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.


Global Open Government Partnership launches in New York City

Alex Howard interviews Maria Otero, US Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, about the official launch of the Open Government Partnership in New York City. The all-encompassing post also documents the partnership’s progress and setbacks, and embeds a copy of the US national action plan.

Study: patent trolls have cost innovators half a trillion dollars

A new study by three Boston University researchers, which looks at market valuation before and after patent lawsuits, has found that “patent trolls” (third parties who litigate aggressively on behalf of patent holders) have cost US publicly traded companies $500 billion in market capitalization since 1990, more than a quarter of US industrial research and development spending during those years.

India, Brazil and South Africa call for creation of “new global body” to control the Internet

India, Brazil and South Africa have called for the creation of a new United Nations body that would integrate and oversee the ITU, IETF and ICANN. Internet governance expert Milton Mueller says that, while the proposal has no chance of adoption, it reveals the failure of the Internet Governance Forum to internationalize Internet governance.

F.T.C. wants to update rules on children’s online privacy

Marc Rotenberg of EPIC calls proposed updates to US regulation on child online privacy “forward-looking,” but industry and legal analysts wonder how the regulations will be enforced when most online websites ostensibly prohibit children under 13 from using their services. Research by Consumer Reports this year found that 7.5 million American children under the age of 13 were using Facebook despite such prohibitions.

Venezuela to deploy 3 million free laptops

The Venezuelan government has announced that it plans to deploy 3 million “Canaima” laptops to schoolchildren by 2012. Critics say the initiative is merely meant to woo votes of poor families before next year’s presidential election. Robert Hacker, the CFO of One Laptop Per Child, says his organization has come to realize that teacher training is key for a successful deployment.

Internet ruffles pricey scholarly journals

With the rise in costs of academic journal subscriptions and the constraints of university budgets, an increasing number of universities are refusing to renew their expensive subscriptions, turning instead to open access publishing.

OnStar to begin monitoring customers’ GPS location for profit

After reading through pages of OnStar’s latest update to its terms and conditions, Jonathan Zdziarski found that the automobile emergency service, used in the US, Canada and China, has inserted the right to sell user information – such as GPS location, vehicle speed, and seat belt status – to third parties, including law enforcement. The author concludes that legislators should investigate companies like OnStar, Google, and Apple to better understand how they use consumer data.

EFF builds system to warn of certificate breaches

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has updated its ‘HTTPS Everywhere’ Firefox extension to crowd-source reports of rogue SSL certificates in order to detect potential compromises such as the recent DigiNotar certificate hack, which left as many as 300,000 unsuspecting Iranians vulnerable to surveillance of their personal communication.

Omidyar Network to invest $3 million in government transparency initiatives

At this week’s “Power of Information: New Technologies for Philanthropy and Development” conference, Omidyar Network announced $3 million of investments in government transparency initiatives. Recipients include Fundación Ciudadano Inteligente, Mid-East Youth, and the Open Knowledge Foundation.

Digital Media and Learning Competition

The MacArthur and Mozilla foundations have issued a call for proposals for the research and design of certification and recognition schemes to promote lifelong learning. Grants range from $5,000 to $200,000.

Features and Analysis

Cameras Everywhere Report 2011

Based on discussions with over 40 analysts and practitioners in technology and human rights, WITNESS’ Cameras Everywhere reports looks at the development of trends in policy and practice at the intersection of human rights, technology, social media, and business. It also lists specific recommendations on how to strengthen the use of video for human rights.

Book: Digital AlterNatives with a Cause?

Hivos (The Hague) and The Centre for Internet and Society (Bangalore) have published a four-part book which consolidates three years of research and inquiry into field of youth, technology and social change. The book, which draws on dozens of contributions from diverse actors, tries to address is the lack of digital natives’ voices in the discourse around them.

Freedom of the press applies to everyone — yes, even bloggers

Mathew Ingram of GigaOm argues that bloggers and citizens should be afforded the same right to document the work of police officers in public places as any other journalist. The article also points out that state and local police forces need more legal training to understand the rights of citizens who are eager to point their cell phone cameras and law enforcement.

The second revolution of open science

In a talk at the UK Royal Society, Michael Nielsen describes what he calls the “second revolution in open science,” a proliferation of data, models, and software in scientific research that “require scientists to rethink how they share their work.”

Account deactivation and content removal: guiding principles and practices for companies and users

The Center for Democracy & Technology and the Berkman Center have published a new report which explores the dilemmas and recommends principles, strategies, and tools that companies and users alike can adopt to mitigate the negative effects of account deactivation and content removal.

The Netizen Report: inaugural edition

Global Voices Advocacy publishes its inaugural (and sweeping) Netizen Report, an overview compiled by Rebecca MacKinnon of recent global developments related to the power dynamics between citizens, companies and governments on the Internet.

The forces that led to the DigiNotar hack

Privacy expert Christopher Soghoian analyzes some of the structural conditions which allowed for the DigiNotar certificate authority hacks.

Online ID Verification Plan Carries Risks

Natasha Singer looks at efforts by the Open Identity Exchange and others to develop online identity authentication that can be used by both commercial and government websites. The article cites several privacy advocates including Kaliya Hamlin, Lillie Coney of EPIC, and Lee Tien of EFF.



September 26-28, 2011
Tallinn, Estonia
The 5th International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic
Governance (ICEGOV) will bring together practitioners, developers and
researchers from government, local municipalities, academia, industry
and civil society from across the world.

Sixth Annual Internet Governance Forum

September 27-30, 2011
Nairobi, Kenya
The Sixth Annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) meeting will be held
at the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON). The main theme of the
meeting is: ‘Internet as a catalyst for change: access, development,
freedoms and innovation’.

Open Aid Data Conference and Hackday

September 28-29, 2011
Berlin, Germany
The Open Aid Data conference will bring together practitioners from
various organisations to discuss how technology, the internet, and
particularly open data can help make international development aid
more transparent. A hack day will take place the day before.

Mobility Shifts: International Future of Learning Summit

October 10-16, 2011
New York, NY, USA
An international summit bringing together bring together artists, web
developers, scholars, technologists, teachers, radical librarians,
policy makers, critical legal scholars and learning activists to
discuss digital fluencies for a mobile world and explore learning
outside the bounds of schools and universities.

Contact Summit 2011: The evolution will be social

October 20, 2011
New York, NY, USA
A day-long unconference conceived and facilitated by Douglas Rushkoff
to explore how to realise the promise of social media to promote new
forms of culture, commerce, collective action and creativity.

Open Government Data Camp

October 20-21, 2011
Warsaw, Poland
Open Government Data Camp is the world’s biggest open data event. It
brings together civil servants, developers, NGOs and others for two
days of talks, workshops and project sprints.

Open Access Week

October 24-30, 2011
Open Access Week is a global event, now in its 5th year, which aims to
promote Open Access as a new norm in scholarship and research.

Open Access Africa

October 25-26, 2011
Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania
Event organised by open access publisher BioMed Central bringing
together researchers, librarians and funding bodies to discuss the
benefits of open access publishing in an African context.

Open Education 2011 Conference

October 25-27, 2011
Park City, UT, US
The Open Education 2011 conference brings together this broad
diversity of people to discuss the state of the art in open education
and facilitate creative conversations across a wide variety of
perspectives. Keynote speakers will address topics ranging from major
government initiatives to efforts directed toward replacing
traditional institutions.

McLuhan’s Philosophy of Media Centennial Conference

October 26-28, 2011
Brussels, Belgium
This conference celebrating 100 years since the birth of media
theorist and cultural critic Marshall McLuhan will host discussions
about McLuhan’s ideas from different perspectives and traditions.
Keynote Speakers include Robert K. Logan, Derrick de Kerckhove, Paul
Levinson, Graham Harman and Peter-Paul Verbeek.

Mozilla Festival on Media, Freedom and the Web

November 4-6, 2011
London, UK
“A gathering of passionate, creative people using the web to bend,
hack and reinvent media.”

Berlin 9

November 9-10, 2011
Washington DC, US
The Berlin Open Access Conference Series convenes leaders in the
science, humanities, research, funding, and policy communities around
The Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and
Humanities. Berlin 9 is the first of the annual meetings to take place
in North America.

2nd Annual European Data Protection and Privacy Conference

December 6, 2011
Brussels, Belgium
The conference will bring together European policymakers and
stakeholders for a “full and frank discussion” on issues in Data
Protection and Privacy.

The Digital Media and Learning Conference

March 1-3, 2012
The third-annual The Digital Media and Learning Conference is organized around the theme “Beyond Educational Technology: Learning Innovations in a Connected World.”