News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week of 26 August 2016

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News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week of 26 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, EFF, EIFL.

For breaking news stories, visit:

US: Equation Group claims NSA hack
At Wired, Andy Greenberg reports that a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers has claimed to have breached the data systems used by the Equation Group, a highly sophisticated team of "cyberspies" that Edward Snowden's revelations have linked to the NSA. Shadow Brokers posted the stolen data for auction on a since-removed Tumblr page. Citizen Lab''s Claudio Guanieri, assessing the data, says that the posted content is credible enough, but that there's not enough evidence to link the hack to Equation Group or any other NSA-linked organization. The New York Times considers who the hackers might have been. Policy analyst Marcy Wheeler says that the hack bears out the claim that the NSA exploits vulnerabilities in commercial products, and suggests questions the US Congress should be asking in order to fulfil its role of oversight. EFF has published proposals for reforming the way the US government acquires and exploits vulnerabilities.
Citizen Lab:
NY Times:

Pakistan passes Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act
EFF reports that despite 18 months of opposition from numerous civil society organisations and concerned politicians, Pakistan has passed the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, which EFF's Danny O'Brien calls "a tragedy for free expression and privacy". The crimes the new law creates of "cyber-terrorism" and online "glorification" are broad, as are the government's new powers to threaten and intimidate speech and collect and share data without warrant or oversight, including with foreign intelligence. The bill claims jurisdiction over all Pakistani citizens, whatever their location, plus anyone in the world whose online activity affects any Pakistani national. Ars Technica reports that day after the law's passage the opposition party Pakistan Awami Tehreek filed a constitutional challenge on the basis that multiple sections violate fundamental human rights.
Ars Technica:

US Government approves IANA transition
Intellectual Property Watch reports that the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has confirmed that in October it will hand off technical oversight of the internet's domain name system to the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers "barring any significant impediment". A few points remain to be completed before the current contract expires on October 1: ICANN must approve a new contract with VeriSign, which maintains the root zone, and three intellectual property issues. ICANN has published a call for comments on the latter.
IP Watch:

Uber, Ford hasten self-driving fleet
ComputerWorld reports that the Ford Motor Company has announced it will mass-produce fully autonomous vehicles designed for car-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft by 2021. Ford says the cars will have neither steering wheels nor pedals. Bloomberg reports that Uber will begin a test of 100 self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania later this month. These cars will be modified Volvo XC90 SUVs, and humans will be present in the driver's seats at all times; cars will be paired randomly with customers. The test will proceed despite the recent crash of an automated Tesla. In July, Uber bought Otto, a driverless truck start-up. Mina discusses the likely resulting loss of jobs for human drivers and self-destruction of the automotive industry.
Computer World:

Australia realigns latitude and longitude
ABC reports that Australia will adjust longitudes and latitudes across the continent. According to Geoscience Australia, due to normal tectonic motion the continent moves northward at a rate of about 7cm per year, but the Geocentric Datum of Australia, which pins coordinates to geography, was last updated in 1994. As a result the coordinates are approximately 1 metre out of alignment with satellite navigation systems, a problem that affects myriad spatial information service and will worsen as GPS resolution continues to improve. Accurate data will be curcial for automated farm vehicles and cars as they come into use. The new Datum will be released on January 1, 2017 and will be based on projections to 2020.

Thailand to track foreigners via SIM cards
CNBC reports that beginning in January 2017 foreigners will be required to use special SIM cards in their phones that can be tracked by the authorities. Users will be unable to turn off the tracking function, which will be preset by mobile operators. The Thai telecom regulator, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, has approved the plan in principle as an anti-crime measure. The proposal is seen as an extension to measures intended to curb both crime and overstaying visas, though critics believe it will add little of value.

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

Can this election be hacked?
The run-up to the November US election, coupled with the recent hack of the Democratic National Committee, has sparked concerns about the possibility that the election could be hacked. In two blog postings at Freedom to Tinker, Andrew Appel outlines what aspects can and cannot be hacked, and discusses the best way to mount defences. The ability to audit the vote, he explains, is crucial. In a new report, EPIC expresses concerns about the risk to voter secrecy (a US requirement) if the push to adopt online voting in some states, primarily to aid overseas and military voters, is successful. EPIC makes recommendations for preserving privacy while adopting new technologies.
Freedom to Tinker (1):
Freedom to Tinker (2):

Predictive policing predicts police harassment
In this article at The Verge, Matt Stroud discusses a new RAND Corporation report, which has found that the algorithm-generated "heat list", the latest of Chicago's many efforts to reduce its homicide rate, has failed to save any lives. The heat list, generated by a $2 million algorithm funded by the National Institute of Justice, is intended to identify the people most likely to be involved in a shooting. RAND's analysis finds instead that at best it is less effective than traditional Most Wanted lists, and at worst the profiles it creates make their subjects targets for police harassment.
RAND report (Springer):

How Facebook targets ads
In this analysis, the Washington Post discusses Facebook's latest bit of transparency, which lists 98 data points the site uses to target personalised ads, both on Facebook and around the web.
Washington Post:

Death and the digital estate
In this Engine Room blog posting, Zara Rahman discusses the problem of "digital death" - both what happens to individuals' data and sites after their death and what happens to data and communities gathered by projects that are ending. Several scholarly legal analyses of digital estates have been published by Strathclyde PhD student Edina Harbinja and professor Lilien Edwards. These discuss the different types of digital estates, and ask whether we need legal standing for "post mortem privacy"; they also propose some solutions to the legal issues they raise.
Engine Room:
Harbinja/Edwards (SSRN):

Poland: Libraries and copyright changes
In this webinar (video and slides), EIFL copyright coordinator Barbara SzczepaƄska explains the provisions of Poland's new copyright law that affect libraries, schools, and archives. Changes include a broad new exception for preservation, implementation of the EU's Orphan Works Directive (for which Poland has mandated a long list of sources prospective users must diligently search), and provisions for the use of works that have fallen out of commercial availability.


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

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.

8th Conference on Open Access Scholarly Publishing
September 21-22, 2016
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.

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.

WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights
November 14-16, 2016
Geneva, Switzerland
Topics at the 33rd meeting of SCCR will include the protection of broadcasting organisations, exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives, limitations and exceptions for educational and research institutions and for persons with disabilities, and proposals for analysing copyright with respect to the digital environment and to include the resale right in future work.

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.


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This page contains a single entry by Wendy M. Grossman published on August 26, 2016 9:40 PM.

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