News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week ending March 15, 2019

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News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week ending March 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: Open Markets Institute, Privacy International.

The newly-launched Indela Fund has issued its first of at least three calls for proposals in English, Spanish, or Portuguese for digital rights projects in Latin America. Projects will be funded for up to US$75,000 over or up to 18 months. The fund seeks to reduce the barriers to funding and broaden the pool of applicants. It offers to cover the costs of professional support to assist grantees. The submission deadline is March 31.


University of California terminates Elsevier subscriptions
The University of California, which produces almost 10% of US research output, has concluded months of negotiations with the academic publisher Elsevier by deciding not to renew its journal subscriptions, Benedicte Page reports at The Bookseller. UC said Elsevier was unwilling to meet the goal of securing universal open access to UC research while containing journal costs. UC's proposed terms would have integrated subscription charges and open access publishing fees. Elsevier said it hoped to reach agreement "soon".

Facebook claims it will pivot to embrace privacy
Facebook will pivot to privacy by changing its focus to end-to-end encryption and auto-deletion of messages, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on the Facebook blog. At the Guardian, Julia Carrie Wong lists former FTC chief technologist Ashkan Soltani among the numerous skeptics that Facebook's version of "privacy" will include privacy from its own data collection. At the New York Times, Zeynep Tufecki calls the plan "shrewd competitive positioning, dressed up in privacy rhetoric" intended to help it side-step threatened government regulation. At the Guardian, Siva Vaidhyanathan suggests that Facebook is positioning itself to compete head-on with China's dominant WeChat. At the Observer, Carole Cadwalladr and Duncan Campbell analyze leaked court documents that expose global leaders' accommodating response to Facebook's lobbying to block data privacy legislation. In a video clip Zuckerberg discusses encryption, whether Facebook is an information fiduciary for its users, and targeted advertising with Jonathan Zittrain. Finally, at TheNextWeb, Arhimanyu Ghoshal advises users that the company makes phone numbers submitted for two-factor authentication publicly searchable with no way to opt out, and suggests alternatives.

Thailand's cybersecurity law poses threat to user privacy
Thailand has passed a cybersecurity law that will grant the government, which came to power via a 2014 military coup, broad access to internet user data, Skylar Lindsay reports at Asean Today. Critics complain that the law's definition of a "cyber threat" is vague and overbroad, and could be used to target the posters of a wide range of content even though the government claims it will not be used to regulate social media.

UK, Canada: Predictive algorithms spread among police forces and local councils
The UK human rights group Liberty finds that predictive policing is spreading to 14 police forces, Rebecca Hill writes at The Register. Liberty warns that the practice "lends unwarranted legitimacy to biased policing strategies" that disproportionately affect ethnic minorities and lower-income communities, and calls for forces to reevaluate their use of data for policing. Liberty also wants London's Metropolitan Police to conduct a full review of its Gangs Matrix database, which the Information Commissioner recently dubbed "unjustifiably excessive". Sky News adds that 53 local councils are using predictive algorithms to target their services. At Motherboard, Nathan Munn finds that police in at least two Canadian provinces - Ontario and Saskatchewan - are tracking "negative behavior" in a risk database; the age group most often added is children aged 12 to 17.

Vermont law exposes hidden ecology of data brokers
Under a groundbreaking new law in the US state of Vermont, 121 data brokers have registered with the Secretary of State, Steven Melendez and Alex Pasternack report at Fast Company. Firms that buy and sell third-party data - such as Axciom, Oracle, Equifax, and Spokeo - are required to register, but do not have to disclose what data they collect or who buys it, nor to provide subjects access or opt-out rights. First-party data holders such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google are not required to register.

Chinese social credit system blocks travelers
In 2018 people were blocked 17.5 million times from purchasing airplane tickets and 5.5 million times from buying high-speed train tickets because of social credit offenses such as failure to pay taxes and fines, Joe McDonald reports for the Associated Press, based on a report from China's National Public Credit Information Center. In addition, individuals were blocked from accepting senior management jobs or acting as a company's legal representative 290,000 times. The report added that since the launch of these punishments 3.5 million people have "voluntarily" fulfilled legal obligations, including 37 people who paid $22 million in overdue fines or confiscations.


Rethinking the meaning of privacy
In this report, Privacy International examines the reality of the right to privacy for women, trans, and gender-diverse people in a world where historically privacy has been appropriated by patriarchal rule and systems of oppression. Digital rights conferences tend to attract those who share a particular notion of privacy; however, issues of privacy and surveillance look very different to lower-income individuals. Automated forms of decision-making in particular demand strict and normative categories in which to place people. At the net.wars blog, Wendy M. Grossman discusses Victoria Schwartz's work on reconceiving privacy for the "reasonable woman".

Child "influencers" command substantial sums on social media
In this article at the New York Times, Sapna Maheshwari investigates the world of child social media influencers. Advertisers like Walmart, Staples, and Mattel provide "kidfluencers" too young to have their own accounts on sites like YouTube and Instagram with endorsement deals. The two-year-old identical Fisher twins have more than 2 million Instagram followers and are paid $10,000 to $20,000 for each sponsored post. Rules that control children's TV advertising do not apply to the internet, and social media stars are not covered by laws passed to protect child actors. At Privacy News Online, Glyn Moody asks how much privacy children should have from their parents, considering examples such as GPS trackers, children-tracking apps, and headbands that read brain signals.

Reassessing the "tragedy of the commons"
In this posting at BoingBoing, Cory Doctorow discusses new thinking about Garrett Hardin's 1968 "Tragedy of the Commons" paper, whose argument that the commons led to overuse by selfish actors is widely taught and used to justify the privatization of public goods. Political scientist Matto Mildenberger explains that in reality the commons were stable and well-managed until (typically rich) outsiders destabilized them. Hardin, Mildenberger argues, was a racist and eugenicist, and his paper was a piece of intellectual fraud.

EU: Internet platforms fail to meet agreed voluntary code of conduct
In this article at Ars Technica, Sean Gallegher summarizes the European Commission's six-month review of the voluntary code of conduct major internet platforms and advertising trade organizations signed in October 2018 to reduce the threat of political and other disinformation. With EU-wide parliamentary elections looming in May, the EC complains that Facebook offers insufficient transparency, Google's metrics are not specific or clear enough, and Twitter failed to provide a report. The Commission threatened to introduce regulation if its next review of the code, due in October, shows insufficient progress.

Trump administration's actions belie its anti-tech company rhetoric
In this op-ed at the New York Times, the Open Markets Institute's Matthew Buck and Sandeep Vaheesan argue that although US president Donald Trump and newly-confirmed Attorney General William Barr criticize the size and power of the US's biggest technology corporations, the Department of Justice Antitrust Division head, Makan Delrahim, consistently promotes their interests. Other than the AT&T-Time Warner merger, Delrahim has consistently favored legal interpretations that enhance the power of the dominant companies and is effectively revising antitrust law by filing amicus briefs supporting monopolists in court cases and interfering with municipal efforts to curb companies like Uber and Lyft. Ignore tweets, watch actions, they conclude.

US cities struggle with 1980s software infrastructure
In this article at Bloomberg Businessweek, Romy Varghese exposes the aging software estate that runs America's cities. Many systems - even in San Francisco - date to the 1980s, frustrating both staff and citizens, but upgrade costs are out of reach for many jurisdictions. The move to the cloud makes it even harder to fund upgrades, because services must be paid out of operating funds where physical equipment could be funded by issuing municipal bonds.


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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.

Data Privacy Summit
March 27, 2019
Washington, DC, US
This full-day event, convened by Access Now, will examine the contours of the data ecosystem in the United States and the need for a legislative response by bringing together privacy experts across different fields for an interactive dialogue to map the current data privacy debate, identify where consensus exists, and clarify existing questions where needed. The ultimate goal is to develop a comprehensive, rights-respecting data protection framework in the United States.

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, USA
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 "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.

19th TACD Public Forum
June 4, 2019
Washington, DC, US
The theme of Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue's 19th public forum will be consumer protection in the public sphere.

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 year's shortly-to-be-announced 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.

CPDP 2020
January 22-24, 2020
Brussels, Belgium
The 2020 edition of Computers, Privacy, and Data Protection has issued a call for panels in all areas related to technological privacy and data protection.

FAT* 2020
January 27-30, 2020
Barcelona, Spain
ACM FAT* is an annual conference dedicating to bringing together a diverse community to investigate and tackle issues in this emerging area. Topics of interest include the theory and practice of fair machine learning, measurement and auditing of deployed systems, users' experience of algorithms, and the ethical, moral, social, and policy implications of big data and ubiquitous intelligent systems.


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This page contains a single entry by Wendy M. Grossman published on March 8, 2019 12:00 PM.

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