VOICE issues legal notice to protect the right to privacy in Bangladesh

A legal notice has been issued by VOICE to the Secretary of Posts and Telecommunications and Chairman of the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) demanding protection of the rights of mobile consumers and particularly the right to privacy. The notice was issued by VOICE’s legal adviser, Advocate Tanzim Al Islam, on 5 November 2017.

Mobile phone users of Bangladesh have been suffering from disturbances caused by unwanted calls and text messages from mobile operating companies that promote and advertise their products without considering subscribers’ personal daily life routines and customers’ interest, which constitutes a public annoyance.

No specific legal framework exists to control disturbances caused by the mobile operators. Thus the legal notice urged the authorities to take steps immediately for establishing a guideline or policy regarding telecommunication consumer protection for controlling unwanted calls and text messages from mobile operators and protecting the right to privacy of consumers.

The notice also stated that if the authorities fail to comply with the right to privacy of consumers, that matter would be taken further to Public Interest Litigation under Article 102 of the Constitution of the Peoples’ Republic of Bangladesh in the Supreme Court of Bangladesh seeking proper justice.

Image source: Byron Barrett on Flickr.

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Pangea has a brand new communication strategy

In 2017 Pangea.org went through a process of refreshing its image and improving its communication methods, towards its members and the world. As a part of this process, the association’s website has been renewed: the new one has a modern and clearer image and a new structure to facilitate access to information. A new blog has been started to spread information not only about their work but also about subjects related to information and communications technologies, social and solidarity economy and social justice that affect society.

Pangea.org has made an effort to explain the difference between “free” services offered by large multinational companies and the ones offered by Pangea.org and other organisations of our local social economy. They made a video, in collaboration with some of their members, with the message “On the internet, a free product means you are the product.” This video and the campaign launched with it focus on the values behind our work (solidarity, equity, justice, sustainability, fair trade…), to highlight their unique traits and thus capture the interest of new potential members.

Pangea has also been busy migrating from ownCloud to Nextcloud and introducing new apps to improve their services.

Image source: Pangea.

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Nupef Institute launches collaborative multilingual website on spectrum usage policies and practices

The Nupef Institute supports the implementation of community networks in areas lacking internet access, both through the deployment of networks in regions that are not accessible (such as the Marohao communities in Maranhão where Nupef operated through 2017), and through the circulation of information on the dynamic use of spectrum.

The spectrum site gathers information, documentation and learning materials on initiatives, public policies and regulation regarding the dynamic use of spectrum and underutilised frequencies for the creation of community internet access networks where access is non-existent or precarious.

The portal, launched in 2017, was conceived as a reference space, with the aim of disseminating information about community network initiatives. The Nupef Institute acts as an editorial facilitator, as well as handling the maintenance of infrastructure, site administration and technical development. An 11-member editorial group brings together experts and activists from Brazil, Uruguay, South Africa, Australia and the United States who share their knowledge and references from concrete experiences.

In August 2018, the Nupef Institute will carry out an evaluation and planning with the editorial team to encourage dynamic collaboration on the site and broaden its reach. The content of the portal has been promoted through e-newsletters and through the Nupef Institute’s Facebook page.

Image source: Nupef Institute. Network installation in Penalva, state of Maranhão in the Northeast region of Brazil.

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OWP builds online safety for Safe Houses in Bosnia and Herzegovina

“Building Online Safety for Safe Houses” is a project implemented by One World Platform (OWP) from July to December 2017, with the financial support of an APC subgrant. Within the framework of the project, in October 2017, OWP began trainings that covered topics related to policies for the integrity and security of organisations and online violence against women and girls. On that occasion, OWP cooperated with four organisations responsible for safe houses that provide shelter for women and girls who have been abused: the Foundation for Local Democracy (in Sarajevo), Vive žene (Tuzla), Udružene žene (Banja Luka) and Medica (Zenica). The workshops were intended for employees of safe houses and the organisations that run them.

OWP worked with them to help them create and implement their own digital security policy, but also talked about technology-related violence and why it was important to recognise it as a form of violence. Almost all of the participants confirmed the importance of the topic we dealt with and said that they were completely unaware of certain things that seemed to be quite irrelevant at first. Additionally, OWP published the manual “Online Safety 101”, where they explained all the details regarding online violence, its most usual forms and most importantly, how to be safe on the internet.

Image source: OWP.

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Digital skills to strengthen digital rights for local communities in Argentina

In 2017 Nodo TAU focused on the capacity building of local organisations to strengthen their digital rights, with the support of an APC subgrant. Between August and December they coordinated a series of communication workshops (Taller de Comunicación, or TACO for short) on digital skills for local organisations working on human rights, children’s issues, labour and health rights, gender, social economy and Indigenous communities, among others.

The TACO workshops involved eight meetings that were designed and planned together with six local organisations from the communications field: FARCO, the Argentine community radio federation; Sin Cerco, an independent press and photography agency; Sindicato de Prensa de Rosario, the local journalists union; ConX, a collective of journalists working on gender-sensitive communications; La Masa, a cooperative of journalists who head up a newspaper, a web agency and radio programmes; and Coopares, a cooperative working on digital tools for social and labour organisations.

During the workshops Nodo TAU focused on issues like communication, the internet and human rights; gender; abilities in writing and telling our own stories; audiovisual production; mapping local media, social networks and digital tools; independent media and the sustainability of independent communication projects. This initiative not only brought them closer to local communities, but also consolidated a network of local groups. At the end of November Nodo TAU organised together with ConX a Feminist Workshop on Digital Self-Defence, in the framework of the Take Back the Tech! campaign.

Image source: Facebook.

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Real or Not: News verification and fact checking Facebook page in Myanmar

MIDO has started a Facebook page called “Real or Not” to tackle the pressing issues of misinformation and incitement of inter-communal conflict in Myanmar.

Real or Not is a Facebook-based initiative in which MIDO conducts three main types of activities: developing content on news/digital literacy awareness; emergency response to current mis/disinformation that is being spread and could spark conflict and hatred; and assisting with fact-checking in response to users’ questions.

This is a flagship initiative in Myanmar and has inspired similar efforts in different locations and communities across the country. Now Real or Not is working on building an ethical fact-checking community in Myanmar and also producing content to be broadcast on major TV channels in the country.

Image source: MIDO.

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KICTANet elections observation mission

The last two general elections in Kenya have had heavy deployment of technology to improve transparency, efficiency and accountability in the electoral process. During the 2017 general elections, the Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet) observed the use of information and telecommunications technologies (ICTs) before, during and after election day. The network focused on digital rights such as privacy rights during the electronic voter registration process and access to election information by the citizens, as well as the use of online spaces during the election period.

In preparation for the observation exercise, KICTANet held online and offline discussions on technological emerging issues. These included discussions during the Kenya IGF that brought together representatives from the electoral management body, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the regulator, the private sector and civil society. Some team members also attended training meetings organised by the IEBC, where they observed mock voting and transmission of results.

As part of its cybersecurity programme, KICTANet also conducted a cybersecurity and elections workshop in partnership with Global Partners Digital (GPD). The workshop reflected on the issues that came up during the elections. Some of the topics that emerged were the use of fake news by citizens and politicians, the hacking claims made by the opposition during the tallying of votes, and the capacity of the new cybercrime legislation to resolve these issues.

KICTANet continues to engage with the newly elected leaders, the elections body and other stakeholders on the use of fake news online, on cybersecurity and on the importance of digital rights in public policy processes.

Image source: KICTANet.

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Kéfir cooks up autonomous feminist networks

In 2017, along with its Latin American transhackfeminist allies Vedetas and Periféricas, Kéfir started dismantling the patriarchal structures of the internet in the “Autonomous Feminist Networks” lab which took place during the EncontrADA 2017 technologies and ancestral knowledge gathering in Serrinha do Alambari, Brazil. This is part of a long-term collaboration they have been cooking up around transhackfeminist and decolonial infrastructure.

You can see part of what Kéfir is up to by visiting the website on feminist autonomous networks that they developed together, and listening to a GenderIT.org podcast of an interview with them at the 2017 Internet Freedom Festival. You can also check out the “From steel to skin” manifesto that Vedetas member Fernanda Monteiro and Kéfir co-founder Nadége co-created in the spirit of rephrasing “helping the needy” as “interdependence”, as well as the conversation they had on the subject with APC’s Erika Smith.

Image source: Kéfir.

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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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Foundation for Media Alternatives launches an Open e-Governance Index

The Foundation for Media Alternatives published in September 2017 the results of its research project that developed a framework to assess open e-governance. Initially piloted in five countries, namely Colombia, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines and Uganda, the framework looked into how state and non-state actors use information and communications technologies (ICTs) to steer society collectively.

The OeGI project defines open e-governance as the presence of the following dimensions: meshed e-government; e-participation channels; digital inclusion; civil society use of ICTs; and open legal and policy ecosystems.

The study revealed that while there is progress towards open e-governance, there are dimensions that need to be strengthened. For instance, while there is a great demand for online participation among citizens, there are many policies and programmes that governments need to undertake before this can happen.

Openness is an important area of participation of civil society in the state, and norms for transparency and accountability are critical in ensuring that national ICT systems can be used for political and socioeconomic progress. In the future, the OeGI can be used as a normative tool to assess how countries utilise openness in network societies to enhance public service, citizen participation/engagement, and in addressing communication rights. The research was conducted with the support of Making All Voices Count and the Institute of Development Studies.

Image source: FMA.

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