News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week ending April 26, 2019

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News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week ending April 26, 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, Simon Fraser University.


EDRi seeks Head of Policy and interim Executive Director
European Digital Rights (EDRi) is looking for a new Head of Policy to provide strategic leadership to the EDRi Policy Team and design policy and advocacy strategies in line with the organization's strategic objectives and in consultation with its member network. EDRi is also looking for an interim Executive Director to cover its current Executive Director's maternity leave (six months from mid-July 2019 to mid-January 2020).


Lawsuit aims to block Toronto "smart city" development
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is suing federal, provincial, and municipal governments to obtain court orders blocking the Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto partnership's plan to redevelop a 12-acre site in Toronto as a "smart city", Jordan Pearson reports at Motherboard. CCLA is also asking the court to declare that the three levels of government and Waterfront Toronto violated Canadians' privacy rights in forming the agreement with Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Alphabet (Google's parent), because Torontonians cannot give consent under the plan to create pervasive surveillance via ubiquitous sensors.

EU completes passage of Copyright Directive
The EU Council of Ministers has passed the Copyright Directive 19 votes to six, with three abstentions, EDRi reports. Member states have two years to translate the directive into national law, which will be the last opportunity to modify the link tax and upload filter provisions. At her blog, German MEP Julia Reda points out the successes won by those protesting the worst aspects of the directive.

Facebook's private documents belie its public posture
Thousands of pages of leaked internal documents show that Facebook enhanced or denied access to user data as a business strategy to retain advertising clients and punish potential rivals while outwardly claiming these moves were intended to protect user privacy, Olivia Solon and Cyrus Farivar report at NBC News. At Mother Jones, Pema Levy and Tonya Riley find that the Cambridge Analytica scandal provided an opening for civil society groups to find some success after years of effort to get Facebook to remediate its systemic discrimination. At Wired, Nicholas Thompson and Fred Vogelstein recount the inside story of Facebook's 2018, when it was under siege from all sides.

Academia continues to overweight journal impact factors
A new survey of North American institutions finds that 40% of research-intensive universities consider journal impact factors when deciding on promotions, Holly Else reports at Nature. The language institutions use wrongly implies that high impact factors are associated with research quality, even though the metric has been widely criticized. The study, led by the neurophysicist Erin McKiernan, was funded by OSF's Information Program through Simon Fraser University.

Chinese success spreads desire for internet control
Fueled by both the widely-publicized problems of Western social media and the success of Chinese technology companies, China's model of the tightly controlled internet is being widely copied across the world, Lulu Yilun Chen and Yoolim Lee report for Bloomberg. Among the countries interested in adopting a similar walled-off model are Vietnam and Thailand. AFP reports at the Japan Times that the Singaporean government's proposals to combat fake news are being called an "assault on free speech" by critics such as the Asia Internet Coalition.

Australia passes controversial violent content law
Australia's newly-passed Sharing of Abhorrent Violent Material bill creates new offenses for content service providers and hosting services that fail to notify the Australian federal police about or rapidly remove videos depicting "abhorrent violent conduct" such as terrorist acts, murders, torture, or rape, Paul Karp reports at the Guardian. Despite its protections for public-interest journalism, the bill was widely opposed by technology companies, media organizations, and legal experts.


3D scans may help restore Notre Dame
In this posting, Open Culture explains that detailed 3D laser scans taken in 2015 by the late Vassar art historian Andrew Tallon will provide one billion points of data to help accurately restore the fire-damaged Notre Dame cathedral. At National Geographic, Rachel Hartigan Shea gives details of how the project was carried out. At the New York Post, Amanda Woods adds that Ubisoft, publisher of the 2014 game "Assassin's Creed Unity" can also help: incorporated into the game's French Revolution setting is a detailed, brick-by-brick 3D model of the cathedral.

Wikileaks and the death of internet innocence
In this posting at Lawfare, Quinta Jurecic re-evaluates Wikileaks in the light of our changing views of the internet during Julian Assange's seven years of sequestration in Ecuador's London embassy. At Politifact, Jon Greenberg finds that the Mueller report attributes to Assange a long-running conspiracy rumor that attributed the source of the Democratic National Committee emails Wikileaks published in 2016 to DNC staffer Seth Rich. The leak's true source was a Russian government hack.

The Moral Machine monster
In this video clip from We Robot (start at 1:38), philosopher Abby Jacques exposes the monster at the heart of MIT's Moral Machine, which uses an animated version of the trolley problem to elicit a mass public vote on the values that should be embedded in autonomous vehicles. At MIT Technology Review, experts tell Bobbie Johnson and Gideon Lichfield that Google should replace its cratered AI ethics board and this time focus on transparency, embracing antagonism, and engaging marginalized voices.

Big Tech centralizes corporate censorship
In this article at Wired, Emma Llansó discusses the centralized corporate censorship that platforms like Facebook and YouTube are making public in the wake of the New Zealand Christchurch shooting. Facebook and YouTube, along with Microsoft and Twitter, founded the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism in 2017, which operates a shared database of hashes of files deemed to be "extreme and egregious" terrorist content. The database is available to all participating companies, but lacks accountability and transparency. At the New York Times, Kevin Roose interviews YouTube's chief product officer, Neal Mohan, about the workings of the site's recommendation engine, widely criticized for leading viewers down a "rabbit hole" of increasing extremist videos.

Women's health apps introduce menstrual surveillance
In this article at the Washington Post, Drew Harwell finds that the intimate data women confide to period- and pregnancy-tracking apps such as Ovia is accessible to their employers under paid arrangements. While the data is anonymized and aggregated, it may still be easy to identify individual women, and employers benefit the most from self-tracking. At the New York Times, Sarah Jeong deplores the insurance industry's increasing surveillance through consumer data.

Closed Facebook groups change the face of Welsh politics
In this article at Tortoise, Xavier Greenwood studies the largely unknown closed social media groups that are changing Welsh politics in the run-up to the UK's May local elections. Where Wales is leading, other parts of the UK are likely to follow; the result in Merthyr has been the rise of independent councilors at the expense of the long-entrenched Labour party. However, what began as a means of opening up Welsh councils to greater scrutiny and accountability is becoming a bubble for circulating misinformation.


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

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.

22nd International Conference on Electronic Publishing
June 2-4, 2019
Marseille, France
In 2019, the Electronic Publishing conference will take as an inspirational starting point the concept of bibliodiversity, a term coined by Chilean publishers in the 1990s. The forum will revisit its definition and explore what it means today, five years after the 2014 adoption by 400 publishers from 45 countries of the International Declaration of Independent Publishers to Promote and Strengthen Bibliodiversity Together. This year's conference aims to bring together the inquiring minds of the academic, professional, and publishing industries to explore the ever-evolving nature of knowledge transmission within human societies.

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.

Africa Data Protection and Privacy Conference
June 24-28, 2019
Accra, Ghana
The first Africa Data Protection and Privacy Conference, convened by the Network of African Data Protection Authorities and Ghana Data Protection Commission, will bring together established authorities in Africa and their Global North counterparts for thought leadership, insight, best practice, high level strategic content, and networking, providing a critical platform for promoting Africa's drive for data protection and privacy laws in Africa.

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 8-11, 2018
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
DEF CON is one of the oldest continuously running hacker conventions, and also one of the largest. The DEF CON 27 theme, in a way, responds to '1983' with new questions. What does it look like when we make the better choice? What kind of world do we hack together in the sunniest timeline? How does our real best-case scenario compare to the future we've been dreaming of for generations?

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.

Munin Conference on Scholarly Publishing
November 27-29, 2019
Tromsø, Norway
The Munin Conference is an annual conference on scholarly publishing and communication, primarily revolving around open access, open data and open science.

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.

Meeting of the Minds Annual Summit
February 19-21, 2020
Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Attending the Meeting of the Minds Annual Summit is an outstanding opportunity for anyone seeking cross-disciplinary strategies and partnerships that deliver scalable, transferable, and equitable solutions to urban neighborhoods.

We Robot 2020
April 2-4, 2020
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
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 those who design or influence the legal and social structures in which robots will operate.


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This page contains a single entry by Wendy M. Grossman published on May 1, 2019 1:10 PM.

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