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The effects of India’s shutdown of Kashmir’s Internet access. 

A news report has documented the effect of the Indian government’s shutdown of Internet and telecommunication services which has entered its 11thday in the contested region of Kashmir.

The report specifically highlights the case of one Masroor Nazir, a pharmacist in Kashmir’s biggest city, Srinagar, who claims he is unable to stock medicines, since he no longer has access to the Internet which is needed to order new drugs. He is also unable to meet requests from smaller pharmacies in the rural parts of Kashmir. The report continues with the impact on other critical services such as banking, where most ATMs are not working since they rely on the Internet to operate.

 

High cost of internet access leaving low-income families behind, report finds

A Canada based organization, ACORN Canada, is calling on the government to act to save the situation since their research findings are showing that the cost of internet access in the country is posing a threat of leaving low-income families without the means of taking part in the digital economy.

A
news report that gave the main highlight of ACORN Canada’s report dubbed “Barriers to Digital Equity in Canada” captured the need of making “digital equity” federal priority by the government.  According to the report, online access has become critical to “apply for jobs, complete school work, download government forms, pay bills and connect with family and friends.”   This makes the case for internet access as a basic human right that must be protected.

Among other things, the report suggested that the government should expand the
Connecting Families program, which was launched in 2017 to deal with the widening digital inequality in Canada

Kazakhstan intercepts all HTTPS Internet traffic

 The Kazakhstan government now requires all local Internet service providers (ISPs) to install a government-issued certificate, allowing them to intercept and decrypt all HTTPS Internet traffic inside its borders. Implications for surveillance and rights are serious, as it will allow wider targeting of Internet traffic, in addition to its use of the Israeli NSO Group hacking technology. Mozilla denied a similar root inclusion request from Kazakhstan in 2016, and is again considering whether to block its root certificate.

2019 Ranking Digital Rights Corporate Accountability Index

The 2019 Ranking Digital Rights (RDR) Corporate Accountability Index reports progress in corporate accountability but states that 'most companies still leave users in the dark about key policies and practices affecting privacy and freedom of expression'. The 2019 RDR Corporate Accountability Index analyses and compares 24 of the world's most prominent Internet and mobile ecosystem and telecommunications companies. Because the report includes products and services 'used by more than half of the world’s 4.3 billion internet users', it is a valuable indicator of the current situation of user protection. Microsoft and Telefónica lead their respective rankings.

                                                   

                                                    Source: Ranking Digital Rights

New child safety laws may provide online safety commissioners powers to heavily fine social media giants

Online safety commissioners in Ireland may be granted new powers that may allow them to fine or even press criminal charges on social media firms if they breach rules. The breaches include allowing underage children to use their services without parental control, cyber bullying, posting videos that promote self-harm, anorexia or suicide, etc.  The new law was formulated after the 'Momo' scare. Communications Minister Richard Bruton has stated that the exact penalties are yet to be framed by the government post a six-week ‘consultation period’ with technology companies, privacy advocates, and child protection agencies.

Tik Tok to pay 5.7 million USD fine for violation of child privacy laws

Tik Tok a  video-sharing app popular among  teenagers has agreed to pay $5.7 million fine to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of US over alleged violations of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. FTC stated that  websites for children need to obtain parental consent before collecting personal information from children under the age of 13,  which Musical.ly, the lip syncing app, that is now known as Tik Tok and currently owned by Beijing based Byte Dance Technology failed to adhere.

Maryland Senate votes to update state cyber-bullying law

In the USA, the Senate of of Maryland has voted to update state laws against cyber-bullying of children. The measures propose to widen the scope of the law to  only include cyber-bullying, update the definition of electronic communication, and emphasise that it is applicable even for a single significant act, instead of requiring multiple examples of bullying acts. The proposed measure is  named ‘Grace’s Law 2.0’ in memory of 15 year old Grace McComas of Woodbine, a teenager who killed herself after being cyber-bullied repeatedly on social media.

UK launches Duty of Care Campaign

The UK Parliament members have concluded that it is the  ‘legal duty of care  of online companies and social media platforms to act to protect young users online. The government has been tasked to examine legislations to ensure online companies share necessary data to help, identify, and protect children online. Further, a report by the Commons Science and Technology Committee highlighted how the existing ‘patchwork’ of regulation has resulted in a ‘standards lottery’ which does not ensure safety of children online, recommending the government to set a target to reduce online sexual abuse of children by halve within two years and eliminate it in four years.

The Council of Europe (CoE) Drafts Recommendation and Guidelines on Human Rights Impacts of Algorithmic Systems

In the view of the permeability of algorithmic technics and automated data processing in all aspects of the contemporary life, the Council of Europe Committee of experts on human rights dimensions of automated data processing and different forms of artificial intelligence has published a drafted Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member states to evaluate the impacts of the application of algorithmic systems in public and private spheres on the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The document outlines that the misuse of algorithmic systems can jeopardise the rights to privacy, freedom of expression and prohibition of discrimination provided by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Although public and private sector initiatives to develop ethical guidelines for the design, development and deployment of algorithmic systems are welcome, they do not substitute the duty of member States to guarantee that human rights obligation are embedded into all steps of their algorithmic operations. In addition, member States should ensure appropriated regulatory frameworks to promote human rights-respecting technological innovation by all actors. The guidelines for States on actions to address the use of algorithmic system include data quality and modelling standards; principles of transparency and contestability; provision of effective judicial and non-judicial remedies to review algorithmic decisions; the implementation of precautionary measures to maintain control over the use of algorithmic systems; and empowerment through research and public awareness. The document also engages responsibilities for private actors that member States should ensure, including guidelines on data quality and modelling.  ​

Council of Europe drafts Declaration on the Manipulative Capabilities of Algorithmic Processes

The Council of Europe Committee of experts on human rights dimensions of automated data processing and different forms of artificial intelligence has published a Draft Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on the manipulative capabilities of algorithmic processes. The document draws the attention of states to the rights of all human beings to take decisions and form opinions independently of automated systems. It underlines the risks of using massive amounts of personal and non-personal data to sort and micro-target people, to identify vulnerabilities, and to reshape social environments to achieve specific goals and vested interests. The draft encourages states (1) to consider additional protective frameworks to address the impacts of the targeted use of data on the exercise of human rights; (2) to initiate inclusive public debates on permissible forms of persuasion and unacceptable manipulation; (3) to take measures to ensure that effective legal guarantees are in place against such forms of interference; and (4) to empower users by promoting digital literacy on how much data are generated and used for commercial purposes.

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