News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week ending 12 October 2018

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News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week ending 12 October 2018

The Information Program NEWS DIGEST, published on 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.

Current and former grantees featured in this issue: CitizenLab; IP Watch; National Federation of the Blind; Privacy International; Simon Fraser University.


India: Supreme Court rules on Aadhaar
India's Supreme Court has ruled 4-1 in favor of approving the use of the Aadhaar identification program for purposes relating to public funds, such as collecting taxes and distributing benefits, Vinda Goel reports at the New York Times. However, the court set limits on Aadhaar's use for other purposes, including national security and verifying students' identity when taking exams, and also struck down a provision in the 2016 Aadhaar Act that permitted use by private companies, including banks and mobile network operators.

UK intelligence agencies surveilled Privacy International
The UK intelligence service MI5 has admitted that it captured and read Privacy International's private data as part of its programs to collect bulk communications data and bulk personal data sets. As part of PI's pending Investigatory Powers Tribunal challenge to these programs MI5, MI6, and GCHQ all admitted that they unlawfully gathered data about PI or its staff. In response, PI has written to Home Secretary Sajid Javid to ask him to provide additional safeguards and oversight to protect charities operating in the public interest from unlawful surveillance by the UK intelligence agencies, as well as confirm the changes he will make to the Investigatory Powers Act given the recent European Court of Human Rights ruling that parts of it violate human rights law..

US-Mexico-Canada Agreement threatens privacy regulation
The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which replaces NAFTA, sets troubling new standards for ecommerce that risk proliferating around the globe, blogs Canadian legal scholar Michael Geist. The digital trade chapter included in USMCA will lock in rules that restrict privacy safeguards and hinder efforts to establish new regulation for the digital world. Some provisions foster greater certainty for online trade; however, others restrict data localization policies, are vague on network neutrality, and ban restrictions on cross-border data transfers, in direct conflict with the EU's approach to data protection.

Google shutters Google+ after disclosure of data breach
Google will shut down its seven-year-old social networking effort Google+ after the Wall Street Journal reported that for six months the company has kept secret a bug it discovered in the Google+ application programming interface (API) that allowed third-party app developers to access the data of not only users who had granted permission but also of their friends. As Julia Carrie Wong and Olivia Solon report in the Guardian, this is the same scenario that helped Cambridge Analytica collect data on millions of Facebook users.

US legislature passes the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act
Both the US House of Representatives and the US Senate have now passed the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act, the National Federation of the Blind reports. The votes bring US copyright law into compliance with the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled. The legislation now awaits the signature of President Donald Trump. Also this week, the EU and its 28 member states formally acceded to the treaty, reports IP Watch, increasing the full number of treaty members to 70 countries

EU publishes code of practice on disinformation
The European Union has published a self-regulatory Code of Practice on Disinformation (aka "fake news"), which has been agreed by representatives of online platforms, leading social networks, advertisers, and the advertising industry. The Code commits signatories to improve transparency, close fake accounts, and demonetize the purveyors of disinformation. According to Euractiv, the list of signatories includes Google, Facebook, and Mozilla.


Universities undervalue public engagement
In this article at Nature, Chris Woolton discusses a study from Simon Fraser University that finds that although universities talk about their public mission, their guidelines for promotion and tenure put little value on public engagement. Based on an examination of 864 documents covering a wide variety of disciplines at 129 universities in the US and Canada, the researchers found a heavy emphasis on publications and citations, and few references to public outreach. At the Chronicle of Higher Education Audrey Williams Juen provides more detail on the study's findings, including the fact that only 5% of institutions explicitly mention open access in their guidelines for tenure and promotion.

Five Eyes statement on encryption lacks backing by security and intelligence agencies
In this posting at Lawfare, privacy expert Susan Landau analyzes the statement on encryption issued in September by law enforcement in the "Five Eyes" countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and concludes it's less significant than it first seemed. While the statement is a strongly-worded demand for lawful access to decrypted versions of content, Landau notes that it is not signed by the defense and security agencies, which understand the operational security issues raised by weakening encryption.

Did Chinese government agencies infiltrate Super Micro servers?
In this article at The Register, Kieren McCarthy analyzes the explosive Bloomberg story that for three years Chinese government agencies have had access to highly sensitive data via spy chips they infiltrated into Super Micro Servers used by organizations including Amazon, Apple, and the US government. Apple, Amazon, and San Jose-based Super Micro have all strongly denied the story with a specificity McCarthy finds compelling. The bigger issue, McCarthy writes, is not these specific chips but the overall security of the supply chain, given that most chips are manufactured in China and Taiwan.

Open-source investigation is changing intelligence and conflict monitoring
In this article at Foreign Policy, Nick Waters explores open-source intelligence - the use by intelligence agencies and law enforcement of publicly available information such as social media postings and other reservoirs of online data. While such sources were recently disparaged by British MP Emily Thornberry, Waters finds that this type of information can be readily authenticated. For example, the time, date, and location of photographs can be verified and geolocated by matching shadows, historical weather data, daily satellite imagery, and the rate of building constructions. Waters goes on to discuss specific examples in Syria and Libya.

Technologists and engineers query the social costs of what they're building
In this article at the New York Times, Kate Conger and Cade Metz report that employees in the large technology companies are beginning to demand greater insight into how their employers are using their work. In particular, they increasingly want to know about the social costs of what they're doing - for example, whether they're working on technologies that will feed into surveillance in China or the military around the world. Executives have typically responded that full transparency is not possible. At Vox, Jennifer Pahika finds that the separation of families at the US border has been exacerbated by the limitations of the software border agents are using. Software, she finds, is policy.

Canada: automated decision-making creates new risks for immigrants and refugees
In this report, Citizen Lab, IT3 Lab, and the International Human Rights program at the University of Toronto, examine the use of automated decision-making in Canada's immigration and refugee system, warning that the use of these technologies is creating a "laboratory for high-risk experiments within an already highly discretionary system". For at-risk groups with few resources to defend their rights, these systems are new vectors for bias, prejudice, privacy breaches, procedural unfairness, and a lack of due process.


If you would like your event listed in this mail, email

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.

Mozilla Festival
October 22-26, 2018
London, UK
Each year, MozFest features talks from luminaries at the intersection of technology and society, including hackers, journalists, activists, and others in a seven-day celebration for, by, and about people who love the internet, showcasing world-changing ideas and technology through workshops, talks, and interactive sessions.

Web Summit
November 5-8, 2018
Lisbon, Portugal
Web Summit began as a simple idea in 2010: to connect the technology community with all industries, both old and new. Since then, Web Summit has grown to become the largest technology conference in the world - it is expecting more than 59,000 entrepreneurs, investors, media, and others from 170 countries this year and will present more than 1,200 speakers.

Meeting of the Minds Summit 2018
November 27-29, 2018
Sacramento, CA, USA
The 12th annual Meeting of the Minds 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.

Munin Conference on Scholarly Publishing
November 28, 2018
Tromso, Norway
The Munin Conference is an annual conference on scholarly publishing and communication, primarily revolving around open access, open data and open science. The 2018 conference will be the thirteenth edition.

Computers, Privacy, and Data Protection 2019
January 30 - February 1, 2019
Brussels, Belgium
One of the world's leading privacy conferences, CPDP is a multi-disciplinary event that offers the cutting edge in legal, regulatory, academic, and technological development in privacy and data protection. Within an atmosphere of independence and mutual respect, CPDP gathers academics, lawyers, practitioners, policy-makers, industry and civil society from all over the world in Brussels, offering them an arena to exchange ideas and discuss the latest emerging issues and trends.

Future of Health Privacy Summit 2019
January 28-29, 2019
Washington, DC, USA
The 8th International Summit on the Future of Health Privacy will feature keynote speakers Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, President of the French data protection regulator, CNIL, and the former chair of the EU Article 29 Working Party during the time when it was responsible for developing the General Data Protection Regulation, and Don Rucker, the US National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. This year's summit will focus on the impact that GDPR and the Cambridge Analytica scandal will have on health care and technology around the world.

FAT* 2019
January 29-31, 2019
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
The second annual ACM FAT* Conference 2019 brings together researchers and practitioners interested in fairness, accountability, and transparency in socio-technical systems. ACM FAT* 2019 builds on the success of the inaugural 2018 conference, which was held in New York. The 2019 conference will be held in Atlanta, Georgia.

TicTec 2019
March 19-20, 2019
Paris, France
TiCTeC 2019 will bring together individuals from academic and applied backgrounds as well as businesses, public authorities, NGOs, funders and education institutions to discuss ideas, present research and build a network of individuals interested in the civic technology landscape.

Internet Freedom Festival 2019
April 1-5, 2019
Valencia, Spain
The Internet Freedom Festival is one of the largest, most diverse, and most inclusive unconferences in the world. Every year, 1000+ activists, journalists, technologists and human rights defenders from over 100 countries gather for a week of sharing and learning. Made by the community for the community, the IFF is known for creating a positive and inclusive environment for hands-on, multidisciplinary collaboration. As an example of this, women make up 50% of participants and presenters, while every year some of the most affected communities get assistance to participate through IFFĂ­s well-known Diversity and Inclusion Fund.

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 globe, 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.

Privacy Law Scholars 2019
May 23-24, 2019
Berkeley, California, USA
Organized jointly by BCLT and the George Washington University Law School, PLSC assembles a wide array of privacy law scholars and practitioners from around the world to discuss current issues and foster greater connections between academia and practice.

RightsCon 2019
June 11-14, 2019
Tunis, Tunisia
RightsCon Tunis will continue to be a space for civil society, technologists, businesses, startups, public servants, and lawyers to connect, collaborate, build strategies, draft declarations, and move forward real-world change. Whether in provocative plenaries, intimate roundtables, informal meetings, or the lively Community Village, RightsCon Tunis will help shape the future of human rights in the digital age.

LIBER 2019
June 26-28, 2019
Dublin, Ireland
The LIBER Conference 2019 will be held in collaboration with CONUL, the Consortium of National and University Libraries for the island of Ireland. The conference brings library directors and their staff together for three days of networking and collaboration. The goal of the conference is to identify the most pressing needs for research libraries, and to share information and ideas for addressing those needs.

85th World Library and Information Congress
August 24-30, 2019
Athens, Greece
The theme of IFLA's 2019 conference, "Libraries: dialogue for change", invites the library and information science international community to discuss, re-examine, re-think and re-interpret the role of libraries as promoters of change. In an era of rapid changes in the socio-economic-technological sphere, libraries ought to define their role as information providers, promoters of reading, settlers for the community they serve, key players in innovation, and leading actors for changes in society. A constant, open dialectic relationship between libraries and society will lead to well-informed citizens facilitating progress and development, implementing the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development and leading to prosperity in all fields of the democratic society.


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This page contains a single entry by Wendy M. Grossman published on October 12, 2018 3:37 PM.

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