Take action to stop the lock up of research and learning

“We, IOI, ask the community to join us as we coordinate an effort to:

Audit Clarivate and ProQuests’ data resale and surveillance practices and policies.
Organize a community consultation on data governance for institutional customers of Clarivate and ProQuest services.
Review Clarivate and ProQuest’s pricing, terms of use, lock-in policies, & contract details.
Call for institutions to commit to anti-surveillance practices, first by signing below, and then by working together to improve terms of use to support this aim….”

FBI Got Access To Sci-Hub Founder’s Apple Account | Techdirt

“The war against educating people without paying huge sums of money continues without pause. Over the last few years, we’ve written a bunch about Sci-Hub and its founder, Alexandra Elbakyan, including the fact that academic publishers have convinced the DOJ to investigate Elbakyan, claiming that this effort to (*checks notes*) give more academics free access to academic articles is… tied to Russian intelligence. The whole thing seemed bizarre. Sure, fine, people can make arguments about copyright — but saying that it’s connected to Russian intelligence seems like quite a conspiracy theory.

Either way, it appears that the “investigation” continues along. TorrentFreak alerts us that Apple has informed Elbakyan that the FBI now has access to her Apple account. …”

Apple provided FBI with data on Sci-Hub founder

“A woman who has in the past been described as “the spiritual successor to Aaron Swartz” – who was a US web pioneer hounded to suicide by US prosecutors for making academic research available to everyone – has now learned the FBI is investigating her….

Elbakyan included a screenshot of the conveniently “no-reply” email in her tweet, where Apple informed her that it in February 2019 received a request from the FBI for data pertaining to her account, and that the nature of the request was such that it only allowed the tech giant to notify the user with delay.

Apple also told Elbakyan that the requested data had been handed over, and washed its hands off the whole thing by advising the programmer that if she wanted to know more about the request and what kind of information the FBI wanted – she should talk to the FBI….”


User Behavior Access Controls at a Library Proxy Server are Okay | Disruptive Library Technology Jester

“The webinar where Cory presented was the first mention I’d seen of a new group called the Scholarly Networks Security Initiative (SNSI). SNSI is the latest in a series of publisher-driven initiatives to reduce the paywall’s friction for paying users or library patrons coming from licensing institutions. GetFTR (my thoughts) and Seamless Access (my thoughts). (Disclosure: I’m serving on two working groups for Seamless Access that are focused on making it possible for libraries to sensibly and sanely integrate the goals of Seamless Access into campus technology and licensing contracts.)…”

WHOIS behind SNSI & GetFTR? | Motley Marginalia

“I question whether such rich personally identifiably information (PII) is required to prevent illicit account access. If it is collected at all, there are more than enough data points here (obviously excluding username and account information) to deanonymize individuals and reveal exactly what they looked at and when so it should not be kept on hand too long for later analysis.

Another related, though separate endeavor is GetFTR which aims to bypass proxies (and thereby potential library oversight of use) entirely. There is soo much which could be written about both these efforts and this post only scratches the surface of some of the complex issues and relationships affect by them.

The first thing I was curious about was, who is bankrolling these efforts? They list the backers on their websites but I always find it interesting as to who is willing to fund the coders and infrastructure. I looked up both GetFTR and SNSI in the IRS Tax Exempt database as well as the EU Find a Company portal and did not find any results. So I decided to do a little more digging matching WHOIS data in the hopes that something might pop out, nothing interesting came of this so I put it at the very bottom….

It should come as no surprise that Elsevier, Springer Nature, ACS, and Wiley – which previous research has shown are the publishers producing the most research downloaded in the USA from Sci-Hub – are supporting both efforts. Taylor & Francis presumably feels sufficiently threatened such that they are along for the ride….”

Academics band together with publishers because access to research is a cybercrime | chorasimilarity

“This is the world we live in. That is what I understand from reading about the Scholarly Networks Security Initiative. and it’s now famous webinar, via Bjorn Brembs october post.

I just found this, after the post I wrote yesterday. I had no idea about this collaboration between publishers and academics to put spyware on academic networks for the benefit of publishers.

What I find worrying is not that publishers, like Elsevier, Springer Nature or Cambridge University Press, want to protect their business against the Sci-hub threat. This is natural behaviour from a commercial point of view. These businesses (not sure about CUP) see their activity atacked, so they fight back to keep their profit up.

The problem is with the academics. Why do they help the publishers? For whose benefit?…”

Scientific publishers propose installing spyware in university libraries to protect copyrights – Coda Story

“A recent proposal recommending the deployment of surveillance software in order to monitor those accessing academic material has drawn fire from digital rights advocates and scientists.

The plan was outlined on October 22 during a virtual webinar hosted by a consortium of the world’s leading publishers of scientific journals, featuring security experts discussing the threats posed by cyber-criminals and digital piracy to academic research. 

One speaker proposed a novel tactic publishers could take to protect their intellectual property rights against data theft: introducing spyware into the proxy servers academic libraries use to allow access to their online services, such as publishers’ databases. …”

Cybersecurity Landscape – Protecting the Scholarly Infrastructure

“Institutions and publishers have always collaborated on ways to ensure researchers, students and faculty have access to critical research information in efficient and secure ways.


The proliferation of online resources for learning, research and basic operations has also meant a proliferation in cyber-attacks targeting institutions, publishers and other service providers. Fighting cyber-attacks is not a task any one entity can do alone.

The purpose of this virtual security summit is to discuss security threats to the research ecosystem with the aim to engender closer collaboration between publishers
and academics in dealing with these threats….”

To Prevent Free, Frictionless Access To Human Knowledge, Publishers Want Librarians To Be Afraid, Very Afraid | Techdirt

“After many years of fierce resistance to open access, academic publishers have largely embraced — and extended — the idea, ensuring that their 35-40% profit margins live on. In the light of this subversion of the original hopes for open access, people have come up with other ways to provide free and frictionless access to knowledge — most of which is paid for by taxpayers around the world. One is preprints, which are increasingly used by researchers to disseminate their results widely, without needing to worry about payment or gatekeepers. The other is through sites that have taken it upon themselves to offer immediate access to large numbers of academic papers — so-called “shadow libraries”. The most famous of these sites is Sci-Hub, created by Alexandra Elbakyan. At the time of writing, Sci-Hub claims to hold 79 million papers.

Even academics with access to publications through their institutional subscriptions often prefer to use Sci-Hub, because it is so much simpler and quicker. In this respect, Sci-Hub stands as a constant reproach to academic publishers, emphasizing that their products aren’t very good in terms of serving libraries, which are paying expensive subscriptions for access. Not surprisingly, then, Sci-Hub has become Enemy No. 1 for academic publishers in general, and the leading company Elsevier in particular. The German site Netzpolitik has spotted the latest approach being taken by publishers to tackle this inconvenient and hugely successful rival, and other shadow libraries. At its heart lies the Scholarly Networks Security Initiative (SNSI), which was founded by Elsevier and other large publishers earlier this year. Netzpolitik explains that the idea is to track and analyze every access to libraries, because “security” ….”