News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week ending 11 January 2019

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News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week ending 11 January 2019

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: EDRi, IREX, La Quadrature du Net.


Australia seeks to curb power of Google and Facebook
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has recommended creating a new regulatory authority with the power to command Google and Facebook to disclose how they adapt their algorithms to rank and display content, report Anne Davies and Amanda Meade at the Guardian. The ACCC did not call for breaking up the two companies, but did suggest tax incentives to encourage media companies that engage in public interest journalism.

Amazon consolidates government influence
Amazon executive Anne Rung privately advised the US government on the approach it should take to create a new internet portal that will give the company a dominant role in US government procurement, Stephanie Kirchgaesser reports at the Guardian. Despite US president Donald Trump's frequently hostile tweets at Amazon founding CEO Jeff Bezos, the company has amassed considerable power within the government.

European Parliament proposes censorship hand-off to Facebook and Google
The European Parliament is citing security and stopping terrorism as the reason its calling for Facebook and Google to automate content detection and removal, reports La Quadrature du Net, which along with 58 other organizations has denounced the proposal. At EDRi, Yannic Blaschke reports that United Nations Special Rapporteurs David Kaye, Joseph Cannataci, and Fionnuala Ní Aoláin have raised serious human rights concerns about the scheme. At the New York Times, Max Fisher's study of leaked Facebook moderation rules finds self-interest, biases, and outright errors. Meanwhile, the Guardian finds that, contrary to popular belief, Facebook's Instagram was even more effective for Russian election interference than other social media sites.

YouTube remains a key vector for conspiracy theories
Conspiracy theories, false claims, and hate continue to circulate on Google's YouTube more than a year after the company promised to curb "problematic" videos, the Washington Post reports. Users on social media sites popular among hate groups such as 4chan and link to YouTube more than any other site. At Buzzfeed, Charlie Warzel complains that 2018's many Congressional hearings summoning Silicon Valley executives asked poorly-informed questions and made little progress.

Cyber attack cripples US newspapers
A late December malware infection caused major disruption to printing and distribution of numerous US newspapers that share a production platform, including the LA Times and the Wall Street Journal, Reuters reports. The attack is thought to have come from outside the US.

Sudan blocks social media to end protests
In December Sudan shut down social media access via mobile networks in an attempt to quiet protests against rising inflation, Abdi Latif Dahir reports at Quartz. NetBlocks estimates the cost of the shutdown to the Sudanese economy at $7.5 million per day.


Opening the commons
In this article, The Economist considers Garrett Hardin's "Tragedy of the Commons" and the economic analyses it inspired and concludes that when it comes to intellectual property we are underestimating the power of the commons and the economic value of openness. At Public Domain Review, Adam Green picks the highlights of new works passing into the public domain in 2019 around the world, and celebrates new works entering the public domain in the US for the first time in 20 years (following a hiatus caused by 1998's copyright term extension).

New strategies for progressive funders
In this blog posting for Non-Profit AF, Vu Le argues that progressive funders in the US must learn from the strategies used by their conservative counterparts, who have consolidated their influence to shape the media and all three branches of the US government. Left-wing funders, he says, have generally thought too narrowly, failed to trust their grantees, lack diversity, and avoid engagement in policy and politics.

Technology companies and antitrust
In this video from the Internet Society, Tim Wu, author of The Curse of Bigness, argues that the US has allowed an oligopolistic concentration of power in the large technology companies. In debate, Rob Atkinson, author of Big Is Beautiful, argues that we need big US companies' innovation if we don't want to be dominated by Chinese companies, and outgoing FTC commissioner Terrell McSweeney rebuts that relying on these companies as the only way forward is a mistake and opening data is a key preventive. On his long-form podcast, Joe Rogan gets Lawrence Lessig talking about antitrust and the corrupting influence of money in US politics,

The internet of fakes
In this article at New York Magazine, Max Read surveys the internet and finds that a startling amount of it is fake: web traffic metrics, accounts, businesses, content, politics, and ultimately ourselves, too. At the Jakarta Post, Frédéric Garlan profiles a start-up's restricted-access tool for searching the dark web.

Data-driven border security changes the nature of citizenship
In this article at Boston Review, Matthew Longo argues that the new data-driven paradigm for border security is ending citizenship as we know it. The shift to maximal checks for all comers requires a high degree of trust in data sharing and means perceived risk matters more than citizenship. At the EDRi blog, Yannic Blaschke argues that digital rights are a security issue and encroachments provide a vector for attacks.

Ukraine: media literacy training proves effective
In this article at Slate, Lisa Guernsey asks whether Learn to Discern, a media literacy program that appears to be working well in the Ukraine, could prove effective in the US. The program, which ran in 2016-2017, attracted 15,000 working adults to half-day sessions led by 450 recruited trainees, who were given discretion in choosing their material. In a limited 2018 follow-up study, the program's creator, IREX, a nonprofit education organization with international reach, found that Learn to Discern participants performed better than their peers at understanding the source of news and detecting disinformation, and were more likely to cross-check sources.


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ShmooCon 2019
January 18-20, 2019
Washington, DC, USA
ShmooCon is an annual east coast hacker convention hell-bent on offering three days of an interesting atmosphere for demonstrating technology exploitation, inventive software and hardware solutions, and open discussions of critical infosecurity issues. The first day is a single track of speed talks called One Track Mind. The next two days bring three tracks: Build It, Belay It, and Bring It On.

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.

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.

Responsible Tech 2019
January 31, 2019
London, UK
Doteveryone and other world-leading experts, practitioners, policymakers, funders and tech leaders will convene to consider how to respond to the "techlash" of 2018, and make 2019 the year the industry comes together to build a more positive future where responsible technology is the new normal.

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 IFF's 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.

WEIS 2019
June 3-4, 2019
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
The Workshop on the Economics of Information Security is is the leading annual forum for interdisciplinary scholarship on information security and privacy, combining expertise from the fields of economics, social science, business, law, policy, and computer science.

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.

The Web That Was
June 19-21, 2019
Amsterdam, Netherlands
As the first generation of web users ages, the early web has become simply another object of nostalgia. The third biennial Research Infrastructure for the Study of Archived Web Materials (RESAW) conference will rethink our relationship to the web's past and the past web, and consider how to reconstruct and re-evaluate its history. The conference will host a lecture-performance by Geert Lovink and guests on the history and preservation of Amsterdam's early internet culture.

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.

August 14-18, 2019
Stockholm, Sweden
Wikimania 2019 will be the 15th Wikimania conference, an annual event for the international Wikimedia community.

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 January 13, 2019 9:58 PM.

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