Internet chief allays fears over ICANN transition

WASHINGTON, April 10 (UPI) — Fears over control of the Internet came into sharp relief Thursday as lawmakers voted to stall a plan to relinquish U.S. government oversight of a key Internet regulation.  After the Obama administration announced last month its plan to hand off control of oversight responsibility when its contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ends next year, Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., introduced the DOTCOM Act bill, which would delay the transition until the Government Accountability Office could examine the plan.

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UK gov wants ‘unsavoury’ web content censored

The UK minister for immigration and security has called for the government to do more to deal with “unsavoury”, rather than illegal, material online.  James Brokenshire made the comments to the Financial Times in an interview related to the government’s alleged ability to automatically request YouTube videos be taken down under “super flagger” status.

A flagger is anyone that uses YouTube’s reporting system to highlight videos that breach guidelines. The Home Office explained to Wired.co.uk that the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU), responsible for removing illegal terrorist propaganda, does not have “super flagger” status, but has simply attained the platform’s Trusted Flagger accreditation — a status for users who regularly correctly flag questionable content.

The FT published its article in context of growing concerns around the radicalisation of Britons travelling to partake in the ongoing conflict in Syria, and the Home Office told Wired.co.uk any videos flagged by the CTIRU for review were ones found to be in breach of counter-terrorism laws (29,000 have been removed across the web since February 2010).

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Russia Blocks Access to Major Independent News Sites

Russia’s government has escalated its use of its Internet censorship law to target news sites, bloggers, and politicians under the slimmest excuse of preventing unauthorized protests and enforcing house arrest regulations. Today, the country’s ISPs have received orders to block a list of major news sites and system administrators have been instructed to take the servers providing the content offline.

The banned sites include the online newspaper Grani, Garry Kasparov’s opposition information site kasparov.ru, the livejournal of popular anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny, and even the web pages of Ekho Moskvy, a radio station which is majority owned by the state-run Gazprom, and whose independent editor was ousted last month and replaced with a more government-friendly director.

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U.S. to relinquish government control over Internet

March. 14 (UPI) — The United States will hand over government control of administration of the Internet, bowing to pressures to globalize the management of the networks that connect billions of people around the world in a move meant to ease fears following last year’s revelations of NSA spying.

U.S. officials on Friday announced plans to relinquish its oversight role over the group that manages the Web’s critical infrastructure, said Lawrence Strickling, the head of the National Telecommunications & Information Administration at the Commerce Department.  The transition will come in 2015, when Commerce contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers expires next year. But the announcement comes with a major caveat: As part of the transition, an independent, international oversight authority must be established so as to earn the trust of the world, Strickling said.  “We will not accept a proposal that replaces the NTIA role with a government-led or an intergovernmental solution,” Strickling said.

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Facebook buying 11,000 drones to connect Africa

Solara_50_drone

Facebook is in negotiations to buy a drone manufacturer with the aim of using its high-altitude autonomous aircraft to beam internet connections to isolated communities in Africa, according to reports.  The social networking company is one of the main backers of the internet.org project, which aims to connect the large parts of the world which remain offline.  Today, only 2.7 billion people – just over one-third of the world’s population – have access to the internet, according to Facebook. Other founding members include Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung.

 

Now TechCrunch reports that Facebook intends to buy the maker of advanced solar-powered drones which can remain in the air for up to five years at a time, in the hope that they can be modified to provide internet connectivity for those on the ground.  Titan Aerospace’s drones fly so high – up to 65,000 feet – that they can effectively operate as satellites with far lower operating costs, which the company calls “atmospheric parking”. The Solara 50 and 60 models can carry up to 100kg of equipment.

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How Somebody Forced the World’s Internet Traffic Through Belarus and Iceland

This is a deeply technical but potentially very troubling story. Imagine one day you’re using the Internet the same way you do every day. Reading the news, shopping, sending email, checking your bank and credit card balances. Maybe even doing some work for your employer.  Typically, but not always, the bits being sent from your computer, tablet or phone will flow from where you are to where they need to be via the most direct route available.  But what if they didn’t? What if someone slipped in between you and the various servers you’re connecting with and diverted your traffic elsewhere, funneling it through a choke point of their choosing, so they could capture, copy and analyze it? Your data takes some extra — and imperceptible — milliseconds to get where it’s going and ultimately everything you’re doing online works just fine. But your traffic has been hijacked by parties unknown and you’re none the wiser that it has happened.

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TPP Leak Confirms the Worst: US Negotiators Still Trying to Trade Away Internet Freedoms

After years of secret trade negotiations over the future of intellectual property rights (and limits on those rights), the public gets a chance to looks at the results. For those of us who care about free speech and a balanced intellectual property system that encourages innovation, creativity, and access to knowledge, it’s not a pretty picture.  Today Wikileaks published a complete draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement’s chapter on “intellectual property rights.” The leaked text, from August 2013, confirms long-standing suspicions about the harm the agreement could do to users’ rights and a free and open Internet. From locking in excessive copyright term limits to further entrenching failed policies that give legal teeth to Digital Rights Management (DRM) tools, the TPP text we’ve seen today reflects a terrible but unsurprising truth: an agreement negotiated in near-total secrecy, including corporations but excluding the public, comes out as an anti-user wish list of industry-friendly policies.

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