News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week ending 14 April 2017

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News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week ending 14 April 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: APC, Derechos Digitales, EDRi, Engine Room, EFF, Open Rights Group, TACD.

For breaking news stories, visit:

US: Congress votes to allow ISPs to monetize consumer data
EFF reports that the US Congress voted at the end of March to bar the Federal Communications Commission from imposing privacy rules on ISPs, with the result that the cable and telephone industry is now free to hijack searches, sell browser data, and insert their own advertisements. President Donald Trump signed the bill into law on April 3, ending a decades-long tradition that communications providers must ask permission before seeking to monetize users' personal information. In the Guardian, Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee calls selling private citizens' browsing data "disgusting". At the Privacy + Security blog, Daniel Solove discusses possibilities for filling the now-open gap. EFF offers a guide to protecting yourself from your ISP.
EFF (guide):

UK: Home Secretary calls for encryption ban
The Guardian reports that the British Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, has called for a ban on end-to-end encryption after the March attack at Westminster Bridge. Similar proposals were dropped from the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) before it passed in 2016. The Guardian also notes that the IPA does give the government the power to compel the removal of "electronic protection" from communications or data but quotes Open Rights Group advisory council member Alec Muffett saying that using the legislation would force the government into a battle it would lose because the open source community would never comply. Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, who was recently given the Turig award, has told the BBC that requiring a backdoor in encryption would be a "bad idea" and represents a massive security breach.
Guardian (encryption):
Guardian (IPA):

EU: European Parliament criticizes EU-US Privacy Shield agreement
EDRi reports that the European Parliament has adopted a new resolution covering the EU-US Privacy Shield agreement that permits the transfer to the US of the personal data relating to EU citizens despite the differences in privacy laws. The resolution finds some provisions of the agreement are inadequate and calls on the European Commission to examine them thoroughly in September, when Privacy Shield is due for its first annual review. Among the complaints: the lack of specific rules on automated decisions; the need for stricter guarantees for the independence and powers of the Ombudsman; the non-quorate status of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight board; the lack of concrete assurances that the US agencies have established safeguards against bulk data collection; and the large number of companies that are not covered by the voluntary self-certification scheme.
European Parliament:

Leaks identify US starting points for NAFTA renegotiations
Canadian intellectual property law scholar Michael Geist reports that the leaked draft notice from the Trump Administration identifies 40 issues that will form the starting point for discussion when talks begin to renegotiate the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Among these issues are intellectual property, privacy, and e-commerce rules that are very similar to the shelved Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Of particular concern are clauses limiting restrictions on data flows, criminal penalties for piracy, counterfeiting, and trade secret violations.
Geist (part 1):
Geist (part 2):

Investigation finds thousands of fake open access journals
In a letter to Nature, Piotr Sorokowski, Emanuel Kulczycki, Agnieszka Sorokowska, and Katarzyna Pisanski, researchers at the University of Wroclaw, report on their investigation of fake open access journals. The researchers submitted a fake application for an editor position to a mix of 360 legitimate journals and suspected fakes; 48 accepted the application. The authors go on to comment that the number of fake "predatory journals" is increasing at an alarming rate and is roughly the same as genuine titles (10,000) and becoming an "organized industry". The situation presents a threat to the quality of scholarship in general and to the open access movement in particular. Elsewhere, Science magazine reports that six organizations, including Wikimedia, the Public Library of Science, and the open access journal eLife have launched the Initiative for Open Citations, which is partnering with 29 publishers (and counting) to enable anyone to access citation data from 14 million papers indexed by the Crossref collaboration to promote the sharing of scholarly information.

Google adds "Fact check" tag to news results
Search Engine Journal reports that Google is expanding its Fact Check tag to search results and news articles worldwide. The tag means that a piece of content includes information that has been fact-checked by news publishers and fact-checking organizations. To be included in the scheme, publishers need to use the ClaimReview markup on pages where public statements have been fact-checked. In October 2016, when Google first applied the tag to News in select countries, Poynter found ClaimReview was in use by fewer than ten domains. In addition, publishers must be algorithmically determined to be an authoritative source. The Guardian discusses similar efforts by Facebook that flags content as "disputed" and its efforts to educate the public on how to spot fake news.
Search Engine Journal:

Hungary: Central European University under attack
Bard College president Leon Botstein, UC Berkeley provost Carol Christ, and Columbia professor Jonathan Cole report in the Washington Post that the government, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, has introduced legislation attached to an anti-immigration bill that makes it illegal for the Soros-founded Central European University to operate as an American university. The bill also regulates the movement of students and faculty for "national security reasons". The three authors, all members of the CEU's Board of Trustees, call the move an "attack rooted in xenophobic nationalism and an anti-intellectual mistrust of the conduct of free inquiry, research, and teaching", and argue that allowing the CEU to fall under the control of the Hungarian government will cause all universities in Hungary to suffer. Politico provides further background.
Washington Post:

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

We Robot
On this page, We Robot provides links to the draft papers and video livestreams from this year's conference. Of particular note are the discussions of Rebecca Wexler's paper on the criminal justice system, where trade secrets may deny the accused access to the basis for decisions made about their cases; Kristen Thomasen's paper on feminist perspectives and drone regulation, which argues that framing the issues surrounding drones and privacy as one of physical safety for women ignores the larger social issue of information asymmetry; and Amanda Levandowski's paper arguing that copyright law exacerbates the problem of bias in AI by rendering much data unavailable for use in training such systems.
We Robot:

Ten principles for responsible big data research
In this article for the Public Library of Science Computational Biology, researchers from Data & Society led by Matthew Zook publish ten rules for responsible big data research. Among the principles: acknowledge that data are people and can do harm; guard against reidentification; consider the limitations of the data; and engage with broader consequences.

Seeing beyond the hype in technology for human rights
In this blog posting at Open Democracy, Zara Rahman reports on a study undertaken by The Engine Room in 2016 to examine the risks inherent in technology adoption in the human rights sector. "Fail fast" isn't appropriate in a context where lives are at stake and where the core work of documentation changes slowly, she writes. Yet the pressure to adopt new technologies is very strong, not least from funders, who tend to respond favorably to applications that look innovative, while the crucial qualities needed for human rights work, however, are reliability and sustainability. Rahman explores the difficulties of choosing between open source and proprietary software, and notes that developers and trainers often are ignorant about the context in which their tools will be used.
Open Democracy:

Rethinking trade agreements
In this blog posting, Susan Grant, director of consumer protection and privacy for the Consumer Federation of America and member of the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue steering committee, reviews the recent public TACD annual forum. Contrary to the comments of former ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, a co-founder of TACD, Grant argues that TACD is not anti-trade but wants to improve both the process and the outcome of trade negotiations so that consumers benefit. In a paper launched at the forum, TACD outlines what it thinks should and should not be included in such negotiations.
TACD (Grant):
TACD (paper):

In this Storify, APC follows this year's RightsCon, highlighting panels on algorithms, network neutrality, encryption, privacy, and surveillance. In a blog post, Advocacy Assembly offers a summary of the conference's journalism aspects. CDT's podcast features interviews with politicians and activists about their work in progress, including Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake, Access Now regional leads Wafa Ben-Hassine (Middle East and North Africa) and Javier Pallero (Latin America), EDRi executive director Joe McNamee, and Derechos Digitales director Maria Paz Canales.
Advocacy Assembly:
Soundcloud (CDT):

East Africa: The state of internet freedom
In this report, Small Media and the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), Defend Defenders, and Nairobi-based Strathmore University's Center for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law assess the state of internet freedoms in Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda against the principles enshrined in the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms. In each country, the researchers find that government policy is out of alignment with these core values. Human rights and internet freedom advocates need to continue pushing their governments to adjust their policies in the direction of greater transparency, better surveillance oversight, and legislating to protect privacy and data.
Small Media:


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 artifacts 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.

Human Rights Watch Film Festival
March 6-June 18
London, UK; Chicago Illinois; Toronto, Canada; New York, NY
The 16 human rights documentaries included in this peripatetic festival highlight individuals and groups exhibiting courageous resilience in challenging times. Among the human rights topics represented are the integrity of the press; the experience of refugees seeking safety; and factory workers protesting chemical harms from their work in the Chinese electronics industry. Nicholas de Pencier's BLACK CODE, based on Ronald Deibert's book of the same name, follows members of Toronto-based Citizen Lab as they document civil society activism in Tibet, Syria, Brazil, and Pakistan.

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 program 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 guarantee 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.

Transparency Camp
May 22, 2017
Phoenix, Arizona
The Sunlight Foundation and the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting, Galvanize, and the Arizona Institute for Digital Progress are teaming up to present Tcamp 2017, an un-conference that will bring together the government, developer and journalist communities to discuss and solve problems relating to making government data open and accessible to the public.

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.

Personal Democracy Forum CEE 2017
June 8-9, 2017
New York, NY
The theme is PDF17 is "What We Do Now". Attendees will get connected, get inspired, learn with today's new and veteran organizers alike, and discover how what we do now can make all the difference.

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..

Data Power 2017
June 22-23, 2017
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
The Data Power 2017 conference asks: how can we reclaim some form of data-based power and autonomy, and advance data-based technological citizenship, while living in regimes of data power? Confirmed speakers include Helen Nissenbaum, Frank Pasquale, Stefania Milan, and Paul N. Edwards.

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.

AI Now Symposium
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
July 10, 2017
The second annual symposium of the AI Now Initiative, led by Kate Crawford and Meredith Whittaker, will be held at the MIT Media Lab. AI Now works across disciplines to understand the social impact of AI.

Citizen Lab Summer Institute
July 12-14
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
This year's conference is organized around five research streams: Network Interference and Freedom of Expression Online, Surveillance and Counter Surveillance, Security and Privacy of Apps, Corporate Transparency and Public Accountability, and a special session on Information Controls and Armed Conflict.

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.

Mozfest 2017
October 27-29, 2017
London, UK
The world's leading festival for the open internet movement will feature influential thinkers from around the world to build, debate, and explore the future of a healthy internet.


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This page contains a single entry by Wendy M. Grossman published on April 21, 2017 2:04 PM.

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