News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week ending May 24, 2019

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News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week ending May 24, 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: Article 19, Bits of Freedom, EDRi, EFF,, La Quadrature du Net, and Ranking Digital Rights.


Facebook bans election-disrupting Israeli company
Facebook banned an Israeli company that ran a campaign aimed at disrupting and influencing elections in a number of countries and deleted dozens of accounts that were spreading disinformation, the Associated Press reports at the Japan Times. The company linked the campaign to the Tel Aviv-based political consulting and lobbying firm Archimedes. Separately, at Wired Amit Katwala writes that a false rumor of imminent bankruptcy spread via WhatsApp led West London's Tamil community to rush to empty their Metro Bank accounts. In a new report, researchers from the UK's Demos think tank study 39 hostile online information operations and conclude that they use numerous strategies and tactics to selectively amplify mainstream news stories to fit their agenda of exploiting existing cultural and social divisions. Focusing on correcting facts is only a partial solution, and governments should expand their definition of information warfare and be prepared to scale up a response rapidly when needed.

Coalition asks EU to ban Deep Packet Inspection
A coalition of 46 NGOs, academics, and companies from 16 countries, including EFF, Article 19, Bits of Freedom, and La Quadrature du Net, have sent an open letter to European policy makers and regulators urging them to take action against telecoms companies using Deep Packet Inspection (DPI), EDRi reports. A recent study to map zero-rating offers in Europe finds 186 telecom services that potentially use DPI to enable them to discriminate between different types of internet traffic despite a ban on the practice.

Apple faces consumer lawsuit over App Store monopoly
The US Supreme Court has ruled that four US iPhone owners are free to sue Apple over the 30% commission it charges developers for sales through its App Store, Kieren McCarthy reports at The Register. Apple argued that the lawsuit is invalid because only app developers should have standing to sue the company over the charges they pay. The Supreme Court's majority opinion held that Apple is using its monopoly on the iOS platform to overcharge customers. The case will now be heard in the district court.

San Francisco bans facial recognition
San Francisco is the first city to ban police and other agencies from using facial recognition to identify suspects of crimes both large and small, the New York Times reports. Oakland CA and Boston suburb Somerville MA are considering similar bans, though critics believe it would be better to develop regulations that prohibit abuse but allow cities to reap the benefits of the technology. CNet outlines the workings of Illinois' Biometric Information Privacy Act (2008, amended 2016); the Act bars Sony from selling its Aibo robot dog and means Google turns off facial recognition in its Nest thermostats. At Vox, Sigal Samuel argues that efforts to reduce bias and discrimination in AI-based systems risk harming black, gay, and trans people by making them easier for the surrounding profoundly discriminatory system to identify.

Indonesia leads the world in open access
Indonesia leads the world in open access publishing, with 81% of 2017's 20,000 journal entries available to read online for free, Richard van Noorden reports at Nature. Also high on the list are Colombia, Bangladesh, and Brazil, with more than 60% of research articles freely readable. Despite the EU's Plan S, it trails behind.

US: State of Georgia and public records campaigner seek Supreme Court ruling
Long-time campaigner for open access to public information Carl Malamud and his group,, are being accused of "terrorism" for putting the Official Code of Georgia Annotated online, Adam Liptak reports at the New York Times. Both the State of Georgia, which brought the lawsuit and lost in federal appeals court, and Malamud's group are asking the US Supreme Court to rule on whether annotated codes can be copyrighted. Placing state law under the control of legal publishers is a growing trend.


Ghost work
In this podcast from Data & Society, Mary L. Gray discusses her new book, Ghost Work, written with with Siddharth Suri, which exposes the invisible human workforce that powers the "AI" in services delivered by Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Uber. An estimated 8% of Americans have worked at least once as the raters, proofreaders, and engine parts designers Gray includes in the "ghost economy". Among those workers, Gray has found young mothers, early retirees, recent graduates, minorities who can't get the jobs they want, and some for whom the jobs open opportunities.

Structural disconnects between law and algorithmic decision making
In this article at Humanitarian Law & Policy, Suresh Venkatasubramanian examines the disconnects between how law works and how algorithmic decision making systems work. Algorithmic systems are judged by the outcome, but the fairness of a legal procedure is judged by the process its implementers follow - for example, in deciding whether someone in a war zone should be detained. In a 2017 talk at the Royal Society, Mireille Hildebrandt discussed the difference between law and regulation, and noted that automation lacks the flexibility required for law and turns it into mere administration.

Delays await in delivering autonomous vehicles and artificial general intelligence
In this blog posting, the Australian roboticist Rodney Brooks argues that it will be 30 to 50 years before fully autonomous cars will be a common sight on the public roads - and even longer for artificial general intelligence to be developed, despite Ray Kurzweil's long-running insistence that we will see it by 2029 (and a Singularity by 2030). In a podcast at Harvard Business Review, professor Missy Cummings, director of the Humans and Autonomy Lab at Duke University tells journalist-turned-entrepreneur Azeem Azhar that full, level 5 autonomy for vehicles is a long way off.

Free-to-play mobile games closely track users
In this article at Vox, Kaitlyn Tiffany investigates the data collection aspects of mobile games. Few people remember, but in 2014 Edward Snowden's leaked documents included the 2009 hit Angry Birds on the list of "leaky" apps the NSA used to access private information. Many people do not realize how significant and revealing game play data can be because they don't think of it as personal, like messaging, or sensitive, like credit card numbers. Yet a free-to-play game like Candy Crush may have as many as ten advertising intermediaries tracking players' every move - and these provide its only source of revenue.

Microsoft leads 2019 digital rights rankings
Ranking Digital Rights has rated Microsoft as the leader of 2019's index of internet and mobile ecosystem companies with respect to digital rights. Among telecommunications companies Telefónica has improved the most to take the top spot from Vodafone. The report scores 24 companies on 35 indicators of governance, freedom of expression, and privacy. The project concludes that although companies have made meaningful efforts to improve, they have much more to do to respect users' rights and provide transparency.

Considering platform regulation
In this ebook, The Case for the Digital Platform Act, Harold Feld, senior vice president of Public Knowledge, sets out a proposed framework for regulating digital platforms, including competition, content moderation, consumer protections, and law enforcement. He recommends building a toolkit that includes provisions to ensure openness such as data portability, open APIs, interconnection rules, and mandatory fair and reasonable licensing for essential intellectual property; limits on size and vertical integration; and privacy by design. Feld also studies commonly-made proposals such as breaking up Facebook and Google and suggests principles to follow in creating content moderation and consumer protection regimes.


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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.

Privacy Law Scholars 2019
May 30-31, 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.

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 ORGCon are digital privacy; free speech, censorship, and the role of algorithms; mass government surveillance; and data and democracy.

PETS 2019
July 16-20, 2019
Stockholm, Sweden
The 19th Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium will bring together privacy experts from around the world to present and discuss recent advances and new perspectives on research in privacy technologies. PETS/PoPETs is the premier venue for novel applied and/or theoretical research into the design, analysis, experimentation, or fielding of privacy-enhancing technologies.

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?

SOUPS 2019
August 11-13, 2019
Santa Clara, California, USA
The 2019 Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS) will bring together an interdisciplinary group of researchers and practitioners in human computer interaction, security, and privacy. The program will feature technical papers on aspects of privacy and security such as innovative functionality and design, field studies, usability evaluations of privacy features, and longitudinal studies.

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.

Biometrics Congress
October 28-30, 2019
London, UK
The Biometrics Institute Congress provides an independent platform where the international biometrics community can gather to conduct off-the-record discussion among the institute's multi-stakeholder community. In 2018, representatives from over 30 nations attended. This year's theme is making the world a safer place through the responsible and ethical use of biometrics in an era where laws and regulations are often unable to stay abreast of technology change and the business models based on it.

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.

18th Workshop on Privacy in the Electronic Society
November 11, 2019
London, UK
The goal of this workshop, held in conjunction with the ACM CCS conference, is to discuss and find solutions to the privacy problems that result from the transformation of society brought by the Information Revolution. One of the major implications of this technological shift has been a massive increase in the collection, sharing, and analysis of personal data. The workshop will include academia, government, and industry, as well as communities such as law and business, who will present novel research on all theoretical and practical aspects of electronic privacy, as well as experimental studies of fielded systems.

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 28, 2019 1:52 AM.

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