News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week ending April 12, 2019

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News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week ending April 12, 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: Communia, mySociety, Open Rights Group, SPARC, Wikimedia.


Voting errors aided European Parliament passage of Copyright Directive
A change to the vote order in the European Parliament meant that 13 MEPs who wanted to remove the controversial "link tax" and "upload filter" provisions mistakenly voted against considering amendments to the Copyright Directive, Mike Masnick reports at Techdirt. The motion failed by just five votes; the Directive then passed unchanged. Under European Parliament rules, MEPs may correct such errors, but corrections do not change the outcome. In a blog posting, Communia discusses the "lost opportunity" the Directive represents: it will not balance the interests of rights holders and users, protect human rights, or enable creativity and innovation to flourish. At Wikimedia, Jan Gerlach and Allison Davenport call the outcome "disappointing", but say the Directive contains some positive elements, such as new safeguards for the public domain. At her blog, the MEP Julia Reda (Pirate Party, Germany) says the last chance to stop the Directive will be on April 15, when the Council of Ministers - on this occasion, the Agriculture and Fisheries Council - will vote on it.

UK announces new internet regulation
The UK government has published its "online harms" white paper, which proposes to create a duty of care for websites that "allows users to share or discover user-generated content, or interact with each other online", Heather Stewart and Alex Hern report at the Guardian. The proposals would make sites liable for the content users post; the sites and their owners could be fined and senior managers held criminally liable. At the Washington Post, Tony Romm describes the plan as "aggressive", as it targets everything from child exploitation and false news to terrorist activity and extreme violence. At the Guardian,  Alex Hern suggests that the proposals risk creating a "North Korean-style censorship regime". At the Open Rights Group blog, Jim Killock and Amy Shepherd argue that the strategy should take a rights-based approach and that the current plan will introduce widespread prior restraint and may establish a dangerously restrictive new global norm. .

Elsevier's knowledge production dominance extends beyond journals
Elsevier's five years of acquiring scholarly reference tools such as Mendeley, SSRN, Pure, and Bepress have made the company dominant in ways that reach far beyond its journals, Lindsay Ellis reports at the Chronicle of Higher Education. Institutions worry that these acquisitions are changing knowledge production and making it harder for professors and institutions to cut ties, SPARC's Heather Joseph tells Ellis. At the Guardian, Jason Schmitt argues that paywalls and contractual non-disclosure agreements are blocking collective discussion of price structures. He urges individual academics to take action, and examines several current plans for changing the status quo.

US: FEMA violates privacy of 2.5 million disaster survivors
The US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) shared with a contractor sensitive information such as personal addresses and banking details pertaining to 2.5 million survivors of US disasters including the 2018 California wildfires and Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, report Joel Achenbach, William Wan, and Tony Romm at the Washington Post. The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General says FEMA has since improved its practices. At Vice, Elizabeth Brico finds that the stakes of a data breach are higher for poor people, who lack the resources necessary for recovery.

Denmark, Poland: Data protection regulators punish GDPR infringers
The Danish (Datatilsynet) and Polish (UODO) data protection regulators have issued their first sanctions under the EU's General Data Protection Regulation, Alexander Schneider and Matthew Sullivan of Kelley Drye & Warren LLP report at JD Supra. Under Article 5, Datatilsynet has fined the taxi company Taxa 4x35 nearly $180,000 for retaining 9 million taxi ride records after they were no longer needed. The company had "anonymized" the data by removing the customer names, a practice Datatilsynet said was insufficient since it kept phone numbers and ride histories. Besides fining the Sweden-based digital marketing company Bisnode's Polish subsidiary €220,000, UODO is requiring it to contact the nearly 6 million people it failed to notify that it scrapes third-party data from public sources. Of those Bisnode did notify, 13% objected. At TechCrunch, Natasha Lomas says Bisnode will appeal and is deleting the data rather than shoulder the cost of notification, and adds that the costs of GDPR violations can reach far beyond fines.

Colorado enacts network neutrality bill with penalties for violations
Colorado governor Jared Polis is on the verge of signing into law a network neutrality bill that will penalize ISPs for prioritizing some types of internet traffic or selectively slowing speeds for users by requiring them to pay back their state grants to build broadband infrastructure, Tamara Chuang reports for the Colorado Sun. Polis says he sees the bill as "a cornerstone to democracy".


Technology workers organize in Silicon Valley
In this article at New Statesman, Hettie O'Brien discovers that union activism is on the rise in libertarian Silicon Valley, where groups such as the Tech Workers Coalition, founded in 2014, are helping organize workers and train them to demand better working conditions. One result is increased employee rebellion against military contracts signed by companies like Microsoft and Google, as well as an industry-wide movement to oppose US president Donald Trump's "Muslim registry".

Google opens, then closes, AI ethics board
A week after announcing its formation, Google closed the ethics board intended to guide the responsible development of AI, Kelsey Piper reports at Vox. The board's members were to have included Joanna Bryson (University of Bath), Alessandro Acquisti (Carnegie-Mellon), Luciano Floridi (Oxford), drone company CEO Dyan Gibbens, and Heritage Foundation president Kay Coles James. The latter was particularly controversial, and her presence led Acquisti to resign and, Will Knight reports at MIT Technology Review, nearly 1,000 Google employees and academic researchers to petition for her removal. Piper believes it's important that Google tries again and gets it right.

Funding, scaling, and sustainable growth for civic technology
In this video clip from mySociety's annual TicTec conference, Lucia Abelenda Casalet (Fundación Avina, Mexico), Helen Turek (Open Government Partnership, Germany), and Breandán Knowlton (Government Digital Service, UK) discuss funding, scaling, and sustainable growth for civic technology. Casalet discusses gender inclusion in technology in Latin America; Turek gives examples of the civic tech projects she says are essential to create the government transparency the OGP seeks to promote; and Knowlton discusses how to work with risk-averse governments and presents the results of a crowdsourcing exercise that identified 15 challenges GDS should tackle.

The loss of the early web
In this article at the BBC, Stephen Dowling discusses the loss of nearly all of the first five years of the web, much of it closed down by commercial imperatives. Even now that libraries are conscious of the need to preserve the digital world, much is being lost because of the sheer volume of new material posted every day.

Dispute over encryption masks debate over future of amateur radio
In this article at The Register, Thomas Claburn explores an ongoing fight over the future of amateur ("ham") radio. While the battle is ostensibly over whether to allow encrypted communications, the underlying issue is whether to allow the amateur radio spectrum to remain a hobbyist space or to develop it for commercial data traffic.

India: AI helps mitigate shortage of doctors
In this article at Factor Daily, Anand Murali Jayadevan PK discusses progress in India toward using AI to improve healthcare diagnostics and argues that the country's acute shortage of doctors cannot be solved without technology. Jayadevan goes on to survey India's dozen or more startups exploring various aspects of medical technology.


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

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 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 April 12, 2019 7:27 PM.

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