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last 7 days

16 Apr

After the final reading of the bill the State Duma (lower chamber of the Russian Parliament) adopted the law containing a set of amendments to the law on Communications and the law on Information and security. These amendments aimed to  protect the stability of the Internet in Russia in the event of a threat to its normal operation from abroad, including external Internet shutdown by adversaries.
This new law provides that Roskomnadzor (communications supervising body) will create a Center for monitoring and control of public networks in Russia that will coordinate the work of telecom operators and direct them in emergency cases.  Also, Internet traffic in Russia should be directed through a list of internet exchange points approved by Ministry of Communications in coordination with FSB.
Additionally, telecom operators are required to install special technical equipment that will filter Internet traffic for illegal content, as well as protect Runet from other threats. The Government will define technical requirements and the process of installation of such equipment later.
Finally, the law provides the creation of the national domain name system and the use of national cryptographic protection of information on the Internet for the government entities.
The law has to be approved shortly in the upper chamber - Federation Council, and signed by the president. Afterwards it comes into force on 1 November 2019.

 

15 Apr

Indian Department of Science and Technology (DST) launched a joined research and development technology programme with the Swedish government agency for innovation systems - Vinnova. The programme will explore the topics of digitalization and Internet of Things (IoT) while focusing specifically on the challenges of smart cities and clean technologies.

The Australian government passed the Criminal Code Amendment (sharing of abhorrent violent material) Bill which makes a crime for social media platforms not to promptly remove abhorrent violent material shared by their users. The legislation seems to be a response to the March attacks in Christchurch in which a white supremacist used a helmet-mounted camera to stream live on Facebook as he killed people in two mosques. The law defines abhorrent violent material as acts of terrorism, murder, attempted murder, torture, rape, and kidnapping. The crime would be punishable for people working for online companies by three years in prison and a fine of 10.5 Australian dollars or 10% of the platform’s annual turnover. The legislation creates a liability regime that is stricter than the notice-and-takedown regimes in the US and Europe.   ​​

The conference “The Future of Work: Today. Tomorrow. For all” hosted by the European Commission brought together the President Jean-Claude Junker, Vice-President Valdis Dombroviskis, Commissioner Marianne Thyssen, Ministers, representatives from EU institutions, national governments, social partners, civil society, and academia to explore how the developments in the world of work could benefit workers, businesses and the economy similarly. The EU proclaimed the European Pillar of Social Rights to face the rapid transformations enabled by technological and digital developments. Among the discussions, the following highlight aspects emerged from the meeting: a. the EU wants the European social model to be preserved and enhanced despite any technological transformation in the means of work. This will only be possible if the EU set out a roadmap with concrete actions; b. the digital economy needs to be inclusive and workers facing job loss or transitions need support; c. supporting labour market transitions requires adequate investment; and d.  strengthening a global level playing field by intensifying cooperation with other organisations and partner is crucial to promote decent work. ​

The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has released a 16-point list on age appropriate design and recommendations of a code of practice for Internet companies to improve child safety online. This includes limiting the collection, use, and sharing children's personal data by social media companies, ensuring ‘high privacy’ as the default setting for children, as well as disabling geolocation tools and targeted advertising, and introducing robust age verification checks on platforms. Failure to adhere to the code may lead to fines of up to 4% of the companies global turnover.

The code of practice is expected to be finalised by the end of May 2019 and expected to be enforced by 2020.

 

The Australian Embassy in the Philippines has initiated a six year the SaferKidsPH Program,with a commitment of investing 8 million AUD to protect children online.SaferKidsPH Program brings together a consortium of government, UNICEF-led consortium, which includes The Asia Foundation and Save the Children Philippines. child rights advocates, civil society, and private sector

“Addressing online sexual exploitation and abuse of children is a global concern. SaferKidsPH reinforces our commitment to support the Philippine government’s efforts to address this complex form of human trafficking. SaferKidsPH will also work with the private sector and the community to develop the best solutions for a safer online environment for every Filipino child,” says Ambassador Steven Robinson AO, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines.

“Filipino children have a massive presence online. One in three Internet users is a child. While the Government has been trying to respond to the demand, breadth, scope, and agility of the technology — not to mention the extreme accessibility of digital platforms — there must be more that we can do together to protect our children,” says Julia Rees, UNICEF Representative.

 

13 Apr

The Supreme Court of Jamaica has found Jamaica’s national identification system in violation of the constitution and by unanimous decision declared the entire National Identification and Registration Act (NIRA) void.  In a judgement delivered on 12 April, the court found that mandatory requirement of biometric identification abrogated the right to privacy.

NIRA was enacted in December 2017 and was yet to be operationalised. The law provided for establishment of a central databank that would consolidate identity and demographic information of persons in Jamaica. It had made it a criminal offence for a person not to register under the new law.  The court reviewed aspects of the impugned Act alongside Jamaica’s constitutional history and concluded that migration to digital identification was a significant change to Jamaican society. The new system, they found, went beyond identification of persons to a repository of biographical information that could potentially serve as digital surveillance.

The case had been instituted by a Member of Parliament and People's National Party (PNP) General Secretary Julian Robinson.

last 30 days

11 Apr

Wikileaks' Julian Assange's political asylum was revoked by the Ecuadorian Embassy on 11 April 2019, and he was arrested by UK police.  One view explains the revocation from an Ecuadorian practical asylum standpoint in Why Ecuador ended asylum for 'spoiled brat' Julian Assange and Assange's arrest was designed to make sure he didn't press a mysterious panic button he said would bring dire consequences for Ecuador. Others have reported the detention as A sad day for human rights, for freedom of expression and for Ecuador.

Some do not consider the WikiLeaks publishing of documents to be a crime, rather, the hacking and leaking that opened the documents to scrutiny, for which Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison. Assange is facing extradition on charges for helping hack one of the passwords.

 

The government of Slovenia plans to set up an international artificial intelligence (AI) research centre, endorsed the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The centre, to be established within the Jožef Stefan Institute (JSI) in Ljubljana, will focus on issues related to governance and policies surrounding AI, and it will provide advice to governmental entities and the general public on systems and strategic AI solutions. Other areas of work will include the development of training programmes, the creation of a network to exchange research and know-how, and providing support for the development of AI guidelines and actions plans around the globe. It is expected that UNESCO will grant its final approval for the creation of the centre in November 2019.

10 Apr

Tamworth City Council formed a partnership with the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney and the US company Providence Asset Group (PAG) to transform Tamworth into Australia’s first fully integrated smart city. The transition will include installing IoT (Internet of Things) applications as part of transportation, energy, health, telecommunications, and other municipal systems by using the city’s existing wireless network. The project will be led by professor Joe Dong, director of the UNSW Digital Futures Grid Institute.

Kaspersky Global Research & Analysis Team published technical details of a sophisticated advanced persistent threat (APT) framework TajMahal that can’t be attributed to any previously known APT groups. Kaspersky claims that this APT have been existing at least for five years according to the framework timestamps, and the only detected victim so far is a diplomatic entity from a country in Central Asia.
The spying framework consists of two major parts named ‘Tokyo’ and ‘Yokohama’ and the entire APT toolkit contains up to 80 malicious modules. TajMahal can steal documents sent to printer queue, and CD images,; take screenshots and record the audio of calls via Voice over IP; steal files previously seen on USB and other removable drives once they are available again. The APT framework also has backdoors, keyloggers, and its own file indexer for the victim’s machine.
Kaspersky believes that there are much more victims to be discovered in future due to such a sophisticated design of TajMahal APT.

 

8 Apr

The High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence (AI) – established by the European Commission in 2018 – presented a set of Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI. The guidelines outline key ethical principles that should guide the development and use of AI, and provide guidance on how such principles can be operationalised in socio-technical systems. In the group's view, trustworthy AI should respect three key principles: (1) be lawful (by respecting all applicable laws and regulations), (2) be ethical (by respecting ethical principles and values), and (3) be robust (from a technical perspective, but also taking into account the social environment). Building on these principles, the guidelines also emphasise seven requirements that trustworthy AI systems should meet: human agency and oversight; technical robustness and safety; privacy and data governance; transparency; diversity, non-discrimination and fairness; societal and environmental well-being, and accountability. As a next step, the Commission intends to set up a piloting process for gathering feedback on how the assessment list that operationalised the aforementioned requirements can be improved.​

5 Apr

US civil society organisation, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), issued a letter to the US Congress Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, addressing the topic of consumer safety when using Internet of things (IoT) devices. The letter details the privacy and security concerns associated with IoT devices and urges the subcommittee to consider adopting the IoT code of practice which was issued in the UK October 2018. The letter was sent to the subcommittee in advance of a scheduled hearing in the matter of dangerous products.

4 Apr

About one week after establishing an Advanced Technology External Advisory Council 'to help advance the responsible development of artificial intelligence (AI)', Google decided to dissolve the council. The decision was taken following criticism, from within and outside the company, over some of the council's members, as well as over a lack of transparency about how the company selected the composition of the council. Google officially announced that it is ending the council, because 'it’s become clear that in the current environment, ATEAC can’t function as we wanted'. It also noted that it will 'continue to be responsible in our work on the important issues that AI raises, and will find different ways of getting outside opinions on these topics'.​

Brazil has outlined a proposal to end the seven-year dispute over the .amazon domain name. Amazon.com Inc has been seeking the right to the domain name which has been opposed by the Amazon basin countries of Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname citing that the name refers to their geographic region and cannot be owned by an organisation.Outlining the proposal Brazil’s deputy Foreign Minister Otavio Brandelli mentioned “As a compromise solution for the ‘dot Amazon’ issue, we proposed our participation in the governance of this digital territory, with a view to safeguarding and promoting the natural, cultural and symbolic heritage of the Amazon region on the Internet,” further adding “This would be an innovative mechanism, setting a positive precedent of public-private partnership in the development of internet governance.”

2 Apr

The Committee on the Rights of the Child plans to draft a General Comment on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment.  In that context the Committee is inviting comments on the concept note of the General Comments by 15 May. In parallel, the committee would be conducting consultations with children across multiple countries and experts from relevant fields. The inputs from the consultations would be incorporated in the first draft of the General Comment for additional consultation with relevant stakeholders.

 

29 Mar

Los Angeles ride-hail drivers working for Uber and Lyft turned off their apps for 25 hours in protest of low wages. The organising group Rideshare Drivers United said the strike was triggered by Uber’s decision to reduce per-mile pay. Drivers have complained that their working experience in these companies has become worse over the time. In many cities, drivers have organised informal groups to defend their rights within public authorities. In 2018, New York City passed a minimum wage of $17,22 per hour after drivers’ protests.

The new report “The future of work: litigating labour relationships in the gig economy”, released by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, indicates that “the gig economy is the frontline in the battle for the future of labour rights”. It states that the new technology has enabled start-ups like Uber and Deliveroo to become international corporations with only a few employees and with the majority of its workforce misclassified as self-employed. This business model is based on not paying for workers’ social protection and seriously jeopardise labour rights. The report includes facts and figures on the development of the gig economy across the world, recent case law defying the self-employment status of workers in the sector, and stakeholder responses. The report calls on online intermediary companies to classify their workers as employees with full labour rights and protections, to eliminate forced arbitrations clauses from their contracts, and to “introduce human rights policies with proper remediation to live up to their responsibilities under the United Nations Guiding Principles on Human Rights”. The report also argued that legislative reforms are necessary to incentivize sharing economy companies to classify their workers as employees. Deliveroo responded by saying that flexible work enabled by sharing economy platforms is the new way of working and “is here to stay”.

28 Mar

The GSM Association (GSMA) released a report on mobile-enabled digital transformation in Uganda in co-operation with the government of Uganda and a number of international development agencies. The report was launched during a high-level round table that examined how Uganda could advance the national and global sustainable development agenda through mobile-enabled digital transformation. The report was accompanied by a draft action plan to be implemented during the next two years which highlights several mobile-enabled activities that would overcome some of the local challenges across different sectors and hence progress development goals. There are five areas where mobile technology is impacting Uganda: (a) productivity and efficiency, (b) service delivery, (c) good governance and social justice, (d) climate change and the environment, and (e) digital entrepreneurship and emerging technologies. The study notes that three key mobile services, namely connectivity, mobile money, and cellular Internet of things (IoT), are driving digital transformation in Uganda through supporting the priority areas in the national development plan and achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs). Yet, more co-operation among stakeholders is still required to improve digital and financial inclusion to underserved communities and further promote mobile-enabled solutions in the Ugandan national development plan.

Metropolitan police in London are experiencing  a surge in the number of cases related to online sexual abuse and exploitation of children with some policemen handling up to 100 cases. Social media platforms have been found to be used to distribute, share,, and view indecent images on a global scale.

Limited capacity in specialist teams, backlogs, and resourcing pressures are being cited as reasons why the force are ‘overwhelmed’ by cases resulting in delay to provide redressal to the victims.

The HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has suggested that the current measures taken by the Metropolitan police seems inadequate, based on a review of 34 online cases, where 29 were assessed as either inadequate or requiring improvement and 15 sent back to the force because they contained evidence of a serious problem.

 

A group of 12 UK research institutions have launched the PETRAS 2 - National Centre of Excellence for IoT Systems Cybersecurity. The centre aims to advance a comprehensive and systematic research on Internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning. The creation of the centre is the second phase of the UK PETRAS (privacy, ethics, trust, reliability, acceptability, and security) programme which deals with the opportunities, challenges, and threats of digital technology. The centre is funded by the UK Research and Innovation, through the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) as part of the Securing Digital Technologies at the Periphery (SDTaP) programme.

Huawei Technologies Company Nigeria Ltd. partners with 40 universities in Nigeria to establish a Huawei Authorised Information and Network Academy (HAINA) and provide industrially recognised information and communication technology (ICT) certification in networks, routing, and switching. In addition to connectivity, Huawei has been working in enhancing ICT skills and talents among practitioners in Nigeria by providing training to 20 000 ICT engineers who are currently managing the network of the country. ‘Since starting operations in Nigeria in 1999, Huawei has been working with local operators to providing safe, stable and high-quality communication networks in the country; currently covering about half of the population,’ said Huawei’s Managing Director Zhang Lulu. During a media event in Lagos, Lulu also reiterated the firm’s commitment to achieve digital inclusion in Nigeria through improving ICT infrastructure with quality and innovative solutions that are crafted to meet local needs and promoting ICT knowledge and skills among youth.

27 Mar

Four Democrat US Senators issued a letter to the manufacturers of US voting machines, urging them to explain why they are selling devices with security flaws, that if exploited, might undermine the results of the 2020 elections. The companies, ES&S, Dominion Voting, and Hart InterCivic have more than 90% of the US election equipment market share and previous studies have proven their machines’ vulnerability. The companies have until 9 April to respond to the senators’ letter.

The Madras high court in India, has summoned Department of Telecom (DOT) and Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI) by 8 April,  for failing to respond to a case related to regulating internet use and access of children. The court also mentioned that governments and ISPs have a crucial role to protect children online and raise awareness about parental control software.The petition filed by Mr S Vijayakumar calls for ISPs to set up an ISP level filter  “parental window” for protecting children online.

26 Mar

The Copyright Directive was approved by members of the European Parliament. 348 members voted in favour while 274 voted against it. Members states have 24 months from now to transpose the directive rules into their national legal systems. The content of the Copyright Directive has been subjected to lobbying from businesses, copyright holders and digital rights lawyers. The most controversial article 13 (renamed article 17) have passed almost with the same terms of the last proposed draft. The rule requires from websites new duties to stop users from uploading copyrighted content. Advocates against the Directive say that the new rule can lead to the implementation of filters that will monitor the content before it is uploaded to block any content that breaches copyrighted material. 

Google established an Advanced Technology External Advisory Council to 'help advance the responsible development of artificial intelligence (AI)' within the company. The group is intended to complement internal structures which are responsible for ensuring that the company complies with the AI Principles launched in June 2018. Its task will be to 'consider some of Google's most complex challenges that arise under [the] AI Principles, like facial recognition and fairness in machine learning, providing diverse perspectives to inform [the company's] work'. The group, composed of eight members, will serve for 2019 and will meet four times throughout the year. A report is expected to be published at the end of the year, summarising the group's discussions.​

A 52-page report released by freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) enlists Beijing’s strategies to curb press freedom. Titled ‘China’s Pursuit of a New World Media Order’ it also said how China is using its political influence to export its media model to other countries. China, ranked 176 out of 180 in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and it is now expanding its "ideologically correct" vocabulary, to deter any criticism of itself and to cover up the darker chapters in its history. 

The report highlights state-owned outlets CGTN, which broadcasts news programmes in 140 countries, and China Radio International, which broadcasts in 65 languages, as evidence of the country’s global media ambitions. It also said that China has heavily invested in African nations in an attempt to expand its media influence; in particular, through Chinese state-controlled programmes such as CGTN Africa which avoids critical coverage of Beijing.
While the Belt and Road Initiative has gained news-worthy eyeballs, the report says its anti press freedom project is just as ambitious.

Available in French, English and Chinese versions on rsf.org, the report says that Beijing uses propaganda advertorials in foreign publications including the Wall Street Journal and the Daily Telegraph.China Watch, an English-language state-sponsored insert, has reportedly been inserted into 30 major daily newspapers with a circulation of 13 million copies – 1.7 million of whom are in the New York Times and 6.6 million in Mainichi Shimbun.

Other methods of influence outlined by RSF include the country’s heavy investment in foreign media such as spending 3.3 billion Euros in acquiring shares across various European media outlets and controlling a radio station popular in Southern California.

The watchdog's report said the Chinese campaign "poses a direct threat not only to the media but also to democracies." Beijing dismissed the report as "totally not in conformity with the facts, and not worth refuting," with foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang accusing RSF of "prejudice" against China.

The second Arab High-level Forum on World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and 2030 Agenda was organised by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) in partnership with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Arab Regional Office, the Lebanese Government, OGERO Telecom-Lebanon, and the League of Arab States from 19-20 March 2019, in Beirut, Lebanon. The forum, which was attended by private and public sector members, tackled different topics including Internet governance, digital financial inclusion, and the digital economy in the context of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). During the forum, participants emphasised the importance of large infrastructures to improve Internet access and e-services. Research, development, and innovation were further accentuated as essentials to promote digital economy. During the opening ceremony, ESCWA Executive Secretary Rola Dashti, noted that the Arab region is still lagging vis-à-vis the adoption of technology to support sustainable development. The Lebanese Minister of Telecommunication also highlighted that the linkage between WSIS and the 2030 Agenda is ‘the most practical way’ to achieve sustainable development.

25 Mar

In 2018, a record of 3,447 cases have been filed by the trademark owners under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) with WIPO’s Arbitration and Mediation Center. the number of domains involved was only the third highest, of the 5,665 domains involved, 5022 were gTLDs and 633 were ccTLDs. In 2019, the number of cases is expected to rise again due to the GDPR regulations.

The New Zealand mosque’s attack has been streamed on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter since last Friday. The suspect in the shooting shared photos of his weapons, recorded and livestreamed the killings through a helmet camera. The online platforms claimed they have incessantly deleted the videos, but their efforts have not been enough. It is still possible to find them on the platforms. Facebook announced to have deleted 1.5 million videos on the first day just after the attack. The event raises concerns over the lack of liability of online intermediaries for disseminating harmful content.  ​

An international study of pre-installed Android apps highlight the privacy and security risks posed by pre-installed Android apps. According to TechCrunch, the study unearths ‘a complex ecosystem of players with a primary focus on advertising and “data-driven services” — which they argue the average Android user is unlikely to be unaware of’. In El Pais, the authors of the study indicate that they created the app Firmware Scanner to pick up pre-installed software on mobile phones of volunteers, to see how personal data can be sent to a broad network of interested parties.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on the Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (GGE LAWS) to advance their work to restrict the development of LAWS. In a statement addressed to the GGE, which met in Geneva on 25–29 March 2019, Guterres noted that 'machines with the power and discretion to take lives without human involvement are politically unacceptable, morally repugnant and should be prohibited by international law'. Acknowledging that there are different views among member states on the way forward (whether new legislation is required or a set of guidelines is more appropriate), the Secretary-General invited the group 'to narrow these differences and find the most effective way forward’, also adding: ‘The world is watching, the clock is ticking and others are less sanguine. I hope you prove them wrong.'​

After the upcoming federal elections, consultations on a new draft legislation on privacy will begin in the second half of the year in Australia. The Australian government is currently considering increasing penalties for privacy breaches within the Privacy Act. According to Zdnet, maximum penalties could be increased substantially, up to AU$10 million.

22 Mar

According to CNBC, four Uber drivers in the UK are filing a lawsuit against the company over allegations that the firm has continuously failed to comply with the GDPR. The drivers claim Uber breached data protection rules by repeatedly failing to provide them with information, such as the duration of time they spent logged onto the platform, their individual GPS data, and trip ratings.

A Norway Nokia 7 Plus user notified the Norwegian media about batches of data being sent to a server in China upon powering on. Data such as the phone’s IMEI numbers, SIM card numbers, the cell ID of the base station the phone is connected to, and its network address (the MAC address), were sent unencrypted. Norway’s data protection ombudsman has launched an investigation. Although Norway is not an EU member state, the GDPR is still applicable to Norway as a member of the European Economic Area

A settlement agreement filed in court says the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) agreed to pay journalist Jason Prechtel US$43 000 to cover his attorney fees and court costs after unlawfully withholding records from a reporter under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Prechtel made a FOIA request on June 2017 to FCC. In the request, Prechtel asked for data that would identify who made bulk comments on the proceeding to repeal net neutrality, which may contain comments falsely attributed to people without their consent. The journalist sued the commission on September 2017 following the FCC's refusal to respond to FOIA request in the timeframe provided under the statute. A year later, a US District Court judge ordered the FCC to release at least some of the records requested by Prechtel. Though FCC Chairman Ajit Pai did not admit to doing anything wrong, the settlement resulted in the case being closed.

 

The Flemish Region of Belgium (also known as Flanders) launched an action plan on artificial intelligence (AI) and announced an overall annual investment of  €32 million in AI research, implementation, ethics, and training. Within this plan, the Flemish AI research programme – to benefit from  €12 million annually – will focus on the development of AI applications in four main areas: AI for supporting complex decisions (data science), real-time and energy-efficient AI, multi-actor collaborative AI, and human-like AI. In addition, €15 million will be allocated to support the implementation of AI within Flemish companies, as well as the overall digitalisation of the private sector. Lastly, €5 million are earmarked annually for AI training and for an Ethics Knowledge Centre, which will develop expertise around issues related to AI ethics.

 

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