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Challenges and opportunities for freedom of expression in the networked environment

News Stories (21st - 26 March 07)

info: Submitted by Lisa Horner on Tue, 2007-04-03 13:32.

Information and Debate

Wiki Wars
Wikipedia is fighting against vandalism on its collaborative encyclopaedia site. This raises questions as to whether the internet offers new spaces for rational debate and knowledge sharing, and whether new ‘codes of conduct’ need to be developed to prevent online conversations from degenerating into thoughtless argument.

Business models for social networking?
Discussion about whether the push to make money from social networking sites is undermining the flexibility and openness that initially made them popular. draws on examples of the purchase of MySpace by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

China: Cyber-dissident sentenced to six years in prison
Zhang Jianhong has been jailed in China, accused of ‘incitement to subvert the state’s authority’.

Kuwait: are bloggers such a threat?
Popular television programme was pulled off air in Kuwait after hosting a discussion concerning Kuwaiti and Bahraini bloggers.

China: Property rights debate
The internet played a role in sparking national and international debate about China’s new property rights law and Yang Wu, a Chinese citizen who is battling against property developers in the south west of the country.


High tech ‘threat’ to private life
A report by the royal Academy of Engineering in the UK warns that the building and storing of digital personal profiles could have unforeseen negative effects. Another report has found that less than half of UK internet users believe they are responsible for protecting their own personal data online. Meanwhile, an inquiry into the increasing use of surveillance in British society is to be launched by members of parliament.

Culture and Education

TV networks plan to rival YouTube
Universal and Fox television networks in the USA are planning to launch their own video downloading site in a bid to rival YouTube. US media company Viacom has launched a legal battle against YouTube, claiming that it is knowingly violating copyright through allowing users to upload videos it owns the rights to. However, commentators suggest that these claims are unfounded. YouTube is owned by Google and this article
suggests that the company risks losing popularity as its business empire grows.

USA: Judge overturns US web porn law
The federal judge ruled that the law was too restrictive and undermined freedom of speech as protected in the US constitution.

Business models for peer-to-peer file sharing?
Article exploring the failure of law suits to deter illegal file sharers and the efforts being made by the record industry to develop new models. Elsewhere, the P2P Foundation is calling for those interested in developing open business models for peer-to-peer networks to share knowledge and ideas on its wiki.

Drivers of Change

UK Regulator Ofcom cuts mobile connection fees
The UK communications regulator plans to cut the fees that service providers charge users for phoning other networks, illustrating the impact that regulators can have on telecom markets and phone use.

Teens to get free mobile phone calls – with a catch
Mobile phone companies plan to launch a new mobile phone business model which will give users free mobile phone calls in return for receiving advertisements.

Google signs software deals in two African nations
Google Apps software will be made freely available to Rwandan and Kenyan students. Elsewhere, commentators suggest that Google would be better able to compete with other technology companies in emerging economies.