News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week ending January 25, 2019

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News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week ending January 25, 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: Citizen Lab, La Quadrature du Net, NOYB, Privacy International.


French data protection regulator fines Google €50 million
In response to a complaint lodged by La Quadrature du Net and NOYB, the French data protection regulator, CNIL, has fined Google €50 million, the BBC reports. CNIL ruled that Google has not obtained clear consent and makes it hard for users to fully understand how the company processes their data. Meanwhile, NOYB has announced that it has filed ten strategic complaints with the Austrian data protection authority against Amazon, Apple, the German video streaming service DAZN, the video on demand service Flimmit, Netflix, SoundCloud, Spotify, and Google subsidiary YouTube over their non-compliance with the GDPR's subject access rights requirements.

EU: Copyright reform stalls at near-final stage
The planned January 21 meeting to conclude trilogue-stage negotiations over reforming the EU's 2001 Copyright Directive has been canceled, Cory Doctorow reports at BoingBoing. A pause of more than a few days will delay the legislation - including the widely-opposed Articles 11 ("link tax") and 13 ("upload filter") - until after the May 2019 Parliamentary elections. At her website, MEP Julia Reda tracks the state of play. The CREATe copyright research project has a detailed timeline of the legislation.

Venezuela: Government seeks sovereignty over cyberspace
Leaks indicate that the Venezuelan government is about to introduce the Constitutional Law of Cyberspace of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the Constituent National Assembly (ANC), a legislative body organized by the Maduro government, and whose legitimacy is disputed, Access Now reports. The proposed bill would declare sovereignty over all use of cyberspace and require messaging services to censor content and legitimize tools, policies, rules, and preventive actions to "counteract hate" on the internet, while establishing discretionary control over "critical infrastructure".

Amazon uses customer data to build advertising business
Based on its database of customer transactions, Amazon is building an advertising business that is already worth $125 billion and is gaining ground on Facebook and Google, Karen Weise reports at the New York Times. Like other ad networks, Amazon tracks users across the web, serving ads on behalf of its ad-buying customers, but unlike others it knows exactly what its retail customers buy, where they live, and what credit cards they use.

Zimbabwe: High Court orders restoration of internet access
Zimbabwe's High Court has ordered the government to restore unrestricted internet access in the country on the basis that only President Emmerson Mnangagwa has the authority to issue such a directive, not the security minister who ordered the closure, the Associated Press reports. The government ordered the shutdown last week during protests in the capital, Harare, against fuel price hikes; it restored partial access over the weekend, but social media sites such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter remained blocked.

European Court of Justice rules right to be forgotten applies only in EU
The advocate general of the European Court of Justice has issued a preliminary opinion that Europe's "right to be forgotten", which requires search engines to remove links to information about people under certain circumstances, should only be enforceable within the EU, Owen Bowcott reports for the Guardian. The ruling relates to a case in which the French data protection regulator, CNIL, fined Google €100,000 for failing to remove an individual's name from search results on all its domains worldwide. At the Guardian, Daniel Boffey reports that a Dutch surgeon has won a legal action to de-link a website containing an unofficial doctors' blacklist that her name appeared on after a disciplinary action against her, setting an important precedent.


Risks of metadata in the humanitarian sector
In this report commissioned by the International Committee of the Red Cross, Privacy International aims to help people working in the humanitarian sector understand the risks raised by the metadata generated by smartphones, smartcards, mobile cash, messaging apps, and social media, as well as by their own fraud-monitoring systems.

Crimea: Russian annexation reroutes Internet infrastructure
In this video clip of her talk from the Chaos Computer Club's 35th Congress (35C3) held in December 2018, Xenia recounts her work at Citizen Lab studying the "soft substitutions" made to internet infrastructure in Crimea after its annexation by Russia in 2014. Over the course of a year, Crimea's Ukrainian ISPs were forced to become Russian businesses, and Crimea's routing was transitioned to new cabling and a more centralized infrastructure and monopolistic market, changing the quality, speed, price, and censorship applied to the service received by Crimean end users. Xenia also considers the role played by server-side geoblocking by online payment platforms, Google Play, Apple, and others. In other 35C3 talks, Frederike Kaltheuner and Christopher Weatherhead explain how Facebook tracks Android users whether or not they have Facebook accounts, and Antonia Hmaidi provides a technically-grounded discussion of the Chinese social credit system, which currently has more than 70 pilots, and its potential impact on society and the economy.

Anti-misinformation actions around the world
On this page at the Poynter Institute, Daniel Funke provides weekly updates on the state of actions - both legal and otherwise - against misinformation around the world. The most recent updates include new entries for Cameroon, where the law against reporting news without being able to prove it's true has seen journalists imprisoned; Kazakhstan, where two criminal investigations are in progress; Rwanda, where a blogger has been arrested for questioning the state's narrative on the 1994 genocide; and Sri Lanka, where mobile phone networks and social media platforms have been shut down to slow the spread of violence-provoking misinformation.  The list does not include corporate actions; at the Guardian, Alex Hern reports that WhatsApp is expanding its block on forwarding messages to more than five individuals or groups from India, intended to fight the spread of misinformation, to the rest of the world.

Bahrain, Egypt, Vietnam: Cybercrime laws provide excuse for online rights violation
In this posting at Open Global Rights, Wafa Ben-Hassine and Dima Samaro look at the oppressive laws in Bahrain and Egypt that are translating offline restrictions on freedom of expression and street protests into online measures, often via laws purporting to stop cybercrime. Article 7 of Egypt's 2018 Cybercrime Law legalizes blocking websites, and it and similar laws facilitate and legalize mass surveillance by both domestic and foreign governments. Reuters reports that the Vietnamese government has accused Facebook of operating illegally under the country's new cybersecurity law, which came into force on January 1, 2019.

France: Facebook fuels "gilet jaunes" protests
In this article at Monday Note, Frederic Filloux discusses Facebook's contribution to the French "gilets jaunes" protests. In numerous street interviews, Filloux found that nearly everyone he spoke to said they relied on Facebook for real-time updates on the protests. Filloux concludes that banning Facebook now would only make things worse.

China turns domestic censorship onto the rest of the world
In this article at Technology Review, James Griffiths cites work at Citizen Lab in outlining the methods China is using to turn its internal censorship onto the rest of the world. Among them are DDoS attacks, phishing attacks, and malware deployed for purposes of both spying and sabotage turned against targets such as Github, the Marriott hotel chain, and the Tibetan exile community, as well as attacks on services used to avoid sending attachments, such as Google Drive. The Guardian has a comparison of life online under censorship in China, India, Cuba, and Russia. At the New York Times, Paul Mozur reports that China is cracking down on social media use even though WhatsApp, Google, Facebook, and Twitter are all blocked in the country.


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

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.

Oslo Freedom Forum in Mexico
February 26, 2019
Mexico City, Mexico
The Oslo Freedom Forum (OFF) is a thriving global community of people united by the common vision of making the world a more peaceful, prosperous, and free place. OFF brings together leaders in advocacy, business, technology, policy, philanthropy, media, academia, and arts to share their stories and brainstorm ways to expand freedom and unleash human potential across the globe. OFF has evolved from an annual flagship event in Oslo to include satellite events around the world including New York, Johannesburg, Taiwan, and now, Mexico.

March 14-15, 2019
Madrid, Spain
The T3chFest of Computers and New Technologies brings together a variety of students, researchers, start-ups, companies and specialists in new technologies that are or are intended to be an element in our daily lives.

AI: Innovation and Governance Summit
March 18-19, 2019
Brussels, Belgium
The POLITICO AI Summit will gather global leaders to discuss issues at the intersection of innovation and governance and provide a launching point for solutions-driven conversations among policymakers, scientists, innovators, industry representatives, entrepreneurs, and academics. Issues to be considered will include: Europe's impact on the AI world order; the impact of machine learning on work in Europe and policymakers' response; education for success in the evolving jobs market; and ethics and regulations, and their enforcement.

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.

International Privacy+Security Forum
April 3-5, 2019
Washington, DC, USA
Organized bylaw professors Daniel Solove and Paul Schwartz, the International Privacy+Security Forum brings together global leaders in privacy and security. The 2019 conference offers an opportunity to learn in detail about Europe's General Data Protection Regulation, and privacy and security in Latin America, Asia, and elsewhere.

April 8-12, 2019
Geneva, Switzerland
The tenth World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum represents the world's largest annual gathering of the ICT for development community. WSIS provides an opportunity to exchange information, create knowledge, and share best practices while identifying emerging trends and fostering partnerships and taking into account the evolving Information and Knowledge Societies. By following up on the outcomes of the UN General Assembly Overall Review of the Implementation of WSIS Outcomes (Res. A/70/125) and the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Res. A/70/1), the WSIS Forum is constantly evolving and strengthening the alignment between the WSIS Action Lines and the United Nations' sustainable development goals. WSIS Forum continues to provide a platform for a "just and equal information society" for all WSIS stakeholders as set by the Geneva Plan of Action.

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.

Theorizing the Web
April 12-13
New York, NY, USA
Theorizing the Web is an inter- and non-disciplinary annual conference that brings together scholars, journalists, artists, activists, and technology practitioners to think conceptually and critically about the interrelationships between the web and society. We deeply value public engagement, and consider insights from academics, non-academics, and non-"tech theorists" alike to be equally valuable.

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.

Creative Commons Summit
May 9-11, 2019
Lisbon, Portugal
The five tracks at the 2019 Creative Commons Summit will include Creators; Building the Commons; Ethics of Openness; Open Education, Open Science, and Open Access; Galleries; and Legal, Policy, and Copyright Reform.

Stockholm Internet Forum
May 16-17. 2019
Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm Internet Forum (SIF) is a platform for advancing a free, open, and secure internet as a driver of development. The SIF 2019 theme is the shrinking online democratic space. Both online and offline, repressive measures against civil society have grown both in geographic spread and in the diversity of measures that are applied. Despite many worldwide similarities, the expression of threats to democracy and the phenomenon of "shrinking space" varies depending on the regional and national context, the level, and the target actors. Shrinking online space often has negative consequences for not only political rights, but also social and economic rights and development. SIF 2019 will offer an opportunity to explore the shrinking democratic space, share experiences, and identify effective responses.

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.

International Communication Association Conference
May 23-27, 2019
Washington, DC, USA
The International Communication Association Conference Washington, organized by the International Communication Association (ICA) will take place from 23rd May to the 27th May 2019 in Washington, USA. The conference will cover areas like Digital media and social change, information media and digital journalism, and entertainment media and culture..

GigaNet ICA Pre-conference
May 24, 2019
Washington, DC, USA
Organized by the Internet Governance Lab at the American University and the Global Internet Governance Academic Network (GigaNet) and co-sponsored by the ICA Communication Law and Policy and Communication and Technology divisions, this pre-conference aims to bring together ICA participants interested in questions of governance, GigaNet members from other disciplines, and the Washington, DC community of practitioners and policymakers. The goal is to provide a mutual learning process and exchange of ideas and challenges for the further development of internet governance research.

AI for Good Global Summit
May 28-31, 2019
Geneva, Switzerland
The AI for Good Global Summit is the leading United Nations platform for global and inclusive dialogue on artificial intelligence. The summit is hosted each year in Geneva by the International Telecommunications Union in partnership with UN sister agencies, the XPRIZE Foundation, and ACM.

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.

Data for Policy
June 11-12, 2019
London, UK
The fourth international Data for Policy conference has "Digital Trust and Personal Data" as its main theme. The conference will also welcome contributions in the broader data science for government and policy discussions. In particular, the organizers encourage submissions around the value and harm of using data in the public sector, deployment experience in government, "digital ethics" and "ethics engineering" concepts, personal data sharing frameworks and technologies, transparency in machine learning processes, analytics at source, and secure data transaction methodologies.

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.

Web Summit
November 4-7. 2019
Lisbon, Portugal
The Web Summit gathers the founders and CEOs of technology companies, fast-growing startups, policymakers, and heads of state to ask a simple question: where to next? In 2018, speakers included Margrethe Vestager, Tim Berners-Lee, and Microsoft CEO Brad Smith.

IGF Global
November 25-29, 2019
Berlin, Germany
The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was set up in 2006 as an open discussion platform of the United Nations for key legal, political, social and technical issues relating to the internet. IGF's multi-stakeholder model aims to ensure that all relevant societal groups are equally involved in preparations and implementation: governments, civil society, business, academia, international organizations, and the technical community. This is particularly of note in terms of representatives from developing and newly industrializing countries, which otherwise tend to be under-represented.


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This page contains a single entry by Wendy M. Grossman published on January 25, 2019 1:13 PM.

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