February 2019 Archives

News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week ending February 15, 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: DataKind UK, Derechos Digitales, EDRi, EFF, The Engine Room, Epicenter.works, HRDAG, PIJIP, Privacy International, R3D, Wikimedia.

The Information Program and Data Protection Support & Management are jointly conducting a survey of NGOs and their funders in order to understand the impact of the GDPR on civil society as the law approaches its first anniversary. The survey data will be used in a report to be published in May. The survey is open to all civil society organizations and their funders, and OSF and DPSM encourages them to share it widely across their own networks.


German regulator prohibits Facebook from merging data
The German antitrust regulator, Budeskartellamt, has concluded a three-year investigation by requiring Facebook to cease forcing users to agree to the company's practice of pooling their data with data from third-party apps, including its subsidiaries WhatsApp and Instagram, Douglas Busvine reports for Reuters. Facebook will appeal the decision. At Politico, Laura Kayali studies internal European Commission emails and written accounts of private meetings from 2015 to 2018 to expose Facebook's strategy for opposing any form of EU regulation of its businesses.

EU nears final agreement on copyright reform
The Council of Europe has adopted a common position on the reformed EU Copyright Directive that includes more extreme versions of the controversial Articles 11 ("link tax") and 13 ("upload filter"), the MEP Julia Reda reports. France and Germany have reached a compromise over the opposition of Poland, the Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Luxembourg, Malta, and Slovakia in which sites are only exempt if they are less than three years old, have an annual turnover of under Ä10 million, and have fewer than 5 million unique visitors per month. At press time, the trilogue stage was awaiting completion. EDRi reports that the final plenary vote in Parliament will take place in March or April, before the May elections. At Wikimedia, Dimitar Dimitrov and Allison Davenport explain why Wikimedia opposes the proposed reforms. At EFF, Cory Doctorow finds that everyone hates the new compromise.

Apple blocks Google and Facebook internal apps for policy violations
Apple temporarily blocked Google and Facebook from distributing internal iOS apps because they violated Apple's distribution policy, Tom Warren reports at The Verge. As part of its enterprise program, Apple allows companies to develop apps for internal use, but bars them from distributing those apps to consumers. At Recode, Kurt Wagner explains that Facebook abused the program to publish a "research" app that paid users as young as 13 to track their app history, private messages, and location data.

Bell Canada sought to ban VPNs in NAFTA negotiations
As part of the negotiations to reform the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Bell Canada urged the government to ban VPNs "used for the purpose of circumventing copyright", Michael Geist reports at his blog. In its submission to the negotiations, uncovered by The Wire Report, Bell also advocated adopting methods "such as the site-blocking regimes required in Europe".

UK: Leeds tribunal rules Hermes couriers are employees
In a case expected to have widespread consequences for "gig economy" workers and supported by Britain's general trade union, GMB, an employment tribunal in Leeds has ruled that a group of 65 Hermes couriers are entitled to be treated as employees instead of independent contractors, Haroon Siddique reports at the Guardian. The ruling will entitle all 14,500 Hermes couriers in the UK to receive minimum wage and holiday pay, and to reclaim deductions taken from their wages on the basis that they were self-employed.

World Trade Organization launches ecommerce talks
Ministers from 76 countries including the US, China, the EU, and Japan, have launched talks to negotiate a framework for ecommerce, valued in 2016 at $27.7 trillion globally, Reuters reports. In response, Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) has published a resolution urging negotiators  not to interfere with digital rights. Among TACD's recommendations: ensure meaningful transparency and proactive engagement with all stakeholders, including citizens; focus on protections and rights for consumers; and do not use trade deals to tackle problems they're not suited for, such as cybersecurity, Internet of Things, AI, network neutrality, or data protection.


Singapore and South Africa enhance creators' rights
In this posting at Infojustice, Sean Flynn, the associate director of the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP), outlines the state of copyright law in Singapore, which recently released a report on copyright reform, and South Africa, where the first and most important house of the legislature has recently passed a copyright reform bill. Singapore proposes to eliminate one of the five factors for its fair use test and copy South Africa in focusing on the rights of individual creators. South Africa's bill answers creators' demands for exceptions to enable the right to create, shift the default ownership of new copyrights to the author rather than the commissioner, and provide protection against abuse and exploitation by collective management organizations.

Human rights groups call on United Nations to sever Palantir partnership
In this open letter, human and digital rights organizations including EDRi, Derechos Digitales, DataKind UK, The Engine Room, R3D, Privacy International, and the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG), ask the United Nations World Food Program to reconsider its decision to partner with Palantir. At issue are Palantir's data practices, pricing model, and opacity, as well as the lack of transparency and accountability surrounding the procurement decision. At IRIN, Ben Parker explains what is known about the $45 million partnership.

US: Michael Bloomberg builds anti-Trump data operation
In this article at the Atlantic, Edward-Isaac Dovere outlines the data-centric political operation to take down Donald Trump in the 2020 US presidential election that Michael Bloomberg is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to create. Bloomberg has yet to decide whether to run, but his "all the data" "tech stack" could nonetheless become the biggest and most powerful political organization in the US.

The age of surveillance capitalism
In this video clip from the 2019 Computers, Privacy, and Data Protection conference, Harvard Business School professor Shoshana Zuboff discusses her new book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, with Giovanni Buttarelli, Gary Davis, Andrea Renda, Paul Nemitz, and Julie E. Cohen. At The Baffler, Evgeny Morozov provides a long critique of Zuboff's book. Other significant session videos posted by CPDP present panels on the US CLOUD Act and electronic evidence, regulating AI, and blockchain and the General Data Protection Regulation.

China emphasizes AI for military and economic leadership
In this article at Center for a New American Security, Gregory C. Allen explores China's AI strategy and its implications for national security. Among his key points: China's leaders believe that leadership in AI is crucial for military and economic power, and is intent on reducing its dependence on foreign technology. The country also favors the development of new norms and sees increased military use as inevitable.

Zero-rating Facebook raises wireless data prices
In this article at BoingBoing, Cory Doctorow summarizes a study of 30 European countries, conducted by Epicenter.works, that finds that countries that allow Facebook to operate its "zero rating" program end up paying more for wireless data. The scheme encourages wireless carriers to collude with Facebook to raise prices on non-zero-rated services such as the open web, giving Facebook and other big incumbents control of an increasingly non-competitive market.


If you would like your event listed in this mail, email info.digest@opensocietyfoundations.org.

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 IFFís 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 ìjust and equal information societyî 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.

TILTing Perspectives 2019
May 15-17, 2019
Tilburg, Netherlands
TILTing Perspectives 2019, "Regulating a world in transition", brings together for the sixth time researchers, practitioners, policy makers, and civil society at the intersection of law and regulation, technology, and society to share insights, exchange ideas and formulate, discuss and suggest answers to contemporary challenges related to technological innovation. The conference will include plenary sessions, parallel sessions, and panel discussions with invited speakers, as well as presentations from respondents to a call for papers.

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 ìshrinking spaceî 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.

July 13, 2019
London, UK
Themes for this years ORGCon are digital privacy; free speech, censorship, and the role of algorithms; mass government surveillance; and data and democracy.

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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