 138 allegedly offensive words, urging them to ban the hosting and registration of all Internet domains that include such words. “Gay,” “breath,” and “homemade” are among the words on the list. Activists and lawyers are challenging the legality of the request.

Africa’s Facebook Explosion

In just seven months the number of Facebook users has doubled in many African countries. In Senegal, for example, Facebook users have increased from 229,340 to 477,840 since August 2010. Russell Southwood examines what the trend could mean for the development of Africa’s online market.

British firm offered spying software to Egyptian regime

Documents shared by Egyptian blogger Mostafa Hussein with The Guardian reveal that a British company offered to sell software for 300,000 euros to Egyptian security services in order to surveil email accounts and hack into computers.

US Supreme Court Weighs Whether To Limit Data Mining

In a two-part series, Nina Totenberg offers context into a current US Supreme Court hearing about the data mining of prescription information from pharmacies which could set precedent for other cases related to the collection of personal consumer information. In part two Totenberg dissects the legal arguments made by the justices and lawyers.

New Government Body to Control Online Content in China

China has set up a new government body, the State Internet Information Office, to keep a tighter grip on the content available to Chinese internet-users inside the country.

Features and Analysis

Geek Nation: How Indian Science is Taking over the World

The Hindu interviews UK-based science journalist Angela Saini about her first book “Geek Nation: How Indian Science is Taking over the World.” Saini cites the Open Source Drug Discovery project, “a revolutionary project to collect research into tuberculosis from small-scale researchers across India, pool it on an open-access website and use this to come up with a possible cure.”

Alarm over EU ‘Great Firewall’ proposal

Broadband providers and anti-censorship activists have voiced alarm over an EU proposal to create a “Great Firewall of Europe” by blocking “illicit” web material at the borders of the bloc.

(Your) Information Wants to Be Free

Mozilla cryptographer Ben Adida recalls Stewart Brand’s famous utterance that information wants to be free and juxtaposes the original stick-it-to-the-man enthusiasm with recent news of compromised user data by Epsilon and Sony. His conclusion: “Every company that dabbles in user data should assign a dedicated security and privacy team whose sole responsibility is to protect user data.”

Buying Copyrights, Then Patrolling the Web for Infringement

The New York Times takes on the issue of so-called “copyright trolling,” in which contracted companies opportunistically seek litigation to make money from copyrighted works that have been widely posted online. The Media Bloggers Association has filed a brief accusing the US-based firm Righthaven of singling out defendants who can not afford legal help.

Toward an Open Wireless Movement

In a classic tragedy of the commons, open wireless networks are becoming increasingly rare. Peter Eckersley of Electronic Frontier Foundation publishes a call to action in order to reinvigorate the sharing of Wi-Fi. Two obstacles, notes Eckersley, are that we need better routers to control how we share our bandwidth and a new Wi-Fi protocol to ensure privacy and security on shared, open networks.

The Global Information Technology Report: Transformations 2.0

The World Economic Forum has released its 10th annual The Global Information Technology Report with the theme “Transformations 2.0.”

Facebook, Google, and the Future of Privacy and Free Speech

Jeffrey Rosen of the Brookings Institute imagines future technological developments by Facebook and Google, and reflects on their potential impact on privacy and free speech through the eyes of the law and society.


Cyber-surveillance in Everyday Life: An International Workshop

May 12-15, 2011
Toronto, Canada
This international workshop brings together researchers, advocates, activists and artists working on the many aspects of cyber-surveillance, particularly as it pervades and mediates social life.

1st Global Conference on Transparency Research

May 19-20, 2011
Newark, New Jersey, US
This conference will bring together governmental transparency scholars from a range of fields including sociology, anthropology, political science, public administration, economics, political economy, journalism, business, and law.

The Future of Islam in the Age of New Media

May, 2011
Dubbed “the world’s shortest conference on Islam ever,” 60 speakers from across philosophical and political spectrums will each speak for 60 seconds for a one-hour discussion about the future of Islam in the age of hyperconnectivity.

Agnotology: Ways of Producing, Preserving, and Dealing with Ignorance

May 30-June 1, 2011
Bielefeld, Germany
Philosophers, historians and nuerobiologists aim to come to a better understanding of that which we don’t. The aim of the workshop is to map out a new ignorance-centered terrain in an effort to determine just what and where it might add to knowledge-centered terrains such as pistemology and philosophy of science.

Federated Social Web Europe

June 3-5, 2011
Berlin, Germany
A workshop designed to bring together communities working on federated social networking with those involved in privacy and identity.

Mobile and Web Technologies in Social and Economic Development

June 4-5, 2011
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
This conference aims to understand the challenges associated with using mobile phones and Web technologies to deliver sustainable services for underprivileged populations in developing countries.

Personal Democracy Forum

June 6-7, 2011
New York, NY, US
The 8th annual personal democracy forum will continue to explore and analyse technology’s impact on politics and government and includes speakers Sami Ben Gharbia, Vivek Kundra and Susan Morgan.

Computers, Freedom & Privacy

June 14-16, 2011
Washington DC, US
Influential conference now in its 21st year which hosts discussions about the information society and the future of technology at the intersection of policy, technology and action.

CEU Summer University

June 20 – July 1, 2011
Budapest, Hungary
An intensive summer course entitled “Communication policy advocacy, technology, and online freedom of expression: a toolkit for media development” and designed to help researchers and activists gain new insights into the role which civil society can play in advocating for online free expression and communication policy change.

CERN workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication (OAI7)

June 22-24, 2011
Geneva, Switzerland
This international workshop aimed at those involved in developing open access repositories will mix practical tutorials with presentations from cutting-edge projects and discussion groups.

6th Annual Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon)

June 30-July 1, 2011
Deadline for call for proposals: May 1, 2011
Berlin, Germany
OKCon brings together individuals and organisations involved in open data, open access, open educational resources and many more issues from across the open knowledge spectrum for two days of presentations, workshops and exchange of ideas.