Big Brother open for business

As China braces itself for the possibility of an omnipotent digital dystopia — a credit rating system aimed at reducing the resources, choices and activities of every citizen to a single trustability score — one Chinese newspaper has revealed a Big Data menace already underway. For a small fee, anyone in China can invade your private data sphere.

The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concern about the sentencing of human rights lawyer Xia Lin in China

In response to the harsh sentencing of a respected lawyer on what many claim are trumped-up charges, the Law Society of Upper Canada, in a public statement released this week, urged the People’s Republic of China to comply with its obligations under international human rights laws, including the United Nations’ Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.

Freedom of Information in Canada

Since it was devised in the 1980s, Canada’s Freedom of Information law has not been significantly updated or reformed to reflect the needs of the data revolution. On the heels of the 250th anniversary of Sweden’s freedom of the press act last week, TVO’s The Agenda looks at the state of FOI law in Canada.

Joy as China shelves plans to dam ‘angry river’

Environmentalists celebrate as Beijing appears to abandon plans to build mega dams on its Grand Canyon of the East. Although dam-building isn’t off the table in other parts of China, activists say Beijing is deterred in this case by growing concern for the environment, the wisdom of dam construction in areas of high seismicity and – most importantly – the economics of large-scale dams that no longer make financial sense in a slowing Chinese economy, in combination with the scale of difficulty in transmitting electricity from remote regions to the rest of the country.

U.N. finally apologizes for cholera in Haiti … but omits one point

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s “sorry” last week for the organization’s role in Haiti’s deadly cholera outbreak, called a “half-apology” by some for omitting to mention the likely source of that outbreak: Nepalese UN peacekeepers. Ban Ki-moon’s statement nevertheless marks the first time the organization has publicly acknowledged its role in the spread of the cholera epidemic in Haiti that killed at least 10,000 people after the 2010 earthquake.

Lawyer Xia Lin will be sentenced on September 22, and it will have nothing to do with the law

As we all know now, Xia Lin, a 46-year-old lawyer whose clients have included dissident artist Ai Weiwei and free speech champion Pu Zhiqiang, was sentenced to jail for 12 years — a verdict meant as both payback and warning to China’s human rights lawyers. Legal activist and scholar, Guo Yushan, penned this essay in the lead up to Xia’s sentencing reflecting on the price paid by Xia, himself and his colleagues for work that has been described elsewhere as “all that is hopeful and optimistic about China”.