News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week ending 10 February 2017

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News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week ending 10 February 2017
The Information Program NEWS DIGEST, published the second and fourth Thursdays of each month, aims to update colleagues in the Open Society Foundations and friends further afield about the news, opinions and events the Program team have been watching this fortnight. The views expressed in these stories do not necessarily reflect those of the Information Program or the OSF. Prepared by Wendy M. Grossman.

Our staff, advisers and major grantees tweet at Current and former grantees featured in this issue: Citizen Lab, EFF, Europe v. Facebook, IFLA .

The Networked Economics program of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) has issued a call to established research organizations for a pilot program of four two-year pilot projects to strengthen cyber policy centers in eligible low, middle, or upper-middle income countries in the following regions: North of Sahara, South of Sahara, Middle East, South Asia, South East Asia, Latin America.

For breaking news stories, visit:

Trump executive order causes debate on Privacy Shield
Privacy Law Blog reports that US President Donald Trump's Executive Order 13768, "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States", has caused some discussion within the privacy community about its effect on the EU-US Privacy Shield agreement, which allows the transfer of personal data about EU citizens to the US, which lacks a comparable data protection regime. The conclusion: Privacy Shield stands because the agreement rests on redress promised by the Judicial Redress Act (2015), and executive orders cannot overturn legislation passed by Congress. At the net.wars blog, Wendy M. Grossman summarizes the discussion on the same topic at the Computers, Privacy, and Data Protection conference, where experts largely agreed, with some reservations. At Papers Please, travel data privacy expert Edward Hasbrouck argues, however, that the Executive Order does up-end rights promised to EU citizens under the EU-US PNR Agreement, which allows sharing of passenger name records.
Papers Please:

US: Court orders Google to turn over data stored outside the US
The Washington Post reports that a federal magistrate judge has ordered Google to comply with a search warrant requiring the company to turn over emails stored outside the United States. The ruling is in direct contradiction to the recent Microsoft Ireland case, in which the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that US law enforcement could not compel the production of emails stored on a foreign (Irish) server. In this case, Google has argued that since it breaks up the emails the company stores across its network, it cannot be sure where in the world the data resides. The judge's view is that the actions required will take place inside the US, no matter where the data is stored.
Washington Post:

EU: Vote nears for Marrakesh Treaty
Intellectual Property Watch reports that a European Parliament vote on the Marrakesh Treaty, which creates copyright exceptions to give visually impaired people access to copyrighted works, is expected to take place in March. The treaty was adopted in 2013, but the EU has yet to ratify it despite being a signatory. In 2016 the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice signalled that the European Commission has the competency to ratify the treaty on behalf of all member states. Rapporteur Max Andersson expects compromise on the 100 amendments that have been put forward. However, both the European Blind Union and the World Blind Union oppose proposals to compensate publishers for accessible copies produced by NGOs and libraries, and the EBU is concerned about the suggestion of limiting the exceptions to works that are not commercially available. Finally, Germany wants the European Parliament to incorporate compensation for secondary rights holders. IFLA has called for the European Parliament to ratify the treaty without these impediments.
IP Watch:

Wikipedia community debates undisclosed paid promotional editing
Motherboard reports that controversy has developed within the Wikipedia community over undisclosed paid promotional editing (UPPE) in violation of community standards that require paid editors to disclose their conflicts of interest on their user pages. However, not all do so, and it's difficult to draw lines between UPPE, other types of undisclosed paid editing, and self-interested unpaid editing, and between fair investigation and persecuting suspected offenders. Finding the right balance remains a challenge.

US: Ohio police use pacemaker data in criminal investigation
SC Magazine reports that police in Middletown, Ohio used data from a suspect's artificial heart implant to charge a man with setting fire to his own house. A cardiologist who reviewed the data, obtained via a search warrant, concluded that the data was inconsistent with the suspect's story. EFF staff attorney Stephanie Lacambra argues that people should not have to make a choice between health and privacy.

Cameroon: Government clampdown widens to include international journalists
Deutsche Welle reports that the Cameroonian government, having already cut off the country's English-speaking regions from the internet, is now threatening international journalists with sanctions if they report on the conflict. Both French and English are official languages in Cameroon. The media regulator has threatened to revoke the licenses of media outlets that report favorably on demands from the English-speaking minority.

US: One hundred-plus technology companies join legal fight against travel ban
CNN reports that more than 100 technology companies have signed on to support a lawsuit opposing US President Donald Trump's Executive Order , "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States", which imposes a 90-day ban on admitting travellers from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, and Syria (indefinitely). The action was filed with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals by the attorneys general of the states of Washington and Minnesota. The list includes Apple, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Netflix, Facebook, Airbnb, Uber, Paypal, and Tesla. CNN notes some major names are missing: IBM, Palantir, Oracle, and Cisco. According to Engadget, Amazon has expressed its support but hasn't signed the brief as it's a witness in the original case. Policy analyst Marcy Wheeler traces the background of how the seven countries were selected by the Trump administration' for the travel ban. At the Lawfare blog, former FBI analyst Nora Ellingsen studies two years of FBI arrests and finds that nothing in the large body of data we have about real terrorist plots in the United States supports either a focus on barring refugees or a focus on these particular seven countries.
CNN (ban):
CNN (tech companies):

For more features and analysis selected by the Program team, visit:

The fake news bogeyman
In this piece for Deutsche Welle, Ethan Zuckerman argues that "fake news" is a bogeyman because it means that people who disagree with us have simply been given the wrong facts. In preliminary analysis from the Media Cloud team at Harvard and MIT, the most influential fake news site ranked only 163rd in their list of most-shared sources. What gives fake news its greatest visibility is mainstream media reports about it. Propaganda and disinformation, he notes, are as old as humanity. More important is finding common ground with people we disagree with. The IFLA blog argues that libraries have a long history of verifying information, and highlights two papers published by IFLA in conjunction with The Wikipedia Library that showcase successful collaborations between the two organizations. In the Guardian, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales argues that transparency and a free and open internet is essential to combating the spread of disinformation.

Computers, Privacy, and Data Protection
At this YouTube channel, CPDP has posted videos of the sessions from this year's conference. Of particular note are the closing Caspar Bowden panel on surveillance; the panel on the effect of big data on the insurance industry; and the panel on populist politics and the prospects for privacy.
YouTube (CPDP channel):
YouTube (Bowden):
YouTube (insurance):
YouTube (populist):

Data vigilantes
In this Guardian article, Stephen Buranyi reports on the controversy surrounding Statcheck, a computer program, written by Michèle Nuijten at Tilbert University's Meta-Research Center, that reads scientific papers and checks the mathematics behind every statistical result it encounters. An early target of Statcheck's work was the field of psychology, where researchers found that about half of the papers published in psychology journals contained a statistical error. The controversy began when Hartgerink's colleague, Chris Hartgerink, who modified the program so that it would catalogue the errors and post them online. Scientific fraud is typically estimated at around 2%; the researchers believe that the true rate is far higher.

Egypt: Civil society under phishing attack
In this report, the result of research it conducted with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, Citizen Lab studies recent coordinated phishing attacks on Egyptian NGOs, intended to trick them into giving up their email and other passwords. As Citizen Lab notes, such attacks are common and relatively low-tech, but often effective. The investigators have found strong circumstantial - but not conclusive - evidence to suggest that the attack was mounted by the Egyptian government, which has been cracking down on civil society.

AI comes of age: in cars, healthcare, and journalism
In this report from the Aspen Institute, "Artificial Intelligence Comes of Age", David Bollier summarizes its round table on artificial intelligence in connected cars, healthcare, and journalism. While the workshop did not reach any firm conclusions, it did identify key questions to ask. How should markets evolve? What are the proper forms of government regulation? What internal governance structures and safeguards should AI adopt? How can social trust in AI technologies be earned? Participants included Joi Ito (MIT Media Lab), Stuart Frankel (Narrative Science), Cynthia Breazeal (MIT Media lab), Mustafa Suleyman (Google DeepMind), David Kenny (IBM Watson), Marc Rotenberg (EPIC), and Fr E. Salobir (OPTIC, Order of Preachers).
Aspen (PDF):

Irish High Court hearings on transatlantic data flows
On this page and on Twitter (@maxschrems), Max Schrems is posting updates on the Irish High Court hearings in "Data Protection Commissioner v. Facebook ireland Ltd and Maximilian Schrems", which began on February 7 and are expected to last three weeks. The case concerns Facebook's use of standard contractual clauses to allow the company to transfer EU citizens' personal data to the US after the Safe Harbor agreement was voided in an earlier case brought by Schrems. The Irish data protection commissioner argues that the contracts include no provision for allowing it to suspend data flows; Facebook argues that surveillance in the US is no worse than in the EU and so its data transfers should be acceptable. Among those submitting amicus curiae briefs are the US government, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, DigitalEurope, and the British Software Alliance.
Europe v. Facebook:


To see more events recommended by the Information Program team, visit: If you would like your event listed in this mail, email

Robots Exhibition
February 8 - September 13
London, UK
The Science Museum's 2017 robots exhibition includes robotic artefacts over five centuries, from a 16th century mechanized monk to the latest research developments. Focusing on why they exist rather than on how they work, the exhibition explores the ways robots mirror humanity and the insights they offer into our ambitions, desires and position in a rapidly changing world.

Internet Freedom Festival
March 6-10, 2017
Valencia, Spain
The Internet Freedom Festival gathers the community keeping the Internet open and uncensored for a week of free-form multidisciplinary collaboration intended to help groups achieve their goals. Attendance is free and open to the public.

Open Education Global 2017
March 8-10, 2017
Cape Town, South Africa
This year marks several important milestones in Open Education, including the 15-year anniversary of the term "Open Educational Resources" and the five-year anniversary of the Paris OER Declaration. For those who remember the start of the movement, this conference will provide the opportunity to celebrate and reflect on these and other achievements, reconnect with colleagues and friends, and learn about new ideas and initiatives.

17th TACD Multi-Stakeholder Forum
March 21, 2017
Washington, DC
This year's TACD Multi-stakeholder Forum, titled "A consumer agenda for transatlantic markets: safeguarding protections and making progress in times of political change", will bring together participants representing civil society, academics, researchers, as well government, legislators , regulatory authorities and business on both sides of the Atlantic to discuss a pro-consumer agenda for transatlantic markets.

Rightscon 2017
March 29-31, 2017
Brussels, Belgium
RightsCon will tackle the most pressing issues at the intersection of technology and human rights. Session proposals are being accepted until November 25, 2016.

We Robot
March 31-April 1, 2017
New Haven, Connecticut
The sixth annual We Robot will be held at Yale Law School and will focus on the coming legal and policy conflicts as robots and AI become part of daily life.

OER 17
April 5-6, 2017
London, UK
This year's OER will present an opportunity for open practitioners, activists, educators, and policy makers to come together to reflect on 'The Politics of Open'. Up for discussion are questions such as: What are our current key challenges and strengths - locally, nationally, and internationally? What are our priorities - in terms of political governance, organisational and personal politics? What are the changes that we want to effect together? The conference will be chaired by social and educational technologist and Wikimedia UK Trustee Josie Fraser, and Alek Tarkowski, Director of Centrum Cyfrowe, co-founder and coordinator of Creative Commons Poland.

Personal Democracy Forum 2017
April 6-7
Gdansk, Poland
The 5th edition of Personal Democracy Forum will serve as a platform for exchanging ideas and experiences for people using new technologies to work for civic participation and transparency in public life in Central and Eastern Europe.

TICTeC 2017
April 25-26, 2017
Florence, Italy
This will be the third mySociety conference on the impacts of civic technology.

2017 IFLA International News Media Conference
April 27-28, 2017
Reykjavik, Iceland
This conference will examine issues and challenges in collecting and preserving the news and making it available to users. Do access and preservation have different prerequisites? In addition, the conference will explore how news media is used and transformed by researchers and the public. Can we recognize variable user needs? Do we offer the most suitable APIs?

Creative Commons Global Summit
April 28-30, 2017
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
This event will gather a global community of technologists, academics, activists, creatives, and legal experts to work together on the expansion and growth of the commons, open knowledge, and free culture for all.

IFLA MetLib 2017
April 30-May 5, 2017
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
The 2017 programme theme is "Partnerships: Creating a new vision for libraries". Among the subthemes will be discussions of how and why to use, form, and manage partnerships, management tools, and best practices.

May 13, 2017
London, UK
OpenTech 2017 is an informal, low cost, one-day conference on slightly different approaches to technology, experience and democracy. Talks by people who work on things that matter guarantees a day of thoughtful talks leading to conversations with friends.

4th Africa Library Summit and 2nd AfLIA conference
May 14-20, 2017
Yaounde, Cameroon
Moved from Ethiopia to the site of the second bidder due to safety concerns, this conference co-locates the fourth Africa Library Sumit and the second African Library and Information Associations and Institutions conference.

Citizen Science Conference 2017
May 17-20, 2017
St Paul, Minnesota
The biennial citizen science conference brings together a diverse group of researchers, practitioners, community organizations, and participants.

IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy
May 22-24, 2017
San Jose, California
The 38th annual meeting will present developments in computer security and electronic privacy, and for bringing together researchers and practitioners in the field.

Workshop on Technology and Consumer Protection
May 22-24, 2017
San Jose, California
Co-hosted with the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, ConPro will explore computer science topics with an impact on consumers. This workshop has a strong security and privacy slant, with an overall focus on ways in which computer science can prevent, detect, or address the potential for technology to deceive or unfairly harm consumers.

Privacy Law Scholars
June 1-2
Berkeley, California
The tenth annual Privacy Law Scholars workshop will assemble a wide array of privacy law scholars and practitioners from around the world to discuss papers in progress. Scholars from many disciplines, including psychology, economics, sociology, philosophy, political science, computer science, and mathematics also participate.

Next Library Festival 2017
June 11-14, 2017
Aarhus, Denmark
Next Library 2017 will offer a "patchwork" of co-learning, co-creative, participatory, engaging, pluralistic and interactive meetings, and lots of parallel sessions, keynote speakers, wildcard sessions, demos/exhibitions, gaming, Networking Dinner Party, Get2Gether, Social un-conferences, alternative events and surprises.

CERN Workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication
June 21-23, 2017
Geneva, Switzerland
The organizers of the biennial CERN Workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication - OAI10 - include representatives from the Open Society Foundations, SPARC, PloS, CERN, UCL, and other academic institutions..

Open Repositories 2017
June 26-30, 2017
Brisbane, Australia
The annual Open Repositories Conference brings together users and developers of open digital repository platforms from higher education, government, galleries, libraries, archives and museums. The Conference provides an interactive forum for delegates from around the world to come together and explore the global challenges and opportunities facing libraries and the broader scholarly information landscape.

Summer courses on privacy and international copyright laws
July 3-7, 2017
Amsterdam, Netherlands
These courses, run by the Institute for Information Law, are intensive post-graduate courses aimed to help professionals stay abreast of changing rules. The first, on privacy law and policy, focuses on recent developments in EU and US privacy law relating to the internet and online media. The second, on international copyright law, comprises nine seminars, each focused on one specific copyright issue.

IFLA World Libraries and Information Congress
August 19-25, 2017
Wroclaw, Poland
The theme of the 83rd annual IFLA congress will be "Achieving a healthy future together: diverse and emerging roles for health information professionals".

Privacy + Security Forum
October 4-6, 2017
Washington, DC
The conference breaks down the silos of security and privacy by bringing together leaders from both fields.


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This page contains a single entry by Wendy M. Grossman published on February 11, 2017 8:53 PM.

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