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Challenges and opportunities for freedom of expression in the networked environment

News stories (20-27 Feb 07)

info: Submitted by Lisa Horner on Tue, 2007-02-27 16:02.

Drivers of change

  • Mobile talk moves to web 2.0
    Will the mobile phone become and increasingly important means of accessing the internet? This article outlines how mobile phone companies are responding to growing user demand for mobile internet access. However this comment piece suggests that mobile companies are out of touch with their consumers, particularly in pushing access to TV via mobile phones. In Africa, new initiatives are using mobile technology to ensure that local health authorities have access to up to date information and data about HIV/AIDS (Africa: Phone companies to fight HIV/AIDS)
  • Broadband Britain ‘speeding up’
    Access to broadband internet is improving in the UK, but is still not as fast as in Japan and South Korea. A good example of how different approaches to regulation by governments can affect access to technology.

Increasing access to public debate and information

  • Egypt blogger jailed for ‘insult’
    Blogger jailed for four years for criticising the Islamic al-Azhar university and the Egyptian President. Raises the question of whether the internet can provide a platform for public debate in countries where media freedoms are restricted. Another article explores the lack of progress made by the government in overhauling laws concerning press offences as promised three years ago.

Reinvigorating Democracy

  • Estonia set for world’s first internet election
    Estonia will be the first country to allow national parliamentary elections to take place via the internet on 4th March. Despite being one of the poorest countries in the EU, Estonia is one of the most advanced in terms of access to, and application of, new communication technologies.
  • Europe’s plan to track phone and net use
    Communication technologies provide governments with increased opportunities of surveillance over citizens. Germany and the Netherlands are planning to implement tracking via mobile phone and internet monitoring, citing the war on terror as justification. This issue is becoming increasingly relevant throughout the world, for example with this article describing how the police in Kenya are using technology to trace criminals.

Culture and education

  • Comment: US Copyright lobby out of touch
    What are the implications of the export of American intellectual property standards to other countries through trade negotiations if they are hypocritical, too restrictive and out of step with the rest of the world? Another article describes how technology designed to prevent the illegal copying of DVDs has been circumvented by hackers, whilst this article suggests that some players in the music industry are adapting to the changed business environment brought by the internet through adopting new business models that bypass record labels.
  • BitTorrent download portal debuts
    The creators of the notorious peer-to-peer file sharing network have launched a legal download site, offering films and TV shows from major media companies. Is this representative of a trend towards media companies adapting to the web through adopting new business models?