News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week ending June 25, 2021

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News digest | Open Society Information Program | Week ending June 25, 2021

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 Open Society Foundations. Prepared by Wendy M. Grossman.

Current and former grantees featured in this issue: AccessNow, SPARC, Wikimedia Foundation.


Twitter Risks Losing Intermediary Status in India
Twitter has missed the deadlines to appoint "social media intermediaries" to serve as points of contact as required by India's Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, Simon Sharwood reports at The Register. Twitter was accordingly asked to explain that, as well as its decision to label tweets by a spokesperson for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party "manipulated media" to the national parliament's Standing Committee on Information Technology. Law and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has hinted that Twitter may have lost its immunity from prosecution for user-generated content that breaches Indian laws.

Croatian Wikipedia Was Ideologically Captured
A recent independent evaluation of Croatian Wikipedia has found it was captured by ideologically-driven users who are "structurally misaligned" with Wikipedia's guiding five pillars, the Wikimedia Foundation reports. The situation is being remedied. The evaluation found that a small group of admins had undue control over the project and produced "unencyclopedic" distorted content, and recommends reestablishing a robust local governance system with oversight and support from the rest of Wikimedia, as needed. The Foundation hopes the findings will help other community projects struggling with similar issues.

Forensic Digital Experts Display Bias
Former UK forensic science regulator Gillian Tully, a professor at Kings College London, concludes that the findings of a study of 53 digital forensics experts are biased by the contextual information they are given about the investigation, Linda Geddes reports at the Guardian. Digital evidence features in around 90% of criminal cases, and the field's rapid growth means forensic techniques for studying it have had less scientific scrutiny; people also have a tendency to "trust the machine" without considering the role of the person interpreting the machine.

Israel Discontinues Vaccination Pass
Israel, which in February was the first country to issue a "green pass" vaccination certificate, ended the system on June 1 because epidemiological data following the country's successful vaccination rollout show it's no longer required, Einat Albin and Aeyal Gross report at Lex-Atlas. They go on to explain how to design such passes to respect human rights and privacy. At the New York Times, Sharon Otterman reports that New York State's "Excelsior Pass" vaccine passport, being created by IBM under a three-year contract, could cost taxpayers $17 million and expand to include details of driver's license, proof of age, and other health records. IBM is contracted to deliver a road map to scale the system up to all 20 million New York residents based on estimates that two-thirds will download passes by 2024. Thousands are already using them to gain entry to baseball games, bars, and restaurants, but the program is voluntary and venues must also accept paper cards.

Lina Khan Becomes Federal Trade Commission Chair
Big Tech critic Lina Khan has been sworn in as the youngest-ever chair of the US Federal Trade Commission after winning Senate confirmation by 69 votes to 28, David McCabe and Cecilia Kang report at the New York Times. At her confirmation hearing, Khan told the Senate she was concerned by the way technology companies use their power to dominate new, adjacent markets and that regulators should scrutinize these companies' mergers more closely.

G7 Announces Commitment to Open Science
The G7 countries will collaborate to remove barriers to the "open and rapid sharing of knowledge, data, and tools" that underpin research, , the G7 announced on its website following its meeting in Cornwall. They intend to promote open science and its dissemination to citizens while seeking to minimize technology-related risk and ensure research security. In a podcast at the BBC, Aleks Krotoski discusses the first ten years of Sci-Hub, the outlaw free repository of scientific journal articles, with Heather Joseph, executive director of SPARC, and its importance in retaining the material from open access journals with Mikael Laakso, from Helsink's Hanken School of Economics, who has published a study of vanished journals.


US cultural exports disproportionately shape global political debates
In this article, the Economist discusses You Are Here, a new book by Syracuse University media researcher Whitney Phillips that examines global information flows. Phillips finds that America plays an outsized role in shaping political debates across the world.

Newsrooms Fail to Understand Mmorally-Motivated Networked Harassments
In this article at Substack, Charlie Warzel discusses Alice Marwick's paper on morally-motivated networked harassment to shed light on the environment into which newspapers are, without much understanding, sending their reporters. Newsroom leaders privilege stories on divisive, morally-charged issues without recognizing that context collapse may cause legitimate reporting to be misconstrued and lead to attacks on journalists on unrelated platforms, even when it appears to have no connection to the internet.

On this YouTube channel, AccessNow presents videos from the recently-concluded tenth annual RightsCon. Panels of particular interest include "fireside chats" featuring Cory Doctorow (surveying the technology horizon) and Rappler founder Maria Ressa (on the state of journalism in the Asia-Pacific region), the press briefing on India's online space, and the panel on aligning content moderation with human rights principles featuring David Kaye and two members of the Facebook Oversight Board, University of Oklahoma professor Evelyn Aswad, and Digital Rights Foundation executive director Nighat Dad.

Experts Predict AI Will Not Adopt Ethical Principles by 2030
In this blog posting at the Pew Research Center, Lee Rainie, Janna Anderson, and Emily A. Vogels, present the results of Pew's newly published survey of expert opinion on the long-term impact of AI and its implications. More than two-thirds of the 602 technology innovators, developers, business and policy leaders, researchers, and activists who responded agreed that ethical principles focused primarily on the public good will not be employed in most AI systems by 2030. The survey was conducted in the summer of 2020.

Deepfakes, Disinformation, and Democracy
In this video clip, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), in collaboration with the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) U.S. Technology Policy Committee (USTPC) and the Online News Association (ONA) present the half-day Deepfakes, Disinformation, and Democracy Conference. Speakers including internet pioneer Vint Cerf and Daniel Braun, deputy head of cabinet of Commission Vice-President Vera Jourová, discuss how to tackle these emerging risks. Braun in particular lays out the EU's strategy for tackling disinformation while defending fundamental rights. At Nieman Lab, Emily Saltz and Claire Leibowicz publish a new report into the platforms' handling of misinformation that focuses on identifying patterns in how they classify and act upon information and its credibility.

The Internet's Declining Entropy
In a blog posting at Lawfare, Jonathan L. Zittrain and John Bowers discuss the increasing centralization of the internet and the resulting fragility and structural risks. The "radically decentralized" original design of the internet is disappearing into a handful of cloud providers, any one of whom can become a significant point of failure. In a transcript, Zittrain testifies before the US Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust and Consumer Rights on the subject of the Internet of Things and interoperability, comparing the present state of siloed single-platform devices, each requiring its own app, to the early days of walled-off information services. Zittrain recommends updating and reforming antitrust law, separating choice of assistant from choice of phone, and subsidies for public goods, and warns that Internet of Things could become a "privacy apocalypse".


*** In light of the coronavirus outbreak, please follow your organization's travel guidelines, and check links to events listed below regularly for participation restrictions and updates as to whether events will go ahead.***

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


CPDP LatAm 2021
July 14-16, 2021
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The first Computers, Privacy, and Data Protection Latin America will be held in conjunction with the first Latin American Privacy Law Scholars conference and MyData's first Latin American meeting. The theme will be "Data Protection in Latin America: Democracy, Innovation, and Regulation". The organizers hope it will be a unique opportunity to bring together varied and complementary perspectives on data protection and its impact on democracy, innovation, and regulation in Latin America. The conference will especially focus on data protection at a time of social emergency - COVID-19, democracy, innovation, and regulation in Latin America.

August 5-8, 2021
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Def Con is one of the oldest and best-attended hacker conferences. Each year it attracts thousands of professional and amateur security researchers.

SOUPS 2021
August 8-10, 2021
Vancouver, BC, Canada
The 17th Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security will bring together an interdisciplinary group of researchers and practitioners in human-computer interaction, security, and privacy. It will be colocated with USENIX 2021.

Singularity University Global Summit 2021
August 23-25, 2021
Los Angeles, California, USA
Global Summit 2021
Singularity University's premier annual gathering brings together 2,000 change-makers for talks on AI, augmented/virtual reality, blockchain, the future of work, impact, investing, robotics and more.

Wikimania 2021
August, 2021
Online from Bangkok, Thailand
Wikimania 2020, now Wikimania 2021, will be the 16th Wikimania conference, an annual event for the international Wikimedia community.

World Library and Information Congress 2021
August 2021
Rotterdam, Netherlands
WLIC is the annual conference of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA).

Modern Law Review: Are We Owned?
October 8, 2021
Stirling, Scotland, UK
The Modern Law Review will present a one-day conference, "Are We Owned? A Multidisciplinary and Comparative Conversation on Intellectual Property in the Algorithmic Society". The conference will discuss the future of autonomy as the terms of service that apply to phones and computers become embedded in "smart" physical objects throughout our environment and within our bodies.

September 6-10, 2021
Online from Geneva, Switzerland
The Geneva Workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication will focus on     scholarly publishing, digital research data, reproducibility and research integrity, diversity, inclusivity and collaboration, and the future of open science.

ALPSP Annual Conference
September 15-17, 2021
Online from UK
The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers' annual conference provides a friendly forum to share information, learn about new initiatives and engage in open discussion on the challenges and opportunities facing the scholarly publishing community. The main themes for 2021 are "Discoverability and Accessibility" and "The Great Reset: Scenario planning for life after COVID".

Open Education Global
September 27-October 1, 2021
Each day of the 2021 2021 conference program will have webinars comprised of five presentations and interactive asynchronous activities focused on that day's action area. Sessions may be in any of the six official languages of the United Nations - Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, or Spanish.

October 8-9, 2021
Chicago, Illinois, USA
The 11th Chicago-based Thotcon hacking conference is a non-commercial event intended to combine a top-quality information security conference with a casual and social experience.

Tech for Democracy
November 9, 2021
Copenhagen, Denmark
The Danish Government will host an international conference, Tech for Democracy, to bring states, tech sector representatives, media, academia, and civil society around the same table to focus on concrete ways to make technology support - and not undermine - democracy and civil society.

Policy & AI
November 9-10, 2021
Palo Alto, California, USA
With artificial intelligence rapidly transforming every aspect of our world, calls for regulation, governance, and oversight are on the rise. HAI's 2021 fall conference will consider four radical proposals for policies that respond to the challenges and opportunities of an AI-powered future. Can basic income address the future of automated work? Should a public agency certify algorithms? How would we regulate AI-based decisions on platforms? Should there be ownership rights in data that fuel algorithms?  Each substantive session will feature the short presentation of one radical proposal with discussion by a panel of experts from multiple disciplines and backgrounds.

Internet Governance Forum
December 6-10, 2021
Katowice, Poland
The Internet Governance Forum is an international meeting, held at the initiative of the United Nations, that enables a global discussion on the development of the Internet. It is a place for exchanging thoughts and experiences in the field of Internet governance.

Computers, Privacy, and Data Protection
January 26-28, 2022
Brussels, Belgium
CPDP offers the cutting edge in legal, regulatory, academic and technological development in privacy and data protection. Within an atmosphere of independence and mutual respect, CPDP gathers academics, lawyers, practitioners, policy-makers, industry and civil society from all over the world in Brussels, offering them an arena to exchange ideas and discuss the latest emerging issues and trends. This unique multidisciplinary formula has served to make CPDP one of the leading data protection and privacy conferences in Europe and around the world.

Mozilla Festival
March, 2022
MozFest is a unique hybrid: part art, tech and society convening, part maker festival, and the premiere gathering for activists in diverse global movements fighting for a more humane digital world.


Ada Lovelace Institute
London's Ada Lovelace Institute, founded in 2019 to ensure the ethical use of AI, is running a series of events on the issues surrounding the use of technologies in response to the pandemic. Late-2020 events included discussions of regulating for algorithm accountability and "almost-future" AI.

Bace Cybersecurity Institute
Recent webinars sponsored by Bace Security include a "fireside" discussion with prominent women in security, security problems in online voting, methods for privacy-protecting digital contact tracing, advanced botnet researcher, and using marketing techniques to improve cybersecurity communication.

Benchmark Initiative
The Benchmark Initiative is running regular events on topics such as the use of location data to end the global sanitation crisis, the safe use of location data in human migration; data, power, and the pandemic; and managing social distancing in public spaces. All events are posted on Vimeo soon after they conclude.

The Communication and Media Institute (CAMRI) at London's University of Westminster hosts a series of online events presenting the work of sociologists, historians, economists, and activists studying online developments around the world. Spring 2021 offerings include a reassessment of the 2010 Arab Spring and studies of internal communication connections within the Global South, the changing role of public service media, decolonizing the curriculum, and using Facebook to reduce polarization.

Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs
The Carnegie Council runs frequent events on topics such as illiberal threats to democracy, the societal limits of AI ethics, AI and ethics in Africa, and inclusion. The Council posts audio and a transcript after each event.

Data & Society
Data & Society has moved its weekly Databites and Network Power Hours programs into online interactive formats. Its first event for 2021 examines digital technology and democratic theory.

The Research Group on Data, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Law & Society is presenting a series of discussions on topics such as robotics (Frank Pasquale, April 1), rights, technology, and society (Anne-Sophie Hulin, May 19), and justifiability and contestability of algorithmic decision systems (Daniel Le Métayer, June 1).

EFF and its local counterparts in the Electronic Frontier Alliance are running numerous events on subjects such as technology education, open source, voting security, and content moderation.

Future in Review
Future in Review is running a series of online "FiReSide" events. Recent topics include Chinese-US relations after the presidential election, and the future technology struggle.

Geneva Internet Platform
The Geneva Internet Platform (GIP), a Swiss initiative run by DiploFoundation is organizing monthly briefings on internet governance, providing updates and news and projections of how they will influence future developments.

Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence at Stanford
HAI's series of events covers AI-related topics such as upcoming regulation, issues with algorithms, health, and AI and society.

In Lieu of Fun
Kate Klonick, an assistant professor at St John's University School of Law who specializes in online speech and governance, and Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution and co-founder and chief editor of Lawfare, hold a nightly discussion of current affairs, law, politics, and digital media with invited guests. Daily at 5pm Eastern Time.

Legal Frontiers in Digital Media 2020
The Berkeley Center for Law and Technology's online seminars on emerging legal issues at the intersection of digital media, freedom of speech, and law include AI, privacy law, technology law as a vehicle for anti-racism, and a look ahead to the next telecommunications act.

London Futurists
The London Futurists group, led by former Psion and Symbian architect David Wood, is presenting near-weekly speaker-led events focusing on potential radical transformations of humanity and society. Upcoming topics include anticipating future pandemics and a discussion of Michael Baxter's new book, Living in the Age of the Jerk. Event recordings are made available soon after meetings conclude.

Open Data Institute
The ODI's Friday lunchtime (London time) talks have moved online. These one-hour talks cover topics such as data ethics, social equity, trust, and converting weather into music.

Open Rights Group
The Open Rights Group and its local offshoots are running frequent online presentations and discussions of digital privacy, democracy, and data exploitation. Recent topics have included the launch of ORG's data and democracy report, a proposed law to ensure that contact-tracing apps are surrounded with privacy-protecting safeguards, and the effect of the pandemic on democratic institutions.

Public Knowledge
Public Knowledge is running public web events on subjects such as algorithmic amplification of hate speech, the survival of local journalism, and how to protect privacy during a pandemic.

London's Royal United Services Institute is running frequent online events considering topics relating to international politics, terrorism, financial crime, policing, and warfare, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic and the changes it will bring.

Singularity University
Singularity University's upcoming events include reimagining primary education and a series of executive programs aimed at various countries.


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This page contains a single entry by Wendy M. Grossman published on June 29, 2021 8:07 PM.

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