News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week of 12 August 2016

| | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)
News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week of 12 August 2016

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, EDRi, EFF, Privacy International, La Quadrature du Net.

For breaking news stories, visit:

The Wall Street Journal reports that Procter and Gamble is to scale back its targeted Facebook ads, believing that it has taken the narrow marketing approach too far. However, the company will maintain its level of spending on Facebook, cutting back instead on ads on smaller sites that don't have a similar reach. The largest brands benefit more from a broader approach.

Brazil: Supreme Court refuses algorithmic transparency
While the Daily Dot warns that visitors to Rio have probably already been hacked via one of myriad spoofed wifi networks and other techniques, Jota reports that the Brazilian Supreme Court has denied a recent citizen's request for access to the source code for the algorithm that allocates cases to rapporteurs, who typically make autonomous decisions. Because randomness is a crucial element in assuring fairness, Jota argues that the Supreme Court should make the algorithm public to provide transparency into how it works so that citizens can be satisfied it's not being manipulated, either as a gesture of goodwill or to comply with the Access to Information Act.
Daily Dot:
Jota (Portuguese):
Google Translate:

Malaysia: New law gives government sweeping powers
Human Rights Watch calls for the immediate repeal of Malaysia's new National Security Council Act, which came into force on August 1 and gives the government the power to declare any or all regions of the country as security areas where police may conduct arrests, searches, and seizures without warrants, limit freedom of movement, ban demonstrations, and impose comprehensive security requirements. Such declarations last six months, but are infinitely renewable.

Peru installs off-the-shelf national surveillance
The Associated Press reports that despite protests last year the Peruvian government went ahead with a $22 million purchase of off-the-shelf surveillance software made by an Israel-based subsidiary of Verint Systems Ltd that allows it to intercept voice calls, text messages and emails. Documents obtained by the AP show how easy it is for countries to use this unregulated market to violate basic rights using the same tools that are sold to Western police and spy agencies for "lawful interception". Privacy International's latest work, a report on the global surveillance industry and the accompanying searchable global surveillance industry index, maps modern surveillance technologies, their trade, the companies that manufacture and export them, and the regulation governing the trade. PI developed its information from investigative reporting, whistleblowers, and government transparency reports.
AP (Washington Post):
PI (report):
PI (index):

Open access provides citation advantage
1Science reports that new research finds that open access papers have a 50% citation advantage over papers published in subscription-based journals. At her website, US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has published a tech and innovation agenda that includes open licensing for publicly-funded research. Meanwhile, Inside Higher Ed reports calls for a boycott of SSRN, which was sold to Elsevier in May. SSRN is under fire because some papers were removed from the database, which Elsevier has explained was a mistake, not a change of policy.
Inside Higher Ed:

American Association of Publishers objects to Sci-Hub research
Inside Higher Ed reports that the American Association of Publishers has complained that in a presentation he posted, Gabriel J. Gardner, a librarian at California State University at Long Beach, praised Sci-Hub's ease of use. The presentation outlined his research studying the popularity among academics of sharing papers despite violating copyright. In defending Gardner, Roman Kochan, dean of library services at Cal State in return challenged publishers to do more to make journal subscriptions affordable. At the Chronicle of Higher Education, George Mason University cultural studies professor Hugh Gusterson suggests that academics should recognise that journal publishing has become commodified, changing the traditional ecosystem surrounding academic research, and therefore should cease working for free to enrich large, corporate publishers.
Inside Higher Ed:

How foreign governments spy using Power Point and Twitter
At the Washington Post, Citizen Lab director Ron Deibert reveals a cyberespionage campaign operating out of Iran which uses familiar tools like PowerPoint and Twitter to spy on and hack activists. In a newly published report, the Lab discusses this latest addition to a long history of previous digital attacks against civil society, including monitoring and infiltration of human rights groups and journalists using sophisticated spyware (Ethiopia and Sudan), a malware campaign targeted at journalists, activists, and political opposition groups (Latin America), and numerous others. Activists need to work together to make each other safe, and will need help from stakeholders such as funders.
Washington Post:
Citizen Lab:

International Olympic Committee bans all unauthorised moving images
The Guardian reports that the International Olympic Committee has banned news media from publishing any animated images relating to the Rio Games, including animated GIFs and Vines. Under its "Rule 40", the IOC also bans any commercial organisations that are not sponsors from using any of numerous terms on social media during the Games. The Financial Review explains the IOC sees this as "ambush marketing", and notes the list of terms includes: "summer", "gold", "games", "effort", "victory", "Rio" and "2016". The Drum reports that the IOC relaxed Rule 40 this year, eliminating the blackout period before and during the Games during which non-sponsors were not allowed to mention athletes' names. The Drum also notes that Twitter has suspended the fake @Official_Rule40 account, a bot which automatically chided anyone using the barred terms, most notably the Pope and Donald Trump. At New Republic Dev Saif Gangjee discusses in detail the dubious legal basis on which the IOC stakes its claims.
Financial Review:
The Drum:
New Republic:

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

Truth in civic tech
In this blog posting at Civicist, based on a panel at the recent Personal Democracy Forum, digital strategist Jed Miller discusses the unreasonable expectations common to the technology world and the problem they pose for civic tech in particular. Simplistic expectations, he argues, distorts the incentives for both advocates and donors; it is better to be realistic and understand that learning may look like failure and yet be valuable. Among the panelists whose comments he discusses are OSF's Elizabeth Eagen, Nike Foundation's Shaifali Puri, and Product Team's Sam Dorman.

India, EU consider network neutrality
In this posting, EDRi discusses the more than 500,000 responses the EU's Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications (BEREC) has received to the network neutrality consultation. Telecom companies are pushing to delete paragraphs regarding free speech. BEREC must publish new rules by August 30. Also, in a blog posting at the Center for Democracy and Technology, CDT Open Internet Fellow Stan Adams discusses the pre-consultation on network neutrality recently launched by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and its background. How India answers the important questions it's asking, Adams writes, matters to all of us because of its size and growing influence: with only 35% of its population connected, India's internet users make up 13.5% of the online population.

UK and EU: Heading for data divorce?
In this blog posting at Freedom to Tinker, Axel Arnbak, author of the recent book Securing Private Communications, discusses the widening gap between the UK and the rest of Europe around data privacy. Since 1990, he writes, the UK has repeatedly obstructed policies desired by the EU, such as requiring telecommunications providers to implement end-to-end encryption, and the General Data Protection Regulation and Directive, and the e-Privacy directive. Arnbak believes, therefore, that Britain's exit from the EU may smooth future efforts to legislate for privacy and freedom. An open question, however, is how and whether data transfers between the departed UK and the EU can be made legal. At the Amberhawk blog, Chris Pounder analyses the future of data protection law in a UK outside the EU with no obligation to implement GDPR and concludes that as long as the UK remains a member of the Council of Europe it will be forced to implement the GDPR and UK-based data controllers will have no choice but to comply.
Freedom to Tinker:

Drones and the future of aviation
In this video of the one-day workshop Drones and the Future of Aviation, held at the White House, a group of industry, government, and research experts on aviation assembled to discuss the near future of unmanned aircraft systems. The Federal Aviation Administration has announced it will approve the operation of drones over people before the end of the year. The workshop included keynotes by US Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, and Intel CEO Bryan Krzanich, as well as panels discussing issues such as safety, data collection, and privacy. In Hungary, has been able to use drone footage to improve government transparency by uncovering politicians' hidden assets, capturing aerial footage of protests against the government's internet tax, and showing the true plight of refugees in transit, whom the government sought to characterise as dangerous enemies.
White House:

EFF at the eleventh HOPE
On this page, EFF publishes links to video and slides from the talks EFFers gave at the 11th Hackers on the Planet Earth conference (HOPE), held in New York in July. Included are Cory Doctorow's keynote, in which he discusses "Turing-completeness denial", a refusal to understand that computers have limits that underlies many problems in digital rights, including digital rights management, the loss of data privacy, and restrictions on encryption. Like other forms of denial, this one inflicts consequential damages on millions of people who act in good faith. Also linked are a summary of the year in digital liberties, progress on the Let's Encrypt initiative and an outline of Privacy Badger and Panopticlick, tools EFF provides to help web browsers defeat trackers.


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

21st-Century Literacies for Public Libraries
August 10-11, 2016
Philadelphia, PA
At this two-day satellite meeting, presented by IFLA's Public Libraries Section, delegates will share and learn from each other's experiences in developing and delivering services that encompass today's expanded concept of literacy, which includes not only the traditional ability to read and write but proficiency in a range of other literacies such as civic, health, financial, digital, and information.

The Use And Generation Of Scientific Content - Roles For Libraries
September 12, 2016
Budapest, Hungary
This one-day seminar will focus on how scientific content is used and the advanced role of libraries in making the best of it. The seminar will try to cover aspects of how libraries can improve the use of their content and how libraries can generate content from their side; the role of libraries in producing further content (that is, Open Access University Presses); and libraries' contributions to the development of Open Access.

Outcomes and Return on Investment of Academic Libraries in a Changing Digital Landscape
September 15, 2016
Ljubljana, Slovenia
This one-day seminar will approach two critical topics: managing electronic resources during the transition to open access; and economic aspects of using information resources and publishing in new circumstances. This seminar will try to discover return on investment beyond quantifiable value in the form of complex possible outcomes that cannot be directly measured using quantitative indicators, but must be assessed via the long-term quality assessment of their influence on study and research work output.

IFLA World Library and Information Congress
August 13-19, 2016
Columbus, OH
The theme of the 82nd IFLA Congress is "Connections. Collaboration. Community." The Congress will feature programmes from myriad library sectors.

Chinese Institutional Repository Conference
ChongQing City, China
September 21-22, 2016
Hosted by the National Science Library, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Library of ChongQing University, the fourth Chinese IR Conference will feature EIFL open access programme manager Iryna Kuchma, who will speak about global open access repository developments and trends.

State of the Map
September 23-26, 2016
Brussels, Belgium
Talks, discussions and workshops, code and documentation sprints, all to improve the collaborative OpenStreetMap project.

The Open Exchange for Social Change
October 4, 2016
Madrid, Spain
This pre-IOCD unconference aims to create a space where participants can exchange knowledge and understanding and build solidarity that will lead to better outcomes for IODC and beyond. It is an open space so that attendees can propose the most relevant and urgent topics for their work.

International Open Data Conference
October 6-7
Madrid, Spain
At IODC16, governments, civil society, multilateral organisations, and private companies will gather around a roadmap. the International Open Data Charter, in order to keep improving the governability, citizen engagement, innovation, and international development of open data initiatives.

Transparency Camp 2016

October 14-15, 2016
Cleveland, OH
The Sunlight Foundation chose Cleveland for this year's unconference in order to tap into the local expertise of an area with strong grassroots organisers and clear problems the community is trying to solve. The event aims to bring together librarians, government officials, technologists, civic leaders, community organisers, and others to figure out strategies and solutions for making local and state governance better, faster, smarter and more transparent.

Privacy+Security Forum
October 24-26, 2016
Washington, DC
Monday, October 24, is devoted to pre-conference workshops and "intensive days" - advanced discussion focused narrowly on a particular topic or industry. Proposals are welcome until April 30, 2016 based on the following guiding principles: bridge the silos between privacy and security; cover issues with depth and rigour; employ interaction, scenario-based learning, and extensive engagement; deliver practical takeaways from each session.

ODI Summit
November 1, 2016
London, UK
The annual Open Data Institute Summit will feature inspiring stories from around the world on how people are innovating with the web of data, and presentations from diverse innovators, from current startup founders to experienced, high-profile speakers such as World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, AI expert Nigel Shadbolt and founder Martha Lane Fox.

November 3-9, 2016
Hyderabad, India
ICANN meetings provide a venue for progressing policy work, conducting outreach, exchanging best practices, conducting business deals, interacting among members of the ICANN Community, including board and staff, and learning about ICANN.

Mozilla Festival
November 6-8, 2016
London, UK
MozFest is an annual celebration of the open Web. Participants are diverse, including engineers, artists, activists, and educators, but share the common belief that the Web can make lives better, unlocks opportunity, spurs creativity, teaches valuable skills, and connects far-flung people and ideas. The Festival seeks to improve the Web with new ideas and creations.

November 12-14, 2016
Washington, DC
At this event, the next generation can learn about Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data, develop critical skills, and catalyse action toward a more open system of research and education. OpenCon will convene students and early career academic professionals, both in person and through satellite events around the world and serve as a powerful catalyst for projects led by the next generation to advance OpenCon's three focus areas.

Internet Governance Forum
December 6-9, 2016 (TBC)
Guadalajara, Mexico
With the UN's renewal in December 2015, the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) consolidates itself as a platform to bring people together from various stakeholder groups as equals, in discussions on public policy issues relating to the Internet. While there is no negotiated outcome, the IGF informs and inspires those with policy-making power in both the public and private sectors. At their annual meeting delegates discuss, exchange information and share good practices with each other.

Open Government Partnership Summit
December 7-9, 2016
Paris, France
Representatives from governments, academia, civil society and international organizations will gather to share their experiences and best practices and push forward the open government global agenda in light of the great challenges of the modern world. As a forum for sharing best practices, OGP provides a unique platform that brings together, stimulates and expands the community of state reformers worldwide.

Computers, Privacy, and Data Protection
January 25-27, 2017
Brussels, Belgium
The tenth CPDP's main theme is artificial intelligence. The conference is accepting proposals for panels in April (from academic consortia, research projects, think tanks, and other research organisations) and May (from individuals wishing to present academic research papers).

Rightscon 2017
March 29-31, 2017
Brussels, Belgium
RightsCon will tackle the most pressing issues at the intersection of technology and human rights.

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.

8th Conference on Open Access Scholarly Publishing
September 21-22, 2017
Arlington, VA
COASP's eighth edition will feature a diverse range of panels, events, and collaborative opportunities to bring together the open access community. With open access now at the top of the agendas of global governments, universities, libraries, funders, and policy makers, and of critical importance to researchers at all stages of their careers, COASP offers a crucial space for those working in open access around the world to come together and discuss developments, innovations, and best practices, and to make and build upon collaborations old and new.


Hear more from the Information Program!
If you want to hear more from the Information Program team each week, consider subscribing to our shared bookmarks on delicious using this RSS feed:

You can also read more about our work on the Open Society Foundations website:

Hear less from the Information Program!
If you wish to unsubscribe from this weekly digest, please send an email with the subject line "Unsubscribe" to

This digest operates under the OSF privacy policy:

Additionally, it uses the URL shortening service, which operates under the following privacy policy:

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0

Open Society Foundation, part of the Open Society Foundations, is a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales (company number 4571628) and a registered charity (charity number 1105069). Its registered office address is 7th Floor, Millbank Tower, 21-24 Millbank, London SW1P 4QP

0 TrackBacks

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week of 12 August 2016.

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Wendy M. Grossman published on August 13, 2016 12:06 PM.

News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week of 29 July 2016 was the previous entry in this blog.

News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week of 26 August 2016 is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.