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.

October 09, 2018

Marketplace Tech Report
The biggest cybersecurity threat you never thought that much about is the factory
A report last week from Bloomberg Businessweek suggested that Chinese spies had embedded tiny microchips on motherboards that control computers in order to steal information from nearly 30 U.S. companies, including Apple and Amazon. Both of those companies, and Super Micro, the electronics maker that was allegedly infiltrated, and the Chinese government have categorically denied the report. But the story is lingering, in part because it brings up a very scary reality that lots of cybersecurity experts keep talking about. Molly Wood talks about it with cybersecurity expert Bruce Schneier. (10/08/18)

by Marketplace at October 09, 2018 10:31 AM

October 08, 2018

Global Voices
Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa drew criticism over clothing choice during visit to Angola

Portugal's Prime Minister António Costa in conversation with Angola’s Minister for Foreign Affairs. Screenshot from euronews (em português) on YouTube.

The casual attire donned by Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa during an official visit to Angola has lead to an online debate about decorum, and the potential message his clothing choice might mean as the two countries deal with existing tensions.

On 17 September, Portugal’s Prime Minister António Costa arrived in Luanda and met with Angolan Minister for Foreign Affairs Manuel Augusto. As photos began to circulate of the pair, the contrast between the two men became more apparent. While Costa chose to wear jeans and casual shoes, Augusto can be seen wearing a formal suit and tie.

Although Costa appeared wearing a suit during a later meeting with Angolan President João Lourenço, many people could not help but question Prime Minister Costa's original choice of casual attire and compare it to his formal dress during a state visit to Mozambique earlier this year.

Angola and Portugal: Two countries estranged by the courts

António Costa travelled to Angola following months of diplomatic tensions between the two governments, so the visit logically drew the attention of many Angolans and Portuguese alike.

Angolan-Portuguese relations reached a low point as the result of a court case involving Angola’s former vice president, Manuel Vicente. Manuel Vicente was accused of having bribed the Portuguese prosecutor, Orlando Figueira, with a payment of 750,000 euros in order to shelve two inquiries into alleged corruption cases. One of these is the Portmill case, related to the acquisition of a luxury property in the Portuguese town of Estoril.

The case, known as “Fizz”, was originally brought to court by Portugal but moved to Luanda after insistent requests by the Angolan government. The case’s transferral to Angola met various criticisms, such as that of Eurodeputy Ana Gomes who thought the move to be a “tremendous abdication” of Portugal’s justice system, employing hypocritical arguments.

Internet users divided over the clothing issue

Commenters took different positions on the topic. For example, Folha 8 journalist Pedrowsk Teca questioned the Portuguese Prime Minister’s clothing choice in a Facebook post:

Vestindo-se de calça jeans 👖 em uma visita oficial tão aguardada, qual é a mensagem que Portugal está a transmitir à Angola?

Wearing jeans on an official, long-awaited visit, what is the message that Portugal is sending to Angola?

Adding to this, Ilídio Manuel, a journalist and a theatre professional, questioned if Costa would have dressed the same way on an official visit to another country:

O primeiro-ministro português, António Costa, chegou a Luanda para uma visita OFICIAL vestido de forma informal (calças Jeans e sem gravata). Teria vestido da mesma forma caso visitasse à Alemanha, EUA, Japão, ou outro país do 1.º mundo? Se fosse o inverso, um governante angolano que visitasse Portugal vestido da mesma forma?

The Portuguese prime minister, António Costa, came to Luanda for an OFFICIAL visit dressed informally (jeans and no tie). Would he have dressed the same if he visited Germany, USA, Japan, or another first world country? If it was the other way round, an Angolan leader who visited Portugal dressed in the same way?

When faced with the wave of comments and opinions coming from Luanda, Maria Antónia Palla, the Portuguese prime minister’s mother, came out in defense of her son:

O meu filho, António Costa, é bem-educado. Em Angola há protocolo a mais e coisas importantes a menos – a democracia.

My son, António Costa, is polite. In Angola there is too much protocol and too little of important things – democracy

However, amidst the back and forth about etiquette and respect, Assistant Professor Constatino Marengula pointed, instead, to the impracticality of wearing a suit:

Ha pessoas zangadas porque António Costa chegou a Angola sem facto e nem gravata. Nunca entendi essa de padroes de beleza, responsabilidade e profissionalismo definidos pelas embalagens, representados por factos e gravatas, numa zona tropical, com calor e humidade. Quando vi isto, recordei me duma entrevista para emprego, num certo Banco muito grande nos anos 90. Mesmo com calor, os homens perguntaram me se tinha algum problema em vestir factos e gravatas…! Ao que disse que nao e dei a minha justificaçao! Nao sei se foi por isso, mas nao fui o feliz contemplado! Depois de ver muitos malandros engravatados, ainda ando curioso em saber o que se procura nos factos e gravatas, com calor e humidade!

There are people annoyed because António Costa came to Angola without a suit or tie. I never understood these standards of beauty, responsibility and professionalism defined by the packaging, represented by suits and ties, in a tropical area, with heat and humidity. When I saw this, it reminded me of a job interview, in a certain very large bank in the 1990s. Even in the heat, the men asked me if I had any problem with wearing suits and ties…! So I said no and gave my reasons! I don’t know if it was because of this, but I was not the lucky candidate! After seeing many suited crooks, I am still curious to know what you look for in suits and ties, with the heat and humidity!

by Liam Anderson at October 08, 2018 04:28 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Journalists across India share their testimony on the deteriorating state of media — and vow to fight back

A panel of speakers at the National Convention Against Assault on Journalists held in New Delhi on September 22, 2018. Screenshot from YouTube by user Media Vigil.

Abuse, intimidation, and attacks on journalists and media organizations are nothing new in India.

In June 2018, veteran journalist and editor-in-chief of Rising Kashmir Shujaat Bukhari was shot dead (along with two police officials assigned for his protection) by gunmen in Srinagar, the north Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir in India.

While the killing evoked public outrage, it failed to change the ground reality for journalists.

Bukhari became the fourth Indian journalist killed this year in connection with his journalistic work, and many more continue to face threats from both state and non-state actors.

In their 2018 country report for India, Reporters Without Borders notes that the right-wing Hindu nationalism promoted by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, poses a deadly threat to press freedom in India. The report states that there is growing self-censorship among the mainstream Indian media “with Hindu nationalists trying to purge all manifestations of ‘anti-national’ thought from the national debate.”

Being a journalist in Modi’s India

The National Convention Against Assault on Journalists was organized by the Committee Against Assault on Journalists (CAAJ) in New Delhi last month and a number of notable Indian journalists were present.

Speaking to the audience at the convention, NDTV journalist Ravish Kumar criticized PM Modi for fostering a political culture that encourages much hatred against media and that has turned India into a “republic of abuse.”

After Modi's election in 2014, critics of the government were labeled as “Anti-Modi,” later as “Anti-India,” and then as “Anti-National,” Kumar observed. This type of rhetoric appears to have turned a significant sector of society against a few journalists, in turn, isolating them and silencing them into self-censorship.

In May this year, Kumar reported an increase in abusive calls and death threats from fanatic right-wing nationalists. “It is well-organized and has a political sanction,” Kumar said in an interview with The Hindu.

Making his experience a case in point, Kumar emphasized that freelance journalists, women, and those working in rural areas were far more vulnerable to intimidation and obstruction of work, and lacked the support system that journalists in the capital and large cities enjoyed.

“The onus does not lie on us, it lies on the state to provide a constitutional mechanism to address these kinds of trolling and threats everybody is facing,” said Neha Dixit, an independent investigative journalist, in her remarks at the convention.

Dixit described a political atmosphere that discourages journalists from talking about the rights of the marginalized. The trafficking and indoctrination of the tribal girls of Assam by right-wing Hindu outfit affiliated with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the phenomenon of working-class Muslims being killed in fake encounters on flimsy charges or the misuse of the National Security Act (NSA), are two examples of issues that larger media houses appear unwilling to cover.

Delving further into the broader problems within the press in India, Dixit lamented that there was no single press body in the country dedicated to addressing the challenges faced by journalists – be it intimidation, false court cases, workplace sexual harassment, or matters pertaining to pay and benefits.

Testimonies of journalists from conflict-zones and rural areas

Speaking of the challenges faced by journalists in Jammu and Kashmir for the last 30 years, Jalil Rathor, a well-known journalist who works in the northern state said,

“In a conflict zone journalist finds himself caught between a rock and a hard place, and is accused of taking sides by both state, as well as non-state actors.”

Rathor stressed that curtailment of government advertisements [the main source of revenues for newspapers in Jammu and Kashmir], banning internet services, and summoning journalists for questioning by state police or at the National Investigating Agency (NAI) in New Delhi, were some of the common ways the government and its agencies continued to intimidate local journalists.

“There is also an attempt to control the narrative [about Kashmir in news] both in traditional media and social media,” Rathor said.

Kashmiri women shout anti-India slogans during a funeral procession of a local militant killed during an encounter with government forces in south Kashmir. Image from Instagram by Ieshan Wani.

Patricia Mukhim, the editor of Shillong Times, an English daily in the northeastern state of Meghalaya and a survivor of a petrol bomb attack in April 2018, echoed the same anguish as Rathore, about journalists reporting from conflict zones.

Mukhim suggested that for some minority groups, particularly in northeastern India, indigenous identities or sub-identities are stronger than their national identity. She lamented that this kind of ethnic politics, though different from the political culture propagated by the present government in the capital, was equally constricting for freedom of the press.

“If you take a stand for or against something, then one or other group will seek your head,” Mukhim expressed.

Seema Azad, editor of Dastak Patrika and secretary of People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Uttar Pradesh, sharply criticized India's Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), a law increasingly used to gag journalists along with activists. The 1967 law is intended to combat terrorism and has been made more and more stringent in recent years. Multiple lawyers and activists have argued that it has significant potential for misuse, especially for silencing dissent.

Azad urged that there was the need to widen democratic space to include discourse about various people’s movements in India and reporting on issues the government has strongly discouraged, such as the conflict in Kashmir. Reporting about the human costs of the conflict is often characterized by the Modi government as “anti-National.”

Speaking of the impact of crony capitalism, Azad noted, that as the corporate control in India over the years increased — from media houses to natural resources — such attacks have grown.

Lalit Surjan, the Editor-in-Chief of Deshbandhu and a speaker at the convention said, “Journalism in the past, and even in the present times has been a risky undertaking, so be brave.”

by Shraddha Kakade at October 08, 2018 04:07 PM

Global Voices
Journalists across India share their testimony on the deteriorating state of media — and vow to fight back

A panel of speakers at the National Convention Against Assault on Journalists held in New Delhi on September 22, 2018. Screenshot from YouTube by user Media Vigil.

Abuse, intimidation, and attacks on journalists and media organizations are nothing new in India.

In June 2018, veteran journalist and editor-in-chief of Rising Kashmir Shujaat Bukhari was shot dead (along with two police officials assigned for his protection) by gunmen in Srinagar, the north Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir in India.

While the killing evoked public outrage, it failed to change the ground reality for journalists.

Bukhari became the fourth Indian journalist killed this year in connection with his journalistic work, and many more continue to face threats from both state and non-state actors.

In their 2018 country report for India, Reporters Without Borders notes that the right-wing Hindu nationalism promoted by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, poses a deadly threat to press freedom in India. The report states that there is growing self-censorship among the mainstream Indian media “with Hindu nationalists trying to purge all manifestations of ‘anti-national’ thought from the national debate.”

Being a journalist in Modi’s India

The National Convention Against Assault on Journalists was organized by the Committee Against Assault on Journalists (CAAJ) in New Delhi last month and a number of notable Indian journalists were present.

Speaking to the audience at the convention, NDTV journalist Ravish Kumar criticized PM Modi for fostering a political culture that encourages much hatred against media and that has turned India into a “republic of abuse.”

After Modi's election in 2014, critics of the government were labeled as “Anti-Modi,” later as “Anti-India,” and then as “Anti-National,” Kumar observed. This type of rhetoric appears to have turned a significant sector of society against a few journalists, in turn, isolating them and silencing them into self-censorship.

In May this year, Kumar reported an increase in abusive calls and death threats from fanatic right-wing nationalists. “It is well-organized and has a political sanction,” Kumar said in an interview with The Hindu.

Making his experience a case in point, Kumar emphasized that freelance journalists, women, and those working in rural areas were far more vulnerable to intimidation and obstruction of work, and lacked the support system that journalists in the capital and large cities enjoyed.

“The onus does not lie on us, it lies on the state to provide a constitutional mechanism to address these kinds of trolling and threats everybody is facing,” said Neha Dixit, an independent investigative journalist, in her remarks at the convention.

Dixit described a political atmosphere that discourages journalists from talking about the rights of the marginalized. The trafficking and indoctrination of the tribal girls of Assam by right-wing Hindu outfit affiliated with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the phenomenon of working-class Muslims being killed in fake encounters on flimsy charges or the misuse of the National Security Act (NSA), are two examples of issues that larger media houses appear unwilling to cover.

Delving further into the broader problems within the press in India, Dixit lamented that there was no single press body in the country dedicated to addressing the challenges faced by journalists – be it intimidation, false court cases, workplace sexual harassment, or matters pertaining to pay and benefits.

Testimonies of journalists from conflict-zones and rural areas

Speaking of the challenges faced by journalists in Jammu and Kashmir for the last 30 years, Jalil Rathor, a well-known journalist who works in the northern state said,

“In a conflict zone journalist finds himself caught between a rock and a hard place, and is accused of taking sides by both state, as well as non-state actors.”

Rathor stressed that curtailment of government advertisements [the main source of revenues for newspapers in Jammu and Kashmir], banning internet services, and summoning journalists for questioning by state police or at the National Investigating Agency (NAI) in New Delhi, were some of the common ways the government and its agencies continued to intimidate local journalists.

“There is also an attempt to control the narrative [about Kashmir in news] both in traditional media and social media,” Rathor said.

Kashmiri women shout anti-India slogans during a funeral procession of a local militant killed during an encounter with government forces in south Kashmir. Image from Instagram by Ieshan Wani.

Patricia Mukhim, the editor of Shillong Times, an English daily in the northeastern state of Meghalaya and a survivor of a petrol bomb attack in April 2018, echoed the same anguish as Rathore, about journalists reporting from conflict zones.

Mukhim suggested that for some minority groups, particularly in northeastern India, indigenous identities or sub-identities are stronger than their national identity. She lamented that this kind of ethnic politics, though different from the political culture propagated by the present government in the capital, was equally constricting for freedom of the press.

“If you take a stand for or against something, then one or other group will seek your head,” Mukhim expressed.

Seema Azad, editor of Dastak Patrika and secretary of People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Uttar Pradesh, sharply criticized India's Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), a law increasingly used to gag journalists along with activists. The 1967 law is intended to combat terrorism and has been made more and more stringent in recent years. Multiple lawyers and activists have argued that it has significant potential for misuse, especially for silencing dissent.

Azad urged that there was the need to widen democratic space to include discourse about various people’s movements in India and reporting on issues the government has strongly discouraged, such as the conflict in Kashmir. Reporting about the human costs of the conflict is often characterized by the Modi government as “anti-National.”

Speaking of the impact of crony capitalism, Azad noted, that as the corporate control in India over the years increased — from media houses to natural resources — such attacks have grown.

Lalit Surjan, the Editor-in-Chief of Deshbandhu and a speaker at the convention said, “Journalism in the past, and even in the present times has been a risky undertaking, so be brave.”

by Shraddha Kakade at October 08, 2018 03:58 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
The Federal Reserve is taking on the digital divide
Almost 40 percent of rural America, or about 23 million people, don't have access to broadband internet or reliable mobile service. Long term, this digital divide is a huge economic problem. Companies need high-skilled workers, and people without decent internet access can't find those jobs or get the training they might need to do them. Now the Fed is trying convince businesses that the digital divide is their problem, too, Jeremy Hegle told us. He's a senior community development adviser for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Its territory includes Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, parts of Missouri and northern New Mexico. (10/08/18)

by Marketplace at October 08, 2018 10:37 AM

Global Voices
Hong Kong rejects visa of Financial Times editor who hosted pro-independence talk

The Civil Human Rights Front led a protest against visa denial decision at the Immigration Tower in Wan Chai on October 6. Photo taken by Tom Grundy from HKFP.

This post is a roundup of reports published between 5-6 October 2018 on Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP). The republication is based on a partnership agreement.

Hong Kong has refused to renew the visa for the foreign press club’s vice president, Victor Mallet, who is also the Financial Times’ Asia news editor. A spokesperson for the Financial Times told HKFP.

This is the first time we have encountered this situation in Hong Kong, and we have not been given a reason for the rejection.

Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China with more economic and personal freedoms than the mainland, a set-up known as “One Country, Two Systems.” In recent years, Beijing has pressured Hong Kong to pass new laws that strengthen the “One Country” part of the principle.

Mallet chaired a talk by pro-independence activist Andy Chan at the FCC in August, which the office of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong had tried to block.

Former chief executive Leung Chun-ying compared the event to giving terrorists a platform. He slammed the FCC for crossing a so-called “red line” and said that many would want the club to explain why the government should not allow others to bid for its premises in Central.

The event came after the police suggested banning the Hong Kong National Party which was eventually banned late last month by the government.

The FCC added that it is deeply concerned about the government’s decision. It called upon the authorities to rescind their decision saying it lacked any reasonable explanation. It said in a statement:

The FCC is expecting a full explanation from the Hong Kong authorities for this extraordinary move, which is extremely rare, if not unprecedented.

New York Times’ spokeswoman Eileen Murphy pointed out that any politicization of the territory’s visa process “would be very worrying.”

We’re troubled that the government in Hong Kong may be preparing to expel a respected colleague at The Financial Times whose application for a routine visa renewal has been rejected without explanation, and we are seeking clarification from the authorities…Hong Kong’s commitment to freedom of speech and rule of law has long attracted international businesses and news organizations to the city, including The New York Times.

‘Beijing-style persecution’

A UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson said it was “concerned” by the rejection of Mallet’s visa renewal:

We have asked the Hong Kong Government for an urgent explanation. Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and its press freedoms are central to its way of life, and must be fully respected.

A US Consulate General spokesperson told HKFP:

The rejection of a renewal of a work visa for Financial Times correspondent and Foreign Correspondent’s Club Vice President Victor Mallet is deeply troubling…This decision is especially disturbing because it mirrors problems faced by international journalists in the Mainland and appears inconsistent with the principles enshrined in the Basic Law.

A number of international and local NGOs have spoken out against the government decision. On Saturday, October 6, NGO coalition Hong Kong Civic Human Rights Front protested outside the Immigration Department against the visa decision.

Maya Wang, China researcher at NGO Human Rights Watch, described the move as shocking and unprecedented:

The Hong Kong authorities’ visa renewal rejection—without explanation—of a journalist who’s done nothing more than his job smacks of Beijing-style persecution of critics… it indicates a quickening downward spiral for human rights in Hong Kong: that the Hong Kong government is now following Beijing’s leads in acting aggressively towards those whose views the authorities dislike.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association said it was shocked and angered by the incident: “It makes people wonder whether it was retaliation.” It added that the visa rejection will severely harm Hong Kong’s status as a global city:

Freedom of speech and press freedom are the foundations of Hong Kong’s success. The denial of [Mallet’s] visa will further harm press freedom and freedom of speech, and it will severely harm Hong Kong’s status as an international city.

Press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urged the authorities to reverse their decision:

This is clearly a form of retaliation for his involvement in the public talk organized in August by FCCHK, which angered Beijing by featuring a pro-Hong Kong independence activist. Such action is yet another proof that the Chinese authorities are extending their policy of intimidating foreign journalists to the territory of Hong Kong.

Representatives from the Hong Kong UPR Coalition – consisting of 45 NGOs – will travel to Geneva next week to speak at the upcoming United Nations Universal Periodic Review pre-session, and discuss the incident with representatives from other member states. Demosisto, a member of the Coalition said in a statement:

The Beijing authorities need to respond now more than ever to its decision to suppress press freedom in Hong Kong, as its state of human rights is being evaluated on by other Member States in the upcoming session, as is its duty as a member of the United Nations.

by Hong Kong Free Press at October 08, 2018 12:55 AM

October 07, 2018

Global Voices
Despite proven flaws, India's biometric ID scheme was upheld by the Supreme Court. Now what?

A biometric data collection camp of the ‘Aadhaar’ project, in Salt lake, Kolkata, India. 2015. Image by Biswarup Ganguly via Wikimedia Commons. CC BY 3.0

Last week, the Supreme Court of India upheld the controversial Unique Identity scheme or Aadhaar.

Following the second-longest hearing in the history of the Indian judiciary, the five-judge bench delivered a 1,448 page judgment more than seven years after the first legal challenge was issued against the scheme.

The system was also cited in an earlier constitutional challenge on privacy grounds. In July 2017, a nine-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the right to privacy of Indian citizens, but the ruling did not implicate Aadhaar.

Controversies around Aadhaar

First launched in 2009, the Aadhaar system gives each person a unique ID number associated with multiple pieces of that person’s demographic and biometric information and stores it in a centralized database. In theory, it helps people authenticate their identity so that they may access a host of social and federal services.

But the program has suffered from data mismanagement and machine errors, resulting in people being denied state-guaranteed welfare benefits, the leaking of citizens’ data and accusations of enabling surveillance.

Another shocking example of Aadhaar's failures came in 2017, with the starvation death of an 11-year-old girl who was denied her legally entitled food subsidies for the lack of the Aadhaar number. The case revealed that numerous ration shops were denying citizens their food subsidies, in an attempt to comply with the Aadhaar system.

In last week's ruling, the Supreme Court upheld sections of the Aadhaar Act of 2016 that allow biometric authentication to be used for government subsidies and welfare schemes. But the judgement removes some of the previously implicit requirements of the system, stating that “no one can be denied benefits for want of an Aadhaar card.”

The court also ruled to limit the use of Aadhaar by private banks and telecom providers, but did not retroactively punish private companies for violating the Act, including collecting citizen's data in the absence of legislation between 2009 and 2016.

While the judgment has been debated upon by experts, political groups and citizens alike regarding the individual privacy and linkages to financial inclusion, there exists a confusion about the verdict.

Rahul Mattan wrote in Mint:

The Supreme Court had held that allowing the private sector to access biometric and demographic information was tantamount to enabling their commercial exploitation of this information. So, the court ruled, that portion of Section 57 that enables bodies corporate and individuals to seek authentication, was unconstitutional. There is considerable confusion as to what this statement really means. Does it imply that no private entities whatsoever can use the authentication infrastructure? If so, how does that interpretation square with the rest of the judgment that unequivocally upholds the use of Aadhaar for the purposes of dispensing subsidies and other government benefits?

A report in Business Standard highlights how companies such as India's Reliance Jio acquired customers due to the e-KYC module aided by Aadhaar and the future recourse:

“Though the verdict is not affecting us, we believe that this will be a regressive move for FinTech companies as they will eventually move to the traditional mode of verifying individuals and thereby the turnaround time for processing the loan will increase to a considerable extent,” said Bhavin Patel, co-founder and CEO of LenDenClub, a peer-to-peer lender.

An editorial in The Hindu explains how the recent judgment restores the Aadhaar bill to its original form, by eliminating loopholes in the public distribution system for society's poorest segments:

In upholding the constitutional validity of Aadhaar and clarifying areas in which it cannot be made mandatory, the Supreme Court has restored the original intent of the programme: to plug leakages in subsidy schemes and to have better targeting of welfare benefits. Over the years, Aadhaar came to mean much more than this in the lives of ordinary people, acquiring the shape of a basic identity document that was required to access more and more services, such as birth and death certificates, SIM cards, school admissions, property registrations and vehicle purchases.

#AadhaarVerdict: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Over the next few years, many legal scholars and social scientists are likely to pore over this significant judgment for its far-reaching impact on civil liberties and socio-economic issues.

The majority judgment struck down sections of the legislation that allowed the use of Aadhaar by private companies and also curtailed its use by the state under arbitrary “national security exceptions”. However, in spite of agreeing that profiling undermines civil liberties and surveillance is unconstitutional, the judges reach the conclusion that neither is possible in the Aadhaar system.

Aadhaar was always meant to be a mechanism by which subsidies and other welfare services of the government could be transferred to the people more easily. It was not intended to be a socio-economic right in itself. However, judicial approval for the scheme cripples individual privacy for perceived common good. In spite of acknowledging its flaws, the judges don't find the reasons adequate to declare the scheme unconstitutional.

While four out of the five judges upheld the constitutionality of the Aadhaar project, Justice Chandrachud's lone dissent raised important concerns.

He argued that the scheme is a “fraud on the constitution” and “wholly illegal”:

Identity is necessarily a plural concept. The Constitution also recognises a multitude of identities through the plethora of rights that it safeguards….Technology deployed in the Aadhaar scheme reduces different constitutional identities into a single identity of a 12-digit number and infringes the right of an individual to identify herself/himself through a chosen means.

While the dissenting judge's voice is not law, it opens the possibility of future challenges to the judgment.

by Rohith Jyothish at October 07, 2018 02:13 AM

October 06, 2018

Global Voices
Osaka cuts sister city ties with San Francisco over “comfort women” statue
san francisco comfort woman statue

San Francisco Comfort Women Memorial unveiling on September 22, 2017. Screencap from KPIX official YouTube channel.

The city of Osaka officially ended its sister city relationship with San Francisco in the United States after the latter permitted a monument memorializing “comfort women” to remain on a city-owned property.

The monument was commissioned by the “Comfort Women” Justice Coalition, a civil society group dedicated to raising awareness about women who had been conscripted from across Asia and enslaved by the Japanese forces during the World War II. It features four statues representing Korean, Chinese and Filipina women, as well as a deceased woman bearing witness from beyond the grave to their experience.

The statue provoked strong reactions in Japan when it was first unveiled in September 2017, and municipal, prefectural and central governments raised official protests against San Francisco a month later when, as part of an unrelated transaction, the American city bought the property. The mayor of Osaka Yoshimura Hirofumi then threatened to sever sister city ties if the monument was not removed from the property, or if the captions were not amended.

He finally carried out that threat on October 2, 2018, circulating in the process a 10-page, 3,800-word letter in English addressed to San Francisco mayor London Breed, listing — often in bolded, underlined text — a litany of reasons for the breakup.

He complains, for example, that inscriptions on the monument presented “uncertain and one-sided claims as historical facts”, and says that there are disagreements among historians about the total number of “comfort women” conscripted and the degree to which the former Japanese Army was involved.

While Yoshimura acknowledged the regrettable treatment of women in war, he argued Japan was being unfairly “singled out”:

[…] This issue should not be treated as an issue specific solely to the Japanese military. As long as widespread sexual problems on the battlefields by countries other than Japan are not openly recognized, past offenses, which the whole world must face, will go uncorrected, and those violations in other parts of the world will not be resolved.

While he did not respond directly to the letter, San Francisco mayor London Breed issued a statement about Osaka's decision to sever ties, saying:

One Mayor cannot unilaterally end a relationship that exists between the people of our two cities, especially one that has existed for over sixty years. In our eyes, the Sister City relationship between San Francisco and Osaka continues today through the connection of our people, and San Francisco looks forward to strengthening the bonds that tie our two great cities together.

“Japan is yet to sincerely apologize”

San Francisco Comfort Women Memorial, as of February 2018

San Francisco Comfort Women Memorial, as of February 2018. By: Ka-cw2018/Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 4.0

Women conscripted and enslaved by the Japanese military were euphemistically called ianfu (comfort women) in Japanese, and have long been a source of political controversy.

In World War II, at least 200,000 women from more than ten countries across Asia were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army (the United States, during its occupation of Japan from 1944 to 1952, operated a similar network of brothels).

Osaka itself is home to a large number of ethnic Korean residents, and Yoshimura‘s predecessor, the populist nationalist Hashimoto Toru, was known for sparking a variety of controversies, including stating in 2013 that comfort women were a “military necessity” during World War II. Yoshimura, a 41-year-old former lawyer, has in turn also been involved in the populist political movement at the local and national level since 2011.

An agreement between the governments of Japan and South Korea in late 2015 was intended to “finally and irreversibly” resolve the issue of “comfort women”, but ended up provoking widespread protests in South Korea.

Then, Park Geun-hye, the South Korean president who signed the agreement, was impeached, forced to resign and eventually imprisoned on unrelated corruption charges. Park's successor, President Moon Jae-in, has stated that Japan has yet to sincerely apologize and acknowledge that “comfort women” were systemically enslaved and exploited during the war.

The monument in San Francisco is not alone in provoking controversy. Activists unsuccessfully fought a three-year battle to remove a similar memorial erected in Glendale, California, and a statue in Manila was removed supposedly to make way for infrastructure improvements, although the removal came after official protests by the Japanese government. The Japanese government has also protested a “statue of peace” that was erected across the street from the Japanese embassy in Seoul, South Korea.

This article incorporates some research by Eric Johnston.

by Nevin Thompson at October 06, 2018 12:16 AM

October 05, 2018

Creative Commons
What’s next with WIPO’s ill-advised broadcast treaty?
Broadcast Tower by Alex, BY-NC-ND 2.0

Six years ago we wrote a blog post titled WIPO’s Broadcasting Treaty: Still Harmful, Still Unnecessary. At the time, the proposed treaty – which would grant to broadcasters a separate, exclusive copyright-like right in the signals that they transmit, separate from any copyrights in the content of the transmissions – had already been on WIPO’s docket for several years. It’s still on the table today, and now some countries are calling for actions to finalise the agreement.

The broadcasting treaty is still harmful and still unnecessary.

The current text contains many of the same damaging provisions, such as long term of protection (possibly 50 years) and little to no support for limitations and exceptions to the right which could provide needed protections for activities such as news reporting, quotation, education, personal use, and archiving.  

But the dealbreaker for CC is the fact that the treaty would essentially invalidate the permissions that users of Creative Commons grant when they share their creativity under open licenses, and instead gift new and unwarranted rights to broadcasting organizations that have added little or no value to the underlying work being transmitted. This is because the rights provided to broadcasters in the treaty would apply separately from copyright, thus permitting them to restrict how the content is shared even if the creator of the video or audio content has already released it under a Creative Commons license, or if it’s already in the public domain.

This week CC CEO Ryan Merkley presented at a seminar in Geneva hosted by Knowledge Ecology International. The event examined the broadcast treaty in relation to access to culture.  

Below is an excerpt from Ryan’s talk. You can watch the entire event online (Ryan’s remarks begin at 2:05:50).

Journalists, documentary filmmakers, podcast creators and others are using CC licenses to share their works broadly, and some of this media are used by traditional broadcasters too. These creators who choose to share their works and enable some permissive uses expect their works to be broadly accessible to the public under the terms of the CC license they chose. And they should be applauded for sharing works under permissive terms so their audiences can view and use them.

All Creative Commons licensors permit their works to be used for at least non-commercial purposes. When an author applies a CC license to her work, she grants to the public a worldwide, royalty-free license to use the work under certain terms. And many authors simply want to share their creativity freely under open terms to benefit the public good. For example, educators and scholarly researchers create and share works primarily to advance education and to contribute to their field of study—not necessarily for financial remuneration.

CC has pushed back on other policy changes in the realm of IP that would downplay or break how the CC licenses work, or enclose works that should be in the public domain. I remain concerned that the current draft would have a number of negative impacts, because it grants rights that reach overtop of those of creators.

The broadcasters argue that their investment should give them this right. But this shouldn’t be the test. The same argument could be used to give Museums rights over the works on their walls (which of course they want, and which at least one museum in Germany has successfully argued for in their courts), Movie theatres a right over the light particles that pass from the projector to the screen, or Booksellers the right over the books they put on their shelves, or even the trucking company that moves the books from the warehouse to the bookstore. Promoting and delivering content should not convey rights over the content itself — whether we call it the signal or not.

One alarming element in the proposal gives rights over the broadcast signal of works that are in the public domain or openly licensed.

In no cases should the treaty give broadcasters post fixation rights in works that are in the public domain, or openly licensed. It violates the spirit and wording of Creative Commons licensing, and creators who wish to have their works travel freely without additional strings attached. Broadcasters don’t own the content, and have no rights to the content of public domain and Creative Commons licensed works.

Works in the public domain should be free of these copyright-like restrictions, as we’ve argued in other areas – such as the notion that digital reproductions of works in the public domain should also be in the public domain (and not give rise to new copyrights).

Supporters of the broadcast treaty have failed to make a compelling, evidence-based case for a separate right, to identify the specific causes and resolutions for harm, and to show likely positive impacts of the treaty. However, there is significant risk that granting this new broadcasting right will limit access to information and culture.

Broadcasters already have legal remedies available to them to combat signal theft, and copyright law covers infringement in the underlying content.

WIPO should halt the proceedings of the broadcast treaty. With each passing year, it looks more and more like a solution in search of a problem.

The post What’s next with WIPO’s ill-advised broadcast treaty? appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Timothy Vollmer at October 05, 2018 04:34 PM

Global Voices
Mexicans celebrate indigenous cuisine with an online healthy food challenge
tlacoyo mexico

Tlacoyo, a pre-Hispanic dish that is making a comeback in contemporary Mexican cuisine. Photo: Padaguan/Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 4.0

A new online challenge in Mexico is encouraging people to eat healthy by returning to the nation's indigenous roots.

Under the hashtag #RetoTlacoyo, people share photos of tlacoyo, a nutritious pre-Hispanic snack consisting of corn tortilla filled with beans, lima beans and curd cheese (but ingredients tend to vary a lot).

The challenge was launched by Alianza por la Salud Alimentaria (Alliance for Health Nutrition), a civil society organization, as a way to encourage people to choose nutritious Mexican cuisine over junk food.

Reporte Indigo describes tlacoyo this way:

Según algunos registros, los españoles probaron los tlacoyos por primera vez en el tianguis de Tlatelolco y les gustó tanto, que incluyeron este alimento en su dieta, no sin antes agregarle productos derivados de la res y lácteos.

La composición básica de un tlacoyo es un pequeña empanada de maíz azul nixtamalizado rellena de frijoles, habas, alberjón, chicharrón o requesón. Se sirven cubiertos, a manera de complemento, con una mezcla de ingredientes como crema, queso, salsa, nopales, cebolla y cilantro.

According to some reports, the Spanish tried tlacoyos for the first time in the markets of Tlatelolco and they liked it so much that they included this dish in their diet, adding beef and dairy products to it.

The basic composition of the tlacoyo is a small, nixtamalized blue corn pie filled with beans, lima beans, grass peas, pork skins or curd cheese. As a complement, it is served covered with a mixture of ingredients such as cream, cheese, sauce, cactus, onion and coriander.

Obesity is a serious public health concern in Mexico, which consumes more ultra-processed foods than most Latin American countries.

Alianza por la Salud Alimentaria argues that the transition from the traditional Mexican diet to an industrialized one has contributed to the population's weight gain.

The promoters of #RetoTacloyo are sharing contributions on their official Twitter account:

Photo: Join the Tlacoyo Challenge. Value our cooking. WORLD HERITAGE. A highly-nutritious, non-expensive popular dish that contains some of the most important ingredients found in our diet. Embedded tweet: Tlacoyos from abroad…why should a Mexican lose the tradition of a good and healthy diet. Tlacoyos filled with lima beans and Mexican-style cactus salad.

The #RetoTlacoyo has spread beyond our national borders! 👏
👏👏
Photo from @jlo517 Thanks! pic.twitter.com/usSrIa6uhT

#retotlacoyo were delicious pic.twitter.com/B4WujHLRNH

#RetoTlacoyo with beans, cactus and peanut sauce pic.twitter.com/qfpHi0ejGO

On Instagram, users nutricionycocinamx and djchrisolive also joined the challenge and shared their photos:

by Kristina Edinger at October 05, 2018 01:58 PM

Rising Voices
This wiki is helping to keep the Balinese language alive in Indonesia

Basa Bali app. Source: Facebook

A crowdsourced, community-based platform is pioneering the use of digital tools to help preserve, promote, and revitalize the Balinese language in Indonesia.

Balinese is one of Indonesia’s 707 languages. Based on the 2011 census, there are almost two million people who speak Balinese in Bali province which has a population of around four million. There are also Balinese speakers in the provinces of in South Sulawesi and West Nusa Tenggara. Indonesia's total population is of 261 million.

Due to government regulations, Balinese language TV programs in Bali are aired for only half hour a day, while schools limit instruction in Balinese to only two hours per week or less. While these regulations are intended to boost the use of Bahasa as a national language, they also make it more difficult to promote the use and development of local languages such as Balinese.

Looking to reverse the declining popularity of Balinese among young people, a group of linguists, anthropologists, and students working within and outside the island of Bali started collaborating in 2011 to keep Balinese strong and sustainable.

The main project is called Basa Bali (Basa means language or speech in Balinese), a multimedia Balinese-English-Indonesian wiki dictionary and encyclopedia. It aims to introduce Balinese in the modern digital world as well as to create free digital language resources.

Alissa Stern, the founder of Basa Bali, told Planet World why they launched the project:

Balinese has about a million speakers; on the other hand, only about a quarter of the population of Bali can still speak it. So it’s in a state of decline, but it still has a solid base, which is why we’re intervening now.

The wiki offers readers a dictionary, a library with resources about Balinese culture, word games, translation materials, and a Balinese version of Google's homepage. The wiki is also available for Android app.

Screenshot of Basa Bali's virtual library page

Stern says that their project “could create that really important link between scholars and community members, which is hard to bridge.” She's described the role of the community when including each new entry in the dictionary:

We have the definitions, and those are entered by a 15-person team of linguists, and another team of about seven or eight Master's or Ph.D. students in linguistics. Then we ask the community to give us sample sentences, using the word in context with the kind of language that they use now, and we have a team of editors translating the sentences into English and Indonesian. People send us photos and videos too, so that users can see and hear people using Balinese in context.

For example, if you search the Balinese translation of the English word earthquake, you will get “linuh” and the results include the word in context.

Screenshot of Basa Bali dictionaryThe results will also feature a short video demonstrating how Balinese use the word “linuh” in speech:

This is what is being said in the video:

Dugas ada rapat unduk penggalian dana menahin banjare, I Made Rai ngusulang apang ngae bazar. Liu anake setuju dugase ento, sakewala ane magae ajak abedik. Buka linuhe ngidupang ibane. Makejang gaene jemaka, uli ngae kartu, kanti nyemak bazzar didiane.

On a meeting about fund raising to renovate the ‘banjar’, I Made Rai suggested to held a food bazzar. Many members agreed to do it, afterwards, only a few helped handling the bazzar. Sounds like an earthquake which happened by nature, Made Rai did all the job from making the coupons to deliver the food by himself.

The team behind Basa Bali is also reaching out to schools, communities, and government offices in order to promote Balinese. Because of their online and offline advocacy, they received the 2018 International Linguapax Award. Below is an excerpt of the text honoring the work of Basa Bali:

…they created interactive multimedia software to teach Balinese in a modern engaging way, they secured a local government mandate for using Balinese on Fridays and carried out many other grassroots efforts to motivate and institutionalise the use of Balinese in both the local and international communities.

Writing for Stanford Social Innovation Review, Stern pointed out that marginalization of local languages “is one of the unfortunate side effects of the Internet age.” But she also added how projects like Basa Bali can counter this:

By reorienting digital tools in service of local languages, technology can instead become an enriching source of linguistic and cultural diversity.

by Eddie Avila at October 05, 2018 12:56 PM

Global Voices
‘My message is my car': Afghan innovator challenges youth to make something from nothing

Yaser Ahmadzai and his creation. From Yaser Ahmadzai's personal archive. Used with permission.

As a young student growing up in the countryside of Nangarhar province under the control of the Taliban regime in the late 1990s, Yaser Ahmadzai’s sole source of inspiration was a weekly BBC Radio programme themed on innovation.

Ahmadzai’s dream was to create and build something — anything — but back then in Afghanistan, it seemed all but impossible.

Two decades later, Yaser Ahmadzai scraped the dust off his discarded dreams, began collecting old machine parts and set to work making a car with his son.

Emblazoned with the logo “Speed for Peace”, Ahmadzai says he sees the roadworthy vehicle as the start of something much bigger that might inspire the youth of a war-torn country to create things using the world around them

Global Voices sat down with Yaser Ahmadzai in his home in the capital Kabul and chatted innovation centres, working nights and choosing school over the Taliban.

Global Voices: Can you introduce yourself?

Yaser Ahmadzai (YH): I am Yasar Ahmadzai, a peace activist. Also, I sometimes work on technology and develop machines. I did my bachelor degree at the journalism faculty of Kabul University. I earned my Master’s degree in Peacebuilding and Applied Community Change from Future Generations University in the United States.

GV: What made you decide to build this car? 

YH: One day, I watched a report on how a Pakistani guy made a small helicopter (out of spare parts). It reminded me of my youth when I was a school student and had lots of ideas to innovate and create. I decided to make a car which could carry four people. I installed everything, from a music player through lights and everything else you need for a car. I had a full-time job so I worked night shifts on the car. It took me a full month to complete. I was thrilled when I finally drove my own car on the roads rather than one made by someone else.

GV: Had you made anything else before? 

YH: In 1998-1999, as a school student, I was thinking about how to make things. Cars, censors, helicopters, and many more ideas. Unfortunately, it was a black time in Afghanistan and I didn’t have enough equipment or the facilities where I could make something. I tried a lot of things; I made a model car and a helicopter. I made something like a censor-controlled car as well. Although the Taliban regime was controlling the country, I tried to inject ideas of change into my peers of that time. I was thinking of change and hoping that things will be different. My main aim was graduation from school. Most other young people left school to join the Taliban. I stayed in school to chase my dreams.

GV: But isn't post-Taliban Afghanistan still a difficult place for youth to realise their ambitions?

YH: In Afghanistan today, you have enough space and resources to realise your dreams. There is no-one to stop you from studying or making a car in your yard. It’s a free country where dreams come true for many young Afghans. I am one of them. I managed my time: I worked as a full-time employee at a foreign aid organisation and worked at night on my car.

Ahmadzai with his young son, working on his car. From Yaser Ahmadzai's personal archive. Used with permission.

GV: What was your purpose?

YH: Apart from realising my own dream, I wanted to inspire other young Afghans, who have dreams. A large number of young Afghans have ideas to innovate and create. They think about when to start. Just start your work. Do your work with what you have now. It’s time to start.

GV: And what is the bigger goal?

YH: I want to build a centre for innovation, where young Afghans can come together and build things. I have already heard from a young man who plans to work on electric projects. I am even trying to support young people financially from my own limited salary. In addition, I plan to collaborate with the Ministry of Education as a volunteer in order to go to public schools and speak about innovation.

GV: Do you have a message for young Afghans?

YH: My Message is my car: let’s do our best for a better tomorrow. We Afghans just talk, we need to act! Let’s do our part to drive the country. Nobody is going to develop us without us. It’s us who can build this country. Also, I named this car “SPEED FOR PEACE” as a request to the Afghan government, political parties, and international community to speed up the peace process in Afghanistan.

by Ezzatullah Mehrdad at October 05, 2018 12:32 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
Why the Facebook breach isn't just about Facebook
Facebook announced this week that it had suffered its biggest hack ever, compromising the accounts of at least 50 million users. Part of the reason a Facebook hack is so scary is that the social network connects to so many other apps and services. You might use it to log in to Spotify or Tinder or OpenTable — a whole string of apps might have your information connected to your profile. So far, Facebook has said hackers did not access any third-party apps. But it's still investigating the scope of the hack. We dig into this in Quality Assurance, the segment where we take a deeper look at a big tech story. Molly Wood talks with Mike Isaac, a tech reporter for The New York Times who's been covering the story. (10/05/18)

by Marketplace at October 05, 2018 10:39 AM

October 04, 2018

Creative Commons
We are seeking a new Director of Engineering
Photo by WOCinTech Chat / CC BY

A couple of weeks ago, I stepped into the role of Director of Product and Research. We are now in the middle of our second sprint for CC search (see results from the last one here) and seeking a new Director of Engineering. Paola Villarreal, our current Director of Product Engineering, will be leaving us in December for a new opportunity. While we are sad to see her leave, we are excited to shape and launch a new phase for Creative Commons that aligns our vision and strategy for product with real world user needs.

The new Director of Engineering will work closely with me, the Director of Product and Research, to lead the technical design, development and implementation of CC’s products and services. Right now that primarily means CC search and its supporting parts (the CC catalog and API), and in the future that may mean new product ideas resulting from user research and pending alignment with our new product vision and strategy (read more about current usability prototypes and research here).

The Director of Engineering will also work closely with our newly formed Tools and Product team, which consists of the following fantastic people:

Sophine Clachar (Data Engineer building the CC catalog that fuels CC search), Alden Page (Software Engineer that is working on all things backend to CC search, in particular making the CC catalog accessible via an API), Steven Bellamy (Front-end Engineer that is making CC search elegant and usable for real people), Diane Peters (General Counsel that makes sure CC is legally covered across all its tools and product offerings), Sarah Pearson (Senior Counsel that also serves as product counsel for CC search), and myself. A Core Systems Manager will also be joining our team next week.

You will be stepping into a role with a lot of moving parts, but with lots of support and excitement from your peers. We look forward to your application! 

Job Opportunity: Director of Engineering

 

The post We are seeking a new Director of Engineering appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Jane Park at October 04, 2018 06:26 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
Why automation is a huge part of China's goal to remake its manufacturing industry
Automation is coming. And although it's inevitably going to take jobs away, it's also going to create millions of new jobs, make production more efficient and kickstart entire new industries. The countries that invest in automation early, and in the retraining that will help workers transition to new types of jobs, could really jump ahead economically. That's partly why automation is a huge part of the Chinese government's Made in China 2025 initiative. That’s the country's plan to reduce its reliance on outside technology and create a tech economy that rivals the West. Automation is an especially big deal in China because there's so much manufacturing there. It's sometimes referred to as “the world's factory.” Marketplace’s China correspondent Jennifer Pak joins host Molly Wood to talk about how big a deal the transition to automation might be for China. (10/04/18)

by Marketplace at October 04, 2018 10:37 AM

October 03, 2018

Global Voices
This wiki is helping to keep the Balinese language alive in Indonesia

Basa Bali app. Source: Facebook

A crowdsourced, community-based platform is pioneering the use of digital tools to help preserve, promote, and revitalize the Balinese language in Indonesia.

Balinese is one of Indonesia’s 707 languages. Based on the 2011 census, there are almost two million people who speak Balinese in Bali province which has a population of around four million. There are also Balinese speakers in the provinces of in South Sulawesi and West Nusa Tenggara. Indonesia's total population is of 261 million.

Due to government regulations, Balinese language TV programs in Bali are aired for only half hour a day, while schools limit instruction in Balinese to only two hours per week or less. While these regulations are intended to boost the use of Bahasa as a national language, they also make it more difficult to promote the use and development of local languages such as Balinese.

Looking to reverse the declining popularity of Balinese among young people, a group of linguists, anthropologists, and students working within and outside the island of Bali started collaborating in 2011 to keep Balinese strong and sustainable.

The main project is called Basa Bali (Basa means language or speech in Balinese), a multimedia Balinese-English-Indonesian wiki dictionary and encyclopedia. It aims to introduce Balinese in the modern digital world as well as to create free digital language resources.

Alissa Stern, the founder of Basa Bali, told Planet World why they launched the project:

Balinese has about a million speakers; on the other hand, only about a quarter of the population of Bali can still speak it. So it’s in a state of decline, but it still has a solid base, which is why we’re intervening now.

The wiki offers readers a dictionary, a library with resources about Balinese culture, word games, translation materials, and a Balinese version of Google's homepage. The wiki is also available for Android app.

Screenshot of Basa Bali's virtual library page

Stern says that their project “could create that really important link between scholars and community members, which is hard to bridge.” She's described the role of the community when including each new entry in the dictionary:

We have the definitions, and those are entered by a 15-person team of linguists, and another team of about seven or eight Master's or Ph.D. students in linguistics. Then we ask the community to give us sample sentences, using the word in context with the kind of language that they use now, and we have a team of editors translating the sentences into English and Indonesian. People send us photos and videos too, so that users can see and hear people using Balinese in context.

For example, if you search the Balinese translation of the English word earthquake, you will get “linuh” and the results include the word in context.

Screenshot of Basa Bali dictionaryThe results will also feature a short video demonstrating how Balinese use the word “linuh” in speech:

This is what is being said in the video:

Dugas ada rapat unduk penggalian dana menahin banjare, I Made Rai ngusulang apang ngae bazar. Liu anake setuju dugase ento, sakewala ane magae ajak abedik. Buka linuhe ngidupang ibane. Makejang gaene jemaka, uli ngae kartu, kanti nyemak bazzar didiane.

On a meeting about fund raising to renovate the ‘banjar’, I Made Rai suggested to held a food bazzar. Many members agreed to do it, afterwards, only a few helped handling the bazzar. Sounds like an earthquake which happened by nature, Made Rai did all the job from making the coupons to deliver the food by himself.

The team behind Basa Bali is also reaching out to schools, communities, and government offices in order to promote Balinese. Because of their online and offline advocacy, they received the 2018 International Linguapax Award. Below is an excerpt of the text honoring the work of Basa Bali:

…they created interactive multimedia software to teach Balinese in a modern engaging way, they secured a local government mandate for using Balinese on Fridays and carried out many other grassroots efforts to motivate and institutionalise the use of Balinese in both the local and international communities.

Writing for Stanford Social Innovation Review, Stern pointed out that marginalization of local languages “is one of the unfortunate side effects of the Internet age.” But she also added how projects like Basa Bali can counter this:

By reorienting digital tools in service of local languages, technology can instead become an enriching source of linguistic and cultural diversity.

by Juliana Harsianti at October 03, 2018 06:41 PM

Nepal roars with pride to become the first country to double its wild tigers by 2022

A Bengal tiger stares back in Nepal's Bardia National Park. Image by Sagar Giri. Used with permission.

Conservationists are upbeat about Nepal slated to become the first country to double its wild tiger numbers by 2022. On National Conservation Day, September 23, 2018, Nepal announced that it has 235 tigers living in the wild. In 2009, there were only 121 tigers in Nepal.

In 2010, at the Tiger Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Government of Nepal along with the governments of India, Russia, Nepal, and Bhutan pledged to double the number of tigers by 2022.

Tigers, revered in Hindu mythology as the mount of Durga, Goddess of Power, have always been a guarded species. As symbols of power and courage, tigers have faced threats due to a declining prey population, poaching, and destruction and degradation of their habitats.

Once, nine tiger species (Bengal, Siberian, Indo-Chinese, South Chinese, Sumatran, Malayan, Caspian, Javan, and Bali) roamed in 13 countries, ranging from Turkey to several nations in Southeast Asia. Out of these, the Caspian, Javan and Bali tigers are already extinct. Nepal is known for its Bengal tigers.

In the early 1900s, around 100,000 tigers roamed in the wild. Today, the estimated tiger population is around 3,900 globally. India boasts 2,226 wild tigers — the highest number in the world.

Tigers are found in Nepal’s Chitwan National Park, Bardia National Park, Banke National Park, Shuklaphanta National Park, and Parsa National Park. Earlier, Nepal’s Chitwan National Park was declared the first park in the world to be accredited by Conservation Assured Tiger Standards (CA|TS) in the year 2015.

Cumbersome counting

Tigers are difficult to track because of their elusive nature. According to noted tiger expert Dr. K. Ullas Karanth, in the 1960s, officials in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Russia assumed that just as human fingerprints are unique, paws of a tiger must differ. They thought they could count tigers by counting their tracks, but the method was flawed.

With technological advancements, tigers these days are counted by their unique stripe pattern on their flanks, automatically captured by camera traps placed along tiger trails. The following video reveals how tigers were counted in Nepal, where over 300 field workers spent 16,811 days with 1,643 camera traps and then analyzed tigers’ stripes based on the footage:

However, back in 2016, Dr. Karanth expressed skepticism about the counting method in his article “The Trouble with Tiger Numbers“:

These groups (the WWF and the Global Tiger Forum) aim to increase the number of tigers to 6,000 by 2022. But their tally, based on official estimates, relied on flawed methodologies, including the use of statistically weak extrapolations from tiger photographs and field counts of spoor.

Tiger conservation initiatives in Nepal

Nepal has led the global tiger conservation movement with recent census results showing increased tiger numbers.

The Government of Nepal, together with conservation partners, has initiated several measures to save these magnificent species. According to the paper “Tiger Conservation Initiatives in Nepal”, Nepal has established the National Tiger Conservation Committee and the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network.

Nepal has also signed a memorandum of understanding with China for biodiversity conservation focused on curbing illicit wildlife trade, including tiger parts. Nepal’s declaration of Banke National Park as a protected area has also provided larger territory for the tigers. Estimating the abundance of tigers and its prey base (the availability of food in any given habitat to support a predator) will help assess the effectiveness of conservation interventions and formulate plans for future management.

Additional measures have been crucial for increasing tiger numbers such as training park and protection staff to use real-time SMART (Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool) technologies and the formation of community-based anti-poaching operations to enhance patrolling.

Grassland management has also been crucial for conservation. With the construction of wetlands, wild tigers have access to their own water sources, even in the dry season, instead of dipping into water supplies used by humans in the buffer zone. With the construction of fire lines, dug trenches avoid spreading forest fires, protecting wild animals including tigers.

For now, Nepali tiger experts are optimistic about Nepal doubling its tiger numbers by 2022. It just needs 15 more tigers to reach its goal in the next four years!

Tiger experts have said that Nepal is on the track to reach its target of increasing the tiger numbers to 250 in four years.

by Sanjib Chaudhary at October 03, 2018 04:06 PM

Creative Commons
Latvian 4.0 and Basque 4.0 and CC0 translations now available

legal-logo

Creative Commons is proud to announce the release of the official translations of the Latvian 4.0 licenses and Basque 4.0 licenses, as well as the Basque CC0 translation.

After one and a half years and many rounds of consultation, the Latvian 4.0 translation is now published on the Creative Commons site and will benefit almost 2 million native speakers. We would like to thank Toms Ceļmillers and the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of the Republic of Latvia for their dedicated efforts in coordinating this translation.

Thanks to an ambitious team, the Basque 4.0 and CC0 translations took only about six months of production. The translation team was comprised of Marko Txopitea, Gotzon Egia, and Ignasi Labastida i Juan. There are around 750,000 native Basque speakers in the world and almost 2 million passive speakers.

With the Spanish (Castellano) translation of 4.0 recently published and the Catalan translation underway, the CC licenses will be officially translated into three of the most frequently spoken languages in Spain.

If you are interested in helping with CC’s translation work, please join our Translation Working Group on Slack, where you can stay informed about materials that need to be translated and/or suggest new materials for the community to translate.

The post Latvian 4.0 and Basque 4.0 and CC0 translations now available appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Sarah Pearson at October 03, 2018 12:54 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
What does the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement mean for the digital world?
This week, the United States, Mexico and Canada made a tentative trade deal that will replace NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. And while NAFTA is better known for, say, avocados and cars, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, as it's known, is updated for the digital age. For example, it would protect internet companies like Facebook or Google from being sued over material that shows up on their services. It addresses how internet services and future 5G might work in all three countries. And it would make it easier for digital goods and data to cross borders. Molly talks about it with Victoria Espinel, who is on the federal Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations and is CEO of the software industry trade group called BSA / The Software Alliance. (10/03/18)

by Marketplace at October 03, 2018 10:40 AM

October 02, 2018

Global Voices
Brazilian women rise up against leading presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro

Protests led by women speak out against presidential candidate Bolsonaro in São Paulo | Image: Rovena Rosa/Agência Brasil, used with permission.

Tensions are rising in Brazil as citizens prepare to vote for president, state governors, state assemblies and the National Congress in elections on October 7, 2018.

Citizens strongly oppose presidential candidate Congressman Jair Bolsonaro, a former military officer currently leading in the polls. Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets in several Brazilian cities on Saturday, September 29, 2018, to say: #NotHim, #NeverHim (#EleNão, #EleNunca, #EleJamais).

According to the latest results from Datafolha Institute, Bolsonaro has 28 percent of projected votes, followed by the Workers’ Party nominee, Fernando Haddad, with 22 percent. However, Bolsonaro has the largest margin of rejection: an estimated 46 percent of Brazilians say they would never vote for him. Among women, who represent more than half of the 147 million voters, it reaches 52 percent.

And women are the loudest voices in the #NotHim movement against Bolsonaro, a candidate who openly espouses misogynist and homophobic rhetoric. The video below shows thousands at national protests across Brazil:

Women against Bolsonaro

Protests were called in mid-September after Women Against Bolsonaro, an all-female group one-million strong on Facebook, was hacked and attacked. All the administrators were blocked and the group's name was changed to show support for Bolsonaro.

Days prior, Bolsonaro’s vice presidential candidate, former Army General Hamilton Mourão, and Bolsonaro's son, Eduardo, a congressman like his father, spread false rumors claiming the group was “fake” with purchased followers.

Women Against Bolsonaro was receiving at least 10 thousand newcomers every minute, according to UOL news outlet.

Data specialist Fabio Malini, a professor at the Federal University of Espirito Santo, monitored social media engagement around #NotHim on the day of the protests. According to Malini, every 40 seconds, 1,000 tweets containing the hashtags #elenao, #epelavidadasmulheres, #mulherescontrabolsonaro, #elenunca (#nothim, #itsforwomenslives, #womenagainstbolsonaro, #neverhim) were posted.

Malini illustrated the “explosion” of reactions of 270,833 profiles generating 1,011,560 retweets in the graphic below:

The network shows 270,833 profiles generating 1,011,560 RTs. An explosion of influencers, creating a multiple, colorful and global network. Brown netowrk: profiles against the movement (9%)

Demonstrations supporting Bolsonaro were held the following day on Sunday, September 30. In an interview from the hospital, where Bolsonaro has stayed since he was stabbed during a rally at the beginning of September, Bolsonaro promised he “will only accept his victory as per the elections results.”

Bolsonaro's stance against equality  

Bolsonaro is openly outspoken against gender equality and women's rights. In 2014, Bolsonaro suggested he would never rape politician Maria do Rosario “because she was too ugly” and “didn't deserve it.” That same year, talking to a local newspaper, he defended employers by saying they should not be forced to pay equal wages to men and women. In 2016, Bolsonaro voted to impeach Dilma Rousseff, the first female president of Brazil.

Bolsonaro has also made a series of anti-gay statements such as “I wouldn’t be able to love a gay son.”

During the 2018 campaign, he tried to clean up his image by launching a video with his daughter, claiming she “changed his life”. But citizens remember when he referred to her birth as a “weak moment” and protestors held up posters asking: “With how many weakness can you make a revolution?”

This poster has a huge impact. It gave me chills.

“His ideas are bad for most people”

The #NotHim movement has attracted support from a wide spectrum of groups. Brazilian football fans published a series of manifestos including Corinthians Gaviões da Fiel, one of the largest and oldest football clubs, the first to take a stand:

Hoje, com mais de 112 mil associados, entendemos existirem diferentes formas de pensar e posicionar-se numa sociedade democrática. Respeitamos essa pluralidade de ideias, pois ela é a essência da democracia pelo qual nossos fundadores lutaram. Não podemos, portanto, concordar jamais com quem se posiciona justamente contrário aos valores básicos do Estado Democrático de Direito.

Today, with more than 112,000 associates, we understand that there are different ways of thinking and take a stand in a democratic society. We respect the plurality of ideas, since it is the essence of the democracy for which our founders fought for. We cannot, however, ever agree with whoever position themselves against the basic values of a Democratic State of Law.

The movement has also attracted international support from celebrities like Madonna and Cher, with a shout out from the official account of Time’s Up, a global women's advocacy movement:

Brazilian Maria Soares, among the thousands who marched in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday, explained her reasons for protesting:

Mrs Maria Soares always fighting and showing us that resistence does not depend on your age!



As ideias dele são ruins para a maioria das pessoas. Só podem votar para o Bolsonaro as pessoas egoístas, as pessoas homofóbicas, as pessoas racistas, as pessoas desumanas. A minha preocupação não é só com Bolsonaro, mas com essas pessoas que vão votar nele. Não sei o que essas pessoas querem do mundo.

His ideas are bad for most people. The only ones who can vote for Bolsonaro are the selfish, the homophobic, the racist, the inhumane people. My biggest concern it's not Bolsonaro himself, but the people who will vote for him. I don’t know what they want for the world.

Anthropologist Rosana Pinheiro-Machado and writer Joanna Burigo examined why #NotHim became something more than a hashtag:

Se nada disso se converter em ganho eleitoral, ainda assim não há motivos para pensar diferente ou manifestar nossa indignação de outra forma. Esta luta – que conta com hashtags e memes, mas não só, pois a estamos carregando com nossos corpos – não é sobre percentuais apenas. É sobre como nós, mulheres, estamos ocupando e reinventando a política.

If none of this reverts to electoral gain, still there aren't any reasons to think different or to find another way of manifesting our indignation. This fight — that includes hashtags, memes, but not only that, since we are also carrying it with our bodies — it's not only for percentages. It's about how we, as women, are occupying and reinventing politics.

Other national protests against the candidate have already been called for October 6, a day before the elections.

by Fernanda Canofre at October 02, 2018 11:23 PM

Creative Commons
CC submits proposed Amicus Brief to 9th Circuit on Proper Interpretation of BY-NC-SA 4.0
photocopierPhoto copier by David Hall, CC BY 2.0

Creative Commons (CC) has asked a U.S. appeals court for permission to file an amicus brief in a lawsuit brought by Great Minds against Office Depot, to aid the court in its proper interpretation of the CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license.

This case involves a dispute between Great Minds, the creator of educational materials paid for with public funding and licensed under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license, and Office Depot, a commercial copyshop hired to make copies of those materials by public school districts. Great Minds claims here, and in an almost identical lawsuit brought against FedEx Office, that the schools cannot hire outside help to make the copies they need to use the materials for their non commercial purposes in the classroom. Notably, Great Minds explicitly did not object to the idea of a school board employee going to an Office Depot and using a self-serve copier (where copies are sold to customers at a profit). It was only when they engaged an Office Depot employee to make the copies that Great Minds objected.

In the litigation against Office Depot, the district court in California ruled in favor of Office Depot, just as the New York district court and the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in FedEx Office’s favor. The California court agreed that so long as a copyshop is acting at the request of a non commercial actor, here the school district, the shop can make the copies and charge for and receive a profit to do so, without violating the license. This is because the copyshop is not acting on its own accord but as a delegate of school district, just as a paid employee of the school might when making copies for use in her classroom.

The brief we request be accepted reinforces what is already the established legal precedent established by the FedEx Office case in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in the United States (spanning New York, Connecticut, and Vermont), as well as the law in the district court in California that Great Minds is now appealing.

CC supports the decision of the California court, which found Great Minds’ lawsuit was an attempt to re-argue the same facts in a different court – a previous lawsuit it had filed, appealed, and lost in the 2nd Circuit against FedEx Office. (See the court order requiring Great Minds to pay Office Depot’s attorney fees for having done so). As both the 2nd Circuit concluded in a case involving FedEx Office [pdf] and the district court concluded in California [pdf], a bona fide non-commercial user may engage contractors to exercise the licensed rights on their behalf and at their direction, irrespective of whether the contractor is itself a non-commercial actor. Notably, in the course of all of its litigation, Great Minds has never objected to the idea of a school board employee going to an Office Depot and using a self-serve copier (where copies are sold to customers at a profit). Its concern has been limited to the nearly identical circumstance a school district employee paying an Office Depot employee to make the copies instead. Were Great Minds’ theory to prevail, it would require every re-user to own the means for reproducing NC-licensed works and avoid using any for-profit actor in doing so, a result that our licenses never intended.

This is not a change from how our licenses have always worked. This does not mean, for example, that a commercial copyshop can independently make copies of NC-licensed textbooks and turn around and sell them. Nor does it mean a teacher can sell an NC-licensed textbook to her neighbor that she previously received from her school district to use in the classroom. In those cases, both the copyshop and the teacher are bound by the NC restriction because they are acting on their own and thus are licensees, in their own right, and the NC restriction would almost certainly be violated.

The filing and acceptance of amicus briefs is standard practice in U.S. appellate courts. Unfortunately, Great Minds has opposed our request on grounds that CC’s interpretation of the very licenses that we wrote and steward will not be of assistance to the Court. Filing such an opposition is rare, and CC has filed a short reply in response.

The outcomes of this case against Office Depot and the prior case against FedEx Office demonstrate the strength of the CC licenses, and we look forward to a successful conclusion in the 9th Circuit.

Finally, we want to thank Andy Gass and his team of lawyers at Latham & Watkins for their expertise and valuable insights in connection with both lawsuits.

The post CC submits proposed Amicus Brief to 9th Circuit on Proper Interpretation of BY-NC-SA 4.0 appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Diane Peters at October 02, 2018 02:25 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
Some performers say "Fortnite" is stealing their dances and should share the wealth
In the insanely popular video game "Fortnite," players can spend about five bucks to unlock dances called emotes for their characters to perform. And these dances are everywhere. You see them on playgrounds, in pro sports, and there are "Fortnite" dance classes.  But are they really "Fortnite" dances? Most of them appear borrowed, like the dance called “Ride the Pony,” which is pretty clearly “Gangnam Style.” There's the one called “Fresh,” which is a dead ringer for the “Carlton Dance” from the "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." Back in July, Chance the Rapper Tweeted at Epic Games, the maker of "Fortnite," and said it should give rappers and artists credit and cash for their dances. A rapper named 2 Milly has said he might sue Epic Games over his dance “Milly Rock,” which he alleges is “Swipe It” in "Fortnite." Host Molly Wood talks about it with Merlyne Jean-Louis, a lawyer and former dancer who's written about copyrighting choreography. (10/02/18)

by Marketplace at October 02, 2018 10:32 AM

October 01, 2018

Global Voices
Operation Leave Home: a new social media trend encourages young Angolans to fly the coop

Mario Igoor Diias, a resident of Namibe (Angola), is seen here leaving his mother's home. Photo used with his permission.

Operation Leave Home is a social media trend created by young Angolans to encourage each other to strike out on their own.

In the past few months, hundreds of youth have posted images of themselves packing up and moving out of their parents’ home, an act of defiance and victory for those working toward personal independence.

But most of them can't really leave because they're stuck at home. The movement calls attention to the fact that many young Angolans stay home due to chronic financial crises, with youth unemployment hovering around 56 percent.

Operation Leave Home is trending after the viral meme challenge known as ‘You just killed me swept Angola with youth protesting the negligence of their government to care for basic needs.

Precarious lives, limited opportunity

On July 21, 2018, hundreds of youth marched in the capital city Luanda against high unemployment, demanding compliance with the promises made by Angolan President João Lourenço to create 500,000 jobs.

Viriato da Cruz, 28, one of the organizers, says he has been unemployed for seven years. 

According to a cost of living survey that analyzes the cost of 200 categories including housing and transport, the city of Luanda was ranked one of the most expensive cities in the world for everyday goods.

Fernanda Januário NGuami Maka, a communications student at the Private University of Angola, joined the Operation Leave Home campaign by sharing images of her leaving her parents’ home. Beyond comedic relief, she sees the trend as a form of protest against the current situation in Angola. 

Addressing the government, she writes: 

Entenda mano (a).

Este tema que muitos apenas o olham pelo lado cómico é uma forma de protestar a situação actual do povo Angolano. Os jovens Angolanos na sua maioria adultos ainda vivem sobre tutela dos Pais motivo pelo qual entenda o verdadeiro sentido do tema “SAI DA CASA DA VELHA”

Tira-me da casa da velha vc que estás a piorar a vida dos jovens na desgraça. Tira-me da casa da Mãe vc que na abundancia só se preocupou com o desvio do erário público.

Tira-me daqui, vc que só está preocupado comigo quando precisas do meu voto. Tira-me da casa da Mãe, vc que não consegue construir escolas mais vive dizendo que estas a combater o analfabetismo.

Me tira daqui porra vc que não cria políticas de emprego + continuas a corres com as zungueiras, vc que aproveita da farda para extorquir os taxistas.

My friend,

This theme that many just look at on the comic side is a way of protesting the current situation of the Angolan people. Young Angolans, for the most part, are still living off of parental responsibility, so that they understand the true meaning of the theme “LEAVING PARENTS’ HOME.”

Get me out of my parents’ home, you're making young peoples’ lives worse off in disgrace. Get me out of the house of my mother.

Get me out of here, you're just worried about me when you need my vote. Get me out of my mother's house, you can not build schools anymore, you're saying that you're fighting against illiteracy.

Get me out of here, you do not create employment policies, you take advantage of the uniform to extort taxi drivers.

Fernanda Januário NGuami Maka participates in the Operation Leave Home campaign. Photo used with her permission.

Tatiana Pinheiro and Ilda Calandula, both students at the Independent University of Angola, told Global Voices that it is not so bad for young people to want to live at home with their parents, citing cultural reasons:

Há questões culturais que estão patentes em algumas grupos étnicos que podem estar na base de muitas famílias não permitirem com que os seus membros festejem longe deles.

Ou seja, há uma raiz familiar e cultural, que pode ser vista a nível da construção de habitações que sirva para toda a família em um só espaço físico, num quintal com maior dimensão para estes serem repartidos em pequenas residências onde todos podem viver.

There are cultural issues which belongs to some ethnic groups that may be the basis of many families not allowing their members to party away from them.

There are family and cultural aspects about the [structure of our] houses which serve the whole family in a single physical space with the larger dimension distributed into smaller homes where everyone can live.

However, Graça Isabella Sebastião, another young woman who joined and supports the movement, wrote on her Facebook page in desperation: 

Operação saír da casa da velha: Alguém aí de boa fé pra me acolher, nesse momento estou na rua chorando sem saber onde ir.

Operation leaving the parents’ home: someone to welcome me? At this moment, I am on the street crying without knowing where to go.

With thousands of young Angolans eager to leave their parents’ nest, several Facebook groups with the name Operation Leave Home have been started. 

by Dércio Tsandzana at October 01, 2018 09:29 PM

Creative Commons
New NAFTA Would Harm Canadian Copyright Reform and Shrink the Public Domain

Late yesterday the U.S., Canada, and Mexico reached an agreement on a new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The agreement (now rebranded as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or “USMCA”) obligates Canada to increase its copyright term by an additional 20 years if the deal is passed.

Canada currently observes the minimum term of copyright as required by the Berne Convention, which is life of the author plus 50 years. USMCA requires all signatories to agree to a term of at least life of the author plus 70 years.

The extension of already-lengthy copyright terms will discourage new creativity in Canada. It will further prevent Canadians from accessing and using the rich pool of resources in the public domain, which means they can be used free of any copyright protections. Creativity always builds upon the past, and the public domain is our shared cultural commons used to create new works of art and science. Like a sedimentary rock, the “Commons” in Creative Commons starts with the public domain. Fulfilling our mission of protecting and expanding the public domain is why we’ve developed tools to better mark and dedicate content to the public domain. We continue to advocate for changes to copyright policy that promote a robust and accessible public domain.

During the opaque renegotiation of NAFTA, we urged negotiators to ensure that the copyright provisions in the agreement should not be expanded to create new (and likely more onerous) copyright rules. We worked with international groups to release the Washington Principles on Copyright Balance in Trade Agreements to restate the obvious fact that further copyright term extensions make no sense: “there is no evidence to suggest that the private benefits of copyright term extensions ever outweigh the costs to the public.”

The end of copyright protection in a work allows for the production of new works. That is why term length is a balance to be struck — and one which Canada has handled well. Ian Fleming’s literary character James Bond, for example, entered the public domain in Canada on January 1, 2015. This allowed Canadian authors David Nickle and Madeline Ashby to produce License Expired, an anthology of unauthorized 007 stories for ChiZine Publications.

The introduction of the life +70 year copyright term is particularly damaging for Canada, which is in the middle of a national copyright reform process. Before these negotiations took place, an increase in copyright term was not  on the agenda for the Canadian reform. Last year, Canadian ministers responsible for the copyright review indicated some support of the public domain, stating that an updated law “should ensure […] that users benefit from a public domain.” In our submission to the public consultation, we wrote:

We believe that Canada has been right to push back against any extension of copyright term or expansion of the scope. The copyright term of life of the author + 50 years is already far too long. Extremely long copyright terms prevent works from entering the public domain, where they may be used by anyone — including CC licensors — without restriction as the raw material for additional creative works.

If the USMCA is adopted, it will clearly violate the direction of the Canadian copyright reform, which decided to leave the existing term as is.

The USMCA text shows the powerful hand of U.S. copyright interests. A copyright term extension was floated in earlier versions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and Creative Commons joined with dozens of other organisations to push back on it then. After President Trump withdrew the United States from the TPP last year, many of the most damaging intellectual property provisions were suspended, including any call for a copyright term extension. But USMCA shows a swing back in the other direction, almost surely a result of U.S. pressure to ratchet up copyright protection and enforcement measures.  

There are countless competing interests in a massive new trade agreement like the USMCA, and this concern is only one. But from a copyright perspective, it is discouraging to see the inclusion of yet another ill-advised term extension, especially at a time when Canada is actively debating a more progressive future for its own copyright law.

There is no reason for any more copyright term extensions, which would harm the commons and are contrary to the policies and values supported by the Creative Commons community.

The post New NAFTA Would Harm Canadian Copyright Reform and Shrink the Public Domain appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Timothy Vollmer at October 01, 2018 07:36 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
Tesla faces turmoil at the top ... and stiff competition
Elon Musk must resign from Tesla's board of directors after a settlement on Saturday with the Securities and Exchange Commission over his tweets about taking the company private. He will stay on as CEO. It's tough to separate the conversation about Tesla from the conversation about Elon Musk. But let's talk about cars for a minute. Because it feels like electric car announcements are fast and furious lately. Ford is promising an electric crossover that's the size of a Tesla Model X but inspired by the Mustang. There are rumors of a $30,000 electric Volkswagen. Is Tesla's biggest problem actually competition? Molly talks with Maryann Keller, an auto industry analyst, about the new entries into the electric car market. (10/01/18)

by Marketplace at October 01, 2018 10:37 AM

Global Voices
Ken ‘Professor’ Philmore, Trinidadian musician who took steel pan music ‘by storm’, dies

Ken “Professor” Philmore at Trinidad and Tobago's 2015 Panorama finals, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Fonclaire Steel Orchestra. Photo by Maria Nunes, used with permission.

On September 30, 2018, one week after being seriously injured in a car accident, Ken “Professor” Philmore, one of Trinidad and Tobago's foremost steel pan composers and arrangers, passed away.

By all accounts, Philmore had always been fascinated with the country's national instrument, even as a young child. He began playing with pan groups in his early teens, where he earned the moniker “Professor” thanks to his serious-looking spectacles, and quickly developed into an exemplary soloist.

Philmore began arranging with south Trinidad-based steel orchestras like Hatters and Fonclaire in the 1980s, all the while recording and performing as a solo musician. His first album, “Our Heritage”, which came out in 1985, was a seamless blend of classic jazz with a Caribbean interpretation, and flavourful calypso fare.

When, circa 1987, Lord Kitchener, considered the “grand master of calypso”, performed one of his hits, “Pan in A Minor”, featuring Philmore as the soloist, the “Professor” became a household name in Trinidad and Tobago:

His crisp, assertive style of playing proved to have wide appeal: the notes came fast and furious, tempered by a joyful, melodious sweetness that was difficult to replicate. He eventually branched out and began to arrange for other well known steelbands, many of which did very well in the prestigious Panorama competition, always a much anticipated part of the country's annual Carnival celebrations.

One of Philmore's most beloved compositions, which Fonclaire played at the 1990 Panorama finals, was “Pan by Storm”. They eventually placed second:

But Philmore didn't limit his talents to the land of his birth. Knowing that steel pan music had the ability to travel — to the Caribbean diaspora who were longing for a taste of home, and to musical communities well beyond those who were already familiar with the instrument — he performed and arranged abroad as well, winning the New York version of the Panorama competition on six consecutive occasions.

His friendly demeanour and energetic personality helped his star to rise; he would go on to share the stage with many international musicians, including Tina Turner, Tito Puente, Andy Narell, and jazz giants Ella Fitzgerald and Lionel Hampton.

As news of Philmore's death reached social media, the tributes began to pour in. Referencing the title of his most recognised piece, one of the country's most popular choral groups, The Marionettes, said that Philmore took “the world by storm with his music”, while jazz trumpeter Etienne Charles called him “genius personified”.

The superlatives describing Philmore's life and work continued, as university lecturer Rhoda Bharath noted:

This is the equivalent of a Brahms, Bach or Beethoven passing.
This is huge.
This is a loss.
#Philmore

Saxophonist Anthony Woodroffe mused:

Pan fraternity has lost an Icon… the music community in Trinidad and Tobago as a whole has lost a legend. Professor is someone I looked up to because he always played like the music was the most important thing. No egos… just good music. Although he achieved so much he remained grounded and down to earth. Greeted you like you were a brother or a sister. There is much that we can learn from what he represented. I feel for his family and his extended family (those musicians that were fortunate enough to work with him over the years), May you find some solace in the knowledge that he will always be remembered and his contributions to our culture will stand the test of time.

Philmore was undoubtedly integral to the development of steel pan music. In 1989, he was honoured by Pan Trinbago, the country's steel pan association, for being that year's most outstanding musical arranger.

A few months later, the mayor of New York presented Philmore with an award for his contribution to music; his stunning performances at venues like Carnegie Hall, the Apollo Theatre, and Madison Square Garden led to an invitation to accompany the Duke Ellington Orchestra on their North American and European tours from 1989 to 1991.

The “Professor” also appeared at numerous international jazz festivals, including Washington DC and Atlanta in the United States, and St. Croix and Barbados in the Caribbean. In 1990, at Pan Trinbago's “50 Years of Pan” awards ceremony, Philmore received the Allan Gervais South-Central Regional Award for outstanding arrangers.

Photographer Maria Nunes, who chronicles various aspects of Trinidad and Tobago Carnival and snapped pics of Philmore on stage with Fonclaire at the 2015 Panorama competition, intimated that even if pan lovers didn't know the “Professor” personally, they understood him through his vibrant, passionate music, so the loss feels close:

I never got to know Ken ‘Professor’ Philmore but I remember so well when Pan by Storm won the hearts of pan lovers everywhere back in 1990. I share in the sadness felt today in the steelpan and wider music community, not just here, but globally, at his unexpected passing from this life.

‘By storm, cultural extravaganza,
Pan by storm, music to make you feel better.
Take it, take it out to the limit, we moving on to a higher heights, pan by storm.’

by Janine Mendes-Franco at October 01, 2018 07:00 AM

September 29, 2018

MIT Center for Civic Media
Twitter suspended me for tweeting feminist academic research. Here’s why that’s a problem.
This morning, I did what I always, lamentably, do, which is wake up and check Twitter. I noticed that the account for MIT, where I work as an admissions officer and research affiliate, had tweeted a story about Math Prize for Girls, an annual competition, hosted on campus last weekend, for women with an affinity for STEM. I’m a longtime fan and supporter of Math Prize. In fact, I had spoken at the competition, giving a […]

by petey at September 29, 2018 04:55 PM

Global Voices
The Alliance for the Protection of Theatre fights to preserve Albania's cultural heritage

The Albanian National Theatre in Tirana, Albania. Photo courtesy of Aleanca Per Mbrojtjen e Teatrit, photo used with permission.

A fight is on to protect the National Theatre in Albania.

For more than three months, artists, activists, and ordinary citizens have been protesting on a daily basis in the Albanian capital of Tirana in response to the government's decision to demolish the historical monument building. Their plan is to replace it with a more modern building proposed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels.

This is a public-private partnership whereby the Albanian government will grant land to the Fusha company to further develop and enhance the area.

Protests demanding the president to veto the Special Law. Photo courtesy of Rudi Erebara, used with permission.

To legitimize the partnership, the government proposed a Special Law in February 2018 (nicknamed The Fusha Law by opponents) that favors procurements and contracts like this.

The parliamentary opposition refused the law, claiming it infringes on the Constitution and the 2003 Association Agreement with the European Union (EU) because it breaks free market competition criteria.

The majority of the ruling Socialist Party voted in favor of the law on June 5, 2018, despite all opposing legal arguments.

As news about the planned Special Law erupted, artists and activists created The Alliance for Protection of the Theatre to demonstrate their commitment to saving the historic building.

Public hearings create deeper divides

In the aftermath of the announced law, the Alliance pushed back in defense of the National Theatre. Tirana mayor Erion Veliaj organized three “public hearings” on behalf of the Ministry of Culture to hear the group's grievances. However, observers suggested these hearings seemed orchestrated to create a discord rather than unity.

During the hearings, the director of the Construction Institute, Agron Hysenlliu, claimed that “activity in [the theatre building] must be suspended as it lacks the technical conditions for safety as to the necessary standards,” according to his state agency's assessment. However, this institute never released these assessments to the public, further inciting doubt about the veracity of these claims.

Petitions, counter-petitions, propaganda

Citizens sign the petition for the protection of the National Theater. Photo courtesy of Rudi Erebara, used with permission.

The Alliance gained momentum as national public figures, historians, academics and journalists joined. The Association of Albanian Architects also made a declaration opposing the demolition of the theatre, stressing the historical and aesthetic value of its Rationalist architecture.

They asked the government:

not to erase the collective memory of the generations, and that any new theatre is welcome but we do not have to destroy the old one.

They also created a petition arguing that the theatre could be repaired and that no official document proves otherwise.

However, some artists in favor of building a new theatre made a declaration of support for the Special Law. This declaration received some fake signatures from those apparently living outside of Albania.

Meanwhile, the state has produced propaganda insisting that the neglected theatre presents a risk to artists who perform there, claiming that the building itself has no cultural value. In fact, they say the building was erected during the fascist period (1939-1943) when it served as a “dopo lavoro” or “working man's club,” further undermining its legacy.

Historians Rubens Shima, Aurel Plasari and others refuted this claim, arguing that its 73 years of history should be preserved and respected with dignity.

“Even the [Communist] dictatorship, did not demolish it,” wrote Plasari.

At 16 million Euros (19 million USD) or less than 1 percent of the state budget, Albania's annual fund for art and culture is the smallest in the region. Members of the Alliance claim that its degradation and lack of funding for a restoration was intentional.

They point to current Prime Minister Edi Rama who has intended to demolish the building since 1998 when he served as Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports. At the time, he closed the theatre but then Prime Minister of Albania, Pandeli Majko, decided against its closure. In 2002, when Rama became mayor of Tirana, he announced a development plan that would demolish the theatre and build towers instead. Back then, artists were more unified and a bipartisan petition demanded preservation of the building.

Institutional vacuum, limited international support

In 2016, Albania changed a third of its Constitution and implemented judicial reforms that created an institutional vacuum whereby a high number of judges and prosecutors deemed unfit to hold their posts were expelled.

According to the EU, these reforms were considered successful because it weeded out corruption. However, many high positions within the judiciary were left empty, including the Constitutional Court. It is therefore impossible to challenge the Special Law, considered unconstitutional by many, under these circumstances.

Even the Albanian president refused to sign the law and returned it to parliament, but he only has the right to return the law once for further deliberation and could no longer deliberate when the majority voted for the law.

Docomomo International, a watchdog organization striving to modernist monuments, issued the first international call to oppose the theatre's demolition with an open letter urging authorities to preserve the building:

On the context of the extraordinary transformation and innovation period that the city is facing, and since a reconstruction project has been approved for the National Theatre of Albania and adjacent areas, Docomomo foremost concerns rely on the new plans for this cultural center which intent to erase its original integrity. The new, 9,300 square meters contemporary building will be placed in the heart of downtown, right close to the National Opera and the National Art Gallery, replacing the original theatre.

Europa Nostra also sent an open letter to the Albanian government calling the demolition an “alarming decision.”

A worthless “shack” or treasure?

“I am the Theatre” – a protestor holding a sign in Tirana. Photo courtesy of Rudi Erebara, used with permission.

Despite voluminous pleas from major organizations and institutions, Mayor Veliaj continues to call the theatre a “shack” unworthy of repair.

As the Alliance sent petitions, filed suits and contacted EU headquarters, they also made a public declaration to stress multiple problems with the Special Law.

However, Albania is not yet an EU member. In preparation, they have signed the Stabilization Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU and will enter negotiations in June 2019.

Activists point out that if Albania becomes an EU member, then the Special Law would violate SAA agreements. They insist that the parliamentary majority is infringing the Albanian constitution both through contents of the law and via unconstitutional procedures.

EU officials responded to the Special Law by recognizing that it has no “competence to assess the compliance of the Special Law with the existing Albanian legal framework.” Nevertheless, they encourage the Albanian government “to pursue the compliance with EU public procurement principles and ensure non-discriminatory market access”.

While the EU was one of the key sponsors of Albania's judicial reforms, it does not address the institutional vacuum left as a result.

Actor Neritan Liçaj addressing a message to the Prime Minister. Photo courtesy of Rudi Erebara, used with permission.

While the exact demolition date is unknown, it could be within three months. Some Alliance members say they will block the path of demolition crews with their bodies if necessary.

They see it as the only way left to achieve their collective goal of saving Albania's cultural heritage.

Editor's note: The author of this post is an active member of the Alliance for the Protection of Theatre.

by Alida Karakushi at September 29, 2018 04:39 PM

September 28, 2018

Creative Commons
Board statement on harassment, openness, and CC community

Creative Commons is firmly committed to a workplace, community, and culture of mutual respect, free of harassment. We take all allegations of harassment and misconduct very seriously. We care deeply about the pain and anguish that is felt by victims of harassment, even many years after the fact.

CC has recently become aware that former intern and employee, Billy Meinke, has published an open letter to the Board of Directors about his experience working at CC from 2012-2013. Mr. Meinke also blogged in 2017 about his experiences. In response to that post last year, the Board carefully reviewed all the facts and processes related to Mr. Meinke’s 2014 complaint to ensure the matter had been handled appropriately and fairly. We were confident that Mr. Meinke’s claims were promptly and thoroughly investigated when first reported, that CC’s response was appropriate, and that all processes and procedures were properly followed.

We take our role as a leading organization in the open community very seriously. Our strategy, policies, content, and code are all shared in an open community. These are our values, and our commitment is to be as open as we can in all of our work, because we believe it builds healthy, collaborative communities. However, sharing anything related to such sensitive matters must always be done with proper respect for the privacy and safety of the individuals involved. In light of Mr. Meinke’s decision to make his allegations public last year, we wanted to make it clear to the community that CC responds quickly to such claims and that harassment has no place in our workplace or community. We also wanted to ensure that our policies — which are overseen by the Audit Committee of the Board — are well-communicated to our employees and the public. At the time, CC shared as much detail as we felt we could in response to Mr. Meinke’s public post.

The Board has continued confidence in our leadership and staff for their response to these matters, and their efforts to ensure a positive and safe work environment for CC staff and community. Our policies apply to all staff, board members and officers, and to community members who participate in our global network and public events. These policies are designed to prevent harassment, protect victims, respond to complaints, and ensure the fair and prompt resolution of all allegations. Our policies are available for public review on our website, and are also aggregated on our public policies page.

Any member of the public may submit complaints about misconduct via email to the CC Audit Committee at audit@creativecommons.org. Complaints received by the Committee at that address are promptly handled in accordance with our policies and procedures.

Sincerely,

Creative Commons Board of Directors (Molly Shaffer Van Houweling, Chair)

The post Board statement on harassment, openness, and CC community appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Molly vanHouweling at September 28, 2018 11:34 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Netizen Report: Bangladesh is set to replace its notorious internet law — but the new one looks even worse

Free speech in action: Demonstrators at 2013 protest in Bangladesh, demanding justice for war crimes. Photo by Mehdi Hasan Khan via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Advox Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world.

In early 2018 the Bangladesh government promised to repeal the notorious Information and Technology (ICT) Act, which has been used to silence critics and media workers.

But instead of repealing and improving this law, the Bangladeshi parliament made it worse. Passed just before the start of election season, the new Digital Security Act expands and reinforces the most draconian aspects of the ICT Act.

The Digital Security Act criminalizes various types of online speech, ranging from defamatory messages to speech that “injures religious values or sentiments.” The law also authorises sentences of up to 14 years in prison for gathering, sending, or preserving classified information of any government using a computer or other digital device. Journalists demonstrated against this provision earlier this year, and have spoken out strongly against the law as it stands.

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and various local groups have denounced the law as an attempt to stifle free speech.

Meanwhile, the ICT Act is still going strong and silencing legitimate criticism online. On September 24, a sociology professor in Chittagong was jailed for a critique of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina that he had posted on Facebook. A ruling party affiliate filed the case against Maidul Islam in July, under the ICT Act. Although he was originally freed on bail, he was summoned to the police station this week and put behind bars. He has also been suspended from his job with Chittagong University, which is state-run. More than 50 university professors signed a statement demanding his release.

Kenya joins ranks of African governments taxing internet use

Kenyan officials are set to implement a new tax scheme that will impose an excise tax of 15% on telephone and internet services. The charge will place an additional burden on Kenyans, who already pay an excise tax of 20% on mobile money transactions, which represent a significant engine for the local economy.

Kenya will find itself in increasingly good company with the new tax scheme, as nearby Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia have all recently begun taxing different types of internet use — from mobile messaging to blogging — in an effort to increase state revenues. These schemes will also, without question, chip away at African citizens’ abilit to communicate and speak freely online.

Tanzanian regulators double down on ‘blogger tax’

In April 2018, Tanzanian officials implemented the Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations, informally known as the “blogger tax.” The law requires bloggers and anyone with an independent media site to register with the Tanzanian Communications Regulatory Authority and pay over USD $900 each year for a license. It also restricts the publishing of a long list of types of content, ranging from nudity to fake news to confidential government documents.

In a recent interview with local media outlet The Citizen, the director general of the regulatory authority, James Kilaba, threatened independent media workers who publish state documents online. “We are following up on those publishing such documents online,” he said. “They will be unveiled and arrested for the law to take its course.”

UK government admits to spying on anti-surveillance advocacy group

Not two weeks after the European Court of Human Rights found the UK government’s surveillance programs to be unlawful, three UK intelligence agencies disclosed in writing that they have unlawfully collected and monitored the communications of Privacy International, a London-based NGO that advocates for privacy rights in the EU and beyond.

Migrant rights advocate convicted of libel in France

On September 25, a migrant rights advocate who previously worked in the refugee camps of Calais was convicted of libel by a French court over a tweet he sent out earlier this year. The court sentenced 21-year-old Loan Torondel to a suspended fine, and ordered him to pay court costs. In the tweet published in early January, Torondel shared a photograph of two French police officers standing over a young man (who appears to be a migrant) sitting on his sleeping bag.

Torondel wrote a satirical caption for the image, in which he imagined a dialogue between the police and the man, in which the police confiscated the man’s sleeping bag, and the man begged them to relent, arguing that it was just two degrees celsius outside. “Maybe, but we are the French nation, sir,” they replied in the imagined exchange. Torondel was alluding to a speech by French President Emmanuel Macron in which he said: ‘’Never forget, we are the French nation,’’ a statement his critics turned into a meme to mock him.

India’s Supreme Court upholds digital ID system, with some exceptions

A five-judge bench ruled to uphold India’s digital ID system, known as Aadhaar, but placed key restrictions on its use. The Aadhaar system gives each person a unique ID number associated with multiple pieces of that person’s demographic and biometric information and stores it in a centralized database. In theory, it helps people authenticate their identity so that they may access a host of social and federal services.

But the program has suffered from data mismanagement and machine errors that have sometimes increased obstacles for citizens seeking everything from school enrollment to food subsidies. In addition, multiple massive leaks have proven that Aadhaar numbers can be easily disclosed, posted online and used for malicious purposes.

The court ruled that Aadhaar numbers shall no longer be required for residents to purchase SIM cards, open bank accounts, enroll in school or take university entrance exams. An Aadhaar ID will be voluntary for Indians who do not receive state subsidies of any kind. The section of the original Aadhaar Act that allowed private companies to require authentication via Aadhaar also was struck down.

New research

 

Subscribe to the Netizen Report

 

by Netizen Report Team at September 28, 2018 10:54 PM

Global Voices
Indian football is fighting a losing battle to keep its fans

A banner featuring the Argentinian football squad during the last FIFA world cup. Love from fans in Kerala. Image by author.

India, seven-time winners of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Cup and defending champions for six consecutive years, tasted a bitter defeat in this year's edition of the cup that has cast more doubts over the sport's future in the country.

India lost in the final game of the tournament to the unfancied Maldives at the Bangabandhu stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh on September 15.

A youthful Indian team had been fully expected to bring the trophy home. The Maldives had failed to win a single group stage match and only reached the knockout rounds thanks to a coin toss against Sri Lanka.

Lack of interest?

The SAFF Cup defeat comes on the heels of a few disappointing decisions by Indian sports authorities.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) chose not to send men and women's football teams to the Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2018 because, the association's chief said, both teams would be “also rans” and damage India's overall standing in the medal table.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) called the decision “myopic” and said it had denied Indian football an opportunity to develop itself.

India's progress in the world's most popular sport will be under the microscope again in the Asian Football Confederation's (AFC) Asian Cup, which takes place next year in the UAE.

Since its inception in 1988, it has been the most prestigious quadrennial football competition in Asia. India last qualified for it in 2011 but was eventually knocked out after losing all three matches in Qatar that year.

However, pundits have been talking up the team's chances of progression this year after India was placed in a relatively weak group with hosts Bahrain and Thailand.

Is Indian football infrastructure weak?

Prior to the SAFF Cup, India toured in Australia. Many say the national men's team's notable rise in the FIFA world rankings over the last three years is due to facing easy opponents. Others argue that India's qualification to AFC Asian Cup 2019 would not have been possible without an increase in the number of teams playing in the tournament from 16 to 24. India hosted the U-17 World Cup last year, but the youth side failed to win a game in the tournament.

Private-sector leagues like Indian Super League (ISL) established in 2011 and the Indian Women's League in 2016 have changed the domestic football landscape, but many feel that these leagues have come at a cost.

The AIFF has been accused of favoring the ISL over India's premier domestic football competition, the I-League (formerly, National Football League).

In 2017, the fixture-list for the ISL season went out in August while fixtures for the I-League have been delayed, forcing sponsors for I-League teams to back out in the face of uncertainty.

Football or cricket?

The fact that some ISL teams are owned by famous Indian cricket players offers an indication of the relative standing of the two sports in India. The Indian channel ‘Star Sports 3′ theoretically dedicated to football often shows more cricket matches than football games. This has frustrated Indian football fans.

But the channel may simply be responding to low public interest. In June this year the Indian men's team captain and all-time highest goal scorer, Sunil Chhetri, took to social media to ask for more public support for Indian football after the AIFF-organised Intercontinental Cup club tournament held in Mumbai drew miserly crowds.

The media campaign “#FannBannaPadega”, meaning “now you have to be a fan”, is an attempt to make football fandom more glamorous. But some say this media driven agenda has come at the expense of a real, grassroots fan culture.

Indian teams overshadowed by global brands

In 2001, the English Premier League was broadcast live in India for the first time. Since then, support for English teams has boomed, mostly among urban, middle-class men, who create fan clubs to cheer on these and other European teams.

In the southern state of Kerala, where Indian football has strong roots, there are also a number of fan clubs dedicated to European teams.

But there are still a few fixtures in the Indian football calendar that get the blood pumping. One is the Kolkata Derby pitting Mohun Bagan against East Bengal, which consistently draws one of the highest crowds of all domestic football games.

by Rohith Jyothish at September 28, 2018 06:39 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Free speech advocates say Bangladesh's new Digital Security Act is ‘ripe for abuse’

In February 2018, journalists demonstrated their opposition to the new law using the hashtag #IamASpy, referring to the law's provision of espionage charges against those who handle classified state documents. Screenshot from Facebook.

On September 19, the Digital Security Act 2018 was passed by the parliament in Bangladesh, with just 11 lawmakers opposing the bill, despite widespread opposition from journalists and human rights advocates.

Intended as a replacement for Bangladesh's ICT Act, the Digital Security Act criminalizes various types of online speech, ranging from defamatory messages to speech that “injures religious values or sentiments.” It also authorises lengthy prison sentences for using the internet to create public unrest, and for “gathering, sending or preserving” classified government documents using a digital device.

With the next general election approaching in the coming months, some speculate that the law is intended to stifle criticism of the ruling party and the spread of disinformation online. The Act was introduced as part of the government's “Digital Bangladesh” agenda – a framework for bringing the country's services, government, private sector and citizens into the 21st century with technology.

The Bangladeshi The Editors’ Council, made up of editors from numerous Bengali news outlets, said they consider the Act to be “against the freedom guaranteed by the constitution, media freedom and freedom of speech.” International media and human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, have also condemned the law.

In response to critiques, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has suggested that there is nothing for journalists to worry about. “Journalism is surely not for increasing conflict, or for tarnishing the image of the country,” she said in a speech before parliament.

Sections of interest within the Act:

  • Section 21 says anyone spreading propaganda against the Liberation War or the notion of it or the Father of the Nation using digital devices will be sentenced to up to 14 years in jail or fined up to Tk 10 Million (US$125,000) or both.
  • Section 25(a) authorises sentences of up to three years for publishing information that is “offensive and threatening” or anything that tarnishes the image of Bangladesh.
  • Section 28 allows for sentences of up to five years in prison for speech that “injures religious values or sentiments.”
  • Section 29 authorises up to 3 years in prison or Tk 500,000 [US$6250] fine if a person publishes information with an intent to defame someone else.
  • Section 31 authorises 7 years of imprisonment or Tk 500,000 [US$6250] fine or both, for the deterioration of law and order by creating unrest or chaos or creating enmity, hatred between communities and hampering communal harmony.
  • Section 32 authorises up to 14 years in prison for gathering, sending or preserving classified information of any government using a computer or digital device terming it as espionage – striking a blow for whistleblower’s rights.

The Act also calls for establishing digital forensics labs and a Digital Security Agency, alongside a national computer emergency response team and an 11-member Digital Security Council.

The Right To Information Forum, a coalition of 45 organisations in Bangladesh, also expressed “deep concern” about the passage of Digital Security Act 2018 by the Parliament. In a press statement, the coalition wrote:

[The Act is] clearly inconsistent with the fundamental constitutional rights to freedom of speech and expression as per Article 39 of the Constitution and, therefore, undermines democracy and human rights, which are among the fundamental principles of state policy.

Specifically, the group expressed concern about provisions within the Digital Security Act which “create an impediment” for citizens to acquire information from the government. This would sit in contrast to the Right to Information Act, which was passed in 2009 to improve transparency and accountability in government by allowing citizens to file formal requests for government documents and data.

The new legislation also brings in historic elements, invoking the colonial-era Official Secrets Act. This trend can also be seen in neighbouring Myanmar, where two Reuters journalists were sentenced to seven years in jail in early September, under their colonial-era Official Secrets Act.

Posts, Telecommunications and IT Minister Mustafa Jabbar had previously announced that the new Digital Security Act would replace Section 57 of the previous Information and Communication Technology Act 2006, which had also been criticised by rights activists and journalists for the way it was used to target and punish journalists. Most recently, photographer and journalist Shahidul Alam was charged under Section 57 after posting extensive coverage of student protests in Dhaka and giving an interview to Al-Jazeera about the protests. He remains in prison after more than two months.

But the final text of the Digital Security Act expands and reinforces this section, instead of repealing it as promised. And despite Jabbar’s assurances in May 2018 that “necessary amendments so the freedom of the press does not get hampered”, the Act passed without any major reforms.

Internationally, the passing of the act was met with condemnation. Human Rights Watch Asia Director Brad Adams said:

The new Digital Security Act is a tool ripe for abuse and a clear violation of the country’s obligations under international law to protect free speech. With at least five provisions criminalizing vaguely defined types of speech, the law is a license for wide-ranging suppression of critical voices.”

On social media, people expressed their concern:

The Editors’ Council will stage a human chain protest against the Act on September 29, in front of the National Press Club.

 

Read more about internet policy in Bangladesh

‘According to the Digital Security Law, I am a Spy': Bangladeshi Journalists Defend Their Right to Investigate, February 2018

Bangladesh's ICT Act Paved the Way for Hundreds of Lawsuits Over Online Speech, July 2017

Bangladesh Shuts Down the Internet, Then Orders Blocking of 35 News Websites, August 2016

Bangladesh Keeps Blocking Social Media, Threatens New Surveillance Tactics, December 2015

Critics Fear Bangladesh's New Media Monitoring Policy Will Stifle Free Expression, August 2015

Bangladesh's ICT Act Stoops to New Lows, September 2013

by Zara Rahman at September 28, 2018 01:28 PM

Global Voices
Free speech advocates say Bangladesh's new Digital Security Act is ‘ripe for abuse’

In February 2018, journalists demonstrated their opposition to the new law using the hashtag #IamASpy, referring to  the law's provision of espionage charges against those who handle classified state documents. Screenshot from Facebook.

On September 19, the Digital Security Act 2018 was passed by the parliament in Bangladesh, with just 11 lawmakers opposing the bill, despite widespread opposition from journalists and human rights advocates.

Intended as a replacement for Bangladesh's ICT Act, the Digital Security Act criminalizes various types of online speech, ranging from defamatory messages to speech that “injures religious values or sentiments.” It also authorises lengthy prison sentences for using the internet to create public unrest, and for “gathering, sending or preserving” classified government documents using a digital device.

With the next general election approaching in the coming months, some speculate that the law is intended to stifle criticism of the ruling party and the spread of disinformation online. The Act was introduced as part of the government's “Digital Bangladesh” agenda – a framework for bringing the country's services, government, private sector and citizens into the 21st century with technology.

The Bangladeshi The Editors’ Council, made up of editors from numerous Bengali news outlets, said they consider the Act to be “against the freedom guaranteed by the constitution, media freedom and freedom of speech.” International media and human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, have also condemned the law.

In response to critiques, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has suggested that there is nothing for journalists to worry about. “Journalism is surely not for increasing conflict, or for tarnishing the image of the country,” she said in a speech before parliament.

Sections of interest within the Act:

  • Section 21 says anyone spreading propaganda against the Liberation War or the notion of it or the Father of the Nation using digital devices will be sentenced to up to 14 years in jail or fined up to Tk 10 Million (US$125,000) or both.
  • Section 25(a) authorises sentences of up to three years for publishing information that is “offensive and threatening” or anything that tarnishes the image of Bangladesh.
  • Section 28 allows for sentences of up to five years in prison for speech that “injures religious values or sentiments.”
  • Section 29 authorises up to 3 years in prison or Tk 500,000 (US$6250) fine if a person publishes information with an intent to defame someone else.
  • Section 31 authorises 7 years of imprisonment or Tk 500,000 (US$6250) fine or both, for the deterioration of law and order by creating unrest or chaos or creating enmity, hatred between communities and hampering communal harmony.
  • Section 32 authorises up to 14 years in prison for gathering, sending or preserving classified information of any government using a computer or digital device terming it as espionage – striking a blow for whistleblower’s rights.

The Act also calls for establishing digital forensics labs and a Digital Security Agency, alongside a national computer emergency response team and an 11-member Digital Security Council.

The Right To Information Forum, a coalition of 45 organisations in Bangladesh, also expressed “deep concern” about the passage of Digital Security Act 2018 by the Parliament. In a press statement, the coalition wrote:

[The Act is] clearly inconsistent with the fundamental constitutional rights to freedom of speech and expression as per Article 39 of the Constitution and, therefore, undermines democracy and human rights, which are among the fundamental principles of state policy.

Specifically, the group expressed concern about provisions within the Digital Security Act which “create an impediment” for citizens to acquire information from the government. This would sit in contrast to the Right to Information Act, which was passed in 2009 to improve transparency and accountability in government by allowing citizens to file formal requests for government documents and data.

The new legislation also brings in historic elements, invoking the colonial-era Official Secrets Act. This trend can also be seen in neighbouring Myanmar, where two Reuters journalists were sentenced to seven years in jail in early September, under their colonial-era Official Secrets Act.

Posts, Telecommunications and IT Minister Mustafa Jabbar had previously announced that the new Digital Security Act would replace Section 57 of the previous Information and Communication Technology Act 2006, which had also been criticised by rights activists and journalists for the way it was used to target and punish journalists. Most recently, photographer and journalist Shahidul Alam was charged under Section 57 after posting extensive coverage of student protests in Dhaka and giving an interview to Al-Jazeera about the protests. He remains in prison after more than two months.

But the final text of the Digital Security Act expands and reinforces this section, instead of repealing it as promised. And despite Jabbar’s assurances in May 2018 that “necessary amendments so the freedom of the press does not get hampered”, the Act passed without any major reforms.

Internationally, the passing of the act was met with condemnation. Human Rights Watch Asia Director Brad Adams said:

The new Digital Security Act is a tool ripe for abuse and a clear violation of the country’s obligations under international law to protect free speech. With at least five provisions criminalizing vaguely defined types of speech, the law is a license for wide-ranging suppression of critical voices.”

On social media, people expressed their concern:

The Editors’ Council will stage a human chain protest against the Act on September 29, in front of the National Press Club.

 

Read more about internet policy in Bangladesh

‘According to the Digital Security Law, I am a Spy': Bangladeshi Journalists Defend Their Right to Investigate, February 2018

Bangladesh's ICT Act Paved the Way for Hundreds Lawsuits Over Online Speech, July 2017

Bangladesh Shuts Down the Internet, Then Orders Blocking of 35 News Websites, August 2016

Bangladesh Keeps Blocking Social Media, Threatens New Surveillance Tactics, December 2015

Critics Fear Bangladesh's New Media Monitoring Policy Will Stifle Free Expression, august 2015

Bangladesh's ICT Act Stoops to New Lows, September 2013

by Zara Rahman at September 28, 2018 01:25 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
AT&T aims to bring more targeted ads to your TV screen
TV is still the big dog when it comes to advertising. But it's slipping. Advertisers are moving their dollars online, fast. The money is mostly flowing to Facebook and Google because those platforms can use personal information to target ads specifically based on your interests. But the next frontier in TV ads is coming our way. AT&T just completed its purchase of Time Warner and has launched an ambitious new ad-tech strategy. The plan is to take all that data it has from wireless subscribers and its internet services and deliver way more targeted ads on television. Today on Marketplace Tech, we dig into how this would work in Quality Assurance, the segment where we take a closer look at a big tech story. Molly talks with Ad Age media reporter Jeanine Poggi. (09/28/18)

by Marketplace at September 28, 2018 10:38 AM

Rising Voices
A new indie film festival features the struggles and triumphs of indigenous Papua, Indonesia

A few participants in the second Papuan independent film festival. Source: Facebook page of Papuan Voices, used with permission.

Papuan Voices, a video advocacy organization, has organized two independent film festivals since 2017 to celebrate the lives and struggles of indigenous Papuans in the southeastern province of Indonesia.

In 2015, Global Voices first featured Papuan Voices as a project with EngageMedia, and during the same year, Papuan Voices established itself as an independent organization with a presence now in six Papuan regions.

As the country’s most resource-rich but cash-poor area, a recent influx of Indonesians from other regions has displaced many indigenous Papuans. Some Papuans decry it as an illegal occupation and demand their independence from Indonesia.

Map of Papua and West Papua province of Indonesia. Image courtesy Google Map.

Within this context, as the first film festival held in Papua, it aimed:

to highlight the issues of the indigenous people of Papua through documentary films as well as to build public awareness of the important issues impacting them.

Nearly 30 films were submitted, 50 people participated in the pre-festival production workshops, and 10 films were produced through youth-focused workshops.

Inspired by its inaugural success, the organization held a second film festival last August 2018 with over 1,000 audience members. A total of 19 films from different areas in Papua were submitted.

Mecky Yeimo, a film festival participant, said that the films provided a lot of information about the land disputes between indigenous Papuan landowners and investors acquiring local lands for mining and palm plantations.

Franky Samperante, the director of Pusaka, an indigenous Indonesian non-governmental organization, noted the importance of the film festival:

In Papua, there are very limited options to obtain information by ordinary people because information is controlled by certain dominant groups. The information in these films will be very useful for many people at the local, national and international levels.

Many of the films featured during both festivals depict the everyday struggles of Papuans.

For example, the 2017 Best Film award winner ‘Monce Truck’ is a documentary directed by Imanuel Hindom about a former truck driver for a palm oil plantation in Keerom Regency who found a way to help Papuan women sellers (“Mama-mama” in Papuan) find a new source of income by transporting their vegetables to new markets in the capital city of Jayapura:

‘The Caretaker of Isio Hill Forest’ is another inspiring short documentary which narrates the story of Alex Waisimon who turned a lush forest in Papua into a famous bird-watching spot for tourists. The film was directed by Asrida Elisabeth, Harun Rumbarar, Bernad Koten, Yosef Levi.

Since 2011, both Papuan Voices and EngageMedia have trained more than 50 filmmakers and produced approximately 100 films which were screened in more than 50 locations in and out of Indonesia.

by Eddie Avila at September 28, 2018 09:01 AM

Community networks and local access monthly newsletter – number 10

Attendees of the second Summit on Community Networks in Africa in Nairobi, Kenya on 25 May 2017. Photo by Internet Society and used under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

This newsletter is part of the project titled, “Local Access Networks: Can the unconnected connect themselves?” developed by APC in partnership with Internet Society and Rhizomática, with support from Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC). It is republished here on Rising Voices as part of a partnership with APC. Click here to see the original post on APC's website.

1. Get involved

  • The call for contributions to the 2018 work of the IGF Best Practice Forum (BPF) on Gender and Access is now open. Please feel free to disseminate this call to any relevant contacts and networks. This year, the BPF is exploring the impact of initiatives that support/develop alternative models of connectivity that directly or indirectly respond to the needs of specific populations of women and gender variant individuals. This work builds on their previous work which in 2015  looked at online abuse and gender-based violence, in 2016 aimed to identify the different barriers that women face with internet access, and in 2017 focused on gathering information about specific communities of women. A survey to invite inputs for 2018 from all stakeholders can be accessed here. The survey will remain open until 30 September 2018. You can also send text/audio contributions to gender@intgovforum.org. Please do not email video submissions; if you prefer to send in video testimonies, please upload them to your preferred video service platform (e.g. YouTube) and email the URL. To learn more about the BPF's work and how to participate, please click here.
  • The call for input for the fourth phase of the IGF Connecting and Enabling the Next Billion(s) project is now open. Please feel free to disseminate this call to any relevant contacts and networks. The objective for CENB IV is to collect concrete stories showcasing how connecting the next billion(s) helps achieve broader Sustainable Development Goals such as Energy (SDG7), Decent Work (SDG8), Infrastructure Development with particular linkage with internet access (SDG9) and Partnerships for the Goals (SDG17). The activity builds on Phase I, Phase II, and Phase III of the CENB which offered a set of high-level recommendations for policy leaders. With the combination of four phases of the CENB project, policy makers will be able to use both policy recommendations and concrete findings (case studies) from the IGF community. The call for inputs is open until 30 September 2018 and is available on the website here.

    Please refer to the above link for further guidance on submissions. You can email your contributions to cenb@intgovforum.org.

2. Calls for grants

  • Alert Youth Fund is an independent fund which provides seedfunding to small-scale projects organised globally by and for young people. The fund is designed to support and encourage youth as driving forces of change and contribute to a more equal division of knowledge, wealth, power and a better environment. Alert prioritises proposals related to the following areas: Social and Political Participation, Environment and Sustainability, Emancipation and Sexual Rights, Peace and Dialogue and Human Rights and Global Justice. There are two funding streams: regular seedfunding applications (up to €1500) as well as fast track requests for smaller projects (up to €250). Applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 32 to apply. Read more.
  • USAID has relaunched its open innovation programme, Development Innovation Ventures (DIV), and is now accepting grant applications for products, technologies, services, or applications that can scale breakthrough solutions to critical global development challenges to improve millions of lives. Read more.

   2.1 Grantees from past calls

  • ISIF Asia has announced the winners of its grants and awards for 2018. This year, 10 organisations in the Asia-Pacific region will receive USD 210,000 to support research and development of internet technologies for the benefit of the region. Read more.
  • The winners of the 2018 FIRE Africa Grants programme have been announced. The five selected projects, which focus on “Women Empowerment in ICT” and “Community Networks”, were chosen from a pool of 106 applicants in 17 countries. Read more.
  • The Beyond the Net Funding Programme has selected 15 chapter projects to fund for its 2018 grant cycle. The winning proposals aim to develop community networks in underserved areas, empower women through ICT, and spread awareness of internet policies globally. Read more.

3. Events and conferences

3.1 Upcoming events

  • The Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica) will take place in Accra, Ghana on 26-28 September 2018. There will be a session on community networks, internet exchange points (IXPs), universal access funds and broadband strategies on Thursday 27 September. The panel is titled “What’s the Future of The Unconnected?” Read more.
  • The Indigenous Connectivity Summit will be held in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Canada on 10-11 October 2018. The event will focus on the sustainable development of community networks in North American Indigenous communities. Read more. Read more.

3.2 Resources from past events

  • [En español] El taller de Redes Comunitarias en 5º Conferencia de Gestión de Espectro en América Latina se celebró el 7 de septiembre. Para ver la información del taller, accede aquí.
  • [En español] Vídeos de la 5º Conferencia de Gestión de Espectro en América Latina publicados por Altermundi:

- Día 1: Accede aquí.

- Día 2: Accede aquí.

- Día 3: Accede aquí.

- Día 4: Accede aquí.

- Día 5: Accede aquí.

  • [En español] La Jornada Abierta de la Cumbre Latinoamericana de Redes Comunitarias se celebró el 15 de septiembre. Para ver la información de la jornada, accede aquí.
  • [En español]  La Cumbre Latinoamericana de Redes Comunitarias se celebró entre el 7 y el 17 de septiembre. Para ver la información de la jornada, accede aquí.
  • The Third Summit on Community Networks in Africa, organised by the Internet Society, APC and Zenzeleni Networks, was held 2-7 September 2018 in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. The event brought together participants from 13 countries to promote the creation and growth of community networks, increase collaboration between community operators in the region, and provide an opportunity for engagement with other stakeholders including content producers, regulators and policy makers. Day 1 of the conference focused on technical training while Day 2 centred on sustainability and governance. Read more hereand here.
  • The second OpenCellular Workshop was hosted by iHub in Nairobi, Kenya from 11-12 September 2018. The summit brought together technology and community leaders to share insights and drive discussions around the internals of the OpenCellular technology, design, testing, security, grant programme and many other topics.
  • APC and CRASA held a networking event 9 September 2018 in Durban with the theme “Changes in the telecommunications landscape, changes in access priorities, changes in technologies and their implications for achieving universal, affordable access to communication in Africa.” Read the keynote speech delivered by Malcolm Johnson, ITU Deputy Secretary-General here and find Alison Gillwald’s presentation on “Digital Inequality in South Africa” here. Read more about the event and the other presentations given here.

4. Community networks in news and blogs

  • Rhizomatica, winner of the Mozilla NSF-WINS Challenge Grand Prize. Read more.
  • Gender and community networks: Researching social and gender impact. Read more.
  • [En español] Red indigena de telecommunicaciones en México ofrecera internet y telefonía vía satélite. Leer más. [In English] Indigenous telecommunications network in Mexico to provide telephone and internet services via satellite. Read more.
  • Community networks key to connecting Africa. Read more.
  • Community networks important for ensuring an internet for all. Read more.
  • Indigenous Access: “We Haven’t Reached Our Full Potential.” Read more.
  • Connecting the Ocean View community. Read more.
  • Learning by Doing: Have You Heard of the Suusamyr Community Network in Kyrgyzstan? Read more.
  • Third Summit on Community Networks in Africa a Success. Read more.
  • Who can still doubt the capacity of community networks to provide universal access? Read more.
  • Changes in the telecoms landscape and their implications for universal, affordable access to communication in Africa. Read more.

5. Relevant articles on technologies related to local access networks

  • Free spectrum and freedom of expression in the 21st century. Read more.

6. News on policy and regulation

  • Community networks recognised as an emerging topic in UN resolution on WSIS follow-up. Read more.

7. Reports and publications

7.1 Reports relevant to community networks and local access initiatives

  • UNESCO Internet Universality Indicators online consultation conducted with academic, civil society and government stakeholders. Read the submission of netCommons, a Horizon2020 research project focused on community networks, here.
  • The State of Broadband Report 2018: Broadband Catalyzing Sustainable Development

    The report outlines evolving technologies, evaluates progress toward the UN Broadband Commission targets, discusses sustainable development and highlights recommendations for boosting broadband. There is no mention of community networks. Read more.

7.2. Academic publications on community networks

  • de Graaf, A. (2017). “The dynamics of community innovations: A socio-technical analysis of the shaping of The Things Network – an Internet of Things community network.” Read more.
  • Gwaka, L. T., May, J. and Tucker, W. (2018). “Towards low-cost community networks in rural communities: the impact of context using the case study of Beitbridge, Zimbabwe,” E J Info Sys Dev Countries, 1-11. Read more.
  • [En français] Huguet, François. (2017).  “Le déploiement des réseaux communautaires sans fil (MESH): De la nécessité de former à la médiation infrastructurelle,” Netcom, 33-52. Lire la suite.

by apcnews at September 28, 2018 08:53 AM

Global Voices Advocacy
Wanna compare the world’s largest tech companies on human rights terms? Now you can do it in Korean — and five other languages

Companies evaluated by the 2018 Corporate Accountability Index. Source: Ranking Digital Rights

Earlier this month, Google caved in to pressure from Russian authorities and took down videos promoting a protest rally against an unpopular pension reform law. This, reportedly, was the first time that Google decided to comply with a Russian censorship demand. However, actions like these, where Google or other ICT companies fail to ensure respect of users’ freedom of expression and privacy in their policies and practices, have now become too common.

Tech giants and telecommunication service providers are increasingly facing public scrutiny over their direct or indirect involvement in human rights abuses including misusing user data by sharing and selling data without users’ consent to third-parties and censoring legitimate speech at the request of governments are just two ways in which this happens on a regular basis. For telecom operators, the ability to shut down their networks or slow down access to certain services and platforms has been abused at the behest of governments in South Asia, the Middle East and across Africa.

To help shed light on the policies and practices of these kinds of companies, the non-profit research initiative Ranking Digital Rights (RDR) has been working with partners around the world to promote greater respect for freedom of expression and privacy rights among information communications technology (ICT) companies.

In April 2018, RDR released their third Corporate Accountability Index, a ranking of corporate policies affecting freedom of expression and privacy.

For the Index, the Ranking Digital Rights research team evaluated 22 companies from 13 countries (China, France, India, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Qatar, Russia, South Africa, Spain, the UK, the US and the UAE), whose products and services are accessed by a majority of the world’s 4.2 billion internet users.

The 2018 Index found that not one of the 22 companies evaluated is fully transparent about their policies and practices that affect users’ freedom of expression and privacy. Their failure to make their policies and practices public can leave users vulnerable to undisclosed risks.

These platforms and services are part of the daily lives of people who access them to exercise fundamental human rights to communicate, access information, express themselves, organize and protest. Yet users remain largely in the dark as companies fall short of disclosing basic information about the design, management, and governance of the digital platforms and services that affect human rights, according to the RDR research.

Companies are evaluated on 35 indicators across three categories: governance, freedom of expression and privacy. Several issues stood out in these areas:

Governance: Too few companies make users’ expression and privacy rights a central priority for corporate oversight and risk assessment. Companies do not have adequate processes and mechanisms in place to identify and mitigate the full range of expression and privacy risks to users that may be caused not only by government censorship or surveillance, and by malicious non-state actors, but also by practices related to their own business models.

Security: Most companies withhold basic information about measures they take to keep users’ data secure, leaving users in the dark about risks they face when using a particular platform or service.

Privacy: Companies don’t disclose enough about how users’ information is handled, including what is collected and shared, with whom, and under what circumstances. This includes how user information is shared for targeted advertising.

Expression: Companies do not adequately inform the public about how content and information flows are policed and shaped through their platforms and services.’’

To make these findings more accessible to companies, civil society, and policy makers in these regions, RDR partnered with Global Voices Translation Services to translate key components of the 2018 Index into six major languages—Arabic, Chinese, French, Korean, Russian, and Spanish.

Baidu and Tencent

The two Chinese companies performed poorly in the Index. Baidu earned the lowest score of all internet companies in the Index, disclosing almost nothing about policies affecting freedom of expression and privacy. Tencent was more transparent but it also revealed little information.

A summary of the overall findings of the Index and the company report cards for the Chinese tech companies Tencent and Baidu are now available in Chinese.

Orange

The French multinational group group ranked fourth among the 10 telecommunications companies evaluated. While the company disclosed a strong commitment to freedom of expression and privacy as human rights, it lacked transparency about its policies and practices affecting freedom of expression and privacy. It disclosed nothing about how it handles government requests to block content or restrict user accounts, and did not provide enough information about its handling of user information.

A summary of the overall findings of the Index and the company report card for Orange are available in French.

Kakao and Samsung

Kakao ranked sixth out of the 12 internet companies evaluated, and failed to disclose sufficient information about policies and practices affecting freedom of expression and privacy. However, the company outperformed Samsung, the other South Korean internet company evaluated, by roughly 21 points. While Samsung disclosed a strong commitment to freedom of expression and privacy as human rights, it lacked transparency about its policies and practices affecting these fundamental rights. 

A summary of the overall findings of the Index and the company report cards for Kakao and Samsung are available in Korean.

Mail.ru and Russia

Yandex and Mail.ru performed poorly in the Index, occupying the ninth and 11th positions, respectively. Both companies disclosed little information about policies affecting users’ freedom of expression and privacy. For example, they revealed almost nothing about how they handle government demands to remove content or to hand over user data.

A summary of the overall findings of the Index and the company report cards for Russian companies Mail.ru and Yandex are now available in Russian.

Telefónica

Telefónica ranked third out of 10 telecommunications companies evaluated, after Vodafone and AT&T. The company disclosed a strong commitment to protecting users’ freedom of expression and privacy, but was less transparent about policies affecting these rights in practice. For example, the company lacked transparency about how it handles user information and what steps it takes to keep user information secure.

América Móvil

América Móvil ranked fifth out of the 10 telecommunications companies evaluated, disclosing little about policies and practices affecting freedom of expression and privacy. For example, the company lacked disclosure about how it responds to government requests to shut down networks, and did not clearly disclose how it handles government or private requests to restrict content or hand over user information.

A summary of the overall findings of the Index and the company report cards for América Móvil and Telefónica are now available in Spanish.

The Index allows users, investors, and activists to compare how—and whether—internet, mobile and telecommunications companies are making substantive efforts to respect freedom of expression and privacy. Advocates can use this information to demand more transparency and action from companies.

Digital rights groups and researchers are also encouraged to use and adapt the Index methodology to produce local research evaluating the human rights policies and practices of companies and services in their regions.

by Afef Abrougui at September 28, 2018 08:38 AM

September 27, 2018

Marketplace Tech Report
Would you leave Facebook if you could take all your friends and photos with you?
Earlier this week, the founders of Instagram up and left Facebook five years after Facebook bought their company. But quitting isn't so easy for the rest of us. Facebook has our friends, our pictures and our snarky comments. It's why there are so few real competitors. And if you switch to a smaller social network, it's pretty lonely. But earlier this year, Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Twitter announced a project to make it easier to move your personal information between services. That data portability is just what it sounds like — creating the option for users to move on. Host Molly Wood talks with Kevin Bankston, director of the Open Technology Institute at New America, a think tank in Washington, D.C., about one big reason for the portability project: the European privacy law known as GDPR. (09/27/18)

by Marketplace at September 27, 2018 10:44 AM

Rising Voices
“Violence was the concept in dispute”

Reframed Stories asks people to respond to dominant themes in news coverage about themselves and the issues that affect them. The stories center on the reflections of persons who are more often represented by others than by themselves in media. 

Apawki Castro is the elected leader of communications for the Confederation of the Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) for the 2017-2020 period. 

Me parece interesante considerar las palabras asociadas con violencia en relación al conflicto de la nacionalidad Shuar porque fue uno de los conceptos que de lado a lado quisimos posicionar. La violencia fue el concepto en disputa y eso demuestra esta gráfica.

I think it is interesting to consider the words associated with “violence” related to the conflict with the Shuar nationality, because it was a term that every side tried to claim or define. Violence was the concept in dispute, and I think this graphic shows that.

Dominant words from 697 articles published between May 2016 and June 2017 found mentioning “shuar” within four Media Cloud collections of Ecuador’s Spanish-language media outlets. (View original query; View larger image)

Por nuestro lado, nosotros intentamos posicionar la noción de que la violencia provino y proviene del Estado, a través de todas las concesiones mineras y de todo el atraco en los territorios.

Nuestra intención también ha sido recalcar otros temas importantes para nosotros – como el tema de la identidad, las tradiciones y la cultura – y desde ahí construir un análisis coyuntural y de posiciones políticas, pero no veo el tema de identidad cubierto en los medios, como tampoco lo veo en esta nube de palabras.

From our end, we tried to position the idea that it was the State that generated violence through all the mining concessions and the attempts to take over the territory.

Our intention has also been to highlight other topics that are important for us – such as identity, traditions, and culture – and build an analysis more related to current events and political positions from there. However, I don’t see the topic of identity covered by the media and I don’t see it in the word cloud either.

National Indigenous Youth of Ecuador Camp – The Children of the First Uprising – in commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the First Indigenous Uprising. Published with permission of the author.

Por otro lado, todo el poder mediático que tiene el Estado ha intentado satanizar a los hermanos y hermanas Shuar, hacerles ver como unos salvajes, unos violentos, unos incivilizados. A partir de esa comprensión colonial, el Estado intentó posicionar la idea de que los hermanos de la nacionalidad Shuar fueron los generadores de violencia en los acontecimientos que ocurrieron en diciembre del año 2016. Es decir, intentaron responsabilizar a la nacionalidad Shuar de todo el acontecimiento en el campamento la Esperanza, en Nankints.

Debemos tener la capacidad de interpretar el poder mediático con la que actúa el Estado en estos casos en los que, en gran parte con el apoyo de los medios, pretende difundir la idea de violencia a nivel internacional vinculándola a lo salvaje y a la barbarie.

Tenemos que posicionar la interrogante desde los espacios alternativos, populares y comunitarios de quién es el que violenta, y desde dónde proviene la violencia, ¿desde el Estado o los pueblos y nacionalidades? ¿Es generar violencia el hecho de defender los territorios ancestrales de las grandes empresas mineras, petroleras e hidroeléctricas? ¿Acaso despojar a los pueblos y nacionalidades de sus espacios de vida no es violencia? ¿Militarizar un espacio comunitario, colectivo con autodeterminación, no es violencia?

Desde el Gobierno nacional militarizaron un territorio habitado por la nacionalidad Shuar, por el simple hecho de defender a la empresa minera china que operaba ahí. ¿Es obligación del Gobierno defender a sus habitantes o a las empresas transnacionales? Este tipo de interrogantes son las que debemos explorar y analizar a profundidad.

On the other hand, all the media power from the State has tried to demonize our Shuar brothers and sisters, trying to depict them as savages, violent, and uncivilized. Starting from that colonial way of thinking, the State tried to position the idea that the Shuar nationality was guilty of generating the violence that took place in December 2016. In this way, it tried to blame the Shuar people for all the conflict that took place in the Esperanza camp in Nankints.

We need to interpret the media power that the State exercises in these cases where, supported to a great extent by media, aims to promote the conception of violence at an international level linking it to savagery and barbarism.

We must question this idea from alternative and community spaces. We must ask who is the violent part, and where the violence is coming from. Is it coming from the State or from the people? Is defending the ancestral territories from the big mining, oil, and hydro-electric companies actually a generation of violence? Isn't it violence to expropriate indigenous peoples from their spaces of life? Isn't it violence to militarize a community or collective space with auto-determination?

The Government militarized the land where the Shuar people has always lived just to defend the Chinese company that operated there. Is the role of the State to defend its own people or transnational companies? These are the types of questions we need to keep exploring and analyzing in depth.

This is part of a series developed in close collaboration with the indigenous community of Sarayaku and the Shuar nationality, both situated in the Ecuadorian Amazon region. The Sarayaku and Shuar people have held long fights at a national and international level to stop extraction projects in their territories, and public messaging has been an important part of this struggle. We asked members to respond to some preliminary media analysis that suggests how topics related to their communities are represented in news.

This post was proofread by Belen Febres-Cordero.

by Eddie Avila at September 27, 2018 10:21 AM

September 26, 2018

Global Voices
Fifty years after the Mexican Movement of 1968, students continue their march against violence and impunity

Left: a 2018 student-organized anniversary demonstration honoring Mexico City’s “March of Silence.” Right: a student march on Mexico City's main plaza,1968. Photographs by “Cel·lí” (Public Domain) and “ProtoplasmaKid” (published under Creative Commons license: Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International) respectively.

Massive student demonstrations against violence have swept through Mexico City during the month of September 2018. Today's students face similar issues to those who marched fifty years ago with the Mexican Movement of 1968, a series of protests and demonstrations demanding an end to state-sanctioned violence.

Today, the struggle to stop the violence continues as 30,000 university students including those from National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Mexico's largest public university gathered on September 6, 2018, for a massive demonstration:

HISTORICAL!
Thousands and thousands of students from UNAM, IPN, UAM, UACM, ENAH, UPN, regular students (among many others) came to CU with a demand:

Porros out of UNAM!
Porros out of universities!
Long live the students! #FueraPorrosUNAM #NoMasPorrosEnLaUNAM @lhan55 pic.twitter.com/WxS4Ibm8wp

This protest was organized in response to events three days prior when shock groups, also known as “porros”, allegedly attacked students within the College of Sciences and Humanities. The students were peacefully calling for more faculty hires as well as justice for the murder of CCH Oriente student Miranda Mendoza, who was killed in late August 2018.

Protestors’ general demands include increased security within the dozens of UNAM's faculties, schools, centers, and research institutions. They also demand the expulsion of porro groups who allegedly receive political or economic bonuses in exchange for violently attacking student demonstrations and destabilizing university life.

“We are the grandchildren of '68”

Today's demonstrations symbolically mark the 50th anniversary of the Mexican Movement of 1968 whose similar demands included the release of political prisoners, the resignation of the ruling party, and expansion of political liberties as well as democratic changes in efforts to eradicate authoritarianism.

At the time, the government viewed these protests as an attempted coup d'état by communist groups and a threat to national security and responded with aggression and force.

Several marches, sit-ins, demonstrations, and protests ensued in 1968 including the “March of Silence” on September 13, 1968, during which protesters covered their mouths with white bandannas to protest the government's silence about the Movement along with their use of brutal force against students in prior marches that year.

On October 2, 1968, over 10,000 students organized a peaceful march in the Tlatelolco area of Mexico City but their gathering was violently repressed by the Mexican government. Over 300 people were killed and the tragedy is remembered today as “The Massacre of Tlatelolco.”

Today, as the anniversaries of these historical events approach, students felt a solidarity with history and decided to replicate the March of Silence on its anniversary date, September 13, 2018, to honor the people who marched on these same streets for similar causes.

Fifty years later, marches, memorials, and photographs contrasting protests of past and present have been shared through social media with hashtags such as #MarchaDelSilencio and #A50Del68:

#FotoHistórica
General Assemblies in University City.
Top left in 1968, right 2014, and below the rally today in 2018.
Student power!  #UNAMSinViolencia #FueraPorrosUNAM pic.twitter.com/04fJVBzcgh

Animal Político has published a series of chronicles from 1968, released on the same dates as historical marches. Other journalists like Leopoldo Gómez have taken a closer look at the student movement of yesterday and today:

La protesta ya no es por la represión, sino por la incompetencia del gobierno. En el 68 se luchó contra los excesos del gobierno; ahora se exige más, un buen gobierno. A 50 años subsiste un reclamo común: el fin de la impunidad. En 1968, la del propio gobierno, y en 2018, la de los criminales a los que el gobierno no les hace frente.

No longer is the protest about repression, but governmental incompetence. In 1968, protestors fought against governmental excesses; now they demand more, they want a good government. Fifty years later the demand is the same: an end to impunity. In 1968, they wanted to end impunity within the government itself, and in 2018, the call is to end impunity for criminals the government secretly conducts business with.

The endemic violence in Mexico, where more than 70 people are murdered daily, is only partial cause for the protests. This year also marks the fourth anniversary of the 43 missing students of Ayotzinapa, who were each remembered:

In front of the Ayotzinapa anti-monument, protestors honor the 43 students who disappeared in Iguala #MarchaDelSilencio pic.twitter.com/KthT5sLBMl

Historian Octavio Solís notes the symbolic force of the 1968 protests in which “imagination defeated power”:

“El movimiento estudiantil de 1968 condensó el reclamo de muchos sectores que no habían podido encontrar un cauce. […] A cada acto represivo o intento de control surgía una respuesta imaginativa y contundente […] Sólo dos meses duró el movimiento, pero como bien se dice, hay días, semanas, meses que condensan años […] como la apuesta de aquellos jóvenes por el silencio [durante la marcha de ese mismo nombre], que logró poblar el olvido de dignidad; imagen viva que perdura hasta hoy, después de medio siglo.”

“The student movement of 1968 gathered the demands of several social spheres that had been unable to find a way to speak out. […] To each repressive act or attempt at control, an imaginative and forceful response arose […] The movement only lasted two months, but as it is often repeated, there are days, weeks, and months that can contain whole years in themselves […] Like these young people's bet for silence [during the march of the same name] that poured dignity into oblivion: a living image that lasts till today, a half century later.”

by Stephanie at September 26, 2018 04:42 PM

As Colombia's peace process falters, scores of social activists are being killed

Screenshot of the video “No están solos” (You're not alone) with images of the protests in Colombia in defense of social activists. Video and images shared by Contagio Radio, a Colombian local independent radio station devoted to human rights.

Colombia, one of the most dangerous nations for human rights activists, has attempted to halt its 50-year armed conflict through a complex peace process that began in 2012. As this peace process falters, social activists including local community leaders, land defenders, gender and sexuality rights protectors, teachers and journalists are being targeted and killed at an alarming rate, and the numbers continue to rise.

Recently-elected president Ivan Duque’s government is slow to respond to these killings and sometimes denies the systematic nature of the violence, making it difficult to track and monitor these cases.

In a special report by the newspaper El Tiempo, a map of the killings reveals vulnerable areas where the armed conflict has been most active. The non-governmental organization Indepaz (“Institute of Peace and Development”) calculates that in 2018 alone, around 124 social activists have been killed, and approximately 300 social activists have been killed since the peace agreements began in 2012.

No land, no peace

Colombia’s deeply-rooted land rights conflict stems from the country's extremely unequal land distribution. The evolving and ongoing violence is the direct result of complications from poorly implemented peace agreements that were partly designed to protect land rights.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the main rebel group, has agreed to demobilize and surrender arms, but this has left a power vacuum in which some members who abandoned FARC still remain active in the conflict. Perhaps some are motivated by economic interests while others refuse to accept the uncertainties of civilian life. In fact, a number of ex-FARC members have been targeted and killed as they try to reintegrate into society. Other illegal armed groups, notably the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC), are attempting to gain territorial control in the regions that were FARC strongholds. 

Some civil society groups are certain that corporate entities may be behind the attacks, not just illegal armed groups. President Duque’s plans to further develop an extractive economy leaves social activists fearing for their safety as larger international corporations take a vested interest in contested lands. 

In December 2017, leaders from Bajo Atrato, a northern Colombian region hardest hit by the violence, visited Congress with their faces covered with white masks after two of their leaders were killed while defending their land from palm oil and banana farming investors: 

Somos familiares de líderes asesinados en la región y todos estamos amenazados de muerte por una estrategia determinada por empresarios que han sido señalados en diferentes instancias judiciales y por empresarios que han sido denunciados. ¿Hasta cuándo y cuántos más?

We're the families of the leaders who have been killed in the region. We've all been threatened with death as a strategy put together by corporations that have already been charged by different legal institutions and business people who have already been denounced. How much longer [will this go on] and how many more [will die]?

“It's all happening before our eyes…”

La Pulla, an opinion-focused Youtube channel, produced  “I've just heard about it” (Me acabo de enterar) to explain the context of these killings using some characteristically dark humor. They describe the murdered social activists as people who “demanded a few basic little things: land to farm, schools, medical centers, potable water, roads…Oh! And peace…”

The presenter continues: 

Estas personas son la piedra en el zapato para los intereses de los grupos armados, que son el control sobre el territorio, la minería ilegal y las rutas del narcotráfico.Y esto no tiene pocas consecuencias: cuando matan a un líder social están matando las posibilidades de cambio de una comunidad, porque los proyectos que dirigía quedan en el aire y a la gente le da miedo continuarlos. Muchas veces se van por miedo a que les pase lo mismo o porque ya están amenazados. El mensaje se entiende. Así eliminan cualquier oposición y todo sigue como estaba, los jodidos más jodidos y los señores de la guerra, dueños de todo. Esto pasa frente a nuestros ojos, mientras el gobierno nos lanza pañitos de agua tibia e incluso se atreve a sugerir que algunas de esas víctimas son criminales.

These people are the thorn in the flesh for the armed groups’ interests: the control of the land, illegal mining and drug trafficking routes. These have a lot of consequences; when they kill a social activist they're killing the possibilities of change in that community, because the projects that this person was in charge of are abandoned and people are scared to continue. Often times people leave town, in fear of having the same fate, or because they've been threatened already. The message is well understood. That way, any opposition is eliminated and everything remains untouched. The ones who are screwed, are even more screwed, and the warlords remain the owners of everything. All of this is happening before our eyes, while the government comes up with just band-aid solutions and even dare to suggest that some of the victims are criminals.

Father Alberto Franco, from the Inter-Church Commission of Peace and Justice (Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz), also worries about these new uncertainties, saying that President Duque: 

… representa al grupo que históricamente se ha opuesto al proceso de paz, a la restitución de las tierras […] a que la democracia colombiana se modernice.

represents a group that has historically opposed peace processes, land restitution and the modernization of Colombian democracy.

In July 2018, thousands of Colombian citizens took to the streets to show solidarity with social activists and human rights defenders, recognizing the need to protest loudly against extrajudicial killings.

Most of their activities, petitions, documentaries, and news can be followed through #NosEstánMatando (#They'reKillingUs) and #NoEstánSolos (“You'reNotAlone), trending hashtags devoted to denouncing the killings and telling the stories of victims to keep their memory and hard work alive. 

by Kati Hinman at September 26, 2018 03:44 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
A melting Arctic could be key to faster global internet

Much of the physical makeup of the internet lies on the ocean floor in the form of fiber optic cables that snake between continents. They’re what allow you to send email or Facebook messages to friends around the world. But just like roads get clogged with traffic, these information highways are starting to get clogged, too. An ambitious initiative out of Finland is underway to solve the problem by laying a new route through the one body of water still largely untouched by sea cables: the Arctic Ocean. (09/26/18)

by Marketplace at September 26, 2018 10:31 AM

September 25, 2018

Global Voices Advocacy
Chat bot lets Russians detained at protests request legal assistance

“Pension to the living!”: Russians protest against an unpopular pension reform. Photo by Andrew.Filin via Wikimedia Commons (CC 1.0)

When Russians took to the streets to protest proposed pension reforms on September 9, an estimated 1200 people were arrested in 38 cities. Police officers could be seen beating protesters in several instances caught on camera.

September 9 was also election day for regional legislatures and the Moscow mayoralty, which may partially explain the extreme, heavy-handed actions of law enforcement during the protests.

Throughout the protests and in the days that followed, the Russian non-government organization OVD-Info was gathering and disseminating information on arrests and police brutality. The group also provided legal assistance, with the help of 24-hour phone hotline — and an automated chat bot.

About OVD-Info

Named for the Russian acronym for “law enforcement agencies” (OVD), OVD-Info works to gather information on all forms of politically-motivated arrests and prosecutions. OVD-Info describes its mission and activities as follows:

ОВД-Инфо — независимый правозащитный медиа-проект про политические преследования в России.  С помощью горячей линии мы собираем информацию о задержаниях на публичных акциях и других случаях политпрессинга, публикуем новости и координируем юридическую помощь задержанным…Это может быть консультация по телефону, выезд адвоката в ОВД, помощь в российских судах обеих инстанций или, наконец, подача жалобы в Европейский суд по правам человека…Мы не поддерживаем какую-либо конкретную политическую силу и защищаем людей вне зависимости от их и наших политических пристрастий.

OVD-Info is an independent human rights advocacy media project on political repression in Russia. With the help of a hotline, we collect information about arrests at public actions and other forms of political repression, and publish news and coordinate legal assistance for detainees…. This could be telephone consultations, sending a lawyer to law enforcement agencies, helping out in Russian courts at trial and during appeals, or finally, submitting a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights…We don’t support any specific political tendency and defend people regardless of their (or our) political views.

The mobile messaging app Telegram is extremely popular in Russia, so OVD-Info decided to use this tool as another way to help protesters defend their rights. In addition to a relatively secure private messaging feature, Telegram allows users to follow publicly accessible “channels” relevant to their interests, which can be anything from politics to humor and pornography. Users can also develop bots that can interact with other users in channels, or on an individual basis.

Recently, OVD-Info developed a special Telegram bot that allows users to voluntarily report their arrests and any other interaction with law enforcement. Upon contacting the bot, a user is prompted to share their name and telephone number and an encrypted chat is launched.

Once an arrest is reported, OVD-Info will try to follow what is happening with the user. Through the bot, users can also get advice on what to do after being arrested, and which legal statutes to cite when speaking with law enforcement officers. It also can be used to send a message to the OVD-Info team, should the need arise.

While it may be difficult to imagine being able to access your phone while or after being arrested, not all of the arrests during the recent protests were as brutal or dramatic as some of the beatings seen on video. In some cases, the police simply arrived in buses asked protesters to climb aboard. Some people were able to take selfies and videos while on the buses. Taking and sharing selfies from the back of a police van has become a symbol of honor among protesters.

Screenshot of OVD-Info-Bot with several automated messaging options, from “I’ve been released” to “They’re beating / threatening me”.

Are these communications entirely secure? It's hard to say. Although Telegram boasts of encrypted messaging ensuring only the sender and intended recipient can read a message, technologists and activists have raised concerns about the quality of Telegram's encryption standards and other security features.

If correspondences between protesters and OVD-Info were ever compromised, it could expose activists to further state surveillance and repression. Telegram also recently updated its privacy policy to allow for the sharing of user information with authorities during terrorism cases, a rule that could easily be exploited by Russian authorities, who have been known to abuse the application of laws concerning extremist and terrorist activity in connection with posts on social media.

Although Telegram has not proven to be the most secure messaging app on the market, it is the most popular mobile app in Russia that offers encrypted features at this level, making it a strong choice for an NGO seeking to support thousands of protesters in action.

In an interview with Global Voices, Boris Beilinson, OVD-Info’s in-house programmer and developer, shed some light on the bot’s functionality and how it was used this past Sunday.

Global Voices (GV): Was this the first time OVD-Info used this type of bot?

Boris Beilinson (BB): No, the bot was released before protests on June 12, 2017 [anti-corruption protests that took place across Russia].

GV: What drove the decision to develop this bot and not just rely on other methods like the hotline, private messages on VKontakte, and so on?

BB: We didn’t stop using any of the old methods of communication, including the main one, the hotline. But we wanted to lessen the burden on the hotline, because during days of big protests, it’s hard to deal with a large number of calls, so chat is more convenient then. Now a large part of our internet communications are happening with the bot, and the hotline got a bit of a break. We liked this not just from a technical standpoint, but also because from our point of view, Telegram is the most secure method of communication we use. We trust it and believe that through the bot, we can talk about things that are better left unsaid by telephone.

GV: How many people shared their contact information before the protests on Sunday?

BB: As of now, 16,002 people contacted the bot, of which 8,185 left their contact information and gained access to its primary functions.

GV: How many of them reported their arrest through the bot?

BB: Not a big number, 184 (the great majority of them started talking to the bot that day to report their arrest).

GV: Do you think the bot was a success? Are there any other functions you’d like to add?

BB: Considering the effort that went into its creation, it’s definitely a success. One indicator of success are the growing pains: it got tough to manage the flow of messages the old way so we have to develop special administrative functions. Of course, we also want to develop other functions for the user. Particularly, instructions for defense at court will be added soon; unfortunately, repression of protestors doesn’t end at arrests in our country.

by Christopher Moldes at September 25, 2018 05:33 PM

Venezuelans say they are unable to access key Google services

Illustration by Eduardo Sanabria. Used with permission.

During the first days of September, many Venezuelan Internet users reported having difficulties accessing Google services through the state-run Internet service provider, CANTV, the largest telecommunications company in Venezuela. The service seemed to be working again by mid September, but the conversation revealed the many ways online users are deprived of information and communication online.

Blogspot, Hangouts, Google Drive, and image services, including Gmail attachments were among the services affected.

I think our little friends from the broadband Internet service (ABA) at CANTV are blocking access to specific Google CDNs (content delivery networks). I'm not sure of the breadth of the service outage/block, but it is consistent. Run a quick test by opening the Play Store to see if the app images are downloaded.

In the absence of official information, users began to speculate about the reasons behind this outage, pointing to an intentional block by CANTV as a possible cause.

Venezuela Inteligente, a Venezuelan civil society group, said that Facebook and Twitter had also been affected by the outage, suggesting that content distribution platforms may have been the intended target. It could not confirm, however, if this blackout was caused by an intentional block:

We are continuing to review the problems of accessing several important platforms via #CANTV, many of these problems are occurring in the CDN platforms (content distribution networks, which load common files more quickly) At this time WE CANNOT CONFIRM an intentional block #internetve #9Sep

Meanwhile, Fran Monroy, a technology journalist, declared that the blackout stemmed from a combination of technical failures:

A colleague specialized in telecommunications @fmonroy explained that #CANTV has two problems at this time in #Venezuela Read the thread.

It is worth mentioning that frequent outages have been an enduring characteristic of state-run Internet services. It not only happens with the Internet connection, but also with the electrical grid.

In Venezuela, attacks against the Internet are not new. Among other cases, in June 2018, the anonymous browser Tor, and various pornography sites were blocked.

Furthermore, a recent study by Venezuela Inteligente, IPYS Venezuela and the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI) found that the censoring of news websites in Venezuela by means of DNS tampering and HTTP filtering is a wide-spread practice.

When content is blocked by means of DNS tampering, the domain name server does not respond to the Internet protocol (IP) request. When a specific web address is entered in the browser, the IP request is prevented from being carried out. Meanwhile, HTTP filtering blocks access to information whose principal code contains a syntax seen as invalid by the system.

In the past, Venezuelans have reported being unable to access of radio frequencies, but more recently, stricter control has been seen with the direct blocking of independent news sources and the arrest of journalists. A few days before the latest reports of blocked platforms, international media outlets had already condemned attacks against independent news sources.

Meanwhile, other limitations linked to the political and economic crisis have also meant less freedom of press and expression. The shortage of basic goods such as paper, or the recent economic measures (that include, for example, a 60-fold increase in the minimum wage, due to soaring inflation rates) have forced several media outlets to close their doors.

As a result, the number of news outlets that could oppose Nicolás Maduro's government are being reduced in a sustained and ever-accelerating manner.

A study co-written by the author of this post and Derechos Digitales (Digital Rights) reports a deterioration in online communications in Venezuela. The study also indicates that the restriction of information and communication that has been documented in Venezuela and the lack of transparency in the use of personal information are a violation of human rights.

by Marianne Diaz at September 25, 2018 05:30 PM

Creative Commons
Findings from the Discovery phase of CC usability

In January, Creative Commons kicked off an exciting new initiative called CC usability with two primary goals:

  1. To update the experience of CC licensing and discovery to reflect the realities of how people are sharing in 2018
  2. To anticipate and design for the future of digital content sharing

In the next two sections, I provide background on the initiative and the process we used to conduct the research. If you’re short on time, you can skip all of it and go directly to the findings. You can also peruse this slide deck for a quick visual summary.

I’m also pleased to announce that in order to further this work, I have stepped into a new role at CC. As the Director of Product and Research, I will lead the strategy, design, and implementation of CC’s product vision for CC Search and related products. Our work will be driven by a research-based approach, which you can learn more about below.

Background

“Relevance to the real world is what separates innovation from invention. Understanding why and how people do what they do today is essential to making new concepts fit into their lives tomorrow.”

— Erika Hall, Director of Strategy at Mule Design, Just Enough Research

The driving motivation behind this initiative is relevance. CC was founded in 2001 and launched its first licenses in 2002, and in the 16 years since, the landscape of the internet has changed a great deal. The CC licenses have been versioned several times over to adapt to international copyright laws and trade agreements, and we’ve developed some new tools (Public Domain Mark, CC0). Lots of programs have been founded and re-founded, driving growth of a global commons of 1.4 billion works, fostering collaboration across an international network of advocates and practitioners, and shifting norms and policies within governments and educational institutions.

But one thing that has not changed in the past decade or so that I’ve been with Creative Commons is how to actually CC license a work. Or for that matter, how to figure out which license is right for you. Or how to add license information so that your computer can detect it. And really, the following things have not changed much either: How to find licensed works. How to attribute authors. How to know whether your application of a CC license is even the right call, since your work may very well fall into the nebulous land of “emerging media and technology” that didn’t exist 16, ten or even a few years ago.

All of this is to say that while the internet and platform technologies for sharing content have changed pretty drastically — the trend towards a few major companies monopolizing content sharing and distribution, machine algorithms determining the content you consume, mobile becoming ubiquitous, media emerging that didn’t exist before like 3D printing and virtual reality — the technicalities and user experience of CC licensing and discovery have remained largely the same, raising the question of CC’s relevance in the internet of 2018.

Is CC still relevant? CC’s tools are used in many different fields, so there’s no one answer on how to be relevant, but in all fields we know the landscape has changed. The way content is created and shared has changed, and even the number and composition of the communities who do the creating and sharing has changed.

I’m happy to report that after six months of user research, I do think CC is still relevant, namely because 80+ people told us as much, and we did not just speak with the choir.

The catch? In order to remain relevant, CC will have to evolve.

Human-Centered Design

“Human-centered design is all about starting with people and building deep empathy; generating lots of possible ideas; building and testing prototypes with the people you’re designing for; and eventually putting new solutions out into the world to improve lives.”

— IDEO.org

We adapted human-centered design principles to conduct our research. HCD is a philosophy and set of tools that have permeated all aspects of user experience and product design today. The specific term — human-centered design — was popularized by IDEO, the design consulting firm, which became known for its multidisciplinary approach to solving real world problems. HCD consists of three phases: discovery, design, and development. Discovery is research, including ongoing background research and reading, but most importantly, talking directly to the people who you are designing for, which in our case are the actual users and creators of digital content.

From February through July, we conducted a total of 81 interviews, in addition to pulling 36 interviews from relevant publications (CC Talks With, Humans of the Commons, Made with Creative Commons). We interviewed super, expert, and future users and creators of all kinds of media, including images, text, data, audio, 3D designs, games, virtual and augmented reality assets. We defined super users as those creators or users who have been using CC for years. We considered expert users people at the forefront of their fields, like academics and company founders, who think a lot about how CC and their subject matter intersect. And we wanted future users that were both professionals in fields like photography who don’t currently use CC but could, and those who have yet to enter a profession because they are too young, like Generation Z (yes, there is a generation after the oft talked about Millennials!). We talked to each person for roughly an hour about their motivations, behaviors, problems, and ideal outcomes for sharing content online, with and without CC licensing.

Then we aggregated, analyzed, and synthesized everything people said in all 117 interviews.

image-wall

Findings

“An Insight is both an opportunity and a problem statement — two things with tension, two things where you can’t readily have both. For example, share stuff for free but also make money.”

~ Tom De Blasis, Design Strategy Consultant at (tbd) collective

Working closely with two experienced design consultants, we pulled patterns from the data, ultimately extracting nine key insights pertaining specifically to the sharing of images and longform texts (we tabled the domains of data and emerging media/tech for a later date). Insights fell loosely into three categories:

  • i) insights pertaining to CC’s current tools,
  • ii) insights pertaining to the core experience of sharing content, and
  • iii) insights about futures CC might help build.

The following nine insights are a direct result of many people voicing the same needs and concerns across 117 interviews. To preserve the privacy of our interviewees, we will not share the full interviews, but anonymous quotes are included in the slide deck.

The nine insights are:

  1. People understand that CC stands for free content sharing, but the nuances of the specific licenses are lost on them — including experts and longtime CC users.
  2. People are motivated to license their work under CC, but have a hard time figuring out how to do it.
  3. People are motivated to give credit to other people, but they find attribution complicated and a hassle.
  4. People like seeing how their work is used, where it goes, and who it touches, but have no easy way to find this out. This insight incorporated the following two insights:
    • People care that the work they share resonates with people, especially personally, but can only know this if they are told directly by the person it resonated with.
    • People want their work to have real world or social impact, but their sense about what these impacts are are vague. However, people can identify some real or potential outcomes from sharing their work that they enjoy.   
  5. People are often first introduced to CC when they have completed a work, but at that point they are more interested in getting the work out there than thinking through a whole new system for sharing.  
  6. People want to share and find good work, but find it difficult to navigate the abundance of content and information online.
  7. People like the efficiency of sharing via centralized platforms, but are frustrated by the lack of control and ownership over their work, and increasing devaluation of individual creativity.  
  8. People aren’t driven to create for the money, but money is always a good outcome. People like sharing freely, but if someone is making a lot of money off their work, they want to be fairly compensated.
  9. People have a desire to create work that is lasting and meaningful, that eventually has a life of its own, but don’t know what to do with a work beyond publishing it.

Insights 1-3 pertain to CC’s current tools; insights 4-6 pertain to the core experience of sharing content, and insights 7-9 are about futures CC might help build.

Some of these insights may seem obvious. If so, then we did our job by bringing what was obvious to the forefront, but this time backed by data and not conjecture. Other insights are less obvious, such as the one about introducing the concept of CC too late in the process of creation. These are the kinds of insights we relish, and we dug into all insights by developing specific design challenges and generating potential solutions to meet them.

image wall

This occurred in a design workshop with CC staff from legal, product, development, and communications. Over the course of 2.5 days, we generated 250+ ideas, heat mapped them to find common issues and approaches, fleshed out the most viable ideas, and decided on nine interventions to bring forward into the Design phase. They are not the only things we’ll ever do, but they are experiments we want to try to see if they can meaningfully address the needs we have identified.

The nine interventions are:

1) New step-through process / Redo language + pathway

Prototype a new pathway and educational tool that clearly communicates the licenses and leads the creator to the appropriate license for her needs. (Insights addressed: 1, 2)

2) Publish a “How To Guide” for where to find your work

Develop and publish a guide to finding where your CC-licensed work was used online, e.g. via reverse image search. (Insights addressed: 4)

3) Button for contact

Prototype an easy way for a user to get in touch with a creator and/or vice versa that ties to a CC license or tool. This could be done in a number of ways, including a button that is chosen from a new CC chooser, a deed + platform solution that connects users to creators, or a separate “contact me” button. (Insights addressed: 4)

4) Archiving

Prototype a few concepts that provide creators with the choice of archiving a version of their works when CC licensing. This could be an archive we provide as a service, tied to a new chooser tool, a separate web page for preserving your work, and also in partnership with an organization like the Internet Archive. (Insights addressed: 7, 9)

5) Reward & Delight — infuse through all prototypes, esp #1

Use this as a framework for all prototypes we develop. In addition, prototype a small, fun idea that gives reward and delight to users, e.g. a graphic CC mascot overlaid to help users navigate the licensing process. (Insights addressed: All)

6) “Polaroid” watermark

Prototype a CC branded watermark that lives outside the image that can be added on download from CC search, as part of “no click attribution.” (Insights addressed: 3, 4)

7) No click attribution

Prototype a tool that removes all friction for users providing correct attribution. This could play out in a number of ways, including having attribution and related information attach upon download of an image (0 click attribution) in CC search, an attribution filter/plugin service that bulk links attribution, or a credit that is automatically added by a platform or related service. (Insights addressed: 3)

8) Narrow use case search

Prototype in CC search a way to search for specific materials to use for specific types of projects, starting with the most popular use cases, e.g. CC music for videos or podcasts. (Insights addressed: 6)

9) Obtain a unique ID to track your work

Prototype a CC unique ID registry that links to the CC catalog and provides information about each CC work through the ID, e.g. CC/12345 would display information such as author, number of shares, etc. (Insights addressed: 3, 4, 6)

What’s next

These nine interventions will be developed or prototyped over the next 3-6 months (pending alignment with CC’s overall product strategy given my new role). Ready prototypes, including those built related to CC Search, will be demo-ed and tested at the Mozilla Festival and Nonprofit Software Development Summit in October and November. Following the design phase, CC will reassess prototypes along user feedback and against new organizational objectives to decide which to phase into development. It’s important to note that some of these ideas might not work out, and might not solve the problems they seek to address. That’s part of the iterative process of human-centered design. Separately, CC will evaluate findings from usability research that did not make it to the design phase as part of its other organizational objectives.

The question of CC’s relevance to various user groups, particularly mainstream creators, is ongoing. We will bring forward a plan to engage more deeply in that work in the next phase of the initiative in 2019, and will engage the community in that discussion at the CC Global Summit in Lisbon next May.

Get involved

If there’s one thing you can do now, it’s to join the #cc-usability channel over at the Creative Commons Slack (https://slack-signup.creativecommons.org) and say — Hi! I’m interested in providing feedback on CC search and usability prototypes as you roll them out — or something to that effect. I’d just like to get to know you and where you’re coming from, like we got to know the 81 people we talked to earlier this year.

You can also follow me (@janedaily) on Twitter, where I’ll post updates and conferences I’ll be at.

If you’re a developer, or versed in the ways of developers, you can follow our progress on each prototype at CC’s public Github repos. We have one specifically for intervention #4 (Archiving) at https://github.com/creativecommons/cc-archive, and will be posting the rest as part of other repos at https://github.com/creativecommons.

The post Findings from the Discovery phase of CC usability appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Jane Park at September 25, 2018 04:17 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
If you lead people to a more private search engine, will they care?
Searching the web is one of the most revealing things you can do. It shows what you're looking to buy, where you want to go and if you're worried about a weird rash. When you search Google, those searches help power its huge digital advertising networks, which is why you might see skin cream ads for that rash days later, on a totally different website. But do people know how much information they're giving up? And do they care? Molly Wood looks at search engine DuckDuckGo - the “anti-Google” - and growing investment in it. (09/24/18)

by Marketplace at September 25, 2018 10:40 AM

Global Voices
Nepalese citizens fight against impunity with the “Rage Against Rape” campaign

A protest rally was held in solidarity with #JusticeForNirmala campaign at Maitighar Mandala, Kathmandu, Nepal. Image by Sanjib Chaudhary, used wth permission.

Following the gruesome rape and killing of 13-year-old Nirmala Panta in southwest Nepal in late July 2018, shocked Nepalese citizens have launched the #RageAgainstRape campaign, sparking nation-wide conversations about violence against women in Nepal.

Injustice and oppression exceeded the limit, we were forced to come on the road. While there is a countrywide protest and [the city of] Pokhara remains silent, it cannot happen. Today Pokhara spoke in favor of justice. This solidarity has given new hope. People have risen up together.

Nirmala had reportedly traveled to a friend’s house in the town of Kanchanpur to study but never arrived and was later found dead in a sugarcane field. A 41-year-old convicted criminal was accused of the crime, and two women whose home Nirmala had visited earlier that evening were also held for questioning.

The police concluded that the primary male suspect was “mentally unstable,” infuriating local individuals and civil society groups who accused authorities of an attempted cover-up.

In Nepal, three cases of rape are reported on a daily basis. The police recently released data revealing 1,480 rape cases reported in Nepal in 2017, almost double the numbers in 2016. The number is suspected to be even higher due to the fact that many incidents go unreported.

Activists took to the streets in the capital city of Kathmandu to express their rage against acts of rape along with dissent against the state for not taking sufficient measures to bring the perpetrators to justice. During protests in late August 2018, one protester was killed and many were hurt as police used force to control the crowds.

Coordinated, ongoing protests persist nationwide:

There is citizen gathering for #justiceforNirmala nationwide. Please be present at your nearest one.

Throughout the year, activists and civil society groups have accused the government of not taking adequate measures to curb violent crime against women and protests have swept the country calling for the arrest of all perpetrators of rape:

In patriarchal South Asia, women's safety and security has been an urgent concern, especially following a shocking gang-rape and killing in Delhi, India that sparked massive protests. In neighbouring Nepal, where the culture of impunity is no different, citizens have been outraged.

The reality of reporting rape in Nepal

There are several reasons why a victim of rape would hesitate to report it in Nepal. In a cultural climate where rape victims are often blamed, it takes immense courage. Victims face complicated legal loopholes as obstacles to justice — often, police investigations drag on too long and DNA testing results are delayed or manipulated.

At the beginning of 2018, when Nepalese men suspected of another horrific gang rape were released, activists cited a failed judicial system that disregards rape cases even when perpetrators have been identified.

Amidst pressure, the Nepalese government has issued new codes strengthening laws related to gender-based violence, including longer 25-year jail sentences for rape. If the victim is a minor, disabled or elderly, the accused can receive a life sentence.

But implementing this law remains doubtful due to cultural norms and high levels of corruption that allow criminals to slip through the cracks.

Throughout the protests, some activists have focused specifically on justice reforms in honor of victims who continue to suffer in silence.

Sanjib Chaudhary contributed to this post.

by Palash Ranjan Sanyal at September 25, 2018 09:51 AM

A new indie film festival features the struggles and triumphs of indigenous Papua, Indonesia

A few participants in the second Papuan independent film festival. Source: Facebook page of Papuan Voices, used with permission.

Papuan Voices, a video advocacy organization, has organized two independent film festivals since 2017 to celebrate the lives and struggles of indigenous Papuans in the southeastern province of Indonesia.

In 2015, Global Voices first featured Papuan Voices as a project with EngageMedia, and during the same year, Papuan Voices established itself as an independent organization with a presence now in six Papuan regions.

As the country’s most resource-rich but cash-poor area, a recent influx of Indonesians from other regions has displaced many indigenous Papuans. Some Papuans decry it as an illegal occupation and demand their independence from Indonesia.

Map of Papua and West Papua province of Indonesia. Image courtesy Google Map.

Within this context, as the first film festival held in Papua, it aimed:

to highlight the issues of the indigenous people of Papua through documentary films as well as to build public awareness of the important issues impacting them.

Nearly 30 films were submitted, 50 people participated in the pre-festival production workshops, and 10 films were produced through youth-focused workshops.

Inspired by its inaugural success, the organization held a second film festival last August 2018 with over 1,000 audience members. A total of 19 films from different areas in Papua were submitted.

Mecky Yeimo, a film festival participant, said that the films provided a lot of information about the land disputes between indigenous Papuan landowners and investors acquiring local lands for mining and palm plantations.

Franky Samperante, the director of Pusaka, an indigenous Indonesian non-governmental organization, noted the importance of the film festival:

In Papua, there are very limited options to obtain information by ordinary people because information is controlled by certain dominant groups. The information in these films will be very useful for many people at the local, national and international levels.

Many of the films featured during both festivals depict the everyday struggles of Papuans.

For example, the 2017 Best Film award winner ‘Monce Truck’ is a documentary directed by Imanuel Hindom about a former truck driver for a palm oil plantation in Keerom Regency who found a way to help Papuan women sellers (“Mama-mama” in Papuan) find a new source of income by transporting their vegetables to new markets in the capital city of Jayapura:

‘The Caretaker of Isio Hill Forest’ is another inspiring short documentary which narrates the story of Alex Waisimon who turned a lush forest in Papua into a famous bird-watching spot for tourists. The film was directed by Asrida Elisabeth, Harun Rumbarar, Bernad Koten, Yosef Levi.

Since 2011, both Papuan Voices and EngageMedia have trained more than 50 filmmakers and produced approximately 100 films which were screened in more than 50 locations in and out of Indonesia.

by Mong Palatino at September 25, 2018 12:19 AM

September 24, 2018

Global Voices
As xenophobic policies sweep Central and Eastern Europe, refugee aid is criminalized

Illegal migrants living in a hostel room in Sofia, Bulgaria. Photo: courtesy of the project by the Center for Legal Aid “Voice in Bulgaria”/José Antonio Sanchez Manzano via BlueLink Stories.

This article is based on Refugee-Fear Politics Targets NGOs, originally published by BlueLink Stories as a part of the project “Remembering Europe: Civil Society Under Pressure Again”, implemented by the BlueLink Foundation with co-funding from the European Union's Europe for Citizens Programme, and republished through a partnership with Global Voices, written by .

The political hysteria against refugees entering Europe is on the rise although migration in the region has decreased since 2017. Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orbán has taken the toughest anti-migrant stance, followed by politicians in the ‘Visegrád Four’ or V4 (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia).

On World Refugee Day, June 20, 2018, the Hungarian Parliament ironically adopted legislation criminalizing help for asylum seekers, refugees, or undocumented migrants. A two-thirds majority of the current ruling party Fidesz passed the new Article 353/A into the Criminal Code which states that any person providing legal help or distributing leaflets and other materials on the refugee rights and housing opportunities should be arrested and cited for “facilitating illegal migration.”

If conducted on a regular basis or in the context of an organisation or network, the punishment is up to one year in prison. The government can also shut down these organisations, halt or severely limit their activities, or slap them with a fine.

The Venice Commission issued a detailed explanation of why this code violates basic human rights principles, limits the work of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and breaks international standards and legal protocols. They say the law does not effectively target illegal migration, for which regular provisions are already in place under Article 353.

Orbán, who believes United States philanthropist George Soros is responsible for facilitating migration to Europe, named the legislation “Stop Soros,” and clearly targets the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC), an NGO providing legal aid to refugees and asylum seekers that is funded by Soros’ Open Societies Foundation. [Editor's note: Global Voices also receives funding from Open Societies Foundation]. 

The law came into effect on July 1, 2018, with questions from both the Jobbik and Socialist parties about how the law would actually work. Hungarian NGOs are still unclear about how the new law will impact their work.

In a press release following the adoption of the anti-migrant law, the HHC stated:

[We] will continue to provide legitimate and free-of-charge legal assistance to asylum-seekers and will seize all available legal and advocacy opportunities to challenge this law that breaches fundamental rights and [European Union] EU law.

Staff of Hungarian Helsinki Committee in their office in Budapest.

The HHC office. In 2017, they received the Calouste Gulbenkian Prize in Human Rights for its “unique and exemplary” character in providing regular and free legal assistance to asylum-seekers, refugees and stateless persons in Hungary. Photo: Ákos Stiller, used with permission.

“The most ridiculous piece of legislation we’ve seen in a while”

The anti-migrant law has sparked fierce debate among Hungary's political parties as well as citizens. Hungary's two major political parties, the ruling Fidesz party, and the far-right Jobbik party, both support the law, holding 80 percent of seats in parliament.

The third largest party, the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), considers the law useless in fighting illegal migration. MSZP chairman Bertalan Tóth says:

The interest of this government is to keep this problem alive instead of solving it.

The Democratic Coalition (DK) also opposed the law with chairman Ferenc Gyurcsany calling it “not just political but historical sin” and

an attack on people seeking safe haven from persecution and those who carry out admirable work to help them.

Surprisingly, even Jobbik leader Márton Gyöngyösi, in his comment to BlueLink.info, acknowledged:

this is the most ridiculous piece of legislation we’ve seen in a while.

He says his party faced a “difficult dilemma” prior to voting on the bill that remains unresolved. He admits:

…real measures were omitted from the new bill, while several new elements were added, concerning judicial reforms or a constitutional amendment. Therefore we see it as a clearly politically motivated piece of legislation, that’s only goal is to satisfy Fidesz’ voters who expect aggressive rhetoric from the government. In our opinion, measures envisaged in this law are ridiculous and not likely to have a real effect. Voting for this legislation had no real importance.

Fidesz representatives did not answer the inquiry for a comment at the time of publishing this article.

Those who oppose the law say it doesn't match the reality of current statistics showing a significant drop in the number of refugees entering Hungary. Around 20,000 people in 2017 were blocked from entry at the border fence or escorted to the external border. According to the HHC, 267 refugees were granted protection in 2018 while rejecting at least 326 applicants, mostly hailing from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

Anti-migrant sentiment spreads

In neighbouring Slovakia, approximately 79 percent of citizens surveyed report negative perceptions of immigration. These sentiments were then stoked by politicians to gain support during parliamentary elections held in March 2016.

However, since August 2015, the government has regularly consulted with NGOs helping migrants and allocated 500,000 Euro (nearly 589,000 USD) for immediate humanitarian assistance as well as ongoing projects. In 2016, the government created a 20 million Euro (nearly 24 million USD) “reserve” fund for migration-related issues.

According to statistics, Slovakia has one of the lowest numbers of asylum seekers among all EU countries.

Alena Krempaska, a programme director at the Human Rights Institute in Slovakia, confirmed in a comment to BlueLink.info that the Slovak government supports NGOs working with migration issues. The Human Rights League received a grant from the Ministry of Interior in 2016 for working with migrants. Yet, Krempaska sees it all as a “political game, a discourse, rather than real steps.”

NGOs do the work and take the blame

CEE governments tend to comply with international and EU standards by providing funds to NGOs who provide a wide range of refugee support services, all free of charge to their clients. Yet, from Poland to Bulgaria, aid looks different across the CEE region depending on how well NGOs and state authorities cooperate.

According to Radostina Pavlova, a legal expert with Voice in Bulgaria, Bulgarian authorities often help migrant-support organizations that the state, in principle, should fund. Access to State Agency for Refugees (SAR) funds is tricky, often dependent on a strict timetable misaligned with real-time needs. Pavlova notes, however, that

the Ministry of Interior has significantly improved in the past two years and many organisations now work in the closed centres for migrants which are under its supervision.

A Council of Europe report published in April 2018 corroborates this funding dilemma and SAR itself noted in its annual report that cooperation between local and international NGOs and state authorities is limited, leaving a huge burden of care on the NGOs.

Following Hungary's new anti-migrant measures, Pavlov worries the same could happen in Bulgaria. While Bulgaria's refugee numbers have also significantly dropped since 2017, Bulgarian authorities still monitor Turkish borders, where they say a newly built fence with a surveillance system does not always work and refugees can still cross illegally.

Not in my backyard

While many CEE governments acknowledge the need to finance refugee support activities, NGOs lament a lack of support for their work on the ground, with governments preferring to support external activities in crisis zones.

Children in a classroom in Raqqa, Syria, sitting at desks and looking at the photographer.

An education project in Syria by Free Syria Foundation with the donations collected in Poland. Photo by wolnasyria.org.

Samer Masri of Free Syria Foundation in Poland acknowledged in his comment to BlueLink.info that Polish NGOs face difficulties in cooperating with state authorities even though his foundation receives at least half its funds from the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

We are realising projects that are in line with the Polish government’s policy … We also brand our project as an act of gift from great Polish Nation to Syrians … and we use Polish national symbols … So, everybody likes us and we can do what we want and of course we get support if we need it.

During the European Council summit in June 2018, a majority of leaders supported policies to prevent migration to Europe, including tactics such as strengthening relations with “origin and transit” countries, halting illegal border crossings, and supporting refugee facilities in Turkey — keeping refugees out of Europe's backyard.

by BlueLink at September 24, 2018 05:01 PM

Creative Commons
Big changes for CC Search beta: updates released today!

Today, we’ve released a significant update to our working beta of the CC Search product. We launched the project in February 2017 to provide a new “front door” to the Commons with the ultimate goal to find and index all 1.4 billion+ CC licensed works on the web. Since then, our newly formed tech team – myself, Alden Page, Sophine Clachar, and Steven Bellamy – have been working to move this project toward its next iteration, which I am proud to share today.

More providers, better metadata

search-screenshot

This is a work in progress — it has great new features, and also has a few bugs, which we’re working on as we go (you can leave feedback here or file issues at Github). This iteration of CC Search integrates access to more than 10 million images across 13 content providers. The data was obtained by processing 36 months of web crawl data from the Common Crawl corpus (an open repository of web crawl data maintained by the Common Crawl Foundation).

The full list of providers:

Provider Domain # CC Licensed Works
Animal Diversity Web https://animaldiversity.org/ 14,839
Behance https://www.behance.net/ 5,245,785
Deviantart https://www.deviantart.com/ 206,506
Digitalt Museum https://digitaltmuseum.org/ 88,970
Encyclopedia of Life http://eol.org/ 547,488
Flickr https://www.flickr.com/ 426,214
Flora-On http://flora-on.pt/ 26,498
Geograph UK http://www.geograph.org.uk/ 1,018,560
IHA Holiday Ads http://www.iha.com/ 2,058,272
McCord Museum http://www.musee-mccord.qc.ca/en/ 108,800
The Metropolitan Museum of Art https://www.metmuseum.org/ 96,260
Museums Victoria https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/ 64,719
Science Museum – UK https://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/ 14,280

In addition, the new release contains several new features, including AI image tags generated from our collaborator, Clarifai. Clarifai is a best in class image classification software that provides tagging support and visual recognition. Clarifai’s API was integrated in the process-flow as a means to automatically generate tags for the new and existing images. This means that CC search has machine generated tags, user-defined tags, and platform-defined tags that were obtained from the web crawl data. Collectively, these will enhance the user’s search experience and improve the quality of the results. Currently, 10.3 million images have their respective Clarifai tags and the outstanding images will be integrated on an ongoing basis. Thank you to Clarifai for their support.

clarifai

A New Look


gif-searchThe new design allows users to search by category, see popular images, and search more accurately across a wide range of content.

Users can also now share content and create public lists of images without an account using an anonymous authentication scheme. Shares.cc is a new a link shortening system that makes it easy to share cool stuff you find on our platform to social media – users can share both images and lists, no login required. In addition, the new platform provides the ability to filter by provider, license, creator, tag (including those generated by Clarifai), or title.

(Please note: If you made private lists in the previous system, they will not carry over to this release. We’re sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused. If there is a list you would like us to recover, please email us at info@creativecommons.org.)

With gratitude

CC Search is made possible by a number of institutional and individual sponsors. Specifically, we would like to thank Arcadia – a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, Mozilla, and the Brin Wojcicki Foundation for their support. With the generous support of our funders, Creative Commons is able to significantly advance its work in pursuit of a more open and sharing world that illuminates the Commons and recognizes the major potential of transformative human knowledge.

Full release notes available here.

 

The post Big changes for CC Search beta: updates released today! appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Paola Villarreal at September 24, 2018 04:06 PM

Marketplace Tech Report
This former political operative now helps tech companies wrangle government
It used to be that stories of tech companies breaking all the rules and fighting city hall were considered sexy. But right now we’re having conversations with more suspicion about things like unproven driverless technology, online advertising, unstoppable data collection and automation. Yet, here with a defense of tech’s disruptive mentality is Bradley Tusk. He's a political operative turned tech consultant who has a new book called “The Fixer.” It’s full of pirate stories of him helping heroic startups like Uber work around innovation-killing politicians and their rules. Molly Wood talks with Tusk about the politics of tech. (09/24/18)

by Marketplace at September 24, 2018 10:30 AM

Ben Adida
Letter to my Two Sons on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court

 

My sons. You are 9 and 6, old enough to understand certain aspects of consent, but not quite old enough for me to tell you all the things I want to tell you about what’s going on right now with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States. So I’m writing it here, for posterity, so you can read it and so I can later remember how I felt in this moment.

As you grow, and as your dreams and desires bump up against the people and world around you, you will be faced daily with decisions about the kind of person you want to be. You won’t always know, in the moment, how these decisions will come to define you. And many of the people around you, especially the loud ones, will not be good moral compasses in that journey.

So here’s one rule you should follow, at all times, in all inter-personal relationships: you cannot, under any circumstance, use physical force to coerce another person into doing what you want. In particular, when it comes to intimate relations, you should engage only when they are enthusiastic and you are enthusiastic. There are no exceptions to that rule.

If you break the rule, even in a way that seems inconsequential to you in the moment, you are likely to leave the other person distraught, maybe scarred for life. When you have long forgotten their names, they may still be cursing yours. And if you tiptoe over the line even once, maybe because you’re young and foolish and drunk and your friend told you that’s how it’s done… you may end up rationalizing your behavior. Because you’re a good guy. And good guys don’t do bad things. Ergo the thing is not actually bad. You may then end up justifying the next, slightly worse violation. And the next one.

None of us is born good or bad. None of us stays good or bad their whole life. We all make mistakes. Some mistakes, however, especially those mistakes that directly harm another human, define who you are at warp speed. Some actions are unforgivable. Engaging in intimate acts with another individual without their clear consent is one such action. Even if you’re drunk. Even if you’re young. Even if you were just going along with what others were telling you.

I have made plenty of mistakes. I have never broken the rule. Please, make plenty of mistakes and learn from them. But don’t ever break the rule.

So let’s say you never break the rule. Good. You don’t deserve a medal, by the way, but good. Also, you’re not done. As men, you and I bear a responsibility to help rectify an age-old situation that cannot stand: that we need to believe and support women who speak out about the trauma they suffered at the hands of men.

There are, unfortunately, far too many men who break the rule. It’s taken me a long time to accept that it’s not just a few bad apples. There are many bad apples. They’re all around us, and they terrify dozens of women (and sometimes men) in their lives. I don’t know why they do this. Maybe because they tiptoed across the line once and got away with it, then rationalized it because they think of themselves as “good guys.” Whatever the excuse, they leave a trail of broken people in their wake.

One day, one of the people they broke will speak out. And that person, usually a woman, will not be believed. You won’t believe her. Maybe she regretted it the next morning, you’ll think. Maybe she’s exaggerating. Surely this guy couldn’t be that bad. You will hold as a fixed point in your mind that humanity must be overall good, thus the only explanation is that this woman is lying. It is human of you to doubt that there are such terrible actors in the world. But it is, sadly, so so wrong. And your job, as a man, is to fight whatever primordial kinship you feel for this other man simply because you share a gender, and consider, just for a second, the risk this woman is taking by making this accusation. Once you do, once you really put yourself in her shoes, you will see the obvious: it’s not impossible that she’s lying, but it’s incredibly unlikely.

This will be hard, because, when you believe it, you will also have to believe that the world contains far too many awful, awful people. You know many of them. They were just as innocent and well-meaning as you are today, at ages 9 and 6. They became, at some point, through some series of decisions, morally corrupt. You, my dear innocent boys, are morally corruptible. You will not grow up to be good men only because you believe you are good men. You become good men by way of the critical decisions you make each and every day.

The bad news is that the World needs better men. The good news is, you can be one of those better men, if you choose to be. Do not break the rule. Believe women. Be better men.

by benadida at September 24, 2018 06:48 AM

September 23, 2018

Global Voices
A sea-change in Maldives politics as opposition presidential candidate declares a win
Contestants of the Maldives 2018 Presidential Election - Incumbent President Abdulla Yameen and Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

Two contestants of the Maldives 2018 Presidential Election: Left: Incumbent President Abdulla Yameen. Right: Opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. Image via Wikimedia Commons from Public Domain.

The Maldives, an archipelago nation situated in the Indian Ocean, has faced political turbulence as citizens at home and abroad lined up to vote on Sunday, September 23 in the 2018 presidential elections.

Incumbent Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom of the Progressive Party (PPM) ran against opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). Under Yameen's leadership, the island has faced a series of political crises that left citizens desperate for change.

Solih has been a member of parliament since 1994 and played an instrumental role in establishing multi-party democracy in the Maldives in 2009.

According to the BBC as of 2 a.m. in the Maldives (GMT+5) Solih “said he had won by a 16 percent margin over incumbent Abdulla Yameen, with 92 percent of votes counted” and urged for a peaceful transition on the troubled islands.

A fragile democracy

Yameen was elected president in controversial 2013 elections in which he defeated former president Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), who worked to establish a multi-party system alongside Solih.

In fiercely contested 2013 election results, Naheed and the MDP claimed a clear lead. But strong disputes led to the annulment of the original election. Yameen ultimately won with a very narrow margin in the re-elections and Nasheed was forced into exile.

In his first five-year term, Yameen has gained notoriety for the imprisonment or forced exile of many of his political rivals. He boldly locked down parliament after a vote of no-confidence and survived a few impeachment attempts through creative measures such as the anti-defection ruling, which prevents members of parliament from switching parties.

Yameen's government has been accused of silencing dissent and media crackdowns, including the arrest and exile of journalists and newspaper shutdowns. Yameen also pulled the Maldives from The Commonwealth in 2016 after threats about its human rights record.

In September 2016, Al Jazeera released Stealing Paradise, an investigative report that revealed how President Yameen and his associates embezzled millions of dollars, bribed judges and other high-level officials and maneuvered to remove government workers who got in the way.

Yameen survived a judicial coup in February 2018 when the Supreme Court overturned the convictions of nine opposition leaders, including Nasheed who remained in exile. The court reversed its decision after Yameen declared a state of emergency and ordered the arrest of two judges.

Last June, Nasheed decided to exit the presidential race after the Election Commission barred the candidacy to anyone convicted of criminal charges, leaving the opposition coalition to chose Solih for the 2018 elections.

Unprecedented voter turn out

The Maldives election commission boasted an “extraordinary high turnout” from its pool of 250,000 potential voters and extended polling by three hours as voters complained of long delays in the voting process.

No violence or disruptions were reported as per government sources:

Free and fair elections?

On the eve of Sunday's election, international election monitors who were banned from the Maldives expressed concerns about a free and fair election after Maldivian police raided opposition campaign headquarters.

Opposition leaders also expressed concerns about a free and fair election. In a recent press release, the Maldives Election Commission refuted claims of vote rigging and massive voter fraud.

A vote for change

Maldivian citizens impatient for democratic change stood in long lines, sometimes up to eight hours, to cast their votes.

Early polling results showed a clear lead for opposition candidate Solih.

Live statistics from the Maldives news portal Miharuu.com showed voter turnout at 88 percent of the eligible 262,135 voters. Another site called mvdemocracy.com continues to stream live results.

Maldivian citizens eager for a new beginning, especially when it comes to measures to protect the archipelago from the negative impact of climate change, will watch carefully in the coming days to see how the transition plays out.

by Rezwan at September 23, 2018 09:06 PM

September 22, 2018

Global Voices
Amidst typhoon rescue efforts in Japan, a Taiwanese diplomat dies. Did misinformation play a role?

Screenshot from a viral video showing a Chinese representative from the Chinese consulate in Osaka, Japan, explaining evacuation efforts to stranded Chinese tourists during Typhoon Jebi in September 2018.

Taiwanese diplomat Su Chii-cherng died by suicide on September 14, 2018, while stationed in Osaka, Japan.

According to NHK (Japan's national broadcasting station), the 61-year-old diplomat left behind a letter saying he was deeply pained by public criticism accusing his office of not doing enough to rescue Taiwanese tourists stranded at the Kansai International Airport in Japan when Typhoon Jebi struck the region in early September 2018.

When mainland Chinese media outlets circulated several stories praising the Chinese consulate in Japan for successfully evacuating its citizens, Taiwanese netizens slammed their own consulate for failing to assist Taiwanese tourists with equal measure.

Some social media reports said that Taiwanese citizens had to feign Chinese identities to get a seat on evacuation buses. Taiwan has been a de-facto self-ruling state since 1949 and the majority of Taiwanese want to distinguish themselves from mainland China. A proclamation of Chinese identity would signal an acceptance of the “One China Principle” and is, therefore, an insult to Taiwanese dignity.

Amidst a flurry of outrage and criticism, Taiwanese authorities tried to clarify that they were following rescue protocols set by the Japanese government, but misinformed criticism and complaints continue circulating online and the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said they would thoroughly investigate the situation.

Following the death by suicide of Su Chii-cherng in the early morning of September 14, criticism aimed at his consulate halted. The following day, a journalist group, Taiwan Fact-check Center published a report denouncing the mainland Chinese versions of the rescue story circulated widely online.

Misinformation over evacuation priorities 

According to officials at Japan's Kansai International Airport, Japanese airport authorities arranged evacuation buses for all stranded passengers, regardless of nationality. Japanese authorities rejected a demand by the Chinese consulate to send their own buses.

However, during the evacuation procedures, representatives from China Southern Airlines grouped only mainland Chinese tourists into one of the buses and, after they arrived at the collection point, the Chinese consulate allegedly arranged its own transport to rescue others.

The Chinese consulate in Osaka first shared information about their rescue efforts for Chinese citizens in a brief announcement:

截至日本当地时间9月6日凌晨,驻大阪总领馆协助因台风滞留中国旅客1044人(包括香港同胞117人,澳门同胞5人和台湾同胞32人)分六批安全撤离关西国际机场。

Until September 6 midnight, China consulate in Osaka had assisted 1044 Chinese tourists, including 117 Hong Kong fellows, five Macau fellows and 32 Taiwanese fellows, to retreat from Kansai international airport in six batches.

Another announcement claims the consulate sent representatives to the Kansai airport after midnight on September 4 to discuss a rescue plan that was then implemented by the Japanese authorities on September 5 specifically for Chinese tourists:

经我馆积极协调,日方于9月5日上午11时30分(原计划8时开始,因故推迟)启动集中转运中国旅客工作。

After the consulate’s proactive coordinating work, the Japanese side started transporting Chinese tourists [to downtown transit center] at 11:30 am on September 5 (the original plan was at 8 am but deferred due to other causes).

This gave readers the impression that transit buses arranged at Kansai International Airport was the result of negotiations by the Chinese consulate on behalf of Chinese citizens.

Chinese state-affiliated Guan Cha Net published a video on the night of September 5 further exacerbating this narrative, with Chinese consulate staff reporting that 15 buses had been arranged for Chinese tourists.

The video also shows an interview with a Chinese traveler named Mr. Wang who confirmed that a bus arranged by the Chinese consulate picked up Chinese travelers stranded at the airport, adding that he was proud to be a Chinese passport holder.

The report included a WeChat post:

【中國人先上車】昨天3千人滯留大阪關西機場,中國駐大阪總領事館准備了15輪大巴,優先安排中國公民撤離關西機場,並給大家發了吃喝的,離開機場的時候,日本人和其它國家地區的群眾還在排隊,一眼望不到頭。為強大的祖國點贊。PS 遇到幾個台灣同胞問,我們能上這輛車嗎?統一回答可以呀,只要你覺得自己是中國人就可以上車跟祖國走。

[Chinese get onboard first] Yesterday 3,000 people were trapped at Kansai International Airport, the China consulate in Osaka arranged 15 buses to transport Chinese citizens away from the airport. It also distributed food. When departing the airport, Japanese and people from other countries were still lining up and you could not see where the queue led. Please praise for the strength of our mother country. P.S. We ran into a few Taiwanese fellows who asked if they could get on the bus. We all said yes. If you identify yourself as Chinese, you can get on the bus and follow mother country.

The state-affiliated media outlet Global Times also ran a story on September 6 boasting that Chinese tourists were the first to be evacuated. The report credited the Chinese consulate for rescue coordination:

就在今天一早,被困机场的中国旅客却得知了一个令他们很受感动的好消息:中国领馆来接他们了!

Chinese tourists who were trapped in the airport heard a moving good news early this morning: the China consulate had come to fetch them!

Reports and commentary on the evacuation efforts in Japan originally appeared on September 6 on PTT (a Taiwanese forum). Taiwanese media outlets then picked up the story, eventually running sensational headlines like “Taiwanese follow China bus,” “Taiwanese had to rely on Chinese transportation to get away” and “To get on the bus, one has to pretend Chinese”.

Taiwan's fact-check failure

Taiwanese officials’ continued attempts to clarify the situation fell on deaf ears and netizens continued to blame Taiwanese diplomats such as Chii-cherng in Japan. Taiwanese politician Frank Hsieh attempted to address the misinformed criticism of Taiwan's evacuation response:

中國大阪領事館網站登出他們派巴士車去機場載受困中國旅客,而我們沒有,更傳言有國人偷偷去搭他們的車,還要表明自己是中國人,消息傳出,網民羞憤,有人趁此宣傳感覺持有中華人民共和國護照是驕傲的事情,我的網站因此被灌爆,我現在無暇仔細說明許多查明的細節,承受大家憤怒的出口,也沒有關係。但請大家冷靜想想,如果9/5日私人巴士或汽車可以到機場接人,那麼機場一定大亂,寸步難行,反而不能有效率地疏散。所以日本做法是只准出不准進,所有人都是坐機場的巴士或高速船離開機場到泉佐野站(電車有通)或神戶港。

China consulate in Osaka posted on their website that they had sent buses to the airport to pick up Chinese tourists. On the other hand we did nothing. Some hearsay even claimed that Taiwanese had to proclaim themselves as Chinese in order to get on the buses. The news had enraged [Taiwanese] netizens. Some made use of the incident to propagate the sense of pride in holding a PRC [People's Republic of China] passport. My website was flooded with negative comments. I could not explain all the details at this moment and it is OK for me to take the blame. But please stay calm. If Japan allows private vehicles to enter the airport on September 5, the airport would be very chaotic and no one would be about to get out. It would effect the evacuation work. That’s why Japan had forbidden vehicles to enter, all people in the airport had to take airport buses or turbo ship to leave the airport and go to Rinku (where there is tram service) or Osaka harbour.

But Hsieh's explanation sparked angry comments and the demand for his resignation. Then came the news that his colleague Su Chii-cherng took his own life.

The incident begs series reflection on the collective psychological stress that stems from years of political tension between China and Taiwan that so easily stoked the spread of deadly misinformation.

 

The number one cause of suicide is untreated depression. Depression is treatable and suicide is preventable. You can get help from confidential support lines for the suicidal and those in emotional crisis. Visit Befrienders.org to find a suicide prevention helpline in your country.

by Oiwan Lam at September 22, 2018 02:13 AM

Beijing authorities slam Swedish police for humiliating Chinese tourists, but there's another side to the story

Screenshot of the clash between Chinese tourists and Swedish police on September 2, 2018, posted by the Swedish media out Aftonbladet.

On September 14, 2018, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a safety alert for Chinese travelers visiting Sweden, after claiming that three Chinese tourists had been brutally abused by Swedish police while vacationing in Stockholm.

A number of Chinese media outlets reported the incident as “brutal” with vivid details and video clips that showed three Chinese tourists screaming and crying for help outside the Generator Hostel in an apparent confrontation with Swedish police.

Reports from Chinese outlets quickly stirred patriotic sentiments on Chinese social media. However, a video released the next day from the Swedish media outlet Aftonbladet offered a different side to the story, leaving viewers to question the veracity of the debacle.

The Chinese side of the story

According to a report from the Global Times, a media outlet affiliated with the Chinese Community Party, the Zeng family of three arrived in Stockholm past midnight on September 2, hours before their official check-in time, and demanded to rest in the hostel's lobby. The staff allegedly felt threatened by the Zengs’ demands and called the police, who forcibly dragged all three out of the hostel.

Zeng claims his father then had a heart attack and fainted while standing outside the hostel and that the police did nothing to assist. Zeng also told the Global Times that the police later dragged them into police vehicles and beat his parents. Instead of taking them to the police station, Zeng claims the police “dumped them in a cemetery at least 30 kilometers south of the hostel.”

The Swedish side of the story

In response to the safety alert announcement made by the Chinese government, Swedish Chief Prosecutor Mats Ericsson said that authorities investigated Zeng's allegations of the incident and on September 7, they exonerated the police of all wrong-doing.

Ericsson denied allegations that the Swedish police had beaten Zeng's parents. However, he did admit that the police did lead the Zeng family into a police vehicle and dropped them off at the Skogskyrkogården subway station near the famous cemetery-garden tourist destination, located only eight kilometers south of the hostel. The police explained that anyone who creates a public disturbance in Stockholm is typically brought to this subway station and expected to fend for themselves.

Hu Shijin, the chief editor of the Global Times, agreed that the Zeng family's behavior was ‘uncivilized,’ but insisted that the Swedish police should not have stranded them at the subway station.

The Swedish media outlet Aftonbladet released a video of the altercation and also interviewed the hostel manager who said they only called on security guards when Zeng's demands became threatening:

We only know that we have done everything we could do for this guest, but at the same time we cannot accept that our staff are exposed to threats and that other guests will suffer from a threatening situation. [English translation of the interview via Guardian]

One passerby interviewed by Aftonbladet says that Zeng’s family was making a scene and pretended to fall down when approached by police. This testimony was backed up by the video released via Aftonbladet.

Shifting opinions leads to critique of Chinese government

As the Aftonbaladet video of the incident circulated on social media, Chinese public opinion began to shift. One Twitter user reposted the video and used the term “china” (meaning “ceramic”) to mock what he calls a “staged crash”:

Isn’t this a typical staged crash? Chinese china steps out of the country, Chinese china steps out to the world, Chinese china scares the Swedish police, Chinese china shows off to the world. It makes Chinese face’s shine. Let’s use this Chinese saying – repost this or you are no Chinese.

The following are some popular comments from Weibo, China's largest social media platform, where netizens critiqued both the Chinese government and the family:

外交部本来想借这事煽动民族情绪,给向来都不把大天朝放在眼里的瑞典政府压力,可这届网民的是非观太強,没被忽悠。煽自己脸了。

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wanted to make use of the incident to stir patriotic sentiment to exercise pressure on Swedish government. But netizens know too well what’s right and wrong and now it slaps its own face.

深夜抵达斯德哥尔摩,却不预定酒店,妄图赖在酒店大堂里,横躺,睡觉,不被允许,就一哭二闹三上吊,碰瓷,这招很好用,但是,瑞典是法治社会,跑到瑞典去这么闹,瑞典警察才不惯着这些无赖呢。 外交部还为这种无赖站台,真是丢人现眼,那些对瑞典喊打喊杀,引导粉蛆,煽动民粹的官媒,要脸吗?

Arrived at Stockholm late at night without booking a hostel and expected to sleep at the hostel lobby. When rejected, cried, yelled, hung themselves and staged crash. This is an effective strategy [in China], but not working in Sweden. The Swedish police don’t care about such scoundrels. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs backed them up, this is so embarrassing. Party mouthpieces which kept attacking Sweden, channeling patriotic sentiment and inciting populism, do they care about their reputation?

On Twitter, more critical comments surfaced about China's motives for circulating this story:

Three Chinese made a scene in Sweden and were forcibly moved away. So many Chinese media outlets and patriots protested and condemned the act. However, when Beijing evicted rural workers at negative eight degrees Celsius and both adults and children were left homeless in the streets, these people kept silence and didn’t dare making a fart. The whole thing makes me understand one thing: those who talk in righteousness when no courage is required while choose to keep silence when courage is needed, they are not cowards but hypocrites.

Chinese-Swedish cultural conflict reveals deeper political rifts

Joe Chung, a political news columnist, provided a list of reasons why the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs would bother to comment on such a minor dispute:

一,是在瑞典公民桂民海被中國政府長期綁架一事上拒絕合作,到本年6月,更有37份包括瑞典大報的瑞典報章,發聲明敦促中國政府釋放桂民海,並指控中國政府嚴重違反人權。現在中國駐瑞典大使譴責瑞典當局違反該三名中國旅客的人權,就是想令外界,尤其是中國人相信,瑞典政府也違反人權,哪有資格向中國指手畫腳。
二,瑞典作為一蕞爾小國,竟敢於今年6月,將為中國政府蒐集瑞典流亡藏人信息的特務人員多傑嘉登(Dorjee Gyantsan),判監22個月。
三,容許達賴喇嘛於上週訪問瑞典。

1. Sweden refused to keep silence on the abduction of its citizen Gui Minhai. Last June [2017], 37 Swedish newspapers co-signed a statement urging the Chinese government to release Gui Minhai and criticizing the Chinese government for infringement of human human. Now the Chinese Embassy in Sweden condemns the Swedish authorities for infringing on the rights of three Chinese tourists to make Chinese people believe that Sweden has no position to criticize China.
2. Sweden, a small country [in the eyes of China] dared giving a 22-month jail sentence to Dorjee Gyantsan, a Chinese spy responsible for collecting exiled Tibetan communities’ information in June this year [2018].
3. Sweden accepted [Tibetan] Dalai Lama visit to the country last week [Tibet and China have longstanding political issues].

Chinese party-affiliated media outlets have not apologized for spreading misinformation on the incident. Instead, they criticized Chinese netizens for acting like ‘slaves’ to Western opinion and taking the wrong position.

In an interview with Swedish newspaper Expressen on September 17, Chinese Ambassador Gui Congyou defended the family's rights, insisting that the Swedish police had threatened and humiliated the Zeng trio.

The Chinese version of the interview was widely circulated online.

by Oiwan Lam at September 22, 2018 02:07 AM

September 21, 2018

Marketplace Tech Report
What else can Big Data do? Pick stocks.
This week, we've been covering how technology has changed investing and will continue to change it. That conversation leads us to artificial intelligence. A Wall Street industry poll earlier this year said a majority of hedge funds are now using artificial intelligence and machine learning to help them make trades. Huge quant funds are even fighting Google and Facebook for engineers to crunch tons of data and build algorithms to predict the next great stock buy. This has all made markets faster, more efficient and more accessible to online investors. On the other hand, there are some worrying aspects. We dig into that in Quality Assurance, our Friday segment where we take a deeper look at a big tech story. Host Molly Wood talks with Simone Foxman of Bloomberg. (09/21/18)

by Marketplace at September 21, 2018 10:38 AM

Global Voices
Venezuelans say they are unable to access key Google services

Illustration by Eduardo Sanabria. Used with permission.

During the first days of September, many Venezuelan Internet users reported having difficulties accessing Google services through the state-run Internet service provider, CANTV, the largest telecommunications company in Venezuela. The service seemed to be working again by mid September, but the conversation revealed the many ways online users are deprived of information and communication online.

Blogspot, Hangouts, Google Drive, and image services, including Gmail attachments were among the services affected.

I think our little friends from the broadband Internet service (ABA) at CANTV are blocking access to specific Google CDNs (content delivery networks). I'm not sure of the breadth of the service outage/block, but it is consistent. Run a quick test by opening the Play Store to see if the app images are downloaded.

In the absence of official information, users began to speculate about the reasons behind this outage, pointing to an intentional block by CANTV as a possible cause.

Venezuela Inteligente, a Venezuelan civil society group, said that Facebook and Twitter had also been affected by the outage, suggesting that content distribution platforms may have been the intended target. It could not confirm, however, if this blackout was caused by an intentional block:

We are continuing to review the problems of accessing several important platforms via #CANTV, many of these problems are occurring in the CDN platforms (content distribution networks, which load common files more quickly) At this time WE CANNOT CONFIRM an intentional block #internetve #9Sep

Meanwhile, Fran Monroy, a technology journalist, declared that the blackout stemmed from a combination of technical failures:

A colleague specialized in telecommunications @fmonroy explained that #CANTV has two problems at this time in #Venezuela Read the thread.

It is worth mentioning that frequent outages have been an enduring characteristic of state-run Internet services. It not only happens with the Internet connection, but also with the electrical grid.

In Venezuela, attacks against the Internet are not new. Among other cases, in June 2018, the anonymous browser Tor, and various pornography sites were blocked.

Furthermore, a recent study by Venezuela Inteligente, IPYS Venezuela and the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI) found that the censoring of news websites in Venezuela by means of DNS tampering and HTTP filtering is a wide-spread practice.

When content is blocked by means of DNS tampering, the domain name server does not respond to the Internet protocol (IP) request. When a specific web address is entered in the browser, the IP request is prevented from being carried out. Meanwhile, HTTP filtering blocks access to information whose principal code contains a syntax seen as invalid by the system.

In the past, Venezuelans have reported being unable to access of radio frequencies, but more recently, stricter control has been seen with the direct blocking of independent news sources and the arrest of journalists. A few days before the latest reports of blocked platforms, international media outlets had already condemned attacks against independent news sources.

Meanwhile, other limitations linked to the political and economic crisis have also meant less freedom of press and expression. The shortage of basic goods such as paper, or the recent economic measures (that include, for example, a 60-fold increase in the minimum wage, due to soaring inflation rates) have forced several media outlets to close their doors.

As a result, the number of news outlets that could oppose Nicolás Maduro's government are being reduced in a sustained and ever-accelerating manner.

A study co-written by the author of this post and Derechos Digitales (Digital Rights) reports a deterioration in online communications in Venezuela. The study also indicates that the restriction of information and communication that has been documented in Venezuela and the lack of transparency in the use of personal information are a violation of human rights.

by Kristina Edinger at September 21, 2018 06:41 AM

Journalist's expulsion from restaurant leads to debate about racism in Angola
Vestimentas de Hossi Sonjamba no dia do acto | Foto usada com permissão por Hossi

Hossi Sonjamba’s clothes on the day | Photo used with Hossi’s permission – 26 August 2018

The alleged violent eviction of a journalist from an upscale restaurant in Luanda has caused an online controversy, leading to debates about racism and discrimination in Angola.

On 26 August, journalist and activist Simão Hossi visited the Café Del Mar restaurant with a group of friends. On the instructions of the managers, two employees followed Hossi when he was on his way to the restroom. The employees then allegedly assaulted and expelled him from the restaurant with the excuse that Hossi was poorly dressed.

Afterwards, Hossi took to Facebook and shred his version of events in a post:

Ontem, domingo 26 de Agosto, desloquei-me a Ilha de Luanda, em companhia de 3 amigos sendo um deles um Cidadão Norte Americano que esteve em Angola a trabalho, trata-se de Jeremias Dito Dalí, Massilon Chindombe, e o Rudy Massamba que veio de Washington DC.

(…) enquanto procurava-se pelo lugar para sentarmos decidi ir ao banheiro e, como não conhecia a casa perguntei a uma atendente, esta indicou que fosse sempre em frente por estar apresada, como não achava, perguntei a uma funcionária de limpeza, está por sua vez questionou-me logo de onde vinha, eu respondi a ela no caso a funcionária que estava no interior do restaurante e que precisava do banheiro, ela indicou-me e fui usar o mesmo.

Tão logo saí do banheiro deparo-me com mais ou menos 4 a 5 seguranças internos vulgos Caenches que abordaram a minha pessoa com as questões, o que estava aí a fazer, de onde vinha e, estes por sua vez obrigavam a segui-los eu questionei para onde eles queriam levar-me se estava acompanhado. Foi assim que eles a força, um deles pegou me a força como se um bebê até fora do recinto do restaurante onde fui atirado ao chão, este mesmo que carregou deu-me bofetadas, para além destes em conjunto terem preferidos palavras de que, aquele não era o local para mim, mesmo eu tendo insistentemente afirmado que estava acompanhando com mais 3 pessoas.

Quanto a questão das minhas vestimentas, eu estava de chinelas de facto, estava com uma calça e camisola normal, havia pessoas com calções e chinelas mas fui mesmo o alvo.
Para mim o pessoal da segurança não agiu isoladamento, tiveram cobertura da gerência do restaurante.

Yesterday, 26 August, I visited the Ihla de Luanda, in the company of 3 friends, one being a USA citizen who was in Angola for work, they were Jeremias Dito Dalí, Massilon Chindombe, and Rudy Massamba who came from Washington DC.

(…) while looking for a place for us to sit I decided to go to the bathroom and, as I did not know the place I asked an attendant, they said it was straight ahead as he was busy, as I did not find it, I asked a cleaning employee, for her part she asked me quickly where I came from, I answered her like the employee inside the restaurant and that I needed the bathroom, she showed me and I went to use it.

As soon as I left the bathroom I came across more or less 4 to 5 muscly internal security staff that accosted me with questions, what was I there to do, where did I come from and, they then forced me to follow them, I asked where they wanted to take me while accompanied. It was then they used force, one of them took me by force like a baby outside the restaurant area where I was thrown to the floor, the same one who carried me also struck me, and as well as this they also chose words that, this was not the place for me, even though I had been insistently saying that I was accompanied by 3 other people.

As for the question of my clothes, I was actually in flip-flops, I was wearing normal trousers and a long shirt, there were other people with shorts and flip-flops but the target was just me.

For me, the security staff did not act alone, they were covered by the restaurant’s management.

The story was widely shared on social media and many people have publicly criticized and protested the restaurant's actions — among them long-time clients. Hossi was also invited to discuss what happened on the most watched television channel in Angola, TV Zimbo.

In a Facebook post, which was later shared in the newspaper O País, Presidential advisor Ismael Mateus claimed that this case of racism against Simão Hossi is only one of thousands that occur in the country.

According to Mateus, racism in Angola is nothing new, but people prefer to pretend nothing is happening. In some companies, he explained, having lighter skin is a passport to a job or preferential treatment:

Acontece nas nossas barbas e enquanto não tomarmos consciência disso, as coisas vão continuar. Um dia, quando alguém perder a cabeça e acontecer um incidente grave, ninguém se irá lembrar das pessoas que andam há anos a dizer que precisamos de discutir o racismo contra a grande maioria negra.

It happens in front of us and while we do not take notice of it, these things will continue. One day, when somebody loses their head and a serious incident happens, nobody will remember the people who have been saying for years that we need to discuss racism against the large black majority.

The restaurant's reaction

In their own defense, the restaurant wrote that Simão Hóssi had been dressed inadequately and unacceptably. According to their version of the incident, Hossi was approached by a member of the cleaning staff who reproached him for his poor state of dress. The restaurant management then alerted the head of security who asked Hossi to leave the area which created an unpleasant situation for other clients.

Outside the establishment, police officers on patrol in the area were called in to intervene on behalf of Simão Hossi, who alleged that he had been assaulted. This was disregarded by the officers as he did not show any signs of being assaulted.

Internet users divided over the event

In a Facebook post, Joaquim Lunda, a friend of Hossi, said he did not understand how something like this could happen:

…várias vezes eu já estive neste local em que mencionas, de calções e chinelos e ainda hoje estive lá de calções e chinelos, mas tive um bom tratamento pelos funcionários…será que discutiste com algum funcionário, coisa parecida? Acho mesmo muito estranho isso que acabas de mencionar.

… I have already been several times to this place that you mention, in shorts and flip-flops and even today I was there in shorts and flip-flops, but I was treated well by the staff…could it be that you had an exchange with one of the staff, something like that? I think that it’s very strange, what you just mentioned

Miguel Quimbenze put the blame on Hossi, arguing that he must have treated the cleaning staff member badly:
Mano tu provocaste esta situação, trataste mal a funcionária auxiliar de limpeza, os seguranças apareceram em função da informação dada pela Sra. Penso que a pergunta que lhe foi feita pela Sra era normal.

Buddy you provoked this situation, you treated the cleaning staff member badly, the security staff came on the basis of the information given by this lady. I think that the question the lady asked you was normal

Meanwhile, André Mfumu Kivuandinga, an internet user who followed the event, encouraged Hossi to take the case as far as possible:
Mano tens que ir mesmo adiante com isso. Não se pode tolerar injustiças ou discriminações. Estou consigo, se precisar de minha ajuda, sabes onde me localizar. Aliás, posso fazer um trabalho sobre isso.

Buddy you have to go further with this. You cannot tolerate injustice or discrimination. I am with you, if you need my help, you know where to find me. For that matter, I can do some work on this

Presenter Salgueiro Vincente jumped to Hossi's defense,using Facebook to organize a protest near the restaurant, as well as debates, songs, and poetry.

Action taken in support of the activist and journalist Hossi Sonjamba | Photo used with permission

In response to Vincente's call to protest, Elísio dos Santos Magalhães highlighted the need for a country united against racism:

Estamos todos ligados nesta causa o racismo divisionismo, tribalismo, perconceito racial basts chega, chega, chega, chega Angola sem racismo todos somos um só! E muitos felizes ,chega de perconceito de cor da pele chega, um dia eu ja sofri isto ando muito magoado pelo os meus ex sogros e depois de vinte anos tiraram-me a mulher por eu ser mistiço abaixo o racismo nas familias ja destruiram muitas familias em Angola chega chega basta…

We are all linked in this cause, divisive racism, tribalism, racial prejudice, enough, enough, enough, enough, enough, Angola without racism, we are all one! And very happy, enough of prejudice about skin colour enough, one day I already suffered this I am very hurt by my former parents-in-law and after twenty years they took away my wife because I am mestizo, due to racism in families, families are destroyed in Angola, enough enough enough

On 9 September, the day of event, demonstrators shared photos of the protest in front of the restaurant:

Concentração de fronte ao restaurante | Foto usada com permissão - Hossi Sonjamba (09.08.2018)

Demonstration in front of the restaurant | Photo used with permission – Hossi Sonjamba (09.09.2018)

Concentração de fronte ao restaurante | Foto usada com permissão - Hossi Sonjamba (09.08.2018)

Demonstration in front of the restaurant | Photo used with permission – Hossi Sonjamba (09.09.2018)

According to Hossi’s online posts, the case is still being investigated by Angolan authorities.

by Liam Anderson at September 21, 2018 02:32 AM

September 20, 2018

Global Voices Advocacy
Will Brazil's forthcoming data protection law actually protect peoples’ privacy rights?

Michel Temer sanctions the Personal Data Protection Bill | Image: Valter Campanato/Agência Brasil/CC

After two years of negotiation at the National Congress, Brazil’s Personal Data Protection Bill was finally sanctioned by president Michel Temer on August 14. The original text was approved in both houses of Congress by a unanimous vote.

The bill, as defined by members of Congress, is a “legal framework for the protection, use and treatment of personal information”. The law intends to give individuals greater power to control their data, by requiring corporate entities to obtain a person's consent before collecting their information. This is an important move in Brazil where pharmacies, public transportation and other services often capture people’s data without their explicit consent or prior notice.

After the misuse of data captured on Facebook became a worldwide concern with the Cambridge Analytica scandal in early 2018, the Congress expedited its process on the bill.

But there is a catch. The text signed by Temer is not exactly the same one approved by at the Parliament. Temer vetoed some elements of the original.

Global Voices talked to Bia Barbosa, an activist part of the collective Intervozes and a member of Coalizão Direitos na Rede (Net Rights Coalition), to learn the groups’ concerns about the bill.

Barbosa explains that the text has a series of problems, mainly caused by the Temer's vetos. She highlights three of them:

O primeiro o veto à criação de uma autoridade independente e de um conselho de proteção de dados pessoais, que estaria vinculado à essa autoridade, garantindo participação multissetorial. Hoje, isso deixa a lei sem condições e garantia de sua aplicabilidade. O governo tem declarado que vai enviar um projeto de lei ou uma medida provisória para o Congresso para criar essa autoridade, mas as informações que a gente tem é de que o modelo que vai ser enviado pelo Executivo não respeita o modelo de autoridade que foi negociado nesse texto no Parlamento. Esse é o principal problema para a gente, porque sem uma autoridade realmente independente, com autonomia administrativa e poder sancionatório, a lei corre sérios riscos de não sair do papel.

Outro risco que nos parece bastante preocupante é o veto ao artigo 28 que estabelece o dever do poder público informar, de maneira pró-ativa a sociedade quando ele compartilha dados pessoais com outros órgãos do poder público. Esse artigo foi vetado, de uma maneira, na nossa avaliação, sem justificativa e gera uma deficiência de transparência no tratamento de dados pelo poder público.

O terceiro aspecto, que para as organizações de defesa de liberdade de expressão também é significativo, é o veto dado ao artigo que garantia a proteção dos dados pessoais dos requerentes de informação via LAI. Ou seja, os dados das pessoas que pedem informação ao poder público, tinham uma previsão garantiste de proteção aos dados desses requerentes e isso também foi vetado. Na nossa avaliação, apesar da grande maioria da lei ter sido respeitada, esses vetos são preocupantes.

The first one is the veto of the creation of an independent authority and of a personal data protection council, that should be submitted to this authority, ensuring a multi-sector participation. With this section removed, the bill no longer articulates conditions or protections for its enforcement. The government says it will send a new law to the Congress to create this authority, but the information that we've received indicates that the Executive’s model doesn’t respect the model that was negotiated at the Parliament. Without this, the bill has serious risks of not coming to fruition.

Another risk that is very worrisome to us is the veto of article 28, which establishes the public duty to inform society, in a pro-active manner, when sharing personal data with other public offices. This article was vetoed, in an unjustifiable way, limited the transparency of how public data is treated by public power.

The third aspect is the veto given to the article that guaranteed the protection of personal data of those who required information via the Access to Information Act (LAI). There was a provision to ensure protection of people requesting data, but it was also vetoed. To us, even though the majority of the bill was respected, these vetoes are concerning.

The collective Net Rights Coalition warned of the possibility that the president would veto the creation of a National Data Protection Authority (ANDP) before signing. The ANDP was meant to work as an independent regulatory agency. According to the federal government, it would be “unconstitutional” if the Congress was to create such authority, therefore a governmental office should have oversight in the process, in order to ensure its functionality.

Most importantly, the group noted that the military has been working to incorporate the Institutional Security Cabinet into the policy. The Brazilian Intelligence Agency falls under the authority of the Cabinet.

A possibilidade de deixar para um órgão do próprio governo a tarefa de garantir o respeito à lei pelo poder público coloca em total risco sua eficácia.

Por isso, o texto aprovado no Congresso prevê uma Autoridade independente administrativamente do Executivo. Este modelo de autoridade não é nenhuma novidade no Brasil e é o padrão da grande maioria dos países que têm leis gerais de proteção de dados pessoais.

The possibility of leaving an organ that is part of the government with the task of ensuring respect to the law puts its efficiency at a total risk. Therefore, the text approved by the Congress has foreseen an Authority that is administratively independent from the Executive. This model is no news in Brazil and is a pattern to a large majority of countries with general data protection laws

The vetos can also affect the enforcement of Brazil's unique Marco Civil or “Internet Bill of Rights” that was passed in 2014. As Barbosa notes, currently, there are around 200 proposals under review in Congress that would change Marco Civil. Most of these proposals are focused in two areas. The first is to remove a key check on state entities that wish to access personal data held by companies — the current legislation requires state actors to obtain a court order before doing this, but many of the pending proposals would remove this requirement.

Na nossa avaliação, isso abre um precedente muito perigoso, para risco de vigilantismo total do poder das forças de segurança, do poder investigativo para o cidadão comum, por isso a gente tem combatido esses projetos.

In our evaluation, this opens a very dangerous precedent, risking a total vigilantism for the power of security forces, or investigative power of a regular citizens, that’s why we’ve been fighting against these projects.

The second line of proposals would obligate social media and other platforms to immediately remove content after receiving a request, rather than awaiting judicial review. Many of them using the “blue whale”, an internet challenge that allegedly drives teenagers to commit suicide, as an excuse.

Para a gente isso também é perigoso, porque coloca nas mãos dessas plataformas a responsabilidade de avaliar esses conteúdos e, não necessariamente, isso vai ser feito de uma maneira equilibrada com a defesa do princípio de liberdade de expressão. Então, a gente tem combatido esses processos no sentido de manter o marco civil na sua integralidade, entendendo que é uma lei principiológica, bastante atual.

We also see this as dangerous move, because it puts on the hands of these platforms the responsibility to evaluate content and, not necessarily, this would be driven in a balanced manner, defending the principle of free speech. So, we’ve been fighting these processes in the sense of keeping Marco Civil at its integrality, understanding this is a principle law, very up to date.

Bia Barbosa also points to the fact that collecting data through apps, credit card, internet browsers, is now an “indiscriminate practice” of many companies. This leads to leaking, wrongful commercialization, sharing without consent. “All our data is being constantly treated and collected, without people knowing or being informed about it”, she says.

She also notes that although Marco Civil has multiple provisions ensuring protections for users’ privacy, the text has been disrespected or ignored, which has led civil society to propose a specific law aimed at personal data protection.

A gente espera agora que com a aprovação dessa lei, o Brasil comece a mudar a cultura da coleta de dados porque a ideia da lei não é impedir o tratamento de dados, mas definir em que condições isso pode acontecer, que o usuário seja informado, que respeite direitos fundamentais, que haja limites para esse tratamento, que a comercialização não seja feita de uma maneira indiscriminada e massiva como é feita hoje.

We now hope that with the approval of this law, Brazil will begin to change the culture of data collection, because the bill’s goal is not stopping data processing, but to define under which conditions that can happen — it says that users must be informed about it, respecting fundamental rights, and that puts limits on how data can be treated, stopping indiscriminate and massive commercialization as it’s done today.

Brazil is currently approaching presidential elections. Temer, who came to power after the controversial impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, being her vice-president, will leave office on January 1.

When sanctioning the bill he promised to send a new bill to create the agency “soon”. How the agency will operate or if it will be submitted to the Ministry of Justice has yet to be defined.

Valor newspaper quoted him saying:

“Eu vou mandar logo, muito brevemente um projeto de lei, mais ou menos com os mesmos dizeres, mas sem vício de iniciativa”, explicou o emedebista. (…) “Vou deixar mais ou menos como está”, sinalizou.

I will send, very soon, a draft law, with similar language, but without the initial vice (the fact that the Legislative power was creating and could make it unconstitutional, according to the Executive)…I'll leave it more or less how it is.

by Fernanda Canofre at September 20, 2018 02:43 PM

Global Voices
Will Brazil's forthcoming data protection law actually protect peoples’ privacy rights?

Michel Temer sanctions the Personal Data Protection Bill | Image: Valter Campanato/Agência Brasil/CC

After two years of negotiation at the National Congress, Brazil’s Personal Data Protection Bill was finally sanctioned by president Michel Temer on August 14. The original text was approved in both houses of Congress by a unanimous vote.

The bill, as defined by members of Congress, is a “legal framework for the protection, use and treatment of personal information”. The law intends to give individuals greater power to control their data, by requiring corporate entities to obtain a person's consent before collecting their information. This is an important move in Brazil where pharmacies, public transportation and other services often capture people’s data without their explicit consent or prior notice.

After the misuse of data captured on Facebook became a worldwide concern with the Cambridge Analytica scandal in early 2018, the Congress expedited its process on the bill.

But there is a catch. The text signed by Temer is not exactly the same one approved by at the Parliament. Temer vetoed some elements of the original.

Global Voices talked to Bia Barbosa, an activist part of the collective Intervozes and a member of Coalizão Direitos na Rede (Net Rights Coalition), to learn the groups’ concerns about the bill.

Barbosa explains that the text has a series of problems, mainly caused by the Temer's vetos. She highlights three of them:

O primeiro o veto à criação de uma autoridade independente e de um conselho de proteção de dados pessoais, que estaria vinculado à essa autoridade, garantindo participação multissetorial. Hoje, isso deixa a lei sem condições e garantia de sua aplicabilidade. O governo tem declarado que vai enviar um projeto de lei ou uma medida provisória para o Congresso para criar essa autoridade, mas as informações que a gente tem é de que o modelo que vai ser enviado pelo Executivo não respeita o modelo de autoridade que foi negociado nesse texto no Parlamento. Esse é o principal problema para a gente, porque sem uma autoridade realmente independente, com autonomia administrativa e poder sancionatório, a lei corre sérios riscos de não sair do papel.

Outro risco que nos parece bastante preocupante é o veto ao artigo 28 que estabelece o dever do poder público informar, de maneira pró-ativa a sociedade quando ele compartilha dados pessoais com outros órgãos do poder público. Esse artigo foi vetado, de uma maneira, na nossa avaliação, sem justificativa e gera uma deficiência de transparência no tratamento de dados pelo poder público.

O terceiro aspecto, que para as organizações de defesa de liberdade de expressão também é significativo, é o veto dado ao artigo que garantia a proteção dos dados pessoais dos requerentes de informação via LAI. Ou seja, os dados das pessoas que pedem informação ao poder público, tinham uma previsão garantiste de proteção aos dados desses requerentes e isso também foi vetado. Na nossa avaliação, apesar da grande maioria da lei ter sido respeitada, esses vetos são preocupantes.

The first one is the veto of the creation of an independent authority and of a personal data protection council, that should be submitted to this authority, ensuring a multi-sector participation. With this section removed, the bill no longer articulates conditions or protections for its enforcement. The government says it will send a new law to the Congress to create this authority, but the information that we've received indicates that the Executive’s model doesn’t respect the model that was negotiated at the Parliament. Without this, the bill has serious risks of not coming to fruition.

Another risk that is very worrisome to us is the veto of article 28, which establishes the public duty to inform society, in a pro-active manner, when sharing personal data with other public offices. This article was vetoed, in an unjustifiable way, limited the transparency of how public data is treated by public power.

The third aspect is the veto given to the article that guaranteed the protection of personal data of those who required information via the Access to Information Act (LAI). There was a provision to ensure protection of people requesting data, but it was also vetoed. To us, even though the majority of the bill was respected, these vetoes are concerning.

The collective Net Rights Coalition warned of the possibility that the president would veto the creation of a National Data Protection Authority (ANDP) before signing. The ANDP was meant to work as an independent regulatory agency. According to the federal government, it would be “unconstitutional” if the Congress was to create such authority, therefore a governmental office should have oversight in the process, in order to ensure its functionality.

Most importantly, the group noted that the military has been working to incorporate the Institutional Security Cabinet into the policy. The Brazilian Intelligence Agency falls under the authority of the Cabinet.

A possibilidade de deixar para um órgão do próprio governo a tarefa de garantir o respeito à lei pelo poder público coloca em total risco sua eficácia.

Por isso, o texto aprovado no Congresso prevê uma Autoridade independente administrativamente do Executivo. Este modelo de autoridade não é nenhuma novidade no Brasil e é o padrão da grande maioria dos países que têm leis gerais de proteção de dados pessoais.

The possibility of leaving an organ that is part of the government with the task of ensuring respect to the law puts its efficiency at a total risk. Therefore, the text approved by the Congress has foreseen an Authority that is administratively independent from the Executive. This model is no news in Brazil and is a pattern to a large majority of countries with general data protection laws

The vetos can also affect the enforcement of Brazil's unique Marco Civil or “Internet Bill of Rights” that was passed in 2014. As Barbosa notes, currently, there are around 200 proposals under review in Congress that would change Marco Civil. Most of these proposals are focused in two areas. The first is to remove a key check on state entities that wish to access personal data held by companies — the current legislation requires state actors to obtain a court order before doing this, but many of the pending proposals would remove this requirement.

Na nossa avaliação, isso abre um precedente muito perigoso, para risco de vigilantismo total do poder das forças de segurança, do poder investigativo para o cidadão comum, por isso a gente tem combatido esses projetos.

In our evaluation, this opens a very dangerous precedent, risking a total vigilantism for the power of security forces, or investigative power of a regular citizens, that’s why we’ve been fighting against these projects.

The second line of proposals would obligate social media and other platforms to immediately remove content after receiving a request, rather than awaiting judicial review. Many of them using the “blue whale”, an internet challenge that allegedly drives teenagers to commit suicide, as an excuse.

Para a gente isso também é perigoso, porque coloca nas mãos dessas plataformas a responsabilidade de avaliar esses conteúdos e, não necessariamente, isso vai ser feito de uma maneira equilibrada com a defesa do princípio de liberdade de expressão. Então, a gente tem combatido esses processos no sentido de manter o marco civil na sua integralidade, entendendo que é uma lei principiológica, bastante atual.

We also see this as dangerous move, because it puts on the hands of these platforms the responsibility to evaluate content and, not necessarily, this would be driven in a balanced manner, defending the principle of free speech. So, we’ve been fighting these processes in the sense of keeping Marco Civil at its integrality, understanding this is a principle law, very up to date.

Bia Barbosa also points to the fact that collecting data through apps, credit card, internet browsers, is now an “indiscriminate practice” of many companies. This leads to leaking, wrongful commercialization, sharing without consent. “All our data is being constantly treated and collected, without people knowing or being informed about it”, she says.

She also notes that although Marco Civil has multiple provisions ensuring protections for users’ privacy, the text has been disrespected or ignored, which has led civil society to propose a specific law aimed at personal data protection.

A gente espera agora que com a aprovação dessa lei, o Brasil comece a mudar a cultura da coleta de dados porque a ideia da lei não é impedir o tratamento de dados, mas definir em que condições isso pode acontecer, que o usuário seja informado, que respeite direitos fundamentais, que haja limites para esse tratamento, que a comercialização não seja feita de uma maneira indiscriminada e massiva como é feita hoje.

We now hope that with the approval of this law, Brazil will begin to change the culture of data collection, because the bill’s goal is not stopping data processing, but to define under which conditions that can happen — it says that users must be informed about it, respecting fundamental rights, and that puts limits on how data can be treated, stopping indiscriminate and massive commercialization as it’s done today.

Brazil is currently approaching presidential elections. Temer, who came to power after the controversial impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, being her vice-president, will leave office on January 1.

When sanctioning the bill he promised to send a new bill to create the agency “soon”. How the agency will operate or if it will be submitted to the Ministry of Justice has yet to be defined.

Valor newspaper quoted him saying:

“Eu vou mandar logo, muito brevemente um projeto de lei, mais ou menos com os mesmos dizeres, mas sem vício de iniciativa”, explicou o emedebista. (…) “Vou deixar mais ou menos como está”, sinalizou.

I will send, very soon, a draft law, with similar language, but without the initial vice (the fact that the Legislative power was creating and could make it unconstitutional, according to the Executive)…I'll leave it more or less how it is.

by Fernanda Canofre at September 20, 2018 02:34 PM

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