US Cyber Command conducted cyber-attacks against Iran’s computer systems that control rocket and missile launches, The Washington Post reports. According to The Washington Post sources, the offensive strikes were approved by President Trump, based on the proposal by Pentagon in response to alleged Iranian attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. The attacks, which didn’t involve any casualties, took place along with the decision by President Trump to call back conventional strikes because they would not be “proportionate.'' Iran’s telecommunications minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi confirmed there are attempts of cyber-attacks, but denied their success, AlJazeera reports.
Ghana hosts between June 24 and 27 the first African data protection and privacy conference. This event gathers more than 1.000 data protection experts in Accra, Ghana’s capital. According to IAPP, this conference was formed in response to concerns raised at the December 2018 African Union meeting. It aims to move the continent forward in addressing a range of issues, including challenges raised by big data, artificial intelligence, the applicability of the EU General Data Protection Regulation in Africa, and the adoption of a common approach to the cross-border transfer of personal data in Africa
A coalition of press freedom advocates viz. ARTICLE 19, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the International Press Institute (IPI), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), raised concerns over the “deteriorating” state of press freedom in Albania. They visited Albania between 18 June and 21 June this year in order to gather information on issues pertaining to freedom of expression and freedom of the press, and met with representatives of the press, international organisations, civil society and senior members of the Albanian government.
The coalition’s preliminary report, released last week, detailed a number events like physical attacks and threats of violence against journalists' politically motivated defamation court cases against journalists, proposed legislation to force online media to register with the state and submit to the oversight of a state-operated administrative body; contributing to the decline of press freedom in Albania.
The coalition said: ‘We are concerned that Albania, a democracy, a member State of the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and a candidate country for the European Union, is not living up to its obligations to guarantee and safeguard freedom of expression and press freedom as required under Albanian law and international instruments including the European Convention on Human Rights.’
The US Supreme Court has invalidated a law banning scandalous trademarks as going against the US Constitution’s First Amendment protecting the right to freedom of expression. The decision overturned a lower court decision that banned the use of the trademark 'Fuct' (for 'Friends U Can't Trust', according to the designer). The position referred to a similar case regarding the use of the name 'The Slants' for an Asian-American dance rock band, which was considered by some to be offensive to Asians. The decision agreed with the contention that a prohibition 'prohibition on “immoral” trademarks ran afoul of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment right to free expression' while the dissenting opinion of three of the justices said that the 'bar on “scandalous” trademarks should have been upheld'.
O2 and The European Space Agency have launched Project Darwin, a four year initiative aimed at exploring the use of 5G and satellite technology for connected and autonomous vehicles. O2 conducted research last year that uncovered that connected vehicles would generate 4Tb of data per hour which would place a significant demand on existing telecommunications networks. The universities of Oxford and Glasgow along with Spanish satellite operator Hispasat will be fellow collaborators and the project will be based at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire. The Harwell research will be critical in the birthing of new transport ecosystems and it is expected that this programme will accelerate the maturity of network technology for various connected vehicle initiatives.
According to publication, the telecom regulator of Thailand (NBTC) will publish the first two drafts dealing with regulating Internet of Things (IoT) devices by the end of the year. There are five main IoT topics which are being considered by the regulator: numbering and identification; spectrum and technical standards; permissions related to radio communications and competition; security and privacy; and data arrangement structure and data interoperability. The NBTC has appointed five subcommittees to work with the relevant parties in order to define the proper regulatory rules for each of these categories. It is still unclear what will be the topics of the first two drafts.
According to a news report Vodacom through its Code Like A Girl project will teach coding skills to 500 school-going female learners from across eight provinces in South Africa. The project which was launched in 2017 aims at empowering girls between the ages of 14 and 18 to develop interest in ICT careers through learning how to code.
Commenting on the 2019 edition of the programme which will take place during the winter school holidays from 24 June to 05 July, Ms. Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer of Corporate Affairs at Vodacom said “the Code Like A Girl programme is designed to give girls an interest in a sector currently more popular with boys, helping widen their opportunities and increase their future career choices.”
The Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence (AI) of the US National Science and Technology Council released an updated version of the National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan. The document builds on its initial version, published in 2016, reiterating the seven priority areas for US federal agencies that invest in AI, adding new dimensions to these strategies, and outlining the eighth strategy. To start with, the plan highlights the need to sustain long-term investments in AI research and to develop AI systems that complement and augment human capabilities, with an increasing focus on the future of work. Understanding and addressing the ethical, legal and societal implications of AI are then outlined, with an emphasis on the development of ethical AI. Other additions to the plan include creating robust and trustworthy AI systems, increasing access to datasets and addressing associated challenges (to support AI training and testing), and supporting the development of AI technical standards and related tools. More emphasis is also placed on the need to advance the AI research and development workforce, as a way to sustain US leadership in this field. Compared to its 2016 version, the plan outlines a new focus area – expanding public-private partnerships to accelerate advances in AI.
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) repealed the German telecom regulator’s decision to require Google’s email service to register as a telecom service and comply with telecom service obligations. Google alleged that it does not provide communication services because its email relies on internet access providers to transmit and receive messages. The CJEU was referred by a German court to decide whether web-based email service fits under the EU law definition of electronic communications service. The court ruled that Google’s involvement in transmitting email messages is not sufficient to be considered an electronic communication service. Google service does not include internet access, which is the key aspect of the definition of an electronic communication service. The court stressed that differently from Skype, that had an agreement with telecom companies to deliver calls to telephones, Google only uploads and receives data from internet service providers.
US civil society organisation, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), published a letter sent to US Congress sub-committee on Manufacturing, Trade, and Consumer Protection, concerning privacy and security of IoT devices. The letter was sent prior to a hearing of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, arguing that the commission must do more to protect consumers and ensure the security of IoT devices. The letter advised the commission to demand manufacturers, among others, to minimize data collection, to conduct privacy impact assessments, and to use privacy-enhancing measures.