News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week ending 29 June 2018

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News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week ending 29 June 2018


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, Communia, EFF, R3D.






DataKind is searching for a new Director of Global Community and a Technical Project Manager. DataKind brings together volunteers from around the world to use data science and AI in the service of humanity. The director of global community will be responsible for recruiting expert volunteer teams, working with charity partners to define their data science needs, and managing projects through to success. The technical program manager will be responsible for leading the strategy to expand and support their network of volunteer data scientists and AI experts to create a global force for good.

Director of Global Community:

Technical program manager:





For breaking news stories, visit:


Egypt: Parliament approves Law on Combating Cybercrimes


Access Now reports that the Egyptian Parliament has approved the Law on  Combating Cybercrimes, which legalizes broad internet censorship and full surveillance of the country's population. Access Now notes that the law also enables the government to exchange data with foreign countries without requiring those countries to have data protection laws or other requirements limiting scope, retention or processing; is vague about its definitions and purpose; and exacerbates the threat to free expression already posed by Egypt's media and publications laws.

Access Now:


European Parliament votes to tighten online copyright


Communia, an association of digital rights groups, reports that as a result of the June 20 vote on the report on the proposed Copyright in the Single Market Directive, the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (JURI) has adopted</a> Article 11 (the  publishers' "link tax"); Article 13 (upload filters for open platforms); and a provision intended to force image search engines to pay to display thumbnail images as search results. Earlier, JURI voted against introducing freedom of panorama and permitting the use of protected works in user-generated content. Communia calls the vote "an utter disregard for the rights of citizens in the digital environment". On his blog, Michael Geist reports that in Canada, where the Standing Committee on Industry, Science, and Technology is conducting a copyright review, the motion picture industry is calling for increased liability for internet intermediaries.




US: Supreme Court rules that the Fourth Amendment protects cellphone location data


At EFF, Andrew Crocker and Jennifer Lynch report that the US Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 in Carpenter v. United States that the Fourth Amendment protects cellphone location information. The result will be to require police to get a warrant in order to access this data. At Lawfare, Sabrina McCubbin gives further background on the case, legal precedents, and the Court's reasoning.


India: Group campaigns for privacy-protecting Aadhaar law


At The Hindu, Soibam Rocky Singh reports that in response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal and security concerns surrounding the Aadhaar database, the Internet Freedom Foundation is backing a model bill created by a group of lawyers and policy analysts. The Indian Privacy Code 2018 is intended to shift power from the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to the people by granting citizens the right to know what information has been collected and how it is used; it also creates an option to refuse consent, not currently possible due to administrative practices.

The Hindu:


US: Security contractors use school shootings to sell facial recognition


At the Washington Post, Drew Harwell reports that security contractors are pitching facial recognition systems to leaders of US schools and community centers as a safety shield against school shootings even though the technology is unproven as a deterrent. Vendors decline to give details of how their systems have been designed, tested, or protected on the basis that it's proprietary information, while parents complain about the lack of oversight.
Washington Post:


New York Police Department enlarges gang database 70% over four years


At The Intercept, Alice Speri reports that the New York Police Department has expanded its gang database by 70% since Mayor Bill de Blasio took office in January 2014. In that time, 99% of those added to the database, which now includes over 42,000 people, were non-white. The NYPD has not explained the criteria on which additions to the database are made or details of how the list is shared or managed. Critics believe the database's expansion is a response to a class-action lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of NYPD's stop-and-frisk program, which stopped 684,330 people in 2011, its peak year.

The Intercept:





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


Studying Facebook: send in the scientists


In this article at Bloomberg, mathematician Cathy O'Neil argues that an army of scientists should be sent in during the upcoming 2018 US midterm elections to study Facebook's contention that people can trust it not to let its network undermine democracy. O'Neil proposes A/B testing of headlines and other scientific tests to move the discussion from ideology to science. We need to demand more studies, O'Neil concludes. FactCheck analyzes Facebook's February announcement that it would give independent scholars access to user data so they can study the role it plays in elections. The initiative is backed by seven foundations, who will not have access to the data; peer review and proposal selection will be managed by the Social Science Research Council.




Iran: The far-reaching effects of the Telegram ban


In this article at Wired, Lily Hay Newman discusses the impact of Iran's ban of the secure communications app  Telegram on the country's citizens. A detailed report from the Center for Human Rights in Iran has collected dozens of first-hand accounts and finds that although many Iranians continue to use Telegram via circumvention tools such as VPNs, the ban is interfering with free speech, journalism, and political campaigning, and harming businesses that depended on it - including government employees.



Mexico: Government, exclusive spyware, and civil society surveillance


In this video clip at The Citizen Lab, R3D director Luis Fernando Garcia discusses Mexico's use of government-exclusive spyware, intended to stop terrorism and serious crime, to illegally target at least 22 people -  journalists, opposition politicians, and civil society actors - working to expose human rights abuses. Garcia hopes the exposure will provide an opportunity to hold those responsible to account and to create a precedent to apply to other human rights abuses in Mexico.
Citizen Lab:


Internet of Things provides new vector for domestic abusers


In this article at the New York Times, Nellie Bowles reports that Internet of Things cameras, thermostats, digital locks, and doorbells are providing domestic abusers with new tools for harassment, monitoring, revenge, and control. In 30 interviews, Bowles found that even when a partner had left the home, the devices often remained behind and continued to provide a vector for intimidation and confusion. Turning everything off may just isolate the victim and escalate the violence. In a few cases, medical personnel have simply thought the victim was crazy.

New York Times:

"Deepfake" manipulated videos progress towards realism


In this article at Gizmodo, George Dvorsky finds at the annual SIGGRAPH that the quality of "deepfake" videos - that is, super-realistic manipulated videos - is improving faster than anyone thought possible. The new research system Deep Video Portraits uses generative neural networks to transfer a source actor's facial expressions and movements to a target actor (such as a world leader). TechCrunch reports that the authentication startup Truepic has raised $8 million to work on identifying Deepfakes. At the Verge, James Vincent reports that Adobe is using machine learning to automate digital forensics and spot edited images (such as those its Photoshop product creates). Finally, in an essay at Vice, Samantha Cole argues that media's focus on political hoaxes has drawn attention away from the women the original Deepfakes, a Reddit user, harmed in creating fake pornography. Neither the women whose faces he used nor the pornography actors whose filmed bodies he appropriated gave their consent.






UK: Businesses opt out of cash


In this article at the Guardian, Tony Naylor considers the growing trend toward cashlessness among British pubs and restaurants, fueled in part by bank closures and in part by concerns about safety and cost. Critics complain that cash-free policies risk excluding people who lack bank accounts or smartphones, and may allow restaurant owners to pocket staff tips. However, also at the Guardian, David Crouch reports that the central bank governor of Sweden, the country nearest to becoming cashless, has called for legislation to ensure that the public sector retains control over the ability to make and receive payments and to ensure that payments can continue if technological systems fail. At the Spectator, Ross Clark, the author of The War on Cash, argues that a cashless world would be a disaster because it will fail to eliminate crime or tax fraud, and would enable politicians and central banks to impose negative interest rates.

Guardian (UK):

Guardian (Sweden):







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


LIBER Annual Conference


July 4-6, 2018

Lille, France

The 47th annual conference of the Association of European Research Libraries (LIBER) will include plenary sessions with top international speakers, presentations on current research, posters, and an exhibition of products and services for the library sector, as well as a comprehensive social programme.


The Circle of HOPE


July 20-22, 2018

New York, NY, USA

Organized by 2600 Magazine, the 12th biennial Hackers on Planet Earth conference celebrates the hacker spirit. Talks typically feature new ways of examining and dissecting technology to reveal inconvenient truths.




August 9-12, 2018

Las Vegas, NV, USA

The heart of the DEF CON 26 theme is the concept of the counterfuture. The counterfuture is the open-source alternative to totalitarian dystopia; a world where we use tech and ingenuity for empowerment and connection rather than isolation and control.


VOX-Pol Third Biennial Conference


August 20-21, 2018

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The VOX-Pol Network of Excellence (NoE) is a European Union Framework Programme 7 (FP7)-funded academic research network focused on researching the prevalence, contours, functions, and impacts of Violent Online Political Extremism and responses to it.c


World Library and Information Congress


August 24-30, 2018

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The 84th edition of the World Library and Information Congress has the theme, "Transform Libraries, Transform Societies" with the additional tagline, "Reaching out to the hard to reach", which was chosen in recognition of the critical role played by libraries in the development of a nation, particularly in their ability to transform societies.


Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI) co-design workshop


September 12 - 14, 2018

Johannesburg, South Africa

Co-hosted with Amnesty International, this workshop will develop innovative and collaborative approaches for using human rights data for impact, and agree on the next steps for HRMI's expansion of country and rights coverage.


SciELO 20 Years Conference


September 26-28, 2018

São Paulo, Brazil

In 2018, the SciELO Program will celebrate 20 years of operation, in full alignment with the advances of open science. The conference will address and debate the main political, methodological, and technological issues and trends that define today's state of the art in scholarly communication. These issues will also be shaping the future of the universal openness of scholarly publishing and its relationship with today's Open Access journals, in particular those of the SciELO Network.


Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest V


September 27-29

Washington, DC, US

The Global Congress is the main meeting of a global network of over 800 researchers, activists, and practitioners who work on the intersection of intellectual property and promotion of the public interest. The core goal is to promote evidence-based policy-making by fostering partnerships between academics and policy advocates from around the world.


Amsterdam Privacy Conference


October 5-9, 2018

Amsterdam, Netherlands

APC 2018 brings together researchers, practitioners, policy makers and professionals in the field of privacy to share insights, exchange ideas and formulate, discuss and answer the challenging privacy questions that lie ahead of us. The goal of the conference is to bring together academics, policy makers, journalists, and practitioners to promote active discussion on timely topics, and foster debate on privacy issues between participants from various backgrounds and perspectives.


International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners


October 22-26, 2018

Brussels, Belgium

The 40th version of this event will be hosted by the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), Giovanni Buttarelli and the chair of the Commission for Personal Data Protection of the Republic of Bulgaria, Ventsislav Karadjov. The conference is expected to focus on the recently launched international debate on the ethical dimension of data protection in the digital era. Accompanying conference events will also take place in Bulgaria.


Meeting of the Minds Summit 2018


November 27-29, 2018

Sacramento, CA, USA

The 12th annual Meeting of the Minds annual summit will spotlight tools and best practices working for smart city leaders across the globe. The event focuses on emerging and tested urban sustainability solutions which are scalable, replicable, and transferable for cities and regions. Discussions are rooted in a deep understanding of technology and equity as key drivers for smart cities.


Computers, Privacy, and Data Protection 2019


January 30 - February 1, 2019

Brussels, Belgium

The 12th international CPDP conference is accepting submissions for panel and session proposals until June 21, 2018.


We Robot 2019


April 11-13, 2019

Miami, Florida, US

We Robot is an interdisciplinary conference on the legal and policy questions relating to robots. The increasing sophistication of robots and their widespread deployment everywhere - from the home, to hospitals, to public spaces, and even to the battlefield - disrupts existing legal regimes and requires new thinking on policy issues. The conference fosters conversations between the people designing, building, and deploying robots, and the people who design or influence the legal and social structures in which robots will operate.


Global Privacy Summit 2019


May 2-3. 2019

Washington, DC

The annual conference of the International Association of Privacy Professionals. Intended for anyone who works in privacy anywhere across the globs, whether they work in the public or private sector.


re:publica 2019


May 6-8, 2019

Berlin, Germany

The re:publica in Berlin is Europe's biggest conference on topics concerning digitization and society while also being one of the world's most exceptional festivals on digital culture. Since its beginnings in 2007 with 700 bloggers in attendance, it has grown into an international society conference. In 2017 it had 9,000 national and international participants from all areas of society.





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This page contains a single entry by Wendy M. Grossman published on July 30, 2018 10:49 PM.

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