Jinbonet opposes indiscriminate use of personal information based on big data in Korea

Recently, all over the world, including Korea, there seems to be a craze for artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT) and big data. These new technologies use comprehensive data including personal information. Because of this, Korean companies – especially communications, healthcare and finance enterprises – are demanding deregulation of personal information protection for activating big data industry.

To meet the needs of the companies, the administration of former president Park Geun-hye announced the Guidelines for De-Identification of Personal Information in 2016. According to the guidelines, if personal information is processed as unidentifiable in a certain way defined in the guidelines, it is not considered personal information and so companies can use it freely. In addition, the guidelines designated public agencies such as the Korea Internet and Security Agency as “a specialised agency for de-identification”, which combines personal information from different corporations and provides linked data to those corporations.

Civil society organisations including Jinbonet protested that the guidelines violated the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA). This is because even though de-identification in accordance with the guidelines does not guarantee sufficient anonymisation, companies can use personal information without the consent of the data subjects. The CSOs filed charges with the public prosecutor against the specialised agencies and 20 companies for providing and combining personal information without the consent of the data subjects. The organisations also demanded improvements to the PIPA and strengthening of the authority of the Personal Information Protection Commission (PIPC), a data protection body.

Image source: Jinbonet. Civil society groups including Jinbonet held a press conference to announce charges filed against specialised agencies and 20 companies with the public prosecutor on 19 November 2017.

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Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa: A growing footprint

In September 2017, the annual Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica) was hosted in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was a partnership between APC and the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) which saw the physical footprint of FIFAfrica grow: since the first edition in 2014, the Forum had always been hosted in Uganda.

The landmark event convenes various stakeholders from the internet governance and online rights arenas in Africa and beyond to deliberate on gaps, concerns and opportunities for advancing privacy, access to information, free expression, non-discrimination and the free flow of information online. Sessions at the Forum were built around the 13 principles of the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms.

In the lead-up to FIFAfrica, CIPESA activities included a series of convenings and ICT policy advocacy workshops which were hosted in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia. Following continued affronts to digital rights in Africa, FIFAfrica provided a platform to delve deeper into the various challenges and opportunities that exist – and lie ahead. The State of Internet Freedom in Africa 2017 report was launched alongside the new Framework for Calculating the Economic Impact of Internet Disruptions in Sub-Saharan Africa. Insights from the Forum were shared at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which took place in December in Switzerland.

Image source: The REACT policy framework to close the digital gender divide as captured by Neema Iyer, a beneficiary of travel support to attend FIFAfrica 2017.

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7amleh Center advances its work in freedom of expression and digital rights through research and Palestine Digital Activism Forum

7amleh Center has been laying the foundations for awareness and advocacy on digital rights in Palestine through the publication of groundbreaking research on “Internet Freedoms in Palestine – Mapping of Digital Rights Violations and Threats”, and bringing key policy-makers from social media giants Facebook and Google to engage with Palestinian civil society in the first-ever Palestine Digital Activism Forum (PDAF) in Ramallah. 7amleh’s research analyses threats to and violations of Palestinian digital rights by governmental actors – the Israeli authorities, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip – as well as social media companies.

This innovative research is 7amleh’s foundation for its awareness and advocacy campaigns, as well as lobbying work with non-governmental actors. Representatives from Google and Facebook at the second PDAF in Ramallah interacted with Palestinian civil society on their policies regarding Palestine.

Image source: 7amleh Center.

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Protecting the Paraguayan Guasu Metropolitan park with the help of social media

In January 2017, the Paraguayan Ministry of Public Works began to dig two large trenches, four metres deep, in Guasu Metropolitan Park, the last natural forested area in Asunción, claiming that these would serve to collect run-off from the stream that runs along the border of the park, in order to prevent flooding. In fact, what they were creating was a massive sewage reservoir.

Asociación Trinidad, along with a small group of civil society representatives, lawyers, journalists, environmentalists and engineers, began to research ways to stop the work. Using the Law on Access to Public Information, they discovered that the operation had not received municipal authorisation, and that the environmental permits had been improperly requested.

What began as the initiative of a small group of people who filed a complaint with the municipality to halt the work then moved to social media platforms, where protests and demonstrations were organised. A pivotal moment came when Asociación Trinidad director Arturo Bregaglio physically placed himself in the path of the bulldozers to keep them from entering the park, after the complaint filed had succeeded in obtaining a stop-work order. This act of defiance went viral, spurring the massive support needed for the cause. As a result, the deforestation of the park was suspended for over a year, while efforts are underway to have it declared a Protected Natural Area by the National Congress.

Image source: Asociación Trinidad.

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