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Challenges and opportunities for freedom of expression in the networked environment

News Stories (11th - 17th January 2008)

info: Submitted by Lisa Horner on Tue, 2008-02-05 11:42.

Information and debate

Comment: Reference books? Give me Wikipedia
In a continuation of the debate about whether Wikipedia should be treated as a reliable source of information, UK journalist Magnus Linklater sings the collaborative encyclopedia's praises. In his opinion, the site is more likely to sharpen students' desire for knowledge and information, marking a shift away from unproductive learning involving following strict academic formulas and memorising 'essential' quotations. Interestingly, he cites a study by Nature magazine which compared mistakes in Wikipedia with those in Britannica Encyclopedia. Wikipedia has an average of 3.9 mistakes per article compared to Britannica's 2.9.

Comment: Facebook – with friends like these
This opinion piece explores the right-wing politics of the chiefs of the Facebook social networking site. Whilst the article is perhaps unfairly critical of their personal opinions and business ventures, it is important that users of facebook and other such sites understand the motives or business models that underlie the provision of such free services on the web. Users need to make informed decisions about whether they are happy for personal information to be used for targeted advertising.

Civil Society

Smith targets internet extremism
The UK home secretary Jacqui Smith has announced that she plans to curb the 'grooming' of people for terrorism and other forms of extremism via the web. The details of the plan have yet to be revealed. The announcement follows revelations about the extent of the networks built by self-named 'Terrorist 007', arrested in the UK in 2005.

Drivers of change

EU launches new Microsoft probes
Following a ruling in October 2007 that Microsoft broke European competition law, the EU is launching two new antitrust investigations into Microsoft products and activities. The first concerns the bundling of the Explorer internet browser with Windows and the second will look at levels of interoperability between Microsoft products and rival software.

Microsoft seeks patent for office 'spy' software.
Microsoft is reportedly developing technology to connect workers to their computers, allowing employers to monitor personal attributes of their employees, such as heartbeats to indicate stress levels. Civil liberties groups and unions are concerned about the implications for workers' privacy and relationship with employers.

France eyes electronics tax for public TV: Report
The French government is reported to be considering taxing consumer electronics to help fund state-owned television channels.