Berkman Alumni, Friends, and Spinoffs

Keep track of Berkman-related news and conversations by subscribing to this page using your RSS feed reader. This aggregation of blogs relating to the Berkman Center does not necessarily represent the views of the Berkman Center or Harvard University but is provided as a convenient starting point for those who wish to explore the people and projects in Berkman's orbit. As this is a global exercise, times are in UTC.

The list of blogs being aggregated here can be found at the bottom of this page.

September 20, 2017

Global Voices Advocacy
Netizen Report: Germany’s New Social Media Law Puts a Price on Hate Speech

The Problem with Censorship is XXXXXXXXX, Budapest, Hungary. Photo by Cory Doctorow via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Global Voices Advocacy's Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world.

A new German law set to take effect in October will impose fines on social networks if they fail to remove “manifestly unlawful” hate speech within 24 hours of being posted.

Under the Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz, called the NetzDG for short, companies have up to seven days to consider the removal of more ambiguous material.

Germany’s criminal code already defines hate speech, so the law does not create new measures or definitions. Instead, it forces companies to police hate speech or face astronomical fines. The law is unprecedented at the global level, and could have game-changing ripple effects worldwide.

The final draft of the law sets clear punishments for companies that fail to comply and places the burden of determining what messages, images or videos count as hate speech on companies themselves. It also compels companies to create stronger mechanisms for transparency around their processes for taking down content. But it does not prescribe a legal mechanism to appeal the removal of material.

In an interview with BBC, an unnamed Facebook spokesperson said that the law “would have the effect of transferring responsibility for complex legal decisions from public authorities to private companies.”

Even without the law in place, this responsibility already exists in many dimensions. Companies typically have full authority over users’ accounts and postings — when a user’s account is suspended or content is taken down, that person is often unable to access information about how the decision was made, or have direct contact with an actual company employee who can help to resolve disputes. The same is true for users who report abusive content or messages and receive no remedy.

On top of these concerns, there is consensus among the law’s critics that it will result in overcompliance — and thus, increased censorship — by companies eager to avoid fines.

UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression David Kaye said of the law:

With these 24 hour and seven day deadlines – if you are a company you are going to want avoid fines and bad public branding of your platform….If there is a complaint about a post you are just going to take it down. What is in it for you to leave it up? I think the result is likely to be greater censorship.

Rohingyas are being driven out of Myanmar — and off of Facebook

Rohingya activists say that their Facebook posts documenting what the UN now says is the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya people in Myanmar are routinely being removed or their accounts suspended. This is particularly significant given the proliferation of anti-Rohingya propaganda online, and the mounting barriers to accessing accurate information about the conflict. These factors make Facebook and other social media platforms a critical space for spreading information about the conflict.

UAE court rules against Indian Facebook user who ‘insulted’ the Prophet

A UAE court upheld the sentence of an Indian migrant worker who was sentenced to one year in prison for posting comments on Facebook that allegedly “disrespected” and “insulted” the Prophet Mohammed. The man claimed that hackers had posted these messages, but this appeal was rejected.

Iranian developers petition Apple to keep their apps online

Iranian app developers are mounting a petition against Apple Inc for blocking their apps from the App Store. In a Change.org petition, a group of developers ask Apple CEO Tim Cook to “stop removing Iranian applications from [the] App Store and lift policies that are limiting our access to the products and services offered via Apple’s platforms.”

Multiple developers have reported that when they submit an app for review, they receive a message indicating that the App store “cannot host, distribute, or do business with apps or developers connected to certain U.S. embargoed countries.”

Apple began shutting down Iranian apps in August, the same month US President Trump signed a new sanctions bill into law, but it remains unclear whether the administration meant to impose new restrictions on technology companies. European companies lifted all sanctions against Iran after the negotiation of the 2016 nuclear agreement.

New Research

 

 

Subscribe to the Netizen Report

 

 

by Netizen Report Team at September 20, 2017 08:06 PM

Sentenced to One Year in Prison for ‘Inciting Protest,’ a Moroccan Journalist Goes on Hunger Strike

Protesters at a sit-in in Imzouren, 14km from the city of Al-Hoceima in the Rif region. Photo by AlhoceimasOfficiel. Used with permission.

Moroccan journalist Hamid El Mahdoui has gone on hunger strike after a court of appeal increased his prison sentence to one year.

In the early hours of 12 September and after a trial that lasted more than nine hours, the appeal court of Al Hoiceima issued a verdict that increased El Mahdaoui's sentence from three months to one year in jail, for giving a speech that they say incited others to protest and break the law under the country's penal code.

El Mahdoui is the director and editor-in-chief of the independent news website Badil.info. He was arrested by Moroccan authorities on 20 July in the Rif region, where he had traveled to cover protests, and was later convicted of inciting protest.

The primary piece of evidence used against him was a 19 July video filmed by a police officer that allegedly shows Mahdaoui inciting people to take part in a 20 July protest that had previously been banned by Moroccan authorities.

The rights to protest and assembly are guaranteed under the Moroccan constitution and the Law on Public Assemblies. Organizers are not required to apply for a prior authorization, but they should notify the authorities of the place, time and date of upcoming protest. However, authorities can ban a protest if they believe that it could disturb public order.

After the court announced a verdict on 12 September, Mahdoui decided to go on hunger strike to protest his unfair trial and the violation of his right to freedom of expression, his wife Bouchra El Khounchafi told the Moroccan edition of the HuffPost.

Al Hoceima and other cities in the Rif region have been shaken by protests since the death of fish vendor Houcine Fekri last October. Mohsin Fekri was crushed to death by a garbage truck while trying to retrieve his fish, confiscated by local authorities. The protests have since grown into a “Hirak” or a movement for jobs and economic development, and against marginalization and corruption. In response, Moroccan authorities resorted to repression, arresting protesters and activists and cracking down on media coverage of the protests.

El Mahdaoui speaking in a video about the crackdown on protesters in El Hoceima. Source: Screenshot from a video uploaded on the journalist's YouTube channel on 28 June.

Local and international human rights groups say Mahdoui did not incite to protest, but only expressed his views about the government ban on the 20 July protest when passers-by who recognized him stopped him and started a conversation with him about the Hirak.

Human Rights Watch analyzed the video and read the transcript used as evidence in Mahdoui's trial:

According to a transcript of the video, Mahdaoui criticized the government’s decision to ban the July 20 protest, saying, “It is our right to protest in a peaceful and civilized manner; (…) I am oppressed and looked down upon, it is my right to express myself and demonstrate.”

Human Rights Watch watched the video and read the transcript and found nothing in either that contains a direct incitement by Mahdaoui to others to participate in the banned July 20 protest. Hajji, the lawyer, said that the court did not provide any other evidence than the video and transcript.

Mahdaoui's independent website, Badil.info, covers a variety of topics in Morocco including politics, human rights and corruption, and has been reporting on the protests in the Rif region.

Mahdaoui is also known for his outspoken online criticism of the Moroccan authorities. He has more than 97,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel where he provides commentary on the political and human rights situation in Morocco. Over the past months, videos uploaded to his channel included interviews with rights activists and families of arrested protesters, and footage showing police violence against Hirak protesters in El Hoceima and Rabat. On 25 June, Mahdoui published an interview with the parents of the movement's leader Nasser Zafzafi, who has been in jail since 29 May, after a public prosecutor ordered his arrest for interrupting a state-backed Friday sermon critical of the protest movement.

This is not the first time Moroccan authorities have gone after Mahdaoui in relation to his work as a journalist or for expressing himself. According to Reporters Without Borders,”he has been the subject of at least ten legal proceedings of various kinds, including defamation actions”. In June this year, Morocco's interior minister filed a criminal defamation complaint against Mahdaoui after the journalist published a video accusing him of corruption.

On 29 June 2015, a court in Casablanca sentenced him to a fourth-month suspended jail sentence, fined him 6,000 Moroccan Dirhams (640 USD) and ordered him to pay 10,000 Dirhams (around 1070 USD) in damages to the head of the general directorate of national security, for reports published on Badil about political activist  Karim Lachqar, who died while in police custody.

In August 2015, a criminal court in the city of Meknes ordered Badil to shut down for three months and fined Mahdoui 30,000 Dirhams (3,200 USD) for publishing a report on a car bombing in the city. Media reports of the bombing were later denied by the government.

Although the Moroccan government says that Mahdoui's arrest is not related to his work as a journalist, several other journalists have been harassed or arrested by Moroccan authorities for their coverage of the protests in the Rif region. Between 26 May and 22 July, Reporters Without Borders documented the arrests of seven citizen journalists and media workers in relation to their coverage of the Hirak. Morocco also resorted to deporting foreign journalists who were covering the protests, including two Spanish journalists working for El Correo Diplomatico and an Algerian journalist working for the Algiers-based French-speaking El-Watan newspaper.

By quadrupling Mahdoui's prison sentence, Moroccan authorities have shown that they are unwilling to end the media crackdown and create a safe environment for journalists to do their work amid the unrest in the Rif region. In the meantime, the journalist continues his hunger strike.

by Afef Abrougui at September 20, 2017 07:42 PM

Global Voices
Sentenced to One Year in Prison for ‘Inciting Protest,’ a Moroccan Journalist Goes on Hunger Strike

Protesters at a sit-in in Imzouren, 14km from the city of Al-Hoceima in the Rif region. Photo by AlhoceimasOfficiel. Used with permission.

Moroccan journalist Hamid El Mahdoui has gone on hunger strike after a court of appeal increased his prison sentence to one year.

In the early hours of 12 September and after a trial that lasted more than nine hours, the appeal court of Al Hoiceima issued a verdict that increased El Mahdaoui's sentence from three months to one year in jail, for giving a speech that they say incited others to protest and break the law under the country's penal code.

El Mahdoui is the director and editor-in-chief of the independent news website Badil.info. He was arrested by Moroccan authorities on 20 July in the Rif region, where he had traveled to cover protests, and was later convicted of inciting protest.

The primary piece of evidence used against him was a 19 July video filmed by a police officer that allegedly shows Mahdaoui inciting people to take part in a 20 July protest that had previously been banned by Moroccan authorities.

The rights to protest and assembly are guaranteed under the Moroccan constitution and the Law on Public Assemblies. Organizers are not required to apply for a prior authorization, but they should notify the authorities of the place, time and date of upcoming protest. However, authorities can ban a protest if they believe that it could disturb public order.

After the court announced a verdict on 12 September, Mahdoui decided to go on hunger strike to protest his unfair trial and the violation of his right to freedom of expression, his wife Bouchra El Khounchafi told the Moroccan edition of the HuffPost.

Al Hoceima and other cities in the Rif region have been shaken by protests since the death of fish vendor Houcine Fekri last October. Mohsin Fekri was crushed to death by a garbage truck while trying to retrieve his fish, confiscated by local authorities. The protests have since grown into a “Hirak” or a movement for jobs and economic development, and against marginalization and corruption. In response, Moroccan authorities resorted to repression, arresting protesters and activists and cracking down on media coverage of the protests.

El Mahdaoui speaking in a video about the crackdown on protesters in El Hoceima. Source: Screenshot from a video uploaded on the journalist's YouTube channel on 28 June.

Local and international human rights groups say Mahdoui did not incite to protest, but only expressed his views about the government ban on the 20 July protest when passers-by who recognized him stopped him and started a conversation with him about the Hirak.

Human Rights Watch analyzed the video and read the transcript used as evidence in Mahdoui's trial:

According to a transcript of the video, Mahdaoui criticized the government’s decision to ban the July 20 protest, saying, “It is our right to protest in a peaceful and civilized manner; (…) I am oppressed and looked down upon, it is my right to express myself and demonstrate.”

Human Rights Watch watched the video and read the transcript and found nothing in either that contains a direct incitement by Mahdaoui to others to participate in the banned July 20 protest. Hajji, the lawyer, said that the court did not provide any other evidence than the video and transcript.

Mahdaoui's independent website, Badil.info, covers a variety of topics in Morocco including politics, human rights and corruption, and has been reporting on the protests in the Rif region.

Mahdaoui is also known for his outspoken online criticism of the Moroccan authorities. He has more than 97,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel where he provides commentary on the political and human rights situation in Morocco. Over the past months, videos uploaded to his channel included interviews with rights activists and families of arrested protesters, and footage showing police violence against Hirak protesters in El Hoceima and Rabat. On 25 June, Mahdoui published an interview with the parents of the movement's leader Nasser Zafzafi, who has been in jail since 29 May, after a public prosecutor ordered his arrest for interrupting a state-backed Friday sermon critical of the protest movement.

This is not the first time Moroccan authorities have gone after Mahdaoui in relation to his work as a journalist or for expressing himself. According to Reporters Without Borders,”he has been the subject of at least ten legal proceedings of various kinds, including defamation actions”. In June this year, Morocco's interior minister filed a criminal defamation complaint against Mahdaoui after the journalist published a video accusing him of corruption.

On 29 June 2015, a court in Casablanca sentenced him to a fourth-month suspended jail sentence, fined him 6,000 Moroccan Dirhams (640 USD) and ordered him to pay 10,000 Dirhams (around 1070 USD) in damages to the head of the general directorate of national security, for reports published on Badil about political activist  Karim Lachqar, who died while in police custody.

In August 2015, a criminal court in the city of Meknes ordered Badil to shut down for three months and fined Mahdoui 30,000 Dirhams (3,200 USD) for publishing a report on a car bombing in the city. Media reports of the bombing were later denied by the government.

Although the Moroccan government says that Mahdoui's arrest is not related to his work as a journalist, several other journalists have been harassed or arrested by Moroccan authorities for their coverage of the protests in the Rif region. Between 26 May and 22 July, Reporters Without Borders documented the arrests of seven citizen journalists and media workers in relation to their coverage of the Hirak. Morocco also resorted to deporting foreign journalists who were covering the protests, including two Spanish journalists working for El Correo Diplomatico and an Algerian journalist working for the Algiers-based French-speaking El-Watan newspaper.

By quadrupling Mahdoui's prison sentence, Moroccan authorities have shown that they are unwilling to end the media crackdown and create a safe environment for journalists to do their work amid the unrest in the Rif region. In the meantime, the journalist continues his hunger strike.

by Afef Abrougui at September 20, 2017 07:40 PM

Creative Commons
Tratado de livre comércio União Europeia-Mercosul prejudicaria os direitos dos usuários e o conjunto de bens comuns (commons)

Hoje, a Creative Commons publicou uma análise do projeto de capítulo de propriedade intelectual do acordo de livre comércio entre a União Europeia e o Mercosul, que abarca diversos aspectos vinculados a direitos de autor e direitos conexos. Nós examinamos questões que seriam prejudiciais ao domínio público, à criatividade e ao compartilhamento, e envolvendo os direitos dos usuários na era digital.

A União Europeia (UE) e o sub-bloco regional da América Latina, formado por Argentina, Brasil, Paraguai e Uruguai (o Mercosul) vêm negociando um tratado de livre comércio (TLC) desde o ano 2000. O TLC UE-Mercosul é amplo, abarcando o comércio de bens industriais e agrícolas, potenciais mudanças nas regras aplicáveis a pequenas e médias empresas e às compras públicas, e provisões sobre propriedade intelectual como patentes e direitos de autor e direitos conexos.  As negociações para um TLC UE-Mercosul continuam em um momento em que vários dos países afetados — incluindo Argentina, Uruguai, Paraguai e até a União Europeia — encontram-se em um processo de revisão de suas próprias leis de direitos autorais.

Apenas alguns capítulos do projeto do TLC UE-Mercosul foram disponibilizados ao público. Em novembro de 2016, a União Europeia publicou uma proposta de capítulo sobre propriedade intelectual, que é a versão mais recente disponível publicamente. Organizações da sociedade civil e o público são geralmente excluídas de participar em — ou de até observar — as reuniões de negociação.

As negociações do TLC UE-Mercosul acontecem em um contexto de ampliação da construção de políticas de direitos autorais por meio de acordos de comércio multilaterais. Existem diversas negociações em curso, incluindo o Tratado Trans-Pacífico (TPP), a Associação Econômica Regional Ampla (RCEP, na sua sigla em inglês), e a renegociação do Tratado de Livre Comércio da América do Norte (TLCAN).

Cada um desses acordos inclui provisões que regulam a propriedade intelectual, e as recentes rodadas de negociação desses pactos comerciais mostram que, quando se põem  os direitos autorais em jogo, há uma pressão significativa para a incrementar drasticamente as possibilidades que têm os detentores de direitos de solicitar medidas de observância (enforcement) de seus direitos, junto com pressões para aumentar os prazos de duração dos direitos autorais, e exigir sanções mais severas por infrações. Ao mesmo tempo que as demandas dos titulares de direitos são completamente atendidas, pouquíssima consideração é dada aos direitos do público. As limitações e exceções para os direitos autorais são minimizadas, ou sequer estão presentes. No texto em questão, é perceptível a mão invisível (e poderosa) da União Europeia, que deseja exportar as cláusulas mais benéficas para os detentores de direitos (como maiores prazos de proteção harmonizados), mas só quer permitir o mínimo absoluto quando se tratam de limitações e exceções (admitindo apenas a cópia temporária).

  • A extensão dos prazos de proteção dos direitos autorais é desnecessária e injustificada: O texto provisório do capítulo sobre propriedade intelectual propõe estender a duração da proteção do direito de autor para aqueles países que ainda não aderiram ao prazo de 70 anos após a morte (o chamado vida + 70). Aumentar a duração da proteção do direito de autor posterga o ingresso das obras no domínio público, no qual elas podem ser utilizadas por qualquer um para qualquer propósito. Também exacerba problemas relacionados ao longo prazo de proteção, como o problema das obras órfãs.
  • Os direitos dos usuários devem ser protegidos mediante a expansão das limitações e exceções: a proteção do direito de autor e as medidas de penalização sempre devem ser reguladas reconhecendo e defendendo os direitos dos usuários no ecossistema do direito de autor e direitos conexos. Mas o capítulo de propriedade intelectual não inclui salvaguardas similares às incluídas nos mais recentes acordos comerciais e nos acordos internacionais de direito de autor que promovem e protegem o equilíbrio.
  • A remuneração obrigatória frustra as intenções de alguns licenciantes em Creative Commons: o capítulo de propriedade intelectual inclui uma cláusula que exigiria a remuneração obrigatória para os intérpretes e produtores de obras musicais. Essa provisão pode ser bem intencionada, mas interferiria com a operação de algumas licenças de Creative Commons ao requerer um pagamento mesmo quando a intenção do autor é compartilhar sua obra com o mundo de maneira gratuita.
  • Medidas de proteção tecnológica não devem limitar o exercício dos direitos dos usuários: o capítulo de propriedade intelectual inclui proibições à circunvenção de medidas tecnológicas de proteção para ter acesso a uma obra, assim como uma provisão que proibiria a criação e o compartilhamento de tecnologias que poderiam permitir a um usuário circunvencionar medidas tecnológicas de proteção. O problema é que essa provisão não leva em conta situações nas quais os usuários deveriam poder utilizar uma limitação ou exceção, mas não o podem fazer devido às proibições existentes para circunvencionar uma medida tecnológica.
  • Ordens judiciais preventivas contra infrações “iminentes” prejudicam a liberdade de expressão e a certeza jurídicas: o capítulo de propriedade intelectual introduz a ideia de que, por ordem judicial, tanto infratores quanto intermediários (o que inclui os provedores de serviços) poderiam ser obrigados a tomar providências para “prevenir qualquer infração iminente de um direito de propriedade intelectual”.
  • Negociações de acordos comerciais devem ser transparentes e envolver o público: Negociações de acordos comerciais devem ser transparentes e participativas. E não o são. A confidencialidade demonstrada na negociação do TPP e de outros tratados de livre comércio têm deixado organizações como a Creative Commons e o público em geral em extrema desvantagem, na medida em que apenas poucos atores privilegiados convidados ao círculo fechado de negociação tiveram seus interesses plenamente considerados.

Para ler nosso documento de análise completo, clique aqui.

The post Tratado de livre comércio União Europeia-Mercosul prejudicaria os direitos dos usuários e o conjunto de bens comuns (commons) appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Timothy Vollmer at September 20, 2017 04:45 PM

El tratado de libre comercio Unión Europea-Mercosur dañará los comunes y los derechos de los usuarios

Hoy Creative Commons publicó un análisis del borrador del capítulo de propiedad intelectual del acuerdo de libre comercio entre la Unión Europea y el Mercosur, que abarca varios aspectos vinculados al derecho de autor. Examinamos cuestiones que irían en detrimento del dominio público y serían perjudiciales para la creatividad, el intercambio y para los derechos de los usuarios en la era digital.

La Unión Europea (UE) y el sub bloque regional de América Latina conformado por Argentina, Brasil, Paraguay y Uruguay (el Mercosur) han estado negociando un tratado de libre comercio (TLC) desde el año 2000. El TLC UE-Mercosur es expansivo y abarca el comercio en bienes industriales y agrícolas, cambios potenciales en las reglas aplicables a pequeñas y medianas empresas así como a las compras públicas y a las provisiones sobre propiedad intelectual tales como las patentes y el derecho de autor. Las negociaciones para un TLC UE-Mercosur continúan en un momento en que varios de los países afectados -incluidos Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay e incluso la Unión Europea- se encuentran en un proceso de revisión de sus propias leyes de derecho de autor.

Solo algunos capítulos de los borradores del TLC UE-Mercosur están disponibles para la revisión pública. En noviembre de 2016 la Unión Europea liberó un borrador del capítulo sobre propiedad intelectual, que es la versión más reciente disponible públicamente. Las organizaciones de la sociedad civil y el público son típicamente excluidas de participar en —o incluso observar — las reuniones de negociación.

Las negociaciones del TLC UE-Mercosur tienen lugar en un entorno donde un nivel creciente de políticas de derecho de autor están siendo creadas a través de acuerdos de comercio multilaterales. Hay varias negociaciones en marcha, incluyendo el Tratado Trans-Pacífico (TPP), y la renegociación del Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte (TLCAN).

Cada uno de estos acuerdos incluyen cláusulas que regulan la propiedad intelectual, y las recientes rondas de negociaciones de estos pactos comerciales muestran que cuando se pone el derecho de autor sobre la mesa, hay una presión significativa para incrementar drásticamente las posibilidades que tienen los titulares de derechos de solicitar medidas de persecución y ejecución forzada de sus derechos, junto con presiones para aumentar los plazos de duración del derecho de autor y exigir sanciones más severas por infracción. Mientras que las demandas de los titulares de derechos son completamente atendidas, hay muy poca consideración para los derechos del público. Se minimizan las limitaciones y excepciones al derecho de autor o directamente no se contemplan. En el texto vemos la mano invisible (y poderosa) de la Unión Europea, que desea exportar las cláusulas más beneficiosas para los titulares de derechos (tales como plazos de protección más largos y armonizados), pero solo quiere permitir lo mínimo posible cuando se trata de limitaciones y excepciones (admitiendo únicamente la copia temporal).

  • La extensión de los plazos de protección del derecho de autor es innecesaria e injustificada: el capítulo borrador sobre propiedad intelectual propone extender la duración del plazo de protección para aquellos países que todavía no adhieren al plazo de +70 post-mortem. Incrementar la duración de la protección del derecho de autor demora el ingreso de las obras al dominio público, donde pueden ser utilizadas por cualquiera para cualquier propósito. También exacerba problemas relacionados al largo plazo de protección, como el problema de las obras huérfanas.
  • Los derechos de los usuarios deben ser protegidos mediante la expansión de las limitaciones y las excepciones: la protección del derecho de autor y las medidas de penalización siempre deben regularse reconociendo y defendiendo los derechos de los usuarios en el ecosistema del derecho de autor. Pero el capítulo de propiedad intelectual no incluye salvaguardas similares a las incluidas en los últimos acuerdos comerciales y en los acuerdos internacionales de derecho de autor que promueven y protegen el balance en el derecho de autor.
  • La remuneración obligatoria frustra las intenciones de algunos usuarios de Creative Commons: el capítulo de propiedad intelectual incluye una cláusula que requeriría la remuneración obligatoria para los intérpretes y productores de obras musicales. Esa cláusula puede ser bien intencionada, pero interferiría con la operación de algunas licencias de Creative Commons al requerir un pago incluso cuando la intención del autor es compartir su obra con el mundo de manera gratuita.
  • Las medidas tecnológicas de protección no deben limitar el ejercicio de los derechos de los usuarios: el capítulo de propiedad intelectual incluye prohibiciones para aquellos que eludan medidas tecnológicas de protección para obtener acceso a una obra, así como una cláusula que prohibiría la creación y el intercambio de tecnologías que podrían permitir a un usuario eludir medidas tecnológicas de protección. El problema es que esta cláusula no tiene en cuenta situaciones donde los usuarios deberían poder utilizar una limitación o excepción, pero no pueden debido a las prohibiciones existentes para evadir una medida tecnológica.
  • Las órdenes judiciales preventivas contra infracciones “inminentes” dañan la libertad de expresión y la certeza jurídica: el capítulo de propiedad intelectual introduce la idea de que una orden judicial podría ser impuesta tanto a los infractores potenciales como a los intermediarios (incluyendo a los proveedores de servicios de Internet) por infracción “inminente” a los derechos de autor que aún no han ocurrido.
  • Las negociaciones de los acuerdos comerciales deben ser transparentes e involucrar al público: las negociaciones de acuerdos comerciales necesitan ser transparentes y participativas. No lo son. El secretismo demostrado en la negociación del TPP y otros TLC dejaron a las organizaciones de la sociedad civil como Creative Commons y al público en general en una desventaja extrema, ya que solo unos pocos sectores privilegiados invitados al círculo cerrado de las negociaciones tuvieron sus intereses plenamente considerados.

Pueden leer nuestro documento de análisis completo aquí.

The post El tratado de libre comercio Unión Europea-Mercosur dañará los comunes y los derechos de los usuarios appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Timothy Vollmer at September 20, 2017 04:44 PM

EU-Mercosur Trade Agreement Would Harm User Rights and the Commons

Today Creative Commons published a policy analysis covering several copyright-related issues presented in the draft intellectual property chapter of EU-Mercosur free trade agreement. We examine issues that would be detrimental to the public domain, creativity and sharing, and user rights in the digital age. [The policy paper is also available in Spanish and Portuguese.] 

The European Union (EU) and the Latin American sub-regional bloc consisting of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay (Mercosur) have been negotiating a free trade agreement (FTA) since 2000. The EU-Mercosur FTA is expansive, addressing trade in industrial and agricultural goods, potential changes to rules governing small- and medium-sized businesses as well as government procurement, and intellectual property provisions such as copyrights and patents. The EU-Mercosur FTA negotiations continue during a time when several of the affected countries—including Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and even the EU—are involved in a review of their own copyright rules.

Only a few chapters of the draft EU-Mercosur FTA have been made available for public inspection. In November 2016 the EU released a draft of the chapter dealing with intellectual property, which is the most recent publicly available version. Civil society organisations and the public are typically excluded from participating in—or even observing—the negotiation meetings.

The EU-Mercosur FTA negotiations take place in an environment where an increasing level of copyright policy is being constructed through multilateral trade agreements. There are several current negotiations underway, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Each of these agreements include provisions regulating intellectual property, and the recent negotiation of these trade pacts shows that when copyright is put on the table, there’s a significant push to drastically increase enforcement measures for rights holders, lengthen copyright terms, and demand harsh infringement penalties. While the demands of rights holders are fully addressed, there’s little consideration given to the rights of the public. Limitations and exceptions to copyright are downplayed, or not present at all. In the text we see the invisible (and powerful) hand of the EU, which wishes to export the intellectual property provisions most beneficial to rightsholders (such as harmonized longer terms), but only wants to permit the absolute minimum when it comes to limitations and exceptions (such as only temporary copying).

  • Copyright term extension is unnecessary and unwarranted: The draft IP chapter proposes to extend the duration of copyright protection for those countries that do not already adhere to the life + 70 year term. Increasing the duration of copyright protection delays works from entering the public domain, where they may be used by anyone for any purpose. It also exacerbates related challenges, such as the orphan works problem. 
  • User rights must be protected by expanding limitations and exceptions: Copyright protection and enforcement measures should always be tempered by recognizing and upholding the rights of users in the copyright ecosystem. But the IPR chapter doesn’t include similar safeguards introduced in the latest trade agreements and international copyright agreements that promote and protect balance in copyright agreements.
  • Mandatory remuneration frustrates the intentions of some Creative Commons licensors: The IPR chapter includes a provision that would require remuneration for performers and producers of musical works. The provision may be well-intended, but would interfere with the operation of some Creative Commons licenses by requiring a payment even when the intention of the author is to share her creative work with the world for free.
  • Technical protection measures must not limit the exercise of user rights: The IPR chapter includes prohibitions to circumventing technological protection measures to gain access to a work, as well as  a provision that would prohibit the creation and sharing of technologies that could enable a user to circumvent technological protection measures. The problem is that it doesn’t take into account situations where users should be able to leverage a limitation or exception, but cannot due to prohibitions on circumventing a technological measure.
  • Precautionary injunctions against “imminent” infringements harms freedom of expression and the rule of law: The IPR chapter introduces the idea that an injunction could be levied against both potential infringers and intermediaries (including ISPs) for “imminent” copyright infringements that have not yet occurred.
  • Trade agreement negotiations must be transparent and involve the public: Trade agreement negotiations need to be transparent and participatory. They are not. The secrecy demonstrated in the negotiation of the TPP and other FTAs left civil society organizations like Creative Commons and the broader public at an extreme disadvantage, as only a privileged few stakeholders invited into the closed negotiation circle had their interests fully considered.

Read our extended policy paper here. The text is also available in Spanish and Portuguese.

The post EU-Mercosur Trade Agreement Would Harm User Rights and the Commons appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Timothy Vollmer at September 20, 2017 04:40 PM

Global Voices
‘We Dare Not Look Out': Dominica Is Brutalised by Hurricane Maria

A still from an aerial video showing the near total devastation in Dominica after the passage of Hurricane Maria, September 19, 2017. Video by CDEMA – Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency; shared widely on Facebook and Twitter.

The northern Caribbean has been on the front line of the assault from the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season. Shortly after Irma, a Category 5 storm, ravaged the leeward islands, Maria — also a Category 5 — set her sights on Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts/Nevis and Montserrat.

Dominica, home to about 73,000 people, was one of the hardest hit. In the aftermath, the country's prime minister said the hurricane had “devastated” the island.

Maria made landfall on the evening of September 18. By the next morning, social media users region-wide were sharing photos of what claimed to be the aftermath of the storm in Dominica, but it turned out that some of the images being shared on WhatsApp chats and Facebook pages were fake — much of the communication on the island had been damaged, making it difficult for citizen journalists on the island to share anything. Others, however, were authentic.

Caroline Taylor addressed the issue on Facebook, pleading:

Please don't circulate photos you can't authenticate. That's to say nothing about the copyright implications. Most of those Dominica images are not from Hurricane Maria.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, however, communicated as much as he could have via his official Facebook page. He, like many other Dominicans, had lost his roof, confessing that he was “at the complete mercy of the hurricane”. In the heat of the onslaught, he posted:

We do not know what is happening outside. We not dare look out. All we are hearing is the sound of galvanize flying. The sound of the fury of the wind. As we pray for its end!

The small island nation was forced to battle maximum sustained winds of close to 160 miles per hour.

In an update early on September 19, he said:

Initial reports are of widespread devastation. So far we have lost all what money can buy and replace. My greatest fear for the morning is that we will wake to news of serious physical injury and possible deaths as a result of likely landslides triggered by persistent rains. […]

I am honestly not preoccupied with physical damage at this time, because it is devastating…indeed, mind boggling. My focus now is in rescuing the trapped and securing medical assistance for the injured.
We will need help, my friend, we will need help of all kinds.

It appears as if Dominica bore the brunt of the damage, though the neighbouring French-speaking islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique did have fatalities and destruction of property.

Regional netizens were heartbroken. In Jamaica, Annie Paul admitted that she was “really feeling it for the storm-fatigued islands of the Eastern Caribbean”, while Trinidadian Soyini Grey confessed:

The news from Dominica is making me sick

On Twitter, Judy Raymond added:

In solidarity, Dele Adams, who is in St. Kitts, one of the islands that recently faced Irma, posted:

A public status from Facebook user Dele Adams, who said, “No Facebook, I refuse to mark myself as ‘safe’ until Maria gone bout she business and left us and our neighbors alone. Sit down.”

Just as happened after Irma, Caribbean citizens rallied to send aid and supplies to the hardest-hit islands. There are already quite a few donation drives requesting everything from canned food and medical supplies, to toiletries and tools — but the brutality of this hurricane season also got social media users thinking:

Hurricane Maria is currently battering the island of Puerto Rico as a slightly less intense Category 4 storm.

A Facebook page, Dominica Hurricane Maria Disaster Relief, has been set up to support and facilitate charitable donations to Dominica in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

by Janine Mendes-Franco at September 20, 2017 04:11 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Speaking of Independence Is Getting Harder for Hong Kongers

“Hong Kong independence” slogan at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Photo: Apple Daily, non-commercial use.

The leaders of 10 universities in Hong Kong are condemning “abuses” of free speech on campuses. In a joint statement published on September 15, university deans also expressed firm opposition to the idea of Hong Kong breaking away from China.

Two days later, a Hong Kong politician from the pro-Beijing camp labeled those who advocate for independence as “enemies” who should be killed.

The two events highlighted not only the precarious state of free expression in Hong Kong, but also tensions over the city's future. Hong Kongers enjoy more freedoms than their counterparts in mainland China under a principle known as “One Country, Two Systems.” This autonomy is enshrined in Hong Kong's governing doctrine, known as the Basic Law, which went into force in 1997 when the United Kingdom handed the former colony over to China.

According to the Basic Law, the city shall retain its way of life for 50 years, or until 2047. After that date, Hong Kong's fate is uncertain.

What is certain is that in recent years, Beijing has been more forcefully asserting its influence over Hong Kong. Those who support more democratic rights, such as genuine universal suffrage, or outright independence have faced fierce repression.

The university administrators’ joint statement, which was noticeably brief, was perceived as a response to the appearance of pro-Hong Kong independence slogans on campuses since September 4. The statement in full read:

我們珍惜言論自由,但我們譴責最近濫用言論自由的行為。言論自由並非絕對,有自由就有責任。所有下列的大學,特此聲明,不支持「港獨」,並認為這是違反基本法。

We treasure freedom of expression, but we condemn its recent abuses. Freedom of expression is not absolute, and like all freedoms it comes with responsibilities. All universities undersigned agree that we do not support Hong Kong independence and believe that it contravenes the Basic Law.

City University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong Baptist University
Hong Kong Shue Yan University
Lingnan University
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
The Education University of Hong Kong
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
The Open University of Hong Kong
The University of Hong Kong

The statement echoed a comment on September 8 from Carrie Lam, the city's chief executive or top leader, that argued pro-Hong Kong independence messages go against the “One Country, Two Systems” principle and the Basic Law.

Student unions from 12 universities and colleges issued a response:

我們珍惜言論自由,此權利生而有之。校方不支持港獨,但大學師生享有言論自由,討論港獨絕無不可。所有下列的學生會,特此聲明,討論港獨絕對符合《基本法》第二十七條,校方請停止混淆視聽。

We treasure free speech, a basic human right. The universities can say they don’t support Hong Kong independence, but students and teachers should have the freedom of speech to discuss Hong Kong independence. Below the undersigned student unions hereby issue this statement of clarification: the discussion of Hong Kong independence is in alignment with Basic Law Article 27 [which guarantees freedoms of speech and assembly], the university administrators should stop confusing the public.

‘Obviously, the statement is in response to political pressure…’

The joint statement did not specify what the “recent abuses” were, but could be referring to incidents such as a Chinese University of Hong Kong student allegedly using the derogatory term “Chee-na” during a row with mainland peers over independence, or messages posted to bulletin board at Education University of Hong Kong taunting a top Hong Kong education official over the suicide of her eldest son.

Au Kar Lun, an experienced media worker, believed the careful wording of the statement points to it being the product of political pressure from Beijing:

左報與維穩機器催促鞭策之下,十間大學校長發表簡短聯合聲明,「不支持港獨」。聲明語焉不詳,明顯沒有共識,模模糊糊,沒有清楚說明問題,也沒有解釋理據,內容欠奉,卻仍然要集體表忠,只有一個目的,就是為了應付龐大壓力,交貨表態;唯一清晰的,是一句「不支持『港獨』」。

Under pressure from a pro-Beijing newspaper and the stability maintenance machine, the heads of 10 universities issued a brief joint statement saying that they do not support Hong Kong independence. The content of the statement is so empty and it is clear that they don’t have consensus. It does not address the context and has not explained their reasoning behind the statement. There is no content and it only serves the purpose of expressing loyalty. Obviously, the statement is in response to political pressure as the clearest message in the statement is, “We do not support Hong Kong independence.”

One concrete example of such political pressure emerged when Leonard Cheng, the head of Lingnan University, said students could discuss Hong Kong Independence in campus. In response, a pro-Beijing newspaper criticized him for indulging the students, and a number of pro-Beijing university council members warned that academic and speech freedoms should not be abused to “cover up illegal acts.”

On citizen media platform inmediahk.net, Chu Kong Wai, an alumni of the Chinese University, expressed his disappointment with the university administrators’ statement:

這個聲明的目的,在十大校長和其支持者的角度,是一個棄車保帥的「止蝕」行為,希望能夠抵擋借「港獨」議題,乘勢進攻大學自主領域的攻勢。他們認為譴責所謂濫用言論自由的行為,表態反港獨效忠基本法,就能保住現有的空間;他們不是天真無知,就是鴕鳥可笑。…十間大學校長的聯合聲明正要告訴我們,香港人其實就連討論這部小憲法的權利也沒有。今日不能討論港獨,明天是否不能討論「真普選」,後天會否就不能討論「量入為出」的原則?

Supporters of the university heads’ statement believe that it is a move to “cut losses” and save the universities from further political intervention under the excuse of cracking down on “Hong Kong independence.” They believe that by condemning the abuse of free speech and reaffirming their stand against Hong Kong independence and their loyalty to the Basic Law, they can maintain space for academia. But they are either too naive or are acting like turkeys [burying their heads in the sand]… The joint statement by the 10 university heads tell us that Hong Kongers cannot even have the right to discuss the mini-constitution. Today we can’t talk about Hong Kong independence, tomorrow we can’t talk about genuine universal suffrage and the day after we can’t even talk about the budget principle of “keeping its expenditure within the limits of revenues” [according to Basic Law Article 107].

‘What’s wrong with killing enemies in a war?’

Opposition to discussion of independence took a turn toward open hostility on September 17 at a rally calling for Hong Kong University to sack Professor Benny Tai for leading the massive pro-democracy protests that took over downtown Hong Kong for three months in 2014.

At the gathering, pro-Beijing figure Tsang Shu Wo exclaimed on stage:

If he advocates Hong Kong independence, he’s not Chinese, he’s an outsider and must be killed.

Julius Ho at a rally on September 17 calling for Benny Tai to be sacked from the University of Hong Kong. Apple Daily photo. Non-commercial use.

His comment was met with chants of “no mercy” by the crowd of thousands, including lawmaker and Lingnan University council member Julius Ho, who remarked later that it was “not big deal to kill pigs or dogs.” He further argued:

If we’re talking about Hong Kong independence, that means war. What’s wrong with killing enemies in a war?

Though a public call to kill is against the criminal ordinance, Secretary of Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung has played down Tsang's and Ho's statements. In contrast, just a month ago, three pro-democracy activists — Alex Chow, Nathan Law, and Joshua Wong — were sentenced to between six and eight months in prison for advocating the peaceful protests of 2014.

‘Have we decided Hong Kong’s direction after 2047? Not yet.’

Perhaps the more fundamental issue is why some Hong Kongers want to discuss independence from China in the first place. Hui Fung Ming, a student activist and a graduate of Education University, argued on inmediahk.net that debate about Hong Kong as an independent state is necessary given the city's post 2047 future is unclear:

香港基本法寫明五十年不變,2047就係另一場二次前途談判,而港獨係香港未來2047年二次前途談判嘅其中一個可能性同option。依家2047年定左方向啦咩?未吖嘛,你地屋企啲屋契到時候都會到期架喎,有可能會好似中國咁行社會主義集體所有制收哂你地啲地同屋架喎,你地係咪唔介意?

The Basic Law in Hong Kong promises Hong Kong’s way of life will remain unchanged for 50 years. By the time of 2047, Hong Kong’s future will be another round of negotiation. Hong Kong independence is a possibility and option in the negotiation. Have we decided Hong Kong’s direction after 2047? Not yet. A large number of land leases will expire after 2047, and it remains possible that if Hong Kong follows China in adopting the socialist collective system, the land can be confiscated. Is that none of your concern?

Hui Fung Ming continued, saying that Beijing and Beijing supporters’ logic is flawed:

港獨違法根本就係一個偽命題,如果按呢個邏輯推演,咁應該除咗一國兩制作為唯一一種政治體制以外無嘢係可以討論到,因為按香港基本法去講香港係落實一國兩制個喎。咁樣嘅話嘢講一國兩制以外嘅嘢都應該係違法喎,成日指手劃腳嘅黨媒講中國政府全面實施對香港管治行一國一制都違法喎,點解佢地又可以講,政權又唔去禁止下呢又?…如果連學校都唔俾講港獨,我想問以同樣嘅邏輯推演落去的話,係咪喺街入邊警察求其聽到有人講港獨兩個字就即刻可以執法拉人呢?大家係咪想要咁樣的香港?

The claim that Hong Kong independence is against the law is false. According to such logic, “One Country, Two Systems” should be the only political system that can be discussed. According to the Basic Law, Hong Kong has adopted “One Country, Two Systems,” so other alternatives should be illegal. But pro-Beijing media outlets keep advocating Beijing to implement “One Country, One System” in Hong Kong, so they are allowed to propose an illegal political system? Why doesn’t Beijing ban them from saying so?… If we can’t deliberate Hong Kong independence in universities, according to the logic, shall the police officers take action in arresting whomever talks about Hong Kong independence in the street? Do you want a Hong Kong like this?

by Oiwan Lam at September 20, 2017 01:57 PM

Global Voices
Speaking of Independence Is Getting Harder for Hong Kongers

“Hong Kong independence” slogan at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Photo: Apple Daily, non-commercial use.

The leaders of 10 universities in Hong Kong are condemning “abuses” of free speech on campuses. In a joint statement published on September 15, university deans also expressed firm opposition to the idea of Hong Kong breaking away from China.

Two days later, a Hong Kong politician from the pro-Beijing camp labeled those who advocate for independence as “enemies” who should be killed.

The two events highlighted not only the precarious state of free expression in Hong Kong, but also tensions over the city's future. Hong Kongers enjoy more freedoms than their counterparts in mainland China under a principle known as “One Country, Two Systems.” This autonomy is enshrined in Hong Kong's governing doctrine, known as the Basic Law, which went into force in 1997 when the United Kingdom handed the former colony over to China.

According to the Basic Law, the city shall retain its way of life for 50 years, or until 2047. After that date, Hong Kong's fate is uncertain.

What is certain is that in recent years, Beijing has been more forcefully asserting its influence over Hong Kong. Those who support more democratic rights, such as genuine universal suffrage, or outright independence have faced fierce repression.

The university administrators’ joint statement, which was noticeably brief, was perceived as a response to the appearance of pro-Hong Kong independence slogans on campuses since September 4. The statement in full read:

我們珍惜言論自由,但我們譴責最近濫用言論自由的行為。言論自由並非絕對,有自由就有責任。所有下列的大學,特此聲明,不支持「港獨」,並認為這是違反基本法。

We treasure freedom of expression, but we condemn its recent abuses. Freedom of expression is not absolute, and like all freedoms it comes with responsibilities. All universities undersigned agree that we do not support Hong Kong independence and believe that it contravenes the Basic Law.

City University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong Baptist University
Hong Kong Shue Yan University
Lingnan University
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
The Education University of Hong Kong
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
The Open University of Hong Kong
The University of Hong Kong

The statement echoed a comment on September 8 from Carrie Lam, the city's chief executive or top leader, that argued pro-Hong Kong independence messages go against the “One Country, Two Systems” principle and the Basic Law.

Student unions from 12 universities and colleges issued a response:

我們珍惜言論自由,此權利生而有之。校方不支持港獨,但大學師生享有言論自由,討論港獨絕無不可。所有下列的學生會,特此聲明,討論港獨絕對符合《基本法》第二十七條,校方請停止混淆視聽。

We treasure free speech, a basic human right. The universities can say they don’t support Hong Kong independence, but students and teachers should have the freedom of speech to discuss Hong Kong independence. Below the undersigned student unions hereby issue this statement of clarification: the discussion of Hong Kong independence is in alignment with Basic Law Article 27 [which guarantees freedoms of speech and assembly], the university administrators should stop confusing the public.

‘Obviously, the statement is in response to political pressure…’

The joint statement did not specify what the “recent abuses” were, but could be referring to incidents such as a Chinese University of Hong Kong student allegedly using the derogatory term “Chee-na” during a row with mainland peers over independence, or messages posted to bulletin board at Education University of Hong Kong taunting a top Hong Kong education official over the suicide of her eldest son.

Au Kar Lun, an experienced media worker, believed the careful wording of the statement points to it being the product of political pressure from Beijing:

左報與維穩機器催促鞭策之下,十間大學校長發表簡短聯合聲明,「不支持港獨」。聲明語焉不詳,明顯沒有共識,模模糊糊,沒有清楚說明問題,也沒有解釋理據,內容欠奉,卻仍然要集體表忠,只有一個目的,就是為了應付龐大壓力,交貨表態;唯一清晰的,是一句「不支持『港獨』」。

Under pressure from a pro-Beijing newspaper and the stability maintenance machine, the heads of 10 universities issued a brief joint statement saying that they do not support Hong Kong independence. The content of the statement is so empty and it is clear that they don’t have consensus. It does not address the context and has not explained their reasoning behind the statement. There is no content and it only serves the purpose of expressing loyalty. Obviously, the statement is in response to political pressure as the clearest message in the statement is, “We do not support Hong Kong independence.”

One concrete example of such political pressure emerged when Leonard Cheng, the head of Lingnan University, said students could discuss Hong Kong Independence in campus. In response, a pro-Beijing newspaper criticized him for indulging the students, and a number of pro-Beijing university council members warned that academic and speech freedoms should not be abused to “cover up illegal acts.”

On citizen media platform inmediahk.net, Chu Kong Wai, an alumni of the Chinese University, expressed his disappointment with the university administrators’ statement:

這個聲明的目的,在十大校長和其支持者的角度,是一個棄車保帥的「止蝕」行為,希望能夠抵擋借「港獨」議題,乘勢進攻大學自主領域的攻勢。他們認為譴責所謂濫用言論自由的行為,表態反港獨效忠基本法,就能保住現有的空間;他們不是天真無知,就是鴕鳥可笑。…十間大學校長的聯合聲明正要告訴我們,香港人其實就連討論這部小憲法的權利也沒有。今日不能討論港獨,明天是否不能討論「真普選」,後天會否就不能討論「量入為出」的原則?

Supporters of the university heads’ statement believe that it is a move to “cut losses” and save the universities from further political intervention under the excuse of cracking down on “Hong Kong independence.” They believe that by condemning the abuse of free speech and reaffirming their stand against Hong Kong independence and their loyalty to the Basic Law, they can maintain space for academia. But they are either too naive or are acting like turkeys [burying their heads in the sand]… The joint statement by the 10 university heads tell us that Hong Kongers cannot even have the right to discuss the mini-constitution. Today we can’t talk about Hong Kong independence, tomorrow we can’t talk about genuine universal suffrage and the day after we can’t even talk about the budget principle of “keeping its expenditure within the limits of revenues” [according to Basic Law Article 107].

‘What’s wrong with killing enemies in a war?’

Opposition to discussion of independence took a turn toward open hostility on September 17 at a rally calling for Hong Kong University to sack Professor Benny Tai for leading the massive pro-democracy protests that took over downtown Hong Kong for three months in 2014.

At the gathering, pro-Beijing figure Tsang Shu Wo exclaimed on stage:

If he advocates Hong Kong independence, he’s not Chinese, he’s an outsider and must be killed.

Julius Ho at a rally on September 17 calling for Benny Tai to be sacked from the University of Hong Kong. Apple Daily photo. Non-commercial use.

His comment was met with chants of “no mercy” by the crowd of thousands, including lawmaker and Lingnan University council member Julius Ho, who remarked later that it was “not big deal to kill pigs or dogs.” He further argued:

If we’re talking about Hong Kong independence, that means war. What’s wrong with killing enemies in a war?

Though a public call to kill is against the criminal ordinance, Secretary of Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung has played down Tsang's and Ho's statements. In contrast, just a month ago, three pro-democracy activists — Alex Chow, Nathan Law, and Joshua Wong — were sentenced to between six and eight months in prison for advocating the peaceful protests of 2014.

‘Have we decided Hong Kong’s direction after 2047? Not yet.’

Perhaps the more fundamental issue is why some Hong Kongers want to discuss independence from China in the first place. Hui Fung Ming, a student activist and a graduate of Education University, argued on inmediahk.net that debate about Hong Kong as an independent state is necessary given the city's post 2047 future is unclear:

香港基本法寫明五十年不變,2047就係另一場二次前途談判,而港獨係香港未來2047年二次前途談判嘅其中一個可能性同option。依家2047年定左方向啦咩?未吖嘛,你地屋企啲屋契到時候都會到期架喎,有可能會好似中國咁行社會主義集體所有制收哂你地啲地同屋架喎,你地係咪唔介意?

The Basic Law in Hong Kong promises Hong Kong’s way of life will remain unchanged for 50 years. By the time of 2047, Hong Kong’s future will be another round of negotiation. Hong Kong independence is a possibility and option in the negotiation. Have we decided Hong Kong’s direction after 2047? Not yet. A large number of land leases will expire after 2047, and it remains possible that if Hong Kong follows China in adopting the socialist collective system, the land can be confiscated. Is that none of your concern?

Hui Fung Ming continued, saying that Beijing and Beijing supporters’ logic is flawed:

港獨違法根本就係一個偽命題,如果按呢個邏輯推演,咁應該除咗一國兩制作為唯一一種政治體制以外無嘢係可以討論到,因為按香港基本法去講香港係落實一國兩制個喎。咁樣嘅話嘢講一國兩制以外嘅嘢都應該係違法喎,成日指手劃腳嘅黨媒講中國政府全面實施對香港管治行一國一制都違法喎,點解佢地又可以講,政權又唔去禁止下呢又?…如果連學校都唔俾講港獨,我想問以同樣嘅邏輯推演落去的話,係咪喺街入邊警察求其聽到有人講港獨兩個字就即刻可以執法拉人呢?大家係咪想要咁樣的香港?

The claim that Hong Kong independence is against the law is false. According to such logic, “One Country, Two Systems” should be the only political system that can be discussed. According to the Basic Law, Hong Kong has adopted “One Country, Two Systems,” so other alternatives should be illegal. But pro-Beijing media outlets keep advocating Beijing to implement “One Country, One System” in Hong Kong, so they are allowed to propose an illegal political system? Why doesn’t Beijing ban them from saying so?… If we can’t deliberate Hong Kong independence in universities, according to the logic, shall the police officers take action in arresting whomever talks about Hong Kong independence in the street? Do you want a Hong Kong like this?

by Oiwan Lam at September 20, 2017 01:51 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Evidence of Government Surveillance in Mexico Continues to Mount
Imagen tomada de Pixabay bajo licencia CC0 Creative Commons.

Image taken from Pixabay under CC0 Creative Commons License.

In early September, further attempts to spy on activists in Mexico were confirmed. The president of Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity (MCCI), an organization dedicated to investigative journalism, received several SMS messages that were intended to infect his mobile device with malicious software.

According to The New York Times, Claudio X. González Guajardo was threatened with Pegasus, a sophisticated espionage tool or “spyware” sold exclusively to governments that was acquired by the Mexican government in 2014 and 2015, with the alleged intention of combating organized crime. Once installed, Pegasus spyware allows the sender or attacker to access files on the targeted device, such as text messages, emails, passwords, contacts list, calendars, videos and photographs. It even allows the microphone and camera to activate at any time, inadvertently, on the infected device.

In an interview with journalist Carmen Aristegui, MCCI investigative journalism director Salvador Camarena pointed out that the messages received by González Guajardo indicated the following (it should be noted that both Aristegui and Camarena also suffered attacks using the same espionage technology):

Abogado, acabo de recibir esta notificación del MP y me URGE que me ayude a dar respuesta. Se lo adjunto (LINK)”

Hola Claudio, aparte de saludarte, paso a compartirte esta nota de Proceso donde hacen mención de tu nombre (LINK)”.

Señor Claudio, le comparto esta nota del Universal donde hacen mención de usted de forma deplorable, mire: (LINK)”.

Couselor, I just received this notification from the MP and he URGES me to help give a response. It is attached (LINK)”

Hello Claudio, apart from greeting you, I'm sharing this note from [the media outlet] Proceso where they mention your name (LINK)”

Mr. Claudio, I want to share this note from El Universal, where they mention you in an unfavorable way, look: (LINK).”

The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto confirmed that the links in each of the messages received by González Guajardo were infected with Pegasus spyware. González Guajardo is the 22nd person not involved with organized crime who researchers have confirmed was targeted with Pegasus in Mexico:

Each of the infection attempts, documented in an investigation jointly conducted by digital rights and civil liberties organizations Article 19, Network in Defense of Digital Rights (R3D), SocialTIC and Citizen Lab, occurred at critical junctures related to the work of espionage targets:

  • Journalist Carmen Aristegui and her team received multiple messages with malicious links while investigating acts of corruption by the Mexican government that involved the presidential couple and specifically President Enrique Peña Nieto.
  • Carlos Loret de Mola was targeted while he was documenting extrajudicial executions carried out by the Federal Police in Tanhuato, Michoacán.
  • The legal team of The Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center (Centro Prodh) were targets of this technology while working on various cases such as the forced disappearance of the 43 students of Ayotzinapa and acts of sexual torture by police officers in San Salvador Atenco in 2006.
  • The legal defense teams of the families of activist Nadia Vera and journalist Rubén Espinosa, who were murdered along with Alejandra Negrete, Yesenia Quiroz Alfaro and Mile Virginia Martin in 2015, also received suspicious messages at the end of that year.
  • Health rights activists received messages as they prepared a campaign to support a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in the country.
  • Members of the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO) received infection attempts while leading efforts to pass the citizens’ initiative to combat political corruption in the country, known as “Law 3 out of 3.”
  • Personnel from Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity (MCCI) were attacked following the publication of a report on the ghost business network headed by the former governor of Veracruz, Javier Duarte.
  • The Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) appointed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to investigate the case of the forced disappearance of the 43 students of Ayotzinapa was also targeted by Pegasus technology.

Now, following recent revelations by The New York Times, we know that this has not been the only intimidating tactic aimed at hampering the work of the organization and silencing, in particular, its director, González Guajardo.

Not even the diplomatic immunity of the @GIEIAYOTZINAPA prevented that they were the objective of the #SpyGovernment

Similarly, it is no small matter that attempts at espionage have also been directed against members of the National Action Party (PAN), a party opposed to that of the current federal government.

In addition to these revelations, this same week, a former agent of the National Security and Research Center (CISEN), Rodolfo Raúl González Vázquez, publicly denounced political espionage activities attributed to the former governor of Puebla, Rafael Moreno Valle Rosas, and the federal representative, Eukid Castañón Herrera, through the use of spying software developed by the Italian company, Hacking Team.

In early January of this year, The New York Times itself published an extensive report covering, among other things, the use of such software (in particular the ‘Galileo’ Remote Control System) for political espionage during the internal elections of the National Action Party in Puebla, Mexico.

The extensive network of spyware acquired and operated under the administration of the now former-governor of Puebla and aspirant president of the country, Rafael Moreno Valle, had already been evidenced in the investigative journalism carried out by the independent media Animal Político and Lado B in 2015.

Recent statements by former CISEN agent Rodolfo Raúl González Vázquez not only confirm the existence of the network, but also reveal the size of its scope and objectives, which he declared to Aristegui Noticias:

Amantes, vicios y negocios” era lo que los empleados que operaban la red tenían que encontrar entre los adversarios del aspirante presidencial, los activistas, críticos y periodistas e incluso sobre prominentes integrantes de su grupo político.

Lovers, vices, and businesses’ was what the employees who operated the network had to find among the opponents of the presidential candidate, activists, critics, and journalists and even prominent members of his political group.

The abundance of examples and technical evidence unearthed by this range of civil society groups and media outlets strongly indicates that these sophisticated espionage tools acquired by the Mexican government are not being used for legitimate purposes. From the opacity in its acquisition and use, to the many investigations and revelations that have arisen in recent times, it appears more and more likely that these intrusive technologies are being used to intimidate and silence dissent.

by Giovanna Salazar at September 20, 2017 12:50 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
09/20/2017: Is it too late for data regulation?
Some 143 million people had their personal information stolen in the Equifax data breach. And that has a lot of us asking: How did we get here? Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks to Nancy Kim, who teaches internet studies at California Western School of Law, about why regulating data collection is so hard. And we hear from a few New Yorkers about their data security worries — or lack of them.

by Marketplace at September 20, 2017 05:35 AM

September 19, 2017

MIT Center for Civic Media
An Open Letter From Civic Hackers to Puerto Rico & USVI in the Wake of Hurricane Maria

I am working with a group of civic developers committed to supporting Hurricane victims for relief & recovery who have helped with the software development and data analysis of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma primarily in Texas and Florida. In the wake of Hurricane Maria, we want to help Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the same way. Devastation has already occurred in Puerto Rico and the USVI, and we’re here to help in the response and recovery pending from Maria.

But, we won’t jump in without your permission. These places have a long history of imperialism, and we refuse to add tech colonialism on top of that.

Here’s how we might be able to help:

Rescue

Sometimes emergency services are overloaded fielding calls and deploying assistance. Remote grassroots groups help take in additional requests through social media and apps like Zello and then help to dispatch local people who are offering to perform rescue services (like the Cajun Navy in Houston after Hurricane Harvey).

Shelter updates

As people seek shelter while communication infrastructure remains spotty, having a way to text or call to findt the nearest shelter accepting people becomes useful. We can remotely keep track of what shelters are open and accepting people by calling them and scraping websites, along with extra information such as if they accept pets and if they check identification.

Needs matching

As people settle into shelters or return to their homes, they start needing things like first aid supplies and building materials. Shelter managers or community leaders seek ways to pair those offering material support with those in need of the support. We help with the technology and data related to taking and fulfilling these requests, although we don’t fulfill the requests directly ourselves.

If you are interested in this, please let us know by emailing me (bl00 at mit) or finding us on Twitter at @irmaresponse or @sketchcityhou.

Here are other groups lending aid already (maintained by someone else).
If you’re looking to jump in an an existing task, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team already has a tasker active for helping to map the area for responders and coordination.

by willowbl00 at September 19, 2017 09:49 PM

Global Voices
Evidence of Government Surveillance in Mexico Continues to Mount
Imagen tomada de Pixabay bajo licencia CC0 Creative Commons.

Image taken from Pixabay under CC0 Creative Commons License.

In early September, further attempts to spy on activists in Mexico were confirmed. The president of Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity (MCCI), an organization dedicated to investigative journalism, received several SMS messages that were intended to infect his mobile device with malicious software.

According to The New York Times, Claudio X. González Guajardo was threatened with Pegasus, a sophisticated espionage tool or “spyware” sold exclusively to governments that was acquired by the Mexican government in 2014 and 2015, with the alleged intention of combating organized crime. Once installed, Pegasus spyware allows the sender or attacker to access files on the targeted device, such as text messages, emails, passwords, contacts list, calendars, videos and photographs. It even allows the microphone and camera to activate at any time, inadvertently, on the infected device.

In an interview with journalist Carmen Aristegui, MCCI investigative journalism director Salvador Camarena pointed out that the messages received by González Guajardo indicated the following (it should be noted that both Aristegui and Camarena also suffered attacks using the same espionage technology):

Abogado, acabo de recibir esta notificación del MP y me URGE que me ayude a dar respuesta. Se lo adjunto (LINK)”

Hola Claudio, aparte de saludarte, paso a compartirte esta nota de Proceso donde hacen mención de tu nombre (LINK)”.

Señor Claudio, le comparto esta nota del Universal donde hacen mención de usted de forma deplorable, mire: (LINK)”.

Couselor, I just received this notification from the MP and he URGES me to help give a response. It is attached (LINK)”

Hello Claudio, apart from greeting you, I'm sharing this note from [the media outlet] Proceso where they mention your name (LINK)”

Mr. Claudio, I want to share this note from El Universal, where they mention you in an unfavorable way, look: (LINK).”

The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto confirmed that the links in each of the messages received by González Guajardo were infected with Pegasus spyware. González Guajardo is the 22nd person not involved with organized crime who researchers have confirmed was targeted with Pegasus in Mexico:

Each of the infection attempts, documented in an investigation jointly conducted by digital rights and civil liberties organizations Article 19, Network in Defense of Digital Rights (R3D), SocialTIC and Citizen Lab, occurred at critical junctures related to the work of espionage targets:

  • Journalist Carmen Aristegui and her team received multiple messages with malicious links while investigating acts of corruption by the Mexican government that involved the presidential couple and specifically President Enrique Peña Nieto.
  • Carlos Loret de Mola was targeted while he was documenting extrajudicial executions carried out by the Federal Police in Tanhuato, Michoacán.
  • The legal team of The Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center (Centro Prodh) were targets of this technology while working on various cases such as the forced disappearance of the 43 students of Ayotzinapa and acts of sexual torture by police officers in San Salvador Atenco in 2006.
  • The legal defense teams of the families of activist Nadia Vera and journalist Rubén Espinosa, who were murdered along with Alejandra Negrete, Yesenia Quiroz Alfaro and Mile Virginia Martin in 2015, also received suspicious messages at the end of that year.
  • Health rights activists received messages as they prepared a campaign to support a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in the country.
  • Members of the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO) received infection attempts while leading efforts to pass the citizens’ initiative to combat political corruption in the country, known as “Law 3 out of 3.”
  • Personnel from Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity (MCCI) were attacked following the publication of a report on the ghost business network headed by the former governor of Veracruz, Javier Duarte.
  • The Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) appointed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to investigate the case of the forced disappearance of the 43 students of Ayotzinapa was also targeted by Pegasus technology.

Now, following recent revelations by The New York Times, we know that this has not been the only intimidating tactic aimed at hampering the work of the organization and silencing, in particular, its director, González Guajardo.

Not even the diplomatic immunity of the @GIEIAYOTZINAPA prevented that they were the objective of the #SpyGovernment

Similarly, it is no small matter that attempts at espionage have also been directed against members of the National Action Party (PAN), a party opposed to that of the current federal government.

In addition to these revelations, this same week, a former agent of the National Security and Research Center (CISEN), Rodolfo Raúl González Vázquez, publicly denounced political espionage activities attributed to the former governor of Puebla, Rafael Moreno Valle Rosas, and the federal representative, Eukid Castañón Herrera, through the use of spying software developed by the Italian company, Hacking Team.

In early January of this year, The New York Times itself published an extensive report covering, among other things, the use of such software (in particular the ‘Galileo’ Remote Control System) for political espionage during the internal elections of the National Action Party in Puebla, Mexico.

The extensive network of spyware acquired and operated under the administration of the now former-governor of Puebla and aspirant president of the country, Rafael Moreno Valle, had already been evidenced in the investigative journalism carried out by the independent media Animal Político and Lado B in 2015.

Recent statements by former CISEN agent Rodolfo Raúl González Vázquez not only confirm the existence of the network, but also reveal the size of its scope and objectives, which he declared to Aristegui Noticias:

Amantes, vicios y negocios” era lo que los empleados que operaban la red tenían que encontrar entre los adversarios del aspirante presidencial, los activistas, críticos y periodistas e incluso sobre prominentes integrantes de su grupo político.

Lovers, vices, and businesses’ was what the employees who operated the network had to find among the opponents of the presidential candidate, activists, critics, and journalists and even prominent members of his political group.

The abundance of examples and technical evidence unearthed by this range of civil society groups and media outlets strongly indicates that these sophisticated espionage tools acquired by the Mexican government are not being used for legitimate purposes. From the opacity in its acquisition and use, to the many investigations and revelations that have arisen in recent times, it appears more and more likely that these intrusive technologies are being used to intimidate and silence dissent.

by Omar Ocampo at September 19, 2017 05:53 PM

MIT Center for Civic Media
How Would You Design Crypto Backdoor Regulation? Ed Felten at CITP

Law enforcement sometimes argue that they need backdoors to encryption in order to carry out their mission, while cryptographers like Bruce Schneier describe the public cybersecurity risk from backdoors and say that the "technology just doesn't work that way."

I'm here at the Princeton University Center for Information Tech Policy, liveblogging the first public lunch of the semester, where Ed Felten shares work in progress to find a way through this argument. Ed is the director of CITP and a professor of computer science and public affairs at Princeton University. He served at the White House as the Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer from June 2015 to January 2017. Ed was also the first chief technologist for the Federal Trade Commission from January 2011 until September 2012.

Ed starts out by pointing out that his talk is work in progress, that he's thinking about the U.S. policy context. His goal is to explore the encryption policy issue in relation to the details, understand the tradeoffs, and imagine effective policies– something he says is rare in debates over encryption backdoors.

Five Equities For Thinking about Encryption Backdoor Policies

People who debate encryption backdoors are often thinking about five "equities," says Ed. Focus on public safety concerns the ability of law enforcement and intelligence community to protect the public from harm. Cybersecurity is the ability of law-abiding people to protect their systems. Personal privacy is the ability of users to control the data about them. Civil liberties and free expression concern the ability of people to exercise their rights and speak freely. Economic competitiveness is the ability of US companies to compete in international and domestic markets. Across all of these, we care about these things over time, not just immediately.

Ed notes that policy debates often come to loggerheads because people weight these equities differently. For example, people often contrast public safety with cybersecurity without considering other factors. They also come to loggerheads when people start with these equities without asking in detail what regulation can and cannot do. 

Understanding Policy Pipielines

When we think about policies, Ed encourages us to think about a three-part pipeline. Policymakers start by thinking about regulation, hope that the regulation creates changes in design and user behavior, and then ask the impact of those changes and behaviors on the equities that matter. In this conversation, Ed is working from an assumption of basic trust in the US rule of law, as well as realism about technology, economics, and policy.

The Nobody But Us Principle (NOBUS)
In the past, signals intelligence agencies have tended to have two goals: to undermine the security of adversaries' technologies while strengthening the security of our own technologies. Lately, there's been a problem, which is that US adversaries tend to use the same technologies: strengthening or weakening adversaries' security also affects our own security.

The usual doctrine in these situations is to assume that it's better to strengthen encryption, in hopes that one's own country benefits from that strength. But there's an exception: perhaps one could look for methods of access that the US can carry out but adversaries cannot; these methods are NOBUS (nobody but us). For example, zero-day exploits are an example of something that intelligence agencies might think of as NOBUS. Of course, as Ed points out, the NOBUS principle raises important questions about who the "us" are in any policy idea.

NOBUS Test in Crypto Policy

Based on the NOBUS principle, Ed proposes a principle that any mandated means of access to encrypted data must be NOBUS with high probability. Several rules fail this test, such as banning all encryption, or requiring that encryption be disabled by default.

Why Do People Need Crypto?

Ed offers some basics on cryptography, pointing out that cryptography is used to protect three things. It protects confidentiality, so unauthorized party can't learn message contents. Crypto protects integrity, so unauthorized parties can't forge or modify messages without detection. It also protects identity, protecting people from impersonation. Ed describes two main scenarios for uses of crypto: storage and communications.

In storage situations, device keys and passcodes are combined to create a storage key that can be used to encrypt and decrypt data from a computer or a phone. Once the key is no longer being used, the information is removed and the device is safe.

Encrypted communications are more complicated. Here is a typical situation: In a handshake phase, two people use long-term identity keys to confirm who they are and receive a session key. During the data transfer phase, the session key is used to encrypt and decrypt messages between them. They might change the session key from time to time, and when they are done with the key, they delete it. Once they have deleted a session key, an adversary will be unable to decrypt anything that was said during that session key. Systems like TLS for secure browsing and the Signal protocol fit within this framework.

Trends in the Uses of Crypto

When law enforcement make statements about how they're losing access to communications, they're making a claim about trends. We are seeing a move toward more encryption in storage and on devices, says Ed. To understand the actual impact on security, Ed argues, we should ask instead: who can recover the data? If only the user can recover the data, then law enforcement/intelligence (LE/IC) may lose access. But if the service provider can recover, then LE/IC can get access from the provider. To think through this, Ed asks us to imagine email services. Messages might be encrypted, but law enforcement can often still get companies to give the data to law enforcement.

Ed predicts that in situations where most users want data recovery as a feature, or where the nature of the service requires the provider to have access, the provider will have access, and law enforcement will be able to access it. This includes most email and file storage. Otherwise, users will have exclusive control, in areas such as private messages and ephemeral data.

Designing a Regulatory Requirement for Crypto Backdoors

Any regulatory requirement needs to work through a series of trade-offs, issues that have no relation to the technical questions, says Ed. He outlines a series of decisions that need to be made when designing a regulation on crypto backdoors.

The first question to ask is: should we regulate storage only, or storage and comunications? Communications are harder because keys change frequently and LE/IC can't assume access to the device. Storage regulations typically assume that LE/IC has access to the device, so this is an important question. Storage-only approaches are simpler, so regulation writers should consider whether they should stretch for communications or not. In today's conversation, Ed focuses on storage for simplicity.

The next decision is to ask which services are covered by the regulation. There are many kinds of products that use crypto, and regulators need to decide how much to cover. The broader the range, the more complicated the regulation is, and the greater the burden becomes across the equities. But simple regulations can put many of LE/IC requests beyond their reach. Ed urges us to stop thinking about the iphone, a vertically-integrated system run by a single company. Think instead about an android phone, which involves many different companies from many countries in one device: chip makers, device manufacturers, OS distributors, open source contributors, crypto library distributors, mobile carriers, retailers, and app developers. All of them put technology on the phone, and you have to decide which ones in this supply chain are covered by the regulation.

When deciding who to cover in the regulation, you also need to ask what they're able to do. Chip makers can't control the operating systems. Manufacturers are often foreign. App developers are small teams or individual contractors.

The next decision is to ask how robust encryption backdoors must be. If users attempt to prevent access, how strongly must the system resist? Ed outlines several options. The first option is not to resist user attempts. Another option is to make disabling the backdoor at least as hard as jailbreaking the device. A stronger option would be to require users to conduct non-trivial modifications to hardware to secure. If you require this, you will make it much less likely that adversaries and would-be targets would evade the public safety investigation, but it also probably requires hardware modifications. Legacy systems would be unable to comply, and depending on who you require to comply, they might not be able to comply; you couldn't ask Google to require hardware backdoors on android phones, whose hardware they don't control.

Next, regulators need to decide how to treat legacy products. Do you allow legacy systems? Do you ban them? If so, how can people tell if their system has a backdoor to comply with the ban, and do you want them to know?

Another decision is to work out what to do with travelers. If someone travels to the U.S. and brings a device that is compliant with their own country's rules but not US policies, what do you do? Do you allow it, so long as the visit is time-limited? Do you prohibit it, detecting and taking away the device? Do you try to reconfigure the device at the border? Manually? Automatically? How would these requirements violate trade agreements?

All of these decisions, says Ed, are decisions you need to make even before discussing the technical details. Next, he talks through the most common technical proposal, key escrow, to show how regulators could reason through these policies.

Technical Example: Key Escrow

Under the key escrow approach, storage systems are required to keep a copy of the storage key, encrypting it so that a ``recovery key'' is needed to recover it. The storage system creates and stores an escrow package. Recovering takes a three-stage process: extract the escrow package from the device, decrypt the escrow package to get the storage key, and use the storage key to decrypt the data.

If you use key escrow, you have to decide if you're going to require physical access. On option is to require that physical access is necessary, you could allow remote access to the escrow package, or you could leave it to the market. Requiring physical access limits the worst case from the leak of keys; even if the recovery key is compromised, users could protect themselves through physical control. In the US, law enforcement have said that they envision using key escrow systems only in cases of physical access and court orders. Relying on a requirement for physical access depends on a technical ability to do so, something that is theoretical so far and may be difficult to force hardware supply chains to comply with.

Next Ed shows us a matrix of four policy approaches:

  • The device must include a physical access port for law enforcement
  • The company must hold and provide the escrow package and give it to law enforcement if requested
  • The company must provide the storage key directly when requested from law enforcement
  • The company must provide the data

Lower on the list, the company does the work and has more design latitude about how to respond. But the bottom two policy approaches have a NOBUS problem, since they expose users to third party access. Requiring companies to provide the data and to store the key probably fails the NOBUS test as well. In the top two options, law enforcement needs knowledge about many devices, probably managed through industry standard.

Maybe there are more options. Ed talks about a number of other possibilities, including working on who holds the recovery keys. Giving all keys to the US government could harm competitiveness and be blocked by other governments. Giving keys to other countries fails the NOBUS test because it gives other governments a competitive advantage.

Another option is to split the keys, giving the keys to multiple parties and requiring them all to participate. Imagine for example that one key is held by the company and one by the FBI. This approach has some advantages. The approach is NOBUS if any one of the key holders is NOBUS, since any key holder can withhold participation. This approach is also more resilient against compromise of recovery keys. Disadvantages are that any key holder can block recovery, availability is harder to ensure, and every key holder learns which devices were accessed.

Another split-key model requires that some subset of all keys be used (K-of-N keys) to access the data. The advantages of the system are that the approach is NOBUS if at least N-K+1 of the key holders are NOBUS. It's more resilient against compromise than a single key. Among disadvantages, any N-K+1 key holders can block recovery, K key holders learn which devices were accessed, and the system is much less resilient against compromise than a simple split key.

Where Does This Leave Us?

Ed wraps up by arguing that we can have a policy discussion beyond the impasse people in security policy have reached. He suggests that we think about the entire regulation pipeline, from regulation to response to impact. Next, regulators need to think about the full range of products, how they are designed, how they are used, and the impact on equities. The NOBUS test does help regulators narrow down choices. Yet each of the decisions has tradeoffs with pros and cons. Overall, Ed hopes that his talk shows how regulation debates should engage with details and unpack how to think about the policy by working through specific proposals.

Finally, Ed encourages us to take the final step that his talk leaves out: thinking through the impact of policy ideas on the equities in play and how to weigh them.

by natematias at September 19, 2017 05:43 PM

Global Voices
Steven Seagal Rediscovers Celebrity in Central Asia, and the Implications Are Alarming

Steven Seagal meets Kyrgyz Prime Minister Sapar Isakov. Screenshot from state television broadcaster KTR.

“When the seagulls follow the trawler,” the well-known French footballer Eric Cantona once told a group of bemused British journalists, “it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea.”

In a barely related but equally mind-muddling incident, B-list Hollywood actor Steven Seagal is trawling through ex-Soviet Central Asia, and he is not doing it purely out of goodwill.

This is a man with a worrying plan.

Стивен who? Oh, Стивен, it's you!

Seagal's ongoing tour of the region that began earlier this month has allowed him time and space to feel famous again.

In case you missed him, Seagal, 65, stopped making movies that people had heard of in the same decade Eric Cantona stopped playing football: the 1990s.

Plummeting box office sales haven't persuaded Seagal or the directors he works with to change the format of his films much, however, if this critic's review of a 2016 release he starred in is anything to go by:

If you're reading this review of the Steven Seagal vehicle “The Asian Connection,” it is probably too late to dissuade you from seeing almost any other movie. I get it: you want to see a movie with a vaguely racist-sounding title starring the has-been star of cheesy action films like “Hard to Kill,” “Marked for Death,” and “Above the Law.” These films are bad, but in an endearingly disastrous way. The same is basically true of “The Asian Connection,” a lousy bank heist flick and one of Seagal's most engagingly tacky recent efforts. I want to defend this movie, but it's so bad that I must warn you: if you watch this film knowing that it is Steven-Seagal-wearing-a-du-rag-and-glowering-impassively-at-attractive-young-women bad, you will get what you pay for. That's both an endorsement and a warning.

Passports ‘R’ Us

Seagal's Central Asian and Russian connections go back at least a decade, as this well-written account of his various trips to former Soviet countries details.

Since late 2016 he has been the holder of a Russian passport, and on September 15, Kyrgyzstan's Prime Minister Sapar Isakov disappointed many of his countrymen by extending the same offer:

The country's former chief of staff-turned opposition-minded social media exciter Edil Baisalov scathed on Facebook:

Я считаю оскорбительным для Кыргызской Республики, и даже не смешным с точки зрения заезжей звезды, предлагать Сигалу гражданство Кыргызстана. Наше законодательство содержит исчерпывающий перечень оснований для получения кыргызского гражданства.
Дружба иностранца с премьер-министром не является одним из таких оснований. Реакцией на такой жест Исакова прошлой ночью стало всеобщее даже не возмущение, а отвращение.

I consider it an offense to the Kyrgyz Republic to offer Kyrgyz citizenship to some visiting star. Our legislation contains an exhaustive list of grounds for obtaining Kyrgyz citizenship. The friendship of a foreigner with a prime minister is not one of these grounds. Last night the reaction to Isakov's gesture was universal. It was one not so much of outrage, but rather downright disgust.

Kyrgyz government image shared by Kaktus Media.

And it gets worse…

So far, Seagal's trek through the region has also taken in autocratic Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

In the latter he reportedly arrived as a replacement for Jean-Claude Van Damme, who had intended to appear at a martial arts tournament there but fell ill at the last moment.

Ordinary day, ordinary shoot, ordinary Steven Seagal ;-)

But why should anyone care about his visit? Shouldn't Steven Seagal be free to build bridges and facilitate cultural exchange through violent sports while glad-handing leaders in countries ranging from semi-authoritarian to worse?

Not really. The problem is that Steven Seagal's latest journey through Eurasia is actually all about promoting Steven Seagal's years-old and very public bid to star as Genghis Khan in an epic made by any producer with deep pockets.

horrendous, horrendous, idea? Probably. This is how you can try to stop it happening.

by Peter Paul Rankin at September 19, 2017 08:05 AM

Marketplace Tech Report
09/19/2017: How getting paid in stock may have changed the housing market
When a city becomes a tech hub, it usually also becomes a bubble: a housing bubble, a pay bubble and an industry bubble, to name a few. The tech world talks about these bubbles like they’re inevitable. But what if they aren't? Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks to Seattle-based Glenn Kelman, who is the CEO of the real estate site Redfin, about tech employees’ stock payouts and how reporting them properly could distribute wealth more evenly throughout the country.

by Marketplace at September 19, 2017 05:48 AM

September 18, 2017

Global Voices
In Ukraine, Fears of ‘Technological Terrorism’ Cause Free Expression to Decline

Open air exhibition of posters of different kinds of soldiers from Ukrainian history next to landmark St. Andrew Church in Kiev. Photo by Filip Stojanovski, CC BY.

Olga Kyryliuk, PhD, is an expert in International Law, and co-founder of the Ukrainian NGO Digital Defenders Partners – DDP (Партнери цифрового правозахисту in Ukrainian), focused on protecting human rights online and promoting the idea of free, open and affordable to all Internet.

DDP is a member of the Internet Freedom Platform of Eastern and Central Europe and Eurasia, established by civil society organizations that work on fostering of the freedom of expression, association and flow of information on internet.

In this interview, Kyryliuk spoke to Global Voices about the results of the recent research, and the current situation with digital rights in Ukraine.

Filip Stojanovski (FS): DDP recently published an analytical report on freedom of expression in Ukraine. What is your general assessment?

Olga Kyryliuk (OK): Freedom of expression is gradually deteriorating in Ukraine as the conflict in the East of the country gets protracted. The threats faced by Ukraine are of hybrid nature, and, therefore, require some non-linear reaction and deterrence tactics. Somehow succeeding over time in maintaining its military positions, Ukraine appeared to be absolutely unprepared to handle the information confrontation. Instead of ensuring equal protection to all the values recognized in any democratic society, Ukraine put itself before a dilemma of protecting either national security, or freedom of expression. And I strongly believe that this is the choice that should have never emerged. We should never sacrifice one basic value for the sake of the other, but rather try to balance them as much as possible.

FS: Unlike other European countries, Ukraine is in a particular situation: since 2014 parts of its territory are not under control of the government, but no state of war had been declared. How does this affect the level of freedom of expression in the country?

OK: This is another aspect where, in my opinion, Ukraine has to deal with extremely challenging reality of armed conflict without even using proper names to define this reality. And it really makes difference in terms of the limits of state’s discretion when safeguarding human rights in the peacetime and during the period of martial law. And if the martial law provides for respective restrictions, the latter are not justified when the country officially keeps living under the general rules applicable during the times of peace and stability.

FS: According to 2017 World Press Freedom Index, compiled by Reporters without Borders, Ukraine’s current rank is 102, on a scale of 1 (Norway) to 180 (North Korea). During the last two years it had been improving, from 129 in 2015 and 107 in 2016, but is still among the lowest in Europe. What are the difficulties on the efforts to measure the level of media freedoms?

OK: This particular Index is based, inter alia, around the criteria of pluralism, media independence and respect for the safety and freedom of journalists. In case of Ukraine, war with Russia and oligarchic control over the media and information still remain the biggest challenges. Such low position is also explained by the government’s failure to provide adequate guarantees to journalists and the lack of access by critical international observers and journalists to non-government controlled territories.

Olga Kyryliuk at the presentation of the analytical report on freedom of expression in Ukraine. Photo by DDP, used with permission.

FS: The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine reportedly includes ‘information warfare’, such as use of propaganda and counterpropaganda. How are journalists, as well as regular citizens, affected by this situation?

OK: We are all struggling on a daily basis trying to surf through excessive amounts of information. Internet facilitated the dissemination of such information and made it easy accessible but, at the same time, blurred the reliability threshold. This gets even more complicated when huge amounts of fake and propagandist information are being generated on purpose. That’s where the digital literacy of regular citizens is of huge importance, as only by using the analytical skills it is possible to differentiate between facts and propaganda.

Another option is to use reliable and respected sources of information. But the thing is that people tend to believe and be more sympathetic towards the information, which already coincides with their own views. As for the journalists, I would say that conflict settings place additional responsibility on them, requiring to double check their sources, as well as deliver information timely and in objective way. At the same time, it is critically important to reach not only Ukrainian citizens but also international audience, which means producing qualitative information in foreign languages. In this regard, among the most successful projects promoting Ukraine abroad can be named Ukraine Crisis Media Center, StopFake, Free Voice Information Analysis Center, and Promote Ukraine.

FS: Recently Ukraine has also been discussed in terms of quite controversial steps of blocking access to Internet resources, foreign journalists’ expulsion and legislative initiatives restricting Internet freedom. What is the justification used, and your positions in this regard?

OK: It is noteworthy that all the restrictions are motivated by the national security interests, which for some reason are persistently opposed to freedom of expression. One of the most discussed initiatives was the extension of sanctions to a quite big number of individuals and legal entities. But in fact, that had huge collateral effect and meant blocking access to Russian social networks, search engine, email service, antivirus programs, etc. Currently, the parliament has a registered bill, which, if adopted, would make possible extrajudicial blocking of Internet resources and significantly broaden the definition of technological terrorism to include therein any dissenting opinion, criticism of the government or simply sensitization of the critical issue within the society.

FS: Freedom of expression is a much broader area than just freedom of the press, and censorship or self-censorship can affect all segments of society. How individual citizens of Ukraine react to the identified lack of this basic human right?

OK: The introduced restrictions and bans clearly divided society into two opposing groups, with some believing that national security should be the ultimate value in conflict settings, and the others pointing to them as a slippery slope that may end up in total control over the public opinion. Some Ukrainians became more careful in their online communications and tended to self-censorship, while the others started to use VPNs to circumvent the bans or moved to alternative communication and information platforms.

One of the biggest deficiencies of all the restrictions that are being introduced is the fact that they are poorly, if at all, communicated in advance. No public consultation and preliminary expertise is being conducted. Thus, instead of uniting the society in this critical historical moment the authorities are accentuating the disparities between different groups.

FS: What needs to be done and by whom in order for the situation with internet freedoms to improve in Ukraine?

OK: The best case scenario would be the end of the conflict itself, which would eliminate the government’s justification as to the urgent need of protecting national interests by all means. But so far as we have to deal with the current reality, what is really missing is the communication between different stakeholders. The restrictions are imposed without government ever explaining the actual motives behind them.

Moreover, the restrictions themselves fail to comply with the proportionality and adequacy test. Internet is not divided by borders, thus can’t be subject to legislative segmentation. By trying to win the battle, it is important not to follow the erroneous and restrictive tactics of your rival. We all know that states are much faster to impose the restrictions, than to abolish them. That’s why it is so important to keep all the laws and practices within the framework of international law.

 

Watch Olga Kyryliuk present the DDP report, in Ukrainian:

by Filip Stojanovski at September 18, 2017 06:47 PM

For Some Stunning Photos of Japan, Check Out Tokyo Camera Club
tokyo camera club

Tokyo Camera Club Editor's Picks. Screencap from Tokyo Camera Club main site.

Tokyo Camera Club is a vibrant community in Japan devoted to sharing and discussing photographs of Japan. More than 400,000 people follow its Facebook page, while more than 300,000 people follow on its Instagram account. Many of the posts are widely popular, generating tens of thousands of likes, as well as a lot of shares and comments.

As a for-profit business, Tokyo Camera Club receives sponsorships and paid advertising from many camera makers. The site, besides showcasing some spectacular photos, is a good place to learn about upcoming photo contests.

Here is a selection of just some of the photos published on Instagram:

Originally submitted by Instagram user @fujihirotanaka to the @photo_shorttrip Instagram account, this photo receives many likes and comments. Photo_shorttrip is a competition organized by Tokyo Camera Club that uses the hashtag #photo_shorttrip to showcase single images of a short trip.

Originally submitted by Instagram user @akira_1972_  to the @photravelers Instagram account. Please like and comment on this photo. With this feature, Tokyo Camera Club showcases submissions to its Instagram and Facebook pages images that uses the hashtag #photo_travelers. Follow: @photravelers #photo_travelers#photravelers #travel #traveler

東京カメラ部10選による、「バンガード」のトラベル三脚のハンズオンレビュー第一弾! . http://bit.ly/VANGUARD_VEO2hara_1708 . 東京カメラ部10選の原朋士さんが、バンガードのトラベル三脚「VEO 2 265CB」とともに、工場夜景や滝など長秒撮影を駆使した撮影へ。 携行性と剛性を追求したモデルで、持ち運びが簡単で超軽量。高度な機能の脚とツイストロックシステムを使用しながら、多彩な創造的なポジションをお楽しみいただけます。 より高度な撮影を可能にする「VEO 2 265CB」の実力を、活用シーンや作品集とともに是非ご覧ください!<PR> . 作品:原朋士さん(東京カメラ部10選2012)

A post shared by 東京カメラ部 (@tokyocameraclub) on

One of Tokyo Camera Club's top 10 images. This is from part one of a review of the new Vanguard travel tripod: http://vanguard.tokyocameraclub.com/veo2_userreview/page01.php

Photographer Hara Tomoshi took the Vanguard tripod on a trip to photograph waterfalls and night scenes of industrial complexes. […]

Whether you live in Tokyo or not, anyone can submit an image to be considered for Tokyo Camera Club's feed, as long as the photo is of someplace in Japan. Rules, in English, for how to submit a photo can be found here.

More Tokyo Camera Club photographs can be seen on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and on the web.

by Nevin Thompson at September 18, 2017 04:57 PM

Indigenous Rappers from Brazil Are Using the Internet to Bring Their Message to the Masses

Indigenous rap group Brô MCs performing in Asuncíon, Paraguay. Photo from the Brô MCs Rap Indígena Facebook page, published with permission.

Several indigenous hip-hop artists from Brazil are leveraging the power of technology to shed light on their culture, identity and the wider social issues that matter to their communities.

Through platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, these artists have been using their voices and lyrics to start a conversation — and to bring their message to a wider, more connected audience.  

Currently, there are more than 240 indigenous tribes residing in Brazil, representing about 0.9% of the country’s total population. These communities have experienced many injustices throughout history, but in present times, land rights are the most prominent issue for the indigenous population.

In the midst of these debates, hip-hop has proven to be a powerful tool in highlighting indigenous viewpoints. Here are some of the rappers who have been at the forefront of this movement.

Brô MCs: Brazil's first indigenous rap group

Brô MCs are a group of four indigenous rappers from the Jaguapirú and Bororó village in the town of Dourados, in the centre-western state of Mato Grosso do Sul.

Back in 2009, when Bruno Veron, Clemerson Batista, Kelvin Peixoto and Charlie Peixoto formed the group, their musical pursuits were met with skepticism, from outsiders as well as from those within their own communities.

But they have since proven that rap culture and indigenous issues can work powerfully together.

Not only have they toured around Brazil, their music has also reached as far as Berlin's International Film Festival – the song “Terra Vermelha”, or “Red Land”, made it into the soundtrack of one of the Brazilian films submitted to this year's awards ceremony.

Brô MCs. Photo from the Brô MCs Rap IndígenaFacebook page, published with permission.

Their debut single was launched on YouTube in 2015 through the Guateka channel – a project that seeks to capture the daily lives of indigenous communities across the country.

“Koangagua”, which loosely translates to “Nowadays”, is sung entirely in Guarani Kaiowá (the group's native language), with Portuguese subtitles accompanying it. Its lyrics talks about the importance of their chosen genre of music in the promotion of their beliefs and the things that matter most to their communities. 

Here's an excerpt of the song in question:

Minha fala é forte e está comigo / Falo a verdade, não quero ser que nem você / Canto vários temas e isso que venho mostrando / Voz indígena é a voz de agora

My speech is strong and is with me / I speak the truth, I don't want to be like you / I sing about various issues and this is what I'm showing / The indigenous voice is the voice of the now

Most of their social media activity is on Facebook, where fans can find out about upcoming shows and media appearances and gain some insight into the issues that the group is passionate about.

One of their most recent posts, for instance, promoted a photography exhibition in the southeastern city of Belo Horizonte, in the state of Minas Gerais, that showcases the lives of the Guarani-Kaiowa people.

Brô MCs has also made their debut on TV with “Guateka“, a five-episode fictional mini-series loosely based on the rap group’s personal journey as indigenous musicians. They play themselves in the locally produced series, which was funded by public grants and premiered on Brazil's public TV channels in May 2017.

Oz Guarani: From São Paulo and beyond

Oz Guaraní are the first indigenous rap group from the southeastern city of São Paulo, Brazil's hip-hop capital and the home of the country's most famous rappers, among them Emicida, Mano Brown and Criolo.

The teenage trio, Jefinho, Mano Glowers, and Vlad Macena, hail from Tekoa Pyau and Tekoa Ytu villages of the Jaraguá suburb, on the western end of the city.

Their origins stem from a series of local protests a few years back, sparked by ongoing land disputes between the Jaraguá tribes and the local government. The group met during one of the gatherings, and decided to write a letter about what was happening at the time – which was in turn transformed into their first single, “Guerreiro da Aldeia Jaraguá” (“Warrior of the Jaraguá Village”):

Their online presence places an emphasis on social issues, such as the aforementioned land battles. They also use Facebook to share their successes and upcoming endeavors, including video interviews, new singles, and performances.   

Another platform that Oz Guarani uses to disseminate their songs is Palco MP3, an independent Brazilian music-sharing website that's quite similar in concept to SoundCloud: artists can upload their tracks, which are freely available for download, and update their profiles to connect with those who want to know more about their music.

Kunumi MC: Brazil's first solo indigenous rapper

Werá Jeguaka Mirim, who goes by the artistic name Kunumi MC, first rose to prominence on the national stage not for his music, but for his activism. During the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Kunumi raised a sign in the middle of the field asking for the demarcation of indigenous lands.

The rapper, whose musical moniker means “young one” in Guaraní, has since made his mark as Brazil's first solo hip-hop artist by releasing his first debut album, titled “My Blood Is Red”, on June 2, 2017.

Kunumi MC. Photo courtesy of Werá Jeguaka Mirim (aka Kunumi MC), published with permission.

Kunumi comes from the Krukutu village in Parelheiros, in the extreme south of São Paulo, and has been expressing his creativity from a very young age. In fact, his own father, writer Olivio Jekupé, was the one who sparked the boy's interest in the use of language to shed light on issues that truly warrant attention. 

You can find teaser videos for some of his songs on YouTube, as well as the full-length music video for his debut single “O Kunumi Chegou” (“Kunumi Has Arrived”):  

An excerpt from the lyrics to that song above reads:

Lutar pelo povo e ser o que é/Na multidão, você não é o melhor/Mas pode agir como ela/ Sempre com humildade, raciocínio consciente/Grave isso em sua mente

To fight for others and being true to oneself / Among the crowds, you might not be the best / But you can act collectively / Always with humility, conscious reasoning / Keep this in mind

His most recent release, “Guarani-Kaiowá”, also talks about the struggles and violence his people endure on a daily basis:

On Facebook, Kunumi shares a mix of local activist projects, personal views, as well as his music and creative projects.

Like Oz Guarani, Kunumi also makes his music available on Palco MP3. You can find his album on Spotify as well.

by Thalita Alves at September 18, 2017 04:54 PM

Creative Commons
Sign the Petition: Public Money Should Produce Public Code

The Free Software Foundation Europe and a broad group of organisations including Creative Commons are supporting the Public Money, Public Code campaign. The initiative calls for the adoption of policies that require that software paid for by the public be made broadly available as Free and Open Source Software. Nearly 40 organisations and over 6200 individuals have already supported this action by signing the open letter. You can sign it too.

We know that publicly funded educational materials and scientific research should be made available under open licenses for maximum access and reuse by everyone.

The same goes for the digital infrastructure of publicly-funded software. Unfortunately, governments around the world tend to procure mostly proprietary software, and the restrictive licenses that come with it limits our rights as citizens to use (and improve) these tools funded through the public purse and developed for the public good.

Make your voice heard today. The campaign organiser will deliver the signatures to European representatives who are debating software freedom in public administration.


Public Money? Public Code! from Free Software Foundation Europe on Vimeo.

The post Sign the Petition: Public Money Should Produce Public Code appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Timothy Vollmer at September 18, 2017 07:00 AM

Marketplace Tech Report
09/18/2017: Asteroid mining and the economics of outer space
When we think space, we often think about observation — watching the skies and figuring out what’s out there. But some people are already thinking about how to put the assets up in space to good use. One way to do that? Asteroid mining. It may sound like science fiction, but established companies such as Caterpillar and startups such as Planetary Resources are putting real money into it. Our two resident space nerds, Molly Wood and Kimberly Adams, talk about this to kick off our series looking at the economics of outer space.

by Marketplace at September 18, 2017 05:57 AM

Global Voices
The Conflict in Eastern Ethiopia, Explained

The Borana: catch the colour. The Borana people live in Ethiopia's Oromia region. Photo by Carsten ten Brink via Flickr. CC BY 2.0

Ethnic tensions between Ethiopia’s two regions, Oromia and Somali erupted into violent conflict that killed at least dozens of people and drove thousands of men, women and children from their homes during the second week of September 2017.

Reports on social media about the death toll and displacement of people are wildly different depending on who reports them. Pro-government journalists based in the capital Addis Ababa reported dozens of deaths while diaspora-based media put the number much higher. However, both reported that thousands of people were displaced.

A referendum still reverberates 14 years later

The longest border in Ethiopia is shared between Oromia and Ethiopian Somali region, which are respectively the country's first and second largest administrative regions by area.

Tension has been simmering for years along this border which led to intermittent clashes involving mostly Oromos and Somalis.

In 1994 an opposition political party known as Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) accused the Ethiopian Somali Region of infringing into the south-eastern provinces of Oromia Region. OLF was eventually labeled as a terrorist organization by the Ethiopian regime. In June 2000, OLF reported that at least 70 people were killed in an armed conflict that ensued between Oromos and Somalis.

In December 2003, a violent clash over scarce water and land resources led to the displacement of 19,000 people in the border.

In 2004, the Ethiopian government held a referendum to settle the territorial dispute. The official results of the referendum gave about 80 percent of the disputed districts to Oromia Regional State.

But in December 2005, all hell broke loose when the federal government attempted to enforce the results of the vote. According to Relief Web International, tens of thousands of people have been displaced from both regions forcing the Ethiopian government to defer to transfer of the districts that have voted to be redistricted as part of Oromia Regional State. Things remained relatively quiet since then.

How did the latest conflict begin?

In April 2017, violent conflicts were reported in the southern border town of Moyale where members from both Oromo and Ethiopian Somali ethnic groups were killed. The cause of the violence again was scarce water and land resources.

During the same month, the Ethiopian government announced that the two regions have agreed to rearrange their boundaries per the outcome of the 2004 referendum.

This was when the conflict picked up and reached the level of violence that was last seen in 2005. Authorities and activists from both Oromia and Ethiopia-Somali started to trade accusations of unleashing paramilitary groups against civilians.

While most Oromo activists on social media refuse to view the latest conflict in ethnic terms, the civilians caught in the conflict are actually divided largely along ethnic lines.

Last week, at least 32 people were killed both in Oromia and Somali regions. Thousands of Oromos have been fleeing the Somali Region as they have come to be a target of violence.

What has the Federal Government done about it?

According to the state media, the Federal Government has stepped in to protect civilians. However, many see the government’s role with suspicion. Some even accused the government of deliberately stoking tensions and exploiting political fissures among different ethnic groups in the country to control the growing discontent in Ethiopia.

Over the last three years, thousands across Ethiopia mainly in the Oromia and Amhara regions rose up, demanding more political freedoms and social equality and a stop to government land grabs. The government's response was swift and brutal which led to mass arrests and killings.

Ethiopia is a one-party state in which the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) monopolizes power.

The EPRDF, however, is a coalition of four ethnic-based parties: Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), Oromo People's Democratic Organization (OPDO), Southern Ethiopian People's Democratic Movement (SEPDM) and Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF). However, the TPLF is the core of the EPRDF, holding absolute power over the last quarter of a century by controlling the intelligence, security and military apparatus of the country.

Member parties of the EPRDF govern four of the nine ethnically federated regional states; the remaining five states are administrated by the respective ethnic-based parties that share the same ideology with EPRDF albeit they are not part of the coalition.

Critics allege that since members of the TPLF are among the most high-ranking military officers who control the nation's security they are the de facto rulers of these regions.

Many Oromos fervently blame the TPLF for manufacturing the conflict by pitting the Ethiopian Somalis against the Oromos. They are convinced that the conflict is the work of TPLF military personnel that are based in Somali region.

Other Ethiopians tend to blame Ethiopia’s ethnic based federal government structure that defined communities based on ethnic identity.

Meet the parties at the center of the conflict

The violence this year has created a bitter dispute between Somali and Oromo politicians on a scale not seen before.

Many Oromo politicians and opposition activists attribute much of the violence to a paramilitary group known as ‘Liyou Police’. They both claim that ‘Liyou Police’ is no longer an anti-insurgency military group limited in Somali region.

However, Oromo opposition activists take their  allegation a little further by describing  ‘Liyou Police’ as an invading force that enjoy the overt assistance of Tigrayan military personnel. One of the primary demands of the protest that was held in  August 2017 was the removal of ‘Liyou Police’ from disputed districts in Oromia.

In fact, an accusation of such violence is nothing new for Liyou Police. Past reports of Human Rights Watch frequently mentioned the human rights violations allegedly committed by ‘Liyou Police’ such as indiscriminate killings, gang rapes, arbitrary arrests and maltreatment in Somali region

‘Liyou Police’ was created in 2007, after some sections of the Somalis from the Ogaden clan took up arms against Ethiopian government, alleging mistreatment under the Tigrayan-dominated government of Ethiopia. The Ogaden clan members of Ethiopian Somali have long had grievances against the Ethiopian government. They account for 80 to 90 percent of the Somali population in Ethiopia.

Pastoralists drive their goats towards Gode in Ethiopia's Somali region. Photo by Andrew Heavens via Flickr. CC BY 2.0

Though it has been obscured by the escalation of their conflict with the federal government, there is also a strong internal conflict among the Somalis themselves. There are moderate and radical members of the Ogaden clan. While some demand greater autonomy, others seek an outright independence. Still, there are others who have aligned themselves with the Ethiopian regime. To crush the insurgent members of the Ogaden clan, the Ethiopian government has tapped members of the ‘Liyou Police’.

From his early days as a leader of the ‘Liyou Police’, Abdi Mohamud Omar, or better known as Abdi Illey, eventually became the president of the region. Abdi Illey, a member of Ogaden clan himself, has helped the Ethiopian government to launch a crackdown against the insurgents.

Since the latest escalation of the conflict, his communications team has been lashing out at Oromo officials of the ruling EPRDF party. On their Facebook page, Abdi Illey’s communications team has accused top OPDO officials of being terrorists by linking them with the diaspora-based Oromo activists

On their part, OPDO officials have rejected the allegations and appealed to the federal government to prosecute the culprits.

Will the conflict stop anytime soon?

After weeks of trading accusations, the presidents of the two regions, Mr. Lemma Megersa and Mr. Abdi Mohamud Omar held a press conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital on September 17, 2017. Flanked by top federal government officials, they both spoke about the conflict in general terms.

They both insisted the need of stability in the area but they can’t seem to agree on the root causes of the conflict. For instance, while Mr. Lemma laid the blame at the door of unnamed individuals, Mr. Abdi implied that top OPDO officials are culpable for the conflict. They both clearly absolve the Ethiopian regime of any responsibility.

The problem is many Ethiopians especially Oromo activists believe that the Tigrayan-dominated regime is actively involved in the conflict. They allege that Ethiopian security officials, who have close ties with the region’s president, Mr. Abdi Mohamud Omar, have a vested interest in Ethiopian Somali Region.

However, both leaders seem to agree on immediately relocating the displaced people back to their homes.

But the conflict continues on the ground and even on social media where polarized rhetoric has generated not only confusion but also deliberate distortion of the real issues that caused the violence in the country.

by Endalk at September 18, 2017 12:40 AM

September 17, 2017

Global Voices
A Conversation with Paraguayan Artist Enrique Collar and His Search for Identity

Enrique Collar. Photograph by Juanma López Moreira, originally published in Kurtural, used with permission.

This is an abrdiged version of an interview with Paraguayan artist Enrique Collar originally published by Kurtural under its series “Artifices”. Interview by Sofía Hepner, Silvia Sánchez Di Martino and Juanma López Moreira.

In 1964, in the Paraguayan province of Iguazú, Enrique Collar was only four or five years old when Crescencia, his mother, was working in Buenos Aires, Argentina, just like almost one million other Paraguayans had done back then. During one of Crescencia's visits to the family back in Paraguay, she intended to go out with friends, and Enrique protested hiding her shoes to prevent his mother from ever going away again.

By 1971 Crescencia moved her child with her to Buenos Aires, where he attended college, majoring in graphic design and fine arts at Manuel Belgrano College while holding a job as a painter. He started publishing his art in 1990 in Asuncion, Paraguay while commuting between Buenos Aires and Asuncion until 1999, when he finally moved to Asuncion. He lived there until 2003, when he moved to Rotterdam, The Netherlands, where he currently lives with his wife Mireille, his daughters Roos and Lila, and their adopted puppy Sisi.

The making of this interview took about a week. Meanwhile, we shared stories and trips with the artist. We traveled via train from Rotterdam, his current place of residence, to Utrecht, the place that hosts famous paintings by the baroque Dutch painter Frans Hals to Delft, and the birthplace of Jan Vermeer. During that time, we were joking with Enrique about his life stages: an older Enrique that does not exist yet, the middle-aged Enrique, providing us with this interview; and Enrique the young, the main character of his past story, the painter hopping back and forth between Buenos Aires and Asuncion.

Kurtural: A young Enrique started painting back in Paraguay and Argentina carrying an easel in the time between attending fine arts college and your job at the painting workshop at San Telmo, the social gathering place for commoners at Paraguay. How did that happen?

Enrique Cuellar: It was the perfect environment to recover my identity in just every way. Argentina had lost the Malvinas, something that made them remember that Argentina was in fact part of Latin America. Charly Garcia started hanging out with Mercedes Sosa, folk and rock and roll were merging too, and the postmodernism was gaining popularity. I honestly had no idea what was going on in the art circles in Paraguay, but I would hang out with ordinary people. That gave me a bridge with my old childhood memories – paint the Lapachito (the National tree of Paraguay), paint the wagon they'd ask me. At the beginning, I was not in tune with any of that, but somehow, it turned into my motivation to find myself again, to get back my first six years in the countryside. There was a connection with these people because most of them were, just like me, from the province. It was a conscious decision to start capturing Paraguay in my paintings, but even deeper than that, I started fantasizing with a world where I could find familiar elements such as my grandmother and other town’s iconic people.

My first production in 1989 was done this way. I had a day job as a graphic designer for publishing houses while painting in my spare time. It was during a vacation in Paraguay with my mother that I took 10 or 15 of my pieces. Once in Asuncion, I visited several galleries, I met Belmarco then [a reknown gallerist], who showed some interest on my work. My first exposition was a total success with the critics and the media. When I returned to Buenos Aires I had extra money in my pocket, but one less painting. I remember thinking: “What have I done?, I’ve sold my soul to the devil!” This feeling came from the teachings of my professors at the fine arts college in Buenos Aires. They'd never sell their work. It's like a sin for them. They say that artwork should be sacred. For me, however, I feel that working should mean making a living out of what we do, right?

K: You say that you do not paint Paraguay anymore because you have closed that chapter in your life, and have paid that debt. What was that debt? 

EC: I closed the chapter in regards to the visual arts, but I have taken my experience into audiovisual arts. About the debt, I feel that it is something that sooner or later happens to all of us who emigrate from our birth places. I feel that all human beings, especially if you have a certain amount of sensitivity, move from their birthplace due to need, or forced by circumstances, or simply to try on new adventures. However, with time, you feel the need to give something back to your place of origin. This is somehow romanticized, and Paraguayans dream of returning to that place, with building a home for their family, and give back as much as they can.

My decision to paint Paraguay was about regaining my first six years of life. All that work of a young Enrique had satisfied that need for me. I think that sensitive Latin American artists feel a need of transforming their societies in some way. After more than 200 pieces, and the movies I’ve made, I feel that my responsibility of leaving behind a legacy has been fulfilled. Now living in Europe things have changed for me once more. Here the dreams of Latin American artists are carried out in different ways. Here, needs and contexts are different, the artist has permission to be more individualistic; it is more about you as a person. When I arrived here I felt that the external need of giving had been satisfied.

K: Do you think there's a difference between the art people in Paraguay and those in other countries?

EC: I think you needn't think about the audience. You need to think about art history, about what's universal. The artist who paints for a specific audience, to sell, is underestimating him or herself. I paint for myself, I don't know who I paint for.

I have painted works that are unsellable for the “lapachito” and the “decorative style” way of thinking, and they were sold anyway. I have no Paraguayan works with me right now, everything was sold, even those that were impossible to sell. The audience is always open to new things. Painting for selling translates into comfort, and art is uncomfortable, you can never feel comfortable.

Further detail on Collar's testimony and work in the following video created by Kurtural as a part of the series (English subtitles are available):

by Carolina Pina Velasco at September 17, 2017 05:43 PM

Mexico's Appeal for an Impartial Federal Prosecutor General

Image shared on Flick by Democracy Chronicles, reproduced on licence terms CC BY 2.0.

Mexico's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the party of incumbent President Enrique Peña, intends to name one of its loyal members as head of the Federal Prosecutor General (FGR). As a result, Mexican public opinion has been shaken.

As part of the legal reforms enforced in recent years, we expect that once put into operation, the duties of the current Attorney General of Mexico (PGR) will be taken over by the FGR. Beyond a simple name change, the intention is for the FGR to be an autonomous organization, and not subject to the usual government rules. The objective is also that the District Attorney who heads the FGR will be someone who has not been nominated by the president. This aims to avoid conflicts of interest which could arise when the investigator has to conduct inquiries about issues involving those who appointed him to the position.

In the context of the damaging and apparently unending corruption scandals afflicting Mexico, it is difficult for the government to find a new head of the FGR (who in theory will have a nine-year term) with absolutely no involvement in mainstream political parties.

Therefore, the PRI asking the current head of the PGR, Raúl Cervantes to become the head of the FGR, is something which was deemed by public opinion as an “automatic pass”, since Cervantes would change his post directly to FGR. This change of post could make it easy for power to be managed by people with the same interests.

Raúl Cervantes worked with the PRI during the presidential campaign of Enrique Peña. According to reports, Cervantes was also an unofficial adviser of the ex-governor of Veracruz, Javier Duarte, who has since become a symbol of corruption of the PRI party. Duarte is currently subject to trial and the PGR is the organisation in charge of  the prosecution.

This is what analyst Leo Zuckermann had to say about the links between Cervantes,the PRI and Peña:

El primer fiscal autónomo debe ser lo más autónomo posible para ganarse la credibilidad y legitimidad de la ciudadanía. Será difícil encontrar una persona interesada en este puesto que sea “químicamente pura”, es decir, independiente por los cuatro costados. El problema con Cervantes es que está lejísimos de la independencia porque está cerquísima del Partido Revolucionario Institucional y de Peña. Eso, en caso de que se convirtiera en fiscal, le complicaría mucho la vida a él y a la nueva institución de justicia.

The first autonomous district attorney should be as autonomous as possible to earn credibility and legitimacy. It will be difficult to find a person interested in this position who is “chemically pure”, that's to say, independent on all sides. The problem with Cervantes is that he is extremely far from being independent because he is extremely close to Peña's Institutional Revolutionary Party. In the event of Cervantes becoming District Attorney, this would really complicate both his life and the new institution of justice.

#FiscalFerrari

At the start of September 2017, it became known that amongst the possessions of lawyer Raúl Cervantes is an ostentatious Ferrari car, registered to a nonexistent address which could be part of a tax-dodging scheme. The public was not willing to overlook the situation and took to social media to express their protest:

@RaulCastro‘s 2011 Ferrari  PXJ-9181 is worth 4 times more than his little house in Xochitepec.

[Text in the image: Corruption: a proud sponsor of Ferrari in Mexico] #FiscalCarnal [#attorneyfriend] or #FiscalFerrari [#attorneyferrary] it will always be us who'll pay.

[In the summary of the article: Those who know Raúl Cervantes, know about his dealings with millionaires. Travelling in bullet-proof cars, taking vacations in Miami…] #FiscalFerrari, revealed

In one tweet, which has been shared more than seven thousand times, Diego Peterson Farah sent the following message to Cervantes, highlighting the public servant's intention to avoid paying taxes known as “possession taxes”:

Mr Attorney, honestly, if you can't afford to pay taxes you can't afford a Ferrari. If what you can't afford are morals, don't apply to be District Attorney

News about Cervantes’ Ferrari and his tax avoidance was downplayed by traditional national media outlets:

The news about Cervantes’ Ferrari wasn't mentioned in: Excélsior, El Universal, Televisa, TV Azteca, Adn40. It's brought by El País, Reforma, AP, SE, Aristegui.

For a #FiscalíaThatWorks

Various civil society organisations, including Fundar and Mexicanos Contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad – about whom Global Voices published a piece in 2016 – have launched an appeal to the country's leaders and to the public to stop the PRI's plan to appoint Raúl Cervantes as head of the FGR. They also implore that in order for the institution to be fair and useful, it should be headed by an individual who is not involved with any political party. On social media networks, particularly Twitter, people have been using the hashtag #FiscalíaQueSirva [an attorney general that can work].

Protest at the Ángel de la Independencia [Mexico city's most known monument] with civil society and business organizations for a #FiscalíaThatWorks

Organizations #Let'sGoForMore and #FiscalíaThatWorks send an appeal to the Senator to reject Cervantes’ automatic pass. The extract of the letter reads: “It is not our goal to evaluate personally or professionally the work of the Attorney General to see if he can become head of the Federal Prosecutor General. This task is for Mexican [citizens] in general. Thus, the legislative power needs to pay attention to citizen's opinions so the honor, the autonomy and the independence demanded by the post can be ensured. The social legitimacy of that public servant is fundamental.

Citizens appeal to the Senator over the District.

Public opinion about the issue has gone beyond social media networks since it also led to street activism.

In the past, Global Voices has reported how the ruling party has plotted against addressing public demands and managed to limit legal reforms to continue operating in a corrupt and secretive manner.

Amongst the cases that Cervantes has been unable to resolve or submit to the courts is the disappearance of the 43 students in Iguala (better known as the Ayotzinapa case), which took place in 2014. Another case is the illegal surveillance and attacks on privacy perpetrated by the Mexican state via spyware Pegasus (reported in 2016). Another urgent issue is the unpunished homicides of reporters and other attacks against freedom of expression, on which Global Voices keeps a special coverage.

The future of Cervantes is uncertain, as are the intentions of the national political leaders on the matter. We shall have to wait to see if they yield to the #FiscalíaQueSirva or instead opt for a system which could lead to impunity for the next nine years. The decision, for now, is in the hands of the legislators.

by Rhea Page at September 17, 2017 05:35 PM

September 16, 2017

Global Voices
Vending Machines Around the World that Japanese People Find Surprising
Russian vending machines

“Here's a vending machine in a mall for buying Likes for your Instagram pics.” — Alexey Kovalev, Global Voices Russia Editor. Image courtesy Vasily Sonkin.

Deserved or not, Japan has long had a reputation for being the home of weird and wacky vending machines. What is not as commonly understood, however, is what Japanese people think about vending machines in other countries.

One member of Naver Matome, a popular Japanese blogging site, decided to find out. In an post titled “Vending Machines That Even Japanese People Are Surprised By” (日本人もびびる) — which has been viewed several hundred thousand times already — vortexxx collected a series of images posted by Japanese Twitter users.

Russia leads the pack

The first photo of a remarkable vending machine (at least from a Japanese point of view) is from Hitoki Nakagawa, the Vladivostok bureau chief for Asahi Shimbun, a well respected daily newspaper. The machine in his photo sells ultra-expensive caviar:

I'm at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow on my way back to Vladivostok. And what's before me but a caviar vending machine. While it's sold out today, there is one super expensive kind worth 20,000 rubles, which based on today's exchange rate is about 40,000 yen (about US$400). While I'd never feed it to a cat, I wonder if anyone ever buys such luxury goods here.

Caviar vending machines seemed to spark interest among many Japanese social media users. Here, someone else found a machine that sold slightly cheaper products:

A caviar vending machine at the airport in Moscow. The cheapest variety costs 2,000 rubles, about 4,000 yen (approximately US$40). The cans are small, only 5-6 centimeters in diameter. How much for the biggest can, about ten centimeters across? I forget the price, it was too expensive. (´Д` )

I didn't buy anything, just snapped a photo.

Some Japanese travelers also noticed vending machines selling patriotic Russian kitsch:

As a heavy user of Sheremetyevo airport I recommend checking out the ‘President Putin T-Shirt vending machine’.

Others remarked on how practical some of the vending machines were:

In Russia, there's a vending machine in a 24-hour supermarket that sells contact lenses… Super useful!

The most noteworthy vending machine of all was one that sold space food:

I discovered this at the airport in Moscow. A ‘space food vending machine’ that sells borscht, beef and buckwheat soup, dried fruit kompot and other foods sold in a tube as space food for 400 rubles.

Unique vending machines in other countries

The Naver Matome blog post also collected a few Twitter posts of other vending machines around the world that Japanese travelers found interesting. One vending machine in Germany sold Lego:

A Lego vending machine! Germany is awesome! (*☻-☻*)

Another, in Italy, provoked pangs of hunger:

Here's a pizza vending machine in Italy! Now I want to eat pizza!

One of the most unusual vending machines, which a Japanese Twitter user observed in the United States, sells something that can only be bought in certain places in the country: pot.

A medical marijuana vending machine in Seattle. Prices start from $1

More vending machines from around the world can be found at Naver Matome.

by Nevin Thompson at September 16, 2017 05:12 PM

Doc Searls
A dark review for United’s Boeing 787

I’ve been wanting to fly on the Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” ever since I missed a chance to go on an inaugural junket aboard one before Boeing began delivery to the airlines. But I finally got my chance, three days ago, aboard United Flight 935 from London to Los Angeles.

Some context: United is my default airline by virtue of having flown 1.5 million miles with them, which has earned me some status. Specifically, I get on shorter lines, don’t get charged for bags, and have some choice about where I sit, which defaults to Economy Plus: the section of Economy that features a bit more leg room and is typically located which is behind business/first, now called Polaris.

I should add that I actually like United, and have had few of the bad experiences people tend to associate with big old airlines. And plenty of good ones. And not all the news about United is bad. For example, wider economy seats coming in refurbed 767s.

So. How about the 787?

It’s a nice plane in many ways, which Boeing explains here. Maybe the best in the air today.

But, hate to say, my experience with it was less than ideal.

The first problem is that, according to SeatGuru, the whole Economy Plus section is over the wing on both the airline’s configurations: 787/8 and 787/9. This means there is little or no view of the ground out the window. That view is one of the main attractions of window seats and why I love flying. See all these photos were taken out the windows of planes? Nearly all the planes I shot those from were United’s, and I have kindly tagged them #United as well. (See http://bit.ly/UnitedAerial.)

To be fair, all of United’s widebody planes (747,767, 777, 787) put most of Economy Plus over the wing. But in most cases a row or two is in front of the wing or behind it. Not, alas, on the new 787s.

So I booked a seat in the economy section. Fortunately, I don’t have long femurs, so leg room usually isn’t an issue for me. In fact, I like sitting in the back of plane, farther the better. That way as little of the wing as possible intrudes on the view. And the legroom actually wasn’t bad on this plane anyway, so that’s one plus.

The seat I chose was 37L, a window seat in a row that gave me 3 seats to myself, because the flight turned out to be less than full. This is another reason to book seats in the back. They’re the least likely seats to be filled on a less-than-full flight. (But be sure to check with SeatGuru, which warn me away from rows which have missing windows. Most planes do have some of those.)

My second problem turns out to be one of the 787’s biggest selling points: electronically dimmable windows:

It’s a clever system that eliminates the window shade, an ancient feature that actually gives the individual a simple manual control over the view, and of light coming in.

My problem isn’t with the windows themselves, which are relatively large (but with more added view toward the sky than the ground). My problem is with a loss of individual control, and an apparent preference by the crew for the equivalent of no windows at all.

So, for example, on this flight the crew turned all the windows dark just before the fjords and glaciers of Greenland’s coast came into view. They announced that this was so people could sleep or watch their screens without glare. But this flight wasn’t a red-eye. The plane left at roughly 2pm from London and arrived in Los Angeles at around 5pm, with daylight all the way. Yes, it would be the middle of the night (UK time) on arrival, but that was another six hours in the future, and the scene was amazing:

So I turned my window up to clear (which happens so slowly you wonder if it’s working at first), and a flight attendant came over. Here’s the dialog, as best I recall it:

“Sir, you need to darken your window.”

“I got a window seat so I could see outside.”

“But other people are trying to sleep or watch their screens.”

“I’ll darken it later. Right now I want to see Greenland. Have you seen this? It’s spectacular.”

“Please be aware of the other passengers, sir.”

In fact I was.

There were two empty seats in my row.The window seat wasn’t occupied in the row in front of me. (An older woman seemed to be sleeping in the middle seat.) And the only other passenger in sight was a guy reading in an otherwise empty middle row across the aisle from me. I was also talking geography with the people behind me, who were watching Greenland scroll by through my aft window (their row, 38, had no window) saying “Holy shit! Look at that! Look at THAT!” over and over. And with good reason. A United pilot once announced to a plane I was on that Greenland is the most spectacular thing one can see from a passenger jet.

So I really didn’t need to dim my window for others. But I felt like I was getting busted for some infraction of flight etiquette that made no sense, given that the 787, more than other planes was supposed to be about the joy of flying. (Louis CK enlarges on this kind of aviation irony with his “Everything is a amazing and nobody’s happy” bit. If you’re in a hurry, start about 2 minutes in.)

My final problem is also with the windows: they block GPS signals, I suppose as a secondary effect of the dimmable thing. This meant I couldn’t record the trip on my little Garmin pocket GPS, which I’ve been using for many years to keep track of where I’ve been, and to geo-locate photos.

So I’ll go out of my way to avoid United’s 787s from now on. They’re great planes, but not for me.

by Doc Searls at September 16, 2017 04:15 PM

Global Voices
Estonian President Warns of ‘Self-Occupation,’ Prompting Praise and Political Spin

Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid giving a speech in June 2017. Photo by Estonian Foreign Ministry, CC-BY.

In her recent independence day speech, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid spoke on technological change, the globalization of labor, and the dangers of close-minded nationalism. This last point has dominated global reactions to her remarks.

In her national address, which marked the 26th anniversary of Estonian independence from the Soviet Union, President Kaljulaid talked about the perceived contradictions between national and socially liberal values. Her remarks were concrete and straight forward, emphasizing the possibility of preserving Estonian culture “without inhibiting democracy.”

“I am proud that I am an Estonian and I do not see any contradiction in also being part of an international value-based community,” she said.

She continued:

Iseseisvus tähendaski muuhulgas võimalust olla ka eri meelt. Üks idee, üks arvamus, üks õigus – see oli see, millest me tahtsime vabaks saada. Toona tundsime sarnases mõttelaadis ilmeksimatult ära totalitarismi.

Täna, 26 aastat hiljem, oleme millegipärast hakanud arvama, et me ei vajagi oma erimeelsusi. Tundub ka, nagu ei oskaks me enam leida mõistlikke kompromisse. Selliseid, mille puhul võimalikult paljude süda oleks ikkagi rahul.

Among other things, independence also means the opportunity to disagree. One idea, one opinion, one right – this is what we wanted to be free of. At that time [when Estonia gained independence from the Soviet Union], we explicitly recognised that this way of thinking meant totalitarianism.

Today, 26 years later, we have for some reason started to think that different opinions are no longer necessary. We seem unable find any reasonable compromises anymore – ones that many people would be happy with.

Kaljulaid outlined current, nationalist attitudes in Estonia that are also being felt around the world. Instead of supporting socially inclusive choices, she observed that the emphasis these days seems to be on everybody’s right to make their own choices.

She drew on Estonia’s history and the Baltic states’ fight for freedom, saying how the struggle from Soviet occupation allowed for democratic states that easily adopted governments that “follow the rule of law, value personal liberties, free media, and keep the power of state within a predictable framework.”

Now, Kaljulaid warned, Estonians are threatened by a “self-occupation” that can be brought on by the restriction of freedoms in the name of an idea.

“One cannot aspire to lead the society and then make compromises related the Estonia's long-term future in the name of one's own short-term political interests. Victory is accompanied by the obligation to make sure that the losers do not feel they have been sacrificed for the interests of others,” she said.

She continued:

Iseenda okupeerimine, see algab ühe idee nimel, ühe mõtte taha koondununa teiste ideede ja mõtete kuulamata jätmisest. Järgneb selle tüütu pirina, mis on eriarvamus, kinni keeramine. Sest kui nagunii ei kuula, siis saab teistest mõtetest müra. Ja valmis ta ongi. Demokraatiast saab minevik.

Me näeme sellist iseenda okupeerimist riikides, kelle kohta me oleme arvanud, et meiega sarnane raudse eesriide kogemus aitab niisuguseid arenguid vältida. Me oleme olnud veendunud, et demokraatiat neis riikides, nagu ka meie riigis, saaks hävitada vaid võõras võim.

Sellepärast on oht, et me ei pane pahaks sarnaste arengute toetamist nende poolt, kes kõnelevad meiega sama keelt. Iseenda okupeerimine, see käib hiilivamalt kui siis, kui okupant on võõras. Vabaduste piiramine mis iganes püha idee nimel, olgu selleks puhas eestlus või parem toiduvalik – see on iseenda okupeerimise algus.

An occupation is usually initiated in the name of an idea, mobilising behind a concept without listening to other ideas or concepts. This is followed by shutting off the annoying buzz of dissenting opinions, because if you don't listen, the ideas of others will just turn into noise. That's all it takes. And democracy is consigned to the past.

We see this self-occupation occurring in countries where we thought that our similar experience behind the Iron Curtain would help them avoid such developments. We had been convinced that democracy in those countries, as in ours, could only be destroyed by a foreign power.

And therefore we are in danger of not taking offence at the support for such developments if those promoting them speak the same language we do. Self-occupation moves more stealthily than occupation by a foreigner. The restriction of freedom, in the name of any sacred idea, be it pure Estonianism or a better choice of food – can mark the start of self-occupation.

The speech resonated within the country and the neighboring region. Estonian historian, politician and journalist Toomas Alatalu remarked:

Presid. Kaljulaid defined new censorhip – self-occupation/occupy yourself = all is initiated in the name of own idea shutting off all others.

Latvian financier, politician, and former basketball player Mārtiņš Bondars praised the speech on Twitter:

It is a great pleasure that our neighbors are such a leader … a great talk!

In contrast, Russian-language media latched onto the introduction of the term “self-occupation”. Outlets such as Lenta.ru linked it to the ongoing initiative by Baltic countries to ask for compensation for damage incurred during the period between 1940-1990 when they were forcibly made part of the Soviet Union, and to Baltic efforts to integrate the term “Soviet occupation” into official European language historicizing totalitarianism and honoring its victims. As the Russian government considers Russia an heir to both the Russian Empire and the USSR, this is likely seen as a direct affront to its reputation.

Kaljulaid also spoke to concrete challenges that Estonia faces, including current and future technologies that are set to globalize workforces and make geography and place obsolete.

Since Estonia’s independence in 1991, the country has been an active participant in the global community especially via digital technologies. Estonia has one of the world’s fastest broadband services and was the first country to declare internet access a basic human right. Kaljulaid herself often speaks of “cyber hygiene” and digital societies – as opposed to digital technologies – that are inclusive of everyone.

Estonia began offering e-government services in 1997, and began providing nationwide free wi-fi in 2002. Online voting began in 2005. In 2012, fiber optic infrastructure was laid out and today 99% of state administrative services can be accessed online. Estonia is set to create the world’s first data embassy in Luxembourg – a center that stores the country’s data and is capable of re-booting the country in case of a cyber attack.

Having already established such high digital literacy, connectivity, low usage prices and e-services, Estonia is turning to some of the more challenging questions raised by the digital transformation such as citizens rights, security, and the protection of private information.

Estonia has now assumed the presidency of the Council of the European Union, helping to nurture the development of a digital society in the EU as Estonia has. These issues indeed may become central to how Europe and the rest of the world navigate widespread nationalist attitudes on a global stage.

by Freya Yost at September 16, 2017 09:07 AM

September 15, 2017

Global Voices
Netizen Report: Online Supporters of Myanmar's Rohingya Face Censorship, Legal Threats

Satellite image from Human Rights Watch. “The Burmese military is directly responsible for the mass burning of Rohingya villages in northern Rakhine State,” said HRW deputy Asia director.

Global Voices Advocacy's Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world.

Violence in northwest Myanmar has dominated headlines in recent weeks. More than 100,000 people from the ethnic minority Rohingya group have been displaced from their homes due to clearing operations of the Myanmar military, in response to attacks by a pro-Rohingya insurgent group. Tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees, who are mostly Muslim, are crossing into Bangladesh to escape the fighting.

There is plenty of coverage of the situation by various media, ranging from mainstream wire services to independent Rohingya-run outlets like Rohingya Blogger. But it is still difficult to obtain accurate information about the conflict, as journalists both from the region and from abroad have been struggling to gain access to the conflict areas, and local media have a history of being punished for — and barred from — covering the Rohingya. Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of Myanmar, has even accused various media of circulating “fake news” on the topic. Her government has established a Facebook page, known as the ‘Information Committee’, that claims to offer verified information about the conflict.

Ample anti-Rohingya propaganda has also spread online, reinforcing the Myanmar government’s contention that Myanmar-born Rohingya are in fact “Bengalis,” or undocumented immigrants from Bangladesh. While many such messages have spread organically, researchers saw a spike of 1,500 new Twitter accounts after clashes broke out on August 25. The accounts are spreading pro-Myanmar government messages and feature hashtags such as #Bengali and #BengaliTerrorists. It is unclear who is behind the new accounts.

The conflict is a hot topic in South and Southeast Asian social media circles, and has proven to be a divisive issue for both citizens and governments in the region.

In Indonesia, which is majority Muslim, a veteran journalist was accused of defamation for comparing former Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri to Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi in a Facebook post.

In the post, journalist and documentary filmmaker Dandhy Dwi Laksono wrote that if Myanmar’s government is being criticized for its treatment of ethnic Rohingya, the Indonesian government should similarly be held liable for suppressing the independence movement on the Indonesian island of West Papua. He further compared Suu Kyi’s silence on the persecution of the Rohingya to Megawati’s role as party leader of the government, which has recently intensified the crackdown on West Papuan independence activists. If he is prosecuted for and convicted of defamation, Dandhy could face up to four years in prison.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Indian government requested that Twitter locally censor the above tweet expressing solidarity with the Rohingya. An estimated 40,000 Rohingya live in India, where their citizenship status has been in legal jeopardy due to recent efforts by conservative legislators to render them “illegal” immigrants.

Palestinian human rights activist arrested over Facebook post

Palestinian human rights activist Issa Amro was arrested by the Palestinian Authority for criticizing a journalist’s arrest in a Facebook post. The post, which is no longer visible on the platform, denounces the arrest of Ayman Qawasmi, who was arrested after openly criticizing the PA and calling for the resignation of Palestine’s President and Prime Minister. Qawasmi was released, but Amro remains under arrest, charged with stirring sectarian tensions and “speaking with insolence”.

Amro is also facing challenges in an Israeli military court on disputed charges relating to his political protest activities. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights published a statement expressing concern at his arrest and urging his release.

Salvadoran journalists face violent threats on social media

El Faro and Revista Factum, two highly regarded independent news websites in El Salvador, received violent threats on social media targeting specific journalists who have been covering corruption in the country’s criminal justice system. One threatening tweet said Factum and El Faro journalists would “end up like Christian Poveda,” a French-Spanish journalist killed by members of the Mara Salvatrucha gang in 2009.

The Head of the Salvadoran National Police, Howard Cotto, and Vice President Oscar Ortiz said they were aware of reports of illegal activity by police officers and promised to open an investigation.

Japanese activists take to the streets, stomp on hateful tweets

Demonstrators gathered outside Twitter’s Japan headquarters in Tokyo, demanding the company take more action to rein in hate speech. Tokyo No Hate, a volunteer collective of activists, led the demonstration by covering the sidewalk in front of the office with printouts of abusive tweets. Protesters symbolically stomped on the tweets before crumpling them up and depositing them in recycling bins.

Chile doubles down on data retention (literally)

A secret decree by the Chilean government recently made public by investigative journalists modifies the country’s law about the interception of communications. It extends requirements for companies to retain data on digital communications made in Chile from one to two years, and asks companies to store additional metadata on communications. It also contains provisions that could stymie the use of encryption technologies that would hinder the delivery of this information. The Santiago-based digital rights group Derechos Digitales says the law may be unconstitutional.

If you wanna run a chat group in China, be ready to censor your friends.

New regulations in China will make chat group administrators responsible — and even criminally liable — for messages containing politically sensitive material, rumors, violent or pornographic content, and news from Hong Kong and Macau that “has not been reported by official media outlets.” This represents a bold policy shift by extending the work of regulating online content beyond government workers and companies to the users themselves.

The new rules also require Internet chat service providers such as WeChat and QQ to verify the identities of users and keep a log of group chats for at least six months. The rules require the companies to moderate users’ access to chat services depending on their “social credit” rating: those who break rules may see their rights to manage group chats suspended and be reported to the government. Group managers will be seen as responsible for the management of the group.

New Research

 

 

Subscribe to the Netizen Report

 

 

by Advox at September 15, 2017 02:27 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Netizen Report: Online Supporters of Myanmar's Rohingya Face Censorship, Legal Threats

Satellite image from Human Rights Watch. “The Burmese military is directly responsible for the mass burning of Rohingya villages in northern Rakhine State,” said HRW deputy Asia director.

Global Voices Advocacy's Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world.

Violence in northwest Myanmar has dominated headlines in recent weeks. More than 100,000 people from the ethnic minority Rohingya group have been displaced from their homes due to clearing operations of the Myanmar military, in response to attacks by a pro-Rohingya insurgent group. Tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees, who are mostly Muslim, are crossing into Bangladesh to escape the fighting.

There is plenty of coverage of the situation by various media, ranging from mainstream wire services to independent Rohingya-run outlets like Rohingya Blogger. But it is still difficult to obtain accurate information about the conflict, as journalists both from the region and from abroad have been struggling to gain access to the conflict areas, and local media have a history of being punished for — and barred from — covering the Rohingya. Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of Myanmar, has even accused various media of circulating “fake news” on the topic. Her government has established a Facebook page, known as the ‘Information Committee’, that claims to offer verified information about the conflict.

Ample anti-Rohingya propaganda has also spread online, reinforcing the Myanmar government’s contention that Myanmar-born Rohingya are in fact “Bengalis,” or undocumented immigrants from Bangladesh. While many such messages have spread organically, researchers saw a spike of 1,500 new Twitter accounts after clashes broke out on August 25. The accounts are spreading pro-Myanmar government messages and feature hashtags such as #Bengali and #BengaliTerrorists. It is unclear who is behind the new accounts.

The conflict is a hot topic in South and Southeast Asian social media circles, and has proven to be a divisive issue for both citizens and governments in the region.

In Indonesia, which is majority Muslim, a veteran journalist was accused of defamation for comparing former Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri to Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi in a Facebook post.

In the post, journalist and documentary filmmaker Dandhy Dwi Laksono wrote that if Myanmar’s government is being criticized for its treatment of ethnic Rohingya, the Indonesian government should similarly be held liable for suppressing the independence movement on the Indonesian island of West Papua. He further compared Suu Kyi’s silence on the persecution of the Rohingya to Megawati’s role as party leader of the government, which has recently intensified the crackdown on West Papuan independence activists. If he is prosecuted for and convicted of defamation, Dandhy could face up to four years in prison.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Indian government requested that Twitter locally censor the above tweet expressing solidarity with the Rohingya. An estimated 40,000 Rohingya live in India, where their citizenship status has been in legal jeopardy due to recent efforts by conservative legislators to render them “illegal” immigrants.

Palestinian human rights activist arrested over Facebook post

Palestinian human rights activist Issa Amro was arrested by the Palestinian Authority for criticizing a journalist’s arrest in a Facebook post. The post, which is no longer visible on the platform, denounces the arrest of Ayman Qawasmi, who was arrested after openly criticizing the PA and calling for the resignation of Palestine’s President and Prime Minister. Qawasmi was released, but Amro remains under arrest, charged with stirring sectarian tensions and “speaking with insolence”.

Amro is also facing challenges in an Israeli military court on disputed charges relating to his political protest activities. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights published a statement expressing concern at his arrest and urging his release.

Salvadoran journalists face violent threats on social media

El Faro and Revista Factum, two highly regarded independent news websites in El Salvador, received violent threats on social media targeting specific journalists who have been covering corruption in the country’s criminal justice system. One threatening tweet said Factum and El Faro journalists would “end up like Christian Poveda,” a French-Spanish journalist killed by members of the Mara Salvatrucha gang in 2009.

The Head of the Salvadoran National Police, Howard Cotto, and Vice President Oscar Ortiz said they were aware of reports of illegal activity by police officers and promised to open an investigation.

Japanese activists take to the streets, stomp on hateful tweets

Demonstrators gathered outside Twitter’s Japan headquarters in Tokyo, demanding the company take more action to rein in hate speech. Tokyo No Hate, a volunteer collective of activists, led the demonstration by covering the sidewalk in front of the office with printouts of abusive tweets. Protesters symbolically stomped on the tweets before crumpling them up and depositing them in recycling bins.

Chile doubles down on data retention (literally)

A secret decree by the Chilean government recently made public by investigative journalists modifies the country’s law about the interception of communications. It extends requirements for companies to retain data on digital communications made in Chile from one to two years, and asks companies to store additional metadata on communications. It also contains provisions that could stymie the use of encryption technologies that would hinder the delivery of this information. The Santiago-based digital rights group Derechos Digitales says the law may be unconstitutional.

If you wanna run a chat group in China, be ready to censor your friends.

New regulations in China will make chat group administrators responsible — and even criminally liable — for messages containing politically sensitive material, rumors, violent or pornographic content, and news from Hong Kong and Macau that “has not been reported by official media outlets.” This represents a bold policy shift by extending the work of regulating online content beyond government workers and companies to the users themselves.

The new rules also require Internet chat service providers such as WeChat and QQ to verify the identities of users and keep a log of group chats for at least six months. The rules require the companies to moderate users’ access to chat services depending on their “social credit” rating: those who break rules may see their rights to manage group chats suspended and be reported to the government. Group managers will be seen as responsible for the management of the group.

New Research

 

 

Subscribe to the Netizen Report

 

 

by Netizen Report Team at September 15, 2017 02:24 PM

Global Voices
Thousands of Indians Take to Streets Seeking Justice for Murdered Journalist Gauri Lankesh

Screenshot from YouTube video “Silence is not an Option” uploaded by lumiphernia.

Nearly 15,000 people demonstrated in Bangalore on September 12, 2017 to condemn the murder of veteran journalist Gauri Lankesh the week before.

The protest gathered people from various walks of life, including journalists, academicians, filmmakers, actors, students, and farmers around a single message, “I am Gauri,” to demand justice in the case.

Lankesh, 55, was the editor of a Kannada-language newspaper called Gauri Lankesh Patrike that was vocally critical of the right-wing politics of Hindu nationalist organizations and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The newspaper that Lankesh edited and published did not take advertisements but relied on subscribers who were mostly from the lower class. A commemorative edition was launched during the Bangalore rally.

On the same day, journalists and friends such as Sudhamshu MitraSudipto Mandal and others launched a blog to aggregate translations of Lankesh's writing and mainstream and social media mentions of her.

The shrinking space for speech

Lankesh's death by assailants riding motorcycles on September 5, 2017, has highlighted how increasingly dangerous India is becoming for reporters and how their civil rights are being deteriorated in a climate dominated by Hindu nationalists.

She had expressed concerns in a series of recent interviews with various Indian publications including TheWire.in and NewsLaundry about the state of free speech in India. She herself had been convicted of defaming two politicians from the ruling political party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in November 2016 and sentenced to six months in prison. According to reports, she had secured bail and was appealing the case.

In the wake of her killing, Prime Minister Modi and the BJP have faced renewed accusations of creating an atmosphere of hatred and polarisation across the country that has lead to persecution and violence against minorities, including Dalits and Muslims, and anyone who promotes a secular, diverse India.

But the BJP has pushed back against linking their politics to Lankesh's murder.

In the lead-up to the protest in Bangalore, a spokesperson from BJP, Ashwath Narayan held a media conference where he announced that protesters’ speech would be “monitor[ed]” and warned anyone who blamed the “Sangh Parivar” — referring to the family of Hindu nationalist organisations — would be sued.

Also before the protest, the youth wing of BJP served historian Ramchandra Guha a legal notice threatening him with civil and criminal defamation suits if he didn't apologize for linking the most prominent Hindu nationalist organisation, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), to Lankesh's murder.

Cartoonist Satish Acharya took a jibe at this development with his graphics:

Note: It is the face of Gauri Lankesh on the floor, as she was murdered, merging with a lot of people as she bloomed into a crowd – all of them being silenced. The non-English speech bubble says “I am Gauri” similar to the English speech bubble.

‘We are up against the largest machine of hate’

At the protest in Bangalore, which was organized by various civil society groups under the umbrella of “Gauri Hatye Virodhi Vedike” (“The opposition movement against Gauri's murder”), speakers warned about the dangerous times India is living in. Journalist  P. Sainath said:

There has rarely been a period of such constructed, deliberate terror and hatred. We are up against the largest machine of hate. There will be incredible provocation in coming days, but you should not fall for those traps of hatred.

An installation comprising black umbrellas was made by protesters, as tweeted by journalist Sagarika Ghose:

Journalist Anusha Ravi provided a glimpse of the protests:

Activist Kavita Krishnan applauded the spirit of the protests:

Sidharth Chadha, who lives in Sweden, shared a short video created with the images of the rally with the following message:

Silence is not an option.
In solidarity with friends and journalists in Bangalore.

And Rekha Raj, an eminent Dalit feminist writer working for Amnesty International, participated in the protest and posted photos on Facebook:

Meanwhile, many supporters of BJP and other Hindu nationalist organisations took jibes at Lankesh and the protest:

Hate speech in public discourse in India is growing, and Lankesh's murder is seen as a clear warning to the voices in India who express dissent that intolerance is growing. If the space for civil debate continues to be squeezed, the country risks violence and intimidation by the people in power becoming the new normal.

Additional reporting on this post was done by a guest contributor who wished to remain anonymous, due to security concerns.

by Inji Pennu at September 15, 2017 01:32 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
09/15/2017: AI could make full-time work a thing of the past
As machine learning becomes more prevalent, the conversation about robots taking our jobs gets more intense. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks to Roy Bahat, head of Bloomberg Beta, which has been studying technology’s effect on the future of work. He said, robots or not, jobs are changing, and we should shift company culture and benefits along with them.

by Marketplace at September 15, 2017 10:59 AM

Global Voices
Adopted Georgian Journalist Launches Bid for City Assembly in Capital Tbilisi

Erstwhile Global Voices Joseph Alexander Smith has been giving plenty of interviews in the mellifluous Georgian language this month as he explains to local media his decision to run for a seat in the Tbilisi city assembly.

Powered by social media, Smith, who was born in Britain and became a citizen of Georgia earlier this year, hopes the campaign will bring attention to a number of pressing issues in the elegant capital of the South Caucasus country.

In an interview with Global Voices, he explains why he decided to get involved in the cut and thrust of Georgian municipal politics ahead of the Tbilisi elections on October 21.

GV: Why did you decide to run?

J.A.S: For the last few years I’ve been involved in urban activism on a range of issues – everything from urban cultural heritage to pedestrian rights and road safety. I first got involved around the time that protests were growing against the “Panorama Tbilisi” project – a gross invasion of private commercial interest in the historic heart of Tbilisi. The process of approving the project broke with all acceptable norms of urban planning and public involvement in decision-making, but the ruling party’s comprehensive hold over city government meant that politicians felt no obligation to hear our concerns.

I realized that eventually, activists would have to go into politics in order to change the way our city government makes decisions on our behalf and I resolved to run in future elections. This year, however, once it became clear that the only independent deputy in the City Assembly (Sakrebulo), Aleko Elisashvili, would be running for mayor and no longer eligible to run for a seat in Sakrebulo, I realized that I might have to bring my plans forward, and with no other independent candidates coming forward, I decided to put my head on the block, as it were.

Smith makes notes during his pre-election campaign.

GV: What is at stake?

J.A.S: With the disintegration of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition after the last local elections in 2014, we have inherited a fairly diverse Sakrebulo with a number of parties represented, albeit with a huge majority from the ruling party. This diversity is now under threat, given the privileged position of the ruling party, and we can reasonably expect that Georgian Dream will all but sweep the board in both the majoritarian and party-list contests (the Sakrebulo is made up of 25 deputies elected by districts, and 25 elected according to a proportional, party-list system).

Although I’m sure some opposition parties will get through, it’s also important to increase the diversity of opposition in local government, and have independent deputies there too – people who are accountable only to the electorate and not to their party boss.

The other reason why I think it’s important to run as an independent, is because the dominance of national parties in local government creates a devaluing effect on local government institutions. Tbilisi’s Sakrebulo has become an attractive place for ambitious minor party figures with little or no interest in urban management processes. Sometimes they have business interests or hopes for career advancement with the party or national government, and this means that not only is the important task of urban management neglected, it is damaged and undermined by other interests.

This is why it’s vitally important for independent, non-party candidates to stand, so that the electorate has the option to elect a representative that only  has their interests at heart.

Smith meeting and greeting residents of Sakrebulo district in Tbilisi. Photo from official Facebook page.

GV: What demographic are you expecting support from?

J.A.S: I chose to run in Saburtalo because it has a very broad demographic which is largely representative of the city as a whole. The problems that face Saburtalo – chaotic construction, urban transport and a lack of green cover – are the problems which face the city as a whole. Apart from this, the district I’m running in already has experience of electing an independent candidate, Aleko Elisashvili, in 2014.

Smith interviewed by Georgia's Iberia TV channel.

GV: Describe your next steps…

J.A.S: To push on with the campaign and make it as effective as possible – I’m currently putting final touches to the campaign program (manifesto), campaign visuals, the official launch event and timetable for campaign events. It’s a huge challenge, because I’m doing this for the first time ever, I don’t have a lot of money (or really any at this point) and I’m very dependent on volunteers – who have been doing a brilliant job.

Still, I don’t think this is an issue, as I benefit from being a new face and my story – a foreigner who arrived in Georgia only a few years ago, became nativized and who has no links to any political party – is very attractive to many. Still, none of that replaces the hard work of going door-to-door and meeting voters, being asked tough questions about my program, and working on solutions to specifically local manifestations of city-wide problems. I’m itching to get stuck in on that, and I’m having my shoes re-soled ready for some serious walking!

Smith at a recent rally in Tbilisi. Photo by GV partner Open Caucasus Media.

GV: What are Georgia’s rules on foreigners obtaining citizenship?

J.A.S: Although there is no legal concept of dual citizenship in Georgia, the constitution has a provision for citizens of foreign countries to be granted Georgian citizenship, if it’s in state interests, by presidential decree. I applied back in 2013, admittedly not long after arriving, and was turned down. I applied again late last year once I’d already started doing TV and media appearances and talking about urban problems in our city, and luckily received a positive answer and became a Georgian citizen in February this year.

I think it was probably the happiest day of my life so far to officially and legally become part of the country I love so much and have no plans to leave. Since citizenship means so much to me, I promised to use every legal right and possibility that citizenship entails to do something good and positive for society. I hope that even if I don’t make it into Sakrebulo, my candidacy will have at least shown that it’s not a second-rate institution – it’s a place that some people really dream of working, and if that helps sloppy politicians up their game, then all the better!

by Akhal-Tech Collective at September 15, 2017 07:04 AM

What's the Value of Human Rights? According to the Philippines House of Representatives, $20.

Youth protest against drug-related extrajudicial killings. Source: Anakbayan. Used with permission

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's allies in the House of Representatives led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez have voted to give 1,000 pesos (20 US dollars) to the 2018 budget of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), a constitutional body tasked to ensure that the state is upholding various human rights laws and treaties.

Around 112 lawmakers joined the house speaker in the vote to render the agency practically useless in performing its mandate. The CHR has been consistently voicing its concern over the excesses of Duterte's “war on drugs,” which has already killed 13,000 drug suspects.

The CHR was created by the 1987 Philippine Constitution to prevent a repeat of the massive human rights abuse committed under the 21-year dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. Duterte has repeatedly said he looks up to the former strongman whom he allowed to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery) in 2016.

The meager budget is all but the latest blow from the Duterte administration, which has deemed the CHR as a nuisance to its campaign to fight illegal drugs.

But the CHR is not alone in condemning the extrajudicial killings of suspected drug personalities. Aside from the political opposition, church groups, and various civil society organizations, Duterte's bloody “war on drugs” has also earned the disapproval of the international community such as the European Union and the UN Commission on Human Rights.

During a media interview, Speaker Alvarez explained the reasons why the majority decided to defund the CHR:

Wala akong makitang dahilan para sustentohan kayo ng gobyernong ito. Mas gusto niyo pa protektahan ang mga karapatan ng mga kriminal, hindi ang mga biktima

I see no reason for this government to fund [CHR]. You prefer to protect the rights of criminals instead of the victims.

Commission on Human Rights logo

Responding to the criticism of some Congress members, the CHR clarified its official duty:

We regret that despite continued clarifications on our mandate, they have wrongly perceived our role as combative rather than a collaborative effort to bolster Philippine democracy by ensuring that all public officials are honest in the performance of their duties and adhere to universally accepted principles of human rights.

The CHR said it will continue to perform its mandate even with the small funding:

Despite these circumstances, we will not turn our backs on our Constitutional duty to render justice for all and give everyone their due. The concern for human rights is beyond partisanship or disagreement. We shall seek means to move forward and navigate through the hurdles mindful of our oath to serve the people and the Republic—because it is what is right and what is needed of the times.

After the media reported the 1,000-peso budget of the CHR, Filipinos quickly took to social media to express their outrage.

Ted, a young professional, criticized the government on Facebook:

The 1000-peso CHR budget means the government is crap and has no regard for human rights.

Facebook user Kim Tanhui urged fellow Filipinos to stop tolerating human rights abuses:

EVERY person's rights as a human must be protected, whichever official, candidate, or party he or she may be supporting.

This is about the public tolerating this blatant disregard for human rights and morality, which unfortunately, has become the norm during the recent months. Wake up, people! This is your government telling you that your human rights is worth only P 1,000. This is your government rendering the CHR, the body which was designated to protect you from government abuses, powerless.

Twitter user @DonyaJemimah did some quick number crunching to highlight how much Duterte's allies have valued human rights:

Even United Nations special rapporteur for extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, posted her dismay:

Even some supporters of the president expressed their shocked by the brazen move of the Lower House. With the Lower House essentially done with their part of the budget process, the ball is now with their counterparts in the Senate, the upper chamber of the Philippine Congress whose members are able to move with more flexibility away from the president's line as they enjoy a broader and nationwide constituency. Some senators have already committed to restoring the CHR's original proposed budget of 678 million pesos ($13.2 million) once they resume their budget deliberations.

Will this outrage be sustained and help opposition senators in giving the CHR a more appropriate budget? How will the Duterte administration maneuver to ensure the CHR is rendered useless with its $20 budget? With activists and various cause-oriented groups gearing up for a big gathering this coming September 21 to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the declaration of martial law, which ushered in massive human rights abuses by the Marcos dictatorship, this move by the Duterte administration will certainly be not forgotten.

by Julius Rocas at September 15, 2017 02:15 AM

September 14, 2017

MIT Center for Civic Media
Digital Democracy: Participatory Mapping & Tool-building in the Amazon

IMG_20170914_122630.jpg

This is a liveblog of a talk by Emily Jacobi (@emjacobi) at the MIT Center for Civic Media, written by Erhardt Graeff, Rahul Bhargava, and Alexis Hope. All errors are our own.

 
Digital Democracy (DD) works in solidarity with groups around the world to empower marginalized communities to use technology to defend their rights. This means that they are different from other groups because they are not trying to pursue their own agenda through their work. Their mission is driven by the agenda of their partners.
 
DD was founded almost 10 years after being inspired by research they were doing in Burma. Emily noticed a correlation between internet access and political engagement. She had a realization that new technology was being leveraged to make new kinds of engagement possible, but that it also creates new risks and challenges. They started by doing workshops and trainings that were requested by local partners
Some of DD's earliest work was with women in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Women in the camps were self-organizing to respond to violence. The organization learned a lot about what it means to be engaged in a long-term partnership, and about not coming in with preconceived notions of a solution.
 
They developed an SMS project that failed, but it led to a call center there that made positive impact. Emilie Reiser (from Civic Media) worked with this community on that project and the work informed a lot of what DD does now.
 
Their approach involves two interlinked components: (1) direct engagement with local partners and (2) building open-source tools that come from the lived experiences of their partners.
 
The core values underlying all their work are:
  • Self-determination & Autonomy

  • Accessibility

  • Collaboration

  • Social & Environmental Justice

 

These values are not just about the inherent injustices faced by the indigenous people they work with, but goes to the core of how people are included in design processes and decision making about their futures. Their accessibility work includes topics such as language, usability, support for offline work, and more.

 

Currently DD is working on longer-term projects in Ecuador and Guyana.

 

Guyana Case Study

See https://www.digital-democracy.org/ourwork/guyana/

 

Wapichana people were guaranteed full-autonomy before independence, but have had to fight for over 5 decades to try to win this independence.  DD has been working for the past 5 years on mapping projects there.

 

They've created a hyper-detailed map of their area. This includes everything from where they gather eggs, where rare birds are, churches, homesteads.

 

They right now only have rights to where the villages are. The map helps them document their use of other lands to then try and gain rights to them. The mountains around them have lots of illegal gold mining, which is creating environmental risks that affect them.

IMG_20170914_122818.jpg

Part of the mapping work has involved helping people use drones to take imagery of illegal gold mining. They’ve taken the images to the government, and the government has responded by stopping the illegal mining activities.  In addition, they have been able to use this imagery internally to drive community discussions about why these issues matter to their survival.

They have also been in talks with the government to determine whether they can have their full land rights recognized.

Ecuador Case Study

See http://www.digital-democracy.org/blog/update-from-the-ecuadorian-amazon/

 

In Wuorani territory of eastern Ecuador they are working with native people's in a national forest. DD has been asked to accompany the Wuorani people to map their entire territory. This involves 12 current communities with the plan to bring in 10 more over the next year.

 

The process starts with paper maps (accessible to all). Some communities will separate men and women for different workshops to ensure that everyone has a voice during the session by minimizing the gender dynamics.

 

IMG_20170914_123212.jpg

 

The hand-drawn maps beautifully illustrate their connection and knowledge of the land.  The process lets them take the information in their heads and share it with government officials making decisions about things like mining rights. Then they go out and collect GPS points they record in paper booklets (for now). They also do media making to capture narratives from across the territory. This project has helped bridge the gap between young people (who are often driven to move to the city for work) and elders, who have a deep knowledge of the area.

 

IMG_20170914_123251.jpg

 

They have "Technicos" that get trained are elected by the community.  They take these walks to take GPS points to produce a formal map based on the collaborative hand-drawn one.

 

Mapeo

See http://www.digital-democracy.org/blog/mapeo-preview/

 

One big gap they find is that in offline environments there are very few tools that work.  The ones that do are very complex to learn (ie. ArcGIS). DD wanted a tool that would remove them from the equation, letting communities manage their own information.

 

A key goal of Mapeo is that all data and visualizations can be locally-owned and managed, the software is easy-to-use, works offline, and is collaborative. They've built on top of ID Editor, which is used with OpenStreetMaps (OSM). OSM has been helpful in creating maps of places that do not have them—for example, companies hadn’t mapped Haiti before the earthquake because there wasn’t commercial value in it, and OSM allowed people to build new maps.

 

They've changed ID Editor to be culturally appropriate for the Wuorani people. This includes more appropriate defaults, and picking iconography to represent things like nesting grounds, villages, etc. The Wuorani people have also used Mapeo to identify not just specific locations, but also larger areas. For example, designating an area where they won’t hunt again for a while. It’s been useful in helping address self-governance questions.

 

Once they've captured the GPS points, they print out a draft and have the community check and edit it in physical form.  Once those edits are done they print out big versions of the map.  They are designing and developing an interactive map that will also integrate stories and blogs about certain areas.

 

Seikopai digital participative mapping from Digital Democracy on Vimeo.

Discussion

  • My family is from Guyana — I can’t believe you’re working there. Why did you choose Guyana?

    • DD got a Knight News grant to work on what has become Mapeo. DD connected to the Guyana groups after they heard about DD's previous work in Peru. Then they were invited in to collaborate.

  • I worked in an area on the coast and we were doing a tree inventory. This tool could be great for mapping the trees and how they use them.

    • The desktop version of Mapeo works well, but they are working on a mobile version that will work better for ongoing work.

  • Is there a fear that the information could be used by the wrong people?

    • DD has forked off of OSM, so everything is internal. The community can decide what is released to the world and when. Open data is important when discussing players in power. For small actors, opening data creates opportunities for exploitation. DD tries to help their partners are agency over that and navigate it.

  • How long does this take?

    • Sometimes groups really need to make a map. Other times the mapping is a way to build community awareness. With the Wuorani the first few villages took a long time, but now DD just provides tech support and bug fixing.

  • Do you have materials about how to be the sidekick and support well?

    • Right now neither side of DD's work is ready to easily share. The idea is to have guides and manuals. The idea of being a "sidekick rather than a superhero" is a great way to say it. DD tries to fight the superhero narrative.

  • How do start to talk with our funders about this type of process - maybe building partnerships for 3 years before tools are designed built.

    • Can we do this as a coalition somehow.  Mapeo was funded by the Knight News Challenge, which they've managed to stretch for a long time. DD's partners work with international groups to find funding to support roll-out. We now have a tool that is worthy of investment but a few years ago I would have been lying to make the pitch that we have a project that is ready to go.

  • Is the tool ready for implementation in other places—for instance there is a need for mapping biodiversity in Mexico?

    • If you know how to use GitHub, then yes! But we do not have a lot of the supportive resources put in place that a lot of people need to implement it. It's also important to note that the tool is oriented toward a community working on it together rather than an individual. Also, it is important to note that the Wuorani people's map icons are those people's intellectual property but they are working on generic rainforest icons that anyone can use on their own maps.

  • Is there any effort to adapt Mapeo to coastal communities?

    • We are fortunate that their is a lot of the Amazon and lot of people working on that effort. But I think it's possible to adapt to those geographies.

  • Would you be interested in bringing in additional drone mapping and machine learning processing to expand the mapping efforts?

    • One of the most valuable aspects of the current mapping process is the human element where everyone has a chance to have a voice in the process. There are some cases where a more rapid response might be warranted to address a specific need, but there is a lot of value in the slower process.

  • Some people think about mapping in terms of the switch from oral traditions to written or visual, and so how do you think about what is lost through the process?

    • The Wuorani was first contacted by Baptist missionaries a few decades ago, which led to disease and social problems. And for them mapping represented something that was imposed on them, telling them where their territory was and what they could or couldn't do with it. Maps have been used to disempower people for centuries. The Mapeo process offers them an opportunity to claim some of this power back.

by erhardt at September 14, 2017 05:24 PM

Creative Commons
Lessons learned from a year of Slack, 1000 members, and immeasurable community growth

cc-on-slack

Almost a year ago, we announced that our community’s real time communications were migrating from IRC to Slack. As we pass 1,000 active users, we want to take a moment to give gratitude to our community for making it happen.

active users

1,000+ active users

More than 450 of our users joined Slack in our first month and a half, an incredible lift for us. Read more about our first month of Slack on the blog.

We’ve grown consistently since then, but our next big influx of community came this week, when our Open Education Platform launched. #cc-openedu is now our most populous channel outside of #general and #announcements, with 167 participants collaborating daily in the channel. We expect an increasing number of people signing up in all our platforms with the launch of our exciting new Global Network Strategy.

Our community as a whole hosts 250 Weekly Active Users sending approximately 1,000 messages per day. However, certain days are definitely busier than others: after we sent out our invitation to our Global Summit attendees to join us on Slack, our engagement shot up to 1,700 messages in one day in April. The community is friendly and welcoming, and we try to say hello to every member who joins and posts!

hello-to-new-friends

 

35 Public Channels

35 public channels feels like a lot of channels, but the number of access points allows members to hop into (and out of) any of our global communities or programs with ease. The many channels allow us to open up our work to the world and facilitate communication between a variety of users on six continents. (We’re not yet in Antarctica – anyone want to start a chapter?)

In addition to our 1,000 members milestone, we’re nearing another important landmark: The CC Community has sent nearly 200,000 messages! We’re talking a lot between each other – more than 50% of our messages are sent via Direct Messages to develop our close-knit, relational culture of Community Builders.

where-p

To call out some of our favorite channels, #cc-openedu is acting as a catalyst and inspiration for other network-platform based communities, with more than 60 users regularly posting messages and a channel membership of 166. The #general and #announcements channels remain incredibly popular, with over 1,000 total members and 100 daily active users, as does, of course, #cc-animals, which provides all the cuteness from the commons. Want to learn more about how we work? #cc-culture-club has you covered! While most of our chatter is about the commons, we can also get silly in the #random channel.

random-talk

We’ve also been excited to see the growth of users in global communities like #cc-europe, #cc-canada, and #cc-arabworld.

pleasant chatter

A vision for community growth

Our adoption of Slack has seriously grown our capacity as a network and as a community. We’ve been able to use the platform to chat, connect, and collaborate across disciplines. Through Slack, we’re privileging accessibility and community in order to reach our goals as a connected, growing network.

Our next steps include possible Slack chats, more fun, (like these Slack awards,) and frankly, who knows what else? Our community surprises us every day.

If you haven’t yet joined us, please do! We’d love to meet you.

The post Lessons learned from a year of Slack, 1000 members, and immeasurable community growth appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Jennie Rose Halperin at September 14, 2017 04:37 PM

Global Voices
Teen Killings Show How Vulnerable Communities Suffer the Brunt of the Philippine Government's ‘War on Drugs’

Protests during Kian delos Santos's burial. Photo credit: Kathy Yamzon. Used with permission.

Public anger is rising in the Philippines over the successive killings of teenagers while under police custody.

Kian delos Santos, 17 years old; Carl Angelo Arnaiz, 19; and Reynaldo de Guzman, 14 years old, were allegedly slain by police officers in relation to the country's anti-drug campaign (Oplan Tokhang).

President Rodrigo Duterte's directive to end the drug menace has claimed the lives of almost 13,000 people, most of them coming from poor urban communities.

In the case of Kian delos Santos, police reported that the teenager was a drug courier who was killed in a shootout during an anti-drug raid.

However, a CCTV recording in the crime scene showed a defenseless teenager being dragged by the police before ending up dead.

Delos Santos was killed in Caloocan City last August 16, 2017, in the same week that Tokhang achieved the highest death toll on a single day in Bulacan, a province to the north of Manila. President Duterte praised this bloodbath:

Maganda ‘yun. Makapatay lang tayo ng mga [That was good. We could just kill] another 32 everyday then maybe we can reduce what ails this country.

Duterte has told the police on various occasions to shoot drug suspects who fight back, make them fight if they don’t, give a gun to suspects who are not armed and to shoot them if they retaliate. Delos Santos’s killing exposed how the police has been planting guns and other evidence against suspected drug peddlers.

Just days after Delos Santos’s death, Carl Angelo Arnaiz, a state scholar from the University of the Philippines, was found dead on August 28, 2017 in a Caloocan morgue after going missing for 10 days. He was last seen leaving his house to buy food with Reynaldo De Guzman, who was found dead 20 days later in a creek in Gapan, Nueva Ecija, a province located north of the capital Manila.

De Guzman's head was wrapped with tape and his body has 30 stab wounds. This was about 113 kilometers away from their residence in Cainta, Rizal.

Official police reports say Arnaiz was killed in a shootout with police after he tried to rob a taxi driver. An autopsy report points to Arnaiz’s body bearing signs of torture before being shot five times execution-style.

Fellow high school students, family, friends, and sympathizers light candles for Kian during his wake. Photo credit: Manila Today. Used with permission.

These deaths have sparked public outrage against the “war on drugs,” which is denounced by many as a bloody conflict waged by the Duterte government against the country's vulnerable populations like the poor and children. Various human rights groups have also hit at Duterte for repeatedly vowing to save police officers who commit abuses during Tokhang operations. The youth group Anakbayan said in a statement:

This could happen to anyone as bloodthirsty Duterte continually encourages the police to kill without due process, plant evidence, and cover up in the course of his bloody “war on drugs”. We must stand up against Duterte’s madness to save the country’s youth.

Many decry the way members of disadvantaged communities are killed with impunity while prominent personalities linked to the illegal drug trade, including Duterte’s own son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, are given due process.

Paolo Duterte recently appeared in Senate hearings to deny his alleged involvement in the smuggling of US$125 million worth of illegal drug substance methamphetamine, popularly known in the Philippines as shabu.

Duterte’s troll army at first branded the murdered teenagers as criminals who deserved to die,but later on, as public anger escalated, they modified their stance and claimed it was Duterte’s political rivals who orchestrated the killings.

Faced with growing uproar over the killings, Duterte himself changed his position by meeting the parents of delos Santos and then Arnaiz and assuring them that he would go after erring police officers. Duterte subsequently claimed that “malignant” forces are sabotaging his anti-drug campaign.

State scholars from the University of the Philippines hold a protest at the Department of Justice in Manila City. Photo credit: Manila Today. Used with permission.

Meanwhile, more and more are overcoming the atmosphere of silence and fear by expressing their anger over the killings. Various people’s organizations, church groups, and ordinary individuals have joined forces in launching the broad alliance Movement Against Tyranny to oppose rights abuses and the country's slide into strongman rule under Duterte.

The group will hold a big protest at Luneta Park on September 21, the anniversary of the declaration of martial law by the late dictator and Duterte's idol, Ferdinand Marcos.

by Karlo Mongaya at September 14, 2017 01:29 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Twitter Tells Kashmiri Journalists and Activists That They Will Be Censored at Indian Government's Request

Kashmiri woman protestor dares a policeman to stop her from moving ahead during restrictions imposed in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Administered Kashmir. Photo by Ieshan Wani, used with permission.

Dozens of people who have tweeted about the conflict in Indian-administered Kashmir or shown sympathy for Kashmiri independence movements online may soon be censored on Twitter, at the request of the Indian government.

The US-based social media company sent notices to users explaining that the Indian government had reported certain tweets and Twitter accounts for violating Section 69A of India's Information Technology Act.

Section 69A of India's IT act allows the government to block online content and censor when it believes the ‘said’ content can threaten the security, sovereignty, integrity or defense of the country.

Prominent Kashmiri journalist Wasim Khalid was among those who received notice that his tweet may be removed. In an interview with Anadolu news agency, Khalid explained:

At first, I thought it was a joke, one of those fake emails you keep getting but then I looked more carefully and it was actually an email from Twitter. It is an attempt at intimidating those who post the truth that will never be shown by Indian media. It is meant to close this little window of social media where Kashmir appeared to the world as it exists on the ground. They doesn’t want the world to see how it keeps its hold on Kashmir and that is why they want Kashmiris blocked from social media.

It is an attempt at intimidating those who post the truth that will never be shown by Indian media. It is meant to close this little window of social media where Kashmir appeared to the world as it exists on the ground.

The notices appear to be part of a broader effort by the Indian government to limit online criticism of its military actions in the region. More than half a million Indian military personnel are deployed in India's northernmost state Jammu and Kashmir, where many Kashmiris reject Indian rule over Kashmir and have been fighting for independence or a merger with Pakistan, since 1989. During the recent clashes following elections, the heat of the violence was felt on social media.

In two separate requests, dated 16 August and 24 August, Indian authorities asked Twitter to suspend more than two dozen Twitter accounts and censor more than 100 tweets.

Twitter submitted Indian authorities’ official letter to Lumen, an open database of internet takedown requests. It reads:

Based on recommendations of the committee and looking at the sensitivity of the request, it is hereby directed to Twitter to block/remove 115 Twitter handles/tweets in the interest of public order as well as for preventing any kind of cognizable offense.

Shortly thereafter, Twitter notified the account holders in an email that several of the account holders shared publicly. The email read:

The correspondence claims that your account is in violation of Indian law. Please note we may be obliged to take action regarding the content identified in the complaint in the future. Please let us know by replying to this email as soon as possible if you decide to voluntarily remove the content identified on your account.

What (and who) was blocked?

None of the official documents released by either Twitter or the Indian government offer case-by-case explanations of why these particular tweets and accounts were singled out. A cursory glance at the accounts reveals a handful of ideological groups that perpetrate extreme violence, but aside from these, many of affected accounts belong to common citizens — activists, journalists, and civilians who have utilized the platform to highlight the atrocities Kashmiris face.

Journalist Muhammad Faysal described rising significance of social media in the Kashmir Valley:

With the increasing reach of the internet and the emergence of social media, particularly Twitter and Facebook, Kashmiris began questioning Indian rule in Kashmir and reporting on human rights abuses. They posted videos of Indian armed forces torturing civilians, mutilating bodies of militants and vandalising public property.

Social media has become a potent tool to counter state-approved and biased narratives of mainstream Indian media, which often likens Kashmir’s armed insurgency to Islamic extremism, and justifies state aggression against Kashmiri civilians.”

Government officials have indeed taken notice of social media's potency in the region. In April and May 2017, authorities ordered mobile internet operators to shut down services in Jammu and Kashmir for days on end. Social networks including Twitter and Facebook also were intermittently blocked.

According to data on internet shutdowns collected by the Software Freedom Law Centre in New Delhi, Kashmir has recorded 29 instances of internet shutdowns since 2012. These figures are the highest in India. Kashmiri activists use social media to highlight violations of human rights and even everyday struggles in the heavily militarised zone. When tensions rise or protests ensue, the internet is often the first casualty.

One especially powerful tweet by Khalid, which was among those reported to Twitter, pertained to an image of a young man being used as a human shield by Indian forces in Kashmir.

Twitter's partial censorship strategy

The government also requested that Twitter remove tweets from accounts of people outside of India. Among them were Pakistani journalist and  political analyst Sabena Siddiqi and University of California professor Huma Dar, who is an advocate of human rights for Kashmiris and Dalits (the low caste community in India facing prejudice and attacks.)

American law professor Khaled Beydoun was also on the list, due to this tweet:

Despite what some may think, a user's citizenship is not a relevant factor in determining the legality of their tweets. Twitter maintains a “country withheld” policy, under which the company may censor specific tweets in just one country, in response to a government order proving that the tweets are illegal under local law.

The policy reads:

Many countries have laws that may apply to Tweets and/or Twitter account content….if we receive a valid and properly scoped request from an authorized entity, it may be necessary to reactively withhold access to certain content in a particular country from time to time….Upon receipt of requests to withhold content, we will promptly notify affected users.

This is not the first time US-based social media companies have grappled with the conflict in Kashmir. In 2016, social media giant Facebook ran into a major controversy after censoring journalists and activists who were posting pro-Kashmir content.

Technology policy expert Pranesh Prakash urged Twitter to challenge the order, citing a similar past effort by Yahoo.

Since 1990, an independence movement has been brewing in the Kashmir Valley. The region is the most militarized zone in the world and has faced numerous challenges including arbitrary detentions, forced disappearances and violent use of pellet guns by India's armed forces. In 27 years, more than 70,000 Kashmiris have been killed and many more have been injured or arrested in Indian military crackdowns. The latest weapon in this conflict seems to be the stifling of voices on social media platforms. As Prakash puts it, the question now is whether Twitter will summon the strength to challenge these requests in court.

Also read our Special Coverage: The Kashmiri People Versus the Indian State

 

by Vishal Manve at September 14, 2017 11:56 AM

Global Voices
Ugandan Police Investigate a Serial Murder Spree Targeting Women

At least 20 women have been killed for mysterious reasons.

A screenshot of a YouTube video of the Inspector General of Police, Kale Kayihura, addressing the public in Nansana, Wakiso district, where several women have been murdered.

Uganda finds itself in the midst of a serial murder mystery targeting women. Between June 7 and September 5, twenty women have been found brutally murdered in the cities of Entebbe and Nansana, located 30 and 20 kilometers respectively from Kampala, the capital.

Local television station NTV Uganda reports on the first nine murders of women ranging in age between 17-32 who were all killed in similar ways including strangulation and the insertion of sticks in the mouth and genitals, implying alleged acts of rape.

Several arrests have been made in relation to the murders in both cities, but the suspects’ guilt has not yet been confirmed. Despite these arrests, more murders have taken place since these individuals have been on remand. Police in Nansasa are holding 8 suspects including boyfriends, husbands, and friends of four of the deceased, indicating ‘jilted lovers’ as a motive.

Witchcraft is another theory. Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura suggested that a businessman may have contracted hitmen to kill women to secure blood to perform wealth-generation rituals. The Daily Monitor, a local newspaper, reports:

“The suspect confessed that he had killed eight women on orders of a businessman here in Nansana. The blood is to feed his rituals to get more wealth,” Gen Kayihura said. The police should be commended if such a suspect exists and a confession to that effect was extracted. However, the public is not interested in such public pronouncements.

In response, reader Ahamushozi Kanungu posed a question:

Why are they not arresting the moneyed man?! Since they are aware of him and yet they are in a rush to arrest innocent people without clearly formulated motive!!

Furthermore, distrustful residents dubious about their authorities have engaged in community policing activities to curb criminal offenses in their communities. Kayihura, the Inspector General of Police, further stressed this point at a recent community meeting in Nansana, as reported by NTV Uganda's Raymond Mujuni. Kayihura announced:

“We have put in place security measures aimed at enhancing popular vigilance — participation of the people — as well as increasing police visibility and effectiveness so as to protect the communities in the areas affected…”

On Tuesday, September 5, parliamentarians voted to suspend activities until the Minister of Internal Affairs and internal security officials come up with a comprehensive report on the murders. This directive comes on the heels of landslides in Eastern Uganda and floods in the North competing for attention from the Parliament.

During the session, Rosemary Seninde, an MP representing the Wakiso district where murders have occurred said:

It is so saddening that we have not got the actual suspects. The manner in which some of the women are being killed is very terrible and humiliating to those of us who see them.

Anger over the mysterious murders erupted on Twitter:

Twitter user @ndix_devar called on police to bring back ASP Muhammad Kirumira to Nansana, citing his record of significantly reducing crime rates in the area during his tenure.

Michael Kategaya shared a chart showing the age ranges of victims between 17-32 years old and from low incomes backgrounds:

Ngoboka Solomon expressed concern over citizens’ security:

The recent serial murders of women happened barely six months after Uganda's Assistant Inspector General of Police Andrew Felix Kaweesi was murdered with his driver and bodyguard on his way to work. Police linked this murder to the murders of Muslim clerics between 2015 and 2016 who were all killed by people riding on motor bikes with guns.

by James Propa at September 14, 2017 11:24 AM

Marketplace Tech Report
09/14/2017: Bringing food stamps into the digital age
The federal government provides SNAP benefits, which stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly called food stamps, to those that need financial help to buy groceries. It’s a program that’s has not traditionally been on the cutting edge of tech. In fact, eight states won't even let you apply for benefits online and only a few have apps that let you check your balance. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood spoke with Jimmy Chen, CEO of Propel, which created the Fresh EBT app. It allows people to check their Electronic Benefits Transfer balance on their phone or computer. Plus, we go shopping with a SNAP benefit recipient and community activist in the South Bronx in New York City.

by Marketplace at September 14, 2017 11:07 AM

Global Voices
The 17-Century Peruvian Saint With a 21st-Century Social Media Presence

Saint Rose of Lima church in Lima. Image from Flickr by user Natalia Cartolini (CC BY 2.0).

Saint Rose of Lima may have died more than 400 years ago, but she has online wishing well, a mobile app, and accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and even WhatsApp.

This Catholic saint is an important figure in Peruvian culture, and devotion of Saint Rose offers a clear example of how long-held traditions in Peru have been incorporated into a modern world of quickly advancing technologies and social media.

Saint Rose of Lima was born as Isabel Flores de Oliva on April 20, 1586, when the city was the capital of Spain's Viceroyalty of Peru and was the first person born in the Americas to be canonized as a saint. She passed away on August 30, 1617 and was canonized in 1671. She was named patroness of Peru in 1669, and of the New World and Philippines in 1670. In the Roman Catholic Church, a patron saint is regarded as the heavenly advocate who intercedes on behalf of of a person, group, country, craft, etc. before God.

Saint Rose is also the patroness of the Peruvian Police Force, and appears in the highest banknote denomination. In fact, she's the only woman represented on Peruvian currency.

Saint Rose's house in Quives. Image from Flickr by user Lucerito Corrales (CC BY 2.0).

Saint Rose was the fourth of 13 children. Her father was Gaspar Flores, from Spain, and her mother was María de Oliva y Herrera.

She spent most of her childhood and teen years with her family in Quives, in the highlands of the department of Lima, where her father worked as the manager of a mine:

[…] reducción indígena ubicada en la sierra de Lima, entre la confluencia de los ríos Chillón y Arahuay. Hasta allí se trasladó la familia […]. De niña, la futura Santa Rosa de Lima sufrió una enfermedad que le imposibilitaba la movilidad de las piernas. Su madre quiso aliviarle con una receta local, cubriéndole las piernas con pieles de buitre, medida que finalmente agravaría los males de la pequeña, sufriéndolos en silencio. Recibió en 1598 el sacramento de la confirmación […] de manos del arzobispo Toribio de Mogrovejo, también futuro santo.

[Quives is an] indigenous settlement located in the Lima highlands, at the confluence of rivers Chillon and Arahuay. The family relocated there […]. As a child, the future Saint Rose of Lima suffered from an illness that made it impossible for her to move her legs, Her mother wanted to offer her some relief with a local remedy, and covered Rose's legs with vulture skins, something that would eventually aggravate the little girl's woes, which she suffered in silence. In 1598, she received the sacrament of confirmation […] from Archbishop Toribio de Mogrovejo, who would also become a saint himself.

Her family had long called her Rose, but she also received the name for her confirmation in the Church, one of the most important rites of passage in Catholicism:

[…] Rosa, apelativo que sus familiares empleaban prácticamente desde su nacimiento por su belleza y por una visión que tuvo su madre, en la que el rostro de la niña se convirtió en una rosa. […] asumiría definitivamente tal nombre más tarde, cuando entendió que era “rosa del jardín de Cristo” y adoptó la denominación religiosa de Rosa de Santa María.

[…] Rose, a name that her family used practically since she was born due to her beauty, and because of a vision her mother had in which the girl's face became a rose […] would end up assuming that name definitely, when she understood she was a “rose from Christ's garden” and adopted the religious denomination of Rose of Saint Mary.

As Rose's devotees know, she used to torment herself from a very young age: She would refuse to eat or would wrap her body with a spiked cilice, she would apply spicy pepper on her eyes to avoid leaving her house, she would ingest pus from ill people and she even put an iron chain around her waist, locked it and threw the key deep into a well.

Given these behaviors, renowned Peruvian psychiatrist Mariano Querol thinks Saint Rose may have suffered from schizophrenia:

Para mí fue una persona que padeció trastornos mentales muy difíciles de clasificar y catalogar. Presentó graves disturbios de personalidad, disturbios emocionales, de conducta, de autoflagelación, impulsos masoquistas enormes, incluso iluminaciones, posesión divina.

In my opinion, she suffered from a mental disorder, one difficult to classify or categorize. She had serious personality disturbances, emotional and behavioral disturbances, self-flagellation, huge masochistic impulses, even enlightenment and divine possession.

Saint Rose in the technology garden

Despite her history of self-harm, the saint's devotion remains strong and has carried over into the 21st century. Her followers believe she fulfills wishes that are deposited every August 30 in a well located at the Basilica of Saint Rose. The tradition attracts a number of people and lines are always long, as blogger Cyrano recalled:

Al lado del templo (de Santa Rosa] existe una casa donde la creencia popular afirma que Santa Rosa pasó gran parte de su vida. […] Dentro de la casa, que recibe visitas durante todo el año, existe un pozo llamado el Pozo de los Deseos en donde los fieles lanzan papeles de distinto tipo y tamaño que contienen sus más íntimos deseos u ofrecimientos para que Santa Rosa se los cumpla. No son cientos sino miles los que arrojan el 30 de agosto su papel al pozo. Ya se imaginan el alboroto que causa esta tradición.

Besides [Saint Rose's] there is a house where popular belief says Saint Rose spent part of her life. […] Inside the house, which can be visited all along the year, there is a well named Well of Desires, where believers throw little pieces of paper, of all kinds and sizes, containing their most intimate desires or offerings so Saint Rose may grant them. There are not hundreds but thousands of people throwing their papers into the well each August 30. You can imagine the fuss that comes from this tradition.

But there is good news for those who wish to participate but, for whatever reason, can't go all the way to the Saint Rose's temple: They can deposit their wishes online on the saint's official website:

Millones de personas dan fe de las gracias, tanto espirituales como materiales que Rosa brinda, si ésta está en los planes de la Providencia divina.

¡Envíanos tus peticiones, agradecimientos o tu testimonio!

Millions of people attest the graces, both spiritual and material, that Rose brings if they are in the plans of the divine Providence.

Send us your requests, your messages of gratitude or your testimony!

The saint also is present on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, and offers a mobile app for download:

We have more than 100,000 likes and 100,000 followers on Facebook!
Let's keep sharing!

Image: Saint Rose of Lima – 400 years making intercessions for you.
Download the app.
Visit the website www.rosadelima.pe

Tweet: Keep in touch and find the latest news from our saint!
Download the app (for Android)

by Gabriela García Calderón at September 14, 2017 10:09 AM

September 13, 2017

Global Voices
Twitter Tells Kashmiri Journalists and Activists That They Will Be Censored at Indian Government's Request

Kashmiri woman protestor dares a policeman to stop her from moving ahead during restrictions imposed in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Administered Kashmir. Photo by Ieshan Wani, used with permission.

Dozens of people who have tweeted about the conflict in Indian-administered Kashmir or shown sympathy for Kashmiri independence movements online may soon be censored on Twitter, at the request of the Indian government.

The US-based social media company sent notices to users explaining that the Indian government had reported certain tweets and Twitter accounts for violating Section 69A of India's Information Technology Act.

Section 69A of India's IT act allows the government to block online content and censor when it believes the ‘said’ content can threaten the security, sovereignty, integrity or defense of the country.

Prominent Kashmiri journalist Wasim Khalid was among those who received notice that his tweet may be removed. In an interview with Anadolu news agency, Khalid explained:

At first, I thought it was a joke, one of those fake emails you keep getting but then I looked more carefully and it was actually an email from Twitter. It is an attempt at intimidating those who post the truth that will never be shown by Indian media. It is meant to close this little window of social media where Kashmir appeared to the world as it exists on the ground. They doesn’t want the world to see how it keeps its hold on Kashmir and that is why they want Kashmiris blocked from social media.

It is an attempt at intimidating those who post the truth that will never be shown by Indian media. It is meant to close this little window of social media where Kashmir appeared to the world as it exists on the ground.

The notices appear to be part of a broader effort by the Indian government to limit online criticism of its military actions in the region. More than half a million Indian military personnel are deployed in India's northernmost state Jammu and Kashmir, where many Kashmiris reject Indian rule over Kashmir and have been fighting for independence or a merger with Pakistan, since 1989. During the recent clashes following elections, the heat of the violence was felt on social media.

In two separate requests, dated 16 August and 24 August, Indian authorities asked Twitter to suspend more than two dozen Twitter accounts and censor more than 100 tweets.

Twitter submitted Indian authorities’ official letter to Lumen, an open database of internet takedown requests. It reads:

Based on recommendations of the committee and looking at the sensitivity of the request, it is hereby directed to Twitter to block/remove 115 Twitter handles/tweets in the interest of public order as well as for preventing any kind of cognizable offense.

Shortly thereafter, Twitter notified the account holders in an email that several of the account holders shared publicly. The email read:

The correspondence claims that your account is in violation of Indian law. Please note we may be obliged to take action regarding the content identified in the complaint in the future. Please let us know by replying to this email as soon as possible if you decide to voluntarily remove the content identified on your account.

What (and who) was blocked?

None of the official documents released by either Twitter or the Indian government offer case-by-case explanations of why these particular tweets and accounts were singled out. A cursory glance at the accounts reveals a handful of ideological groups that perpetrate extreme violence, but aside from these, many of affected accounts belong to common citizens — activists, journalists, and civilians who have utilized the platform to highlight the atrocities Kashmiris face.

Journalist Muhammad Faysal described rising significance of social media in the Kashmir Valley:

With the increasing reach of the internet and the emergence of social media, particularly Twitter and Facebook, Kashmiris began questioning Indian rule in Kashmir and reporting on human rights abuses. They posted videos of Indian armed forces torturing civilians, mutilating bodies of militants and vandalising public property.

Social media has become a potent tool to counter state-approved and biased narratives of mainstream Indian media, which often likens Kashmir’s armed insurgency to Islamic extremism, and justifies state aggression against Kashmiri civilians.”

Government officials have indeed taken notice of social media's potency in the region. In April and May 2017, authorities ordered mobile internet operators to shut down services in Jammu and Kashmir for days on end. Social networks including Twitter and Facebook also were intermittently blocked.

According to data on internet shutdowns collected by the Software Freedom Law Centre in New Delhi, Kashmir has recorded 29 instances of internet shutdowns since 2012. These figures are the highest in India. Kashmiri activists use social media to highlight violations of human rights and even everyday struggles in the heavily militarised zone. When tensions rise or protests ensue, the internet is often the first casualty.

One especially powerful tweet by Khalid, which was among those reported to Twitter, pertained to an image of a young man being used as a human shield by Indian forces in Kashmir.

Twitter's partial censorship strategy

The government also requested that Twitter remove tweets from accounts of people outside of India. Among them were Pakistani journalist and  political analyst Sabena Siddiqi and University of California professor Huma Dar, who is an advocate of human rights for Kashmiris and Dalits (the low caste community in India facing prejudice and attacks.)

American law professor Khaled Beydoun was also on the list, due to this tweet:

Despite what some may think, a user's citizenship is not a relevant factor in determining the legality of their tweets. Twitter maintains a “country withheld” policy, under which the company may censor specific tweets in just one country, in response to a government order proving that the tweets are illegal under local law.

The policy reads:

Many countries have laws that may apply to Tweets and/or Twitter account content….if we receive a valid and properly scoped request from an authorized entity, it may be necessary to reactively withhold access to certain content in a particular country from time to time….Upon receipt of requests to withhold content, we will promptly notify affected users.

This is not the first time US-based social media companies have grappled with the conflict in Kashmir. In 2016, social media giant Facebook ran into a major controversy after censoring journalists and activists who were posting pro-Kashmir content.

Technology policy expert Pranesh Prakash urged Twitter to challenge the order, citing a similar past effort by Yahoo.

Since 1990, an independence movement has been brewing in the Kashmir Valley. The region is the most militarized zone in the world and has faced numerous challenges including arbitrary detentions, forced disappearances and violent use of pellet guns by India's armed forces. In 27 years, more than 70,000 Kashmiris have been killed and many more have been injured or arrested in Indian military crackdowns. The latest weapon in this conflict seems to be the stifling of voices on social media platforms. As Prakash puts it, the question now is whether Twitter will summon the strength to challenge these requests in court.

Also read our Special Coverage: The Kashmiri People Versus the Indian State

 

by Vishal Manve at September 13, 2017 11:58 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Keeping His Story Alive: The Creative Legacy of Bassel Khartabil

Bassel Khartabil (Safadi). Photograph by Joi Ito (CC BY 2.0)

More than one month after his execution was confirmed, supporters continue to pay tribute to the memory of Syrian developer Bassel Khartabil Safadi and honour his legacy.

An open technology leader in Syria who was active in projects including Creative Commons and Wikipedia, Bassel played a pivotal role in extending online access and open knowledge to the public in Syria. He was detained by the Assad regime on 15 March 2012, and disappeared from his prison cell in October 2015. On 31 July, 2017 his family learnt that he was executed by the Syrian government shortly after his disappearance.

Since then, friends, colleagues and admirers of Bassel and the values that he stood for have found myriad ways to honor his life and continue supporting the kinds of work that most inspired him.

Bassel was remembered at Syrian New Waves, a program of Syrian film, visual art, music and talks that took place at the Eye Film Museum in Amsterdam from September 8-10.

In her opening speech, event curator Donatella Della Ratta, a writer and scholar who was a close friend of Bassel, described how Bassel started filming what was happening, when the uprising in Syria broke out:

I met him several years ago in Damascus behind a computer. He was the smartest computer engineer that I have ever met. He was loved by everyone and wanted by several companies in Silicon Valley.

When the uprising started in Syria in 2011, I was there, I saw him changing from the adorable but very geeky computer nerd that he was to a very dedicated citizen of a country which was trying to undergo a very big change. He took this, the camera phone and started filming, so he became one of those people who film endlessly, and upload and share because they want the world to see what is happening in a country that just dared to ask for more freedom and dignity: very basic needs.

She goes on:

Like Bassel, so many young Syrians have taken mobile phones instead of weapons to fight their struggle against the regime who has treated them as [if] they were carrying weapons and they were enemies of the country.

Bassel loved his country and [he] was killed by a regime who reputed him a traitor for having showed the world that in fact there was indeed once something called a peaceful revolution in Syria. Bassel wanted the world not to ignore Syria and not to forget. He wanted a living evidence of the atrocities committed by the regime and so he made images. He died to produce an image evidence, while the regime is well alive and in a good shape and trying to get rid of all these images and their makers…

The program celebrates the work of a new wave of Syrian filmmakers and visual artists “that places contemporary Syrian image-making in a perspective wider than looking at it as a mere visual evidence from a war-torn country.”

A number of non-profit organizations including the Wikimedia Foundation, Mozilla and Creative Commons announced the Bassel Khartabil Free Culture Fellowship to honour Bassel's contributions to free culture and the open web. The fellowship “will support outstanding individuals developing the culture of their communities under adverse circumstances” and strongly encourages applications from the Levant region of the Middle East. Global Voices is also an organizational partner for the fellowship.

Creative Commons also established the Bassel Khartabil Memorial Fund to support “projects, programs, and grants to individuals advancing collaboration, community building, and leadership development in the open communities of the Arab world”.

Tributes to Bassel have also come in the form of song. On 5 September, the Disquiet Junto, an open community of musicians released “A Future In Commons: A Tribute To Bassel Khartabil,” a compilation of songs composed over the years that incorporate Bassel's words, his letters and even his own voice.

The group describes the album as an attempt to “extrapolate sound from the poetic language of his correspondence” and to “keep his story alive even after he was no longer.” Here are two songs that we selected from the album:

A Future In Commons: A Tribute To Bassel Khartabil by Ya Wha?
A Future In Commons: A Tribute To Bassel Khartabil by Westy Reflector

by Afef Abrougui at September 13, 2017 10:16 PM

Global Voices
Keeping His Story Alive: The Creative Legacy of Bassel Khartabil

Bassel Khartabil (Safadi). Photograph by Joi Ito (CC BY 2.0)

More than one month after his execution was confirmed, supporters continue to pay tribute to the memory of Syrian developer Bassel Khartabil Safadi and honour his legacy.

An open technology leader in Syria who was active in projects including Creative Commons and Wikipedia, Bassel played a pivotal role in extending online access and open knowledge to the public in Syria. He was detained by the Assad regime on 15 March 2012, and disappeared from his prison cell in October 2015. On 31 July, 2017 his family learnt that he was executed by the Syrian government shortly after his disappearance.

Since then, friends, colleagues and admirers of Bassel and the values that he stood for have found myriad ways to honor his life and continue supporting the kinds of work that most inspired him.

Bassel was remembered at Syrian New Waves, a program of Syrian film, visual art, music and talks that took place at the Eye Film Museum in Amsterdam from September 8-10.

In her opening speech, event curator Donatella Della Ratta, a writer and scholar who was a close friend of Bassel, described how Bassel started filming what was happening, when the uprising in Syria broke out:

I met him several years ago in Damascus behind a computer. He was the smartest computer engineer that I have ever met. He was loved by everyone and wanted by several companies in Silicon Valley.

When the uprising started in Syria in 2011, I was there, I saw him changing from the adorable but very geeky computer nerd that he was to a very dedicated citizen of a country which was trying to undergo a very big change. He took this, the camera phone and started filming, so he became one of those people who film endlessly, and upload and share because they want the world to see what is happening in a country that just dared to ask for more freedom and dignity: very basic needs.

She goes on:

Like Bassel, so many young Syrians have taken mobile phones instead of weapons to fight their struggle against the regime who has treated them as [if] they were carrying weapons and they were enemies of the country.

Bassel loved his country and [he] was killed by a regime who reputed him a traitor for having showed the world that in fact there was indeed once something called a peaceful revolution in Syria. Bassel wanted the world not to ignore Syria and not to forget. He wanted a living evidence of the atrocities committed by the regime and so he made images. He died to produce an image evidence, while the regime is well alive and in a good shape and trying to get rid of all these images and their makers…

The program celebrates the work of a new wave of Syrian filmmakers and visual artists “that places contemporary Syrian image-making in a perspective wider than looking at it as a mere visual evidence from a war-torn country.”

A number of non-profit organizations including the Wikimedia Foundation, Mozilla and Creative Commons announced the Bassel Khartabil Free Culture Fellowship to honour Bassel's contributions to free culture and the open web. The fellowship “will support outstanding individuals developing the culture of their communities under adverse circumstances” and strongly encourages applications from the Levant region of the Middle East. Global Voices is also an organizational partner for the fellowship.

Creative Commons also established the Bassel Khartabil Memorial Fund to support “projects, programs, and grants to individuals advancing collaboration, community building, and leadership development in the open communities of the Arab world”.

Tributes to Bassel have also come in the form of song. On 5 September, the Disquiet Junto, an open community of musicians released “A Future In Commons: A Tribute To Bassel Khartabil,” a compilation of songs composed over the years that incorporate Bassel's words, his letters and even his own voice.

The group describes the album as an attempt to “extrapolate sound from the poetic language of his correspondence” and to “keep his story alive even after he was no longer.” Here are two songs that we selected from the album:

A Future In Commons: A Tribute To Bassel Khartabil by Ya Wha?
A Future In Commons: A Tribute To Bassel Khartabil by Westy Reflector

by Afef Abrougui at September 13, 2017 10:14 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Taiwanese Activist Was Forced to Confess on Camera to ‘Smearing the Chinese Government,’ Allies Say

Taiwanese activist Lee Mingche reads his confession in a mainland Chinese court. The videotape of the trial was released on various social media platforms. Screen capture from Miaopai.

After more than five months in detention, Taiwanese activist Lee Mingche pleaded guilty to writing articles that Chinese authorities say “subverted state power.”

The trial, held September 11 in a court in Yueyang city in China's southern Hunan province, was videotaped and streamed for the public on various social media platforms including Weibo, a popular service similar to Twitter.

In front of the camera, Lee read a statement that praised the mainland Chinese judicial system and said he was deeply regretful of what he had done. His wife and and human rights defenders say the confession was forced.

In the statement, Lee confessed to the “subversive act” of circulating and writing articles that “attacked and wickedly smeared the Chinese government” and “promoted Western-style multi-party democracy” on various social media platforms since September 2012.

The indictment also accused Lee and his co-defendant Peng Yuhua of incorporating a company called “Plum Blossom” in October 2012 and drawing up a plan to advocate for regime change in China. Peng, like Lee, pleaded guilty.

Lee went missing in southern China on March 19, 2017. Ten days later, Beijing confirmed his detention, saying that he was engaged in activities that were “harmful to national security”. In May, authorities said that Lee was being held in Hunan province under investigation for “subverting state power.” He will receive his sentence later this year.

‘This is just another drama staged by the Chinese government’

Lee’s wife Lee Chingyu has been advocating for her husband's release. Before she traveled to mainland China to attend the trial on September 9, she has preempted the “forced confession” in an open statement:

此時此刻,我也要懇求國人,如果看到李明哲在非自由意志下,在法庭做出或說出某些難堪的言行,請國人體諒,那就是中國政府的拿手好戲「被認罪」而已。

At this moment, I urge all the Taiwanese, if you see Lee Mingche confess against his will in court, with shameful words and behaviors, please forgive him. This is just another drama staged by the Chinese government, it is called “forced confession.”

After attending the trial, Lee Ching-yu had briefly met with her husband. The meeting was videotaped and footage showing him asking his wife not to make further comments on the case was also released online. Lee Ching-yu says he also made these remarks against his will.

Chinese human rights observers have characterized Lee's trial as a political show. Maya Wang, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, commented on Twitter:

The Chinese government’s trial of Lee Mingche is a classic performative trial, the judge, prosecutors and lawyers are just actors who have no judicial function. To this day, there has been no hard evidence that Lee’s speech and actions, which are all peaceful in nature, went beyond the right to free expression and assembly as protected by Article 35 of the mainland Chinese constitution.

Though Taiwanese people were prepared to see Lee being “forced to confess,” many still expressed sadness watching the confession video. Chang Tieh-chih, a human right activist in Taiwan, exclaimed on Facebook:

關於李明哲,不敢想像一個人是受到什麼樣的殘酷對待,才會說出與他信念相反的話。真是太令人難過。

About Lee Mingche, it is hard to imagine what kind of cruelty he has gone through that makes him says something that is opposite of his personal beliefs. This is so sad.

‘These are usual online activities that all Taiwanese are doing every day’

If the trial was, as some have claimed, a political show, what exactly was the message it was trying to get across? A September 12 editorial from People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, stressed that Lee's trial was a demonstration of China’s power in using law:

从11日公开的庭审现场看,中国的法治力量令人信服。任何想要借本案进行舆论发酵、抨击中国政治和法律制度,甚至意图借此案炒作达到自己目的的人,则已经被宣判了失败。
更不可否认的是,本案公开、透明的一审彰显了无论港澳台人士、大陆公民还是外国人,任何企图颠覆中华人民共和国国家政权的违法行为都将依法受到严惩,任何利用李明哲案进行政治操作以达到影响两岸关系的企图更是绝无可能。

Judging from the open trial on September 11, China’s power in using law is convincing. Any effort that attempts to criticize the Chinese political and legal system using this case, or to use the case to achieve personal gain, has failed.

What can’t be denied is that the openness and transparency of the trial shows that no matter if the person is mainland Chinese, or from Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan or other countries, any act that attempts to subvert the regime of the People's Republic of China will be punished. Using Lee Mingche’s case to manipulate cross-strait relations [between China and Taiwan] is doomed to fail.

Others think the case shows that using the rights of free expression to criticize the Chinese government, and the right to assembly is subversive to the state. As Hong Kong based human right activist Natalie Hui pointed out on Facebook:

中國在法庭上所舉出的「罪證」,發貼文四十條、組社交媒體QQ社群,這個台灣人每天都在作,如果這樣就叫「顛覆國家政權」,全台灣人每天上千萬則批評中國的貼文,中國應該早滅亡了才對。

The “evidence” presented to the Chinese court are 40 posts published online, using social media QQ to form e-groups. These are usual online activities that all Taiwanese are doing every day. If this is called “subverting state power,” there are tens of thousand posts criticizing China every day, the Chinese government should be overturned.

Instead of strength, Taiwan professor Chen Ming-fong believed that the trial betrayed China's weakness. Twitter user @BelleSu9 quoted him saying the following:

Professor Chen Mingfong from Taiwan National Chengchi University: China only looks strong on the surface. Its political system is very fragile. Such a conviction is to convict all Taiwanese as guilty. The open trial has drawn a line between China and Taiwan. We are all standing by Lee Mingche because we are all standing by democracy and human rights.

by Oiwan Lam at September 13, 2017 09:35 PM

Global Voices
Taiwanese Activist Was Forced to Confess on Camera to ‘Smearing the Chinese Government,’ Allies Say

Taiwanese activist Lee Mingche reads his confession in a mainland Chinese court. The videotape of the trial was released on various social media platforms. Screen capture from Miaopai.

After more than five months in detention, Taiwanese activist Lee Mingche pleaded guilty to writing articles that Chinese authorities say “subverted state power.”

The trial, held September 11 in a court in Yueyang city in China's southern Hunan province, was videotaped and streamed for the public on various social media platforms including Weibo, a popular service similar to Twitter.

In front of the camera, Lee read a statement that praised the mainland Chinese judicial system and said he was deeply regretful of what he had done. His wife and and human rights defenders say the confession was forced.

In the statement, Lee confessed to the “subversive act” of circulating and writing articles that “attacked and wickedly smeared the Chinese government” and “promoted Western-style multi-party democracy” on various social media platforms since September 2012.

The indictment also accused Lee and his co-defendant Peng Yuhua of incorporating a company called “Plum Blossom” in October 2012 and drawing up a plan to advocate for regime change in China. Peng, like Lee, pleaded guilty.

Lee went missing in southern China on March 19, 2017. Ten days later, Beijing confirmed his detention, saying that he was engaged in activities that were “harmful to national security”. In May, authorities said that Lee was being held in Hunan province under investigation for “subverting state power.” He will receive his sentence later this year.

‘This is just another drama staged by the Chinese government’

Lee’s wife Lee Chingyu has been advocating for her husband's release. Before she traveled to mainland China to attend the trial on September 9, she preempted the “forced confession” in an open statement:

此時此刻,我也要懇求國人,如果看到李明哲在非自由意志下,在法庭做出或說出某些難堪的言行,請國人體諒,那就是中國政府的拿手好戲「被認罪」而已。

At this moment, I urge all the Taiwanese, if you see Lee Mingche confess against his will in court, with shameful words and behaviors, please forgive him. This is just another drama staged by the Chinese government, it is called “forced confession.”

After attending the trial, Lee Ching-yu briefly met with her husband. The meeting was videotaped and footage showing him asking his wife not to make further comments on the case was also released online. Lee Ching-yu says he also made these remarks against his will.

Chinese human rights observers have characterized Lee's trial as a political show. Maya Wang, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, commented on Twitter:

The Chinese government’s trial of Lee Mingche is a classic performative trial, the judge, prosecutors and lawyers are just actors who have no judicial function. To this day, there has been no hard evidence that Lee’s speech and actions, which are all peaceful in nature, went beyond the right to free expression and assembly as protected by Article 35 of the mainland Chinese constitution.

Though Taiwanese people were prepared to see Lee being “forced to confess,” many still expressed sadness watching the confession video. Chang Tieh-chih, a human right activist in Taiwan, exclaimed on Facebook:

關於李明哲,不敢想像一個人是受到什麼樣的殘酷對待,才會說出與他信念相反的話。真是太令人難過。

About Lee Mingche, it is hard to imagine what kind of cruelty he has gone through that makes him says something that is opposite of his personal beliefs. This is so sad.

‘These are usual online activities that all Taiwanese are doing every day’

If the trial was, as some have claimed, a political show, what exactly was the message it was trying to get across? A September 12 editorial from People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, stressed that Lee's trial was a demonstration of China’s power in using law:

从11日公开的庭审现场看,中国的法治力量令人信服。任何想要借本案进行舆论发酵、抨击中国政治和法律制度,甚至意图借此案炒作达到自己目的的人,则已经被宣判了失败。
更不可否认的是,本案公开、透明的一审彰显了无论港澳台人士、大陆公民还是外国人,任何企图颠覆中华人民共和国国家政权的违法行为都将依法受到严惩,任何利用李明哲案进行政治操作以达到影响两岸关系的企图更是绝无可能。

Judging from the open trial on September 11, China’s power in using law is convincing. Any effort that attempts to criticize the Chinese political and legal system using this case, or to use the case to achieve personal gain, has failed.

What can’t be denied is that the openness and transparency of the trial shows that no matter if the person is mainland Chinese, or from Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan or other countries, any act that attempts to subvert the regime of the People's Republic of China will be punished. Using Lee Mingche’s case to manipulate cross-strait relations [between China and Taiwan] is doomed to fail.

Others think the case shows that using the right of free expression to criticize the Chinese government and the right to assembly is subversive to the state. As Hong Kong-based human right activist Natalie Hui pointed out on Facebook:

中國在法庭上所舉出的「罪證」,發貼文四十條、組社交媒體QQ社群,這個台灣人每天都在作,如果這樣就叫「顛覆國家政權」,全台灣人每天上千萬則批評中國的貼文,中國應該早滅亡了才對。

The “evidence” presented to the Chinese court are 40 posts published online, using social media QQ to form e-groups. These are usual online activities that all Taiwanese are doing every day. If this is called “subverting state power,” there are tens of thousand posts criticizing China every day, the Chinese government should be overturned.

Instead of strength, Taiwan professor Chen Ming-fong believed that the trial betrayed China's weakness. Twitter user @BelleSu9 quoted him saying the following:

Professor Chen Mingfong from Taiwan National Chengchi University: China only looks strong on the surface. Its political system is very fragile. Such a conviction is to convict all Taiwanese as guilty. The open trial has drawn a line between China and Taiwan. We are all standing by Lee Mingche because we are all standing by democracy and human rights.

by Oiwan Lam at September 13, 2017 09:32 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Journalist Faces Defamation Probe for Comparing Indonesia’s Treatment of West Papua with Myanmar's Rohingya

Cartoon in support of Dandhy Dwi Laksono, drawn by Iwan Sketsa/ @Sketsagram on Twitter and Instagram. Published with artist's permission.

Indonesian police in East Java are investigating a veteran journalist for comparing former President Megawati Sukarnoputri to Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi in a Facebook post.

On September 3, 2017, journalist and documentary filmmaker Dandhy Dwi Laksono wrote on Facebook that Megawati and Suu Kyi are alike in many ways, noting that both are former opposition leaders who now head the ruling parties in their respective countries. Dandhy added that if Myanmar’s government is being criticized for its treatment of ethnic Rohingya, the Indonesian government should similarly be held liable for suppressing the independence movement on the Indonesian island of West Papua.

He further compared Suu Kyi’s silence on the persecution of the Rohingya to Megawati’s role as party leader of the government, which has recently intensified the crackdown on West Papuan independence activists.

Rohingya people born and living in Myanmar are not recognized as citizens by the Myanmar government. In recent weeks, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya civilians have been displaced from their homes due to clearing operations of the Myanmar military in response to attacks by a pro-Rohingya insurgent group in northwest Myanmar. Tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees, who are mostly Muslim, are crossing into Bangladesh to escape the fighting.

West Papua is a province of Indonesia with a vocal independence movement that has called for the creation of a separate state since the 1960s. Human rights groups have documented many cases of abuse committed by Indonesian state forces against activists, journalists, and other individuals suspected of supporting the independence movement.

Dandhy posted his comments on Facebook following a big rally was organized by Muslim groups in Indonesia, condemning the Myanmar government for its treatment of Rohingya refugees.

The youth arm of the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) filed a defamation complaint against Dandhy on September 6:

On the whole, (Dandhy’s) opinion was clearly intended to take advantage of the Rohingya incidents in Myanmar in order to insult and spread hatred of Megawati Soekarnoputri as the chairwoman of PDI-P and Joko Widodo as the president who is backed by PDI-P.

He is now under investigation by the police cyber crime unit. If he is prosecuted for and convicted of defamation, Dandhy could face up to four years in prison.

Reacting to the complaint, Dandhy wrote that it is a minor issue compared to the injustices suffered by Papuan activists and Rohingya refugees.

The complaint is the latest case of how the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law is being used to silence dissent in the country.

According to Indonesian digital rights group SAFEnet, at least 35 activists have been charged with online defamation since its enactment in 2008. Aside from Dandhy's case, the group has documented six defamation charges involving activists and journalists in 2017.

Activists were quick to launch a campaign expressing support to Dandhy. They asserted that Dandhy was simply expressing an opinion which should be considered legitimate criticism and not a criminal act.

SAFEnet is encouraging Indonesian netizens to submit reports and testimonies about how the ITE Law is being abused to silence activists like Dandhy and suppress online free speech in general.

Instead of preventing the public from commenting on Megawati, a local investigative portal suggested that Dandhy's case could in fact trigger greater interest in the former president's legacy as a leader, including some of the issues that led to her defeat in the polls.

Activists showing their support for Dandhy Dwi Laksono. Photo from SAFEnet

The hashtag #KamiBersamaDandhy (We Stand with Dandhy) was used on various social media platforms to call for support for the veteran journalist.

Kami bersamamu mas @Dandhy_laksono #kamibersamadandhy

A post shared by Gendo Suardana (@gendovara) on

#kamibersamadandhy

A post shared by Beni Fuad Ismail (@benifuadi) on

by Mong Palatino at September 13, 2017 09:08 PM

Global Voices
Journalist Faces Defamation Probe for Comparing Indonesia’s Treatment of West Papua with Myanmar's Rohingya

Cartoon in support of Dandhy Dwi Laksono, drawn by Iwan Sketsa/ @Sketsagram on Twitter and Instagram. Published with artist's permission.

Indonesian police in East Java are investigating a veteran journalist for comparing former President Megawati Sukarnoputri to Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi in a Facebook post.

On September 3, 2017, journalist and documentary filmmaker Dandhy Dwi Laksono wrote on Facebook that Megawati and Suu Kyi are alike in many ways, noting that both are former opposition leaders who now head the ruling parties in their respective countries. Dandhy added that if Myanmar’s government is being criticized for its treatment of ethnic Rohingya, the Indonesian government should similarly be held liable for suppressing the independence movement on the Indonesian island of West Papua.

He further compared Suu Kyi’s silence on the persecution of the Rohingya to Megawati’s role as party leader of the government, which has recently intensified the crackdown on West Papuan independence activists.

Rohingya people born and living in Myanmar are not recognized as citizens by the Myanmar government. In recent weeks, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya civilians have been displaced from their homes due to clearing operations of the Myanmar military in response to attacks by a pro-Rohingya insurgent group in northwest Myanmar. Tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees, who are mostly Muslim, are crossing into Bangladesh to escape the fighting.

West Papua is a province of Indonesia with a vocal independence movement that has called for the creation of a separate state since the 1960s. Human rights groups have documented many cases of abuse committed by Indonesian state forces against activists, journalists, and other individuals suspected of supporting the independence movement.

Dandhy posted his comments on Facebook following a big rally was organized by Muslim groups in Indonesia, condemning the Myanmar government for its treatment of Rohingya refugees.

The youth arm of the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) filed a defamation complaint against Dandhy on September 6:

On the whole, (Dandhy’s) opinion was clearly intended to take advantage of the Rohingya incidents in Myanmar in order to insult and spread hatred of Megawati Soekarnoputri as the chairwoman of PDI-P and Joko Widodo as the president who is backed by PDI-P.

He is now under investigation by the police cyber crime unit. If he is prosecuted for and convicted of defamation, Dandhy could face up to four years in prison.

Reacting to the complaint, Dandhy wrote that it is a minor issue compared to the injustices suffered by Papuan activists and Rohingya refugees.

The complaint is the latest case of how the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law is being used to silence dissent in the country.

According to Indonesian digital rights group SAFEnet, at least 35 activists have been charged with online defamation since its enactment in 2008. Aside from Dandhy's case, the group has documented six defamation charges involving activists and journalists in 2017.

Activists were quick to launch a campaign expressing support to Dandhy. They asserted that Dandhy was simply expressing an opinion which should be considered legitimate criticism and not a criminal act.

SAFEnet is encouraging Indonesian netizens to submit reports and testimonies about how the ITE Law is being abused to silence activists like Dandhy and suppress online free speech in general.

Instead of preventing the public from commenting on Megawati, a local investigative portal suggested that Dandhy's case could in fact trigger greater interest in the former president's legacy as a leader, including some of the issues that led to her defeat in the polls.

Activists showing their support for Dandhy Dwi Laksono. Photo from SAFEnet

The hashtag #KamiBersamaDandhy (We Stand with Dandhy) was used on various social media platforms to call for support for the veteran journalist.

Kami bersamamu mas @Dandhy_laksono #kamibersamadandhy

A post shared by Gendo Suardana (@gendovara) on

#kamibersamadandhy

A post shared by Beni Fuad Ismail (@benifuadi) on

by Mong Palatino at September 13, 2017 08:59 PM

Automatic Speech Recognition Project Seeks to Revitalize the Quechua Languages

Screen capture from a YouTube video, published by engineer Luis Camacho Caballero.

Kuélap isn't just an important Peruvian pre-Inca archaeological site of the Chachapoya culture located Amazonas region. It is also the name of a recollection tool for the project QuechuaASR that aims to create an automatic speech recognition system, or ASR, for the Quechua language.

The Quechua language is a whole family of languages spoken by indigenous populations living mainly in the South American Andes, and it has been considered in danger by organizations like UNESCO. The actual number of speakers is difficult to calculate, and the wide domination of Spanish in the region, specially in formal education make it difficult for Quechua speakers to develop their language. The different ways in which the indigenous populations suffer from discrimination are among the most important causes of vulnerability. Some parents avoid teaching Quechua to their children to ensure they can integrate into society, and others who speak it can lose it when they migrate to big urban areas. As recounted by Lorenzo Colque Arias, president of the Academy of Quechua Language in Arequipa:

El habitante arequipeño es muy agresivo cuando escucha a una persona hablar en quechua, lo margina, lo discrimina, y lo peor de todo es que esa misma persona sabe hablar y entiende perfectamente el idioma, es un migrante ya radicado en la ciudad y ahora ya discrimina.

The inhabitants of Arequipa become very aggressive when they hear someone speaking Quechua. They marginalize or discriminate against [those speaking Quechua]. The worst part is that those same people [who reject Quechua speakers] speak and understand the language perfectly. They're migrants residing in the city, and they're now the ones who discriminate.

Luis Camacho is the electronic engineer behind this project. It was driven by his sense of urgency in preventing certain indigenous languages from disappearing entirely before the end of this century. He expressed this on his Facebook page, called Atuq Kamachikuq (“atuq” means fox in Quechua):

Voy detrás de mi mayor sueño: la portabilidad computacional de todas las lenguas andino amazónicas.

I am following my biggest dream: the computational portability of all the Andean Amazonian languages.

In a 2015 post on the same social network, Luis Camacho asked Quechua speakers to participate in recording at least a hundred thousand words, all spoken by at least one hundred people. Moreover, the hundred people in question had to be native Quechua speakers, rather than people who had learned Quechua as a second language.

To achieve this, there was an open call for volunteers who are native speakers of Quechua, regardless of where they live. The first course of action is for volunteers to read the texts compiled.

Secondly, the volunteers are responsible for transcribing the audio. Finally, the focus groups convene with a group of people to talk about different topics of everyday life, and with that they record the audio which will later be transcribed.

The content of the recordings is not the main subject of the research. The central point will be compiling the lexicon as a sort of dictionary of voices. The research seeks to record the existing lexicon of indigenous languages and build a database that can be implemented in the development of computer tools.

Global Voices spoke briefly with Luis Camacho about his project’s progress.

GV: What's the status of the project so far?

Luis Camacho (LC): Ya hemos reunido 100 horas de corpus de voz y texto alineados a nivel de frases. Esto lo hemos conseguido gracias a donaciones de audio de empresas de radio difusión del sur del Perú y también gracias a la contribución de más de 1000 voluntarios.

Luis Camacho (LC): We have already compiled 100 hours of voice [recordings] and [transcribed] text aligned at the sentence level. We've done this thanks to audio donations from radio broadcasting companies in southern Peru and also thanks to the contributions of more than 1000 volunteers.

GV: What is the ultimate goal of the project?

LC: El traductor automático es la meta final. Actualmente, estamos trabajando en la primera etapa, que es el conversor de voz a texto. Estamos comprometidos a lanzar esto a comienzos de 2018 un par de videos.

LC: The automatic translator is the ultimate goal. We are currently working on the first stage, which is the voice-to-text converter. We are committed to launching a couple of videos in early 2018.

GV: What plans do you have after this?

LC: Continuar hasta terminar el traductor. También espero este año con la recopilación de corpus de otros idiomas, aymara y ashaninka en primer lugar. Entre mis planes a largo plazo están realizar portabilidad computacional completa de la mayor parte de nuestros idiomas e incluso de algunos otros idiomas sudamericanos. Para eso se necesita financiación, y estoy en búsqueda permanente de fondos.

LC: To keep going until the translator is finished. I also hope to start building a compilation of other languages, firstly Aymara and Ashaninka. My long-term plans include full computational portability of most of our languages and even some other South American languages. Funding is needed for that, and I am constantly seeking funds.

As if all of that weren't enough, Camacho has also proposed to develop an automatic translator of Quechua/Aymara to Spanish, English and Chinese, and vice versa. In this Spanish-language video, he explains how the Quechua audio transcription tool works.

To be part of the project, you can e-mail engineer Luis Camacho at qichwa@pucp.pe.

by Melissa Wise at September 13, 2017 08:05 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
China Makes Chat Group Administrators — i.e. Regular Users — Criminally Liable for Unlawful Messages
The Great Firewall of China. Image from Digital Trends.

The Great Firewall of China. Image from Digital Trends.

New regulations in China will make chat group administrators responsible — and even criminally liable — for messages containing politically sensitive material, rumors and violent or pornographic content.

The regulations also demand that all chat room users in mainland China verify their real identity.

Introduced by the Cyberspace Administration of China on 7 September, the “Regulation on the Management of Internet Chat Group Service” represents a bold policy shift by extending the work of regulating online content beyond government workers and companies to the users themselves. Indeed, chat group administrators are merely users of chat services like WhatsApp, WeChat and QQ who create and manage groups that might chat about anything from childcare to the Communist Party congress.

From 8 October onward, chat group administrators will become a key human resource in China's internet control infrastructure.

Dovetailing with China's new regulation on the management of online comments, the news rules will also force chat service companies (such as WeChat and QQ) to punish users who have not verified their identities or who have violated other terms of use, such as posting scams, rumors or politically sensitive material. Users who violate these rules will have certain account privileges suspended, and have their social credit scores lowered.

The regulations also require that the companies record, monitor and retain users’ chat records for at least six months and notify authorities whenever they spot abusive use of group chats.

The initial regulation, issued by the Cyberspace Administration, stressed that group administrators should be responsible for the contents posted on the chat group. But it did not specify what exactly these responsibilities would be. The Public Security Bureau soon after stepped in, presenting nine types of content that should not be posted on chat groups:

Regulation on the Management of Internet Chat Group Service: Prohibited Content 
Effective 8 October, the following types of content will be prohibited in chat groups on China-based messaging platforms:

1. Sensitive political content
2. Rumors
3. Internal documents [of the Chinese Communist Party and government units]
4. Content that is vulgar, pornographic, violent or shows drug-related criminal acts
5. News from Hong Kong and Macau that has not been reported by official media outlets
6. Military information
7. State secrets
8. Videos from anonymous sources that insult or destroy police’s reputation
9. Other illegal information

Chat group administrators who fail to remove prohibited content from chats can face criminal charges or administrative detention.

In addition to the list, the Public Security Bureau also presented a number of past cases, cited below, in which chat group administrators were punished through criminal prosecution or “political consequences.”

Case one: Insulting police officers

A man from Jieshou county of Anhui province was frustrated by traffic police, who had established a late night checkpoint for drunk driving. In a chat room that he created, he wrote: “Are they nuts? Checking in the rain? [They are] a bunch of assholes who just want money.” As the insulting comments created negative social impact within his circle, the man was detained for five days for picking a quarrel.

Case two: Online petition

On 27 June 2016, several party members from Qianjiang city in Hubei province violated the law by illegally using a WeChat group to circulate a petition against a construction plan for a pesticide factory. The incident led to a public rally and obstructed public order. Recently, nine members of the chat group received party discipline, five received discipline warnings and 40 had to be re-educated. The administrator of the group received a discipline warning as he did not stop the petition and channelled the opinions in the chat group.

Case three: Indecent and obscene articles

A young person in Shenyang city created a 100+ member chat group. One of the members in the group kept sending out messages about a “big hit movie” and asked other group members to pay for access to [what turned out to be] a pornographic video. As the group administrator did not stop the member from selling the videos in the group, the police arrested him under the charge of “distributing obscene material.”

Case four: Gambling activities

A man from Fuxin prefecture of Liaoning province abused the “red envelope” function [a way to send money, as a gift] in several chat groups for gambling purposes between June to August 2015. The court sentenced the man to 2.5 years with a three-year suspension and a fine of RMB 50,000 yuan [approximately USD $8,000].

It is not clear whether these users’ activities were observed by chat service companies, chat group administrators, or some combination of the two.

Following the introduction of China's regulation on “rumors” in 2013, many netizens migrated from open social media platforms (such as Sina Weibo, similar to Twitter) to chat services for sharing information, because these tools allowed them to create closed groups and have semi-private conversations.

But in recent years, multiple netizens have been arrested due to the political nature of their comments on private chat groups. These new regulations seem to codify the practices behind these arrests and suggest that censorship over chat group messages will soon be much more robust.

On Weibo, netizens are anticipating how the new regulation might affect group chats that use dark humor:

你好,我想发个红包、加下群…..请填写下申请表格,分管领导签字上级部门盖章

Hi, I want to give a red envelope in my group…. pls fill up a form and ask your leader to sign the approval.

以后餐厅都要改成独立餐桌儿,汽车改成一个座儿的,陌生人认识先登记,从此天下太平

In the future, all resturants should redesign their tables for just one person and vehicles should only have one seat. You should pre-register before you meet a new friend. Then there will be peace on earth.

以后每个群都有地下党

In the future, every chat room who have a undercover CCP member stationed.

强烈支持党和国家出台的新政!群员违法,群主追责!并希望早日推广为村民违法,村长追责,县民违法,县长追责,市民违法,市长追责。依次类推,违法犯罪就能尽快消灭,共产主义就一定会在我们这一代人实现。

Support the party and new government regulations! Group administrators are responsible for group members’ illegal behavior! I hope very soon that village heads will be responsible for villagers’ illegal behavior, that county heads will be responsible for county residents’ illegal behavior, and that city heads will be responsible for citizens’ illegal behavior… all crimes would then vanish and we can fulfill the dream of communism in our generation.

要不直接断网吧 回到石器时代

Why not just cut the internet cable and return to the stone age?

The new regulations will go into force on 8 October.

by Oiwan Lam at September 13, 2017 03:15 PM

Global Voices
China Makes Chat Group Administrators — i.e. Regular Users — Criminally Liable for Unlawful Messages
The Great Firewall of China. Image from Digital Trends.

The Great Firewall of China. Image from Digital Trends.

New regulations in China will make chat group administrators responsible — and even criminally liable — for messages containing politically sensitive material, rumors and violent or pornographic content.

The regulations also demand that all chat room users in mainland China verify their real identity.

Introduced by the Cyberspace Administration of China on 7 September, the “Regulation on the Management of Internet Chat Group Service” represents a bold policy shift by extending the work of regulating online content beyond government workers and companies to the users themselves. Indeed, chat group administrators are merely users of chat services like WhatsApp, WeChat and QQ who create and manage groups that might chat about anything from childcare to the Communist Party congress.

From 8 October onward, chat group administrators will become a key human resource in China's internet control infrastructure.

Dovetailing with China's new regulation on the management of online comments, the news rules will also force chat service companies (such as WeChat and QQ) to punish users who have not verified their identities or who have violated other terms of use, such as posting scams, rumors or politically sensitive material. Users who violate these rules will have certain account privileges suspended, and have their social credit scores lowered.

The regulations also require that the companies record, monitor and retain users’ chat records for at least six months and notify authorities whenever they spot abusive use of group chats.

The initial regulation, issued by the Cyberspace Administration, stressed that group administrators should be responsible for the contents posted on the chat group. But it did not specify what exactly these responsibilities would be. The Public Security Bureau soon after stepped in, presenting nine types of content that should not be posted on chat groups:

Regulation on the Management of Internet Chat Group Service: Prohibited Content 
Effective 8 October, the following types of content will be prohibited in chat groups on China-based messaging platforms:

1. Sensitive political content
2. Rumors
3. Internal documents [of the Chinese Communist Party and government units]
4. Content that is vulgar, pornographic, violent or shows drug-related criminal acts
5. News from Hong Kong and Macau that has not been reported by official media outlets
6. Military information
7. State secrets
8. Videos from anonymous sources that insult or destroy police’s reputation
9. Other illegal information

Chat group administrators who fail to remove prohibited content from chats can face criminal charges or administrative detention.

In addition to the list, the Public Security Bureau also presented a number of past cases, cited below, in which chat group administrators were punished through criminal prosecution or “political consequences.”

Case one: Insulting police officers

A man from Jieshou county of Anhui province was frustrated by traffic police, who had established a late night checkpoint for drunk driving. In a chat room that he created, he wrote: “Are they nuts? Checking in the rain? [They are] a bunch of assholes who just want money.” As the insulting comments created negative social impact within his circle, the man was detained for five days for picking a quarrel.

Case two: Online petition

On 27 June 2016, several party members from Qianjiang city in Hubei province violated the law by illegally using a WeChat group to circulate a petition against a construction plan for a pesticide factory. The incident led to a public rally and obstructed public order. Recently, nine members of the chat group received party discipline, five received discipline warnings and 40 had to be re-educated. The administrator of the group received a discipline warning as he did not stop the petition and channelled the opinions in the chat group.

Case three: Indecent and obscene articles

A young person in Shenyang city created a 100+ member chat group. One of the members in the group kept sending out messages about a “big hit movie” and asked other group members to pay for access to [what turned out to be] a pornographic video. As the group administrator did not stop the member from selling the videos in the group, the police arrested him under the charge of “distributing obscene material.”

Case four: Gambling activities

A man from Fuxin prefecture of Liaoning province abused the “red envelope” function [a way to send money, as a gift] in several chat groups for gambling purposes between June to August 2015. The court sentenced the man to 2.5 years with a three-year suspension and a fine of RMB 50,000 yuan [approximately USD $8,000].

It is not clear whether these users’ activities were observed by chat service companies, chat group administrators, or some combination of the two.

Following the introduction of China's regulation on “rumors” in 2013, many netizens migrated from open social media platforms (such as Sina Weibo, similar to Twitter) to chat services for sharing information, because these tools allowed them to create closed groups and have semi-private conversations.

But in recent years, multiple netizens have been arrested due to the political nature of their comments on private chat groups. These new regulations seem to codify the practices behind these arrests and suggest that censorship over chat group messages will soon be much more robust.

On Weibo, netizens are anticipating how the new regulation might affect group chats that use dark humor:

你好,我想发个红包、加下群…..请填写下申请表格,分管领导签字上级部门盖章

Hi, I want to give a red envelope in my group…. pls fill up a form and ask your leader to sign the approval.

以后餐厅都要改成独立餐桌儿,汽车改成一个座儿的,陌生人认识先登记,从此天下太平

In the future, all resturants should redesign their tables for just one person and vehicles should only have one seat. You should pre-register before you meet a new friend. Then there will be peace on earth.

以后每个群都有地下党

In the future, every chat room who have a undercover CCP member stationed.

强烈支持党和国家出台的新政!群员违法,群主追责!并希望早日推广为村民违法,村长追责,县民违法,县长追责,市民违法,市长追责。依次类推,违法犯罪就能尽快消灭,共产主义就一定会在我们这一代人实现。

Support the party and new government regulations! Group administrators are responsible for group members’ illegal behavior! I hope very soon that village heads will be responsible for villagers’ illegal behavior, that county heads will be responsible for county residents’ illegal behavior, and that city heads will be responsible for citizens’ illegal behavior… all crimes would then vanish and we can fulfill the dream of communism in our generation.

要不直接断网吧 回到石器时代

Why not just cut the internet cable and return to the stone age?

The new regulations will go into force on 8 October.

by Oiwan Lam at September 13, 2017 03:12 PM

Joi Ito
Dealing with email and my partial attention problem during meetings

Texting

I currently have to deal with five hours or so of email a day and each day is packed with meetings, many as short as 15 minutes and 1 hour meetings being booked only in extraordinary circumstances. I have a list of 100 or so names of people that I've promised to meet, many who are very angry because we haven't been able to even book a meeting on my calendar.

I aggressively turn down all kinds of request and am aggressively resigning from boards and other obligations, but each day, I receive a steady flow of meeting requests that I just can't turn down.

I've chosen this path and I'm not complaining about the fact that I'm busy.

My concern at the moment is that the urgency and the rate of inbound email requires that in addition to the 2-3 hours of email in the morning and the 2-3 hours of email in the evening, I must diligently triage email during the day. Right now, depending on how much of my attention is required in a meeting, I keep an eye on my email and direct partial attention to my device and not my meeting. As someone who (ironically) co-teaches a class on awareness, I realize that this is both rude and a very poor way to have an effective meeting. People who know me well have gotten used to it, but for many people, it's disconcerting and disappointing.

I've thought about what I can do about this. The obvious answer is to try to check email between meetings, but that would mean that I would have to reduce the number of meetings since my meetings are so short. I could also ignore more of my email. I'm already unable to respond to many important email requests and reducing my responsiveness in email would also cause harm. At some level this is just a matter of being completely overcommitted, and I am doing my best to try to deal with that, but I was wondering if there might be some clever way to deal with the "partial attention during meetings" problem.

One idea that I had was to schedule several hours of email time during the day interspersed with "no devices / full attention" meeting times. When someone signed up for a meeting, we would ask if they needed full attention and if so, they would end up in the "full attention slot" queue or get booked a month or so out when my next "full attention slot" was available. On the other hand, if all they wanted was for me to be available to provide opinions or make decisions as part of a broader meeting or if the person didn't mind my partial attention during meetings, we could book the meeting in a "partial attention" slot which could be scheduled sooner. I would use un-booked partial attention slots to catch up on email if no one wanted such a slot.

This feels a bit too clever by half and maybe difficult to communicate to a person not familiar with my problem.

The other idea that I had was just to ask at the beginning of a meeting, "do you want this to be a laptops closed meeting or do you mind if I keep my eye on urgent email and triage?" I'm not sure if everyone would ask for my full attention or if I'd have a selection bias where only people confident enough would ask for my full attention and that those people who really needed my attention but were too polite would end up with my partial attention.

Lastly, I could just be a bit more mindful in the meetings and try to read the room better. I am generally pretty good at figuring out when the meeting requires my full attention, but as anyone who has seen someone trying to do this knows, one probably thinks they are doing this better than they actually are and in any case, it appears disrespectful to anyone who isn't used to people in this mode.

Any suggestions? Any thoughts on my crazy ideas? I know many of you will say, "You're just overcommitted. Just say 'no' to more stuff." OK. I will and I am, but I think I will still have some variant of this problem even if I'm just replying to earnest questions from students that I think deserve some sort of response.

--
Update: I've decided to take Ray Ozzie and other people's advice and focus on clearing my inbox and getting things off my plate and not multitask during meetings. I'm now using Trello somewhat effectively with small team to help me with my triage and followup. It's mostly working, but I'm trying not to do email during meetings - unless I have some sort of emergency going on.

by Joi at September 13, 2017 12:35 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
09/13/2017: How has the iPhone changed the way we do business?
The iPhone debuted in 2007, and this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced three new ones: iPhone 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X. Smartphones have changed how we watch TV, bank and communicate. Almost every industry has been impacted by this technology. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood looks at the companies that won and lost the mobile revolution.

by Marketplace at September 13, 2017 10:50 AM

Global Voices
Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan: Once Deadly Foes, Now BFF?

Mirziyoyev and Atambayev in Bishkek. Photo from the website of the Kyrgyz President, creative commons.

It wasn't just about the first ladies and their matching shoes, although that didn't go unnoticed; Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev's visit to Kyrgyzstan last week marked a sea change in relations between two Central Asian countries that up until recently, lived in the long shadow cast by his uncompromising predecessor.

Islam Karimov, who ruled Uzbekistan from before independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 until his death last year, had few nice things to say about Kyrgyzstan.

Locked in seemingly perennial struggles over land and water, Karimov once talked up a war with both Kyrgyzstan and neighbouring Tajikistan over the impoverished pair's plans to build giant hydroelectric dams upstream from Uzbekistan.

A meeting of ex-Soviet heads of state in 2015 in Moscow during which Karimov rebuked Atambayev in humiliating fashion following a perceived slight — even poker-faced Russian President Vladimir Putin can be seen wincing at the awkwardness of the situation — offers a taste of the bad old days of bilateral relations.

At one point during Karimov's tirade, Atambayev protests, “I was only expressing an opinion”, to which the septuagenarian dictator responds in schoolmasterly fashion:

Very pleasant. We have known your opinion for a long time.

One video of the exchange titled Karimov Atambayev Fight has over 1.3 million views and features heated arguments among Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in the comments section. Relations between leaders can set the tone for relations between peoples.

A new frontier

That is why the visit to the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek of Mirziyoyev, Karimov's former Prime Minister of more than a decade, was so significant.

Central Asia-focussed website EurasiaNet.org reported two key results of the September 5 meeting:

Mirziyoyev’s visit to Bishkek resulted in an agreement to delineate 85 percent of the two nations’ shared 1,170-kilometer border. The border issue had long been an irritant in relations.

But Mirziyoyev dangled the prospect of something potentially even more momentous when he spoke about Uzbekistan’s potential involvement in Kyrgyz hydropower projects. The late Uzbek leader Islam Karimov had steadfastly opposed such plans on the grounds that they could disrupt Tashkent’s economically important agricultural sector, especially the cotton crop.

On Twitter, Kyrgyz citizens hailed the first bilateral meeting between leaders of the two countries since 2000. Kyrgyzstan has had four presidents during that period, two of them overthrown in street protests.

The sensation is in the goodwill of the Uzbek leader. Mirziyoyev is so open, friendly, and well-wishing that it can only bring us delight!

Mirziyoyev: There were many issues between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan that should have been solved, but weren't solved in the way they ought to have been.

The following day, the two countries reopened a crossing of their shared border that had been closed since political turmoil enveloped Kyrgyzstan in 2010. The opening was attended by thousands of local residents on either side of the frontier.

Who's that lady?

One lasting image from the bilateral visit was the sight of Kyrgyz first lady Raisa Atambayeva and Uzbek counterpart Ziroatkhon Hoshimova walking hand in hand after the Uzbek delegation touched down, apparently wearing matching shoes.

Kyrgyz social media was bowled over by the stylishness of the Uzbek first lady, who one online outlet sent up using the title of a 1990s pop song popular in karaoke restaurants across the former USSR: Ah What a Woman!

Hoshimova walks on Atambayeva's left hand side in the footage below.

Uzbekistan is still a fairly brutal dictatorship by global standards, even if there have been some signs of a so-called ‘thaw’ in the country's domestic politics.

The advantage of this from the perspective of Kyrgyzstan is that Mirziyoyev, who has made regional relations his foreign policy priority, is likely to be in power for as long as he lives.

That is also good news for Tajikistan, which has yet to receive Mirziyoyev over a year after he came to power, but is also hopeful that better relations are in the pipeline.

by Akhal-Tech Collective at September 13, 2017 02:27 AM

Rising Voices
Getting Started Localizing and Translating the Wikipedia Interface

Screenshot from Wikipedia Punjabi

This post by Amir Aharoni is republished from r12n with permission and a longer version of this article available as Public Domain originally appeared on Aharoni in Unicode, ya mama.

Wikipedia is a website.

A website has content — the articles; and it has a user interface — the menus around the articles and the various screens that let editors edit the articles and communicate with each other.

Wikipedia is massively multilingual, so both the content and the user interface must be translated.

The easiest way to translate Wikipedia articles is to use Content Translation, and that’s a topic for another post. This post is about getting all of the user interface translated to your language, as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The translation of the software behind Wikipedia is done on a website called translatewiki.net. The most important piece of software that powers Wikipedia and its sister projects is called MediaWiki. As of today, there are 3,865 messages to translate in MediaWiki, and the number grows frequently. “Messages” in the MediaWiki jargon are the text that is shown in the user interface, and that can be translated. Wikipedia also has dozens of MediaWiki extensions installed, some of them very important — extensions for displaying citations and mathematical formulas, uploading files, receiving notifications, mobile browsing, different editing environments, etc. There are around 4,700 messages to translate in the main extensions, and over 25,000 messages to translate if you want to have all the extensions translated. There are also the Wikipedia mobile apps and additional tools for making automated edits (bots) and monitoring vandalism, with several hundreds of messages each.

Translating all of it probably sounds like an enormous job, and yes, it takes time, but it’s doable.

In February 2011 or so — sorry, I don’t remember the exact date — I completed the translation into Hebrew of all of the messages that are needed for Wikipedia and projects related to it. All. The total, complete, no-excuses, premium Wikipedia experience, in Hebrew. I wasn’t the only one who did this, of course. There were plenty of other people who did this before I joined the effort, and plenty of others who helped along the way: Rotem Dan, Ofra Hod, Yaron Shahrabani, Rotem Liss, Or Shapiro, Shani Evenshtein, Inkbug (whose real name I don’t know), and many others. But back then in 2011 it was I who made a conscious effort to get to 100%. It took me quite a few weeks, but I made it.

The software that powers Wikipedia changes every single day. So the day after the translations statistics got to 100%, they went down to 99%, because new messages to translate were added. But there were just a few of them, and it took me a few minutes to translate them and get back to 100%.

I’ve been doing this almost every day since then, keeping Hebrew at 100%. Sometimes it slips because I am traveling or I am ill. It slipped for quite a few months because in late 2014 I became a father and didn’t have any time to dedicate to translation, and a lot of new messages happened to be added at the same time, but Hebrew is back at 100% now. And I keep doing this.

With the sincere hope that this will be useful for translating the software behind Wikipedia to your language, let me tell you how I do it.

Preparation

First, let’s do some work to set you up.

  • Get a translatewiki.net user account if you haven’t already.
  • Make sure you know your language code (a 2 or 3 letter standard abbreviation).
  • Go to your preferences, to the Editing tab, and add languages that you know to Assistant languages. For example, if you speak one of the native languages of South America like Aymara (ay) or Quechua (qu), then you probably also know Spanish (es) or Portuguese (pt), and if you speak one of the languages of the former Soviet Union like Tatar (tt) or Azerbaijani (az), then you probably also know Russian (ru). When available, translations to these languages will be shown in addition to English.
  • Familiarize yourself with the Support page and with the general localization guidelines for MediaWiki.
  • Add yourself to the portal for your language. The page name is Portal:Xyz, where Xyz is your language code.

Screenshot of the translatewiki.net Translation Tool interface.

Priorities

The translatewiki.net website hosts many projects to translate beyond stuff related to Wikipedia. It hosts such respectable Free Software projects as OpenStreetMap, Etherpad, MathJax, Blockly, and others. Also, not all the MediaWiki extensions are used on Wikimedia projects; there are plenty of extensions, with thousands of translatable messages, that are not used by Wikimedia, but only on other sites, but they use translatewiki.net as the platform for translation of their user interface.

It would be nice to translate all of it, but because I don’t have time for that, I have to prioritize. On my translatewiki.net user page I have a list of direct links to the translation interface of the projects that are the most important.

I usually don’t work on translating other projects unless all of the above projects are 100% translated to Hebrew. I occasionally make an exception for OpenStreetMap or Etherpad, but only if there’s little to translate there and the untranslated MediaWiki-related projects are not very important.

Start from MediaWiki most important messages. If your language is not at 100% in this list, it absolutely must be. This list is automatically created periodically by counting which 500 or so messages are actually shown most frequently to Wikipedia users. This list includes messages from MediaWiki core and a bunch of extensions, so when you’re done with it, you’ll see that the statistics for several groups improved by themselves.

Next, if the translation of MediaWiki core to your language is not yet at 13%, get it there. Why 13%? Because that’s the threshold for exporting your language to the source code. This is essential for making it possible to use your language in your Wikipedia (or Incubator). It will be quite easy to find short and simple messages to translate (of course, you still have to do it carefully and correctly).

Getting Things Done, One by One

Once you have the most important MediaWiki messages 100% and at least 13% of MediaWiki core is translated to your language, where do you go next?

I have surprising advice.

You need to get everything to 100% eventually. There are several ways to get there. Your mileage may vary, but I’m going to suggest the way that worked for me: Complete the easiest piece that will get your language closer to 100%! For me this is an easy way to strike an item off my list and feel that I accomplished something.
But still, there are so many items at which you could start looking! So here’s my selection of components that are more user-visible and less technical, sorted not by importance, but by the number of messages to translate:

  • Cite: the extension that displays footnotes on Wikipedia
  • Babel: the extension that displays boxes on userpages with information about the languages that the user knows
  • Math: the extension that displays math formulas in articles
  • Thanks: the extension for sending “thank you” messages to other editors
  • Universal Language Selector: the extension that lets people select the language they need from a long list of languages (disclaimer: I am one of its developers)
  • jquery.uls: an internal component of Universal Language Selector that has to be translated separately for technical reasons
  • Wikibase Client: the part of Wikidata that appears on Wikipedia, mostly for handling interlanguage links
  • VisualEditor: the extension that allows Wikipedia articles to be edited in a WYSIWYG style
  • ProofreadPage: the extension that makes it easy to digitize PDF and DjVu files on Wikisource
  • Wikibase Lib: additional messages for Wikidata
  • Echo: the extension that shows notifications about messages and events (the red numbers at the top of Wikipedia)
  • MobileFrontend: the extension that adapts MediaWiki to mobile phones
  • WikiEditor: the toolbar for the classic wiki syntax editor
  • ContentTranslation extension that helps translate articles between languages (disclaimer: I am one of its developers)
  • Wikipedia Android mobile app
  • Wikipedia iOS mobile app
  • UploadWizard: the extension that helps people upload files to Wikimedia Commons comfortably
  • Flow: the extension that is starting to make talk pages more comfortable to use
  • Wikibase Repo: the extension that powers the Wikidata website
  • Translate: the extension that powers translatewiki.net itself (disclaimer: I am one of its developers)
  • MediaWiki core: the base MediaWiki software itself!

I put MediaWiki core last intentionally. It’s a very large message group, with over 3000 messages. It’s hard to get it completed quickly, and to be honest, some of its features are not seen very frequently by users who aren’t site administrators or very advanced editors. By all means, do complete it, try to do it as early as possible, and get your friends to help you, but it’s OK if it takes some time.

Getting All Things Done

OK, so if you translate all the items above, you’ll make Wikipedia in your language mostly usable for most readers and editors.

But let’s go further.

Let’s go further not just for the sake of seeing pure 100% in the statistics everywhere. There’s more.

As I wrote above, the software changes every single day. So do the translatable messages. You need to get your language to 100% not just once; you need to keep doing it continuously.

Once you make the effort of getting to 100%, it will be much easier to keep it there. This means translating some things that are used rarely (but used nevertheless; otherwise they’d be removed). This means investing a few more days or weeks into translating-translating-translating.

Here’s the trick: Don’t congratulate yourself only upon the big accomplishment of getting everything to 100%, but also upon each accomplishment along the way.

One strategy to accomplish this is translating extension by extension. This means, going to your translatewiki.net language statistics: here’s an example with Albanian, but choose your own language. Click “expand” on MediaWiki, then again “expand” on “MediaWiki Extensions”, then on “Extensions used by Wikimedia” and finally, on “Extensions used by Wikimedia — Main”. Similarly to what I described above, find the smaller extensions first and translate them. Once you’re done with all the Main extensions, do all the extensions used by Wikimedia. (Going to all extensions, beyond Extensions used by Wikimedia, helps users of these extensions, but doesn’t help Wikipedia very much.) This strategy can work well if you have several people translating to your language, because it’s easy to divide work by topic.

Another strategy is quiet and friendly competition with other languages. Open the statistics for Extensions Used by Wikimedia — Main and sort the table by the “Completion” column. Find your language. Now translate as many messages as needed to pass the language above you in the list. Then translate as many messages as needed to pass the next language above you in the list. Repeat until you get to 100%.

Sample Translatewiki statistics.

Let’s say that you are translating to Malay. You only need to translate eight messages to go up a notch (901–894 + 1). Then six messages more to go up another notch (894–888). And so on.

Once you’re done, you will have translated over 3,400 messages, but it’s much easier to do it in small steps.

Once you get to 100% in the main extensions, do the same with all the Extensions Used by Wikimedia. It’s over 10,000 messages, but the same strategies work.

Good Stuff to Do Along the Way

Never assume that the English message is perfect. Never. Do what you can to improve the English messages.

Developers are people just like you are. They may know their code very well, but they may not be the most brilliant writers. And though some messages are written by professional user experience designers, many are written by the developers themselves. Developers are developers; they are not necessarily very good writers or designers, and the messages that they write in English may not be perfect. Keep in mind that many, many MediaWiki developers are not native English speakers. Report problems with the English messages to the translatewiki Support page. (Use the opportunity to help other translators who are asking questions there, if you can.)

Another good thing is to do your best to try running the software that you are translating. If there are thousands of messages that are not translated to your language, then chances are that it’s already deployed in Wikipedia and you can try it. Actually trying to use it will help you translate it better.

Whenever relevant, fix the documentation displayed near the translation area. Strange as it may sound, it is possible that you understand the message better than the developer who wrote it!

Before translating a component, review the messages that were already translated. To do this, click the “All” tab at the top of the translation area. It’s useful for learning the current terminology, and you can also improve them and make them more consistent.

After you gain some experience, create a localization guide in your language. There are very few of them at the moment, and there should be more. Here’s the localization guide for French, for example. Create your own with the title “Localisation guidelines/xyz” where “xyz” is your language code.

As in Wikipedia, Be Bold.

Amir Aharoni is a contractor for the Wikimedia Foundation, improving MediaWiki’s support for different languages. He volunteers as a member of Wikimedia Israel and of the Language committee.

by Rising Voices at September 13, 2017 01:49 AM

September 12, 2017

Marketplace Tech Report
09/12/2017: FCC's Ajit Pai on broadband for all
Federal Communications Commission Chair Ajit Pai has made it a priority to increase the availability of broadband internet access across America. The way to do it? Cutting regulations and increasing competition, according to him. He joins us from Washington, D.C. to explain why he thinks a free market will close the digital divide.

by Marketplace at September 12, 2017 10:45 AM

Global Voices
Singaporeans Face Police Investigation After Holding Candlelight Vigil for Executed Migrant Worker

Police officers arrived during the candlelight vigil on July 13 outside Changi Prison Complex. Photo from Kirsten Han's Facebook page, used with permission.

Singapore police have summoned 17 individuals for participating in a candlelight vigil held on July 13, 2017, accusing the group of activists and journalists of organizing an ‘illegal assembly.’

The group gathered outside Changi Prison in eastern Singapore to show support for the family of Malaysian migrant worker Prabagaran Srivijayan, who was executed on drug trafficking charges on July 14.

Prabagaran insisted on his innocence up until the end of his life, and several human rights groups urged the Singaporean government to spare Prabagaran and revisit the case. But his execution sentence was carried out, and Prabagaran became the fourth person executed by Singapore in 2017 on drug-related charges.

Although many of the 17 individuals who joined the vigil were anti-death penalty advocates, they mainly intended to show solidarity with Prabagaran's grieving family.

During the candlelight vigil, several police officers arrived and confiscated the candles but allowed the vigil to continue as long as candles were not lit.

Two months later, Singaporean police are now probing the individuals who joined the vigil for violating the law on public assembly. It is strictly prohibited in Singapore to hold a gathering without a permit under Section 16(2)(a) of the Public Order Act, Chapter 257A.

Writer Kirsten Han, a Global Voices contributor who attended the vigil and later received the police summons, described the experience on Facebook, and wondered why the vigil was deemed an illegal assembly:

I understand that it is the police’s duty to protect law and order and to uphold the laws of our country. But when a simple, nonviolent, quiet vigil for a man about to be hanged by the state is deemed an illegal assembly worthy of a police investigation, perhaps it is time to think about whether we are striking the right balance between public order, freedom of assembly and compassion.

The police also summoned Terry Xu, editor of The Online Citizen news website, who expressed surprise to learn the vigil was viewed by police an act of illegal assembly:

An “illegal public assembly” to grieve over an individual who was put to death under the state law, and insisted that he is innocent till the point he was hanged at the gallows. It was also an “illegal public assembly” where the police officers turned up at the scene and said it was okay to gather so long there is no candles placed.

The police are apparently preventing those who attended the vigil from leaving the country without clearance from authorities. Terry Xu was stopped by immigration officers while preparing to travel outside Singapore:

Are the police acting as judges to decide whether or not one can leave the country without putting the matter to court?

If this is not harassment, I don't know what else can be considered as one.

Human rights groups have criticized the police for harassing individuals participating in a peaceful vigil. Function 8, a Singapore-based NGO, released a statement describing the case as going “against the spirit of our Constitution and a waste of police resources.”

by Mong Palatino at September 12, 2017 04:34 AM

September 11, 2017

Global Voices
The Stories Behind DACA, the Now-Ended Program for Young Undocumented Immigrants in the US

Activists protest the end of DACA in Los Angeles, September 5, 2017. “Deport Hate, Not Dreamers” and “United We Dream/#DefendDACA.” Photo by Molly Adams on Flickr, permission under CC BY 2.0.

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently announced that the Trump administration would terminate a program that grants two-year renewable work and study permits to immigrants who were brought to the country as children without papers.

In the days following the policy shift surrounding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, protests, walkouts, petitions, “resistbot campaigns” and calls for impeachment have flooded the internet and the streets of the US. Critics accuse the White House of being cruel, as many DACA recipients self-identify as Americans.

DACA was put in place through executive action by President Barack Obama in 2012. A legislative version of the policy, known as the DREAM Act, has repeatedly failed to pass in Congress.

Nearly 800,000 DACA recipients, who are often called “dreamers” in reference to the DREAM Act, now face the possibility of deportation when their permits expire in six months if Congress does not act.

The decision triggered a renewed debate on the very definition of what it means to be an “American,” in this case referring to a citizen of the United States, with organizations like Define American at the forefront, using stories to put a face to the numbers.

Founded by journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who is himself undocumented, Define American’s mission is to use the power of story to “transcend politics and shift the conversation about immigrants, identity, and citizenship in a changing America.”

Define American also invites undocumented people and their allies to create and upload text and video testimonials about the immigrant experience in the US.

Giovanni Amado, 23, arrived in the US in 1998 from Mexico City when he was just 3 years old. In his video testimonial, published a few days before the Trump administration's announcement, Amado talks about his work as a fraud specialist in a bank and says he does not understand how terminating DACA helps anyone:

The term American should not be defined by a document or the lack of one. It is more so the willingness to contribute to the country and help others out whenever possible.

And Denea Joseph, a 23-year-old woman from Belize who came to the US at the age of 7, says DACA allowed her to finish her university studies. She defines American as:

..an individual — immigrant or otherwise — who has lent their skills, knowledge, education, business acumen as well as labor that lends to this nation’s positionality as a hegemonic power.

In addition to crowd-sourced testimonials, Define American recently launched #UndocuJoy, a social media campaign designed to combat victimizing representations of undocumented people by “flooding the media with authentic images of happiness.”

The campaign features a video in collaboration with poet Yosimar Reyes who narrates his poem “I Love Us” throughout a series of images of everyday undocumented people getting up, going to work, dancing, making breakfast, and being human:

Reyes writes:

I love us / because we have constantly had to prove our humanity / and constantly done it beautifully / Because to stay human / Under these conditions / you have to have an understanding of / Beauty.

#UndocuJoy has seen declarations of solidarity from US citizens and immigrants to the US. Self-identified undocumented writer Ciriac Alvarez tweeted:

The struggle for permanent sanctuary

In Attorney General Sessions’ speech announcing DACA’s termination, he referred to DACA recipients as “mostly adult illegal aliens.”

His choice of wording recalled Define American's campaign #WordsMatter, launched in 2015, which urges journalists to stop using the word “illegal” to refer to people:

Phrases such as “illegal immigrant” and “illegal alien”  replace complex legal circumstances with an assumption of guilt. They effectively criminalize the personhood of migrants, instead of describing the legality of their actions.

“Being in the US without proper documents is a civil offense, not a criminal one,” the campaign continues.

Given Trump's past disparaging comments about people of Mexican origin, as well as a series of controversial executive orders, pardons, and proclamations that involve minority communities, the move to end DACA and the language used to justify the decision have reinforced accusations that Trump is purposefully stirring mistrust and hatred in society.

Even before Trump's rise to the presidency, the federal government's deportation priorities led certain areas of the country to limit their cooperation with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Currently, four states (California, Colorado, Connecticut and New Mexico), as well as 37 cities and counties, have declared themselves as so-called sanctuary cities.

Following the DACA decision, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel doubled down on his city's commitment to offering sanctuary, going so far as to declare Chicago a “Trump-Free Zone.”

But sanctuary cities aren't a permanent solution for DACA recipients. Their fate now rests with Congress. Perhaps hearing the personal stories published by initiatives like Define American will remind lawmakers that there are real people behind the statistics and that being American is more than just a piece of paper.

by Amanda Lichtenstein at September 11, 2017 06:46 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
At Twitter's Tokyo Office, Protesters Stomp on Hateful Tweets
twitter hate speech

Protesters tread on printouts of abusive tweets in front on Twitter headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, on September 8. Screencap from IWJ official YouTube channel.

On Friday, September 8, about one hundred demonstrators gathered outside Twitter Japan's Tokyo headquarters to demand that the company do more to rein in harassment and hate speech on its network.

Tokyo No Hate, a volunteer collective of activists, led the demonstration, highlighting Twitter's seeming reluctance to tackle the problem.

The group had reported a series of discriminatory and hateful tweets to the company on September 3 and asked Twitter to remove the tweets by September 7. They pledged to demonstrate the next day in front of Twitter's Japan headquarters if the company failed to do so.

Kyobashi (Chuo-ku, Tokyo). “Hate speech” covers the sidewalk in front of Twitter Japan's head office.

Borrowing tactics from a recent protest in Berlin and organized using the hashtag  (“Meet in front of Twitter on 09/08), protesters gathered in front of Twitter's Tokyo office on September 8 and covered the sidewalk with print-outs of tweets communicating sexist, racist and violent messages.

Sign: “Stop ignoring discriminatory tweets. Every day frightening. Every day unbearable. Every day agonizing. Help us, please.”

Activists displayed hundreds of abusive tweets, some of which were photographed and shared on Twitter itself.

Tweet: ‘Chon’ (a slur used against Koreans) are savages, aren't they?

Hate speech is not limited to just racial discrimination.

Middle tweet: Women are an inferior species, and therefore must be extinguished.

With sex crimes, the victims are the most blame, especially women.

Ultimately, participants were encouraged to tread on the printed tweets, and at the end of the demonstration the tweets were ceremonially deposited in a recycling bin.

More offensive tweets identified by the demonstrators have been translated into English by activist Takahiro Katsumi in this Twitter Moment.

Could Twitter do better?

With 40 million active users — accounting for about 30% of the national population — Twitter is one of Japan's most popular and commonly social networks.

While Twitter does take some measures to keep threatening and hateful speech off its network (including the recent suspension of a user who threatened to kill a mosquito), there are complaints that other kinds of threats and harassment on Twitter are ignored.

Toshiki Kino, an internet activist and former chairperson of Tokyo No Hate, told Global Voices that Twitter has been “completely inactive” in regulating hate speech against ethnic minorities in Japan:

Hate speech against ethnic minorities people in Japan—mainly against Korean and Chinese people, but also against the Ainu [indigenous residents of Japan] on the Internet has been a very serious problem in recent years, but Twitter Japan has been completely inactive in terms of regulating such remarks. There is much hate speech on Twitter to choose from, but you'll see lots of serious examples if you search for “朝鮮人” [‘chosenjin’, a derogatory epithet for Korean people.]

Although Twitter does not explicitly prohibit hate speech, their official rules forbid users from attacking or threatening a person on the basis of their identity traits. This rule reads as follows:

You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease. We also do not allow accounts whose primary purpose is inciting harm towards others on the basis of these categories.

While Twitter asks users to abide by this and other rules, it has no hard and fast mechanism for enforcing them. If you want a hateful or threatening tweet removed, you may file a report with the company. Then, it is up to Twitter's moderators to determine whether or not the tweet actually violates company rules.

This method can be helpful if you see just a few hateful tweets each day, but such tweets often come by the hundreds and can swiftly become unmanageable for any user. And it is likely that the problem is similarly daunting for people moderating these reports (the company provides almost no public data on the issue.)

Indeed, in many cases, several of which were highlighted by the No Hate protesters, hateful tweets are reported but not removed. The company has long faced criticism that its moderation system is no match for the scourge of hate speech online, but thus far, it has not devised an alternative solution.

Don't shoot the messaging platform

Some observers wonder why the activists are targeting Twitter, rather than going after the groups that create abusive content online.

In a series of tweets, researcher Vivian Shaw, who has covered the evolution of the anti-discrimination movement in Japan since 2011, explains that anti-racism activists in Japan have pressured the Japanese government to pass legislation addressing hate speech and worked with local authorities to help address the problem.

Japan's national parliament, the Diet, passed the country's first-ever law addressing hate speech in May 2016. The law defines hate speech in Japan, but it does not criminalize it. Instead, the law compels the central government, prefectures and municipalities, such as the city of Osaka, to devise measures against hate speech.

The challenge now, according to Shaw, is that local governments say they have neither the resources nor the technology to police abusive content online. Because Twitter creates the environment in which these messages are circulated, activists argue that the company should be doing more to combat it. If hate speech were officially a crime in Japan, Twitter would be under greater obligations to mitigate the problem. But the Diet has not taken things this far.

At the end of the protest in Tokyo on September 8, protestors entered the lobby at Twitter's headquarters in Japan, hoping to meet with the company. The activists were unsuccessful, although the protest did generate significant discussion on Twitter itself.

While the protestors did not get to meet with Twitter, the company did acknowledge their concerns in the leadup to the demonstration on September 8. In a tweet made earlier in the week, Twitter Japan did mention it plans to increase the number of moderators “to resolve issues promptly” (早急な問題解決に).

Thanks to so many of you for expressing your concerns to Twitter. While we wish (to make Twitter a place) where everyone is comfortable expressing their opinions, we'll sincerely take your feedback to heart. Twitter has recently increased the number of moderators in Japan, and is working to resolve issues promptly. Please continue to provide us with your feedback.

by Nevin Thompson at September 11, 2017 06:36 PM

Global Voices
At Twitter's Tokyo Office, Protesters Stomp on Hateful Tweets
twitter hate speech

Protesters tread on printouts of abusive tweets in front on Twitter headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, on September 8. Screencap from IWJ official YouTube channel.

On Friday, September 8, about one hundred demonstrators gathered outside Twitter Japan's Tokyo headquarters to demand that the company do more to rein in harassment and hate speech on its network.

Tokyo No Hate, a volunteer collective of activists, led the demonstration, highlighting Twitter's seeming reluctance to tackle the problem.

The group had reported a series of discriminatory and hateful tweets to the company on September 3 and asked Twitter to remove the tweets by September 7. They pledged to demonstrate the next day in front of Twitter's Japan headquarters if the company failed to do so.

Kyobashi (Chuo-ku, Tokyo). “Hate speech” covers the sidewalk in front of Twitter Japan's head office.

Borrowing tactics from a recent protest in Berlin and organized using the hashtag  (“Meet in front of Twitter on 09/08), protesters gathered in front of Twitter's Tokyo office on September 8 and covered the sidewalk with print-outs of tweets communicating sexist, racist and violent messages.

Sign: “Stop ignoring discriminatory tweets. Every day frightening. Every day unbearable. Every day agonizing. Help us, please.”

Activists displayed hundreds of abusive tweets, some of which were photographed and shared on Twitter itself.

Tweet: ‘Chon’ (a slur used against Koreans) are savages, aren't they?

Hate speech is not limited to just racial discrimination.

Middle tweet: Women are an inferior species, and therefore must be extinguished.

With sex crimes, the victims are the most blame, especially women.

Ultimately, participants were encouraged to tread on the printed tweets, and at the end of the demonstration the tweets were ceremonially deposited in a recycling bin.

More offensive tweets identified by the demonstrators have been translated into English by activist Takahiro Katsumi in this Twitter Moment.

Could Twitter do better?

With 40 million active users — accounting for about 30% of the national population — Twitter is one of Japan's most popular and commonly social networks.

While Twitter does take some measures to keep threatening and hateful speech off its network (including the recent suspension of a user who threatened to kill a mosquito), there are complaints that other kinds of threats and harassment on Twitter are ignored.

Toshiki Kino, an internet activist and former chairperson of Tokyo No Hate, told Global Voices that Twitter has been “completely inactive” in regulating hate speech against ethnic minorities in Japan:

Hate speech against ethnic minorities people in Japan—mainly against Korean and Chinese people, but also against the Ainu [indigenous residents of Japan] on the Internet has been a very serious problem in recent years, but Twitter Japan has been completely inactive in terms of regulating such remarks. There is much hate speech on Twitter to choose from, but you'll see lots of serious examples if you search for “朝鮮人” [‘chosenjin’, a derogatory epithet for Korean people.]

Although Twitter does not explicitly prohibit hate speech, their official rules forbid users from attacking or threatening a person on the basis of their identity traits. This rule reads as follows:

You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease. We also do not allow accounts whose primary purpose is inciting harm towards others on the basis of these categories.

While Twitter asks users to abide by this and other rules, it has no hard and fast mechanism for enforcing them. If you want a hateful or threatening tweet removed, you may file a report with the company. Then, it is up to Twitter's moderators to determine whether or not the tweet actually violates company rules.

This method can be helpful if you see just a few hateful tweets each day, but such tweets often come by the hundreds and can swiftly become unmanageable for any user. And it is likely that the problem is similarly daunting for people moderating these reports (the company provides almost no public data on the issue.)

Indeed, in many cases, several of which were highlighted by the No Hate protesters, hateful tweets are reported but not removed. The company has long faced criticism that its moderation system is no match for the scourge of hate speech online, but thus far, it has not devised an alternative solution.

Don't shoot the messaging platform

Some observers wonder why the activists are targeting Twitter, rather than going after the groups that create abusive content online.

In a series of tweets, researcher Vivian Shaw, who has covered the evolution of the anti-discrimination movement in Japan since 2011, explains that anti-racism activists in Japan have pressured the Japanese government to pass legislation addressing hate speech and worked with local authorities to help address the problem.

Japan's national parliament, the Diet, passed the country's first-ever law addressing hate speech in May 2016. The law defines hate speech in Japan, but it does not criminalize it. Instead, the law compels the central government, prefectures and municipalities, such as the city of Osaka, to devise measures against hate speech.

The challenge now, according to Shaw, is that local governments say they have neither the resources nor the technology to police abusive content online. Because Twitter creates the environment in which these messages are circulated, activists argue that the company should be doing more to combat it. If hate speech were officially a crime in Japan, Twitter would be under greater obligations to mitigate the problem. But the Diet has not taken things this far.

At the end of the protest in Tokyo on September 8, protestors entered the lobby at Twitter's headquarters in Japan, hoping to meet with the company. The activists were unsuccessful, although the protest did generate significant discussion on Twitter itself.

While the protestors did not get to meet with Twitter, the company did acknowledge their concerns in the leadup to the demonstration on September 8. In a tweet made earlier in the week, Twitter Japan did mention it plans to increase the number of moderators “to resolve issues promptly” (早急な問題解決に).

Thanks to so many of you for expressing your concerns to Twitter. While we wish (to make Twitter a place) where everyone is comfortable expressing their opinions, we'll sincerely take your feedback to heart. Twitter has recently increased the number of moderators in Japan, and is working to resolve issues promptly. Please continue to provide us with your feedback.

by Nevin Thompson at September 11, 2017 06:22 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
#PotongSteam: Malaysian Gamers Blast Blocking of Website Over ‘Fight of Gods’ Video Game

Screenshot of ‘Fight of Gods’ video game introduction uploaded on YouTube

Malaysian gamers have criticized the decision of the Malaysian Communications Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to temporarily block the website of game distribution platform Steam which allows downloads of a new game called ‘Fight of Gods’. MCMC deems the game to be offensive and a “threat to the sanctity of religion and interracial harmony in the country.”

MCMC unblocked Steam once the latter removed the controversial game from its website.

‘Fight of Gods’, which was developed by a Taiwanese gaming studio and released earlier this month, features several deities and religious figures such as Odin, Amaterasu, the Buddha, Jesus, Moses, and Zeus among others in a mortal combat game.

For MCMC Minister Salleh Said Keruak, the game might disrupt peace and religious harmony in the country:

“(To ensure) solidarity, harmony and wellbeing of the multiracial and multireligious people in the country are the main objectives of the government. The government will not compromise with any action that can jeopardise these objectives.

Malaysia has a predominantly Muslim population. In recent years, hardline Islamic clerics and other conservative religious leaders have criticized the government for its failure to strictly enforce Islamic teachings.

PQube, the publisher of the ‘Fight of Gods’ game, insisted that it does not aim to offend any religion:

Fight of Gods is a video game that takes a humorous approach to religion in the same way that other entertainment formats have – across television, film, books and theatre.

The game is not promoting any religious agenda and is not designed to offend. The description of the game on the digital platforms through which it is distributed provide clear guidance on the nature of the game and its content so that people can freely choose whether or not to play it.

We are disappointed that such freedom of choice is not given to everyone and in particular that the game has been forcibly removed from sale in Malaysia, although no direct communication has been received by us as to the reasons for this. Nevertheless we respect any rules and censorship imposed in any given territory.

PQube also added that the game does not feature any reference to Islam.

The blocking of Steam, which has some 2,000,000 users in Malaysia, angered gamers who were unable to access their favorite games.

The Facebook page of MCMC was flooded with comments from Steam users demanding the unblocking of the popular gaming website.

Facebook user Shah Rizar is one of those who criticized the MCMC:

Dear MCMC, you should realize that you were blocking access to legal software that Malaysians can purchase, but you also jeopardized the potential revenue and reputation for many Malaysian Game Developers. There are also thousands of students in Malaysia studying game development, and actions like these successfully erode everyone's confidence in an agency that is supposed to be at the forefront in protecting EVERYONE's rights.

Steam became accessible again after MCMC acknowledged that the ‘Fight of Gods’ game had been removed from the website.

Meanwhile, the power of MCMC to shut down websites was questioned by Malaysian Bar constitutional law committee co-chairman Surendra Ananth:

Some have argued that Section 263(2) [Malaysia’s Communications and Multimedia Act of 1998] allows the MCMC to block content. However, that section only states that licensees shall assist the MCMC as far as reasonably necessary in preventing the commission or attempted commission of an offence.

It cannot be read in a manner to empower MCMC to block online content. This would be a violation of Section 3(3), which expressly provides: ‘Nothing in this act shall be construed as permitting the censorship of the internet.’

The Twitter hashtag #PotongSteam (Cut the Steam) was used by netizens to link to the controversy. Potong Steam is a Malaysian slang term for killjoy or buzzkill. Many of those who used the hashtag were gamers, who are usually politically apathetic.

Below were some of the tweets that featured the hashtag #PotongSteam:

by Mong Palatino at September 11, 2017 04:33 PM

Feeds In This Planet