hri https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/21098/all cached version 12/06/2018 10:08:49 en Dreadful symmetry: kill boxes, racism and US sovereign power in the digital age https://www.opendemocracy.net/neal-curtis/dreadful-symmetry-kill-boxes-racism-and-us-sovereign-power-in-digital-age <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Nearly all of the killings and excuses for killings carry this mark of the “pre-insurgent”. All the time we hear, “we thought he was reaching for a gun”.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" alt="HRI" width="460px" /></a></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35752554.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35752554.jpg" alt="lead lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>March 28, 2018, New York: protests over the fatal police shooting of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man in Sacramento, California. Erik McGregor/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>I started writing this just as the funeral for <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2018/03/29/funeral-begins-for-stephon-clark-amid-outrage-over-fatal-police-shooting/?utm_term=.31ed99391722">Stephon Clark</a> was taking place in Sacramento. Clark was the latest in a very long line of unarmed African Americans summarily killed by police in the US. </p> <p>In this case, a black man carrying nothing but a cell phone was shot 20 times in his own garden after police were called out to a reported incident in the area to which Clark had no connection. The banality of standing in your own garden contrasted with the violence of 20 shots – so extreme it tore his body apart, preventing the family from ritually washing it – seems to make this case stand out. But it doesn’t. </p> <p>The <a href="https://blacklivesmatter.com">Black Lives Matter</a> movement acts as testimony to the countless deaths within the black community and the continuation of the personal and state violence that has been visited upon them since the onset of colonialism and the mass exploitation, torture and murder that was slavery.</p> <h2><b>The language of ‘bare life’ and the ‘war on terror’</b></h2> <p>The funeral of Stephon Clark follows the court decision not to charge the officers that killed <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2018/03/27/us/alton-sterling-investigation/index.html">Alton Stirling</a> in Baton Rouge in 2016. This fits the pattern in which the killing of black men in particular appears to have no legal consequence. From the perspective of the families these are homicides or murders. From the perspective of political activists these are akin to state executions or assassinations. But the language is important here. Murder assumes some sort of legal redress, while execution suggests some intended legal or institutional support. </p> <p>Although I am convinced the US legal system and its police force remain deeply racist and that these killings might be deemed sanctioned executions from that perspective, these events are much closer to the production of what Giorgio Agamben in his book <i>Homo Sacer</i> called <a href="http://criticallegalthinking.com/2015/07/02/sovereign-exception-notes-on-the-thought-of-giorgio-agamben/">“bare life”</a>. </p> <p>This concept refers to what happens in a state of emergency when the sovereign who is seen as the guarantor of the law during peacetime suspends it in response to an external or internal threat. Ordinarily we call this “emergency powers”, defined by the suspension or withdrawal of the usual legal protections. </p> <p>At such times, this suspension of the law allows people to be incarcerated, harmed or killed without any legal redress. Instead of people being protected they are exposed as “bare life” and subjected to violence without any mediation. For Agamben, the ultimate space of this exceptional politics is the concentration camp. From the perspective of the law, “bare life” literally doesn’t matter, which is why the name of the latest black civil rights movement is so pertinent.</p> <p>Since the announcement of the “War on Terror” in September 2001, this exceptional politics or state of emergency has become our normal condition. Not only did the US support the use of torture and use the full force of digital warfare to launch pre-emptive strikes, it also undermined domestic civil rights with far-reaching surveillance legislation under the euphemistically named <a href="https://www.aclu.org/issues/national-security/privacy-and-surveillance/surveillance-under-patriot-act">PATRIOT Act</a> that gave the state unparalleled access to personal data collected through search engines, social media, and mobile phone records. </p> <p>After the catastrophic invasion of Iraq in 2003 in which the entire Iraqi population was treated as “bare life”, and where specific sites of sovereign power like <a href="https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search;_ylt=A0geK99Ua71a0UcAAWoPxQt.?p=Middle+East+eye+man+under+the+hood+abu+Ghraib&amp;fr=yhs-Lkry-SF01&amp;fr2=piv-web&amp;hspart=Lkry&amp;hsimp=yhs-SF01&amp;type=ANYS_A09AW_ext_bsf#id=1&amp;vid=598a0cb404b2f4eb812505b7c8ee3195&amp;action=view">Abu Ghraib</a> became notorious, US foreign policy took a dramatic shift under Obama. Although, the earlier invasion had already been marked by the use of <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/id/3855079/ns/world_news-mideast_n_africa/t/digital-warfare-systemhuntsiraq-rebels/#.WsLr22Z7FLA">digital technologies</a>, Obama decided that the will of America would be delivered through the drone <a href="https://understandingempire.wordpress.com/2-0-a-brief-history-of-u-s-drones/">apparatus</a>; a collection of pilotless armoured planes, human operators, data banks, screens, algorithms, computers and the Internet. Given that the Internet was a military invention, the drone apparatus is the ultimate fantasy in the military desire for decentred, flexible, multi-theater, “casualty-free” warfare.</p> <h2><b>‘Five Eyes’ and the ‘kill box’ come home </b></h2> <p>This apparatus – made international through the <a href="https://theintercept.com/2018/03/01/nsa-global-surveillance-sigint-seniors/">“Five Eyes” programme</a> – works by using the collection of data from the web, email, digital social networks, as well as locative media and visual surveillance technologies to track down known suspects or detect people deemed to be potential terrorists, or what is termed “pre-insurgent”. </p> <p>Of course, because “pre-insurgency” is epidermally biased it is not hard to imagine how easy it is to become a target if you are brown or black and live in North Africa or the Middle East. These targets that are found by the apparatus itself are fed back into the “kill chain”, a hierarchy of human command that signs off on their killing. In the language of the apparatus, the system produces spaces known as <a href="https://www.cnet.com/news/life-in-the-kill-box-eye-in-the-sky-targets-the-ethics-of-drone-strikes/">“kill boxes”</a> in which any legal right the target has under International Law as a civilian or under the Geneva Convention as a soldier/warfighter is removed, allowing them to be killed with impunity. Instead of large, static spaces like Guantanamo Bay in which the politics of the exception has been brought to bear on “foreign” bodies, the “kill box” is a micro, momentary, and fleeting space that produces “bare life” and through which contemporary sovereign power operates.</p> <p>Surveillance <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeL8DAnjk40">footage</a> of Stephon Clark’s garden taken from the helicopter called out to assist in the reported incident in which he was an innocent bystander brought to mind the operations of the drone apparatus, and how perfectly – and with a dreadful, terrifying symmetry – the military euphemism of the “kill box” fits with the domestic execution of US sovereign power. </p> <p>Like the state of emergency that underpins its foreign policy, a state of emergency also operates domestically. This is a self-induced crisis brought about by its gun cult, the persistence of white supremacy, and its system of gross economic inequality. </p> <p>Nevertheless, in a country that prides itself on the rule of law, this politics of ‘exception’ continually opens up these micro spaces in which black life is reduced to bare life and no one need be held to account. These micro, temporary kill boxes that open up on US streets with a frightening regularity are, of course, the latest in a long history of violence against black people and appear within a social space already racially biased. </p> <p>Just like the enemy abroad, black people at home are seen as “pre-insurgent”, as if the fear of slave revolts still hangs heavy over US culture. Nearly all of the killings and the excuses for the killings carry this mark of the “pre-insurgent”. All the time we hear, “we thought he had a gun” or “we thought he was reaching for a gun”. From the position of white supremacy a person of colour is always about to be a <a href="https://www.vox.com/identities/2017/3/17/14945576/black-white-bodies-size-threat-study">threat</a>.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Curtis KIll video screenshot.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Curtis KIll video screenshot.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Screen shot.</span></span></span></p> <h2><b>Black Lives Matter</b></h2> <p>The Black Lives Matter Movement went viral after the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s killer in 2013. The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter has since become an international sign for justice, and has demonstrated how important social media and the web are for organizing political resistance, in an age in which the logic of the exception and the state of emergency are becoming the new normal. </p> <p>It is beholden upon anyone with a concern for our fast dwindling democratic protections to support this movement.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p> <p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/daniele-archibugi/targeted-killings-through-drones-are-war-crimes">Targeted killings through drones are war crimes</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/cambridge-analytica-is-what-happens-when-you-privatise-military-propaganda">Cambridge Analytica is what happens when you privatise military propaganda</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/cathy-oneil-leo-hollis/weapons-of-maths-destruction">Weapons of maths destruction </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/stephen-graham/foucault%E2%80%99s-boomerang-new-military-urbanism">Foucault’s boomerang: the new military urbanism</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/carly-nyst/un-privacy-report-five-eyes-remains">The UN privacy report: Five Eyes remains</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/bassam-gergi/need-for-national-action-on-us-gun-reform">The bleeding need for national action on US gun reform</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> digitaLiberties hri United States Neal Curtis Wed, 04 Apr 2018 08:42:55 +0000 Neal Curtis 117006 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Manifesto on algorithmic humanitarianism https://www.opendemocracy.net/dan-mcquillan/manifesto-on-algorithmic-humanitarianism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="Compact">The nature of machine learning operations mean they will actually deepen some humanitarian problematics and introduce new ones of their own. This banality of machine learning is also its power.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" alt="HRI" width="460px" /></a></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-24825892_3.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-24825892_3.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Small grocery shop in The Jungle refugee camp in Calais, 2015. Debets/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <h2> intro </h2><ol><li>Artificial Intelligence (AI) is undergoing a period of massive expansion.</li><li>This is not because computers have achieved human-like consciousnesss but because of advances in machine learning, where computers learn from training data how to classify new data.</li><li>At the cutting edge are the neural networks that have learned to recognise human faces or play Go.</li><li>Recognising patterns in data can be used as a predictive tool, and AI is being applied to echocardiograms to predict heart disease</li><li>to workplace data to predict if employees are going to leave</li><li>and to social media feeds to detect signs of incipient depression or suicidal tendencies.</li><li>One activity that seems distant from AI is humanitarianism;</li><li>the organisation of on-the-ground aid to fellow human beings in crisis due to war, famine or other disaster.</li><li>But humanitarian organisations, too, will adopt AI because it seems able to answer questions at the heart of humanitarianism</li><li>such as 'who should we save?' and 'how can we be effective at scale?'</li><li>It resonates strongly with existing modes of humanitarian thinking and doing</li><li>in particular the principles of neutrality and universality.</li><li>The way machine learning consumes big data and produces predictions</li><li>suggests it can both grasp the enormity of the humanitarian challenge and provide a data-driven response.</li><li>But the nature of machine learning operations mean they will actually deepen some humanitarian problematics</li><li>and introduce new ones of their own.</li><li>Thinking about how to avoid this raises wider questions about emancipatory technics</li><li>and what else needs to be in place to produce machine learning for the people.</li></ol><h2>maths</h2><ol><li>There is no intelligence in Artificial Intelligence</li><li>nor does it really learn, even though it's technical name is machine learning</li><li>it is simply mathematical minimisation</li><li>Like at school, fitting a straight line to a set of points</li><li>you pick the line that minimises the differences overall</li><li>Machine learning does the same for complex patterns</li><li>it fits input features to known outcomes by minimising a cost function</li><li>the fit is a model that can be applied to new data to predict the outcome</li><li>The most influential class of machine learning algorithms are neural networks</li><li>which is what startups call 'deep learning'</li><li>They use backpropagation: a minimisation algorithm that produces weights in different layers of neurons</li><li>anything that can be reduced to numbers and tagged with an outcome can be used to train a model</li><li>the equations don't know or care if the numbers represent Amazon sales or earthquake victims</li><li>This banality of machine learning is also its power</li><li>it's a generalised numerical compression of questions that matter</li><li>there is no comprehension within the computation</li><li>the patterns are correlation not causation</li><li>the only intelligence comes in the same sense as military intelligence; that is, targeting</li><li>But models produced by machine learning can be hard to reverse into human reasoning</li><li>why did it pick this person as a bad parole risk? what does that pattern of weights in the 3rd layer represent? we can't necessarily say.</li></ol><h2>reasoning</h2><ol><li>Machine learning doesn't just make decisions without giving reasons, it modifies our very idea of reason</li><li>that is, it changes what is knowable and what is understood as real</li><li>It operationalises the two-world metaphysics of neoplatonism</li><li>that behind the world of the sensible is the world of the form or the idea.</li><li>A belief in a hidden layer of reality which is ontologically superior,</li><li>expressed mathematically and apprehended by going against direct experience.</li><li>Machine learning is not just a method but a machinic philosophy</li><li>What might this mean for the future field of humanitarian AI?</li><li>It makes machine learning prone to what Miranda Fricker calls epistemic injustice</li><li>She meant the social prejudice that undermines a speaker's word</li><li>but in this case it's the calculations of data science that can end up counting more than testimony</li><li>The production of opaque predictions with calculative authority</li><li>will deepen the self-referential nature of the humanitarian field</li><li>while providing a gloss of grounded and testable interventions</li><li>Testing against unused data will produce hard numbers for accuracy and error</li><li>while making the reasoning behind them inaccessible to debate or questioning</li><li>Using neural networks will align with the output driven focus of the logframe</li><li>while deepening the disconnect between outputs and wider values</li><li>Hannah Arendt said many years ago that cycles of social reproduction have the character of automatism.</li><li>The general threat of AI, in humanitarianism and elsewhere, is not the substitution of humans by machines but the computational extension of existing social automatism</li></ol><h2>production</h2><ol><li>Of course the humanitarian field is not naive about the perils of datafication</li><li>We all know machine learning could propagate discrimination because it learns from social data</li><li>Humanitarian institutions will be more careful than most to ensure all possible safeguards against biased training data</li><li>but the deeper effect of machine learning is to produce new subjects and to act on them</li><li>Machine learning is performative, in the sense that reiterative statements produce the phenomena they regulate</li><li>Humanitarian AI will optimise the impact of limited resources applied to nearly limitless need</li><li>by constructing populations that fit the needs of humanitarian organisations</li><li>This is machine learning as biopower</li><li>it's predictive power will hold out the promise of saving lives</li><li>producing a shift to preemption</li><li>but this is effect without cause</li><li>The foreclosure of futures on the basis of correlation rather than causation</li><li>it constructs risk in the same way that twitter determines trending topics</li><li>the result will be algorithmic states of exception</li><li>According to Agamben, the signature of a state of exception is ‘force-of’</li><li>actions that have the force of law even when not of the law</li><li>Logistic regression and neural networks generate mathematical boundaries</li><li>but cybernetic exclusions will have effective force by allocating and withholding resources</li><li>a process that can't be humanised by having a humanitarian-in-the-loop</li><li>because it is already a technics, a co-constituting of the human and the technical</li></ol><h2>decolonial</h2><ol><li>The capture, model and preempt cycle of machine learning will amplify the colonial aspects of humanitarianism</li><li>unless we can develop a decolonial approach to its assertions of objectivity, neutrality and universality</li><li>We can look to standpoint theory, a feminist and post-colonial approach to science</li><li>which suggests that positions of social and political disadvantage can become sites of analytical advantage</li><li>this is where our thinking about machine learning &amp; AI should start from</li><li>but I don't mean by soliciting feedback from humanitarian beneficiaries</li><li>Participation and feedback is already a form of socialising subjects</li><li>and with algorithmic humanitarianism every client interaction will be subsumed into training data</li><li>They used to say 'if the product is free, you are the product'</li><li>but now, if the product is free, you are the training data</li><li>training for humanitarian AI and for the wider cybernetic governance of resilient populations</li><li>Machine learning can break out of this spiral through situated knowledge</li><li>as proposed by Donna Haraway as a counterweight to the scientific ‘view from nowhere’,</li><li>a situated approach that is not optional in its commitment to a particular context</li><li>How does machine learning look from the standpoint of Haiti's post-earthquake rubble or from an IDP camp</li><li>No refugee in a freezing factory near the Serbian border with Croatia is going to be signing up for Andrew Ng's MOOC on machine learning any time soon</li><li>How can democratic technics be grounded in the humanitarian context?</li></ol><h2>people's councils</h2><ol><li>It may seem obvious that if machine learning can optimise Ocado deliveries then it can help with humanitarian aid</li><li>but the politics of machine learning are processes operating at the level of the pre-social</li><li>One way to counter this is through popular assemblies and people's councils</li><li>bottom-up, confederated structures that implement direct democracy</li><li>replacing the absence of a subject in the algorithms with face-to-face presence</li><li>contesting the opacity of parallel computation with open argument</li><li>and the environmentality of algorithms with direct action</li><li>The role of people's councils is not to debate for its own sake</li><li>but the creation of alternative structures, in the spirit of Gustav Landauer's structural renewal</li><li>An emancipatory technics is one that co-constitutes active agents and their infrastructures</li><li>As Landauer said, people must 'grow into a framework, a sense of belonging, a body with countless organs and sections'</li><li>as evidenced in Calais, where people collectively organised warehouse space, van deliveries and cauldrons to cook for 100s, while regularly tasting tear gas</li><li>I suggest that solidarity is an ontological category prior to subject formation</li><li>collective activity is the line of flight from a technological capture that extends market relations to our intentions</li><li>It is a politics of becoming – a means without end to counter AI's effect without cause</li></ol><h2>close</h2><ol><li>In conclusion</li><li>as things stand, machine learning and so-called AI will not be any kind of salvation for humanitarianism</li><li>but will deepen the neocolonial and neoliberal dynamics of humanitarian institutions</li><li>But no apparatus is a closed teleological system; the impact of machine learning is contingent and can be changed</li><li>it's not a question people versus machines but of a humanitarian technics of mutual aid</li><li>In my opinion this requires a rupture with current instantiations of machine learning</li><li>a break with the established order of things of the kind that Badiou refers to as an Event</li><li>the unpredictable point of excess that makes a new truth discernible</li><li>and constitutes the subjects that can pursue that new truth procedure</li><li>The prerequisites will be to have a standpoint, to be situated, and to be committed</li><li>it will be as different to the operations of Google as the Balkan aid convoys of the 1990s were to the work of the ICRC</li><li>On the other hand, if an alternative technics is not mobilised,</li><li>the next generation of humanitarian scandals will be driven by AI.</li></ol> <p>&nbsp;</p><p><i>Presented at the symposium on 'Reimagining Digital Humanitarianism', Goldsmiths, University of London, Feb 16th 2018</i>. More details of the symposium can be <a href="https://www.gold.ac.uk/calendar/?id=11362">found here.</a></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p> <p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/anita-gurumurthy-amrita-vasudevan/snowden-to-cambridge-analytica-making-case-for-social-value-of-pri">Snowden to Cambridge Analytica – making the case for the social value of privacy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/neal-curtis/dreadful-symmetry-kill-boxes-racism-and-us-sovereign-power-in-digital-age">Dreadful symmetry: kill boxes, racism and US sovereign power in the digital age</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/cathy-oneil-leo-hollis/weapons-of-maths-destruction">Weapons of maths destruction </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Internet </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> digitaLiberties hri Civil society Conflict Ideas International politics Internet Dan McQuillan Wed, 04 Apr 2018 07:08:38 +0000 Dan McQuillan 117024 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Snowden to Cambridge Analytica – making the case for the social value of privacy https://www.opendemocracy.net/anita-gurumurthy-amrita-vasudevan/snowden-to-cambridge-analytica-making-case-for-social-value-of-pri <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="Standard">Constitutionally inculcated rights and morality are slowly being undone “by the use of automated processes to assess risk and allocate opportunity”.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" alt="HRI" width="460px" /></a></p> <p class="Standard"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Zuck-Zuck.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Zuck-Zuck.png" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>An image of Mark Zuckerberg in Shadow Ink app. 2016. Wikicommons/ Annika Laas. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>After days of prodding by the media, Mark Zuckerberg has offered a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/mar/21/mark-zuckerberg-response-facebook-cambridge-analytica">mea culpa</a>, apologizing for the <a href="https://www.techdirt.com/blog/?tag=damage+control">“breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it”.</a> </p> <p class="Standard">The news that Facebook shared user data with a number of organizations including Cambridge Analytica seems to reflect the paradox of surveillance society – that <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/digitaliberties/elinor-carmi/whose-data-is-it-anyway">our personal data is never safe</a>, but share it we must.</p> <p class="Standard">So once again, in a Snowdenish moment, we are hit by the revelation that Cambridge Analytica conducted behavioural modeling and psychographic profiling (creating personality profiles by gauging motives, interests, attitudes, beliefs, values etc.) based on data it collected, to successfully target – allegedly – Americans prior to the recent presidential election. </p> <p class="Standard">Meanwhile, in countries like India, political parties have <a href="http://www.business-standard.com/article/politics/bjp-and-congress-accuse-each-other-for-hiring-cambridge-analytics-118032101154_1.html">accused each other</a> of hiring Cambridge Analytica for their own election campaigns.</p> <h2 class="Standard"><strong>The soothsayer</strong></h2> <p class="Standard"><a href="https://www.facebook.com/full_data_use_policy">Facebook </a><a href="https://www.facebook.com/full_data_use_policy">collects</a> all kinds of social data about its users, like their relationship status, place of work, colleagues, last time they visited their parents, songs they like listening to, as well as other kinds of information such as device data, websites visited from the platform etc. </p> <p class="Standard">This may be information that is shared by the user or what their friends may share about them on the platform. That aside, let us not forget that Facebook has bought WhatsApp and Instagram and can tap into data from those platforms, apart from the data it buys from data brokers.</p> <p class="Standard">Data that is collected is used to draw up the profile of users – a detailed picture of the persona that emerges by piecing together known activity and aptitude and generating predictions about possible proclivities and predispositions. <span class="mag-quote-center">That big data can be put to use in ways that reinforce ‘social and cultural segregation and exclusion’ is fairly well accepted now.</span></p> <p class="Standard">The mechanics of big data thus recreate the sum total of user traits and attributes – without necessarily verifying them per user. What follows then is the clustering of users into hyper segments with similar attributes for micro-targeting ads. </p> <p class="Standard">You may merely be ‘liking’ an article on <a href="https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/03/northern-white-rhino-male-sudan-death-extinction-spd/">the l</a><a href="https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/03/northern-white-rhino-male-sudan-death-extinction-spd/">ast male white Rhino</a>, but Facebook <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/110/15/5802.full">wi</a><a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/110/15/5802.full">ll</a><a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/110/15/5802.full"> </a><a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/110/15/5802.full">predict</a> with a fair amount of accuracy your political affiliation and sexual orientation, using algorithmic modelling to nudge you to buy the thing you are most likely to buy. Hyper-segmentation based on social media profiling can also be used to create a consumer base for political messaging, as has been suggested in the case of Cambridge Analytica.&nbsp; </p> <h2 class="Standard"><strong>The target</strong></h2> <p class="Standard"><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/burcu-kilic-renata-avila/digital-giants-trading-away-our-right-to-privacy">Many digital corporations, including Uber, Twitter and Microsoft sell their data to third parties who build apps and provide services on top of it</a>. With machine learning, the targeting of individuals assumes new dimensions; it becomes possible to do <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/270107608_Advertising_Microtargeting_and_Social_Media">nanotargeting</a>, that is, to zoom in precisely on one individual. </p> <p class="Standard">A fintech startup in India rejected an applicant because they could uncover that she had actually filed for a loan on behalf of her live-in partner who was unemployed. The boyfriend’s loan request had been rejected earlier. The <a href="https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/small-biz/startups/need-small-loans-these-fintech-startups-are-tracking-your-moves/articleshow/59553055.cms">start-up’s machine</a><a href="https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/small-biz/startups/need-small-loans-these-fintech-startups-are-tracking-your-moves/articleshow/59553055.cms"> learning algorithm</a> had used GPS and social media data – both of which the duo had given permissions for while downloading the app – to make the connection that they were in a relationship.</p> <p class="Standard">That big data can be put to use in ways that reinforce ‘<a href="https://edps.europa.eu/sites/edp/files/publication/15-11-19_big_data_en.pdf">social and cultural segregation and exclusion</a>’ is fairly well accepted now. This slippery slope from micro-targeting to the social allocation by algorithms of opportunities and privileges poses serious concerns. A <a href="https://www.propublica.org/article/facebook-doesnt-tell-users-everything-it-really-knows-about-them">ProPublica investigation from 2016 coll</a>ected more than 52,000 unique attributes that Facebook used to classify users into micro target-able groups. It then went on to buy Facebook advertisement for housing that demonstrated how it was possible to exclude African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans. As <a href="http://raley.english.ucsb.edu/wp-content/Engl800/Pasquale-blackbox.pdf">Frank Pasquale notes, constitutionally inculcated rights and morality is slowly being undone “by the use of automated processes to assess risk and allocate opportunity”.</a></p> <h2 class="Standard"><strong>The public sphere</strong></h2> <p class="Standard">This brings us to the question of what the social role of digital intelligence means for the future of democracy. Elections play a vital role in a robust democracy such as India. We seek to safeguard their free and fair nature through regulations that impose <a href="http://indianexpress.com/article/explained/exit-polls-and-why-they-are-restricted-by-the-panel-dainik-jagran-editor-arrest-4527055/">restriction</a><a href="http://indianexpress.com/article/explained/exit-polls-and-why-they-are-restricted-by-the-panel-dainik-jagran-editor-arrest-4527055/">s</a><a href="http://indianexpress.com/article/explained/exit-polls-and-why-they-are-restricted-by-the-panel-dainik-jagran-editor-arrest-4527055/"> on exit polling</a> or call out parties for unduly influencing voters through the distribution of freebies. </p> <p class="Standard">Wouldn’t then, a nudging of voters through intimate knowledge of their behaviour be a threat to this socio-political hygiene we seek to maintain? Can we allow the replacement of the will of the people by a market democracy in which the masses can be gamed? In the wake of the scandal, <a href="http://www.firstpost.com/politics/cambridge-analytica-row-ec-to-coordinate-with-enforcement-agencies-to-prevent-unlawful-electoral-activities-4403117.html">the Election Commission </a><a href="http://www.firstpost.com/politics/cambridge-analytica-row-ec-to-coordinate-with-enforcement-agencies-to-prevent-unlawful-electoral-activities-4403117.html">in India</a> has said that it will come up with recommendations on how to prevent such unlawful activities. <span class="mag-quote-center">Can we allow the replacement of the will of the people by a market democracy in which the masses can be gamed?</span></p> <p class="Standard">However, beyond electoral fairness, there are severe repercussions for the sanctity of the public sphere in the rapidly unfolding role of algorithms. When people know that online behaviour is monitored, they carefully moderate how they interact online, a phenomenon referred to as <a href="https://www.socialcooling.com/">social cooling.</a></p> <h2 class="Standard"><strong>The collusion</strong></h2> <p class="Standard">The Cambridge Analytica episode bears a close resemblance to the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/digitaliberties/carly-nyst-rosemary-bechler/after-snowden-can-technology-save-our-digital-liberties">Snowden disclosure of the unholy nexus of the state, private corporations, and uninhibited surveillance</a>. India has already succeeded in building a ‘cradle to grave’ panspectron by seeding citizens’ unique biometric identifier across data bases. The Aadhaar unique ID project has allowed for an <a href="https://books.google.co.in/books?id=J9f1AwAAQBAJ&amp;printsec=frontcover&amp;dq=posthumanism&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=0ahUKEwi-1-S6tILaAhWJQY8KHfWmA5wQ6AEILjAB#v=onepage&amp;q=posthumanism&amp;f=false">informatization of life</a> whereby “...the human body is reduced to a set of numbers that can be stored, retrieved and reconstituted across terminals, screens and interfaces”. </p> <p class="Standard">With this biometric, the body can never disassociate with its data, and may be recalled, whenever convenient, sans ‘the individual’. To add psychographic data akin to a ‘behavioural’ biometric to this mix is to endow a ‘God’s eye view’ of society to the state, one that the state is bound to abuse to determine the human condition. </p> <p class="Standard">For instance, China’s profoundly disturbing, <a href="https://www.wired.com/story/age-of-social-credit/">Sesame Credit</a> uses citizen data including data from everyday transactions, biometric data, etc., to dole out instant karma.</p> <p class="Standard">From the other end, corporations who already collect behavioural data are <a href="https://scroll.in/article/823274/how-private-companies-are-using-aadhaar-to-deliver-better-services-but-theres-a-catch">keen on accessing Aadhaar data</a>, for this will allow them to trade data around a unique data point to attain, much like the state, a 360 degree view of their customers.&nbsp; </p> <p class="Standard">Facebook has faced criticism in the past for experimenting with users’ emotions, using unethical <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jun/29/facebook-users-emotions-news-feeds">manipulati</a><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jun/29/facebook-users-emotions-news-feeds">on of</a><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jun/29/facebook-users-emotions-news-feeds"> </a><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jun/29/facebook-users-emotions-news-feeds">information</a> to influence the moods of users. The plausibility of nano-surveillance raises fundamental philosophical questions about society and human agency, calling attention to the urgent task of reining in the data capitalists. <span class="mag-quote-center">The plausibility of nano-surveillance raises fundamental philosophical questions about society and human agency, calling attention to the urgent task of reining in the data capitalists.&nbsp; </span></p> <h2 class="Standard"><strong>The norm</strong></h2> <p class="Standard">While digital corporations claim to audit how third parties may use the data they have shared, <a href="https://gadgets.ndtv.com/social-networking/features/facebook-cambridge-analytica-scandal-fallout-on-other-tech-companies-1827408">monitoring is lax</a>. India, for instance, does have rules on <a href="http://www.wipo.int/edocs/lexdocs/laws/en/in/in098en.pdf">data shari</a><a href="http://www.wipo.int/edocs/lexdocs/laws/en/in/in098en.pdf">ng</a>; however, these pertain to a predefined list of data types. Traditionally, data protection legislations have focused on ‘personally identifiable information’ (PII), but with technological advances - <em>a la</em> big data analysis and Artificial Intelligence – <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1909366">what is or is not PII</a> is contested. The law therefore needs to be re-imagined to suit contemporary techniques of data analysis.</p> <p class="Standard">Besides the fact of unencumbered data sharing, that Facebook was able to collect such vast amounts and varied kinds of data is itself unsettling. To prevent the frightening prospect of future society being reduced to an aggregate of manipulated data points, it may well be necessary to determine that certain kinds of data will not be collected and certain types of data processing will not be done. </p> <p class="Standard">Restrictions on collection and use can be sector specific, based on well debated <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2567042">social norms</a> and constitutionally driven. &nbsp;For example, Delhi High Court recently upheld the judgment on the grounds of the right to health, that excluding genetic disorders from insurance policies is illegal.</p> <p class="Standard">It is time we moved from individual centered notions of privacy where the ‘user’ is constantly asked to barter the right for entitlements, credits, and convenience<span style="text-decoration: line-through;">. </span>Theories about how individuals must be empowered to monetise the plentiful data they generate and get easier credit, better healthcare, better skills and welfare benefits are a recipe for a disempowered society left to the whims of neo-liberal market democracy. The <a href="http://www.firstpost.com/tech/news-analysis/big-brother-getting-bigger-the-privacy-issues-surrounding-aadhaar-are-worrying-3700365.html">social value of privacy</a> needs to be spotlighted, for it urges us to look not only at the individual’s rights over data, but the social benefits that we derive from their recognition.</p> <p class="Standard">In so far as societies are the products of behavioural modelling, Zuckerberg’s apology does not really count.</p> <p class="Standard"><em>An <a href="http://www.firstpost.com/politics/cambridge-analytica-row-ec-to-coordinate-with-enforcement-agencies-to-prevent-unlawful-electoral-activities-4403117.html">earlier version of this article</a> first appeared in Firstpost on March 23, 2018. </em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p> <p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/neal-curtis/dreadful-symmetry-kill-boxes-racism-and-us-sovereign-power-in-digital-age">Dreadful symmetry: kill boxes, racism and US sovereign power in the digital age</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/dan-mcquillan/manifesto-on-algorithmic-humanitarianism">Manifesto on algorithmic humanitarianism</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> India </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Internet </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> digitaLiberties hri United States India Civil society Culture Democracy and government International politics Internet Amrita Vasudevan Anita Gurumurthy Wed, 04 Apr 2018 06:18:30 +0000 Anita Gurumurthy and Amrita Vasudevan 117022 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The scramble for data and the need for network self-determination https://www.opendemocracy.net/luca-belli/scramble-for-data-and-need-for-network-self-determination <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The scramble for data is unleashing a new form of colonialism: turning a quintessentially open internet into a series of closed, controllable cyber-spaces, where a few players have unprecedented influence.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" alt="HRI" width="460px" /></a><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/5389317163_0c2259e634_b.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/5389317163_0c2259e634_b.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="308" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Flickr/Martina Yach. CC-BY-2.0.</span></span></span>Unless you lived in a cave over the past decade, you should have heard that “<a href="https://www.quora.com/Who-should-get-credit-for-the-quote-data-is-the-new-oil">data is the new oil</a>” or that data have become “<a href="https://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21721656-data-economy-demands-new-approach-antitrust-rules-worlds-most-valuable-resource">the world’s most valuable resource</a>.” However, rarely in our history has the emergence of new, extremely valuable, resources <em>not</em> resulted in power struggles leading to fundamental changes in political and social structures.</p> <p>The Scramble for Data is unleashing a new breed of colonialism, aimed at controlling the networks and platforms that will redefine – and are already shaping – the economies, societies and private lives of all the colonised.</p> <p>Worryingly, the hunger for data is turning a quintessentially open internet, able to empower billions of individuals, into a series of closed and easily controllable cyber-spaces, where a few dominant players have access to, and exert, unprecedented influence on every aspect of our lives.</p> <p class="mag-quote-left">The Scramble for Data is already unleashing a new breed of colonialism, already shaping the economies, societies and private lives of all the&nbsp;colonised.</p><p>It is important to realise that the internet as we know it, is not immutable and that an open and user-empowering environment is a threat not only to authoritarian regimes but also to those corporations that base their profit on directing users’ behaviour according to their commercial interests.</p> <p>The internet environment is empowering by default, allowing all users to be not only mere passive consumers but also producers of content and innovative services that can be freely shared and accessed by virtually all other users. However, such a configuration is not incontrovertible, and internet openness has been put under increasing pressure in recent times.</p> <p>Indeed, data are “the new oil” not only because their collection and processing are extremely lucrative but also because they are powering an increasingly wide portion of the global economy.</p> <p>The high profits and competitive advantages deriving from massive data extraction and processing are stimulating a vicious circle where the fundamental goal of any major internet company is to monopolise users’ attention, to extract all the possible data, profiling users’ tastes and habits, while understanding their weaknesses to ultimately direct how they behave, earning particularly hefty profits out of this capacity.&nbsp;</p> <p>This is precisely why operators that integrate content and app providers have been trying to direct users’ <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/luca-belli/scrapping-fcc-net-neutrality-rules-would-be-mistake">attention to their vertically integrated</a> partners, nurturing a never-ending <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Expression/Telecommunications/LucaBelli.pdf">Net Neutrality debate</a>. This is also why the purpose of any application provider is to <a href="https://fourminutebooks.com/hooked-summary/">hook individuals into its service</a>, creating the most addictive configuration. Just ponder – how long does it take you to check your favourite app when you&nbsp;wake up in the morning?</p> <h2><strong><em>A free internet user represents a risk</em></strong></h2> <p>In a data-driven economy, limiting and steering users’ options to browse the open internet becomes much more lucrative than letting individuals freely explore the net as they wish and build new innovative – and competing – services. <a href="https://www.freepress.net/blog/2017/04/25/net-neutrality-violations-brief-history">Attempts to limit internet openness</a> have been at the core of <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Expression/Telecommunications/LucaBelli.pdf">Net Neutrality disputes</a> over the past decade, and the rationale of such attempts is quite straightforward.</p> <p>When users are not tamed into predefined consumerist experiences, they are free to develop and share new competing services or use services that are not controlled by the dominant providers, thus producing data for the dominant providers’ competitors. A user that freely produces and consumes innovation (for this reason called a “prosumer”) represents a risk.</p> <p>However, by contrast, when users’ attention is artificially concentrated into your service or those provided by your vertically integrated partners, prosumers turn into passive data wells to be drilled <em>ad infinitum</em>. The more time an individual spends on a given service, the more data on him can be extracted, refined and traded.</p> <p>Crucially, the purpose of data collection is not limited to understanding users’ tastes any more. It is increasingly aimed at identifying the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoIufBVLDvM">vulnerabilities of users’ minds</a>, that may be exploited to trigger desired reactions. This is precisely why Facebook brags about being able to identify when <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/01/facebook-advertising-data-insecure-teens">Australian and New Zealander teenagers</a> are more vulnerable, or why Cambridge Analytica vaingloriously boasts of the efficiency of its psychological profiling of British and American voters to orientate the Brexit referendum and <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/06/us/politics/cambridge-analytica.html">the last U.S. elections</a>.</p> <p class="mag-quote-right">A user that freely produces and consumes innovation represents a risk.</p><p>Now, pose for a moment, think that this kind of influence is already possible in very developed countries, and try to imagine what type of control could be possible in developing or underdeveloped countries, where data are still untapped, digital policies are scarce or inexistent and, when they exist, they are implemented by severely under-resourced administrations. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>These concerns interest both developed and developing countries alike but are particularly relevant in the developing world, where digital colonizers are rushing to drill as much data as they can out of the currently unconnected individuals who are increasingly seen as unexploited data wells.</p> <p>Dominant application providers and telecom operators are rushing to offer <a href="http://internet-governance.fgv.br/sites/internet-governance.fgv.br/files/publicacoes/net_neutrality_reloaded.pdf">zero rating plans</a>, like Facebook’s <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jul/27/facebook-free-basics-developing-markets">controversial Free Basics programme</a>, that provide low-income users with subsidised access to preselected applications – amongst which, obviously, Facebook. Try to imsgine how addictive it can be to provide people with a low level of literacy sponsored access to services that are explicitly <a href="http://fortune.com/2017/01/11/nir-eyal-hook-model/">conceived to create dependence</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>Providing sponsored access to applications designed to hook up users may remind us of the strategy of those <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2001/08/24/business/enticing-third-world-youth-big-tobacco-is-accused-of-crossing-an-age-line.html">tobacco companies providing free cigarettes</a> to youngsters. The goal is not only enticing new users, it is clearly to create an exclusive addiction to one’s product.</p> <h2><strong><em>Freebasing free basics</em></strong></h2> <p>Sponsoring selected applications is a very astute stratagem to concentrate attention on specific services, particularly when the cost of Internet access is high and when operators impose very low download limits to their customers. Indeed, if I wanted to favour my own services, I would either block or downgrade my competitors or, if <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Expression/Telecommunications/LucaBelli.pdf">net neutrality frameworks forbade such discriminatory behaviour</a>, I would contour the ban by defining very artificially low data caps while excluding my services from the cap.</p> <p>With one move, you kill competitors that do not have the financial capacity to sponsor access to their service, you create dependence on your subsidised application, and you assure that low-income individuals – i.e. a considerable percentage of developing countries’ inhabitants – give up their “most valuable resource” not only willingly but also celebrating you as a philanthropist.</p> <p class="mag-quote-left">The purpose of data collection is not limited to understanding users’ tastes anymore. It is increasingly aimed at identifying the&nbsp; vulnerabilities of users’ minds, that they may be exploited to trigger desired reactions.</p><p>The purpose of sponsoring access to a limited set of applications is evidently to make sure that (new) users develop an addiction to your services, <a href="http://internet-governance.fgv.br/sites/internet-governance.fgv.br/files/publicacoes/net_neutrality_zero-rating_the_minitelisation_of_the_internet_final.pdf">always remaining passive consumers</a> and never being able to create new apps competing with what you sponsor. While providing controlled communication free of charge, zero rating plans – the majority of which are <a href="http://internet-governance.fgv.br/sites/internet-governance.fgv.br/files/publicacoes/net_neutrality_zero-rating_the_minitelisation_of_the_internet_final.pdf">based on the combination of low data caps with sponsored services</a> – ensure that users’ data will keep on flowing unidirectionally into the servers of the applications’ sponsor.</p> <p>This pattern is already quite visible in many countries, as highlighted by the <a href="https://www.intgovforum.org/multilingual/index.php?q=filedepot_download/5133/766">Zero Rating Map</a> that will be presented <a href="https://igf2017.sched.com/event/CTsC/dc-on-net-neutrality">next week at the UN Internet Governance Forum</a>. The most zero rated app in the world is Facebook. It may be argued that, in developed countries, consumers are driving demand for Facebook, but such rationale cannot be applied to developing countries where people are not even using the Internet. No wonder that in many such countries the majority of people are persuaded that “<a href="https://qz.com/333313/milliions-of-facebook-users-have-no-idea-theyre-using-the-internet/">Facebook is the Internet</a>” as a result of very effective zero rating strategies.</p> <p>Securing collection and eternal use of personal data of individuals from developing countries, about which almost no data exist, is a great move, notably in the perspective of training Artificial Intelligence with more diverse data pools. Indeed, data are such a precious resource also because they are essential to educate the deep learning networks that power AI, extracting unknown inferences via big data analytics and, ultimately, taking databased decisions on individuals. And so far, very few data are available about developing countries’ populations, thus making such data even more valuable.</p> <p>With all due respect for the new cyber philanthropist, the offer of “free” services without even mentioning that the purpose is to collect (extremely valuable) personal data <em>ad aeternum</em> really reminds us of the image of sixteenth-century conquistadores offering mirrors to Indios in exchange for gold. Only if one were completely unaware that data are the world’s most valuable resource, would one give them away in exchange for free Facebook.</p> <p>Uneducated individuals will be excused for this naïve behaviour, but their governments will not. The lack of understanding of the governments of many developing countries is leading their citizens into becoming permanent free data producers for the benefit of a few dominant players. Frankly, those who produce value, for free, for someone else, for their entire life are called slaves.</p> <p>It may seem that, for low-income people living in the developing world, the only choice is to give a free and perpetual license to extract and exploit their data, in order to have digital crumbs in return. For these people, one may sadly conclude, the right to determine how their data can be disclosed and used, the right to freedom of expression and the possibility to freely innovate and become a digital entrepreneur are simply unattainable.</p> <p>But is this true? Are low-income people really condemned to be exploited for the rest of their lives? Luckily, there are alternatives to this bleak scenario and <a href="https://twitter.com/1lucabelli/status/938770138651820032">these bottom-up initiatives</a> are not only starting to show that they work but also to have the visibility they deserve. <span class="mag-quote-center">These bottom-up initiatives are not only starting to show that they work but also to have the visibility they deserve.</span></p> <p>Many groups of individuals around the world have not resigned themselves to being digitally colonised and have decided to take their economic, social and cultural development in their own hands, establishing their own crowd-sourced infrastructure, known as <a href="http://internet-governance.fgv.br/sites/internet-governance.fgv.br/files/publicacoes/community_connectivity_-_building_the_internet_from_scratch_0.pdf">Community Networks</a>.</p> <h2><strong><em>Do it yourself </em></strong></h2> <p>From <a href="http://www.altermundi.net/">Argentina</a> to <a href="http://guifi.net/">Spain</a>, from <a href="http://nepalwireless.net/">Nepal</a> to <a href="https://b4rn.org.uk/">the UK</a>, local communities have decided to be the protagonist of their digital futures and are building their own networks, to overcome lack of Internet coverage. These communities demonstrate that Internet openness and online privacy are not amenities for the privileged but basic needs to which everyone is entitled and that everyone can and must enjoy.</p> <p>Importantly, <a href="https://igf2017.sched.com/event/CTqx">community networks represent a new paradigm</a>, where connectivity is considered and is managed as a common good. Indeed, these networks are designed, owned and managed by the local communities that decide to create them and that retain control of them.</p> <p>Community networks respect net neutrality by design and by default because there is no need for the provider to favour a commercial partner or disfavour a competitor. The community is the provider and all network users are partners in developing shared connectivity. Therefore, community networks specifically focus on the needs of local populations, providing community-tailored services, creating new opportunities for learning, trading and creating new job opportunities for those living in previously disconnected areas.</p> <p>These experiences tellingly demonstrate that, when the unconnected have basic <a href="https://commotionwireless.net/docs/cck/">information on how to build their network infrastructure</a> and the freedom to choose this option, they can connect themselves with no need to be digitally colonialized.&nbsp;</p> <p>It is time to start realising that empowered individuals, able to decide how their data are used and free to access and share content and innovation, represent a great benefit for society and are a driving force for a sustainable Internet. By contrast, mere consumers of predefined applications only represent a great benefit&nbsp; for the digital colonizers.</p> <p>Open Internet policies are essential to protect individuals, but it is time for people to understand that they can build their sustainable connectivity themselves and reclaim their <a href="https://twitter.com/1lucabelli/status/940173893624647680">right to network self-determination</a>. If governments are not up to the task of protecting individuals’ rights and expanding connectivity, people should simply do it themselves.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p><p>More from the&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a>&nbsp;partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/digitaliberties/elinor-carmi/whose-data-is-it-anyway">Whose data is it anyway? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/andreas-reventlow/future-of-internet-depends-on-you">The future of the internet depends on you</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/luca-belli/scrapping-fcc-net-neutrality-rules-would-be-mistake">Scrapping FCC net neutrality rules would be a mistake</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Net neutrality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> hri Net neutrality Tech futures Luca Belli Fri, 15 Dec 2017 15:36:40 +0000 Luca Belli 115354 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Digital giants are trading away our right to privacy https://www.opendemocracy.net/burcu-kilic-renata-avila/digital-giants-trading-away-our-right-to-privacy <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Today, the big tech race is for data extractivism from those yet to be 'connected' in the world – tech companies will use all their power to achieve a global regime in which small nations cannot regulate either data extraction or localisation.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" alt="HRI" width="460px" /></a><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/Susana_Malcorra_en_la_OEA.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/Susana_Malcorra_en_la_OEA.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="368" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Susana Malcorra is actively pushing for member states to embrace e-commerce at the WTO, claiming that it is necessary to “bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots”. Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Argentina.</span></span></span>In a few weeks’ time, trade ministers from 164 countries will gather in Buenos Aires for <a href="https://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/minist_e/mc11_e/mc11_e.htm">the 11th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference</a>&nbsp;(MC11). US President Donald Trump in November issued fresh accusations of <a href="https://insidetrade.com/daily-news/trump-hits-wto-sovereignty-grounds-says-us-will-not-continue-opening-its-markets">unfair treatment towards the US by WTO members</a>, making it virtually impossible for trade ministers to leave the table with any agreement in substantial areas. <p class="Default">To avoid a ‘failure ministerial,” some countries see the solution as pushing governments to open a mandate to start conversations that might lead to a negotiation on binding rules for e-commerce and a declaration of the gathering as the “digital ministerial". Argentina’s MC11 chair, Susana Malcorra, is actively pushing for member states to embrace e-commerce at the WTO, claiming that it is necessary to “<a href="https://dig.watch/resources/launch-etrade-all-online-platform">bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots</a>”.</p> <p class="mag-quote-left">Half of humanity is not even connected to the internet, let alone positioned to develop competitive markets or bargain at a multilateral level.</p><p class="Default">It is not very clear what kind of gaps Malcorra is trying to bridge. It surely isn’t the “connectivity gap” or “digital divide” that is growing between developed and developing countries, seriously impeding digital learning and knowledge in developing countries. In fact, half of humanity is not even connected to the internet, let alone positioned to develop competitive markets or bargain at a multilateral level. Negotiating binding e-commerce rules at the WTO would only widen that gap.</p> <p class="Default">Dangerously, the “South Vision” of digital trade in the global trade arena is being shaped by a recent alliance of governments and well-known tech-sector lobbyists, in a group called 'Friends of E-Commerce for Development' (FED), including Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Uruguay, and, most recently, China. FED claims that e-commerce is a tool to drive growth, narrow the digital divide, and generate digital solutions for developing and least developed countries.</p><p class="Default">However, none of the countries in the group (apart from China) is leading or even remotely ready to be in a position to negotiate and push for binding rules on digital trade that will be favorable to them, as their economies are still far away from the technology revolution. For instance, it is perplexing that one of the most fervent defenders of FED’s position is Costa Rica. The country’s economy is based on the <a href="https://atlas.media.mit.edu/en/profile/country/cri/">export</a> of bananas, coffee, tropical fruits, and low-tech medical instruments, and <a href="https://www.itu.int/net/pressoffice/press_releases/2014/46.aspx">almost half of its population is offline</a>. Most of the countries in FED are far from being powerful enough to shift negotiations in favor of small players.</p> <p class="Default">U.S.-based tech giants and Chinese Alibaba – so-called GAFA-A – dominate, by far, the future of the digital playing field, including issues such as identification and digital payments, connectivity, and the next generation of logistics solutions. In fact, there is a no-holds-barred ongoing race among these tech giants to consolidate their market share in developing economies, from the race to grow the advertising market to the race to increase online payments.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p class="Default">An e-commerce agenda that claims unprecedented development for the Global South is a Trojan horse move. Beginning negotiations on such topics at this stage – before governments are prepared to understand what is at stake – could lead to devastating results, accelerating liberalization and the consolidation of the power of tech giants to the detriment of local industries, consumers, and citizens. Aware of the increased disparities between North and South, and the data dominance of a tiny group of GAFA-A companies, a group of African nations <a href="https://www.ip-watch.org/2017/09/29/ecommerce-developing-countries-push-back-idea-new-wto-rules/">issued a statement</a> opposing the digital ambitions of the host for MC11. But the political landscape is more complex, with China, the EU, and Russia now supporting the idea <a href="https://etradeforall.org/connecting-dots-sustainable-development-e-commerce-sdgs/">of a “digital” mandate</a>.</p> <h2>Repeating the same mistakes?</h2> <p class="mag-quote-right">There is a no-holds-barred ongoing race among these tech giants to consolidate their market share in developing economies.</p><p class="Default">The relationships of most countries with tech companies are as imbalanced as their relationships with Big Pharma, and there are many parallels to note. Not so long ago, the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/feb/22/hiv-aids-deaths-pharmaceutical-industry">countries of the Global South faced Big Pharma</a> power in pharmaceutical markets in a similar way. Some developing countries had the same enthusiasm when they negotiated intellectual property rules for the protection of innovation and research and development costs. In reality, those countries were nothing more than users and consumers of that innovation, not the owners or creators. The lessons of negotiating trade issues that lie at the core of public interest issues – in that case, access to medicines – were costly. Human lives and fundamental rights of those who use online services should not be forgotten when addressing the increasingly worrying and unequal relationships with tech power.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Default">The threat before our eyes is similarly complex and equally harmful to the way our societies will be shaped in the coming years. In the past, the Big Pharma race was for patent exclusivity, to eliminate local generic production and keep drug prices high. Today, the Big Tech race is for data extractivism from those who have yet to be connected in the world, and tech companies will use all the power they hold to achieve a global regime in which small nations cannot regulate either data extraction or data localization.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Default">Big Tech is one of the most concentrated and resourceful industries of all time. The bargaining power of developing countries is minimal. Developing countries will basically be granting the right to cultivate small parcels of a land controlled by data lords—under their rules, their mandate, and their will—with practically no public oversight. The stakes are high. At the core of it is the race to conquer the markets of digital payments and the battle to become the platform where data flows, splitting the territory as old empires did in the past. As <a href="https://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21721656-data-economy-demands-new-approach-antitrust-rules-worlds-most-valuable-resource">the <em>Economist</em> claimed on May 6, 2017:</a> “Conflicts over control of oil have scarred the world for decades. No one yet worries that wars will be fought over data. But the data economy has the same potential for confrontation.”</p> <p class="Default">If countries from the Global South want to prepare for data wars, they should start thinking about how to reduce the control of Big Tech over—how we communicate, shop, and learn the news—, again, over our societies. The solution lies not in making rules for data liberalization, but in devising ways to use the law to reduce Big Tech’s power and protect consumers and citizens. &nbsp;Finding the balance would take some time and we are going to take that time to find the right balance, we are not ready to lock the future yet.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p><p>More from the&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a>&nbsp;partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/digitaliberties/elinor-carmi/whose-data-is-it-anyway">Whose data is it anyway? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/hri/michael-j-oghia/internet-access-sustainability-and-citizen-participation-electricity-as-prerequisite">Internet access, sustainability, and citizen participation: electricity as a prerequisite for democracy?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> hri Digital inclusions and exclusions Renata Avila Burcu Kilic Wed, 13 Dec 2017 12:47:43 +0000 Burcu Kilic and Renata Avila 115278 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Scrapping FCC net neutrality rules would be a mistake https://www.opendemocracy.net/luca-belli/scrapping-fcc-net-neutrality-rules-would-be-mistake <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Repealing net neutrality would result in the de facto concentration of internet control of revenue from accessible services into the hands of certain gatekeepers, undermining the open architecture that allows the free exchange of ideas.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img width="460px" alt="HRI" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" /></a><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-33932191.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-33932191.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Supporters of net neutrality protest outside a Federal Building in Los Angeles, California on November 28, 2017. The activists gathered in protest of the Federal Communications Commission Chairman, Ajit Pai’s, plan to repeal the Obama era net neutrality regulations. Ronen Tivony/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The announcement from the Chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Ajit Pai, of the FCC’s <a href="http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017/db1121/DOC-347868A1.pdf">intention to repeal Net Neutrality</a> rules is disappointing. It does not seem to be justified by any evidence that the current rules are not functioning properly.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The US digital market is thriving, net neutrality rules have <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/broadband-investment-up-after-new-net-neutrality-rules-2017-5">not impeded operators from investing</a> in their networks and there is <a href="https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/08/isp-funded-study-finds-huge-support-for-keeping-current-net-neutrality-rules/">strong support</a> for the rules. Therefore, Mr Pai’s intentions are hardly explicable, either by the facts or by popular will – unless one considers the <a href="https://qz.com/1138697/net-neutrality-a-spambot-made-over-a-million-anti-net-neutrality-comments-to-the-fcc/">millions of comments made by bots</a> and <a href="https://www.gravwell.io/blog/discovering-truth-through-lies-on-the-internet-fcc-comments-analyzed">dead people that seem to oppose </a>net neutrality.</p><p dir="ltr">To appreciate the <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Expression/Telecommunications/LucaBelli.pdf">importance of Net Neutrality policy</a>, it is crucial to understand that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can utilise Internet Traffic Management (ITM) techniques to shape data streams not only for legitimate purposes, but also to downgrade or block competing services, while favouring commercial partners.</p><p dir="ltr">Not all kinds of information and innovation are equally profitable from an operator’s perspective. It may be much more profitable to direct users towards merely consuming content and services provided by the operator’s integrated partners rather than allowing users to freely create competing ones. Therefore, vertically-integrated operators have a concrete incentive to orientate users’ internet experience towards <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/23738871.2016.1238954?journalCode=rcyb20">the mere consumption of affiliated content and services</a>, because their revenues are intimately intertwined with the revenues of their integrated commercial partners.</p><p dir="ltr" class="mag-quote-right">Not all kinds of information and innovation are equally profitable from an operator’s perspective.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Importantly, undue blocking, throttling and prioritisation are not just theoretical possibilities. On the contrary, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/22/opinion/courts-net-neutrality-fcc.html">over the past fifteen years, a long series of cases</a>, <a href="https://www.freepress.net/blog/2017/04/25/net-neutrality-violations-brief-history">particularly in the U.S.,</a> have proven that operators with market power cannot resist the temptation to become internet editors, implementing abusive ITM techniques to disfavour competitors. A <a href="https://gigaom2.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/verizon-metropcs-net-neutrality-brief-as-filed.pdf">brief filed by Verizon in 2012</a> tellingly explained how the company intended to utilise what they called “editorial discretion”. Their argument was that “just as a newspaper is entitled to decide which content to publish and where, broadband providers may feature some content over others.”</p><p dir="ltr">Besides offering a clear example of <a href="https://webfoundation.org/2017/11/fcc-announces-vote-to-scrap-net-neutrality-rules/">what would happen in the absence of Net Neutrality rules</a>, this statement from Verizon sounds rather peculiar, coming from an intermediary that benefits from safe harbour exemptions of liability, precisely because the company is regarded as a “<a href="http://digital-law-online.info/lpdi1.0/treatise35.html">mere conduit</a>” that “must not select, alter, or save the material in the communications.”</p><p dir="ltr">Repealing Net Neutrality protections would make operators’ editorial discretion possible and all major operators would have <a href="http://mashable.com/2016/10/23/att-time-warner-fcc/#pR3wqDea7Eqc">strong economic incentives to take advantage</a> of their position of internet editors. This would then result in the de facto concentration of internet control of the revenue stemming from the accessible services into the hands of these gatekeepers. This concentration of gatekeeping power undermines the open and decentralised architecture that allows users to freely impart and receive information and ideas, developing, accessing and sharing innovative products and services without restrictions.</p><p dir="ltr">The reason why Net Neutrality frameworks have been developed in so many countries is precisely because they act in the public interest. They not only safeguard the enjoyment of internet users’ rights but they support the capacity to innovate, without permission and on a level playing field.</p><p dir="ltr">The fact that Net Neutrality policies promote competition across the entire internet value-chain and provide equal opportunities for the development of new applications, services and business models has been acknowledged by virtually every stakeholder, apart from dominant ISPs.</p><p dir="ltr">The protection of Net Neutrality is central to guaranteeing the plurality and diversity of information and innovation. It would be very unfortunate to see that a country like the US, at the vanguard of internet openness for a long time, has decided to abandon this principle. And instead, to opt for policies that enable more concentration of control and revenue to be in the hands of few privileged corporations.</p><h2>Comments on the decision from other contributors to the Human Rights and the Internet Series:</h2><p dir="ltr"><strong>Christopher Marsden: </strong>I agree with Terrell McSweeny – this is a local US issue, so <a href="https://theconversation.com/donald-trump-could-be-about-to-end-net-neutrality-71732">no change for Rest of World</a> – in fact <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/22/opinion/courts-net-neutrality-fcc.html">Tim Wu points out the draft Order is so egregious</a> it will fall early under judicial challenge.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Michael Oghia:</strong> The FCC's move is disappointing though not surprising. What is more disappointing is seeing some of the assertions I <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/digitaliberties/michael-j-oghia/future-of-us-net-neutrality-under-trump">made</a> in March have actualized. It is still unclear, however, whether those in favour of regulation or those who oppose it will see their predictions come true. Bear in mind, though, that Congress has the final say on the proposed changes, which will be voted on in December. If someone does not support the FCC's recommendations, they should call their members of Congress and voice their opposition.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Anita Gurumurthy:</strong> The move to roll back net neutrality in the US must be seen in a context where internet access is already not created equal... Revoking net neutrality guarantees and giving telecom service providers/internet service providers the power to control data streams is bound to lead to further distortions in the already wide disparities characterising the access experience. To favour certain content or block or throttle certain other would be tantamount to interfering with the very rationale of the Internet to create and promote information democracy...</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p><p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/anita-gurumurthy/net-neutrality-crossroads-heres-why-india-s-policy-process-has-important-lessons-fo">Net neutrality at a crossroads: why India’s policy process has important lessons for the US</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Net neutrality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> hri Net neutrality Luca Belli Thu, 30 Nov 2017 18:44:17 +0000 Luca Belli 114999 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Net neutrality at a crossroads: why India’s policy process has important lessons for the US https://www.opendemocracy.net/anita-gurumurthy/net-neutrality-crossroads-heres-why-india-s-policy-process-has-important-lessons-fo <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Digital equality demands that access to the internet is seen as indivisible from a democratic internet. Net neutrality is not just about an open architecture, but about genuine egalitarianism – meaning internet access.</p> </div> </div> </div> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" alt="HRI" width="460px" /></a><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/8047272894_c9249ee6a7_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/8047272894_c9249ee6a7_z.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Net neutrality: To regulate or not to regulate?. Flickr/ITU Pictures. CC-BY-2.0.</span></span></span>The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has proposed the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.firstpost.com/tech/news-analysis/trai-comes-out-in-full-support-of-net-neutrality-issues-recommendations-against-the-discriminatory-treatment-of-content-4231241.html"><strong>key principles on non-discriminatory</strong></a>&nbsp;treatment as applicable to Internet Access Services. TRAI’s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.firstpost.com/tech/news-analysis/trai-comes-out-in-full-support-of-net-neutrality-issues-recommendations-against-the-discriminatory-treatment-of-content-4231241.html"><strong>reiteration of net neutrality</strong></a>&nbsp;assumes special significance for the global discourse on the issue, given the US-FCC’s decision to&nbsp;<strong><a href="http://www.firstpost.com/tech/news-analysis/fcc-chairman-ajit-pai-passes-proposal-to-repeal-net-neutrality-regulations-could-give-telcos-the-power-to-prioritise-web-content-delivery-4221879.html">repeal its existing rules on net neutrality.</a></strong> <h2>Net neutrality and equality of opportunity&nbsp;</h2> <p>The idea of net neutrality suggests the concept of an open internet whose architecture can safeguard and promote equality of opportunity for all. A non-discriminatory&nbsp;<a target="_blank" href="https://www.itforchange.net/sites/default/files/Net%20Neutrality%20is%20basically%20Internet%20Egalitarianism_EPW_Param.pdf"><strong>internet must promote real-world egalitarianism</strong></a>. The debate on net neutrality is hence primarily about what kind of internet can nurture a fair society. The technical protocols for Internet Traffic Management (ITM) must, therefore, be based on the privileging of public interest considerations in policy processes.</p> <p><span class="mag-quote-right">The debate on net neutrality is primarily about what kind of internet can nurture a fair society.&nbsp;</span></p><p><strong><span style="font-weight: normal;"></span><a target="_blank" href="http://www.trai.gov.in/sites/default/files/Recommendations_19122016.pdf">Infrastructure and affordability</a></strong>&nbsp;are two factors that currently make for a huge gulf between the digital haves and have-nots. The&nbsp;<strong><a target="_blank" href="http://broadbandcommission.org/Documents/reports/bb-annualreport2016.pdf">Broadband Commission estimates</a></strong>&nbsp;that the internet growth rate in the 48 least developed countries is declining, despite 85% of their population being offline. A sharp stratification of the access experience means that only certain populations manage to have uninterrupted access to high-speed connectivity.&nbsp;<strong><a target="_blank" href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/02/03/low-moderate-income-families-under-connected/79724512/">One study in the US found</a></strong>&nbsp;that more than half the ‘below poverty line’ households cannot afford the kind of internet access they believe will help them get by and get ahead.</p> <p>The move to roll back net neutrality in the US must be seen in this context, where internet access is already not created equal. By promoting a binary conception of ‘connected’ and ‘not connected’, the digital divide discourse has, for too long, made it seem like having a mobile is equivalent to digital enfranchisement. However, what is at stake is the equality divide in internet access, conditions that prevent the world’s majority from having an internet-based ecosystem that can transform their opportunity structure.</p> <p>Revoking net neutrality guarantees and giving telecom service providers (TSPs) / internet service providers (ISPs) the power to control data streams is bound to lead to further distortions in the already wide disparities characterising the access experience. To favour certain content or block or throttle certain others would be tantamount to interfering with the very rationale of the internet to create and promote information democracy.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Digital equality in practice</h2> <p><strong><a target="_blank" href="http://www.trai.gov.in/release-publication/consultation">TRAI’s public consultations</a></strong>&nbsp;have enabled a robust policy debate on various internet-related issues. In the&nbsp;<strong><a target="_blank" href="http://www.trai.gov.in/sites/default/files/Regulation_Data_Service.pdf">explanatory memorandum to Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulation 2016</a></strong>, TRAI famously remarked that “internet access is... an 'experience good', which can be understood properly only after being used... Thus, the 'information asymmetry' problem cannot be adequately solved through disclosure or transparency requirements, as many consumers may not be in a position to understand the information being presented to them.” Content and services bundled with connectivity are hence a travesty of the autonomous and unfettered experience of the internet.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">Promoting a binary conception of ‘connected’ and ‘not connected’, the digital divide discourse has, for too long, made it seem like having a mobile is equivalent to digital en-franchisement.</p> <p>Further, delivering a scathing indictment of Facebook’s “<strong><a target="_blank" href="https://thewire.in/19658/free-basics-standoff-scales-new-height-as-trai-hauls-facebook-over-the-coals-in-new-letter/">crudely majoritarian</a></strong>” lobbying practices in relation to Free Basics, the Indian regulator had reminded Facebook in January, 2016 that the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.firstpost.com/tech/news-analysis/post-trai-verdict-facebook-shuts-down-free-basics-for-india-3676991.html"><strong>company cannot act</strong></a>&nbsp;as the&nbsp;<strong><a target="_blank" href="https://www.medianama.com/2016/01/223-trai-facebook/">self-appointed spokesman</a></strong>&nbsp;for its users. Facebook had launched a massive advertising campaign in India, just ahead of the regulator’s consultation on&nbsp;<a target="_blank" href="http://www.trai.gov.in/sites/default/files/CP-Differential-Pricing-09122015.pdf"><strong>Differential Pricing for Data Services</strong></a>&nbsp;and had also set up an email template promoting Free Basics on its platform that users could auto-forward with their name to the TRAI.</p> <p>Tactics of persuasion in the narratives against net neutrality, especially in the global south, are based on false theories of choice and market innovation, usually furthered through a some-internet-is-better-than-no-internet (il)logic. TRAI’s notification on Tariffs and Data Services cautions against the risk of allowing TSPs to shape the “<a target="_blank" href="http://www.trai.gov.in/sites/default/files/Regulation_Data_Service.pdf"><strong>knowledge and outlook</strong></a>” of new users through such “select offerings".&nbsp;<strong><a target="_blank" href="http://www.trai.gov.in/sites/default/files/Regulation_Data_Service.pdf">It notes that</a></strong>&nbsp;“to the extent that affordability of access is... a cause for exclusion”, poor and marginalised users may not be “in a position to migrate (from zero services) to the open internet, if they do not have the resources to do so in the first place". Thus, “<strong><a target="_blank" href="http://www.trai.gov.in/sites/default/files/PR_No_119of2016.pdf">provisioning of Internet access to all sections of the population</a></strong>… is a sine qua non for (people’s) digital empowerment”.</p> <p>Anti-net neutrality arguments effectively hide the fact that big players would like to use ITM techniques to squelch competition and favour certain content, sites and services. (For instance, see a&nbsp;<a target="_blank" href="https://www.freepress.net/blog/2017/04/25/net-neutrality-violations-brief-history"><strong>historical account</strong></a>&nbsp;of net neutrality violations in the US). In their market essentialism, such positions obfuscate real policy alternatives for digital equality such as a universal data allowance, which is akin to any basic social welfare claim. For instance, the Indian regulator has in the&nbsp;<a target="_blank" href="http://www.trai.gov.in/sites/default/files/Recommendations_19122016.pdf"><strong>Recommendations on Encouraging Data usage in Rural Areas through Provisioning of Free Data</strong></a>&nbsp;called for “a reasonable amount of data, say 100 MB per month”, to be “made available to rural subscribers for free." Policy options can also allow TSPs to offer free night time browsing or limited data packs, without free services/content.&nbsp;</p> <p>Digital equality demands that the idea of access to the internet is seen as indivisible from, and interdependent on, a democratic internet. This means the non-negotiable right to access the internet must be available to all people. In the most recent recommendations issued by TRAI,&nbsp;<a target="_blank" href="http://www.trai.gov.in/sites/default/files/Recommendations_NN_2017_11_28.pdf"><strong>positive discrimination</strong></a>&nbsp;or exempting “certain ‘specialised services’ as defined by the telecom ministry” is seen as legitimate. Acknowledging that multiple stakeholders have an interest in a neutral Internet, TRAI has also recommended&nbsp;<a target="_blank" href="http://www.trai.gov.in/sites/default/files/Recommendations_NN_2017_11_28.pdf"><strong>setting up an advisory committee</strong></a>&nbsp;comprising academics, civil society, TSPs and content providers, which can make recommendations to the Authority on developing technical standards, enforcing the principle of non-discriminatory treatment, monitoring Traffic Management Practices etc.&nbsp;</p> <h2>A digitally egalitarian order&nbsp;</h2> <p class="mag-quote-right">In their market essentialism, such positions obfuscate real policy alternatives for digital equality such as a universal data allowance,</p><p>The net neutrality debate is an important precursor to other emerging policy issues on digital equality. One such is about the potential anti-competitive effects of allowing differential pricing, and usurpation of the internet by well-established and large content and service providers. The absence of ‘<a target="_blank" href="https://cnnumerique.fr/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/PlatformNeutrality_VA.pdf"><strong>platform neutrality</strong></a>’ is acknowledged as an important regulatory lacuna by TRAI.</p> <p>Another is about data portability and ownership. Here again,&nbsp;<a target="_blank" href="http://www.trai.gov.in/sites/default/files/OTT-CP-27032015.pdf"><strong>TRAI’s astute observation</strong></a>, as below, scopes an important regulatory area for future policies:</p> <p>“Most of the cloud-based app's servers are located only on foreign shores. OTTs are not located in the country that they serve. Therefore, real macroeconomic benefits accrue only to the country in which they are located. National governments stand to lose tax revenues since users purchase goods and services from global players rather than local entities. The counter-argument will be to facilitate local app service providers to develop India-specific OTT apps.”</p> <p>TRAI has also alluded to the information asymmetry between “the consumer and the data user” in the access-for-data regime: the expropriation by corporates of the value of personal data and violation of user privacy.</p> <p>Ideas of digital equality, as are emergent from policy discourses of a developing country like India, reflect a number of concerns across the layers of the internet eco-system. They not only span individual rights and business interests of domestic or smaller players but also national economic interests. In a&nbsp;<a target="_blank" href="https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/india-will-assert-its-voice-for-the-digitally-deprived-prasad/articleshow/61784278.cms"><strong>recent speech</strong></a>&nbsp;at the Ministerial Forum of the Global Conference on Cyberspace 2017, the Electronics and IT Minister of India asserted this essentially local to global internet policy discourse, underlining that India supports a “digitally egalitarian order” that will lend “weight to those who are digitally deprived and marginalised”, with “logic, reason and moderation."</p> <p>The evolutionary path of India’s norms development on digital equality is bound to be a highly contested terrain. But it is characteristically distinctive for its debates on an equal and fair internet.</p> <p>The FCC’s impending repealment of net neutrality seems to eschew any such idealism.</p><p><em>This article was originally published on <a href="http://www.firstpost.com/tech/news-analysis/net-neutrality-crossroads-heres-why-indias-policy-process-has-important-lessons-for-the-us-4232827.html">firstpost.com</a>.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p><p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/digitaliberties/matthew-linares/internet-equality-is-about-to-get-trumped-let-s-build-wall-to-defend-it">Internet equality is about to get Trumped – let’s build a wall to defend it</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/digitaliberties/michael-j-oghia/future-of-us-net-neutrality-under-trump">The future of US net neutrality under Trump</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/luca-belli-christopher-t-marsden/european-net-neutrality-at-last">European net neutrality, at last?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Net neutrality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> hri Net neutrality Digital exclusion Anita Gurumurthy Thu, 30 Nov 2017 18:17:40 +0000 Anita Gurumurthy 114987 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The UK government spied on human rights groups – now they’re taking it to court https://www.opendemocracy.net/silkie-carlo/uk-government-spied-on-human-rights-groups-now-they-re-taking-it-to-court <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>After human rights groups challenged the government for its mass surveillance infrastructure, they were themselves illegally spied on. Illegal state spying jeopardises all our freedoms, and must be stopped.</p> </div> </div> </div> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img width="460px" alt="HRI" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" /></a><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/pexels-photo-221161.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/pexels-photo-221161.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Pixabay. CC0.</span></span></span>Why is an international coalition of human rights campaigners challenging the UK government’s mass surveillance programmes in the European Court of Human Rights?<p dir="ltr">We’ve known that governments have been spying on all of us since whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed the scale of mass online surveillance in 2013. At the start of November, Liberty and an international coalition of human rights campaigners <a href="https://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/news/press-releases-and-statements/european-court-human-rights-hear-landmark-challenge-mass-surveillance">challenged the programmes he uncovered in court</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">The <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2013/nov/01/snowden-nsa-files-surveillance-revelations-decoded#section/1">Snowden documents</a> revealed how UK government ministers allowed GCHQ to collect and store a backup of every communication entering and leaving the UK so they could trawl through them later.</p><p class="mag-quote-right" dir="ltr">The Snowden documents showed us that those in power have access to our innermost thoughts.</p><p dir="ltr">They made public how UK intelligence services accessed the content of communications (including emails, chats, videos and images) gathered by the US government as it passed through American cables or was held by American companies like Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo!, Google, Facebook, Skype and YouTube.</p><p dir="ltr">The Snowden documents showed us that those in power have access to our innermost thoughts. They can pore over the ideas we share, track our travel plans, listen in on our meetings, browse our financial records, and quietly observe our conversations with friends, lawyers, doctors, colleagues and loved ones.</p><p dir="ltr">They can review which websites we visit, which forums we join, what games we play online. They can monitor our location, our movements and our interactions.</p><p dir="ltr">At Liberty, and at <a href="https://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/news/press-releases-and-statements/european-court-human-rights-hear-landmark-challenge-mass-surveillance">human rights groups around the world</a>, we saw this for the rights violation it is, and the chilling effect on democratic freedoms that follow – so we took the UK government to court.</p><p dir="ltr">In December 2014, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal – the secretive court that oversees our intelligence services – decided that <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-30345801">what the Government had been doing was, in principle, lawful</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">But two months later, the court issued a second judgment. It ruled that the UK government’s access to US surveillance had <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-31164451">unlawfully violated people’s rights</a> before the legal challenge – because the agencies’ internal guidance for handling it had been kept secret.</p><p dir="ltr">The government had been allowed to make submissions about that guidance in closed court, without Liberty or the other organisations present. Unsurprisingly, we disagreed with the secretive court’s conclusion that safeguards shown to it in secret were an adequate protection of our fundamental rights.</p><p dir="ltr">And in June 2015, the Tribunal confirmed that <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/22/gchq-surveillance-two-human-rights-groups-illegal-tribunal">GCHQ had carried out unlawful surveillance</a> on two of the organisations taking the case alongside us: Amnesty International and the Legal Resources Centre.</p><p dir="ltr">The court didn’t rule out the possibility that the other organisations had been monitored too. If they had, the Tribunal simply didn’t disclose it because it didn’t consider it unlawful.</p><p class="mag-quote-left" dir="ltr">GCHQ had carried out unlawful surveillance&nbsp;on two of the&nbsp;groups taking the case alongside us: Amnesty International and the Legal Resources Centre.</p><p dir="ltr">These rulings were the first time this closed-doors court had ever ruled against the security services in its 15-year history. It was the first time it admitted publicly that the UK government had used its surveillance powers to target political and human rights activists.</p><p dir="ltr">We are human rights campaigners. Our organisations exist to stand up for people and challenge the powerful. We regularly communicate with activists in the UK and overseas, as well as journalists, whistleblowers, victims of state abuse, government officials and lawyers.</p><p dir="ltr">Some of our fellow claimants work in countries where basic rights and freedoms are under sustained and violent attack. Without strict confidentiality and protection of sources, their work is dangerously undermined and they and those they communicate with are at risk.</p><p dir="ltr">Industrial-scale state spying is a violation of our fundamental human rights. It jeopardises everything on which our freedom stands – our privacy, our free press, our right to speak, think and associate freely.</p><p dir="ltr">No democratic state has ever deployed powers like this against its citizens and remained a rights-respecting democracy.</p><p dir="ltr">So we weren’t satisfied with the 2014 ruling that mass surveillance is, for the most part, lawful – and we took our case to the European Court of Human Rights.</p><p dir="ltr">At the hearing earlier this month, our barrister had the government’s lawyers on the back foot.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="https://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/sites/default/files/BBW%20%20Ors%20BIJ%20%20Anr%2010HROrgs%20-%20Applicants%27%20Consolidated%20Observations%20-.._.pdf">We argued</a> that the UK government should not be able to scoop up and access all of our communications on a massive, international scale.</p><p dir="ltr">We argued that, without limits on government surveillance, free expression, democracy and the rule of law are gravely threatened.</p><p class="mag-quote-right" dir="ltr">We argued that, without limits on government surveillance, free expression, democracy and the rule of law are gravely threatened.</p><p dir="ltr">We argued that surveillance is only acceptable when it’s based on suspicion of serious criminal activity, and that independent judges should decide when to allow it – instead of the spy agencies and Home Secretary themselves.</p><p dir="ltr">Several of the judges posed questions, mostly to the government.</p><p dir="ltr">They wanted to know more about the lack of safeguards in place for sensitive information like that handled by human rights organisations, doctors, elected representatives and lawyers.</p><p dir="ltr">The court wanted confirmation that surveillance warrants are in fact issued on a rolling basis, with the Home Secretary having signed just one single certificate to green-light the collection of millions of people’s messages. And the judges wanted more information on what safeguards existed to restrict the scope of these warrants.</p><p dir="ltr">The government did its best to answer these questions. But it’s not easy to defend policies lifted from the pages of a dystopian novel.</p><p dir="ltr">If we win this battle, a vital blow will be struck against mass state surveillance that treats us all as suspects first and citizens second.</p><p dir="ltr">We’ll be one step closer to reclaiming our fundamental right to express ourselves and communicate without fear – protecting our freedom and democracy for generations to come.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p><p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/rafael-laguna/fatal-flaw-behind-snoopers-charter">The Snooper&#039;s Charter: Will Britons&#039; privacy be sacrificed for security?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/digitaliberties/phoebe-braithwaite/waking-up-to-uk-s-investigatory-powers-act">Waking up to the UK’s Investigatory Powers Act </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/digitaliberties/matthew-rice/investigatory-powers-bill-report-card-must-try-harder">The UK&#039;s Investigatory Powers Bill report card: “Must try harder”</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> hri Legal frontiers Silkie Carlo Mon, 27 Nov 2017 17:16:57 +0000 Silkie Carlo 114933 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The end of anonymity? Trump and the tyranny of the majority https://www.opendemocracy.net/digitaliberties/carly-nyst/end-of-anonymity-trump-and-tyranny-of-majority <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Worldwide, there is an administration-sanctioned attack on anonymity, online and off. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" alt="HRI" width="460px" /></a></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-30493523.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-30493523.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protesters stand in solidarity with the "Native Nations Rise" march on Washington, D.C. against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in Portland, Ore., on March 10, 2017.Alex Milan Tracy/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Long before the trickle of anonymous leaks from the White House became a steady downpour, President Trump delivered a characteristically meandering <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/02/24/remarks-president-trump-conservative-political-action-conference">address to the Conservative Political Action Conference</a>, in February this year. Tucked into a library catalogue of complaints (against “bloodsucker consultants”, Obamacare and “bad dudes”) and compliments (for miners, Bernie voters, border police, and “really strong and really good” regulations), was a brief tirade against anonymous sources. “I’m against the people that make up stories and make up sources. They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name. Let their name be put out there.&nbsp;Let their name be put out,” the President declared. “A source says that Donald Trump is a horrible, horrible human being. &nbsp;Let them say it to my face. Let there be no more sources.”</p> <p>The President’s remarks, and his subsequent sustained and vitriolic attacks on the news media, reveal as much about the <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/donald-trump-mental-illness-narcisissm-us-president-psychologists-inauguration-crowd-size-paranoia-a7552661.html">severity of his personality flaws</a> as they do about his <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-censorship/trumps-hostility-toward-media-has-a-purpose-un-human-rights-expert-says-idUSL8N1LH6OV">dangerous disregard for an independent and pluralistic media</a>. But they also suggested a more fundamental contestation of a key pillar of democratic and human rights-respecting societies – <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/digitaliberties/hanane-boujemi/right-to-online-anonymity">the right to anonymity. </a>&nbsp;</p> <p>Journalists’ entitlement to cite and defend anonymous sources is guaranteed by international human rights law, under which the right to freedom of expression guarantees all individuals the right to receive and impart information. In the seminal case of Goodwin v The United Kingdom, the European Court of Human Rights reasoned that if journalists are forced to reveal their sources, the role of the press as a public watchdog would be undermined. </p> <p>In the digital age, however, it is not only journalists and their sources who enjoy the right to anonymity. Alongside the dramatic transformation of journalism and of the concepts of public transparency and accountability that have accompanied recent technological changes, there has been increasing recognition that ordinary people now create, as well as consume, media. Through social media platforms, online forums, websites and discussion boards, individuals receive and impart information in enjoyment of their free expression rights. They may wish to avoid identification in doing so, by using traditional means (such as adopting pseudonyms) or technical tools (such as like VPNs or anonymising networks). In doing so, they are exercising their right to anonymity, a key component of the tandem rights to freedom of expression and to privacy, which are guaranteed to them under <a href="y">international human rights law</a>. The centrality of anonymity to the enjoyment of human rights, particularly online, is enshrined in numerous instruments, including the <a href="http://internetrightsandprinciples.org/site/">Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet.</a></p> <p>Like international human rights law, <a href="https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/93-986.ZO.html">US constitutional law</a> has long protected anonymous free expression. Yet, in Trump’s America, the continued enjoyment of this right is in peril. The President’s February screed against anonymous sources foretold of a forthcoming assault on anonymity, particularly online. That assault began in the aftermath of the President’s inauguration, when Facebook was sent warrants demanding the unmasking of users and the disclosure of their communications and identifying information <a href="https://www.accessnow.org/u-s-court-must-let-facebook-protect-anonymity-trump-protesters/">in a case</a> <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/facebook-says-it-shouldnt-have-to-stay-mum-when-government-seeks-user-data/2017/07/15/759f2cd6-67dd-11e7-9928-22d00a47778f_story.html?utm_term=.836dad44e7c3.">thought to be connected</a> with an anti-Trump protest held during the inauguration. <span class="mag-quote-center">The number of people whose identity the government requested – whose anonymity they sought to unmask – was 1.3 million.</span></p> <p>In March, Customs and Border Protection <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/apr/06/twitter-lawsuit-anonymous-account-trump-alt-uscis">issued a summons to Twitter</a>, requesting the identification details and IP addresses associated with @ALT_USCIS, a Twitter account purporting to convey the views of dissenters within the government. That same month, <a href="https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/03/police-win-warrant-to-search-dakota-access-pipeline-protest-facebook-page/">police sought access</a> to the Facebook page of a group of protestors demonstrating against the Dakota Access Pipeline. In each of these three cases, individuals were using anonymous social media accounts or private groups to express or organise dissent against the Trump administration.</p> <p>The apogee of the assault came in July, when the Department of Justice served a warrant on a website-hosting company, DreamHost, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/14/donald-trump-inauguration-protest-website-search-warrant-dreamhost">demanding access</a> to the IP address of every person who had visited a particular website. That website was an anti-Trump website, purportedly used to coordinate protests during the inauguration. The number of people whose identity the government requested – whose anonymity they sought to unmask – was 1.3 million.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/32456629055_029fff7ddc_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/32456629055_029fff7ddc_z.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Inauguration Day protest at Westlake Park, Seattle. Derek Simeone. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>In response to legal challenge and public outcry, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/22/donald-trump-protest-website-back-down-dreamhost-ip-address">the government ultimately revised</a> the scope of the warrant, and its legitimacy <a href="https://www.dreamhost.com/blog/a-win-for-the-web/">remains in dispute</a> before the courts. But the confidence and audacity of the Department of Justice in the first instance suggests the principle underpinning its demand enjoys the approval of the highest office in the land – the President’s. </p><p>Viewed through a Trumpian lens, anonymity is the cover behind which dissenters and critics cower, lobbing “fake news” missives and organising protests designed to attack the President. Indeed, the equation of anonymity with falsity is a key tactic that Trump uses to discredit those who might wish to speak out against the administration without identifying themselves. Anonymous critics are not only unreliable, they are deliberately untruthful: according to <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2017/05/30/trump-hates-anonymous-sources-unless-theyre-stories-favorable-him/102309400/">a Trump tweet</a>, “Whenever you see the words ‘sources say’ in the fake news media, and they don’t mention names… it is very possible that those sources don’t exist but are made up by fake news writers. #FakeNews is the enemy!” <span class="mag-quote-center">The equation of anonymity with falsity is a key tactic.</span></p> <p>At <a href="http://time.com/4912055/donald-trump-phoenix-arizona-transcript/">an August rally in Phoenix</a>, Arizona, the President accused “truly dishonest people in the media and the fake media” of simply “mak[ing] up stories. They have no sources in many cases. They say “a source says” – there is no such thing. But they don’t report the facts.” In the same speech, he also implicitly criticised protestors for exercising their right to physical anonymity, calling out anti-fascist protestors for “show[ing] up in the helmets and the black masks.” </p> <p>Days later, following subsequent anti-Trump protests, Arizonan legislator Republican Jay Lawrence <a href="https://www.facebook.com/jay.lawrence.9822">announced his intention</a> to ban masks at protest rallies, claiming that “while the right to anonymity is sometimes desirable in healthy political discourse… too many who wish to act violently hide behind hoods or masks in an effort to intimidate or conceal their identity from law enforcement.”&nbsp;This rhetoric, when taken alongside the government’s legal attempts to unmask anonymous internet users involved in protest and activism, amounts to an administration-sanctioned attack on anonymity, online and off. </p> <h2><strong>Across the world</strong></h2> <p>It is an attack which is all the more concerning because it is not only confined to Trump’s America. Across the world, we see countries <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/hri/joshua-franco/fear-of-surveillance-is-forcing-activists-to-hide-from-public-life-in-belarus">proposing measures</a> aimed at unmasking internet users: from <a href="http://fortune.com/2017/08/28/china-real-names-online-anonymity-censorship/">China</a>, where new rules require internet forum providers to obtain and verify the real identities of their users before accepting their comments, to Britain, whose Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation Max Hill QC <a href="https://www.standard.co.uk/news/techandgadgets/tech-giants-must-pay-to-stop-extremists-using-sites-terror-experts-warn-a3624886.html">recently suggested</a> that social media providers should withhold the provision of encrypted services pending positive identification of the internet user. Ecuador, Vietnam, and Iran have all enacted laws in recent years requiring the use of “real names” online, and large social media platforms such as Facebook enforce real name policies. <span class="mag-quote-center">Max Hill QC suggested that social media providers should withhold the provision of encrypted services pending positive identification of the internet user.</span></p> <p>Despite its clear importance in protecting critics, activists, dissenters and whistleblowers from the types of punitive action demonstrated by the Trump administration, the right to anonymity is neither universally valued nor without its pitfalls. </p> <p>Anonymity has a disinhibiting effect, particularly online, removing social and cultural constraints that might otherwise restrain commentators from making controversial, offensive or harmful remarks. The confidence, ease and impunity with which online trolls, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/neal-curtis/alternative-take-on-alternative-facts-trump-bannon-fake-news">fake news purveyors</a> and hate groups operate in the digital age is undoubtedly fuelled in part by their ability to open and close anonymous social media accounts with relative ease. That trolls’ platform of choice is overwhelmingly Twitter, a social network that does not enforce a real name policy, is no coincidence. Many have <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/12/how-to-fix-the-internet/510797/">connected</a> the seeming uptick in intolerance, incivility and hate speech to the proliferation of anonymous means of expression that the internet has enabled. Indeed, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/13/patriotic-trolling-how-governments-endorse-hate-campaigns-against-critics">some States</a> have begun to exploit an increasingly caustic cyberspace by deploying trolls and online hate mobs to promote State propaganda and silence critics.</p> <h2><strong>A price worth paying</strong></h2> <p>But seen through the lens of human rights, anonymity may be the cure, rather than the cause, of intolerance and majoritarianism. Anonymity, particularly online, enables those in the minority, those who would normally stay silent, to speak out against the status quo without fear of reprisals. </p> <p>Without the protection of obscurity, dissenting views might disappear altogether, and along with them pluralistic societies, as public discourses homogenise, intolerance becomes mainstream, and populist leaders become increasingly emboldened by the absence of criticism. As the US Supreme Court <a href="https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/93-986.ZO.html">so eloquently observed</a>, “[a]nonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority . . . [that] exemplifies the purpose [of the First Amendment]: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation . . . at the hand of an intolerant society.” </p> <p>The obstacles facing human rights activists faced with Trump’s unique brand of populist and intolerant governance are many, but countering the President’s assault on anonymity presents a particularly acute challenge. As long as the right to anonymity exists, it can be enjoyed by fascists, trolls, journalists and anti-Trump protesters alike. If we believe that it is a critical necessity for some people to enjoy their free speech and privacy rights, we must defend anonymity’s enjoyment by all. Violent protests and incivility online may be the price of such a right, but the unexpected ascendency of a populist, fascistic and authoritarian leader such as Donald Trump is a painful reminder of why that is a price worth paying.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p> <p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> <div class="field-item even"> China </div> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> Turkey </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Australia </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ecuador </div> <div class="field-item odd"> India </div> <div class="field-item even"> Finland </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Venezuela </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Internet </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> digitaLiberties hri Venezuela Finland India Ecuador Australia Turkey UK China United States Conflict Culture Democracy and government International politics Internet Legal frontiers Carly Nyst Thu, 14 Sep 2017 20:26:19 +0000 Carly Nyst 113371 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Internet access, sustainability, and citizen participation: electricity as a prerequisite for democracy? https://www.opendemocracy.net/hri/michael-j-oghia/internet-access-sustainability-and-citizen-participation-electricity-as-prerequisite <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Democracy is not innate but learned, and access to information is the&nbsp;critical link&nbsp;between education and democracy. But access to information is fundamentally uneven, especially for people in the Global South.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img width="460px" alt="HRI" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" /></a></p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/9263401532_bba5c0c61d_b.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/9263401532_bba5c0c61d_b.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="312" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Electronic waste: 100,000 migrant workers labour in China's Guiyu province break down imported computers in hundreds of small operations like this one. Image: baselactionnetwork, CC BY-NC 4.0. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>At its core, sustainability simply refers to the ability to live harmoniously within an environment over time. When applied to modern society, humanity’s long-term survival rests not only on environmental and ecological harmonization, but also on our social and cultural harmonization – the ability to collaborate, communicate effectively, resolve conflict peacefully through legitimate and respected institutions, and participate in our socio-political processes. As openDemocracy’s <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/hri">series</a> on Human Rights and the Internet has aptly demonstrated, sustainability is in many ways a fundamental yet unwritten condition of democracy and public policy. Whether it be the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/francesc-badia-i-dalmases-gary-gardner/building-cities-around-people-not-cars">sustainability of cities</a> and the policy considerations needed to both maintain them as well as safeguard them for the future, a more sustainable <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/austerity-media/jean-boulton/embracing-complexity-towards-fairness-sustainability-and-happiness">approach</a> to citizen engagement, the intrinsic <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/anna-coote/social-justice-and-environmental-sustainability-can-only-be-achieved-together">link</a> between environmental sustainability and social justice, or the inherent <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/halina-ward-clare-shine/democracy-and-sustainability-joint-cause">relationship</a> between democracy and sustainability, it is difficult if not impossible to separate the notion of environmental sustainability from its socially focused counterpart: democratic governance.</p><p dir="ltr" class="mag-quote-right">Sustainability is in many ways a fundamental yet unwritten condition of democracy and public policy.</p><p dir="ltr">A cornerstone of democracy is <a href="http://library.um.ac.id/images/stories/ebooks/Juni10/democracy%20and%20education%20-%20john%20dewey.pdf">education</a>, in part, because an informed citizenry is vital to the successful formation and functioning of a government. Democratic citizens are called to exercise their rights and freedoms, such as voting, in the most informed way, participate in civil society, hold elected officials accountable, and call for transparent governance – all of which requires education and training. Since democracy is not innate but learned, it is no secret that access to information is the <a href="http://www.humanrightsinitiative.org/programs/ai/rti/articles/RTI%20Paper%20-%202005%20Ombuds%20Conf.pdf">critical link</a> between education and democracy, and tools like the Internet help <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/how-the-internet-is-transforming-democracy-8411474.html">facilitate</a> these functions of citizenship. And although <a href="https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/digital-citizenship">digital citizenship</a>, or the ability to participate in society online, promotes social inclusion in particular, many are still excluded from digital citizenship. In fact, access to information via information and communications technologies (ICTs) is fundamentally <a href="https://da2i.ifla.org/sites/da2i.ifla.org/files/uploads/docs/da2i-2017-full-report.pdf">uneven</a>, especially in the Global South.</p><p dir="ltr">Even before the launch of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (<a href="https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs">SDGs</a>) in 2016, <a href="https://intgovforum.org/multilingual/index.php?q=filedepot_download/3416/549">connecting the next billion</a> individuals to the Internet – as well as the billions after that – had become a cornerstone of the internet governance agenda. Given that the United Nations <a href="https://www.article19.org/data/files/Internet_Statement_Adopted.pdf">declared</a> that access to the Internet is a human right – and in many ways, a <a href="http://www.iiisci.org/journal/CV$/sci/pdfs/P610257.pdf">modern necessity</a> for democratic engagement – a key pillar of the UN’s <a href="http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/development-agenda/">Sustainable Development Agenda</a> includes providing universal, inclusive, and meaningful access to the internet, especially for those individuals who are unconnected. As of late 2016, more than <a href="http://www.broadbandcommission.org/Documents/reports/bb-annualreport2016.pdf">3.5 billion</a> people were connected to the internet, but this only represents around 49% of the total global population – approximately 4 billion people do not have access to the internet. The vast majority of those individuals who are unconnected reside in developing economies.</p><p dir="ltr">Connecting the unconnected to the internet presents substantial challenges, however, many of which are barriers to digital inclusion and civil participation. A 2014 <a href="http://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/dotcom/client_service/high%20tech/pdfs/offline_and_falling_behind_full_report.ashx">study</a> by the global consulting firm McKinsey &amp; Company identified four major barriers to internet adoption:</p><ol><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">Incentives to go online;</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">Low incomes and affordability;</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">User capability; and</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">Infrastructure.</p></li></ol><p dir="ltr">Yet, in reference to the fourth barrier, challenges to connectivity are not limited solely to the lack of internet infrastructure; it also relates to energy infrastructure limitations as well. For instance, the World Bank’s <a href="http://www.worldbank.org/en/publication/wdr2016">World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends</a> found that “more households in developing countries own a mobile phone than have access to electricity or clean water.” In fact, more than 1.1 billion people around the world <a href="https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/globalsdreport/2016">still have no access to electricity</a> – practically a prerequisite for internet access. The aforementioned World Bank report also found that in Sub-Saharan Africa, only 14% of people have access to grid electricity – even though nearly 70% now have access to mobile phones (though not necessarily an internet connection, especially a high-speed connection). This infers that some people across the Global South own a mobile phone but do not necessarily have access to electricity in their homes to charge it.</p><p dir="ltr" class="mag-quote-left">Lack of internet access is especially problematic because it is a key driver of&nbsp;inequality.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/economic-inequality-and-human-rights"></a>The lack of internet access is especially problematic because it is a key driver of <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/economic-inequality-and-human-rights">inequality</a>, which is a principal <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/radhika-balakrishnan-james-heintz/how-inequality-threatens-all-human-rights">threat</a> to not just democracy, but all human rights; hence, the barriers listed above only serve to exacerbate inequality. As the authors of a paper that examined sustainability and participation in the digital commons (<a href="http://interactions.acm.org/archive/view/may-june-2017/sustainability-and-participation-in-the-digital-commons">Franquesa &amp; Navarro, 2017</a>) emphasized: “it is well established that there is an access gap between citizens who can afford a digital device and an internet connection and those who cannot. Citizens unable to access digital tools are too often confined to the lower or peripheral edge of the society for economic or geographic reasons, such as living in underserved areas without access to digital interaction. As a result of this inaccessibility, such groups are denied full involvement in mainstream economic, political, cultural, and social activities.” Inequality and digital exclusion hurt democracy in general as well as democratization efforts in particular because the access to information along with media &amp; digital literacy as well as ICT skills are vital to prolonged <a href="http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002246/224655e.pdf">online participation</a>, the use of vital <a href="http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/un-dpadm/unpan038373.pdf">e-government</a> services, and <a href="http://digitalcommons.uri.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1048&amp;context=com_facpubs">civic engagement</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Therefore, regardless of location, connecting another billion people to the internet will require more than an internet-connected device; such an endeavor requires significant long-term vision, investment in both technology and human capacity building, as well as communities committed to ensuring their access is useful, meaningful, sustainable, and democratic. For this to occur, however, such communities must be invested in the process of connectivity – from energy access and network set up and maintenance, to engagement with local officials and building skills – as well as leading this process based on their own needs, context, and developmental challenges.</p><h2>From sustainable development to sustainable access</h2><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/297303560_2dd1374510_b (1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/297303560_2dd1374510_b (1).jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="298" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Cyber cafe in Venezuela, 2006. Image: Beatrice Murch, CC BY-NC 2.0. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Sustainable development has been a major focus of international public policy since the 1990s, and identifies three primary objectives for human development: economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability. Only by pursuing these three elements together can the world <a href="http://www.un-documents.net/our-common-future.pdf">achieve</a> “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”</p><p dir="ltr">One of the key enablers of sustainable development is <a href="https://www.article19.org/data/files/medialibrary/38832/Open-Development--Access-to-Information-and-the-SDGs-2017.pdf">the ability to access information</a>, largely through the proliferation of ICTs. Much of the role of ICTs in sustainable development has centered on the concept of information and communications technology for development (ICT4D) in order to <a href="https://da2i.ifla.org/sites/da2i.ifla.org/files/uploads/docs/da2i-2017-full-report.pdf">catalyze</a> social and economic changes, fulfill the universal right to information, and close the digital divide. For instance, the effective use of ICTs already plays an essential role in helping the world achieve the energy transformation that is necessary to continue to drive progress. While the potential gains from technological progress for workers and consumers in developing countries are large, not everyone stands to benefit automatically, however, <a href="https://www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Connected-Women-Gender-Gap.pdf">women</a> in particular. Only by improving internet access, basic literacy, and updating skill and training systems will the benefits be realized and broadly shared, as well as bridge the gender gap to Internet access, which is why ICT4D has a prominent role within the development community.</p><p dir="ltr" class="mag-quote-right">The literature, however, too often ignores one factor in discussions of ICTs’ importance and employment: electricity.</p><p dir="ltr">Firmly linked to the SDGs as well, ICT4D largely focuses on how ICTs can address developmental challenges by improving well-being, and aiding in information management, monitoring weather, climate, agricultural, or other data sources. ICT4D also plays an important role in facilitating democratic processes and civic participation, as ICTs are critical to identifying resources and <a href="https://www.ushahidi.org">mapping</a> patterns for better decision-making or public action, and raising the standard of living by facilitating access to information, e-government services, e-commerce, and e-health services, among many others. While such outcomes are well-intended and often positive, a significant drawback is that ICT4D does not necessarily include either sustainability as a core component and/or address energy access as a required prerequisite. In fact, as one <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/273085058_The_centrality_of_electricity_to_ICT_use_in_low_income_countries">study</a> noted: “A growing body of literature that extols the ability of ICTs to enhance well-being in developing countries tends to focus on long run institutional and socio-economic changes as key to driving internet uptake. The literature, however, too often ignores one factor in discussions of ICTs’ importance and employment: electricity. Overlooking the centrality of electricity to any ICT4D initiative has enormous consequences; countless initiatives have failed to consider the (in)ability to power the technology that is central to such development efforts.”</p><p dir="ltr">Moreover, ICT4D solutions have the potential to harm the environment and communities by generating electronic waste (<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/gallery/2016/oct/18/the-e-waste-reduce-waste-old-technology-mountains-in-pictures">e-waste</a>) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions even though it is meant to reduce such waste and pollution. As the Internet Society (ISOC) <a href="https://www.internetsociety.org/doc/internet-and-sustainable-development">highlighted</a>: “[The] environmental impacts of the Internet are crucial to sustainability. The Internet enables environmentally positive energy savings through improved efficiency, virtualization of goods and services, and smart systems to manage productive processes. However, ICTs are also the fastest growing source of physical waste and greenhouse gas emissions. Their impact will increase as cloud computing and the internet of things (IoT) become more widespread.”</p><p dir="ltr">Thus, we cannot legitimately discuss internet access without addressing sustainability. In order to do so, however, a necessary step must be to shift the discourse from ICT4D to ICT for sustainability (<a href="http://www.circleid.com/posts/20170619_internet_governance_for_sustainability/">ICT4S</a>), which integrates sustainability more prominently to better reflect the aforementioned pillars of sustainable development – especially as it relates to how ICT4D will <a href="http://www.circleid.com/posts/20160429_wsis_internet_governance_plea_for_star_trek_over_mad_max/">evolve</a> in terms of priorities and practice in the post-World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) 10-year review period. Stakeholders from across the internet ecosystem are already progressing this transition by focusing on or incorporating sustainability into their research, advocacy, and policy development processes. These include organizations and initiatives from the private sector (e.g., the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (<a href="http://gesi.org/">GeSI</a>)), governments (e.g., International Telecommunications Union (ITU) <a href="http://www.itu.int/en/ITU-R/study-groups/rsg5/Pages/default.aspx">Study Group 5</a>), the technical community (e.g., ISOC), civil society (e.g., the Association for Progressive Communications (<a href="https://www.apc.org/">APC</a>)), and academia, including an entire <a href="http://ict4s.org/">community</a> of researchers and academics dedicated to sustainable ICT research. Clearly, sustainable access is not an entirely new concept per se, but these stakeholders have underpinned and helped frame it within the sustainable development and internet governance agendas. Moreover, by more formally linking ICTs with sustainability, we can more accurately assess how they impact communities and developmental outcomes, help address urgent, global threats such as <a href="http://www.wri.org/blog/2017/07/tackling-climate-change-part-many-countries-sustainable-development-plans">climate change</a>, as well as whether ICT adoption is sustained over time.</p><h2>Defining sustainable access&nbsp;</h2><p dir="ltr">Considering the shortcomings of existing frameworks and the necessity to improve the multiple components that drive the successful adoption of internet access, sustainable access refers to the ability for any user to connect to the internet and then stay connected over time. This term was formulated during a <a href="https://eurodigwiki.org/wiki/WS_11_2017">roundtable workshop</a> that was held during the 2017 European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG), subsequently <a href="https://labs.ripe.net/Members/michael_oghia/sustainability-is-good-for-the-internet-and-business-too">expanded on</a> as it relates to its benefits for internet-related businesses, and is meant to transcend the important yet relatively narrow environmental or energy components and how they connect to global challenges such as climate change. Instead – and similar to how sustainable development is meant to focus on more than just the environment by broadly <a href="https://theinclusiveinternet.eiu.com/">addressing</a> social, cultural, and economic considerations as well – sustainable access encompasses various aspects of the relationship between technology, society, and the environment, including:</p><ul><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr" class="blockquote-new">The need for robust and reliable infrastructure, such as fiber optics, internet exchange points (IXPs), high-speed connectivity, Domain Name System (DNS) root server mirrors, and dependable electrical power sources;</p></li></ul><ul><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr" class="blockquote-new">The kind of energy supplying critical internet infrastructure, cooling servers, and powering ICTs;</p></li></ul><ul><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr" class="blockquote-new">How much power ICTs are consuming, how such power is being generated, and the energy costs of data generation, storage, and transit;</p></li></ul><ul><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr" class="blockquote-new">The sourcing, manufacturing, and recyclability of internet-connected devices/ICTs, as well as industry-related practices such as planned obsolesce;</p></li></ul><ul><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr" class="blockquote-new">Human-centric needs and skills, such as media &amp; digital literacy and ICT skills, internationalized domain names (IDNs), easy-to-use and affordable services, local, relevant, and multilingual content, and community-led networking (community networks);</p></li></ul><ul><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr" class="blockquote-new">Digital pollution, the availability of resources such as radio spectrum, Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, and Autonomous System (AS) numbers, the implementation of IP version 6 (IPv6);</p></li></ul><ul><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr" class="blockquote-new">And lastly, the ecological impact the digital world is having, such as the impact of e-waste on both the environment and communities, the proliferation of “<a href="https://www.orbitaldebris.jsc.nasa.gov/">space junk</a>,” such as defunct satellites or other objects in low-Earth orbit that pose a significant hazard to satellite infrastructure and telecommunications, and the <a href="http://www.circleid.com/posts/20161006_the_internets_climate_quandary_inconvenience_of_practicing/">relationship between climate change and the internet/ICTs</a>.</p></li></ul><p dir="ltr">Each of these components of sustainable access is meant to address a larger gap in current practices vis-à-vis development and ICTs – i.e., that facilitating access to the internet and expanding connectivity in general must be a seen as a holistic, interconnected process involving multiple stakeholders. This it is vital this process catalyzes a paradigm shift that integrates sustainability into its core, from the manufacturing process of an internet-connected device and building a network, to the skills needed to successfully participate in the information society and how to effectively maintain, repair, and recycle ICTs. The logic behind sustainable access also takes into account the regulatory, legal, and policy <a href="https://www.internetsociety.org/doc/cnafrica">requirements</a> needed to enable real-world action on the ground in local communities as well as regionally and globally.</p><h2>Energy sustainability amid data growth</h2><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/16730102114_7e66201411_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/16730102114_7e66201411_z.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Nicolas Nova, CC BY-NC 2.0. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Although rather axiomatic, universal access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy sources is critical to sustainable development. In fact, “two of the main problems in the realization of sustainable development are a comprehensive energy supply and the consequences related to energy use.” This is not surprising since, energy – electricity in particular – is crucial to improving the standard of living for people in low- and middle-income countries, and modern energy services are central to the economic development of a country and to the welfare of its citizens.</p><p dir="ltr" class="mag-quote-left">The rapid growth of remote digital sensors has the potential to bring unprecedented and, in principle, almost unlimited rises in energy consumed by smart technologies.</p><p dir="ltr">Yet, since constant, reliable electricity is needed to power telecommunications infrastructure, internet access itself will not be sustainable without a sustainable energy source. Thus, what is notably absent from the current discussions surrounding energy and the internet is how the growth and proliferation of ICTs will affect the <a href="http://www.circleid.com/posts/20170321_shedding_light_on_how_much_energy_internet_and_ict_consume/">amount of energy needed to power them</a>. It is estimated that ICTs <a href="http://www.mdpi.com/2078-1547/6/1/117">account</a> for around 10% of global electricity use, and are <a href="http://www.circleid.com/posts/20170321_shedding_light_on_how_much_energy_internet_and_ict_consume/">responsible</a> for approximately 2-3% of all annual GHG emissions. It is clear, however, that data use and generation is rising exponentially, which has a direct impact on energy. In fact, researchers from Lancaster University in the U.K. <a href="http://limits2016.org/papers/a14-hazas.pdf">warned</a> that the rapid growth of remote digital sensors and devices connected to the internet and the internet of things (IoT) has the potential to bring unprecedented and, in principle, almost unlimited rises in energy consumed by smart technologies. Simply consider that current <a href="https://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3598917">estimates</a> place the growth of the IoT at a staggering 20.4 billion devices by 2020, which is the conservative figure – some estimates place it much higher. Moreover, <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160811090046.htm">according to Lancaster University</a>: “The increase in data use has brought with it an associated rise in energy use, despite improvements in energy efficiencies. Current estimates suggest the internet accounts for 5% of global electricity use but is growing faster, at 7% a year, than total global energy consumption at 3%. Some predictions claim information technologies could account for as much as 20% of total energy use by 2030.</p><p dir="ltr">Additionally, when considering connecting the next billion internet users, it is equality important to consider the devices they will connect with. How are these devices going to be manufactured and eventually recycled (or will they simply be discarded)? Given that the internet and ICTs are using more and more energy, what kind of energy is going to power the data centers and other critical internet infrastructure feeding our <a href="http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/84104/.">increasingly data-hungry habits</a>? How do we satisfy growing energy <a href="http://www.demand.ac.uk/understanding-demand/">demand</a> in general, and mitigate machine-to-machine (M2M), ICT, and data transit energy consumption, which is <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-hidden-energy-cost-of-smart-homes-60306">rising</a> as well, in particular? And what about other related aspects of technology, such as the growing amount of natural resources like purified water needed to manufacture <a href="http://engineeredenvironment.tumblr.com/post/30464844411/water-use-in-the-semiconductor-manufacturing">semiconductors</a>, or whether or not the minerals in internet-connected devices are <a href="https://itunews.itu.int/en/2854-Conflict-minerals-in-the-ICT-supply-chain.note.aspx">mined from conflict zones</a> – only to be shipped back one day to be <a href="https://i.unu.edu/media/unu.edu/news/52624/UNU-1stGlobal-E-Waste-Monitor-2014-small.pdf">dumped in a slum</a>? These are but a few of the myriad questions that are going unanswered, but ultimately, with more data comes <a href="http://www.mdpi.com/2078-1547/6/1/117">more energy consumption</a> and a greater impact on the environment. Simply put, we are reaching a point in our civilizational arc where we can no longer ignore that digital technology has a significant ecological footprint, which is why sustainability must be integrated into the core of our infrastructure and ICT development strategies.</p><p dir="ltr">Fortunately, solutions to such challenges already exist, often involving green, renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, and community-led initiatives – such as the New Delhi, India-based Digital Empowerment Foundation’s (DEF) <a href="https://www.barefootcollege.org/solution/solar/">Barefoot College</a>, the Nairobi, Kenya-based <a href="https://www.brck.com">BRCK</a> initiative, the Rwanda-based <a href="https://www.meshpower.co.uk/about.html">Mesh Power</a> project, <a href="https://www.solarsister.org/">Solar Sister</a>, which operates in East Africa, the European Federation of Renewable Energy Cooperatives (<a href="https://rescoop.eu/">REScoop</a>), which also focuses on <a href="https://rescoop.eu/energy-democracy-video">energy democracy</a>, and a host of others – or increasing innovation and energy efficiency. Essentially, different communities from around the world must adopt technology and/or other solutions, such as policy or regulatory ones, that fit their individual context and needs while being based on the resources they have available. For instance, <a href="https://www.internetsociety.org/blog/development/2017/06/armix">ARMIX</a>, an IXP based in Yerevan, Armenia, reached out to ISOC seeking ways to help them integrate renewable energy into their operations – since Armenia has ample sunlight throughout the year – and also to promote green energy solutions and reduce their electricity costs and consumption. ISOC eventually donated 18 solar panels that produce more than 4 kilowatts of power to help them with one of their points of presence (PoPs). As a result, ARMIX’s electricity costs have dropped by more than 30%, and they are now much less reliant on non-renewable energy sources. In fact, the panels have been so helpful that ARMIX is now looking for ways to expand the use of solar to their other two PoPs. Their success is also an example of the success that can come from the combination of enabling government policy-making, effective public-private partnerships, and sustainable planning, since the government began incentivizing solar energy adoption and a local solar panel company assisted ARMIX in installing them.</p><p dir="ltr" class="mag-quote-right">Technological interventions are&nbsp;not a panacea&nbsp;for the countless challenges of the 21st century in and of themselves, nor is the internet the&nbsp;magic bullet&nbsp;for democracy.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Another key solution is enabling the expansion of community networks. As one of the most <a href="https://www.slideshare.net/FGV-Brazil/community-connectivity-building-the-internet-from-scratch">significant vehicles for connectivity</a>, community networks are at the forefront of connecting the unconnected and a crucial component of sustainable development. Designed to be community-driven, open, freely accessible, and neutral, community networks provide public access, particularly for rural and remote communities, and are, as the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) <a href="http://a4ai.org/affordability-report/report/2017/">stressed</a>, “An important strategy for governments to consider as part of a policy framework to achieve universal access.” Community networks are particularly important to expanding access by addressing market failures or providing connectivity in unserved or underserved areas. In fact, “The coverage of underserved areas and the fight against the digital divide are <a href="http://netcommons.eu/sites/default/files/attachment_0.pdf">the most frequent driving factors</a> for [the] deployment [of community networks].” Community networks do not merely expand access and build infrastructure; they also foster spaces that encourage community and skill building, as well as technical skills needed to maintain the community network’s infrastructure. Such networks undoubtedly empower the unconnected – on their own terms, and based on their unique needs and local context – and are crucial to ensuring the next billion internet users come online in a sustainable way. With more financial, technical, and policy, regulatory support, community networks are well positioned to continue to connect the unconnected while doing so in a sustainable manner, and advocating for sustainable access through on-the-ground practice to address real challenges facing communities around the world.</p><p dir="ltr">Technological interventions are <a href="http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/100021468147838655/pdf/882680PUB0978100Box385205B00PUBLIC0.pdf">not a panacea</a> for the countless challenges of the 21st century in and of themselves, nor is the internet the <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/internet-is-not-democracys-solution-2016-7?r=UK&amp;IR=T">magic bullet</a> for democracy. As we have witnessed all too often, technology, the wrong hands, can easily be harnessed as a <a href="https://qz.com/739198/is-internet-freedom-a-tool-for-democracy-or-authoritarianism/">tool</a> for authoritarianism instead of democracy. Regardless, however, access to ICTs and information have <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/15/opinion/the-internets-boon-to-democracy.html">untold potential</a> to improve lives and catalyze positive sustainable development. Simply put, the internet does not <a href="https://www.technologyreview.com/s/607990/the-internet-doesnt-have-to-be-bad-for-democracy/">have</a> to be bad for democracy. Franquesa &amp; Navarro (2017) poignantly argued this fact, stressing: “The future of societies around the world depends on accessibility and participation – that citizens must be able to fully engage in the governance of the digital, not only as mere users or consumers. The current model of unequal access to digital devices and connectivity is clearly unfair and unsustainable. Too few participate in the design and governance of the digital world, creating an elite of private interests. A minority of the world’s population can enjoy the benefits of sleek devices and fast connectivity.</p><p dir="ltr">Everyone is or will be influenced by the growing environmental impact of the digital world. If digitally excluded communities become peer-production actors, they will be able to build their own circular devices and sustainable network infrastructures, they will benefit from local reinvestment of surpluses, and they will have the opportunity to become active participants in the interactions of the design and governance of the common digital space.” Therefore, we should address energy, sustainability, internet access, the right to information, education, civic engagement, and democracy as a holistic and interdependent system. There is so much more that can be done to help people get online and ultimately stay online, across stakeholder groups – especially since the multistakeholder model of internet governance is inherently <a href="https://www.internetsociety.org/sites/default/files/Multistakeholder%20-%20Digital%20Citizen%20-%20Andrew%20Power.pdf">democratic</a> and <a href="http://www.internetsociety.org/doc/internet-governance-why-multistakeholder-approach-works">inclusive</a>. Yet, ensuring access is sustainable is paramount to ushering in a better, greener, more livable, and ultimately more democratic world.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p> <p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/anita-gurumurthy/internet-governance-as-seen-from-right-to-development">Internet governance as seen from the Right to Development </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/ulrich-beck/digital-freedom-risk-too-fragile-acknowledgment">The digital freedom risk: too fragile an acknowledgment</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/hri/richard-macdonald/silencing-dissent-digital-capitalism-military-junta-and-thailand-s-permanent-state">Silencing dissent: digital capitalism, the military junta and Thailand’s permanent state of exception</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> hri Digital inclusions and exclusions Michael J. Oghia Tue, 22 Aug 2017 12:32:45 +0000 Michael J. Oghia 112964 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Do we still need human judges in the age of Artificial Intelligence? https://www.opendemocracy.net/transformation/ziyaad-bhorat/do-we-still-need-human-judges-in-age-of-artificial-intelligence <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Technology and the law are converging, but what does that mean for justice?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/ZiyaadBhorat3.jpg" alt="" width="460" /></p><p class="image-caption">Credit: <a href="https://pixabay.com/en/artificial-intelligence-698122/">Pixabay/Geralt.</a></p> <p>The <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/the-fourth-industrial-revolution-what-it-means-and-how-to-respond/#https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/the-fourth-industrial-revolution-what-it-means-and-how-to-respond/">Fourth Industrial Revolution</a> is fusing disciplines across the digital and physical worlds, with legal technology the latest example of how improved automation is reaching further and further into service-oriented professions. <a href="https://casetext.com/">Casetext</a> for example—a &nbsp;legal tech-startup providing Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based research for lawyers—<a href="http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170322005380/en/AI-Based-Legal-Research-Firm-Casetext-Closes-12#http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170322005380/en/AI-Based-Legal-Research-Firm-Casetext-Closes-12">recently secured $12 million</a> in one of the industry’s largest funding rounds, but research is just one area where AI is being used to assist the legal profession.</p> <p><a href="http://www.topbots.com/automating-the-law-a-landscape-of-legal-a-i-solutions/#http://www.topbots.com/automating-the-law-a-landscape-of-legal-a-i-solutions/">Others include</a> contract review and due diligence, analytics, prediction, the discovery of evidence, and legal advice. Technology and the law are converging, and where they meet new questions arise about the relative roles of artificial and human agents—and the ethical issues involved in the shift from one to the other. While legal technology has largely focused on the activities of the bar, it challenges us to think about its application to the bench as well. In particular, could AI replace human judges?</p> <p>Before going any further, we should distinguish algorithms from Artificial Intelligence. In simple terms, algorithms are self-contained instructions, and are already being applied in judicial decision-making. In New Jersey, for example, the <a href="http://www.arnoldfoundation.org/initiative/criminal-justice/crime-prevention/public-safety-assessment/#http://www.arnoldfoundation.org/initiative/criminal-justice/crime-prevention/public-safety-assessment/">Public Safety Assessment</a> algorithm supplements the decisions made by judges over bail by using data to determine the risk of granting bail to a defendant. The idea is to assist judges in being more objective, and increase access to justice by reducing the costs associated with complicated manual bail assessments.</p> <p>AI is more difficult to define. People often conflate it with machine learning, which is the ability of a machine to work with data and processes, analyzing patterns that then allow it to analyze new data without being explicitly programmed. Deeper machine learning techniques can take in enormous amounts of data, tapping into neural networks to simulate human decision-making. AI subsumes machine learning, but it is also sometimes used to describe a futuristic machine super-intelligence that is far beyond our own.</p> <p>The idea of &nbsp;AI judges raises important ethical issues around bias and autonomy. &nbsp;AI programs <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/apr/13/ai-programs-exhibit-racist-and-sexist-biases-research-reveals">may incorporate the biases of their programmers</a> and the humans they interact with. For example, a Microsoft AI Twitter chatbot named <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2016/3/24/11297050/tay-microsoft-chatbot-racist">Tay became racist, sexist, and anti-Semitic within 24 hours of interactive learning with its human audience</a>. But while such programs may replicate existing human biases, the distinguishing feature of AI over an algorithm &nbsp;is that it can behave in surprising and unintended ways as it ‘learns.’ Eradicating bias therefore becomes even more difficult, though not impossible. Any AI judging program would need to account for, and be <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/dec/19/discrimination-by-algorithm-scientists-devise-test-to-detect-ai-bias">tested</a> for, these biases.</p> <p>Giving AI decision-making powers over human cases also raises a fundamental issue of autonomy. In 1976, the German-American computer scientist <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/13/world/europe/13weizenbaum.html">Joseph Weizenbaum</a> argued against replacing humans in positions of respect and care, and specifically mentioned judges. He argued that doing so would threaten human dignity and lead to alienation and devaluation.</p> <p>Appealing to rationality, the counter-argument is that human judges are already biased, and that AI can be used to improve the way we deal with them and reduce our ignorance. Yet suspicions about AI judges remain, and are already enough of a concern to lead the European Union to promulgate a <a href="http://www.eugdpr.org/">General Data Protection Regulation</a> which becomes effective in 2018. This Regulation contains “<a href="http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-5419-2016-INIT/en/pdf">the right not to be subject to a decision based <em>solely</em> on automated processing</a>”.</p> <p>In any case, could an AI judge actually do what human judges claim to do? If AI can correctly identify patterns in judicial decision-making, it might be better at using precedent to decide or predict cases. For example, an <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/oct/24/artificial-intelligence-judge-university-college-london-computer-scientists#https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/oct/24/artificial-intelligence-judge-university-college-london-computer-sci">AI judge recently developed</a> by computer scientists at <a href="https://www.ucl.ac.uk/#https://www.ucl.ac.uk/">University College London</a> drew on extensive data from 584 cases before the <a href="http://www.echr.coe.int/Pages/home.aspx%3Fp=home#http://www.echr.coe.int/Pages/home.aspx%253Fp=home">European Court of Human Rights</a> (ECHR).</p> <p>The AI judge was able to analyze existing case law and deliver the same verdict as the ECHR 79 per cent of the time, and it found that the ECHR judgments actually depended more on non-legal facts around issues of torture, privacy, fair trials and degrading treatment than on legal arguments. This is an interesting case for <a href="http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Legal+Realism">legal realists</a> who focus on what judges actually do over what they <em>say</em> they do. If AI can examine the case record and accurately decide cases based on the facts, human judges could be reserved for higher courts where more complex legal questions need to be examined.</p> <p>But AI may even be able to examine such questions itself. In the case of <a href="https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/legal-positivism/">positivist</a> judges who separate morality from the law, legal interpretation could be transformed into an algorithmic task according to any given formal method. For example, if we believe that the law is socially constructed and follow the thinking of British legal theorist <a href="http://www2.law.ox.ac.uk/jurisprudence/hart.htm#http://www2.law.ox.ac.uk/jurisprudence/hart.htm">H. L. A. Hart</a>, then the possibility exists to program both the ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ rules of any legal system in this way.</p> <p>Primary rules confer legal rights and duties—telling people, for example, that they cannot murder or steal. Secondary rules recognize, change or adjudicate these primary rules. For example, deep machine learning AI may be able to process how to recognize the sources of the law—like precedent and the constitution­—that are relevant in a case.</p> <p>Alternatively, if we think <a href="http://carneades.pomona.edu/2007-Law/ScaliaOriginalism.shtml">originalists</a> like the late <a href="https://www.biography.com/people/antonin-scalia-9473091">Justice Antonin Scalia</a> are right to say that the correct interpretation of the law is what reasonable people, living at the time of a legal source’s adoption, would have understood as its ordinary meaning, then AI natural language processing could be used to program this method. Natural language processing allows AI to understand and analyze the language that we use to communicate. In the era of voice-recognition software like <a href="https://www.apple.com/ios/siri/">Siri</a>, <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa">Alexa</a>, and <a href="https://www.ibm.com/watson/">Watson</a>, natural language processing is only going to get better.</p> <p>AI might be able to replicate these <a href="http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/The+Realist-Formalist+Debate">formalist</a> jurists’ interpretive methods. More importantly, it might help them to be and remain consistent in their judgments. As the English utilitarian legal theorist <a href="https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/bentham/">Jeremy Bentham</a> once wrote in <em>An Introduction To The Principles of Morals and Legislation,</em> “in principle and in practice, in a right track and in a wrong one, the rarest of all human qualities is consistency.” With the ability to process far more data and variables in the case record than humans could ever do, an AI judge might be able to outstrip a human one in many cases.</p> <p>Things get trickier in the case of judges who introduce morality into the law—a complicated task because ethical values and the origins of morality are contested. For example, some <a href="http://www.iep.utm.edu/natlaw/">natural lawyers</a> believe that morality emanates from God, nature, or some other transcendent source. Programming AI with a practical, adjudicative understanding of these divine or divine-like sources in a changing human society is a hugely complex undertaking. Moreover, the surprising and unintended nature of AI ‘learning’ could lead to a distinct line of interpretation, a <em>lex artificialis</em> of sorts.</p> <p>Even so, AI judges may not solve classical questions of legal validity so much as raise new questions about the role of humans, since—if &nbsp;we believe that ethics and morality in the law are important—then they necessarily lie, or ought to lie, in the domain of human judgment. In that case, AI may assist or replace humans in lower courts but human judges should retain their place as the final arbiters at the apex of any legal system. In practical terms, if we apply this conclusion to the perspective of American legal theorist <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/law/2013/feb/14/ronald-dworkin">Ronald Dworkin</a>, for example, AI could assist with examining the entire breadth and depth of the law, but humans would ultimately choose what they consider a morally-superior interpretation.</p> <p>Any use of AI over algorithms in legal decision-making will likely progress upwards through the judicial hierarchy. Research bodies like the <a href="http://www.iaail.org/?q=page/about">International Association for Artificial Intelligence and Law</a> (IAAIL) are already <a href="http://www.iaail.org/?q=article/workshop-evidence-decision-making-law-theoretical-computational-and-empirical-approaches">exploring</a> AI in legal evidence-gathering and decision-making. The American Judge <a href="http://harvardmagazine.com/2015/12/rhetoric-and-law">Richard Posner</a> believes that the immediate use of AI and automation should be restricted to <a href="///C:/Users/Downloads/nvcourts.gov/Conferences/New_Judges/Documents/ROLE_OF_JUDGE_-_Wlaker">assisting judges in uncovering their own biases and maintaining consistency</a>. However, the increasing use of automation and AI decision-making in the courts will inevitably shape human judicial decision-making along the way. An increased reliance on AI may therefore blur the line between human and AI judging over time.</p> <p>The sheer pace at which these technologies are developing has led some to call for a <a href="https://www.wired.com/2017/04/courts-using-ai-sentence-criminals-must-stop-now/">complete moratorium</a> in the field so that policy and the courts can catch up. This is perhaps extreme, but it is certainly clear that the issue of AI and the law needs much more concerted attention from policymakers, ethicists and scholars. Organizations like the IAAIL as well as <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jan/27/ai-artificial-intelligence-watchdog-needed-to-prevent-discriminatory-automated-decisions">AI regulatory bodies</a> are needed to provide an interface between jurists, ethicists, technologists, government and the public in order to develop rules and guidelines for the appropriate use and ownership of AI in the legal system.</p> <p>In the 21st century, legal scholars have their work cut out for them in addressing a host of new issues. At the heart of these issues is a hugely challenging question: what does it mean to be human in the age of Artificial Intelligence?</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/transformation/ziyaad-bhorat/lost-in-space-silicon-valley-and-future-of-democracy">Lost in space? Silicon Valley and the future of democracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/transformation/emma-jones/why-shouldn-t-law-ignore-emotion">Why shouldn’t the law ignore emotion?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/transformation/ziyaad-bhorat/in-fight-for-our-genes-could-we-lose-what-makes-us-human">In the fight for our genes, could we lose what makes us human?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Transformation hri Legal frontiers Re-humanizing technology World Forum for Democracy 2017 Ziyaad Bhorat Care Culture Tue, 08 Aug 2017 23:11:07 +0000 Ziyaad Bhorat 112687 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The digital revolution in Havana: between liberation and submission https://www.opendemocracy.net/hri/marianna-liosi/digital-revolution-in-havana-between-liberation-and-submission <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>How might Cubans make actual the words of revolution, so that they recall not only past glory, but one that could come? Is digital development part of an agenda of renovation, and in what capacity?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img width="460px" alt="HRI" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" /></a></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/GlitchMix_03.still1_.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/GlitchMix_03.still1_.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="288" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Yonlay Cabrera, Cuba_20170127, 2017, video installation, capture made with decoder for Gelect HD-HL1209 Digital TV signal (still). Courtesy of Estudio Figueroa-Vives, Havana.</span></span></span>“Revolution is to defend values one believes in at the price of any sacrifice; it is modesty, unselfishness, altruism, solidarity and heroism...” This is a claim made by Fidel Castro in a speech dated 1st of May 2000, as seen on a billboard on the long Calzada de Infanta Boulevard, Havana, Cuba, in a slogan like several others spread all over town. These words sound&nbsp;anachronistic today, but they show an attempt by the state to make actual and present the great ideals of the Castro’s revolution, still vivid in the people’s myths, for Cubans and non.</p><p dir="ltr" class="mag-quote-left">“Revolution is to defend values one believes in at the price of any sacrifice; it is modesty, unselfishness, altruism, solidarity and heroism...” &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;<span style="background-color: transparent;">– Fidel Castro</span></p><p dir="ltr">Across the country, complex and substantial signals of change seem to be currently underway: just recently in 2013 the government allowed the return of private property; foreign companies have begun investment (especially in the field of building renovation, where the state is totally lacking); a unique process of “fair” gentrification is underway in the Old Town (Habana Vieja); and enterprises such as <a href=" https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/apr/02/airbnb-cuba-apartments-houses-american-tourists">Airbnb</a> and <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2017/04/27/google-launches-cuba-first-foreign-internet-company/">Google</a> have started business in the country, to name just a few. This is a path that hopefully will continue in some way, despite the recent cancellation by Donald Trump of important economic pacts signed after years of negotiations by Obama’s administration in 2014.</p><p dir="ltr">In what values does a society in transition, like the Cuban one, believe nowadays? How is the Cuban community able to make actual the words of the revolution, so that they do not recall only the glory of the past, but one that could potentially come? Is digital development part of an agenda of renovation, and in what capacity?</p><p dir="ltr">In this text, I’ll reflect upon these and other crucial issues, with the aim of exploring how one of the last remaining Marxist-Leninist socialist states in the world is reacting to one of the results of capitalism – that is, the digital revolution and its products. And on the other side, how is Cuban society relating to the internet, its benefits and risks, after decades of embargoes, economic and political isolation, and fear of the “capitalist” other? When Geert Lovink writes, “our disenchantment with the internet is a fact,” (in ‘Overcoming Internet Disillusionment: On the Principles of Meme Design’) who is the “we” he is talking about? Is the internet, as a mass product, and the possibility of its use, turning into an element of class discrimination in a socialist country claiming the absence of inequality among its citizens?</p><p dir="ltr" class="mag-quote-right">Is the internet turning into an element of class discrimination in a socialist country claiming the absence of inequality among its citizens?</p><p dir="ltr">I’ll go through these topics, presenting perspectives given by the works and the activities of artists, curators, researchers, and activists living and working on the island, whose research focuses on the diffusion of technology and the internet in Cuban society and the implications of this process. I met this network of professionals mostly in Havana during my stay in April 2017, in parallel with my participation in the research project “Horizonte Habana” organized by the University of Ferrara, Italy, in partnership with Universidad Tecnológica de La Habana José Antonio Echeverría, Havana.</p><p dir="ltr">Despite the extremely controversial role played by the internet in the current era, as a means of control – abused by commercial companies and governments – and violations of users’ privacy rights, but also as a tool of emancipation, mobilization and free expression for communities, it is undeniable that the internet is not only an object of desire as well as a capitalist good, but it has also arguably become an essential one.</p><p dir="ltr">In the form of resolution A/HRC/20/L.13, the United Nations passed in June 2012, not without controversies, “the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the internet”, <a href="http://www.loc.gov/law/foreign-news/article/u-n-human-rights-council-first-resolution-on-internet-free-speech/">stating that</a> “the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular, freedom of expression, which is applicable regardless of frontiers and through any media of one’s choice, in accordance with articles 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Right”. The resolution was ratified in 2014, while <a href=" http://internetrightsandprinciples.org/site/charter-of-human-rights-and-principles-on-the-internet/">in 2017</a> the Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet “re-emphasises that human rights apply online as they do offline: human rights standards, as defined in international law, are non-negotiable. The Charter also identifies principles, deriving from human rights, which are necessary to preserve the Internet as a medium for civil, political, economic, social and cultural development.”</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/Alcantara_DEM_ph Yanelys Nunez 1.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/Alcantara_DEM_ph Yanelys Nunez 1.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="690" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara, Donde Esta Mella?, 2017, performance, Hotel Manzana Kempinski, Havana. Photo: Yanelys Núñez Leyva. Courtesy of the artist. </span></span></span>In countries like Cuba, where streets and squares are displays of state power, enduring traces of counter-voices against the dominant power-holders are normally not present nor evident. Rather, signs of dissent come from transient bodies and temporary gestures. As for instance, the actions of Ladies in White, an opposition movement founded in 2003 by the wives and female relatives of jailed dissidents, who protest in Havana every Sunday and are constantly repressed. Or, the performance Donde Esta Mella? (2017) by artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara, which is openly addressed to the intellectuals of his country to shake and awaken their social and political responsibilities.</p><p dir="ltr" class="mag-quote-left">Signs of dissent come from transient bodies and temporary gestures.</p><p dir="ltr">Less striking but more endemic is the daily performance of common citizens, equipped with their technological devices as prosthetics, sitting wherever Wi-Fi hotspots are available, at any time of the day and the night, trying to connect to the internet. Refusing the isolation they experienced for decades, people enact the same human need for connection with others far away that also pushes citizens into conflict zones to shoot with their smartphones instead of escaping. Meanwhile, “the eye continues watching without understanding that it might be witnessing its own death.” (Rabih Mroué, The Pixelated Revolution).</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/Abel Barroso_IMG_7522_2.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/Abel Barroso_IMG_7522_2.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Abel Barroso, Cuban style cyber lounge virtual reality, 2017, sculptures, wood, computers, virtual reality. Photo: Francesco Allegretto. Courtesy of Gallery On Greene.</span></span></span>As with everything in Cuba, the internet is a state matter. This informs the way it is managed, distributed, made accessible and controlled. The introduction of the internet in the island in the 1990s stagnated for years due to lack of funding and infrastructure, until a slow improvement of the situation that began in 2007. The condition of the underdevelopment of digital and technological systems in the country is criticized by artist Abel Barroso, whose work is currently exhibited at the Pavilion of Cuba, 57th Venice Biennale 2017. His project, entitled Cuban style cyber lounge virtual reality, 2017 is a reproduction in carved wood of a number of computers fully equipped with all accessories, and decorated with logos of global and local social-media brands and engines for search online. Screens that manually change images show, among the others, photo-portraits of the artist in different environments attempting to connect to Wi-Fi with an oversize wooden smartphone. Using traditional materials with a renovated aesthetic, by means of humor and irony and the interaction of the viewer, Barroso gives evidence to the peculiarity of Cuban’s situation.</p><p dir="ltr" class="mag-quote-right">The internet is accessible only through a card that costs the equivalent of €1,30&nbsp;and gives access to a one-hour connection.</p><p dir="ltr">Currently, no private homes are provided with the internet, although the government claims that this situation is only temporary. By 2015, Wi-Fi hot spots have become readily available in Cuba, although only in specific streets, squares, and parks (aside from public offices, hotels, and occasionally at B&amp;B’s), but disseminated apparently without a clear logic, urban plan, or specific response to the needs of citizens. The internet is accessible only through a card distributed by Etecsa (the national, and only telecommunications company) that costs 1.50 CUC, the equivalent of €1,30 (at the time of writing), and gives access to a one-hour connection. This amount is quite high for the pockets of an average Cuban citizen, whose salary, in the best cases, corresponds to around 20 CUC (€17,00) per month.</p><p dir="ltr">In Western countries the digital phenomenon has been often accused of generating alienation in users, while in Cuba access to the web and its products implies a series of private and relational practices that have contributed to the appropriation of public space by citizens. In Havana, individuals or groups gathering together around Wi-Fi hot spots are becoming a form of human signage that shows the presence of technological infrastructure not otherwise indicated. They are normally equipped with headphones, as their main activities are chatting on social media and making calls. Facebook was forbidden until 2013, but having a private account is now allowed. Zapya is the most-used app for file sharing, while Imo is used for video calls with friends or relatives abroad. Furthermore, the public dimension of the internet’s consumption has generated new configurations of informal economy: rumours reported include the story that benches under the shade have become profitable in some areas of the Habana Vieja, where they are rented by the inhabitants to internet surfers.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/Alcantara_Summer Day 1 _2.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/Alcantara_Summer Day 1 _2.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="311" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara, Indian Summer Diary, 2016, performance and video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cq_FVCS3Iw. Photo: Claudio Pelaez Sordo. Courtesy of the artist. </span></span></span>Understanding the public sphere in its complexity and multiplicity, Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara explores spaces of representation and reflects upon the internet as a political means of emancipation that allows one to cross physical borders and restrictions. <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cq_FVCS3Iw">Indian Summer Diary</a> (2016) came out of the experience of two temporary visa refusals to the artist, when invited to participate to the residencies <a href="https://elegoa.com/en/content/road">On the Road and On the Road Part 1</a>, in Toronto, Canada. As a reaction, he simulated a ten day program of activities that instead took place in a private apartment in Havana. One video per day, each one minute in length, was uploaded to YouTube and Facebook, generating dozens of views and comments. Playing with humour and irony, the artist conveys a critique of the limitations of mobility that affect Cuban citizens. As well, he emphasizes the perception of the Other and the projection of the self into the Other, through mutual observation over the screen.</p><p dir="ltr" class="mag-quote-left">Here, social media is not only the means, but also the message.</p><p dir="ltr">Similarly, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/sergeimontalvo/videos/t.100005295853043/1550089258646662/?type=2&amp;theater">Unidos por el wi-fi</a> (2015) is a multilayered project that deals with the overlapping of public spheres – the sensorial and the digital one – as well as with the concept of privacy. Commissioned by Wifredo Lam Center of Contemporary Art in Havana, Otero Alcantara’s intervention, entitled Proyectos personales proyectos colectivos consisted of covering the sidewalks around the art institution where Wi-Fi hot spots are available, with pillows. Aware of the inefficacy of this intervention, Alcantara built a paper house that provided some form of intimacy to digital users. In the third phase of the work, Bodas de Papel, he celebrated the first wedding anniversary to his wife living in the US, by offering her a video of a pole dance performed in one of the most crowded Wi-Fi areas in Havana. The video was shot with a smartphone camera through Imo video calls, and later uploaded to Facebook. The performance, realized in front of an audience of passers-by but conceived for online circulation and consumption, received thousands of views. Here, social media is not only the means, but also the message.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/Alcantara_Museo de la disidencia3_0.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/Alcantara_Museo de la disidencia3_0.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Presentation of Museo de la disidencia en Cuba, Havana,19th February 2017. Courtesy of the artists. </span></span></span>The apparent fascination shown by Otero Alcantara’s work for the emancipatory potential offered by the internet also brings attention to the system of censorship and control of knowledge flows operated by the government at different layers: top-down restrictions exercised by the state include blogs by activists and political dissidents such as 14 y medio, independent newspapers or pornographic content, and due to the economic blockade, some American websites.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class="mag-quote-left" style="background-color: transparent; color: #666666; font-size: 22px; font-weight: bold;">Museo de la Disidencia en Cuba is imagined as a space of resistance that can exist only online.</span></p><p dir="ltr">Following this concern, together with art historian and journalist Yanelys Núñez Leyva, Otero Alcantara founded <a href="http://museodeladisidenciaencuba.org/">Museo de la Disidencia en Cuba</a> (2016), an online platform initiated to explore and revisit the concept of “dissent” as stated by Collins Dictionary. Museo de la Disidencia en Cuba is imagined as a space of resistance that can exist only online. Depicting on its homepage all crucial political counter-figures from the history of Cuba, such as Hatuey, José Martì, Fidel Castro, and Oswaldo Paya, the website aims to offers an historical overview of the main events that have besieged the country since sixteenth-century Spanish colonization up to the so-called Black Spring of 2003, and further, to current times, including persons, organizations, or events which in one way or another have contested the ruling power in Cuba. The platform aims to focus attention on the following questions: what does “dissent” mean today in Cuba, and who are the current symbols of the opposition? Museo de la Disidencia en Cuba aims also to provide spaces for dialogue and artistic creation – exhibitions, public programs, blogs, publications – that go beyond Cuban society. The platform exists also in a CD version that was presented during public evening events to all citizens who could not connect to the internet.</p><p dir="ltr">The plurality and speed of knowledge circulating in Cuba, and the right of Cuban citizens to be as constantly updated as any other citizen in the rest of the digital world, are also crucial questions. In this sense, it seems worthwhile to mention the case of the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia: it is available as an app functioning offline, containing information updated up to two to three years ago. An ambivalent response to this gap is the Weekly Package, a hard disk containing a one-terabyte collection of films, soap operas, music clips, news, e-books, anti-virus app, magazines, commercial subjects, but also more engaged products. There are now many versions of the Weekly Package circulating across the country, but the biggest phenomenon is mainly centred in Havana. This “offline internet” is a sort of alternative way for the people to watch a heterogeneous variety of audio-visual products and materials otherwise not accessible due to the limited bandwidth, but also a tool for the government to monitor the dissemination of knowledge and information. It is distributed at the cost of around 2 CUC, which people often buy in groups or further circulate through one-to-one peer file sharing. These audio-visual products and their contents are selected within the web and illegally downloaded by groups of contents curators spread across the country, and national creators such as Studio Odisea are behind the phenomenon, under the silent authorization and the ultimate oversight of the government. Upon payment however, it is possible to insert other materials into this collection.</p><p dir="ltr" class="mag-quote-right">The plurality and speed of knowledge circulating in Cuba, and the right of Cuban citizens to be as constantly updated as citizens in the rest of the digital world, are also crucial questions.</p><p dir="ltr">Questioning issues of copyright and online piracy – which are not part of the agenda debated in Cuba yet – as well as the modes and flows of information, artist Nestor Siré takes the Package as a sample and intervenes in its space. Repeating the Package’s structure, he creates an ART Section with files containing 90% art-related content, which is not only aimed at artists and art specialists, but also a wider audience (teenagers, elders, professionals, technicians, housewives, and retired people). Central to the ART Section is Folder=gallery, an independent exhibition space for works specifically conceived for it. The purpose of this successful project is obviously to try to reach an audience larger than the art community, but also, even more importantly, to stress the participation in the production and distribution of content as a form of agency and civil resistance.</p><p>ART Section has a monthly volume of five gigabytes of content and it respects the rules of the officially-sanctioned Weekly Package (no pornography, no openly political subjects). Questioning the kind of products, their cultural origin and their different nature changing over the time in relation to economic and political dynamics that Cubans have access to, Siré together with American artist Julia Weist, developed ARCA. It will be shown alongside many other projects in the exhibition 17.(SEPT) [By Weist_Siré Records]™ , opening on 17 September 2017 at Queens Museum, New York. It is a seventy-two terabyte super-server containing the contents of fifty-two weeks of the Weekly Package. It is the only comprehensive archive of the Package, and its construction and deployment was designed around the legal and logistical restrictions of the current political climate. In addition to presenting a near-complete record of Cuba’s digital consumption for one year, the archive also captures a form of media that has been largely absent in the country for the last half-century amid a political regime of aspirational socialism: advertising.</p><p>The spread of digitization in Cuba, compared to its process of development in other countries, became the subject of the exhibition GlitchMix: not an error (March–May 2017) curated by Cristina Figueroa at the Estudio Figueroa-Vives, in collaboration with Embassy of Norway. The error and the aesthetics of the defect in contemporary art became a pretext to reflect upon the manipulation of technological devices and corruption of data and software in the time of post-truth. Works and perspectives of young generations of Cuban artists such as Yonlay Cabrera and Fidel Garcia have been put in relation with one of the pioneers of digital art, Mark Amerika. With the video installation Prisionizacion (2016–17) by Fidel Garcia, two characters, one in front of the other, illustrate the damage resulting from geopolitical conflict. The works takes as a point of reference the experience of the relationships established over time among inmates and the jailers, giving evidence to the physical or psychological traumas and behaviors that occur as consequences of isolation.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/GlitchMix_04.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/GlitchMix_04.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="273" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Fidel García, Prisionización, 2016-2017, video installation. Courtesy of Estudio Figueroa-Vives, Havana.</span></span></span>Cabrera’s Cuba_201170127, 2017 is a video installation composed of six different screens that explores the notion of the glitch in its purest sense. The videos, playing simultaneously, are the same recording of a fragment of a Cuban National Television News broadcast on January 27, 2017, with signal interference made with a device for decoding digital TV signals. The endless repetition of the loops that surround the viewers creates an hypnotic and pervasive effect that clashes with the changing abstract signals in the devices, as a result of the decoding of analog to digital frequencies. In this piece, the actual possibilities to manipulate media and information at any level clashes with the impossibility to control holes in the system. In his research Yonlay Cabrera reflects upon the increasing digitization of people’s lives, exploring physical relation and human interactivity with technological devices and social media, and the question of control and surveillance in relation to machines and the state. In this concern, it seems worthwhile to mention, among his works, the text piece on the wall: Internet es el opio del pueblo (Feinman, 2007) (Internet is the opium of the people) (2015). In the piece, he quotes Argentinian philosopher and writer José Pablo Feinmann, who repeated this sentence as a slogan in his TV program on Channel Encuentro. The work also proposes a commentary on the power that both analogue and digital, or so called “old” and “new” media, have in terms of shaping the minds and ideas of people.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/Luis Gomez_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/Luis Gomez_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="720" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Luis Gomez, Cuban “Fresh” (insolent?) (after House of Card. R.S), 2014, and B-Side (Fresco Cubano), 2014. Photo: Luis Gomez. Courtesy of the artist. </span></span></span>Luis Gomez, one the most trenchant artists in the current Cuban scene, includes the critique of the digital in a wider commentary about contemporary art as a corrupted economic system. The work Cuban “Fresh” (insolent?) (after House of Card. R.S) (2014) that includes B-Side (Fresco Cubano) (2014) is a multimedia installation composed of two standing panels of recycled wood, one leaning on the other, and a pillow on the floor. At the back of one of the panels, a series of A4 papers in plastic folders display printed documentation from Facebook, emails, and messages sent by mistake. By means of cynicism and the grotesque, Gomez deconstructs the relations of power that play out within the art context, such as the social bonds emphasized by the digital. He criticizes a capacity for apparently enlarging networks and connections among professionals thereby erroneously suggesting that art is global. With his work, he dismantles and makes ridiculous both the dynamics occurring in the art system, and its actors.</p><p dir="ltr" class="mag-quote-left">“Big data and Big Tobacco are similar,”&nbsp;claims Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde.</p><p dir="ltr">“Big data and Big Tobacco are similar,” <a href="https://thenextweb.com/eu/2017/06/09/pirate-bay-founder-weve-lost-the-internet-its-all-about-damage-control-now">claims</a> Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde. This odd analogy – particularly pertinent to Cuba – actually implies a comparison between the deadly consequences of tobacco for human beings, and the current stage of damage that US and EU societies have reached. “At its inception, the internet was a beautifully idealistic and equal place. But the world sucks and we’ve continuously made it more and more centralized, taking power away from users and handing it over to big companies. […] The internet was made to be decentralized, but we keep centralizing everything on top of the internet.” Here Sunde points out that in the last ten years, the five giants of Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft,&nbsp;and Facebook have bought up most every up-and-coming tech company or website, creating a situation not far from a monopoly.</p><p dir="ltr">The scenario depicted by Sunde is dramatic: by owning the information and data of people, companies will have an unimaginable influence on every single gesture of each person’s everyday life. As there are no signs of change to this indicated by Europe and the US, could we imagine a different scenario for countries like Cuba that are approaching the digital now and under far different kinds of political conditions? With due differences, we could say that the Big Brother attitude towards the daily lives of citizens typical of socialist power structures might be comparable, somehow, to the kind of control and surveillance that big enterprises are exercising.</p><p dir="ltr" class="mag-quote-right">What if socialist countries like Cuba turn their ideological opposition to capitalism into a point of strength against the excessive power of companies and their violation of the rights of citizens?</p><p dir="ltr">In this sense, don’t corporations and socialist ideology look for the same things: data?</p><p dir="ltr">And now for a paradox as provocation: what if socialist countries like Cuba turn their ideological opposition to capitalism into a potential, a point of strength against the excessive power of companies and their violation of the rights of citizens?</p><p dir="ltr">Since 2010, Finland has become the first country in the world to make broadband internet a legal right for <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/10461048">every citizen</a>. This means that the Finnish government had to define for itself what the internet actually is, along with a series of digital policies to protect the rights of citizens. In the words of Finland's communication minister Suvi Linden: “We considered the role of the internet in Finns everyday life. Internet services are no longer just for entertainment.” If access to the internet would be recognized as a fundamental right also in Cuba, as with the health care, education, and housing that have been provided for free by the state as a result of the revolution, and if the government would take a position in this regard instead of showing fear towards the digital and its potential benefits, could we not imagine a digital revolution in Cuba starting from here?</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p><p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/pamela-kalkman/art-of-resistance-in-cuba">The art of resistance in Cuba</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/mat%C3%ADas-bianchi/cuba-internet-democracy">Cuba + internet = democracy (?)</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> digitaLiberties hri dissent Digital inclusions and exclusions Marianna Liosi Thu, 27 Jul 2017 11:11:25 +0000 Marianna Liosi 112539 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Silencing dissent: digital capitalism, the military junta and Thailand’s permanent state of exception https://www.opendemocracy.net/hri/richard-macdonald/silencing-dissent-digital-capitalism-military-junta-and-thailand-s-permanent-state <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In the last three years of military rule in Thailand, prosecutions for defamation, sedition and computer crimes offences have&nbsp;soared. Global social media platforms are ground zero in this repression.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" alt="HRI" width="460px" /></a></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563365/32039801082_2baca4fd64.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563365/32039801082_2baca4fd64.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Candles at a protest against the detainment of activist Jatupat Boonpattararaksa. Credit: Prachatai English.</span></span></span>In the last three years of military rule in Thailand, arrests and prosecutions for defamation, sedition and offences under the Computer Crimes Act have soared. Human rights advocates, democracy campaigners and ordinary citizens have been threatened, harassed and detained in military camps. The junta have sought to silence public discourse on every conceivable aspect of their rule. Global social media platforms are ground zero in this repression, and each month citizens are arrested and detained for what they post, share and like on Facebook.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class="mag-quote-right">285 people have been investigated for insulting the monarchy in the last 3 years.</span>Following the military seizure of power in 2014, <a href="http://www.newmandala.org/counting-thailands-coups/">the 18th coup</a> in Thailand’s short history as a constitutional monarchy, there has been a sharp increase in the number of prosecutions for royal defamation, (the crime of lèse majesté) and sedition, and an increase in the severity of punishment for those found guilty. Days after a record prison sentence of 70 years (halved to 35 for a guilty plea) was handed out to a Chiang Mai man convicted of lèse majesté for a Facebook post deemed defamatory, the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights made <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21734&amp;LangID=E">a statement</a> condemning the spike in defamation prosecutions. The figures it reported are grim: 285 people have been investigated for insulting the monarchy in the last 3 years, more than double the number in the period between 2011 and 2013. A sharp fall in the proportion of those accused able to defend themselves successfully was also reported, from 24% between 2011-2013 to 4% in the previous year. A spokesperson for the military government stated the reason for the increase in prosecution rates was the growing number of online offenses where convictions were supported by retrievable computer evidence. This hardly tells the whole story. Under the military junta online surveillance and censorship have been aggressively pursued in a context of <a href="https://ilaw.or.th/node/4506">“unchecked and unaccountable” military executive power</a>. The military junta’s ever evolving efforts and capacities to control online communication, as documented by <a href="https://citizenlab.org/2014/07/information-controls-thailand-2014-coup/">this Citizen Lab report</a>, are assisted by royalist far-right cyber-vigilante groups, some state sponsored, some self-organised, scouring Facebook and other popular online spaces for content and activity that could be construed as defamatory. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">What users are alleged to have done on Facebook has been front and centre of recent prosecutions for insulting the monarchy. What constitutes an insult under Thailand’s defamation laws is notoriously resistant to concrete elaboration or public discussion. Lèse majesté prosecutions under Article 112 of the penal code have been used routinely and extensively by successive military (and civilian) governments to engage in political cleansing of opposition and dissent. As arbitrary as these prosecutions are they display a disturbing pattern. As Katherine Gerson of Amnesty International puts it in her contribution below, Facebook is a hunting ground for the junta to collect evidence that is subsequently used to harass, persecute and convict peaceful civil rights and democracy activists and their relatives. One symptom of the intensified defamation frenzy and paranoia is that there has been a rapid escalation in the kinds of activities on Facebook proscribed by the junta, from ‘public’ comments to private messages between users, from posting to merely sharing, liking, following or viewing material deemed inappropriate.</p><p dir="ltr">This month a closed military court is hearing the case of Patnaree Chankij, a domestic worker from Bangkok accused of insulting the monarchy in a private Facebook chat message. Patnaree, the mother of a prominent activist associated with the Resistant Citizens group, was arrested and bailed a year ago after responding to a message from another user deemed insulting with the single word, Ja, a word, variously translated as ‘right’, ‘I see’ or ‘okay’, a participle which acknowledges an utterance without necessarily implying agreement. The sender of the chat message, an activist from the Northeast, Burin Itin, was prosecuted for lèse majesté and sentenced to more than 11 years in jail. A police statement issued at the time of the arrest clarified that Patnaree was being charged for failing to rebuke the sender of the defamatory message, a sin of omission or lèse majesté by silence, as <a href="https://thaipoliticalprisoners.wordpress.com/2016/05/07/on-the-juntas-lese-majeste-hostage-i/">one commentator</a> put it. Meanwhile, a law student and activist in the Northeastern city of Khon Kaen, Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, also known as Pai, has spent six months in remand prison charged with lèse majesté for sharing a profile of the new Thai king translated and posted on Faceboook by the BBC Thai Service and shared thousands of times. Pai, a target of the military junta for his association with student human rights and democracy group Dao Din, has the grim distinction of being the first Thai citizen to be charged with lèse majesté under the reign of the new monarch. These are two among the dozens of cases documented by Amnesty International where military authorities have used defamation law to target members of civil society organisations engaged in peaceful activities.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class="mag-quote-left">'Emergency’ decrees... have given sweeping powers to the army that have been used to harass, intimidate, detain and persecute the junta’s critics without judicial oversight.</span>If investigations and prosecutions under Articles 112 and 116 (sedition) have increased since the 2014 coup these are frequently coupled with charges under the Computer Crimes Act. Introduced by the previous military government in 2007 and amended in 2016, the Computer Crimes Act was widely criticised by <a href="https://www.article19.org/resources.php/resource/38615/en/thailand:-computer-crime-act">international human rights organisations</a>, not least for creating a category of criminal offences which could be used to dramatically restrict freedom of expression, concerns that have proven to be well-founded. Among the more notorious of the legal provisions are Article 14 which punishes the inputting of "false data" that is "likely to damage the maintenance of national security", or cause "panic in the public". As critics have pointed out, ‘false data’, ‘national security’ and 'public order' are vague and ill-defined abstractions that lend themselves to arbitrary prosecution. The Computer Crime Law allowed officials at the ICT Ministry to apply for court orders to seize computer equipment and block websites, providing a legal basis for internet censorship. Amendments to the Act passed in 2016 established a computer data screening committee tasked with monitoring content that, whilst not illegal, was found to "<a href="https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2016/12/amended-computer-crime-act-and-state-internet-freedoms-thailand">violate the public order or moral high ground of the people.</a>"&nbsp;Additional ‘emergency’ decrees issued by the junta since the coup have given sweeping powers to the army that have been used to harass, intimidate, detain and persecute the junta’s critics without judicial oversight.</p><p dir="ltr">In Thailand, as David Streckfuss has argued, a state of exception, characterised by the suspension of the normal regime of law is a permanent reality. A permanent state of exception has been created by the recurrent cycle of military coups, each of which abolishes the existing constitution, and ushers in abnormal measures which empower the state to act with impunity in dealing with apparent threats to security and order. But a state of exception is also entrenched, nurtured, and extended by what Streckfuss calls a defamation regime, a polity characterised by widespread criminalisation and punishment for defamation crimes. In such a regime, defamation actions cultivate the permanent sense of threat or crisis that require the state of exception to become the rule. The terrible costs of this defamation state of exception can be counted in the number of its victims imprisoned by the junta for peaceful and innocuous actions. More broadly, as Streckfuss poignantly puts it, a defamation regime is one in which the elevation of reputation and correspondingly diminished concern with truth as a criteria of judgement in the public sphere has crippling consequences for the social and political imagination.</p><p class="mag-quote-right" dir="ltr">A defamation regime is one in which... diminished concern with truth as a criteria of judgement in the public sphere has crippling consequences for the social and political imagination.</p><p dir="ltr">What is the role of the corporations that provide the services, platforms and infrastructures of online communication in Thailand’s defamation regime? How do these corporations interact with the military junta? To what extent do they facilitate and enable Thailand’s defamation regime and its human rights abuses? Another widely condemned measure in the Computer Crimes Act, introduced by the previous military regime, was the extension of criminal liability to internet service providers and content providers for intentionally or unintentionally enabling illegal activities, such as posting ‘false data’ that threatens national security and public order. The effect of intermediary liability coupled with mandatory SIM card registration has been to introduce what Pirongrong Ramasoota calls an <a href="http://access.opennet.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/accesscontested-chapter-05.pdf">‘architecture of identification’</a> at the point of access to internet services. Not only that, it has effectively outsourced and distributed surveillance and pre-emptive censorship activities to private companies, incentivising service providers to intensify their monitoring of users and their use of information controls such as filtering. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">A recent <a href="https://privacyinternational.org/sites/default/files/thailand_2017_0.pdf">Privacy International report</a> on surveillance in Thailand reported a culture of close, informal and mutually dependent relationships between key internet service providers and the military establishment as another modality of control. The junta relies on what the report calls a ‘door knocking strategy’, in which ISPs, including companies with strong links to the military like True, owned by the conglomerate Charoen Phokphand willingly and discretely cooperate with requests to block websites. The military authorities also bring companies outside of this charmed circle into line by threating to use their power as de facto regulators to rig spectrum auctions so as to exclude more independently-minded ISPs from the market. Eva Blum-Dumontet of Privacy International (see below) relates the case of DTAC, a Thai subsidiary of the Norwegian telecoms corporation Telenor, which exposed the opaque protocols of the door knocking strategy by publicly confirming that it had received an order to block access to Facebook in the aftermath of the coup on 28th May 2014, an order previously denied by the junta. Telenor was then criticised by the industry regulator, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), which issued threats to review DTAC’s compliance with laws on foreign ownership of telecoms companies. With one eye on upcoming spectrum auctions Telenor subsequently back-pedalled, issuing an apology to the NBTC and the military junta and replacing the chief executive who had gone public with one with a ‘better understanding of the Thai context’. Here Telenor’s principles, its commitments to transparency, freedom of expression and privacy as a member company of the Telecommunications Industry Dialogue appeared to come into direct conflict with its more immediate commercial interests.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class="mag-quote-left">The military junta have experimented with a range of approaches to exert their influence over corporations including Facebook and Google.</span>What about the global corporations that operate the content platforms where defamation crimes are alleged to take place, whose servers and company headquarters are based outside Thailand? The military junta have experimented with a range of approaches to exert their influence over corporations including Facebook, Google (as owner of Youtube) and the messaging service LINE, which is phenomenally popular in the kingdom. In the aftermath of the 2014 coup the Junta established a Media Reform working group that made overtures to meet with and secure the cooperation of these corporations in monitoring and blocking content deemed defamatory and providing access to user data. In the period immediately following the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej in October 2016 ISPs and social media administrators were again ordered to actively monitor and block offensive content. Google it has been claimed agreed to establish a team in the US, including Thai nationals, that would monitor ‘undesirable’ content. The geo-blocking of the Charlie Chaplin movie "The Great Dictator" on YouTube recently, in response to a legal complaint from the Thai government, raises troubling questions about how Google responds to requests. Both YouTube and Facebook have found geo-blocking to be an effective way of squaring their commercial interests with the demands of the junta. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/unnamed_1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/unnamed_1.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="313" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator. Youtube. Fair use.</span></span></span><span class="mag-quote-right">Facebook has designed its policies, such as the use of verifiable names, without consideration for users in authoritarian regimes where freedom of expression is severely curtailed.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span></span>Latterly, as royal defamation paranoia has intensified the junta has changed tack, threatening prosecution if requests to block content alleged to be defamatory are not met. Last month the military government ordered Facebook to block access to 309 pages within Thailand. Facebook, in turn, pointed to its policy which states the company will only take action in relation to formal requests from governments where these are supported by court orders, on that basis it took no action on 131 of the pages. The head of the regulator then reportedly made belligerent threats that Facebook would be charged under the Computer Crimes Act if it failed to comply, apparently unaware that no court orders had been submitted in the outstanding cases. It was also reported that the junta were putting pressure on the Thai Internet Service Provider Association to immediately block access to Facebook if it failed to comply. In the event, court orders were supplied for the majority of the remaining web pages and Facebook complied. But in a context where the independence of the courts has been eviscerated the military junta can, as the <a href="https://thaipoliticalprisoners.wordpress.com/2017/05/26/facebook-and-lese-majeste/">Thai Political Prisoners blog</a> pithily put it, order up a court order as easily as a takeaway pizza. This, the blog concludes, "makes Facebook a pawn in the hands of governments both legitimate and illegitimate." Below Orapin Yingyongpathana makes the broader point that Facebook has designed its policies, such as the use of verifiable names, without consideration for users in authoritarian regimes where freedom of expression is severely curtailed. &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Even so, it appears that the military junta have limited tolerance for Facebook’s procedures, operating as they do beyond its immediate grip. In early July, a senior representative of the NBTC threatened new control mechanisms for Facebook and YouTube, that would redefine them as broadcasters and consequently subject them to Thai broadcasting regulation and licensing. Major Thai brands and companies were warned to expect consequences if they advertised on what would be illegal, unlicensed platforms if they failed to comply. No sooner was this threat issued than it was partially withdrawn, or rather put on hold. What is beyond dispute is that the junta are actively seeking more extensive surveillance and control over expression on social media platforms. As Arthit Suriyawongkul observes in the clip below, the difficulty of holding Facebook and other global social media giants criminally responsible as intermediaries under the Computer Crime Act is motivating the junta towards control mechanisms which operate at a deeper network level. These efforts will no doubt be directed by the new National Cyber Security Committee, to be headed by the Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha, which will be created when the Cyber Security Bill passes into law, as is likely next year. Critics have argued that the Act gives the Cyber Security Committee the power to access private communications of anyone it suspects without court approval. The prospect of a Committee with the remit to exercise its powers beyond the law ‘in cases of emergency’ is another reminder of the permanent state of exception that exists in Thailand. &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">David Streckfuss, 2010, Truth on Trial in Thailand: Defamation, Treason and Lèse Majesté. London: Routledge</p><p dir="ltr">***</p><p><em>The following are a series of four panellist contributions to the Silencing Dissent event hosted at Goldsmiths, University of London by the Internet Futures and Human Rights Research Hub.</em></p><p dir="ltr">Orapin Yingyongpathana is editor of the independent Thai news and current affairs website The Momentum. She has worked as an advocacy officer for the South East Asia Press Alliance (SEAPA) and for iLaw, an NGO focused on public participation in law and legal policy which established the Freedom of Expression and Documentation Centre.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="https://soundcloud.com/nangkaebon/orapin-yinyongpathana-odaudio2/s-4iUYf">https://soundcloud.com/nangkaebon/orapin-yinyongpathana-odaudio2/s-4iUYf</a></p><p dir="ltr">Arthit Suriyawongkul is a coordinator for Foundation for Internet and Civic Culture, also known as Thai Netizen Network. He works on digital civil rights and public participation in internet policy.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="https://soundcloud.com/nangkaebon/arthit-suriyawongkhul-od-audio/s-SBQJf">https://soundcloud.com/nangkaebon/arthit-suriyawongkhul-od-audio/s-SBQJ</a>f&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Katherine Gerson is Campaigner on Thailand at Amnesty International. She has previously worked on Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Brunei, India, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka for AI.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="https://soundcloud.com/nangkaebon/katherine-gerson-odaudio/s-P58e4">https://soundcloud.com/nangkaebon/katherine-gerson-odaudio/s-P58e4</a></p><p dir="ltr">Eva Blum-Dumontet is a researcher for the London-based charity Privacy International, where she conducts research on surveillance and data intensive systems with a focus on South America, North Africa and South East Asia. She is the author of several reports on surveillance in Thailand and of an investigation on the Egyptian intelligence services.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="https://soundcloud.com/nangkaebon/eva-blum-dumontet-odaudio/s-CpVWt">https://soundcloud.com/nangkaebon/eva-blum-dumontet-odaudio/s-CpVWt</a></p><p dir="ltr"><strong><em>This article and the series of audio clips that follow come out of a roundtable discussion,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.gold.ac.uk/calendar/?id=10777">Silencing Dissent: Social Media and the State in Thailand</a>&nbsp;hosted by the Internet Futures and Human Rights Research Hub at Goldsmiths,&nbsp;University&nbsp;of London in June 2017.</em></strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p><p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/grigoris-markou/anti-populist-coups-thaksin-dictatorship-and-thailand-s-new-constitution">Anti-populist coups: Thaksin, dictatorship and Thailand’s new constitution </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/alistair-denness/bangkok-dc">Bangkok DC</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/digitaliberties/robin-mansell/surveillance-power-and-communication"> Surveillance, power and communication</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/nik-williams/cost-of-silence-mass-surveillance-selfcensorship">The cost of silence: mass surveillance &amp; self-censorship</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> hri dissent Digital inclusions and exclusions Richard Macdonald Mon, 24 Jul 2017 15:51:29 +0000 Richard Macdonald 112405 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Defending human rights in a digital age (III): activism behind the screen https://www.opendemocracy.net/marianne-franklin/activism-behind-screen <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="emphasis">What have human rights got to do with the technical running of the internet?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img width="460px" alt="HRI" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" /></a></p><p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"></a><span style="font-style: italic;">These videos were taken at a </span><a href="https://www.gold.ac.uk/calendar/?id=10764" style="font-style: italic;">public debate on Activism Behind the Screen, at Goldsmiths, University of London,</a><span style="font-style: italic;"> where panelists discussed "how human rights activism can impact on the technical standards that govern internet design and its day-to-day running."</span></p><h2>Part one</h2><p><iframe frameborder="0" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/FAsFcJ2vWG4" height="259" width="460"></iframe></p><h2>Part two</h2><p><iframe frameborder="0" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_QSdHZyfEPQ" height="259" width="460"></iframe> </p><h2>Interviews with panellists</h2><p><i>Films by Alessio Dell'Anna, freelance journalist.</i></p><p><b>Mark Carvell on activism in the digital age</b></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/bUEPKONjNII" height="259" width="460"></iframe></p><p><b>Niels ten Oever on digital human rights</b></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/wWaFEcmjsFs" height="259" width="460"></iframe></p> <p><b>Niels ten Oever on digital power concentration</b></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/vBe78qvsWEk" height="259" width="460"></iframe></p><h2>Participants included:</h2><p>Hanane Boujemi, Senior Manager, Internet Governance Programme MENA Region. Hivos.</p><p>Mark Carvell, Head of Global Internet Governance Policy Internet &amp; International Directorate, UK Government Department for Culture, Media, and Sport.</p><p>Maria Farrell, Internet governance and policy consultant and writer.</p><p>Niels ten Oever, Head of Digital, Article 19.</p><p>Jean-Jacques Sahel, Vice-President, Europe (Global Stakeholder Engagement).</p><p>Tatiana Tropina, Senior Researcher, Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law (Germany).</p><p>Discussant: Sean Cubitt, Professor of Film and Television/joint HoD Media &amp; Communications Department, Goldsmiths.</p><p>Panel Convener and Moderator: Marianne Franklin, Professor of Global Media and Politics, Goldsmiths.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/marianne-franklin/defending-human-rights-in-digital-age">Defending human rights in a digital age </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/digitaliberties/marianne-franklin/defending-human-rights-in-digital-age-ii">Defending human rights in a digital age (II)</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> hri Powers behind the screen Goldsmiths event Tue, 13 Jun 2017 15:48:06 +0000 Goldsmiths event 111514 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A new digital trade agenda: are we giving away the Internet? https://www.opendemocracy.net/digitaliberties/renata-avila-burcu-kilic/new-digital-trade-agenda-are-we-giving-away-internet <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Will this foster digital rights, or leave us with even lower standards and a concentrated, quasi-monopolistic market benefiting from public infrastructure?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" alt="HRI" width="460px" /></a></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-30817511.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-30817511.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Trump holding up a chart of regulation at a CEO town hall on the American business climate, April, 2017. Olivier Douliery/ Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>As we enter the uncertain Trump era with respect to trade policies, one can only guess that big trade players will come back to the multilateral fora, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), as a reliable vehicle to foster their global trade agenda, especially as the free trade agreement (FTA) model fell apart after President Trump took office. Since the Trans-pacific Partnership (TPP) is dead, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) are on hold, a return to the multilateral WTO offers the best chance of progress on e-commerce rules. </p> <p>E-commerce will be one of the key issues at this year’s WTO's Ministerial Conference in Argentina, December 2017 (MC11). The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Argentina – host nation of the MC11 in December and G20 meeting in 2018 – has <a href="https://dig.watch/resources/launch-etrade-all-online-platform">described e-commerce as </a>“an essential part of the future of global trade, to bridge the inequality gap, improve gender equality” and “leapfrog into the twenty first century”. He has urged member states to renew their commitment and mandate to work on e-commerce. </p> <p>In fact, the US and other major developed countries have been promoting the e-commerce agenda since July 2016, by effectively dictating the terms and asking WTO members to remove any so-called regulatory barriers in the global e-commerce market. &nbsp;Along with some developing countries, they are determined to secure a mandate on e-commerce in Argentina despite opposition from many, including African countries and India. ( See the latest discussion in Euro-DIG <a href="https://eurodigwiki.org/wiki/International_trade_agreements_and_Internet_governance_%E2%80%93_Pl_04_2017">here</a>).</p> <p>If they succeed in Buenos Aires, the WTO’s 164 members will negotiate a new agreement on e-commerce. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>One must wonder whether this will be an opportunity to foster digital rights or leave us with even lower standards and a concentrated, quasi-monopolistic market benefiting from public infrastructure? The rhetoric of opportunities for the excluded – connecting the next billion – sounds great, but only if we disconnect it from the current realities of the global economy, where trade deals push for deregulation, for lower standards of protection for the data and privacy of citizens, where aggressive copyright enforcement risks the security of devices, and when distributing the benefits, where big monopolies, tech giants (so called GAFA) based mostly in the US,&nbsp;to put it bluntly, take them all. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>So far, developing countries and civil society actors, while opposing this negotiation, don't have their own digital agenda sorted out. E-commerce markets in developing countries are unprepared, lagging behind in terms of competitiveness and skill. &nbsp;Trade policy-makers in those countries are not yet sufficiently informed on highly technical digital issues. Civil society organizations (CSOs) and digital right activists are unprepared to meet the challenges of a highly technical trade negotiations on e-commerce, with nuances directly affecting the way digital rights and safeguards are deployed.</p> <p>The WTO e-commerce agenda is inevitably complex: it includes far-reaching provisions on the cross-border delivery of services affecting privacy, data protection, consumer protection, cybersecurity and net neutrality, and new Internet-related IP rights in a digital context. These raise significant concerns for the Internet, its global infrastructure, and the right of governments to develop policies and laws that best preserve the free and open internet.</p> <p>There are many unknowns regarding the technological advances ahead, and therefore the digital economy. Given the uncertainty in the policy landscape, devising rules at the WTO that place binding commercial protections above digital rights and public interests could be devastating for global internet law and policy,<strong> </strong>leaving the developing countries with eroded rights and limited freedoms. </p> <p>Never before has a trade negotiation had such a limited number of beneficiaries. Make no mistake, what will be discussed there, with the South arriving unprepared, will affect each and every space, from government to health, from development to innovation going well beyond just trade. Data is the new oil – and we need to start organising ourselves for the fourth industrial revolution. The data lords, those who have the computational power to develop superior products and services from machine learning and artificial intelligence, want to make sure that no domestic regulation, no competition laws, privacy or consumer protection would interfere with their plans.</p> <p>Disguised as support for access and affordability, they want everyone to connect as fast as they can. Pretending to offer opportunities to grow, they want to deploy and concentrate their platforms, systems and content everywhere in the world. Enforcement measures will be coded in technology, borders for data extraction will be blurred, the ability to regulate and protect the data of citizens will be disputed by supranational courts, as local industries cannot compete and local jobs soar. &nbsp;If we are not vigilant, we will rapidly consolidate this digital colonisation, a neo-feudal regime where all the rules are dictated by the technology giants, to be obeyed by the rest of us. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p> <p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> <div class="field-item even"> Argentina </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> digitaLiberties hri Argentina United States Digital inclusions and exclusions rest of the world Renata Avila Burcu Kilic Tue, 13 Jun 2017 08:54:57 +0000 Burcu Kilic and Renata Avila 111618 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The future of the internet depends on you https://www.opendemocracy.net/andreas-reventlow/future-of-internet-depends-on-you <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>People from the freedom of expression, privacy and media development communities must get engaged, to ensure that one of the most important communications platforms ever invented remains open, pluralistic and democratic.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" alt="HRI" width="460px" /></a></p> <p><i><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/2726932354_21396af66f_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/2726932354_21396af66f_z.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Article 19, 2008. Flickr/Val Kerry. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>In this article Andreas Reventlow writes about the role that new participants can play in human rights advocacy for internet policymaking, now that these processes have become more accessible to non-experts. These reflections also provide a timely introduction to the next public event in the </i>Defending Human Rights in a Digital Age<i> series, taking place on 18<sup>th</sup> May 2017, at Goldsmiths (University of London) and entitled <a href="https://www.gold.ac.uk/calendar/?id=10764">Activism Behind the Screen</a>. Participants will discuss the implications of incorporating human rights standards for future decisions the day-to-day functioning of the internet. More information, and how to register, is available on Eventbrite <a href="https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/defending-human-rights-in-a-digital-age-iii-activism-behind-the-screen-tickets-34424285966"><ins datetime="2017-05-15T19:39" cite="mailto:Rosemary%20Bechler">here</ins></a><ins datetime="2017-05-15T19:38" cite="mailto:Rosemary%20Bechler">. </ins></i></p> <p>Online <a href="https://www.eff.org/nsa-spying/timeline">surveillance</a>, <a href="https://citizenlab.org/2017/02/nilephish-report/">phishing</a>, <a href="https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-net-2015/freedom-net-2015-privatizing-censorship-eroding-privacy">content blocking</a>, <a href="https://www.accessnow.org/keepiton/#problem">internet shutdowns</a>. Governments around the world are not exactly shy when it comes to controlling what their citizens are doing online. This poses major challenges to our individual rights to freedom of expression and privacy.</p> <p>But confrontations of a much more fundamental nature – of ensuring the internet stays open, pluralistic and democratic in the long run – are being waged somewhere else entirely: in the world of internet governance.</p> <p>It is a world that those of us who come from the freedom of expression, privacy and media development communities have an obvious interest in getting involved in – a world where the policies and standards that define the future path of the internet are being developed.</p> <p>That future path has vast implications for all of us, whether we are in Madrid, Mombasa or Mumbai, including for example our ability to buy a domain name and broadcast our thoughts to the world, to securely transfer money and manage our banking online, and to expect a reasonable level of security from the private Wi-Fi networks in our homes. All of them are fundamentals of our online lives that we have come to take for granted as essential parts of the open internet, but which are not necessarily a given. </p> <p>Rather, they are the outcomes of lengthy and often very technical discussions inside internet governance bodies which host a variety of critically important discussions; such as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). </p> <p>The International Telecommunications Union, for example, is <a href="https://www.gp-digital.org/spotlight-on-the-itu-1-why-human-rights-defenders-should-care-about-the-itu/">discussing 5G, the next generation of wireless broadband, and the availability of what is called unlicensed spectrum</a>. If telecommunication companies are <a href="http://www.cima.ned.org/publication/media-development-digital-age-five-ways-engage-internet-governance/#cima_footnote_28">successful in their bid to limit the availability of unlicensed spectrum</a>, which makes it possible to set up Wi-Fi networks, it could impose new restrictions on how to connect to the internet and on people’s ability to access information and circumvent content restrictions. </p> <p>Other ongoing debates include the regulation of domain names by <a href="https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/beginners-guides-2012-03-06-en">ICANN</a>. Here, China and the network infrastructure company Verisign <a href="https://www.article19.org/resources.php/resource/38577/en/corporate-actors-mustnot-facilitate-human-rights-violations-throughnew-chinese-rules">have been working to make it mandatory</a> for anyone registering a domain in the country to go through a government-licensed service provider – one more method by which the Chinese regime would be able to keep tabs on its opposition. </p> <p>And in the <a href="https://www.ietf.org/about/">Internet Engineering Task Force</a>, great technical minds <a href="https://blog.apnic.net/2016/05/27/dns-privacy/">are working to apply encryption</a> to what is called the DNS protocol so that internet service providers and ultimately governments and hackers will be unable to access our browsing history – an essential requirement for critical journalists, human rights defenders and others <a href="https://globalvoices.org/2017/03/27/young-iranian-faces-execution-over-anti-islamic-social-media-posts/">whose lives are put in danger</a> when that kind of information falls into the wrong hands.</p> <h2><b>You can help shape the future of the internet</b></h2> <p>Getting involved in this work can seem rather intimidating and overwhelming to an outsider, but a recent <a href="http://www.cima.ned.org/publication/media-development-digital-age-five-ways-engage-internet-governance/">report by the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) and ARTICLE 19</a> eases the learning curve and provides excellent tips on how to get started, including which communities, research groups and mailing lists to join, how to understand what are sometimes rather arcane institutional structures, and how to find a mentor who can help newcomers get embedded and feel welcome.</p> <p>Because all the internet governance bodies, with the exception of the ITU, <a href="https://www.internetsociety.org/who-makes-internet-work-internet-ecosystem">are governed through the multi-stakeholder model</a>, anyone who can devote the time and resources can help shape the future of the internet. While there are certainly <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/harris-gleckman/when-elephants-fight-grassroots-get-hurt">very legitimate concerns</a> about <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/harris-gleckman/multi-stakeholder-governance-corporate-push-for-new-global-governance">the multi-stakeholder model,</a> including that it does not automatically <a href="http://www.global.asc.upenn.edu/in-multistakeholderism-we-trust-on-the-limits-of-the-multistakeholder-debate/">solve the problem of participation on unequal footing</a> between corporate actors with deep pockets and civil society groups from the Global South, it still represents the most advanced effort at giving everyone a seat at the table when it comes to defining the future of the internet. In the same way that democracy is not perfect, multi-stakeholder governance is also far from the perfect solution, but it appears to be the best alternative at the moment.</p> <p>As CIMA and ARTICLE 19’s report outlines, the open-access nature of a multi-stakeholder participatory model also makes policy-making processes and technology standards development vulnerable to co-optation by actors who do not necessarily prioritise human rights like freedom of expression and privacy <a href="https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/the-internet-is-not-the-enemy#557ba2">in either the online or offline context</a>.</p> <p>Corporate lobbyists, intellectual property lawyers are <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-internet-domainnames-idUSBREA311SE20140402">welcome to join the discussion</a> alongside civil society and government representatives, whether they come from the US, the UK, Russia or China. Clearly hostile to open news and information environments, some of them will invest significant time and resources into <a href="http://thediplomat.com/2016/01/the-wuzhen-summit-and-the-battle-over-internet-governance/">making sure that the internet will work in ways</a> that suit their commercial interests and political needs, whatever part of the world they come from.</p> <h2><b>Stakeholders who care</b></h2> <p>Working to make sure that this does not happen are groups like ICANN’s <a href="http://icannhumanrights.net/">Non-commercial Stakeholders Group</a> and the <a href="http://www.ncuc.org/">Non-commercial Users Constituency</a> as well as groups like <a href="http://www.gp-digital.org/spotlight-on-the-itu-1-why-human-rights-defenders-should-care-about-the-itu/">Global Partners Digital</a>, <a href="https://www.apc.org/en/projects/internet-governance-forum-igf">Association for Progressive Communications</a> and <a href="https://www.article19.org/resources.php/resource/38249/en/icann-board-agrees-to-human-rights-commitment">ARTICLE 19</a> which promote public interest concerns and human rights in the world of internet governance to ensure that journalists, human rights defenders and regular citizens around the world are to be able to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and privacy.</p> <p>Their work needs the support of more actors in the freedom of expression and media development communities. Not only to make internet governance bodies more legitimate, inclusive and representative of all of us, but also to ensure that one of the most important communications platforms ever invented remains open, pluralistic and democratic. The arenas that internet governance bodies offer is truly where the future of the internet is being decided. Those of us who come from the freedom of expression, privacy and media development communities need to get engaged, or it will be to all of our detriment. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p> <p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-anoth-sidebox"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Register for Activism Behind the Screen at <a href="https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/defending-human-rights-in-a-digital-age-iii-activism-behind-the-screen-tickets-34424285966">Eventbrite here</a>.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Internet </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> hri Civil society Democracy and government International politics Internet Legal frontiers Andreas Reventlow Mon, 15 May 2017 19:41:08 +0000 Andreas Reventlow 110907 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Digital skills in academia: let’s CryptoParty! https://www.opendemocracy.net/leonie-tanczer/digital-skills-in-academia-let-s-cryptoparty <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The question of how to secure research data in times of large-scale online surveillance remains unaddressed. CryptoParties might offer a preliminary solution.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" alt="HRI" width="460px" /></a></p><p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"></a><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/cryptoparty.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/cryptoparty.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="334" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Flyer for a CryptoParty in Santiago de Chile, 2014: a grassroots endeavour to introduce the basics of cryptography. alpuerto/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>The UK government has recently released its <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-digital-strategy">Digital Strategy</a>. In it, the government calls for the enhancement of “digital skills”. Although the document leaves it open in terms of what these skills would encompass and require, the call for more technical abilities is not <em>per se</em> amiss. In fact, the call for digital proficiency and training is more than overdue and of particular importance when looking at the academic realm.&nbsp;</p> <p>As a Postdoctoral researcher working on the intersection of technology and security, I have previously in both <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jogss/article-abstract/1/4/346/2841088/Censorship-and-Surveillance-in-the-Digital-Age-The?redirectedFrom=fulltext">academic</a> and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2016/dec/01/the-snoopers-charter-is-a-threat-to-academic-freedom">media</a> outlets emphasised the need for a change in our academic practice. My concern lies not in our ability to code, operate the computer terminal, or<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNtcWpY4YLY"> jam with the console cowboys in cyberspace</a>, but most fundamentally in our ability to secure research data, communicate with colleagues and participants safely, and self-critically employ digital tools. The latter may be – due to various reasons – tampered with, censored or monitored.&nbsp;</p> <p>It is a concern that is amplified due to the transformation and expansion of security and surveillance practices. Additionally, with society’s increasing shift to digitisation, ranging from our reliance on online search engines to the advancement of the Internet of Things (IoT), academics – just as many other professions – should think more carefully about these aspects.</p> <p>In research, incautious use of digital tools cannot only impede on the security and privacy of researchers and students, but more worryingly participants and their next of kin. A criticism is therefore the lack of focus that is given to digital skills in the academic curriculum. While in many instances university students and staff are being educated in ethical dilemmas as well as in the methodological practices, the issue on how to protect their research data is often missing.&nbsp;</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">Incautious use of digital tools cannot only impede on the security and privacy of researchers and students, but more worryingly participants and their next of kin.</p><p>I acknowledge that many universities nowadays provide technical solution for the secure storing, handling and analysing data, pertinent when crossing borders for conference or research trips and to be compliant with national data protection laws.</p> <p>There are also fantastic <a href="https://medium.com/tinfoil-press/current-digital-security-resources-5c88ba40ce5c#.ye96pk1r9">resources</a> that have been set in place by various digital rights groups such as the <a href="https://ssd.eff.org/en/playlist/academic-researcher">Electronic Frontier Foundation</a> or <a href="https://www.accessnow.org/a-first-look-at-digital-security/">Access Now</a>. Even though not always specific to the needs of academics, they do provide some foundational overview of the skills and techniques needed to ensure that security and privacy rights are upheld.&nbsp;</p> <p>Nonetheless, in many instances the emphasis is still on the individual. It is up to oneself to find, understand and make use of supporting material and online guidance. It is up to oneself to learn about those tools and know how to operate them. And it is up to oneself to think about the foundations of Internet security or <a href="https://ssd.eff.org/en/module/introduction-threat-modeling">threat modelling</a>. There is, to the best of my knowledge, no large-scale institutional attempt to include these aspects into the academic syllabus. Having recently submitted a project-related ethics application, I vividly recall the rather tedious process of reading website after website to find answers to some of my technical questions.&nbsp;</p> <p>For students and staff less familiar with these concerns and institutions, this can become particularly challenging.</p> <p>It was exactly this feeling of helplessness and lack of clarity when working on my PhD that resulted in the setup of a “<a href="https://www.cryptoparty.in/">CryptoParty</a>” in Belfast. Startled by the sheer breadth of online information and the missing institutional training on the subject-matter of secure data storage and communication, I was seeking help from more knowledgeable people that could guide me through the process. I ended up finding likeminded people who were not only willing to run those sessions with me, but made me learn to value the inherently educatory element of these meetings.&nbsp;</p> <p>CryptoParties are not new and neither unique. They form an existing format of decentralised events taking place all across the world. They are hands-on session in which anyone interested in learning about basic encryption tools and the fundamental concepts of their operation can be taught from others who are already familiar with these respective methods.</p> <p>The meetings allowed me to address knowledge gaps that were not institutionally resolved, and were and indeed still are a means for me to keep up-to-date with ongoing technological developments. Additionally, due to their format, they can also create a community that can be prosperous for academics, journalists and activists alike and may function as a hub for people to share concerns and techniques.&nbsp;</p> <p>CryptoParties are not necessary the panacea – neither for the lack of formal security and privacy education nor the rise of surveillance overall – but they might be a temporary relief to help students and staff to learn about these tools and processes. One can incorporate them as part of ethics or methods course or include them in programmes of national and international conferences; <a href="https://www.cryptoparty.in/learn/handbook">guidance</a> on how to run them and organisations who might support them do exist.</p> <p>CryptoParties can thereby not only allow to spread information about ‘best practices’ in a time where various levels of digital skills are needed, but help raise awareness and foster critical thinking on the changing climate in which surveillance and censorship prevails. Thus, bring out your laptop, get your students and/or your professors, and let’s CryptoParty!</p> <p><em><strong>Event</strong>: </em></p> <p><em>The next CryptoParty in London will take place on Friday, 28th of April 2017, 5:30pm – 8:00pm at IDEALondon (69 Wilson St, London EC2A 2BB).&nbsp;</em><em>For more details and links to Cryptoparties in other geographical areas see the official website: <a href="https://www.cryptoparty.in/london">https://www.cryptoparty.in/london</a></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p> <p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openglobalrights/sherif-elsayed-ali/right-to-privacy-requires-encrypted-messaging">Right to privacy requires encrypted messaging</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/digitaliberties/carly-nyst-rosemary-bechler/after-snowden-can-technology-save-our-digital-liberties">After Snowden, can technology save our digital liberties?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/digitaliberties/robin-mansell/surveillance-power-and-communication"> Surveillance, power and communication</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> hri Legal frontiers Leonie Tanczer Thu, 06 Apr 2017 07:44:53 +0000 Leonie Tanczer 109899 at https://www.opendemocracy.net An alternative take on alternative facts https://www.opendemocracy.net/neal-curtis/alternative-take-on-alternative-facts-trump-bannon-fake-news <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Trump is right: we should be dealing in alternative facts – they have important work to do.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" alt="HRI" width="460px" /></a></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/Alternative facts: Bannon and Conway.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/Alternative facts: Bannon and Conway.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="326" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Bannon, "éminence grise", with Kellyanne Conway as Trump meets with cybersecurity experts. Ron Sachs/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>When Kellyanne Conway contested the attendance figures at Donald Trump’s inauguration with what she called “alternative facts” at a Meet the Press event on January 22, 2017, it joined Trump’s use of conspiracy theories and complaints about 'fake news' to create a constellation of disinformation that has become his <i>modus operandi</i>.&nbsp; However, while <a href="http://www.bruno-latour.fr/sites/default/files/82-TARDE-JOYCE-SOCIAL-GB.pdf">the idea of 'alternative facts'</a> has been met with a mix of mockery and condemnation I would like to suggest that we shouldn’t dismiss the idea too easily because 'alternative facts' have genuinely important work to do.</p> <p>For this, we need to differentiate between two critiques of facts. The first emerges out of critical sociology and cultural studies, and leads me to contend there is a grain of truth in Trump’s assault on reality. The second emerges from and ultimately merges with the mouth of Trump, leading me to argue that this grain of truth is being used duplicitously to establish authoritarian government in the United States.&nbsp;</p> <p>With regard to the first critique, part of Team Trump’s assault on reality is the perfectly legitimate claim that purveyors of facts, from historians to economists, politicians to media pundits, have used facts to support a specific formation of power. The truth here is that facts do not exist in a vacuum. From <a href="http://www.bruno-latour.fr/sites/default/files/82-TARDE-JOYCE-SOCIAL-GB.pdf">critical sociology we have learned that facts are social</a>: what we know to be the case is determined by the direction of our attention, what we find important and what we value. Facts are 'discovered' because society is organized to 'uncover' them in a particular way. If our concerns change, then we uncover different facts, or we <i>produce</i> different facts. In this sense, there are indeed alternative facts. To be clear, this critique of positivism is not to say that we cannot demonstrate or prove something to be the case. It is simply to argue that what we are directed to demonstrate and prove is socially malleable.</p> <p>From Cultural Studies we have also learned that <a href="http://uloom.com/dibaj/article/131110501">history is not simply a set of events that have happened in the past, but a social process</a> in which we first select the facts we wish to record and then interpret them. In both instances, powerful social interests play an important role in the narrative that sets out 'what happened'. Here, a different set of interests or concerns will reveal alternative historical facts. This is central to the advancement of human rights and to any movement committed to social and political transformation. It is a key aspect of race and gender politics as women and people of colour recover things that happened but have been undocumented or erased by the canonical narrative.</p> <p>A major player in this storytelling has, of course, been the traditional news media, and Trump is also correct that the mainstream media – primarily in print and on television, but now including online sources – has uncritically supported a particular formation of power. He is just completely wrong about his description of that power as “liberal” or “PC”. Where the media has supported such an agenda it has been in favour of marginalized groups who threaten to put a dent in the white, straight, male privilege Trump represents.&nbsp;</p> <p>Here, 'alternative facts' in the historical sense outlined above have been used to promote deferent forms of identity politics and the pursuit of equality, but these have had little effect on the wider socio-economic system that continues to promote staggering levels of inequality.&nbsp;</p> <p>What the mainstream media have really supported is the <a href="https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/07/david-harvey-neoliberalism-capitalism-labor-crisis-resistance/">neoliberal project</a> that has reduced everything to markets, undermined regulation, stagnated wages, introduced risk, precarity and uncertainty, and brought about major economic crises. In all of this the mainstream media has been a significant enabler in the shift from the social democratic advances of the post-war period to the establishment of a corporate-financial oligarchy in which democracy in any real sense is meaningless. In this regard, it is deeply problematic to take some knee-jerk reaction and simply defend mainstream news media as purveyors of truth. But hopefully this attack might jolt them out of their hereto comfortable indifference to the effects of power.</p> <p>The second critique of truth is of a kind with this indifference and brings us to the nature and purpose of Trump’s assault on reality. He certainly does not want to uncover or deploy “alternative facts” as part of a genuinely democratic transformation. Trump’s strategy is rather part of an internecine struggle within the corporate-financial oligarchy as different factions fight for control. Steve Bannon, the architect of this strategy and Trump’s éminence grise, once described himself as <a href="http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/steve-bannon-trump-tower-interview-trumps-strategist-plots-new-political-movement-948747">“Thomas Cromwell in the house of the Tudors”</a>, &nbsp;a man who enabled a shift of power from the Catholic Church to his master, Henry VIII. In our time, Bannon wants a transnational neoliberal order to give way to belligerent competition amongst national capitalisms, with the US at its head, and all loosely connected and briefly allied in their advocacy of white, Christian power.&nbsp;</p> <p>To achieve this shift from a socially liberal and economically neoliberal centre ground to Trump’s brand of national socialism, the <i>strategy</i> is to challenge and disable any form of oversight. This can be seen in the Executive Orders to end the Environmental Protection Agency, and re-organise the Executive Branch. This can also be seen in the attacks on the judiciary that Trump has set up to be responsible for the next terror attack after legal challenges were made to his Muslim ban. It can also be seen in the attack on the last vestiges of 'red tape' that notionally regulates the banking sector.</p><p>The rhetoric of “alternative facts” then becomes a specific <i>tactic</i> within this wider strategy that is used to undermine oversight from academics, experts and scientists, especially around climate science, but also around housing, education and foreign policy. Most importantly it is a tactic aimed at stopping oversight by the press, now named “the enemy of the people”, and open up or circumvent media channels for the dissemination of uncontested Trump propaganda.</p> <p>Here, Republicans have adopted a radical form of relativism. As Trump’s associate and former advisor, Roger Stone<a href="https://theintercept.com/2017/03/06/facts-are-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder-says-roger-stone-trump-confidante-in-exclusive-interview/">, recently put it</a>:</p> <p class="blockquote-new">How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? It’s a question that can’t be answered. Facts are, obviously, in the eye of the beholder. You have an obligation to make a compelling case. Caveat emptor. Let the consumer decide what he or she believes or doesn’t believe based on how compelling a case you put forward for your point of view.</p> <p>Aside from the absurd suggestion that we might be able to know how many fantasy figures might dance on the head of a pin, this is the consumer model of truth, now presented as an aesthetic/rhetorical problem rather than an epistemological one. Without oversight, fact checking or filtration by journalists, politicians can now describe the world any way they choose.&nbsp;</p> <p>This tactic is also related to the form of political control that documentary maker, Adam Curtis, earlier called <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyop0d30UqQ">“non-linear warfare”.</a> This is an explicit use of both disinformation (information known to be false, incorrect or partial) and contradictory information (especially using elements from across the political spectrum) to create confusion and disorientation, and hinder judgement and meaning-making by the citizens trying to use the information.&nbsp;</p> <p>We can see this in the "Alt-Right’s" use of Milo Yiannopoulos as their poster boy. His identity as a gay, Jewish man undermines the charge that “Alt-Right” is anti-Semitic and homophobic. This can also be seen in <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/02/28/presidential-executive-order-white-house-initiative-promote-excellence">Trump’s funding of HBCUs</a>. How can an administration that puts high levels of funding into historically black colleges and universities be racist? Given Betsy Devos suggested the day before that segregation in education was positive because it provided <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/02/28/betsy_devos_press_release_praises_segregated_jim_crow_education_system.html">“school choice” for black people</a>, &nbsp;it is safe to say that a white nationalist government might fund HBCUs in order to encourage voluntary segregation.</p><p>However, the point is that this tactic allows the Trump administration to promote a racist agenda while making it difficult for the opposition to make that charge stick. It is a form of PSYOPS (psychological operations) deployed by a government on its own people. Interestingly, Adam Curtis traces this tactic back to Putin’s éminence grise, Vladislav Surkov.</p> <p>If this particular version of the critique of facts continues, in the end there will only be the mouth of Trump. In such a world, the work of analytical philosopher <a href="https://www.gutenberg.org/files/5740/5740-pdf.pdf">Ludwig Wittgenstein</a> will be subject to a little spin.</p> <p align="center">TRUMPTATUS LOGICO-PHILOSPHICUS&nbsp;</p> <p>1 &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; The world is everything that comes from Trump’s mouth.</p> <p>&nbsp;1.1 &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; The world is the totality of what comes from Trump’s mouth, not of things.&nbsp;</p> <p>1.11 &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;The world is determined by Trump’s mouth, and this being <i>all</i> that exists.</p> <p>1.12 &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;For the totality of Trump’s mouth determines both what is the case, and also all what is not the case.&nbsp;</p> <p>1.13 &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;The extension of Trump’s mouth into illogical space is the world.</p> <p>1.2&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The world divides as Trump’s mouth decrees.&nbsp;</p> <p>But this is only one future. We can and must create another. To do this we need to contest the lies, deception and confusion and resolutely advocate for the alternative facts that <i>did</i> actually take place and <i>do</i> exist, but are elided by power. We must continue to uncover counter truths that challenge dominant narratives and hierarchies. In <a href="https://noehernandezcortez.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/nietzsche-genealogy-history.pdf">Foucault’s language</a>, this is a political project rooted in the truly democratic advocacy of subjugated knowledges.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p> <p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/wfd/can-europe-make-it/thomas-weyn/arendtian-approach-to-post-truth-politics">An Arendtian approach to post-truth politics</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/amir-ahmadi-arian/curse-of-apocalyptic-rhetoric-why-resisting-donald-trump-requires-p">The curse of apocalyptic rhetoric: why resisting Donald Trump requires prose</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> hri Legal frontiers Neal Curtis Tue, 04 Apr 2017 15:13:12 +0000 Neal Curtis 109887 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The EU must keep up with new technologies https://www.opendemocracy.net/digitaliberties/matthew-abbey/eu-must-keep-up-with-new-technologies <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Surveillance technologies infiltrating computer systems of human rights activists can result in their imprisonment or death. The EU needs to put greater emphasis on working with activists.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" alt="HRI" width="460px" /></a></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/13269922354_7047423cb7_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/13269922354_7047423cb7_z.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Elderly man uses his smartphone to video record the large crowd gathered on Jinan Road (濟南路), near the ROC Legislative Yuan (立法院) in Taipei (台北), 2014. Flickr/Tomscy2000. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>New technologies are creating both opportunity and danger for <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/marianne-franklin/defending-human-rights-in-digital-age">human rights activists</a>. Social media platforms, anonymization and encryptions tools, and widespread internet access are empowering activists to exchange ideas, document abuses, and disseminate information to wider audiences. On the flip side, governments are using <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/hri/joshua-franco/fear-of-surveillance-is-forcing-activists-to-hide-from-public-life-in-belarus">surveillance technologies</a> to target, prosecute, and silence activists. </p> <p>The European Union should breathe new life into its support of activists to help overcome the negative side effects of new technologies. The current EU strategy is focused on preventing surveillance technologies getting into abusive hands. On February 28, 2017, the European Parliament discussed a proposal for updated restrictions on dual-use exports (including surveillance technologies) that was drafted by the <a href="http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2016/september/tradoc_154976.pdf">European Commission</a> last year. The proposal recognizes that surveillance technologies are being used to “infiltrate computer systems of dissidents and human rights activists, at times resulting in their imprisonment or even death.” There will be a hearing on dual-use exports in the Parliament on March 21, 2017. </p> <h2><b>The Wassenaar Arrangement</b></h2> <p>Twenty-seven EU member states are party to the <a href="http://www.wassenaar.org/">Wassenaar Arrangement</a>, an international treaty established in 1995 that seeks to restrict the export of conventional arms and dual-use goods. However, because the treaty is non-binding, European-made surveillance technologies continue to be sold to repressive governments. According to investigative journalism conducted by <i>The Correspondent</i>, EU member states <a href="https://thecorrespondent.com/6257/how-european-spy-technology-falls-into-the-wrong-hands/2168866237604-51234153">permitted the export of surveillance technology 317 times</a> over the past three years, but only rejected 14 export permits. <a href="https://thecorrespondent.com/6249/the-surveillance-industry-still-sells-to-repressive-regimes-heres-what-europe-can-do-about-it/679999251459-591290a5">30 per cent of exports</a> went to countries considered ‘not free’ by Freedom House, and another 52 percent to countries considered ‘partially free.’ &nbsp;</p> <p>Tighter regulations are welcome, but at best they can limit government access to surveillance technologies, as opposed to restricting access or changing government behavior. After all, other states will continue to export surveillance technology unabated. The United Kingdom’s departure from the EU will further reduce the impact of export restrictions. In 2015, the UK <a href="https://www.privacyinternational.org/sites/default/files/global_surveillance.pdf">exported phone monitoring technology</a> to Israel, Bangladesh, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, and the United Arab Emirates. ‘Brexit’ is likely to increase British technology exports to repressive governments. Theresa May, the UK Prime Minister, has <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-latest-theresa-may-liam-fox-middle-east-trade-deals-human-rights-a7543751.html">already placed trade deals above human rights concerns</a> amidst growing partnerships with Gulf Monarchies. <span class="mag-quote-center">The United Kingdom’s departure from the EU will further reduce the impact of export restrictions.</span></p> <p>Israel, another large exporter of surveillance technologies, made up <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/69f150da-25b8-11e5-bd83-71cb60e8f08c">10 percent of the global cybersecurity market</a> in 2014 and has <a href="https://www.privacyinternational.org/sites/default/files/global_surveillance.pdf">exported surveillance technology</a> to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Uganda. China also has extensive surveillance capabilities and is considered one of the worst abusers of internet freedom. Accurate data on the extent of Chinese exports of surveillance technologies is unavailable, but reports indicate that China has exported surveillance technologies to <a href="https://privacyinternational.org/sites/default/files/global_surveillance.pdf">Iran and Algeria</a>.</p> <p>European export controls are clearly not enough to have a lasting impact if other countries are able to freely export surveillance technology. <a href="http://www.digitaleurope.org/DesktopModules/Bring2mind/DMX/Download.aspx?Command=Core_Download&amp;entryID=1125&amp;language=en-US&amp;PortalId=0&amp;TabId=353">DigitalEurope</a>, a lobby organization, has argued that European export controls are pointless if other countries can act as they wish. For this reason, there is a need to protect activists from the surveillance technologies that get into the hands of abusive governments, but also to recognize the limits of such protection. </p> <p>Nongovernmental organizations have led the way in developing new technologies and guidelines on best practice. <a href="https://guardianproject.info/2012/01/20/introducing-informacam/">InformaCam</a> is a smartphone app that records the date, time and location of imagery, as well as encrypting it, to make sure it cannot be tampered with. Amnesty International created the <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/campaigns/2015/07/panic-button-one-year-on/">Panic Button</a>, which turns a smartphone into an alert system. <a href="https://securityinabox.org/en/">Security in a Box</a> and the <a href="https://ssd.eff.org/en">Electronic Frontier Foundation</a> have provided guidelines on how to protect activists from surveillance technologies, such as information on how to bypass censorship and <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/wendy-suzanne-betts-nyangala-zolho/rights-based-approach-to-technology-gathering-admissible-evidence">safeguard yourself from malware</a>. In addition, <a href="https://www.freedomonlinecoalition.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Background-Paper-NL-Protecting-and-Suporting-Cyber-Activities.pdf">the United States</a> is playing an important role by funding independent websites in closed societies, providing training in online security, and developing secure communications for smartphones. </p> <h2><b>Enhancing digital literacy – a European task</b></h2> <p>The protection of activists, however, is a reactive response to surveillance technologies. Further, the effectiveness of using technology to protect activists is under question. As governments are often the gatekeepers of technology and have access to greater resources, they have the power to draft legislation banning a certain technology if it becomes unfavorable, or legally request information from service providers, among other measures. <span class="mag-quote-center">The effectiveness of using technology to protect activists is under question.</span></p> <p>Beyond acting on the defensive – limiting exports of surveillance technologies and protecting activists from human rights violators – the EU should adopt a more proactive human rights policy that takes advantage of technological change. The <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/anti-trafficking/sites/antitrafficking/files/action-plan-on-human-rights-and-democracy-2015-2019_en.pdf">EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy (2015-2019)</a>, a strategy document that guides the promotion of human rights and democracy for EU institutions and member states, lists improving the capacity of local actors as its first objective. </p> <p>The plan, however, pays little attention to technology and fails to harness its positive potential. EU policy has largely focused on the way technology is restricting, not aiding, human rights activism. To remain relevant in the human rights struggles of today, the EU should expand its tactic by seeking to enhance digital literacy among activists in order for technology to be used in an effective way, especially for those working in closed or closing political spaces. </p> <h2><b>Change the paradigm</b></h2><p><span class="mag-quote-center">Technology changes the paradigm by allowing victims to become agents in the documentation process. </span>First, widespread use of smartphones and other recording technologies can lead to broad-based participation in activism through opening up the process of documenting human rights abuses to ordinary citizens. This will shift the power balance away from elite domestic and international organizations to build a more inclusive form of activism. Traditionally, victims of human rights abuses have been the subject of fact-finding missions, but technology changes the paradigm by allowing victims to become agents in the documentation process. Although technology is often unevenly shared throughout society, it can be used to enhance the participation and empowerment of women, children, people with disabilities, the LGBTI community, and minority groups. By taking part in such processes, victims can become aware of and take ownership of human rights. The EU should encourage the participatory documentation of human rights abuses to facilitate activism throughout society. </p><p>Second, technology can transform human rights activism through increased access to data. More data is available than ever before, as every individual has the potential to become a source of information. Whether it is the thousands of images taken on smartphones throughout the occupation of <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/dec/29/arab-spring-captured-on-cameraphones">Tahrir Square in Cairo</a>, or the use of <a href="http://www.eyesondarfur.org">geospatial technology</a> to document human rights abuses in Darfur, technology can provide human rights activists and policy makers with unparalleled levels of data. The EU should encourage its NGO partners to use new technologies like crowdsourcing and commons-based peer production to gather large quantities of data, which will be useful for understanding and highlighting the scope of a human rights problem. </p> <p>Third, technology can be used to verify the data. The widespread availability of data will become a problem if it cannot be verified accurately, as it has the potential to distort information. For example, a <a href="https://blog.witness.org/2014/02/video-exposes-police-abuse-venezuela-mexico-colombia/">video circulated on YouTube</a> of Colombian police officers spraying a water cannon towards a man tied to a tree was circulated to denounce police violence in Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela. To name and shame a government or mobilize public opinion, accurate data is vital. The <a href="https://citizenevidence.org/2014/07/01/youtube-dataviewer/">YouTube Data Viewer</a> allows videos to be turned into thumbnails that are then processed in Google reverse image search to see if the thumbnails have previously appeared on the web. The EU should fund the verification of the large quantity of human rights data becoming available through such means.</p> <p>Fourth, there is a need for the EU, human rights activists, and innovative technology organizations to work together, as technology will to continue to develop and transform human rights activism. <a href="https://witness.org/watching-western-sahara-panel/">Witness</a>, <a href="http://www.benetech.org/">Benetech</a> &nbsp;<a href="https://tacticaltech.org/">Tactical Tech</a>, <a href="https://www.digitaldefenders.org/">Digital Defenders Project</a>, <a href="https://www.theengineroom.org/">Engine Room</a>, and <a href="https://www.accessnow.org/">Access Now</a> are just a few of the organizations bridging the gap between technology and human rights that the EU should partner with. </p> <h2><b>Who ultimately decides?</b></h2> <p>Ultimately, human rights activists must have the final say in whether or not they engage with new technologies. The risks are high, but so are the rewards. The European Parliament should demand tighter EU export controls and request that the European Commission support activists in taking informed decisions on risks and safety. But on top of this defensive approach, the EU needs to put greater emphasis on working with activists in order to reap the full benefits of technology.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/13650450583_68b3971e8c_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/13650450583_68b3971e8c_z.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Flickr/Tim Brockley. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" /></a></p> <p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opencitydocs/rosemary-bechler/democracy-call-to-arms">Democracy – a call to arms</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/digitaliberties/nils-mui-nieks/human-rights-in-europe-should-not-buckle-under-mass-surveillance">Human rights in Europe should not buckle under mass surveillance</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/luca-belli-christopher-t-marsden/european-net-neutrality-at-last">European net neutrality, at last?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Internet </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> digitaLiberties digitaLiberties hri Can Europe make it? EU Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Ideas International politics Internet Tech futures Matthew Abbey Mon, 20 Mar 2017 13:17:15 +0000 Matthew Abbey 109538 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The future of US net neutrality under Trump https://www.opendemocracy.net/digitaliberties/michael-j-oghia/future-of-us-net-neutrality-under-trump <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Administrative decisions related to the country’s telecommunications policy often go unnoticed by the majority of the US citizenry. But now, net neutrality in its purest form is in peril.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" alt="HRI" width="460px" /></a></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/460px-5.6.2014_E-Rate_Modernization_Workshop_(13959900047).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/460px-5.6.2014_E-Rate_Modernization_Workshop_(13959900047).jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Welcome and Opening Remarks from Commissioner Ajit Pai, May 2014.Wikicommons/Federal Communications Commission.Public domain.</span></span></span></p><p>As this openDemocracy series has poignantly <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/hri">highlighted</a>, digital rights should never be taken for granted. For all those keeping a close eye on US politics, this reality could not resonate more ominously. With the new Republican administration of Donald J. Trump, there is plenty of kindle to fuel a fire of discussion and, often enough, outrage. </p> <p>Yet, behind all of the grandstanding, tweeting, and obscene showmanship, there lies a political machine forged in the corridors of Capitol Hill, skyscraping towers of corporate America, and musty legal libraries ready to take up the bureaucratic responsibility of running the United States. You see, outside of the more widely covered political issues such as immigration and healthcare, administrative decisions related to the country’s telecommunications policy often go unnoticed by the majority of the US citizenry. </p> <p>Such is the case with the newly appointed chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), <a href="https://www.fcc.gov/about/leadership/ajit-pai">Ajit Pai</a>. A former Harvard and University of Chicago-educated legal counselor for Verizon, a major US telecom company, Pai was appointed as a commissioner in 2012 by former US President Barack Obama to join the five-member leadership team of the FCC – an independent government agency overseen by the US Congress that regulates the country’s communications policy. And to understand the new FCC under Pai, a member of the Republican Party, one has to understand Pai. </p> <p>Pai is a staunch advocate against overregulation or intervention in what he considers blossoming markets, which he became known for during his tenure before being promoted by Trump to replace former FCC Chair Tom Wheeler. But he is better known for his opposition to Wheeler’s <a href="https://www.fcc.gov/general/open-internet">Open Internet Order</a>. Taken together, his minimalistic regulatory philosophy, political leanings, and past history of opposing market intervention exemplify a new FCC chair that is in stark contrast to his predecessor – one that could have a lasting effect on <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_neutrality_in_the_United_States">net neutrality in the United States</a>.</p> <h2><b>What is net neutrality?</b></h2> <p><a href="http://www.jthtl.org/content/articles/V2I1/JTHTLv2i1_Wu.PDF">Network neutrality</a> is the principle that operators, including Internet service providers (ISPs), and government regulators should treat all Internet traffic (data) equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication. </p> <p>Coined by Columbia University media law professor Tim Wu in 2003, net neutrality is often considered a cornerstone of the open Internet that is paramount to safeguarding the fairness and equality of data traffic, as <i>Washington Post</i> tech reporter Hayley Tsukayama eloquently <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/the-effect-of-net-neutrality-rules-on-consumers/2014/04/24/59c90556-cbda-11e3-95f7-7ecdde72d2ea_story.html?utm_term=.71c017e3ae3a">explained</a>. Although it generally describes the debate surrounding whether or not Internet traffic should be regulated by governments, the term is often evoked to describe “throttling” by an ISP to slow Internet speeds in order to steer customers to services granted preferential treatment, such as by paying for faster speeds, or to manipulate a customer or service – such as what happened in January 2014 when the US broadband company Comcast <a href="https://mic.com/articles/88457/one-graph-shows-exactly-why-we-need-net-neutrality#.mHGV5TkSJ">severely crippled</a> Netflix’s bandwidth and slowed their services to a crawl. As a result, Comcast demanded that Netflix enter into a preferential deal to peer with their network, thus creating a two-sided market for ISPs -– that is, a precedent grounded in data-specific traffic management (for a humorous account of this deal, see the <i>Last Week Tonight with John Oliver</i> <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpbOEoRrHyU">segment</a> that highlighted the effects it had on net neutrality in the US).</p> <p>Moreover, net neutrality debates exist <a href="http://www.newsweek.com/how-net-neutrality-working-countries-have-it-269632">around the world</a>. The European Union has particularly <a href="http://berec.europa.eu/eng/netneutrality/">stringent</a> net neutrality rules, which Luca Belli and Christopher Marsden covered in detail in this openDemocracy <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/luca-belli-christopher-t-marsden/european-net-neutrality-at-last">article</a> in this same series, while this <a href="https://www.thisisnetneutrality.org/">interactive map</a> from the Global Net Neutrality Coalition offers a glimpse of absolute net neutrality protections by country. This form of net neutrality also garnered global attention in 2016 when the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) controversially <a href="http://mashable.com/2016/02/09/why-facebook-free-basics-failed-india/#MDjeUaPbEuqP">banned</a> Facebook’s Free Basics program <a href="https://www.wired.com/2016/02/facebooks-free-basics-app-is-now-banned-in-india/">citing</a> net neutrality concerns. Pai, on the other hand, <a href="https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/02/fcc-rescinds-claim-that-att-and-verizon-violated-net-neutrality/">dropped</a> FCC investigations into zero rating programs, <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2017/02/03/pai-zero-rating-fcc/">arguing</a>, “Free-data plans have proven to be popular among consumers, particularly low-income Americans, and have enhanced competition in the wireless marketplace.”</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 18.33.26.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 18.33.26.png" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>Retrieved from: <a href="http://knowmore.washingtonpost.com/2014/04/25/this-hilarious-graph-of-netflix-speeds-shows-the-importance-of-net-neutrality/">http://knowmore.washingtonpost.com/2014/04/25/this-hilarious-graph-of-netflix-speeds-shows-the-importance-of-net-neutrality/</a></p><h2><b>Is net neutrality regulation necessary?</b></h2> <p>Net neutrality is often a topic of conversation at Internet governance events I participate in, such as the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufSFJGv-6lw">Internet Governance Forum</a> (IGF), and rarely does a digital policy issue present such a polarizing environment. Those who do not support absolute regulation – including Pai and Trump, economists such as Nobel Prize-winning economist <a href="http://faculty.chicagobooth.edu/dennis.carlton/research/pdfs/NetNeutralityConsumerWelfare.pdf">Gary Becker</a>, technologists like one of the “fathers of the Internet,” <a href="https://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/01/18/kahn_net_neutrality_warning/">Bob Kahn</a>, senior managing director for global advanced technology policy at Cisco Systems, and former FCC chief of policy development, <a href="http://www.technewsworld.com/story/56272.html">Robert Pepper</a>, certain <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/holman-jenkins-the-net-neutrality-crack-up-1425080173">minority rights groups</a> such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), telecom and cable providers such as AT&amp;T, and <a href="http://www.tiaonline.org/sites/default/files/pages/Internet_ecosystem_letter_FINAL_12.10.14.pdf">technology companies</a> providing over-the-top (OTT) services – generally advance one of <a href="https://inform.tmforum.org/features-and-analysis/2016/06/net-neutrality-the-perspective-of-telcos-and-cable-companies/">seven arguments</a>, including that net neutrality regulation deters investment into improving broadband infrastructure, and it <a href="http://mashable.com/2014/05/16/5-arguments-against-net-neutrality/#TLKgW1JZvmq3">provides</a> government with more power over the Internet, undermining the free market. Absolute net neutrality opponents also <a href="https://medium.com/@kuroneko_akira/net-neutrality-isnt-what-you-think-it-is-9005c593f530#.7cl05svqs">argue</a> that this regulation hurts consumers by limiting competition from bandwidth-intensive Internet-delivered services against traditional managed services, and <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/18/AR2007011801508.html">impedes</a> effective traffic management, which ISPs and especially wireless carriers require to maintain fast and efficient networks.</p> <p>Those in favor of net neutrality regulation – including Bob Kahn’s “father of the Internet” counterpart, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/innovations/wp/2014/10/10/5-insights-from-vinton-cerf-on-bitcoin-net-neutrality-and-more/?utm_term=.0925fda183b2">Vint Cerf</a>, the founder of the World Wide Web, <a href="http://www.theverge.com/2016/7/15/12197152/net-neutrality-europe-tim-berners-lee-letter">Tim Berners-Lee</a>, <a href="http://www.theverge.com/2014/5/7/5692578/tech-coalition-challenges-fcc">Internet service companies</a> like <a href="https://blog.mozilla.org/netpolicy/2016/06/15/a-step-forward-for-net-neutrality-in-the-u-s/">Mozilla</a> and Amazon, bloggers such as Matthew Inman from <a href="http://theoatmeal.com/blog/net_neutrality">The Oatmeal</a>, and digital rights groups such as the <a href="https://www.eff.org/issues/net-neutrality">Electronic Frontier Foundation</a> (EFF), <a href="https://www.publicknowledge.org/issues/net-neutrality">Public Knowledge</a>, and <a href="https://www.accessnow.org/issue/net-discrimination/">Access Now</a> – strongly advocate for net neutrality. They often argue that without such regulation, consumers will have little choice as to which services to use or the content they can access since ISPs would completely control Internet traffic, which they argue would lead to ISPs charging both consumers and Internet companies more for faster speeds and/or certain services and content. Additionally, pro-net neutrality proponents also fear that without regulation, small Internet companies would be shut out of mainstream service if they could not pay higher fees for greater bandwidth.</p> <h2><b>The future of the FCC and net neutrality in the United States</b></h2> <p>In February 2015, the FCC <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/27/technology/net-neutrality-fcc-vote-internet-utility.html">reclassified</a> Internet service providers in the US so that it would be regulated as a phone-like common carrier as opposed to a mostly unregulated information system, which was <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/06/14/471286113/u-s-appeals-court-holds-up-net-neutrality-rules-in-full?utm_medium=RSS&amp;utm_campaign=business">upheld</a> by a US Court of Appeals in June 2016. Fast-forward to the present, and Pai is reiterating his position that the FCC “<a href="http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017/db0228/DOC-343646A1.pdf">made a mistake</a>” regarding the Open Internet Order (in reference to the aforementioned regulatory policy). While this might seem alarmist, bear in mind that Google Chairman Eric Schmidt <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/jostling-begins-as-fccs-net-neutrality-vote-nears-1424819532">told</a> a top White House official in 2014 that Obama was making a mistake by supporting strong net neutrality rules (Google’s net neutrality position is neither for nor against – it supports discrimination across different data types, such as health data versus streaming video, but not among similar data types).</p> <p>Critics, however, have been quick to <a href="http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/politics/321982-will-donald-trump-allow-wealthy-elites-to-call-the-shots">emphasize</a> that under the FCC’s Open Internet Order, “Capital investments for large ISPs were nearly 9 percent higher than in the two years prior.” Moreover, a heavily referenced Free Press <a href="https://www.freepress.net/sites/default/files/resources/free_press_march_2016_written_ex_parte_ISP_2015_financial_reporting.pdf">report</a> also refuted the argument made by Pai that investment has “<a href="https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-337930A1.pdf">flatlined</a>,” thoroughly documenting investment in Internet infrastructure in the US since the Open Internet Order was passed in 2015.</p> <p>Regardless, though, net neutrality in its purest form in the United States is undoubtedly in peril. Although pro-net neutrality advocates have despaired over the possible <a href="https://mic.com/articles/88355/net-neutrality-what-made-the-internet-powerful-dies-at-25#.1fi4I81mN">death of US net neutrality</a> in the past, highlighted its <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2014/02/23/comcasts-deal-with-netflix-makes-network-neutrality-obsolete/?utm_term=.af8b2ff40d67">obsolescence</a>, or at the very least, <a href="https://gigaom.com/2014/04/24/when-it-comes-to-net-neutrality-either-the-fcc-thinks-were-idiots-or-it-just-doesnt-care/">questioned</a> the FCC’s intentions and decision-making process, the next four years will likely prove to be a tough time for them. As one member of an Internet policy email list I subscribe to wrote, “This retroactive step [rolling back net neutrality rules] will not spell well for the independence of Internet access to all concerned.”</p> <p>Many of these concerns are grounded in the actions the FCC has taken since Pai became chair. In addition to <a href="https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-343229A1.pdf">scaling back</a> transparency rules for smaller ISPs, and proposing to <a href="http://www.npr.org/2017/02/27/517563172/new-fcc-chairman-plans-to-block-privacy-regulations">halt</a> major new privacy requirements because they only target ISPs and not information services like Google, consumer advocates interviewed for a <i>New York Times</i> <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/05/technology/trumps-fcc-quickly-targets-net-neutrality-rules.html?emc=edit_nn_20170207&amp;nl=morning-briefing&amp;nlid=61119735&amp;te=1">article</a> stressed that Pai has “released about a dozen actions [since being appointed chair], many buried in the agency’s website and not publicly announced, stunning consumer advocacy groups and telecom analysts. They said Mr. Pai’s message was clear: The FCC … will mirror the Trump administration’s rapid unwinding of government regulations that businesses fought against during the Obama administration.” For instance, while they do not directly relate to net neutrality, Pai has also stopped nine companies from providing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/02/03/the-fcc-is-stopping-9-companies-from-providing-subsidized-broadband-to-the-poor/?utm_term=.c022dc9a60ab">discounted high-speed Internet service</a> to low-income individuals, withdrew an <a href="https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-322749A2.pdf">effort</a> to keep prison phone rates down, and scrapped a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/30/technology/fcc-cable-box-vote-delayed.html">proposal</a> to break open the cable box market.</p> <p>Yet, while “lighter” regulation was expected with the new administration, Pai’s intentions and actions are often <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/01/24/ajit-pai-donald-trump-s-fcc-pick-hates-net-neutrality.html">demonized</a> – even though he has <a href="https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-14-61A5.pdf">maintained</a> his desire to protect the “free and open Internet.” Pai has never criticized the concept of balanced net neutrality, and as one author writing for Forbes <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/larrydownes/2017/01/24/why-is-the-media-smearing-new-fcc-chair-ajit-pai-as-the-enemy-of-net-neutrality/#141dab10438e">suggested</a>, Pai’s FCC will be consistent, experienced, and professional – an apparent deviation from the administration as a whole. For instance, he <a href="https://morningconsult.com/opinions/open-government-rules-best-moves-new-fcc-chairman/">introduced</a> several new transparency measures to improve the public’s ability to view rules well before they are passed, unlike in the past where some rules were not published until well after their vote by the commission. </p> <p>Moreover, according to <i>Fast Company</i>, “It seems less and less likely that Pai has it in mind to completely kill the network neutrality principles … [two commission insiders who insisted on anonymity said] Pai is more likely to scale back the effects of the order, rather than pushing the commission to withdraw it or asking Congress to pass legislation that overrides it. Pai may “soften” the order by allowing broadband carriers some kinds of web traffic prioritization or throttling under clearly defined conditions, one source said. For example, if a broadband customer is paying for 100 megabit-per-second broadband service, the provider might be allowed to prioritize some kinds of bandwidth-sensitive traffic (like video) in order to meet the speed promise.” In other words, the FCC’s new modus operandi vis-à-vis the Open Internet Order may likely offer ISPs more flexibility with traffic management, which deviates from the previous protocol under Wheeler of leaving data speeds untouched. The article concluded on an optimistic but also uncertain note: “For now at least, the reports of net neutrality’s death may indeed be greatly exaggerated.”</p> <p>There is a case to be made that Pai is motivated by the firm conviction of operating within the limits of power/oversight granted to the FCC by Congress. Regardless of his intentions, though, he is expected to steer the FCC into “<a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/ajit-pai-fcc-net-neutrality-trump-what-to-expect-2017-2/#-21">a more hands-off, pro-industry direction</a>,” which was reinforced during his first US Senate <a href="http://www.theverge.com/2017/3/8/14858134/ajit-pai-first-oversight-hearing-fcc-chairman">hearing</a> as FCC chairman on 8 March 2017. Time will tell whether or not his conviction – and his vision – will manifest in a way that protects the free, competitive, and open Internet he and many of his Republican colleagues advocate so adamantly for, or if it will lead to the fears some consumer advocates believe may come to pass: greater market capture/monopolization by the powerful, existing telecoms, and ultimately higher costs for US Internet subscribers.</p> <p><i>Attribution: An earlier version of this article was published on the Global Forum for Media and Development blog at: </i><a href="http://www.gfmd.info/en/site/news/1087/Net-Neutrality-in-the-Crosshairs-after-Trump--Michael-J-Oghia.htm"><i>www.gfmd.info/en/site/news/1087/Net-Neutrality-in-the-Crosshairs-after-Trump--Michael-J-Oghia.htm</i></a><i>.</i></p> <p><i>Acknowledgments: Special thanks to Farid Enrique Ben Amor for his suggestions on how to improve this article and make it more objective.</i></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p> <p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Internet </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Net neutrality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> digitaLiberties hri United States Democracy and government Economics International politics Internet Net neutrality Legal frontiers Michael J. Oghia Fri, 17 Mar 2017 18:35:42 +0000 Michael J. Oghia 109509 at https://www.opendemocracy.net State surveillance is a global threat to press freedom https://www.opendemocracy.net/sarah-kavanagh/state-surveillance-is-global-threat-to-press-freedom <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The state should not have the power to secretly identify then persecute whistleblowers. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" alt="HRI" width="460px" /></a></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-21546989.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-21546989.jpg" alt="lead lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Edward Snowden on a laptop, receiving the Stuttgart Peace Prize from the organization Die AnStifter in 2014.Thomas Kienzle/Press Association. </span></span></span></p><p>In October 2014, and following Edward Snowden’s surveillance revelations, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the UK wanted to bring people together to discuss the implications for the media industry, as a whole but with a particular emphasis on front-line journalists. These are the people who are approached by the public and any media workers who handle sensitive or secretive information about terrorism, politics, crime, misconduct, corruption, human rights, civil unrest, protests and social movements. </p> <p>We organised the conference with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in London which was attended by journalists' representatives from around the world. Although we did not know it at the time, the event marked the starting point of a campaign that is not over yet. <span class="mag-quote-center">The authorities can listen to telephone calls and read emails… also access computers or phones regardless of encryption.</span></p> <p>The <a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2016/25/contents/enacted/data.htm">UK state surveillance powers</a> are vast. They include the interception of communications; the authorities can listen to telephone calls and read emails. They can also access computers or phones regardless of encryption. They can tap into documents, diaries, contacts, photos, videos, messages, and geographical location apps. They have the power to detect what is typed into a device, including passwords, draft documents and deleted files. Government hackers are also able to switch on microphones, video and cameras. </p> <h2><b>Investigatory powers</b></h2> <p>That <a href="https://www.nuj.org.uk/campaigns/safeguarding-journalists-and-their-sources/">IFJ conference</a> agreed to challenge the state’s ability to secretly access journalistic communications, materials and sources – known as “investigatory powers”. In the weeks before the conference the NUJ found out the police had secretly accessed a national newspaper’s newsdesk phone and they had targeted journalists’ mobile phone records. The following year a report revealed that 19 police forces had made 608 applications for communications data to find journalistic sources. This week, tribunal judges ruled that Cleveland police had used these surveillance powers to seize local and national journalists' phone records.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1984/60/contents">1984 Police and Criminal Evidence Act</a> (PACE) requires the authorities to contact a journalist or media organisation before accessing their work. This legislation enables journalists and media organisations to challenge the request in an open court. Using the PACE legislation, in the past the NUJ has won many legal victories to protect journalists’ work, integrity and sources. <span class="mag-quote-center">The authorities no longer have an obligation to contact a journalist or media organisation when they want to access information stored on electronic devices.</span></p> <p>But in 2016, the government used changes in technology, including the increasing reliance and use of smartphones, as the basis to move away from the long-standing procedures and protections offered by PACE. The authorities no longer have an obligation to contact a journalist or media organisation when they want to access information stored on electronic devices. The UK government claims that information stored on electronic devices is owned by the communications provider so they can now go to the companies to get this information in secret.</p> <h2><b>Save our Sources</b></h2> <p>When the authorities proposed that these <a href="https://www.nuj.org.uk/news/judicial-oversight-is-key-for-accessing-communications-data/">fundamental changes</a> should form part of the Investigatory Powers Bill, we were alarmed by the lack of safeguards. We responded by building a broad campaigning alliance to oppose the threats. We linked up with the Press Gazette to launch the “<a href="http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/subject/save-our-sources/">Save our Sources</a>” petition; we organised a series of events in parliament and we worked alongside <a href="https://www.nuj.org.uk/news/whats-wrong-with-the-investigatory-powers-bill/">the Bar Council and Law Society</a>. We also drafted alternative proposals, secured cross-party consensus and <a href="https://www.nuj.org.uk/documents/nuj-ipb-submission-to-the-public-bill-committee/">tabled a series of amendments</a> to the bill in the House of Commons and in the Lords. We contacted the Society of Editors and the News Media Association to organise a united campaign. </p> <p>Nevertheless, the government <a href="https://theconversation.com/drip-is-an-abuse-of-our-rights-not-a-matter-of-national-security-29622">continued to push the legislation through</a> with little regard for the impact on press freedom in Britain as well as the ramifications for the rest of the world. The proposals became law in the Investigatory Powers Act in November 2016. Similar legislation has also come into force in other countries, including Germany, France and Australia. <span class="mag-quote-center">The UK government claims that information stored on electronic devices is owned by the communications provider so they can now go to the companies to get this information in secret.</span></p> <h2><b>Ignoring the European Court of Justice</b></h2> <p>When journalists don’t know their work and their sources are being compromised, it becomes practically impossible to uphold <a href="https://www.nuj.org.uk/about/nuj-code/">the NUJ’s ethical code of conduct</a> which enshrines the principle of protecting sources. This is crucial because most journalists rely on the public for information and sometimes people will only speak to the media and share information on condition of their anonymity. Many news stories, ranging from the Panama Papers to MPs’ expenses, are based on information provided by anonymous sources. The state should not have the power to secretly identify then persecute these whistleblowers. </p> <p>At the end of last year the NUJ welcomed <a href="https://terrorismlegislationreviewer.independent.gov.uk/cjeu-judgment-in-watson/">the decision of the European Court of Justice</a> (ECJ), which ruled the UK government's general and indiscriminate retention of email and electronic communications was illegal. Despite this damning judgment, the government has not even responded to this decision. <span class="mag-quote-center">In this new climate we need to renew our efforts to build an international campaign.</span></p> <p>The lack of legal safeguards continues to threaten the ability of journalists to do their work without state interference. In this new climate we need to renew our efforts to build an international campaign that includes those who care about press freedom in countries that have introduced repressive surveillance legislation. We must also build new working practices, using the <a href="https://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/campaigning/no-snooperscharter/libertys-guide-protecting-your-rights-online">tools available</a>, to offer some protection against unjustified snooping on journalists, their work and sources. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" /></a></p> <p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>See also <em>Human rights/the internet</em> panel with Annie Machon on "<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PL27HDLFDYbmLJYEwytbazHp5sVOOI5LL5&amp;v=P31PvWYoxDc">Your biggest concerns defending human rights in the Digital Age.</a>"</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/rebecca-sentance/why-whistleblowers-are-essential-to-democracy">Why whistleblowers are essential to democracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/digitaliberties/julian-huppert/uk-investigatory-powers-bill-becomes-law-terrify-us">The UK’s Investigatory Powers Bill is about to become law – here&#039;s why that should terrify us</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/simona-levi/transparency-for-state-privacy-for-rest-of-us">&quot;Transparency for the state! Privacy for the rest of us!&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-lashmar/no-more-sources">No more sources</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/renata-avila/privacy-and-data-protection-day-restoring-trust-for-digital-citizens">Privacy and Data Protection Day: restoring trust for digital citizens</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Internet </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> digitaLiberties hri Can Europe make it? uk EU UK Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics Internet Powers behind the screen World Forum for Democracy 2016 Sarah Kavanagh Fri, 03 Feb 2017 13:57:20 +0000 Sarah Kavanagh 108568 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Privacy and Data Protection Day: restoring trust for digital citizens https://www.opendemocracy.net/renata-avila/privacy-and-data-protection-day-restoring-trust-for-digital-citizens <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The web has made our world increasingly borderless, and digital security should be borderless too, not just a privilege of those who can afford it.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" alt="HRI" width="460" /></a></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-29870930_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-29870930_0.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>January 25, 2017,President Donald Trump signs documents at the Department of Homeland Security in Washington. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Companies and governments are rushing to connect the next billions. And there is no shortage of tech solutions being proposed to improve the lives of the poor across the Global South using the web. From<a href="http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/un-biometric-iris-scanners-transforming-syrian-refugee-programme-by-preventing-fraud-1527362"> biometric readers</a> to determine the age of refugees, to electronic cards to track and improve the habits of those receiving conditional cash transfers, there is a tendency to experiment with new technologies on marginalised or vulnerable communities, supposedly for their own good.</p> <p>But what kind of web are the newly connected finding when they come online? A glance at recent reports of privacy and data breaches across the Global South shows that it may be a web where the citizens of these countries do not enjoy as safe an online environment as their western counterparts.</p> <p>In some cases, this may be because some governments who are overwhelmed with other challenges do not yet see online security as a policy priority. Often there is simply no relevant legislation in place to protect citizens, or such laws have significant gaps or are hopelessly outdated. But in other cases, authoritarian regimes deliberately undermine privacy and data protection in order to spy on and control their citizens, as evidenced by the<a href="https://citizenlab.org/tag/hacking-team/"> Hacking Team revelations</a>. Just this week, even US President Trump signed <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/25/presidential-executive-order-enhancing-public-safety-interior-united">an executive order</a> scrapping the application of privacy protections to users who are not US citizens or permanent residents. <span class="mag-quote-center">Just this week, US President Trump signed an executive order scrapping the application of privacy protections to users who are not US citizens or permanent residents.</span></p> <p>Compounding this problem, all too often NGOs, businesses and governments who are operating in these countries are guilty of only applying national levels of protection instead of ensuring international human rights and technical standards offer users the highest levels of digital protection. This creates an unequal world where the digital rights of those from the wealthiest countries are protected by bilateral treaties and national laws and institutions, while the same does not apply in the Global South. In many developing countries, companies have little pressure to rein in sloppy security practices, and in some cases are grasping a tempting short-term opportunity to extract as much data as possible without the costs of complying with stringent privacy and data protection laws.</p> <p>Just such an example<a href="http://www.zdnet.com/article/off-the-grid-thousands-exposed-after-database-leak/"> was reported in the fall of 2016</a>: an unprotected database containing personal customer data of thousands of off-grid electricity customers from a “social startup” operating in Guatemala and South Africa was accessible for months. The users were completely unaware of it; they had limited access to electricity and many of them were illiterate. All the documents and fingerprints they used to enrol in the startup’s services were available for abuse, potentially enabling others to create fake identities with original copies of their documents and personal data. </p> <p>This is not an isolated incident – the number of data breaches<a href="http://www.idtheftcenter.org/2016databreaches.html"> nearly doubled last year</a>. Many in the Global South are particularly vulnerable, unable to control how their personal data is used, or not yet aware of the risks of technology.</p> <p>Incidents like these result from short-term thinking. NGOs, governments and businesses that rely on digital services must begin to think long-term, particularly about the impact of these breaches on citizen and consumer trust. If people don’t trust their technology to provide a reasonable level of privacy, they are less likely to embrace digital services for basic activities like communicating with friends and family, organising politically, managing their finances, and accessing public services. What’s more, businesses and NGOs operating in countries with political risk have an additional ethical imperative to ensure their platforms are not used to conduct human rights violations and/or construct an authoritarian state. <span class="mag-quote-center">Businesses and NGOs operating in countries with political risk have an additional ethical imperative to ensure their platforms are not used to construct an authoritarian state.</span></p> <p>So how can companies and NGOs operate responsibly and ethically in this challenging environment?</p> <h2><strong>Privacy and Data Protection Day</strong></h2> <p>For the time being, users are being advised to use short-term solutions – from covering their device cameras to using Tor or VPNs to hide their online activities. But these are not sustainable solutions for restoring trust. What we need is a global standard of privacy and data protection norms that companies and NGOs will come to see as integral to conducting their activities ethically, responsibly and minimising their own exposure and risk.</p> <p>Today is <a href="http://www.coe.int/en/web/data-protection/data-protection-day">Privacy and Data Protection Day</a>, the perfect opportunity for companies and NGOs to take proactive steps and pledge to grant the highest standards of digital protection to all users and consumers regardless of jurisdiction. Certainly aid agencies and governments should not condition the provision of humanitarian assistance on invasive data collection practices. <span class="mag-quote-center">What we need is a global standard of privacy and data protection norms.</span></p> <p>The web has made our world increasingly borderless, and digital security should be borderless too, not just a privilege of those who can afford it or who are fortunate enough to live in jurisdictions with strong safeguards. </p> <p>For starters, we might look to the<a href="https://www.coe.int/en/web/conventions/full-list/-/conventions/treaty/108"> Council of Europe Privacy Convention</a>, an international instrument protecting personal data that non-EU countries can adopt. We must work with civil society, unions, consumer associations, policy makers, political parties and government officers to develop and refine best practices, to ensure all web users, regardless of where they are, enjoy equal privacy and data protection standards worldwide.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p> <p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> hri Legal frontiers Renata Avila Sat, 28 Jan 2017 09:35:37 +0000 Renata Avila 108400 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A rights-based approach to technology: gathering admissible evidence and the eyeWitness to Atrocities app https://www.opendemocracy.net/wendy-suzanne-betts-nyangala-zolho/rights-based-approach-to-technology-gathering-admissible-evidence <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The right to anonymity, whilst always promoted by accountability mechanisms has never allowed witnesses to give evidence without ever having to identify themselves to some sort of authority. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" alt="HRI" width="460px" /></a></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/eyeWitness training.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/eyeWitness training.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>eyeWitness training.</span></span></span>This year the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CiwnysAjOw">United Nations</a> has called on <em>“everyone to stand up for someone’s rights.” </em>While a laudable directive, this call to arms should include discussion of the implications. If we are to call on individuals to stand up for Human Rights, we must acknowledge the serious consequences that often accompany these acts of courage and empower those who are brave enough to take such risks. </p> <p>Technology can help maximise individual efforts. Yet by the same token important security considerations that go hand-in-hand with the use of such tools must remain central to all our discussions. Particularly in the post-Snowden era, protecting documenters means considering both offline and online security.&nbsp; A call to arms without recognition of this vital point is at best misguided and at worst risks causing more harm than good.</p> <p>In 2010, before the Snowden revelations, a video emerged of alleged Sri Lankan troops executing Tamil prisoners. Dr Mark Ellis, Executive Director of the International Bar Association, was asked to <a href="https://www.channel4.com/news/sri-lanka-war-crimes-video-who-are-these-men">comment</a> on its authenticity and value to a court of law. He found that despite the heinous crimes depicted, the harrowing footage was likely to be of no use to a court of law. That realisation sparked the following thought.&nbsp; What if there was a tool that could address this enigma of a 2.0 world, where countless images and videos evidence international crimes and yet provide no evidence at all?</p> <h2><strong>eyeWitness to Atrocities</strong></h2> <p>Following four years of research, development and testing, the eyeWitness to Atrocities app, funded and initiated by the International Bar Association, has been launched to provide a solution that could allow human rights defenders, activists and other courageous citizens to collect verifiable evidence for use by international courts and investigations.&nbsp; </p> <p>The eyeWitness app is a mobile camera app, for Android devices, that allows the user to record photos, videos, and audio in a manner that facilitates the use of the images in court. The security implications of such a tool remained central to the app’s design and development. A rights-based approach to technology was adopted in a now post-Snowden era, to prevent those already risking their lives from doing so more dangerously. Working in close consultation with various legal bodies, eyeWitness developers had to consider the needs of both the app user and the legal entity that may require certain conditions to be met if footage was ever to become real evidence.</p> <p>Taking into account the need for various kinds of information to accompany footage, the primary design decision in this regard was to allow the user to still remain anonymous if they wished.&nbsp; Anonymity whilst not a right in practice, facilitates the protection of many rights such as the Right to Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Information and Freedom of Association, especially when it comes to groups such as human rights defenders, activists, journalists or other perceived dissidents. Security features that help safeguard anonymity therefore function as <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/digitaliberties/hanane-boujemi/right-to-online-anonymity">indirect protectors of these rights</a>, as without them the promotion and protection of these rights would be challenged significantly. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Trusted chain of custody &nbsp;</strong></h2> <p>Another key feature embedded in the eyeWitness app’s design is a trusted chain of custody. For legal professionals wanting to pursue accountability for these crimes, the chain provides validity that the footage being used as evidence is an original copy that has not been tampered with since the moment of capture; key to promoting the <a href="https://vae.witness.org/video-as-evidence-field-guide/">admissibility of such evidence</a> in court. As a result, all footage sent to eyeWitness’s secure repository has to be stored offline with all access monitored and logged. The European location of eyeWitness servers are also undisclosed, for safety and security reasons that can still come under <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/digitaliberties/carly-nyst-rosemary-bechler/after-snowden-can-technology-save-our-digital-liberties">threat</a> despite the continent at large holding liberal democratic values. </p> <p>For the human rights defenders, journalists or simply courageous citizens seeking to raise awareness, the trusted chain of custody helps authenticate their claims and gives the footage captured legitimacy. The eyeWitness app records much needed meta-data, such as cell phone tower IDs, GPS coordinates and nearby WiFi networks, the time, date and location allowing the footage to be verified. The chain also gives an assurance of who will access captured evidence and by what means the footage will be used. Evidence collected, as a result, goes from being “alleged,” to holding some truth in the wider world and its justice systems, but without jeopardising the safety of the app. </p> <h2><strong>The importance of design</strong></h2> <p>Yet for many, particularly the perpetrators of the worst international crimes, the idea that their actions can be reliably recorded does not sit so well. The security risks associated with documenting the worst international crimes are unavoidable, but mitigating the risks to protect witnesses was and is not. Here is where an understanding of technology and what it can and can’t do is key, as it is only with this knowledge that we can begin to recognise the importance of design. </p> <p>For eyeWitness, this meant deciding to never record IP addresses or other data that may identify its users, and ensuring the information recorded, stored, and transmitted using the app is encrypted and hidden from view. By doing so, eyeWitness has been able to create a unique model that protects the witness to a crime like never before. The decision to protect anonymity as best as possible also ensured that if ever pressed by the Defence or Prosecution to reveal the data held, these parties would also be unable to trace back submissions to the source. The right to anonymity, whilst always promoted by accountability mechanisms has never allowed witnesses to give evidence without ever having to identify themselves to some sort of authority. </p> <p>The security features were a deliberate choice in eyeWitness’s design. Although risks can never be totally eliminated, as no technology is perfect, the importance of focusing on addressing security concerns first remains central to the rights-based approach. As another part of this approach, eyeWitness also worked closely with documenters and other investigative bodies when testing the app, maintaining ongoing relationships with these groups to promote the app’s incorporation into existing workflows. Making the technology free was the final guarantee of these principles. </p> <p>Individuals who document grave crimes do so at great personal risk.&nbsp; By definition, they are prioritizing justice and lessening the suffering of others over their own wellbeing.&nbsp; However, their efforts for the greater good should not mean that they forfeit their own rights.&nbsp; </p> <p>It is incumbent upon those of us working to empower these courageous individuals with new tools and approaches to do so mindfully, in a manner that not only considers their rights, but also protects them to the furthest extent possible.&nbsp; Instead of calling upon people to simply stand up for somebody’s rights, let us ensure we are responsibly equipping them to do so.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Maria FINAL.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Maria FINAL.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Maria - eyeWitness.</span></span></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p> <p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/simona-levi/transparency-for-state-privacy-for-rest-of-us">&quot;Transparency for the state! Privacy for the rest of us!&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-lashmar/no-more-sources">No more sources</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/digitaliberties/hanane-boujemi/right-to-online-anonymity">The right to online anonymity </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> hri Tech futures Nyangala Zolho Wendy Suzanne Betts Wed, 25 Jan 2017 19:00:29 +0000 Wendy Suzanne Betts and Nyangala Zolho 108359 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Facebook’s new role in Europe: protecting Poles from hate speech since 2016 https://www.opendemocracy.net/joanna-kulesza/facebook-s-new-role-in-europe-protecting-poles-from-hate-speech-since-2016 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A couple of years ago any nationalist statement against the “threat of muslimisation” was widely recognized as the very definition of hate speech across all European countries. By 2016, no longer.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" alt="HRI" width="460px" /></a></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Marsz_Niepodległości_2013_-16.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Marsz_Niepodległości_2013_-16.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Marsz Niepodlegości, 2013, with the Falanga symbol. Wikicommons/Wiktor Baron. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Throughout its history, public protests for human rights have been a common element of the political landscape in Poland. One might think Poles have always had their moral compasses set to protecting freedom and equality of all, with history having taught them the value of free speech and respect for minorities. Yet the turbulences that have recently rocked many boats thus far steadily steering towards European unity have also influenced the Polish human rights perimeter. </p> <p>Facebook was among the first to realize this shift, when it disabled access to discriminatory content inciting ethical and religious discrimination and was promptly accused of censorship and curtailing free speech not only by those directly affected, but also by ruling politicians. Last month the Polish minister for digital affairs met with Facebook to discuss hate speech and censorship, but the traditional role usually adopted by a democratic government, seems reversed in this dialogue. </p> <h2><b>Who is right in Poland?</b></h2> <p>Those who most recently hold the monopoly on being right in Poland are on the far right. It was the poster for the traditional “Independence March”, a yearly event organized to celebrate the country’s independence day on November 11 that provoked the most recent peculiar confrontation between Facebook, Polish nationalists and politicians on hate speech, free speech and censorship. The “Independence March” usually results in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9GjUs65Bb8">material losses and street fighting</a>, necessitating enhanced police protection, yet despite the changing political options consecutive local administrative authorities have been allowing it in the name of free speech and freedom of assembly. </p> <p>This year the march was organized, among others, by the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All-Polish_Youth">All-Polish Youth</a> society (Młodzież Wszechpolska). It is a nationalist organization, which usually uses the Falanga to represent itself - a graphic symbol of an arm raising a sword, used in 1920s by Polish nationalists. In its activity it also refers to the Celtic cross (banned in e.g. Germany, where it is considered to promote Nazism) and a graphic statement against homosexuality referred to as the “No way for gay” sign (“<a href="http://www.nacjonalista.pl/akcja-zakaz-pedalowania/">zakaz pedałowania</a>”). It was the Falanga that appeared on the controversial poster promoting the 2016 Independence March, emphasizing the role Poland is to play as the “bulwark of Europe” (“Polska bastionem Europy”) – the Catholic country to defend Europe against the Muslim threat. </p> <p>This statement follow others made by the organization earlier this year, just to mention the public protest against “<a href="http://www.pap.pl/aktualnosci/news,466120,w-warszawie-odbyla-sie-manifestacja-przeciw-islamizacji-europy.html">muslimisation of Europe</a>” held in Cracow and Warsaw in February 2016. While the All-PolishYouth has long been criticized by human rights advocates across Europe for its discriminatory policy, the recent currents of European politics brought its activity to the forefront of national policy making.&nbsp; While local courts and politicians declined to see the discriminatory content of this dangerous political trend, human rights activists turned to Facebook – the biggest online community and its self-regulation mechanism to stop the racist propaganda online. And Facebook lived up to the challenge. For three days. </p> <h2><b>The religious bulwark of Europe </b></h2> <p>On November 1, Facebook blocked the page of a Polish MP, Marek Jakubiak, who promoted the Independence Day march on his Facebook wall, following complaints from those who found the call to defend Europe against non-believers discriminatory. </p> <p>Access was also disabled to FB pages of All-Polish Youth and other right-wing organizations promoting the march. The takedown followed community protests: complaints made by users who felt the march itself as well as its advertising were discriminatory and hateful. The complainants indicated the discriminatory content of the posts. Facebook later referred directly to the Falanga symbol, visible on the official posters, as a direct reason for the takedowns of hateful, discriminatory content. </p> <p>However the predictable arguments of the company – that the takedowns followed community standards and mass user complaints – failed to satisfy the right wing activists. They did use the portal to promote their activity and seek community funding from mass followers per voluntary donations so the loss of advertising opportunity shortly before the march was particularly throbbing. Jakubik and his followers threatened legal action against the company. The MP claimed his freedom of speech was violated and used his public role to emphasize the ‘threat’ Facebook represented to the public discourse in Poland, as he was banned for “being proud to be Polish”. Employees of a Polish Facebook branch were identified as left-wing lobbyists pursuing their political sympathies, influencing the Dublin-based community review teams of the company. While the calls for the Internal Security Agency to go after Facebook were not yet followed by actions, the clear statement from Polish ministers, including the Minister for Digital Affairs who strongly criticized Facebook for censorship, banning posters promoting a perfectly legal public gathering in Poland, made Facebook lift their ban within the next few days. </p> <h2><b>A new Europe and its bulwarks </b></h2> <p>A couple of years ago any statement calling to “defend a country against aliens” and the “threat of muslimisation”, emphasizing the unique role a certain nationality has to play in defending religious values, was widely recognized as the very definition of hate speech across all European countries. </p> <p>In 2016 this assessment is no longer as obvious. One could even argue that the European Human Rights Convention, drafted in 1950 is no longer reflective of the values Europe stands for in 2016. While social networks, their “black-box” algorithms and community standards have long been criticized, also by this author, as not reflective of the rule of law, required by European human rights laws, it seems that those exact flexible standards and the moral sense of the community for the first time outweighed what remains of the European values in 2016.&nbsp; This worrying trend is also well visible in other European countries, just to mention the latest Swiss <a href="http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/swiss-commuters-demand-removal-burqa-shaming-posters-ahead-naturalisation-vote-1600804">campaign against naturalization of Muslims</a>. Business is naturally inclined to adapt to the wishes and choices of its “customers” – just how much their tastes have changed in recent years has yet to be seen. But a situation where a commercial, US-based enterprise stands against clear examples of hate speech and is criticized by national authorities is unprecedented in modern European history.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p> <p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/kasia-narkowicz-konrad-pedziwiatr/why-are-polish-people-so-wrong-about-muslims-in">Why are Polish people so wrong about Muslims in their country?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/krytyka-polityczna/free-ameer-alkhawlany">Free Ameer Alkhawlany!</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/tom-junes/will-polish-students-step-and-seize-their-opportunity">Will Polish students step up and seize their opportunity?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> hri Can Europe make it? Tech futures Joanna Kulesza Wed, 25 Jan 2017 13:43:58 +0000 Joanna Kulesza 108348 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Mexico's misinformation wars https://www.opendemocracy.net/hri/tanya-ocarroll/mexicos-misinformation-wars <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>How organized troll networks attack and harass journalists and activists in Mexico. <em><strong><a href="https://medium.com/@AmnestyInsights/la-guerra-de-desinformaci%C3%B3n-en-m%C3%A9xico-b9bec1b19b4f#.ya7858a9w">Español</a></strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" alt="HRI" width="460" /></a></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562747/1*ZplQDJ_3fIQYBkmZVpfI-w.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562747/1*ZplQDJ_3fIQYBkmZVpfI-w.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="425" height="318" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Alberto Escorcia, Mexico City</span></span></span>It's a bright winter day and we're seated at the plastic tables in a coffee shop in downtown Mexico City, Alberto's choice of venue. He hunches over a laptop as he animatedly talks me through a short history of what he calls “techno-censorship” in Mexico. It´s hard to keep up as he shifts rapidly between webpages. Each is indexed clearly in his memory: “you see, I'm quite obsessive Tanya”.</p> <p>What he calls obsession could also be called a propensity for detail and a great deal of patience. Both are prerequisites when your line of work is documenting the thousands of abusive tweets that collectively make up the daily activity of Mexico's orchestrated troll networks.</p> <p>“It´s a huge problem in Mexico”, Alberto tells me. “On an average day, I see two or three trending topics generated by the trolls. Anywhere between 1000 and 3000 tweets a day. Many operate as part of organized “troll gangs” who are paid to make stories go viral or to launch campaigns discrediting and attacking journalists.”</p> <p>The techno-censorship Alberto witnesses online is simply the latest frontline in a hidden war that aims to silence journalists and those who speak out.</p> <blockquote> <p><em>“If they don't kill you, they ruin your life. The trolls generate a constant climate of fear, and it stops people from publishing”.</em></p></blockquote> <p>Alberto speaks from experience. Since becoming a thorn in the side of the trolls, he has faced mounting harassment and death threats.</p> <p>For example, in September this year, trolls launched a vicious spate of death threats targeting journalists and human rights groups on the second year anniversary of Ayotzinapa, the date that 43 students were forcibly disappeared in Mexico.</p> <p>Using the phrase “él patrón ya dio la orden” (the boss has given the order) the troll accounts posted threatening tweets, such as this one sent to Centro Prodh, a leading human rights organization in Mexico. It warned its staff not to attend the Ayotzinapa protests unless they wanted “their blood spilt”.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562747/1*OYukIw08P6NclR5rW7kaiA_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562747/1*OYukIw08P6NclR5rW7kaiA_0.png" alt="" title="" width="274" height="367" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Tweet reads: Hello @CentroProdh I hope you don´t go to the Angel (meeting spot) at 4pm, that´s if you don´t want your blood spilt. The boss has given the order. </span></span></span><span><br />Alberto documented the attacks and reported the accounts behind them to Twitter. While the @TercoDJesus account was blocked, others popped up. </span><strong>This time Alberto became their target.</strong></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562747/1*jjRvcE4_jRqlYP0Pk7g4tg.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562747/1*jjRvcE4_jRqlYP0Pk7g4tg.png" alt="" title="" width="320" height="320" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Tweet reads: Son of a b**** @AlbertoEscorcia the boss has seen your article where you say bad things about him, say goodbye to your family, you´re a dead man.</span></span></span></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562747/1*h2OPCn901cej3V3LlU-ySA.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562747/1*h2OPCn901cej3V3LlU-ySA.png" alt="" title="" width="383" height="243" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Tweet reads: @AlbertoEscorcia You´re going to give honour to your username f***ing journalistic scum the boss has given the order @xxElNoruegoxxx (Escorcia sounds like escoria, meaning scum in Spanish)</span></span></span></p> <p>Amnesty downloaded and analysed all of the tweets using “Él patrón ya dio la orden” and found 2377 accounts tweeting on the hashtag. In the spate of just two days, at least 10 journalists, public figures and human rights groups received violent death threats bearing the same hallmarks.&nbsp;</p> <h2>The troll takeover of Twitter in&nbsp;Mexico</h2> <p>What is happening online is nothing more than a reflection of what is happening offline in Mexico.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Since the war on drugs began in 2006, we've lived through the worst period for freedom of expression”, says Alberto.</p> <p>Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries on earth to be a journalist, <a href="https://medium.com/r/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cpj.org%2Freports%2F2016%2F10%2Fimpunity-index-getting-away-with-murder-killed-justice.php%23index">according to the Committee to Protect Journalists</a>. It is also in the middle of a human rights crisis, stained by the disappearance of<a href="https://medium.com/r/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.amnesty.org%2Fen%2Flatest%2Fnews%2F2016%2F09%2Ftwo-years-on-pena-nieto-cannot-brush-off-ayotzinapa-stain%2F"> almost 30,000 men, women and children over the last decade</a>&nbsp;– the  most since the current president, Peña Nieto took office in 2012.&nbsp;</p> <p>The violence – and the impunity shrouding it – has energized a new generation of digitally-savvy Mexican activists who want to see accountability for the human rights abuses committed.&nbsp;</p> <p>Alberto is one of them. In 2012, he became active in the #YoSoy132 student movement, initiated in protest against Mexico's political elites during the presidential campaign that year. Using an online pseudonym, Alberto called for some of the protests and quickly became adept at analyzing social media data in order to be able to organize more effectively. <strong>That´s when he started to notice a dark new presence on social media:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p><em>“At first their tactics were unsophisticated. They were basically spambots that would flood Twitter with thousands of automated tweets. They were a nuisance, hijacking hashtags we were using to organize protests and filling them with spam and false information.”</em></p></blockquote> <p>The spambots were relatively easy for Twitter to block. By adjusting their algorithm they could detect when hundreds of tweets with the exact same message were posted within a split second, and automatically mark it as “spam”.</p> <p>But the tactics soon evolved. Instead of automated bots, real people started to operate the accounts, making it hard for Twitter to differentiate between spambots and real users.</p> <p>And where there is demand, there is a market. Alberto believes there is now a whole commercial sector underpinning the trolls, in which people are paid to spread misinformation and abuse online.</p> <blockquote> <p><em>“They've not really got a political agenda. They could mobilize for any cause they're paid for. I've seen them organize to promote the government's new energy reform bill and to lobby against a proposed sugar tax. The next day they could be working together to make a death threat go viral”.</em></p></blockquote> <p>It's not easy to prove. One of the trolls' hallmarks is how opaque and difficult to investigate they are. Like a black hole, we can see the activity surrounding them but in the centre remains a big question mark. How many people are behind the accounts? How are they organized?</p> <p>The little Alberto knows is thanks to a repentant troll operator who approached him in 2014 out of guilt. She confessed to having been paid 50,000 pesos an hour (almost USD $2,500) to run up to 150 accounts against Mexico´s #YaMeCanse protests, which swept the country in the wake of the disappearance of the 43 Ayotzinapa students (YaMeCanse means “I’ve had enough” in Spanish).&nbsp;</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562747/1*5l3Yfz4LhIPwgw60lJFUUA.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562747/1*5l3Yfz4LhIPwgw60lJFUUA.png" alt="" title="" width="353" height="314" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The orange smudge at the top is the start of the troll offensive against #YaMeCanse. The protesters had to change to #YaMeCanse2, and then 3, all the way to 33, in order to stay ahead of the trolls who flooded the hashtag with spam.</span></span></span>&nbsp;<br />Twitter themselves admit that they face a particularly nasty problem in Mexico. The company's policy team describe it as an endless game of techno one-upmanship. The trolls evolve their tactics and Twitter's spam team evolve theirs. However, Twitter are reluctant to block accounts that could belong to people expressing genuine views.</p> <p>However, a bigger problem seems to be one of resourcing on Twitter's spam. Their response to policing abuse in Spanish is patchy at best. Sometimes they block the trolls quickly, other times it takes days, and requires Alberto (and on one occasion me) chasing them. Other times, Alberto simply receives a message saying that the account was not found to have violated <a href="https://medium.com/r/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fsupport.twitter.com%2Farticles%2F18311">Twitter’s Rules</a> (in cases where tweets were unambiguously abusive). Later, they may decide to suspend or block the account after all. When querying Twitter´s policy team about why and how such decisions are made, they are not forthcoming. Meanwhile, without effective action by Twitter, the troll networks keep multiplying.</p> <p>Which is why Alberto now spends hours each day documenting the trolls. He hopes that with enough evidence, Twitter can be persuaded to properly investigate the troll takeover of their platform in Mexico and devise more effective strategies to combat the abuse.</p> <p>At the moment, it's a futile game of Whac-a-Mole. Each time Alberto successfully reports an account and Twitter blocks it, another one opens immediately with a new name. Alberto can’t keep up.&nbsp;</p> <h2>From death threats to defamation campaigns</h2> <p>Alberto browses through a list of Twitter hashtags to show me another example. He picks a Twitter trending topic from two weeks earlier: #LosSecretosdeAristegui (the secrets of Aristegui).</p> <p>Carmen Aristegui is one of Mexico´s most renowned investigative journalists, something she has paid a heavy price for. She was fired twice from national radio and now faces a civil lawsuit alleging defamation for an investigation she ran, back in late 2014, into the acquisition of president Peña Nieto’s house. Most recently, on 13 November 2016, her office was broken into and a laptop taken.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562747/1*oBU2uaDsMqWZKzjYt34ZoA.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562747/1*oBU2uaDsMqWZKzjYt34ZoA.png" alt="" title="" width="230" height="400" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>&nbsp;<br />In addition to these traditional tactics of repression, in the past few years Aristegui has come under fire from a new kind of threat: <strong>massive, coordinated troll attacks that focus on intimidating and discrediting her.</strong></p> <p>#LosSecretosdeAristegui was launched on 15 November immediately following the release of a video on Facebook accusing the journalist of taking money from Mexican telecom magnate, Carlos Slim. <a href="https://medium.com/r/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fchannel%2FUCIzclzh_Rw3NwSlhrF2haVQ">The video</a> was posted by an account called ElPueblo Informa, which appears to have been set-up with this purpose alone (the account had no other published content when we checked it). Troll networks then launched their offensive on Twitter, soon turning the hashtag into a trending topic.</p> <p><em>“They are not limited to Twitter, they depend on a whole ecosystem of fake sites and blogs in Mexico”, Alberto tells me. “That's how they seed false stories and create trending topics out of them”.</em></p> <p>Sat in the cafe, Alberto downloads 5,109 of the tweets associated with the hashtag #LosSecretosdeAristegui and uses a programme called <a href="https://medium.com/r/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fgephi.org%2F">Gephi</a> to analyse patterns. Gephi works by identifying groups within the network that are closely coordinated (usually because they retweet or mention each other). Trolls are distinguishable because they usually have tight follow networks (they all follow each other), and often follow fewer accounts than real users. Once he has identified a network, Alberto then examines a few of the accounts and individual tweets, in order to confirm they are trolls.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562747/1*aGyHcn-gsAkJdGqwkdglnA.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562747/1*aGyHcn-gsAkJdGqwkdglnA.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="398" height="419" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A screenshot of Alberto´s laptop showing #LosSecretosdeAristegui visualized on Gephi — there are four networks active on the hashtag. Carmen Aristegui´s supporters are visible in green. The black cluster is the same abusive troll network that launched the death threats against activists and journalists #ElPatronYaDiolaOrden</span></span></span></p> <p>Among the various clusters that are visible on the hashtag, Alberto recognizes a group of trolls who call themselves the Holk Legion (the black cluster above). The Holk Legion openly take credit for launching abusive hashtags in Mexico, and they have targeted Aristegui in the past. An account belonging to the Holk Legion – @laholker2 – initiated the hashtag and called on others to turn it into a Twitter trending topic.&nbsp;</p> <p>Other accounts joined in, sending Carmen Aristegui death threats in the same style as the spate of attacks on La Patrón Ya Dio La Orden.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562747/1*-8EtgNCFCEycIohool54yg.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562747/1*-8EtgNCFCEycIohool54yg.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="329" height="226" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Read with attention Miss Carmen we already have what we want and you no longer serve us. The attached image is a note covered in bullets which says “you have f***ing had it”</span></span></span>Since she was fired from the national radio, Carmen Arigestui has run an independent news portal online. I spoke to her team who estimated that each large orchestrated troll attack diminishes their capacity by 20–50%, as staff are occupied with responding to the attack. In their words:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>“When we are small teams, the fact that one hand is dedicated to this, distracted by dealing with the attacks, we lose quality in the production of content, and at the end of the day this affects the production of news, of information, and the investigations that we're working on – it’s an indirect but real impact, at the end of the day, it´s very real”.</em></p></blockquote> <p>It´s not just Aristegui. The trolls have organized time and again against prominent critical voices in Mexico. These kinds of defamation campaigns may seem softer than death threats, but they take their toll on activists and journalists. By creating a constant string of scandals, these tactics undermine their credibility and distract from the issues they work to expose.&nbsp;</p> <h2>So, what can be&nbsp;done?</h2> <p>It´s clear this problem is not going to go away. The trolls keep evolving and they're getting around Twitter's spam team easily. Alberto is worried about the role they will play during Mexico's elections in 2018.&nbsp;</p> <p>If Amnesty can identify the troll networks, then it is clear that Twitter can too. And Twitter have access to a lot more data to identify the patterns in their activity. The company can and should be doing more. It’s not just a question of investing more resources; the company also needs to localize its strategies. As a US-based company, with a large share of its income and users in English speaking markets, the Spanish-speaking platform is being neglected. The result is a troll takeover.&nbsp;</p> <p>If Twitter don't act, the work of documenting and reporting on the trolls will be left to individuals like Alberto. And that work is putting him at risk.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;. &nbsp;. &nbsp;.</p> <p>Alberto finishes our interview. He has to rush to another meeting, this one is with the government's National Mechanism for the Protection of Journalists. He has just been informed of a renewal of his “protective measures” from the state because of all the death threats he receives.</p> <blockquote> <p><em>“It takes a profound hope and maybe some craziness to keep working on this in Mexico and hope it will change. All my friends who keep on publishing say the same. We take the risk because we are mad enough to believe it will change.”</em></p></blockquote> <p>Just before he closes his laptop, he shows me one final thing.</p> <p>“Look, see the trolls have gone into action. You can see them in real-time.”</p> <p>On his computer screen, tiny flickering lines expand and connect, expanding outwards in seconds until a daunting grey cloud fills his screen, undulating and mutating as a new wave of tweets pour in.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>This post has been republished from the&nbsp;<a href="https://medium.com/@AmnestyInsights/cb748ecb32e9#.36vgg4hdu">Amnesty Insights&nbsp;Medium channel</a>.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p> <p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/bishakha-datta/belling-trolls-free-expression-online-abuse-and-gender">Belling the trolls: free expression, online abuse and gender</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/digitaliberties/hanane-boujemi/right-to-online-anonymity">The right to online anonymity </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/digitaliberties/elinor-carmi/whose-data-is-it-anyway">Whose data is it anyway? </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> DemocraciaAbierta hri Powers behind the screen Alberto Escorcia Tanya O'Carroll Tue, 24 Jan 2017 14:59:07 +0000 Tanya O'Carroll and Alberto Escorcia 108128 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Facebook President: fact trumps fiction https://www.opendemocracy.net/zeena-feldman-sumedh-shastri/facebook-president-fact-trumps-fiction <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="Body">Did Facebook really turn Hillary Clinton from POTUS 45 into Al Gore 2016? </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" alt="HRI" width="460px" /></a></p> <p class="Body"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/640px-ISS-46_Scott_Kelly&#039;s_first_ever_NASA_Reddit_Ask_Me_Anything_from_space_(2).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/640px-ISS-46_Scott_Kelly&#039;s_first_ever_NASA_Reddit_Ask_Me_Anything_from_space_(2).jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>First ever NASA Reddit Ask Me Anything from space. Flickr/NASA> Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p class="Body">Keynes once said ‘When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir?’ In today’s world of post-truth politics and self-made echo chambers, the likely response is ‘There’s nothing wrong with my information’. The likely response is one of defensive righteousness. Or a rude gesture. </p> <p class="Body">We are all apt to occupy entrenched positions at one time or another, but never has this seemed as easy or rewarding as in our social media age. Digital platforms have sold us the illusion that if a claim doesn’t conform to our existing worldview, then that claim doesn’t exist – it is not real. <span class="mag-quote-center">As the conceptual categories of ‘us’ and ‘them’ become standard terms of engagement, populism and xenophobia emerge as the hallmarks of political discourse.</span></p> <p class="Body">Following the Brexit referendum results, and now Donald Trump’s electoral victory, the ‘losers’ among us are looking for answers. How did it all go so wrong? And who is to blame? It is in this context that we need to understand the current Facebook witch hunt. Social media platforms have reminded us that the boundary between fact and fiction is rarely as clear as we might wish it to be. Likewise, these platforms reveal the paradoxes and limits of user-generated content. On the one hand, everyone can be a broadcaster. On the other hand, this ‘democratic’ participation supports a business model for which veracity is not a meaningful – or even relevant – metric. Content is content is content, truth be damned.</p> <p class="Body">The ink covering the 2016 US presidential election has hardly been spilled, but in many ways this unusual cycle was not that unusual. It was a traditional two party race, where the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/10/upshot/there-are-more-white-voters-than-people-think-thats-good-news-for-trump.html">Republican voters were whiter</a> and <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/11/08/us/politics/election-exit-polls.html">wealthier</a> than the Democrats. Men leaned towards Trump, just as historically, <a href="http://www.people-press.org/2016/09/13/2-party-affiliation-among-voters-1992-2016/">men leaned Republican</a>. And as in the past, <a href="http://www.people-press.org/2015/04/07/a-deep-dive-into-party-affiliation/">university educated whites favoured the Republican</a> candidate while those with postgraduate degrees supported the Democratic nominee. Same old, same old. </p> <p class="Body">Consistencies in voter behaviour link to consistencies in political ideology and mood. The US has long been divided on the question of what government is for. This election – like Brexit – tapped into the identity politics and protectionist impulses that have increasingly framed that question. As the conceptual categories of ‘us’ and ‘them’ become standard terms of engagement, populism and xenophobia emerge as the hallmarks of political discourse. And with a highly divided electorate and narrow margins comes much soul searching into how things got this bad.</p> <p class="Body">Enter Facebook. Trump’s victory – unforeseen by the vast majority of media outlets, pollsters and bookmakers – has given momentum to the idea that social media has come of age as a deciding factor in elections. But did Facebook really turn Hillary Clinton from POTUS 45 into Al Gore 2016? </p> <p class="Body">Mark Zuckerberg claims that Facebook is a technology firm, <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-facebook-zuckerberg-idUSKCN1141WN">not a media company</a>. Yet the suggestion that the platform is merely a conduit for others’ content belies the level of editorial control and censorship the company exerts. Consider, for example, the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/sep/08/facebook-mark-zuckerberg-napalm-girl-photo-vietnam-war">international outcry</a> that followed Facebook’s deletion of the iconic (and Pulitzer Prize-winning) photo of the napalm girl. And what to make of the human editors – since <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-human-news-editors-2016-9">replaced by an algorithm</a> – who <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/may/11/facebook-censorship-news-feed-trending-topics">curated the site’s Trending News</a> section? How about the company’s ‘mistaken’ blocking of several <a href="http://fortune.com/2016/09/28/facebook-censorship-palestinian/">Palestinian journalists’ accounts</a>? Or that the <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/facebook-burns-victim-censorship-birthday-photo-lasse-gustavson-apology-a7414856.html">site twice removed a photo of a Swedish burn victim</a> posted in celebration of his 60<sup>th</sup> birthday? <span class="mag-quote-center">How about the company’s ‘mistaken’ blocking of several Palestinian journalists’ accounts?</span></p> <p>Media companies make editorial decisions. Just like Facebook does. To that end, the Pew Research Center finds that the majority of Americans – some 62% – get their <a href="http://www.journalism.org/2016/05/26/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2016/">news from social media</a>. 70% of all Reddit users use that site as a news source. That’s Reddit, home of the infamous Trump forum that has given us countless post-fact gems, from Hillary Clinton’s <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/The_Donald/comments/4za3yu/confirmed_100_true_hillarys_antisemitic_slur_you/">alleged anti-Semitism</a> to semantic defenses of the <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/The_Donald/comments/4dt5ap/wow_he_actually_did_say_their_rapists_not_theyre/">Donald’s ‘Mexicans are rapists’ line</a> (their, not they’re). It was also recently revealed that Reddit’s CEO was <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/reddit-donald-trump-steve-huffman-spez-pizzagate-trolls-hillary-clinton-a7436406.html">editing derisive comments</a> to appear as if they were directed at someone else – a particularly troubling move by a site that has public figures doing verified Q&amp;As. </p> <p class="Body">Fake news has become a post-election buzzword. But evidence suggests this phenomenon is not so much an outgrowth of ideological commitments as it is of market incentives. Traditional media’s advertising <a href="http://www.journalism.org/2016/06/15/newspapers-fact-sheet/">revenues have fallen off a cliff</a> with digital ad income covering only a fraction of the loss. This has driven the growth of Pay Per Click (‘clickbait’) articles, accentuated the importance of search engine optimisation and fed the rise of targeted advertising and its offshoot, targeted news. Make no mistake, the internet <i>will</i> be monetised. </p> <p class="Body">Actually, the internet was monetised long ago. Perhaps it’s just that Trump’s victory brought this reality to the fore in an uncomfortably political and transparent way. In recent weeks we have learned there is lots of money to be made from ‘fake news’. In Macedonia, for instance, Buzzfeed found a group of young men earning up to <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/craigsilverman/how-macedonia-became-a-global-hub-for-pro-trump-misinfo?utm_term=.pak34oEr1V#.lhEB2j74VD">$3,000 a day</a> from posting fabricated pro-Trump headlines on Facebook. <span class="mag-quote-center">In Macedonia, for instance, Buzzfeed found a group of young men earning up to $3,000 a day from posting fabricated pro-Trump headlines on Facebook. </span>These content creators did not care about American politics or support Trump’s policy positions – they just happened upon a profitable formula. By <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2016/04/27/facebook-q1-2016-earnings/">Facebook’s own account</a>, its US-based users are worth four times as much as users elsewhere, and these Macedonians soon discovered that ‘<a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/craigsilverman/how-macedonia-became-a-global-hub-for-pro-trump-misinfo">nothing performed as well on Facebook as Trump</a> content’.</p><h2 class="Body">Enough of the internet blame game</h2> <p>So what’s to be done? Perhaps first – before the vague and alarmist calls for regulation – we ought to recall that tensions between censorship, information accuracy and profit-seeking are not new. They have been around since at least the eighteenth century, with the <a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&amp;lr=&amp;id=5F8qjMkoxZ0C&amp;oi">rise of the commercial press</a>. </p><p class="Body">But what makes our current moment feel particularly perilous is not just that facts no longer seem to matter but that the focus on (the dangers and promises of) user-generated content obscures the deficits of representative democracy. The ability to ‘share’ anything has furnished illusions of citizen power. And this illusion easily doubles as distraction from the task of holding those in formal positions of authority to account. This goes both for our elected officials and big media owners – Donald, Rupert and Mark. <span class="mag-quote-center">The focus on (the dangers and promises of) user-generated content obscures the deficits of representative democracy.</span></p> <p class="Body">Second, let us consider how projects to update international law in accordance with the digital era articulate these issues ­– particularly relevant for societies dependent on internet-based news and views. In Article Five of the <a href="http://internetrightsandprinciples.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/IRPC_english_4thedition.pdf">Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet</a>, the <a href="http://internetrightsandprinciples.org/site/">Internet Rights and Principles Coalition</a> spells out the intimate connection between freedom of expression and information in this case. Nowhere does it mention the accuracy of that information, and perhaps for good reason: who would decide what constitutes accurate? But this highlights a paradox of our social media age: with access to information reaching unprecedented heights, the need for information literacy and critical reasoning faculties has never been greater. To misquote Bertrand Russell, people will accept the flimsiest of evidence when it supports their existing views and endlessly nitpick facts contrary to their opinions. And he hadn’t even heard of Twitter.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Body">This is not to suggest that freedom of expression should be curbed. <a href="http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/">Article 19</a> of the United Declaration of Human Rights makes clear that ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers’. Everyone, in other words, has the right to be wrong and to share their incorrect views.</p> <p class="Body">Yet the UN General Assembly adopted the UDHR in 1948 – a time when traditional media companies still controlled the reins of the public record. Back then, people relied on others to fact-check on their behalf. In today’s media landscape, that onus has shifted to the user – the user as gatekeeper, as content producer, as audience commodity; the user as judge and jury, prosecution and defence. <span class="mag-quote-center">Who would decide what constitutes accurate?</span></p> <p>Fake news happens online, yes. But it also happens offline. Remember Rolling Stone’s now redacted <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/jackies-rape-story-was-false-so-why-hasnt-the-media-named-her-by-now/2016/01/11/c1733926-b89e-11e5-b682-4bb4dd403c7d_story.html">‘A Rape on Campus’</a> story? Or <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/11/us/correcting-the-record-times-reporter-who-resigned-leaves-long-trail-of-deception.html">Jayson Blair’s fabricated reportage</a> for the New York Times? Back in 1835, we even had the <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/great-moon-hoax-was-simply-sign-its-time-180955761/">Great Moon Hoax</a> – a series of phony articles about life on the Moon. Lies are not a digital phenomenon. </p> <p>Where does it leave us in now that the US elections are over? As political subjects, we would do well to shift our attention away from the internet blame game. Such scapegoating may feel good but it obscures important on-the-ground realities: the right’s continued success in courting the working class; the growing tide against free trade; the enthusiasm gap (and not only in America). With Trump’s victory, there are further considerations: for instance, FBI director <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/trump-james-comey-fbi-win-clinton-election-latest-a7406556.html">Comey’s last minute interference</a>; punitive <a href="https://www.aclu.org/feature/voting-rights-2016-whats-stake">voter ID laws</a>; endemic mistrust of career politicians. Perhaps if mainstream media outlets had been less dismissive of people’s malcontent, the pro-Trump surge in key counties would have come as less of a shock.</p> <p class="Body">With Trump’s surprise win, we didn’t experience Brexit 2. Not entirely. The polls were correct insofar as predicting <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2016/11/clinton-lead-popular-vote-2016-231790">Clinton’s triumph in the popular vote</a>. She won that by more than 2 million ballots. But in the US presidential race – governed by the antiquated Electoral College system – the voice of the people can matter little beyond bolstering a divisive moral high ground. </p> <p class="Body">In the US, a king (sic) is elected every four years and in between the electorate is governed by elites. The virtuosity of Trump’s campaign was that it branded a billionaire an outsider and a hero of the alienated masses. Post-truth branding at its finest. Facebook was just another instrument in the toolbox. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p> <p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Internet </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> digitaLiberties hri Civil society Culture Democracy and government International politics Internet Legal frontiers Understanding the rise of Trump Sumedh Shastri Zeena Feldman Thu, 01 Dec 2016 09:55:44 +0000 Zeena Feldman and Sumedh Shastri 107292 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The free space for data monopolies in Europe is shrinking https://www.opendemocracy.net/gry-hasselbalch-pernille-tranberg/free-space-for-data-monopolies-in-europe-is-shrinking <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>If the new EU data protection regulation is enforced equally for EU and non-EU companies, supported by anti-trust and consumer protection laws, new types of data-based monopolization could be controlled.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" alt="HRI" width="460px" /></a></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/3294249905_0cd72a0427_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/3294249905_0cd72a0427_z.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nettby, 2009. Flickr/peterhaza. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>In this millennium's first decade, a thriving social network called Nettby cropped up in Norway. It was an open place where anyone could create a page and publish images, express opinions and interests, and share other information. In your guestbook, friends and everyone else wrote messages, and you could read what others had written. There were thousands of groups discussing everything from politics to child care. Users were moderators or volunteers, while Nettby itself had nine employees. Over 800,000 people inhabited Nettby; it was a solid success. Its main shareholder, VG, exported Nettby to Sweden and laid out a plan to expand to the rest of Europe. But in 2010, <a href="https://no.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nettby">Nettby closed</a>. Everything started to go downhill and users left Nettby in favour of other social networks. <span class="mag-quote-center">In the long run respect for privacy and the right to control one’s own data will become key parameters to gain a competitive edge.</span></p> <p>Nettby is just one of several European social media companies that did not survive the web's first commercial chapter. In Holland there was Hyves, which had over 10 million users at its peak but closed in 2013. In Denmark there was Arto, which, considering the country's size and ereadiness in 2007, had a good half a million users. Arto ended up as a ghost town before it finally closed in 2016. In the UK there was Friends Reunited. Same story. But while these European companies closed down, other companies survived and strode forward. These were the Silicon Valley social media giants such as Google and Facebook.</p> <h2><strong>Users’ consent</strong></h2> <p>What happened? One could argue that these new tech companies were more innovative, daring, quicker to adapt (as many have already done), which is partly true. But there's another more prevailing argument. For many years, unresolved issues of jurisdiction, lack of consequent enforcement of the laws and special deals, such as the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safe_harbor">Safe Harbour Agreement,</a> created a free space in Europe, especially for the US-based Internet industry. In Norway for example, schools blocked access to Nettby, but they never blocked Facebook. And in several European countries, companies would never have been allowed to use a consent in the way Facebook does it, as a consent has to be explicit and with a stated purpose. That is why the German authorities are now investigating, whether Facebook got users’ consent in a way that is not in line with their data protection regulation, <a href="http://dataethics.eu/en/vestager-we-need-to-change-behaviour-and-demand-privacy/">according to the</a> EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. <span class="mag-quote-center">In Norway, schools blocked access to Nettby, but they never blocked Facebook.</span></p> <p>These conditions created by a clash of jurisdictions, legal enforcements, and in particular slow political adaption to the fast-paced evolution of the Internet and new technologies, meant that the new primarily US-based tech companies grew on the European market. To an extend that they today not only hold the biggest troves of data on European citizens, but also occupy the seats as some of the biggest data business monopolies not only in Europe, but worldwide. This is a problem. Because in a time where <a href="http://dataethics.eu/en/data-control-monopoly-or-individual-control-event/">data 'makes the world go round', sitting on too much of it with too much control, is a great risk to not only citizen rights but also equal market conditions.</a></p> <h2><strong>Data is politics and economy</strong></h2> <p>In the last decade, data has very quickly become a many-faceted legal issue, an economic and intergovernmental matter. This also means that tensions and clashes between laws and cultural values on the meaning and control of data are amplified. An example is the development of the new EU Data Protection Regulation that will be implemented from 2017. <span class="mag-quote-center">Data was essentially recognized as the new economy's gold.</span></p> <p>The first <a href="http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31995L0046:en:HTML">Data Protection Directive of 1995</a> was developed by a small group of experts in cooperation with national data protection authorities and received little attention from the public. But in 2012, when the data protection reform was initiated, there was a whole range of interests at stake - a new, Internet-based economy, society and culture – and the existing tension all revolved around data. Data was essentially recognized as the new economy's gold, and the <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/reform/index_en.htm">EU data protection reform</a> became a battleground for different interests. </p> <p>Even before the EU Commission published its first communication on the reform, it was subject to massive lobbying. Viviane Reding, one of the key figures behind the proposal and <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/9070019/EU-Privacy-regulations-subject-to-unprecedented-lobbying.html">EU Justice Commissioner at the time, later said that she had never experienced such heavy lobbying before</a>. Several MEPs have said the same about the subsequent process. Later, this process of reforming the foundation of EU data protection law has even been referred to as a <a href="http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/01/proposed-eu-data-protection-reform-could-start-a-trade-war-us-official-says/">“Trade War”.</a></p> <h2><strong>Governing data monopolies with anti-trust and data protection</strong></h2> <p>Tensions such as these are symptomatic of the type of processes that emerge from global conditions, which in turn create conflict between local systems, laws and cultures. The new EU regulation will most likely in the near future be approached as a paradigm and accordingly, as such, it's already being looked to by governments, businesses and organisations around the world. In addition, the way in which data and the commercial concentration of it is viewed in the context of EU competition law (together with American anti-trust laws, the worlds' most influential competition regulation system) will establish a precedence for the way competition is negotiated internationally. <span class="mag-quote-center">Data ethics, we argue, will be this era's compass for businesses. </span></p> <p>And the data industry will have to adapt to these requirements just as it had to adapt to the new legal requirements in regards to the environment, <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2016/11/12/data-ethics-the-new-competitive-advantage/">as we write in TechChrunch</a>. Data ethics, we argue, will be this era's compass for businesses. </p> <h2><strong>No more free rides</strong></h2> <p>The previously free space in the EU for US tech giants is shrinking by the hour. In addition to the discussions revolving around the new EU data protection regulation, several significant lawsuits prompting large-scale media debate and political discourse have in particular focused on US tech companies' treatment of European law and European legislators' enforcement of it (or lack thereof). The <a href="http://europe-v-facebook.org/EN/en.html">Max Schrems</a> cases against Facebook, the EU Court of Justice infamous <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/files/factsheets/factsheet_data_protection_en.pdf">Right to Be Forgotten</a> ruling - just to mention a few. Key questions have been raised as to the legal jurisdiction of these tech companies' practices. Which rules and laws should they follow, particularly in relation to the collection and processing of data? But other cases have also focused on their practices relating to tax matters or competition challenges such as the ones raised against Google by <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/margrethe-vestager">EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager</a>. <span class="mag-quote-center">There are promising efforts in the EU which indicate a certain level of political understanding of the distribution and control of data as a new type of capital.</span></p> <p>There are promising efforts in the EU which indicate a certain level of political understanding of the distribution and control of data as a new type of capital and the concentration of it as a process of monopolization. Although it's clear that many different economic interests have had a say in the new EU data protection regulation, it’s still rather well thought out and attempts to look ahead to the technological evolution of the future. If enforced equally for both EU and non-EU companies and supported by anti-trust and consumer protection laws, there's a good chance that competition in the lucrative European market will be more equal than we have seen it in the previous decade. </p> <p>In the long run respect for privacy and the right to control one’s own data will become key parameters to gain a competitive edge, which is the focus of our book <a href="http://www.dataethics.eu/book">Data Ethics - The New Competitive Advantage</a>. Companies, organisations and authorities which view data ethics as a social responsibility, giving it the same importance as environmental awareness and respect for human rights, are tomorrow’s winners. Digital trust is paramount to digital growth and prosperity. And trust is gained not only by the effort of regulation but also by responsible companies and conscious consumers. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p> <p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p> <span>Gry Hasselbalch and Pernille Tranberg are authors of </span><em><span>Data Ethics – The New Competitive Advantage (2016) </span></em><span>and co founders of Dataethics.eu. </span> </p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> digitaLiberties hri Can Europe make it? EU Digital inclusions and exclusions Pernille Tranberg Gry Hasselbalch Thu, 01 Dec 2016 08:55:52 +0000 Gry Hasselbalch and Pernille Tranberg 107287 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Small steps in the struggle for digital rights? https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-bernal/small-steps-in-struggle-for-digital-rights <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In this rapidly expanding internet, the kinds of rights we need are often difficult to pin down – though pin them down we must if they are to be protected.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img width="460px" alt="HRI" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" /></a></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-28500293.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-28500293.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="287" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Richard Barbrook during Labour's Digital Democracy Manifesto launch at Newspeak House in east London. August 30, 2016. Stefan Rousseau/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>When Jeremy Corbyn launched his <a href="http://www.jeremyforlabour.com/digital_democracy_manifesto">‘Digital Democracy Manifesto’</a> at the end of August, he may not have inspired, but he was at least attempting to get to grips with something that really matters: how governments should deal with the internet. It is something that matters deeply, not least because of the prodigious opportunities that the internet provides for people – almost every aspect of our lives now has at least some online element. So far, however, governments have been conspicuously unclear in how they deal with the internet, uncertain as to their role – and often seeming to fail dismally to understand the nature of the internet and how people use it.</p> <h2><strong>Declarations of rights</strong></h2> <p>In this context, it is positive that Corbyn has issued this manifesto – and particularly that he included, albeit in a very limited form, a ‘People's Charter of Digital Liberty Rights’. He is not the first politician to do this. In 2014, Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert <a href="http://www.libdems.org.uk/protecting_your_privacy_online_with_a_digital_bill_of_rights">proposed a ‘Digital Bill of Rights’</a> to “protect our fundamental liberties online.”</p> <p>The idea of declarations of rights – whether they be conventions, statements, ‘bills of rights’ or some other form – is a very potent one, as the many well known historical examples demonstrate. It bore particular legal fruit in the revolutionary time at the end of the eighteenth century, with France’s <i>Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen </i>and<i> </i>the US <i>Bill of Rights</i> in 1789, and intellectual analyses in Thomas Paine’s <i>The Rights of Man</i> in 1791, Wollstonecraft’s <i>A Vindication of the Rights of Woman </i>in 1792. </p> <p>In some ways this was a recognition of a shift in power – and an assertion that an iniquitous or damaging situation could not be allowed to continue. These revolutions were against despotism and tyranny, and an attempt to protect people from it.&nbsp; <span class="mag-quote-center">This was an assertion that an iniquitous or damaging situation could not be allowed to continue.</span></p> <p>Similarly, the <a href="http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/">Universal Declaration of Human Rights</a> (UDHR) in 1948, the <a href="http://www.echr.coe.int/Documents/Convention_ENG.pdf">European Convention on Human Rights</a> (ECHR) in 1950, were a reaction to the horrors of the Second World War, the Holocaust and the Nazis. People need protection – but they also need freedom. Rights, and the language of rights, are part of that. </p> <p>When looking at these kinds of declaration, there are critical questions to ask. Who are the people concerned? Who and what is threatening them? What are they being threatened with? How can they be protected from those threats? </p> <p>And, in this particular context, how can the opportunities and advantages that the internet provides be harnessed for the people? What, indeed, do we think the internet is for? What role should governments play in this? What rights do people have when they use the internet? Who should establish these rights, to what purpose, and in what form?</p> <h2><strong>Internet rights</strong></h2> <p>None of these are easy questions, and none have simple answers – but people have been both asking them and trying to answer them from the earliest days of the internet. </p> <p>It is more than 20 years since John Perry Barlow’s seminal <a href="https://www.eff.org/cyberspace-independence">‘Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace’</a>, which set out the stall for those who thought that governments should leave the internet alone, and stop even trying to interfere. As Perry Barlow put it:</p> <p>“I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.”</p> <p>The suggestion was direct: governments should not <i>and could not </i>impose their rules upon the internet community. <span class="mag-quote-center">Who are the people concerned? Who and what is threatening them? What are they being threatened with? How can they be protected from those threats?</span></p> <p>Governments have not, unsurprisingly, taken Perry Barlow’s advice – and the extent to which they could have or should have taken it remains a matter of contention. There is still a strong school of thought that much (or indeed most) intervention by governments into the internet is counterproductive or harmful. And yet the internet has changed massively since 1996, as has the nature of those who spend time on it. As a consequence, arguments about rights in particular are in many ways very different from those made then.</p> <p>Back in 1996, when the Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace was written, the people concerned were a fairly homogenous group. Largely young men, rich, well-educated, technologically-aware, mostly white, primarily American and with a distinctly libertarian outlook – and the threat came from governments and their attempts to regulate the internet, thus restricting their freedom. </p> <p>Since 1996, however, things have changed significantly. The internet ‘community’ is a very different one, much more diverse in many ways – there are people of all kinds on the net, including children. The net is truly ‘world-wide’ now, with a wide diversity of culture, religion, politics and philosophies. The involvement of governments is much larger and multi-faceted – and perhaps even more importantly, other hugely significant ‘players’ in the game have become involved: the commercial internet companies. Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple and others are in many ways every bit as powerful and important as governments in relation to how the internet functions.</p> <p>In this rapidly expanding and constantly transforming internet, the kinds of rights we need are often difficult to pin down – though pin them down we must, at least to some extent, if they are to be protected. This is why there have been many attempts to create ‘bills of rights’, and not just in the UK. The <a href="http://internetrightsandprinciples.org/site/">‘Internet Rights and Principles Dynamic Coalition’</a>, based at the UN Internet Governance Forum, was set up in 2010, and put forward a <a href="http://internetrightsandprinciples.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/IRPC_Booklet-English_4thedition.pdf">charter of human rights and principles for the internet</a>, which sets out a vision for human rights and principles that parallels the kinds of rights set out in the UDHR and the ECHR.</p> <h2><strong>Online privacy and freedom of expression in the UK</strong></h2> <p>The rights in this charter are to a great extent familiar, but some have particular relevance to the internet. Freedom of expression <i>online</i> includes the right to online protest and freedom from censorship. The right to privacy includes freedom from surveillance, the right to anonymity and the right to use encryption. <span class="mag-quote-center">The right to privacy includes freedom from surveillance, the right to anonymity and the right to use encryption. </span></p> <p>It is when we look at <i>these</i> rights that the UK in particular is falling far short of what is required – and where Corbyn’s manifesto was deeply disappointing, and a big missed opportunity. </p> <p>In terms of freedom of speech, the UK fails badly. Former Prime Minister David Cameron very actively promoted the idea of ‘filters’ to restrict access to pornography and a wide range of what might be deemed to be inappropriate websites, which resulted in significant <a href="https://www.blocked.org.uk">‘over-blocking’</a>, including of political sites, sites promoting sex education and sexual health and more. </p> <p>This movement towards what some would call censorship, others the creation of a ‘safe’ environment is showing no signs of slowing down: last week it was announced that GCHQ is <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/85549652-79d1-11e6-97ae-647294649b28">drawing up plans to create a ‘Great British Firewall’</a> to block ‘malicious content’. Both Cameron’s ‘porn’ filters and GCHQ’s ‘Great British Firewall’ are on the surface about safety and security. There <i>is </i>a balance to be found between these rights, but that balance requires understanding and discussion – whilst in practice the idea of freedom of speech barely gets a mention. </p> <p>It is a similar story on privacy. <a href="http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2015-16/investigatorypowers.html"><i>The Investigatory Powers Bill</i></a>, currently making its final steps through parliament, treats privacy as an afterthought rather than a fundamental right to be protected by default. When asked by parliamentary committees to make privacy central to the bill, almost all that was done was to <a href="https://www.privacyinternational.org/node/771">change the title of one section</a> to include the word ‘privacy’. <span class="mag-quote-center">Both Cameron’s ‘porn’ filters and GCHQ’s ‘Great British Firewall’ are on the surface about safety and security.</span></p> <p>This is one of the biggest ‘let downs’ of the Corbyn Digital Democracy Manifesto. It did not address either of the two big areas of privacy and freedom of expression in anything but a cursory manner, and did not recognise or acknowledge the UK’s distinct problems in both these areas. </p> <p>This was particularly disappointing for a Labour document. Though Labour has a poor record on civil liberties in recent years, it really should not, because rights of freedom of expression have been critical for the Labour movement, and surveillance has been used very directly against <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2009/oct/06/mi5-union-leaders-surveillance">left wing groups, protestors</a> and even <a href="http://labourlist.org/2015/03/the-alarming-story-of-how-at-least-10-labour-mps-were-spied-on-by-the-police/">Labour politicians</a>. For Labour, civil liberties and human rights should be a strength rather than a weakness.</p> <h2><strong>The role of the commercial internet</strong></h2> <p>The other big omission from Corbyn’s version of a digital bill of rights – and indeed in some ways from the whole of the Digital Democracy Manifesto – is a recognition of the role of the commercial internet, and in particular of the internet giants Google, Facebook and others. </p> <p>‘Traditional’ human rights have been established to protect people from state overreach, but in the internet as it currently exists it is not just the state that people need protection from. Indeed, though Edward Snowden’s revelations about the surveillance activities of the NSA, GCHQ and others were deeply shocking to many, they only form part of the picture. <a href="http://reformcorporatesurveillance.com">As Bruce Schneier put it</a>:</p> <p>“The NSA didn't wake up and say, ‘Let's just spy on everybody.’ They looked up and said, ‘Wow, corporations are spying on everybody. Let's get ourselves a copy.’”</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">For Labour, civil liberties and human rights should be a strength rather than a weakness.</p> <p>What is more, in practice it may be that surveillance by Facebook and Google represent more of a risk to most people than that of the NSA and GCHQ. Though the authorities have stronger sanctions, relatively few people are likely to be impacted by their activities. Corporate surveillance could reduce your job opportunities, increase your insurance premiums and/or undermine your relationships: harm may not be so extreme but might have an impact on far more people. </p> <p>The point about commercial enterprises is that they’ve taken over control over so many of the areas where our rights matter. Freedom of expression is left in the hands of Facebook – the recent story of <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/sep/08/facebook-mark-zuckerberg-napalm-girl-photo-vietnam-war">the censorship of the Napalm child picture</a> highlights just one of the problems – and Google, who between them provide so much of the opportunity to be heard and control the access to information that is the other, equally important side of this right. </p> <p>We associate and assemble online in forums under the control of these same corporations – and organise and coordinate our associations and assemblies off line with tools provided by them too.<span class="mag-quote-center"> In practice there is very little choice.</span></p> <p>For all these reasons, any effective set of digital rights needs to acknowledge and address the commercial internet. Our rights need to apply to the private sector as well as the state – and it is not enough to say that people have ‘choice’ whether to use Facebook, Google and so forth, so they consent to that surveillance. In practice there is very little choice – and when all of those involved use the same techniques, and with the same lack of transparency, even that little choice is an illusion. The reality is that most people use Facebook, and most people use Google. To pretend otherwise is to fail to face reality – and in the end rights are only worth their salt if they have a grounding in reality.</p> <h2><strong>Digital rights in reality</strong></h2> <p>That, ultimately, is the key point. The reason to have rights is to have an effect. The reason to declare rights is so that those rights are respected and protected – and established as norms of what is acceptable. That means rights have to be based in what is really happening, and have to reflect a real understanding of the situation and of the threats than need addressing.</p> <p>In the UK in particular, that means facing up to what we are doing over censorship and surveillance. In the whole world that means facing up to the role of the commercial operators on the net, and seeing how much we are handing over to them in relation to our rights. Understanding that Facebook and Google are not champions of free speech, for example, but businesses whose bottom line is the bottom line, may be difficult and may have uncomfortable implications, but it is crucial. <span class="mag-quote-center">One of the prime reasons for terrible laws is a failure to understand the internet, or to listen to those that do.</span></p> <p>For politicians like Jeremy Corbyn, it means listening to more people than his inner circle – but Corbyn is far from alone in this failure. The last decade of UK politics is littered with poorly conceived projects and terrible laws, from Gordon Brown’s <a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/24">Digital Economy Act in 2010</a> to the current mess that is the Investigatory Powers Bill, and one of the prime reasons for this is a failure to understand the internet, or to listen to those that do.</p> <p>It would be nice to imagine that at some point this would change, but there are precious few signs of it. &nbsp;With Theresa May in Downing Street, the UK government is unlikely to move in anything but the wrong direction in relation to either human rights or the internet – which makes it even more important that Labour provides some sort of coherent alternative. </p> <p>Corbyn’s manifesto launch does not really do that, but he does leave the door open for further consultation. Now that his position as Labour leader has been reaffirmed, and seems to be secure at least for the immediate future, that opening might become a little wider. This is something that matters, so I hope that Corbyn and the Labour hierarchy let people step through that door, and when they do, I hope they listen. If they do, there’s a chance that we all might benefit. The struggle for rights has always been a longterm one, and every small step matters.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p> <p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/digitaliberties/julian-huppert/uk-investigatory-powers-bill-becomes-law-terrify-us">The UK’s Investigatory Powers Bill is about to become law – here&#039;s why that should terrify us</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/digitaliberties/julian-huppert/1984-revisited">1984 revisited</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/rafael-laguna/fatal-flaw-behind-snoopers-charter">The Snooper&#039;s Charter: Will Britons&#039; privacy be sacrificed for security?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/tony-greenstein/lynching-of-jackie-walker">The lynching of Jackie Walker</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/angela-daly/governing-google">Governing Google</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Internet </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> digitaLiberties hri United States EU UK Civil society Culture Democracy and government Economics Ideas International politics Internet Legal frontiers Paul Bernal Sat, 15 Oct 2016 10:38:33 +0000 Paul Bernal 105979 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The UK’s Investigatory Powers Bill is about to become law – here's why that should terrify us https://www.opendemocracy.net/digitaliberties/julian-huppert/uk-investigatory-powers-bill-becomes-law-terrify-us <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The evidence that these powers are all needed is thin indeed. And the cost to all of our privacy is huge.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549501/PA-21019726.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549501/PA-21019726.jpg" alt="lead " title="Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="311" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The last few months have been tumultuous for the UK. The campaigning in the referendum, the shock of the death of Jo Cox MP, the astonishing vote to leave the EU, the collapse of the pound, the fall of the prime minister, leadership contests in the Tories, producing a new prime minister, and in Labour and UKIP – in both cases resulting in the same leader continuing.</p> <p>However, throughout this process, a crucial piece of legislation has continued to make its way through parliament, avoiding any proper public debate or scrutiny. The Investigatory Powers Bill is sneaking up on the final steps before it becomes law – something that should terrify all of us.</p> <p>Some of the powers in the Bill are deeply intrusive, and with very little possible justification. All of us want to be safe, and protected from terrorists and the like – but the evidence that these powers are all needed is thin indeed. However, the cost to all of our privacy is huge.</p> <p>For example, a power the state never had before is to require a log to be kept for a year of every website we ever go to. Just think of that – your browsing history stored, just in case it’s ever useful. If you ever choose to visit a depression support website, would you want that to now be logged, potentially revealing your mental health state? What about an abortion advice site? Marriage guidance? Why does the state need to know this about every one of us?</p> <p>There are many other problems with the legislation – real threats to tech companies in the UK, risks of inappropriate interference with telecoms equipment, pervasive bulk powers, far too little oversight, and a huge bill.</p> <p>The previous version of this legislation, the Communications Data Bill, was killed off in 2013. I was delighted to play a key role in that, and hoped it would be dead and buried. However, since the end of the Coalition, it has returned from the underworld.</p> <p>This version of the legislation was first produced as a draft at the end of last year, and was promptly slated by every committee <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/digitaliberties/julian-huppert/three-strikes-against-ip-bill">that studied it</a>. The government then made a tiny handful of cosmetic changes to it – most infamously, inserting the word “privacy” into the title of one section, rather than <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/julian-huppert/yes-minister-and-case-of-investigatory-powers-bill">actually doing something</a> to support privacy – and then pushed it through the House of Commons.</p> <p>The pattern of debate in the Commons was depressing. The SNP and Lib Dems stood firm, with help from the Greens and Plaid Cymru – but with Labour absent from almost every vote, there was no chance of making any significant progress. And then at the final stage, the crucial decision as to whether the House of Commons did want to endorse unprecedented powers to spy on its own citizens, Labour did finally show up – to vote with the Tories.</p> <p>Their excuse was that the government had agreed to include protection from state surveillance for trade union activities. I agree that we shouldn’t have unjustified spying on trades unionists – but surely we shouldn’t have it for anyone else? What possible reason could there be for special protection?</p> <p>We then move to the House of Lords. Surely, I heard many people say, the Upper House, the Revising Chamber, will do its job, and kick out the overly intrusive elements of the Bill. My colleagues in the Lib Dems there did their best, tabling amendment after amendment – but again, with no opposition from Her Majesty’s Opposition, it is almost impossible to make any progress on combating the excessive surveillance powers in the Bill. The deadline has now passed for any further amendments, and one looks in vain for any signs of the Labour party standing up for civil liberties.&nbsp;</p> <p>There is a chance for Labour to back the Lib Dem amendments to the Bill – frankly, they could pick almost any of them to help redeem themselves. But all the indications are that they are utterly uninterested.</p> <p>25&nbsp;October is the crucial date. That will be the third reading of this legislation. If the House of Lords let it go through, then there is nothing more to do to stop this. There will be the quaint process of parliamentary ping-pong to tidy the last few words up, but from then on, the state will have powers to monitor your behaviours on and offline to a far greater extent than ever before.</p> <p>The political divide of the future won’t just be left and right. It is also between a liberal, internationalist, open, tolerant view of the world, and a closed, nationalistic, authoritarian approach. We should all be very worried that both the government and the opposition have gone for the latter.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/julian-huppert/yes-minister-and-case-of-investigatory-powers-bill">&#039;Yes Minister&#039; and the case of the UK&#039;s Investigatory Powers Bill</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/digitaliberties/julian-huppert/1984-revisited">1984 revisited</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/rafael-laguna/fatal-flaw-behind-snoopers-charter">The Snooper&#039;s Charter: Will Britons&#039; privacy be sacrificed for security?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Internet </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> digitaLiberties digitaLiberties hri UK Civil society Democracy and government Internet Powers behind the screen Julian Huppert Fri, 14 Oct 2016 21:19:23 +0000 Julian Huppert 105978 at https://www.opendemocracy.net European net neutrality, at last? https://www.opendemocracy.net/luca-belli-christopher-t-marsden/european-net-neutrality-at-last <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Article 3 of the Regulation defined the legal foundations of net neutrality in the EU, including the operators' obligation to "treat all traffic equally."</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" alt="HRI" width="460px" /></a></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/480px-Internet_map_1024_-_transparent,_inverted.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/480px-Internet_map_1024_-_transparent,_inverted.png" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Partial map of the Internet based on the January 15, 2005 data of the Opte Project - Originally from the English Wikipedia. Wikicommons. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Net neutrality is the principle mandating that internet traffic be managed in a <a href="http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319264240">non-discriminatory fashion</a>, in order to fully safeguard internet users’ rights. </p> <p>Starting from 30 August 2016, all EU and EEA members have finally obtained guidance on how to implement sound net neutrality provisions. The path has been tortuous and uneasy, starting from not neutrality, reaching an open Internet compromise and, finally, attaining net neutrality protections. In this article, we briefly recount how net neutrality evolved in Europe, and the significant progress achieved by the recently adopted net neutrality ‘Guidelines’. </p> <h2><b>A brief history of net neutrality in Europe</b></h2> <p>Net neutrality debates in Europe date back to the 2009 discussion of the Telecoms Package revision. At the time, EU policymakers hoped that competition and transparency would suffice to avoid undue discriminatory Internet Traffic Management (ITM). Notably, the Universal Service Directive demanded transparency of information regarding the conditions limiting access and use of applications while the Framework Directive’s ultimate aim was to foster the regulation of electronic communications by competition law only. Such an approach has been proven <a href="http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2011/04/mobile-users-ready-to-pay-extra-for-skype-im-streaming-video/">wrong</a> by a <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8077839.stm">number</a> of quite <a href="http://arstechnica.com/apple/2009/04/skype-for-iphone-blocked-in-germany-but-not-really/">blatant examples</a>, documented in various <a href="http://berec.europa.eu/files/news/bor_13_34_public_consultations.pdf">consultations</a> as well as <a href="http://eng.nkom.no/technical/internet/net-neutrality/berec-and-net-neutrality">empirical research</a> jointly conducted by the Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications (<a href="http://berec.europa.eu/">BEREC</a>) and the European Commission (EC), in 2012.</p> <p>Evidence was pointing to what the Council of Europe (CoE) member states <a href="https://search.coe.int/cm/Pages/result_details.aspx?ObjectID=09000016805ce58f">had already scented in 2010</a>, <i>i.e</i>. that discriminatory ITM might adversely affect the end-users’ right to access and share content and applications online, thus unduly limiting the circulation of information and innovation. For this reason, a framework to provide guidance on what may constitute reasonable ITM was deemed useful by CoE members. Elements to build such a framework <a href="http://www.networkneutrality.info/sources.html">were commissioned</a> in 2013, in order subsequently to develop the CoE <a href="https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?p=&amp;Ref=CM/Rec%282016%291&amp;Language=lanEnglish&amp;Ver=original&amp;BackColorInternet=C3C3C3&amp;BackColorIntranet=EDB021&amp;BackColorLogged=F5D383&amp;direct=true">Recommendation on net neutrality</a>. <span class="mag-quote-center">A wide range of civil society organisations, academics and business players were more cautious, stressing the existence of several potential loopholes in the text.</span></p> <p><a href="http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&amp;reference=A7-2012-0341&amp;language=EN">EU Parliament called</a> “on the Commission to propose legislation to ensure net neutrality” and, in September 2013, the EC published its proposed <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/newsroom/dae/document.cfm?doc_id=2734">draft Telecom Single Market Regulation</a>, including highly controversial net neutrality provisions. The provisions were subsequently amended and, after more than two years of negotiations, the European Parliament approved Regulation 2015/2120 enshrining “common rules to safeguard equal and non-discriminatory treatment of traffic.” When the Regulation was approved, EU Commissioners welcomed the new rules as a great success, while a wide range of civil society organisations, academics and business players were more cautious, stressing the existence of several potential loopholes in the text.</p> <h2><b>Open internet and the n-word prank</b></h2> <p>After years of extenuating negotiations, EU policymakers opted for mitigating net neutrality into a less controversial “open internet”, avoiding mentioning net neutrality in the text. Besides the indubitable curiosity of cheering the adoption of “<a href="http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-15-5927_en.htm">net neutrality rules for the first time in Europe</a>” without even mentioning net neutrality in the legal text, the Regulation was accompanied by <a href="http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/mediapolicyproject/2015/10/29/not-neutrality-but-open-internet-a-la-europeenne/">critiques regarding the imprecision</a> of various provisions, whose official interpretation was deferred by the EU co-legislators to BEREC. Article 5(3) of the 2015 Regulation forced BEREC to elaborate Guidelines aimed at guaranteeing the “consistent application of the Regulation” thus avoiding fragmentation and, even worse, abusive conducts. <span class="mag-quote-center">Only when enforcement by national authorities is tested, will we know the cat’s fate.&nbsp; </span></p> <p>BEREC was given nine months to draft, consult and finalise the Guidelines, hence the 30 August 2016 deadline. In the meantime, the Regulation <a href="http://chrismarsden.blogspot.mx/2015/11/net-neutrality-2016-deadlines.html">came into effect in April</a> but was largely ignored by national regulators in the absence of the final Guidelines. It has been a year of “phoney war” on net neutrality while the legal text has been ignored in practice. Call it ‘<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schr%C3%B6dinger%27s_cat">Schrodinger’s</a> net neutrality’ – net neutrality is both alive and dead in Europe, and only when enforcement by national authorities is tested, will we know the cat’s fate. &nbsp;</p> <p>In spite of the notable absence of the term ‘net neutrality’ in the 2015 Regulation, which simultaneously and rather schizophrenically<a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a> was included by governments in the CoE Recommendation, it is important to stress that Article 3 of the Regulation defined the legal foundations of net neutrality in the EU. Notably, it explicitly recognised that </p> <blockquote><p>“all end-users shall have the right to access and distribute information and content, use and provide applications and services, and use terminal equipment of their choice, irrespective of the end – user’s or provider’s location or the location, origin or destination of the information, content, application or service, via their internet access service.” </p></blockquote> <p>This right is complemented by the operators’ obligation to “treat all traffic equally” implementing reasonable traffic management that should be “transparent, non-discriminatory and proportionate” and, critically, “shall not be based on commercial considerations but on objectively different technical quality of service requirements of specific categories of traffic.”</p> <p>The Regulation explicitly prohibited undue blocking and throttling but avoided a clear stance on three key net neutrality issues: </p><p>-&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/digitaliberties/samir-dayal/billionaire-big-data-and-net-neutrality-facebook-and-democracy-in-india"> zero rating practices</a> (free data to use in approved partners’ apps of the operator), </p><ul><li>- acceptable ITM measures to cope with congestion phenomena and, finally, </li></ul><p>- specialised services (high speed lanes with higher Quality of Service but for higher prices).</p><ul><li></li><li></li></ul> <p>Two of these issues represented uncharted territory on which very little guidance existed at the time of the publication of the Regulation. First, zero rating practices, which consist in the imposition of reduced data caps, <i>i.e.</i> limits to monthly data volumes, and the parallel exemption of selected applications from such caps. Second, specialised services are services that differ from Internet access services, having enhanced features such as Quality of Service or security, in order to be optimised for the transmission of specific content and/or services. </p> <p>The Regulation delegated to BEREC the task of issuing specific guidelines to the national regulators that compose the ‘Body’, in order to ensure homogenous interpretation of the rules and avoid operators eluding net neutrality safeguards.</p> <h2><b>BEREC the bold </b></h2> <p>BEREC organised a six-week public consultation on the draft Guidelines that stimulated a record &nbsp;481,547 contributions, mostly supporting strong net neutrality protections. Meanwhile, major EU operators, such as Deutsche Telekom, BT Group and Orange issued a <a href="http://telecoms.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2016/07/5GManifestofortimelydeploymentof5GinEurope.pdf">“5G Manifesto”</a> threatening not to invest in next-generation 5G mobile networks, unless the proposed net neutrality guidelines were mitigated.</p> <p>The BEREC Guidelines, hailed as a significant victory for net neutrality advocates, have finally provided a clear interpretation of the Regulation with regard to traffic management practices; specialised services; transparency with regard to Internet access quality; and “commercial practices”, such as zero rating. Importantly, BEREC decided to call things by their name and confidently named the document “BEREC Guidelines on the Implementation by National Regulators of European <b>Net Neutrality</b> Rules.” [emphasis added] <span class="mag-quote-center">The Guidelines have a critical influence on the implementation of net neutrality rules.</span></p> <p>Although the Guidelines are a non-binding document, from a juridical perspective, they represent the official document based on which national regulators should interpret the Regulation, thus harmonising its implementation. Therefore, the Guidelines have a critical influence on the implementation of net neutrality rules. Notably, should any legal entity or natural person disagree with a national regulator’s interpretation of the rules according to the guidelines, it would be possible to seek a binding interpretation from the EU Court of Justice that would have <i>erga omnes</i> effects in all member states.</p> <p>With regard to <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/digitaliberties/samir-dayal/billionaire-big-data-and-net-neutrality-facebook-and-democracy-in-india">zero rating</a>, the Guidelines provide a ‘middle way’, advising regulators to treat violations more strictly where they were applied to specific applications (<i>e.g.</i> WhatsApp) rather than a class of applications (<i>e.g.</i> all messaging apps), and to treat zero rating by dominant mobile providers more strictly. Notably, they point out that: </p> <blockquote><p>“price differentiation between individual applications within a category has an impact on competition between providers in that class…and thereby undermine the goals of the Regulation [more] than would price differentiation between classes of application.” </p></blockquote> <p>Although the Guidelines do not ban zero rating, they affirm that the “practice is more likely to limit the exercise of end-user rights in a situation where, for example, many end-users are concerned and/or there are few alternative offers and/or competing ISPs for the end-users to choose from” while pointing out that “the lower the data cap, the stronger such influence is likely to be.” </p> <p>The Guidelines define three different levels of traffic management, which justify the use of different practices. Such ITM taxonomy is a unique feature of the Guidelines, distinguishing the regular, reasonable and exceptional ITM. Regular ITM consists of application agnosticism and concretely means that Internet traffic is managed regardless of the nature of the specific applications or user. <span class="mag-quote-center">Importantly such differentiation cannot be based on the previous monitoring of the communications’ content.</span></p> <p>Reasonable traffic management allows differentiation based on objective technical requirements, such as latency, jitter and packet loss. Importantly such differentiation cannot be based on the previous monitoring of the communications’ content. Lastly, exceptional traffic management allows operators to use discriminatory measures in compliance with those that are <a href="http://www.intgovforum.org/cms/documents/igf-meeting/igf-2016/833-dcnn-2015-output-document/file">generally considered as legitimate exceptions to net neutrality </a>, <i>i.e.</i> network integrity and security, congestion management and the enforcement of legislative measures.&nbsp; </p> <p>Lastly, the Guidelines define the conditions according to which specialised services can be offered, coexisting with Internet access services, amongst which the existence of sufficient network capacity is the most important. Notably, BEREC has very clearly affirmed that no circumstances justify the provision of specialised services at the expense of Internet access services.&nbsp; </p> <h2><b>Collaborating to work on future net neutrality regulation</b></h2><p> To facilitate the harmonisation impact of the Guidelines, BEREC plans to “<a href="http://berec.europa.eu/eng/document_register/subject_matter/berec/press_releases/6163-press-release-berec-publishes-guidelines-on-net-neutrality">foster the ongoing exchange of experiences by [national regulators] of their implementation of the Regulation</a>.” As such, starting from 2017, the EU and EEA regulators will publish annual reports in order to share how they have implemented the net neutrality rules in accordance to the Guidelines. The reports will allow BEREC to organise practical evaluations of the Guidelines implementation and, should it be necessary, to schedule a review and update of the Guidelines in order to reflect technology and infrastructure evolution. The Guidelines seem a good starting point for long-term collaborative work. </p> <hr size="1" /> <p><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> An alternative explanation to schizophrenia may be the lack of interest that lobbyists manifest with regard to policymaking taking place within the CoE, due to the very limited economic consequences that CoE policies may determine. Surely, BEREC is a much more important regulatory venue than the CoE.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p> <p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/digitaliberties/samir-dayal/billionaire-big-data-and-net-neutrality-facebook-and-democracy-in-india">The billionaire, big data and net neutrality: Facebook and democracy in India</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/openindia/l-k-sharma/hugging-prime-minister-fails-zuckerberg">The hugging Prime Minister fails Zuckerberg</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Internet </div> <div class="field-item even"> Net neutrality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> digitaLiberties hri EU Civil society Culture Democracy and government Economics Equality International politics Internet Net neutrality Tech futures Christopher T. Marsden Luca Belli Tue, 04 Oct 2016 19:29:04 +0000 Luca Belli and Christopher T. Marsden 105763 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Governing Google https://www.opendemocracy.net/angela-daly/governing-google <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As for Google, without a more ‘joined up’ EU legal and regulatory framework integrating digital rights and economic concerns, users may need to look to solutions outside the law.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" alt="HRI" width="460px" /></a></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-15847141-2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-15847141-2.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A man raises his hand in Google office.Mark Lennihan /Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Large Internet corporations are increasingly exerting an influence over the social and political aspects of our lives as well as economically influencing the marketplace. Google is foremost among them as a very large and very pervasive private actor in the online space, providing everything from search to email to mobile operating systems. </p> <p>Google’s business model may also be viewed as particularly concerning from a digital rights perspective, given the vast amounts of data created by and about its users which power its services. As the Snowden revelations uncovered, <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-23123964">national security agencies have also tapped into this vast data bank</a> under Google’s control in less than legitimate and transparent ways.</p> <h2><b>What’s legal?</b></h2> <p>What then about the law? Google’s business practices have clashed with different laws in different countries.&nbsp; Google’s practices have also been curtailed somewhat by <ins datetime="2016-08-30T14:45" cite="mailto:Angela%20Daly"><a href="http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/">European data protection law,</a></ins> such as <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-27388289">by recognising European citizens’ ‘right to be forgotten’ from its search results in certain circumstances</a>, and by <a href="https://www.cnil.fr/fr/node/15624">curtailing Google’s ability to combine user data from across its myriad services</a>. But even the EU’s data protection laws have been criticised by prominent legal academics in the field. In <del datetime="2016-08-30T14:45" cite="mailto:Angela%20Daly">Bert-Jan </del><a href="http://idpl.oxfordjournals.org/content/4/4/250.short">Koops’ view they only have a marginal effect on real-world data processing practices</a>. <a href="https://global.oup.com/.../the-foundations-of-eu-data-protection-law-9780198718239">Lynskey also calls them ‘permissive’ laws</a> which allow for the collection of personal data (so long as certain criteria are met) ‘endors[ing] the commodification of personal data’. </p> <p>Data protection law is also not very concerned with the size of the entity collecting and processing the data – whether it is in a competitive marketplace or whether it is a monopoly. Furthermore, human rights are generally only enforceable vis-à-vis the nation-state rather than vis-à-vis private actors, despite these actors being transnational corporations that are richer and more powerful than certain countries.</p> <h2><b>Combatting collusion</b></h2> <p>Given Google’s ubiquity, one area of law which we might&nbsp; turn to is <ins datetime="2016-08-30T14:47" cite="mailto:Angela%20Daly"><a href="http://ec.europa.eu/competition/">antitrust, or competition, law</a></ins>. These laws are designed to combat the negative effects of monopoly power for consumers, and to stop competitors colluding with each other. Indeed, the most prominent example of legal proceedings against Google globally continues to be the <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/competition/elojade/isef/case_details.cfm?proc_code=1_39740">ongoing European Commission antitrust investigation</a> into its alleged abuse of dominance in its search and advertising business. </p> <p>The <ins datetime="2016-08-30T14:48" cite="mailto:Angela%20Daly"><a href="http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/competition/index_en.htm">European Commission</a></ins> started investigating Google after complaints were made by Google’s competitors in the ‘vertical search’ price comparison markets: originally price comparison site Foundem, ejustice.fr (a French legal search engine) and German shopping site Ciao (owned by Microsoft). </p> <p>Subsequently the competitors have formed a lobby group, <a href="http://fairsearch.org/about/">FairSearch</a>. The complaints against Google alleged that Google was using its dominant position in online generic search and advertising to give it an unfair advantage in these other markets. The investigation was opened in 2010 and has still yet to reach a conclusion. During this time, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/jan/03/google-cleared-search-bias-investigation">the US authorities have also considered Google’s conduct, and in 2013 concluded</a> that this conduct did not violate antitrust laws. This was because the design changes Google adopted for its search results page (it displayed its own vertical search results more prominently and had the effect of pushing the organic search links further down the page) were done primarily to improve the ‘quality’ of its search product and the overall ‘user experience’. </p> <p>However, the saga between Google and the European Commission has been lengthy and drawn out. The Commission has twice rejected offers from Google to change its behaviour. The Commission seemed to accept Google’s third proposal in early 2014, yet bowed to lobbying pressure later that year in appearing to reject the third proposal after the <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/04/us-eu-google-microsoft-idUSKBN0GZ1NW20140904%3E.">‘politicisation’ of the case within the EU</a>. Google’s offers have involved potential changes to the search results page, particularly as regards labeling of different kinds of results and the more prominent placement of links to competitors’ services. </p> <p>It has always been in Google’s interests to reach a settlement with the Commission since otherwise the Commission would proceed with a full-blown investigation, quite probably resulting in the imposition of remedies as well as a large fine (up to 10 percent of global turnover). </p> <p>Interestingly, <a href="https://www.kluwerlawonline.com/abstract.php?area=Journals&amp;id=COLA2014005">it is actually unclear whether Google’s alleged conduct vis-à-vis its competitors actually constitutes a violation of EU competition law</a>, as it does not fall within a recognized ‘head’ of abuse of dominance. Even if the Commission concluded its investigation and found that Google was abusing its dominant position, Google would still be able to appeal the case to the European courts, which may take a narrower view of the situation <a href="https://www.kluwerlawonline.com/abstract.php?area=Journals&amp;id=COLA2014005">based on previous<ins datetime="2016-08-30T14:51" cite="mailto:Angela%20Daly"> monopolies</ins> case-law<del datetime="2016-08-30T14:51" cite="mailto:Angela%20Daly"></del>.</a> </p> <h2><b>Surprisingly weak remedy</b></h2> <p>From the user perspective, however, given the size and pervasiveness of Google, if the investigation outcome is that Google must only make some relatively superficial changes to how its search results are presented, remedy may seem rather weak. More transparency regarding Google’s algorithm and inner machinations does not seem to be on the table (and would likely be stymied by trade secrets protection), nor are any measures which would tackle Google’s vast collection of user data (the reforms to European data protection law in the form of the new Regulation will not tackle this either).</p> <p>This may seem surprising to many, given Google seems to be obviously a monopoly. But EU competition law has been influenced by the same neoliberal trends that have permeated economic regulation more generally, and accordingly only operates in a minimalist way. </p> <p>Yet in the past, competition law in Europe<ins datetime="2016-08-30T14:54" cite="mailto:Angela%20Daly">, especially Germany,</ins> was influenced by <i><ins datetime="2016-08-30T14:54" cite="mailto:Angela%20Daly"><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordoliberalism">ordoliberal</a></ins></i> currents which were suspicious of large accumulations of private power for both the economic and political influence that such entities could wield. In its early history, <a href="http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=15637">US antitrust law also was suspicious about private power’s political as well as economic influence</a>. Google’s ever-expanding size and portfolio can be conceptualised as exactly the kind of private power accumulation which concerned the ordoliberals. Indeed, Google’s vast (and ever growing) concentration of power is <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-google-is-transforming-power-and-politicsgoogle-once-disdainful-of-lobbying-now-a-master-of-washington-influence/2014/04/12/51648b92-b4d3-11e3-8cb6-284052554d74_story.html%3E.">political as well as economic</a>, with large amounts of its money being invested in political lobbyists and <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/11/24/googles_insidious_shadow_lobbying_how_the_internet_giant_is_bankrolling_friendly_academics_and_skirting_federal_investigations/">even funding resea<ins datetime="2016-08-30T14:55" cite="mailto:Angela%20Daly">r</ins>ch</a> at universities and think tanks. This influence may pose problems for the democratic process and democratic oversight over such a large company.</p> <p>Yet, throughout the Google investigation the Commission has said very little about Google’s impact on its users’ digital rights. </p> <h2><b>Regulatory tension</b></h2> <p>However, <a href="http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_EDPS-14-6_en.htm">the European Data Protection Supervisor in 2014 did make a connection between Google’s monopolistic size and its practices of gathering large amounts of user data</a>, calling for competition analysis to incorporate data protection violations into its conception of ‘consumer harm’. </p> <p>But EU competition law’s ‘More Economic Approach’ means that it is difficult to take into account values, such as human rights, in the largely quantitative and financialised analysis of whether anticompetitive conduct by a monopoly has caused consumer harm. </p> <p>Indeed, <a href="http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319089058">‘ the pursuit or consideration for other non-economic goals under competition law is at odds with neoliberalism</a>’, and so likely to give rise to much regulatory tension if competition bodies find themselves under pressure to apply non-economic values that may be encompassed by human rights – in both this case against Google and in other investigations involving other rights beyond the digital.</p> <h2><b>So who benefits?</b></h2> <p>But why has the Commission been pursuing Google, especially if it’s not clear that Google is committing a recognised abuse of its dominant position or that the investigation will result in a good outcome for users? </p> <p>The explanation may be found in factors such as: <a href="https://chillingcompetition.com/2010/12/10/european-commission-vs-google/">European protectionism when faced with an American corporation</a> (although some of Google’s competitors which have been making the complaints are also American); the Commission’s own political concerns, such as being seen by the general public to be a relevant institution by acting in the face of what many perceive as a pernicious monopoly; and <a href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/beb7aeae-eb3d-11e3-bab6-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3C77rQzcj">lobbying</a> from a coalition of European ‘digital companies’ mainly from France and Germany, and some domestic politicians from these countries who also urged the Commission to reconsider the commitments previously offered by Google.</p> <p>The outcome of the European Commission’s investigation into Google remains to be seen. But it seems clear so far that the Commission has not been overly ‘invasive’ of Google’s business practices, and particularly those which pose the most concern for users. Furthermore, it is far from clear that Google’s overall power will be dramatically weakened as a result of the investigation. Instead, it may be that it is Google’s competitors who benefit in the end, rather than users. </p> <p>Where does this leave us, the users? Essentially, caught between one area of law, competition, which aims to tackle monopolies but is not good at taking our digital rights into account; and another area of law, data protection, which (as the name suggests) is supposed to protect our data but is not very concerned with monopolies collecting vast amounts of data so long as its criteria for collection and processing are met. </p> <p>The EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights has been invoked in a number of recent cases (<i><a href="http://www.iptegrity.com/index.php/internet-trials/720-sabam-v-scarlet-court-rules-that-isps-cant-be-asked-to-filter">Scarlet v SABAM</a></i>, <i><a href="http://europeanlawblog.eu/?p=2289">Digital Rights Ireland</a></i>, <i><a href="http://europeanlawblog.eu/?p=2931">Schrems</a></i>) to protect personal data and curtail state-directed surveillance and monitoring via private companies. However, it is far from clear that a private company, collecting user data for its own <a href="http://fuchs.uti.at/313/">‘economic surveillance’</a> purposes would be treated in the same way. </p> <p>Without a more ‘joined up’ EU legal and regulatory framework which integrates both digital rights and economic concerns when it comes to Internet monopolies such as Google, users may have to look for solutions outside of the law to protect their privacy, enhance their free expression and promote their economic autonomy. &nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>This article is based on the discussion about Google in Angela Daly’s forthcoming book </i><a href="http://www.bloomsbury.com/au/private-power-online-information-flows-and-eu-law-9781509900640/">Private Power, Online Information Flows and EU Law</a><i>, which will be published in late 2016 by Hart.</i></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p> <p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Internet </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> digitaLiberties hri United States EU Conflict Democracy and government Economics International politics Internet Powers behind the screen Angela Daly Wed, 07 Sep 2016 10:16:25 +0000 Angela Daly 105160 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Belling the trolls: free expression, online abuse and gender https://www.opendemocracy.net/bishakha-datta/belling-trolls-free-expression-online-abuse-and-gender <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Freedom of expression is fundamentally about power: about who gets to speak or express themselves and on what terms and platforms.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" alt="HRI" width="460px" /></a></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-25531093.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-25531093.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Lawyers protest against JNU student union president,Kanhaiya Kumar, arrested and accused of sedition, February, 2016. Manish Swarup/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>The things you learn from search engines. I’d always attributed this iconic quote to the French philosopher Voltaire: “I wholly disapprove of what you say, and will defend to the death your right to say it.” And then, idly googling the exact phrasing, I discover that this profoundly expansive ‘Voltairean principle’ did not spring from Voltaire’s lips at all. No, this quote is by his <a href="http://quoteinvestigator.com/2015/06/01/defend-say/">biographer, Evelyn Beatrice Hall</a>, who sometimes wrote under the ‘male’ pseudonym SG Tallentyre.</p> <p>Now, you might ask what this historical misrecording has to do with the price of eggs. Or with freedom of expression. A lot, I’d say. How do we look at a woman’s words attributed to a man’s mind? As a genuine mistake? Sleight of mind? As a manifestation of the assumption that women were not expected to think lofty thoughts at the turn of the twentieth<sup>th</sup> century? Or a subtle reminder that in speech too, there’s a gender divide, with some genders being given more weight, more freedom to express in the public sphere than others? </p> <p>In any event, even as we celebrate the 110<sup>th</sup> anniversary of this enduring phrase, I think it’s time to use it with caution. And with context. Why? Because, err, digital. Given the zettabytes of digital memory devoted to recording, sharing and storing every expressive urge – including those that should have been filtered at the thought level before being typed – this phrase seems a bit like a dinosaur. When the phrase first appeared in 1906, the means of expression were scarce: photography was not even 100 years old, cinema was in its infancy, and the internet wasn’t anywhere near the womb. There was text (not texting), telephones and telegrams. A trickle of speech.</p> <p>Today, it’s the opposite. </p> <p>We’re flooded with the means to express, just as we are with the means to remember. In his book, <a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9436.html">Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age, scholar Viktor Mayer-Schonberger</a> reminds us how the advent of digital technology has forever changed the balance between remembering and forgetting. </p> <p>For centuries, individuals, communities and societies struggled to remember – as technologies evolved from the oral to the written and the printed. Now, for the first time, with digital technologies, including vast storage capabilities, at our beck and call, we’re flipping the switch: remembering is becoming the default, forgetting the exception. “Until recently, the fact that remembering has always been at least a little bit harder than forgetting helped us humans avoid the fundamental question of whether we would like to remember everything forever if we could,” writes Mayer-Schonberger. “Not any more.”</p> <p>Is something similar going on with expression nowadays? Does the capability to infinitely express oneself help us avoid the fundamental question: to say or not to say? To express or not to express? Or to think before we type?</p> <p>And are the opportunities for expression being increasingly usurped by those in power?</p> <h2><b>Speech, expression and power</b></h2> <p>Before you jump to the wrong conclusion, let me explain what I mean. For me, freedom of expression – analog, digital, offline or online – is fundamentally about power. Or about who gets to speak or express themselves. And on what terms and platforms. Just as the struggle for gender equality tries to re-allocate power between the genders, the battle for freedom of expression is about re-allocating the power to speak. </p> <p>We’ve heard the powerful – individuals, corporates and governments – speak for far too long through mainstream media and the other megaphones of the powerful. For the first time, digital technologies have given us – the less powerful – the everyday means not just to speak out, but to actually be heard. To voice every silent, silenced, unheard, marginal, discounted, or ‘illegitimate’ thought we ever had. Loud and clear. When digital technologies first allowed me to make <a href="http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/mp/2002/08/26/stories/2002082600040100.htm">a documentary about three sex workers</a>, in their own voices, the Indian government banned it, not just for expressing their points of view, but also for the use of ‘vulgar’ language. #Powerplay. <span class="print-no mag-quote-right">It’s deeply depressing to see the growing number of tools being used to quell speech. Law. Mobs. Murder. </span></p> <p>That was 15 years back. In the last decade, the battle for speech has only heightened. Even though the avenues of digital expression have multiplied, <a href="https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/freedom-press-2016%20">Freedom House notes that</a> press freedom declined to its lowest point in 12 years in 2015 – as political, criminal, and terrorist forces sought to co-opt or silence the media in their broader struggle for power. In Bangladesh, the country that neighbours mine, <a href="http://thediplomat.com/2016/04/another-secular-blogger-murdered-in-bangladesh/">five bloggers and one publisher have been killed since 2015</a>. Can there be a more disquieting way to quell speech, thought and opinion? </p> <p>And in India, where I live, laws are increasingly misapplied to curb dissent – or speech that challenges those in power. Amnesty India has temporarily shut its India offices after being unjustly <a href="http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/amnesty-india-closes-offices-postpones-events-after-sedition-allegations/story-XnG4zmxBg5FBBuIPDaRwtK.html">accused of sedition</a>. Greenpeace India was made to shut up (to some extent) through the <a href="http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/greenpeace-indias-registration-cancelled/article7613184.ece">cancellation of its licence to receive foreign funding</a> or “the government’s latest move in a relentless onslaught against the community’s right to dissent. A group of <a href="http://www.thehindu.com/specials/in-depth/jawaharlal-nehru-university-row-what-is-the-outrage-all-about/article8244872.ece">students in a Delhi university faced sedition charges</a> for organising a dissenting campus event. And an author temporarily <a href="http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/perumal-murugan-book-controversy-and-madras-high-court-judgement/article8816393.ece">‘killed himself’</a> as a writer when faced with a mob of opposition in his hometown.</p> <p>It’s easy to be lonely in a crowd. And it’s hard to uphold the right to dissent when you’re a minority of one. And it’s deeply depressing to see the growing number of tools being used to quell speech. Law. Mobs. Murder. </p> <p>As Perumal Murugan, the author who temporarily 'killed himself' said once he started writing again, “<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/23/books/indian-novelist-stages-a-comeback-after-threats-in-his-hometown.html?_r=0">A censor is seated inside me now.</a>”</p> <h2><b>Gendered speech, online abuse and #FoE</b></h2> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/2004_Al_Azm_Mernissi_Soroush_Mernissi_laudatio.tif_.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/2004_Al_Azm_Mernissi_Soroush_Mernissi_laudatio.tif_.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Fatima Mernissi accepting the Erasmus Prize 2004 (the Netherlands). Wikicommons/Praemium Erasmianum Foundation. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>The speech of the powerless is not what I have in mind when I caution against the untrammelled use of Beatrice Hall’s iconic quote. I’m thinking of other kinds of speech which digital technologies have enabled, and which the digitally powerful wreak on us, day in and day out. </p> <p>I’m talking online abuse. </p> <p>Online abuse – especially against women – has now become like one of those rapidly-mutating viruses that resists all antibiotics. It’s everywhere, in many different forms. I’m not talking about the ingrained everyday sexism that’s our daily bread. That we fight, day in, day out. I’m not talking about androcentrism, or the assumption that men, and male experience, are at the centre of the universe. That we fight like guerrillas, constantly rolling our eyes in our heads. </p> <p>I’m talking rape threats. Gang rape threats. Graphic gang rape threats with vivid descriptions of postures. Death threats. Hate speech that meets the <a href="http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/17session/A.HRC.17.27_en.pdf">legal criteria for spewing hate</a>.&nbsp; Those, in my view, are not free speech. They’re a call to arms, incitements to violence. More so when it’s an invisible or paid cyber-army behind the threats, backing each other up, preying on a woman. Wilding. Trying to break her. Trying to humiliate her. Trying to get her to shut up, out of the misplaced notion that only men have the right to air their thoughts and opinions online. In public space. &nbsp;<span class="print-no mag-quote-left">We want full citizenship. The freedom to be ourselves. The freedom to loiter online, full-throated.</span></p> <p>In one of her essays, <a href="http://www.mernissi.net/">Moroccan writer Fatima Mernissi </a>introduces the concept of ‘trespassing in the nude’ to explain how men in Morocco think of public space as a men-only zone. Social norms dictate that Moroccan women are not supposed to be in public space; women who break that rule are seen to be trespassing. But women who dare to step into public space without their veils – that’s even worse. That’s trespassing in the nude. And trespass, of course, demands punishment.</p> <p>On the internet, women who speak out are seen as trespassers. And women who speak out about things that men reserve as their own preserve are seen to doubly trespass. Or trespass in the nude. <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/laurie-penny-a-womans-opinion-is-the-mini-skirt-of-the-internet-6256946.html">As British writer Laurie Penny famously said, “A woman’s opinion is the mini skirt of the internet.”</a> Meaning, an excuse to harass.</p> <p>Women on Morocco’s streets were punished through stoning, as are women who loiter on the streets of the internet. Just think of online abuse as stoning with words – that’s violence, right? When journalist Swati Chaturvedi got massively harassed last year, she <a href="http://www.dailyo.in/politics/twitter-trolls-swati-chaturvedi-lutyensinsider-presstitutes-bazaru-media-delhi-police/story/1/4300.html">wrote about her experience</a>. “Journalists specially women are hunted for sport, abused, slandered and hounded by trolls who hunt in hyena-like packs. The problem is that you have an opinion and are behaving like a journalist, not a cheerleader.“ </p> <p>Many women have grown rhinoceros hides to ignore online abuse. It continues. Others have tried fighting back. It continues. Some have tried humour, including the Peng Collective’s brilliant <a href="http://https://www.pen.gg/zerotrollerance">Zero Trollerance</a> campaign. The trolls march on, undeterred, like Tolkien’s Orcs. Of course, it’s important to distinguish between trolling and abuse, but sometimes when you’re facing the shitstream, there’s just so much semantic jugglery you can take. No matter what you call it, you just want it off. </p> <p>Some women have stopped expressing themselves for fear of ‘inviting’ abuse. They’ve tied their tongues. Others hold back, or self-censor, again for fear of ‘inviting’ abuse. On the one hand, this is uncannily similar to women and girls not going out at night or not dressing how they please for fear of ‘inviting’ abuse or harassment. On the other, this is also about #FoE. Surely, freedom of expression cannot be defined to mean that only some get to speak – at the cost of others’ speech? And that those in power along the axis of gender should appropriate the means to express?</p> <p>This is not even just about speech. It’s about digital citizenship. Women are neither interlopers not outsiders in digital spaces. We belong online as much as we belong offline. We want full citizenship. The freedom to be ourselves. The freedom to loiter online, full-throated. To comfortably exist in a space that we can call ours. Without abuse, harassment and violence.</p> <p>That’s why I say, let’s use that iconic #FoE phrase with caution. And not in all contexts. If I wholly disapprove of what you say, I will not defend to the death your right to say it. Because no one should have the right to abuse another under the guise of freedom of expression.</p> <p><i>This piece was first published in <a href="http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/social-media-trolls-rape-threats-online/1/714343.html">India Today</a> on July 13, 2016 and is republished with kind permission here. </i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p> <p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/funda-ustek/mayor-of-ankara-diary-of-troll">Mayor of Ankara: the diary of a troll</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/transformation/sally-kohn/dont-feed-trolls-cultivating-civility-online">Don&#039;t feed the trolls? Cultivating civility online</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openglobalrights/rachel-schmidt/activists-get-creative-in-their-push-for-moroccan-women-s-rights">Activists get creative in their push for Moroccan women’s rights</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Morocco </div> <div class="field-item even"> India </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Bangladesh </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Internet </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 digitaLiberties hri openIndia Bangladesh India Morocco Civil society Conflict Culture Equality Ideas International politics Internet Powers behind the screen Bishakha Datta Tue, 30 Aug 2016 14:59:34 +0000 Bishakha Datta 105017 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Poland welcomes internet filtering https://www.opendemocracy.net/joanna-kulesza/poland-welcomes-internet-filtering <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Any limits set for free expression online must be traced in pencil, not in ink, and not, and this is particularly important - within a hastily drafted piece of legislation. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img alt="HRI" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" width="460px" /></a></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-12610454.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-12610454.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protesters demonstrate against ACTA in front of the Presidential Palace, Warsaw, Poland, January, 2012. ALIK KEPLICZ / Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <p>Until June 23 Poland was a green island on the European black sea of internet filtering. Once, back in 2010, the Polish government considered this popular yet ineffective form of preventing cybercrime. But as a result of eager public debate the then Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, was advised against introducing a list of ‘forbidden websites and services’. The usual arguments used by freedom of expression advocates in other countries proved successful in Poland: Tusk decided against the costly operation, having been persuaded that even with internet filtering in place, undesirable content would still be accessible. The infrastructure and manpower costs would surmount the limited benefits of the few lay internet users actually believing the misleading 404 error message or complying with the automated ban. </p> <p>Yet only six years later that debate and all relevant arguments seem to have been forgotten. As the Warsaw NATO summit dawns, and in the face of the growing threat of terrorism in other European countries, the Polish law on ‘anti-terrorist’ measures, authored by the right wing Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc; PiS) government, has introduced the first ever Polish procedure on internet filtering, raising serious concerns about privacy, freedom of expression and other human rights.</p> <h2>Vague definition – vast authority </h2> <p>The new Polish act on anti-terrorist measures<a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a> came into force on June 29. It was approved by the Parliament without debate, less public consultation and within a week the President signed it into law. Despite calls from civil society there was no public hearing on the draft, one kept classified until the final parliamentary vote, and the President, the acting guardian of the Constitution and the values it stands for, decided against vetoing it although the act itself raises fundamental constitutional concerns. </p> <p>The critics have rightfully, yet unsuccessfully, indicated that the very notion of a terrorist threat, crucial to the implementation of this act, is vast and unclear. An “event of a terrorist character”, focal to the act, is defined as a “situation which is suspected to have resulted from a terrorist crime”, making direct reference to the Polish Penal Code. In its definition of a terrorist crime the Penal Code reflects to some extent the existing international law consensus on the notion of terrorism when it stipulates that “an offense of a terrorist character” is any offense committed to result in serious intimidation of many people, compel a Polish public authority or that of any other state or the authority of an international organization to perform or abstain from certain activities, or cause serious disturbances in the economy of the Polish Republic, another state or an international organization. </p> <p>Regardless of the reference to the existing law, the new definition of “terrorist event” strikes one as bluntly overbroad brushstroke, in particular since it directly reflects on the scope of human rights to be exercised. It seems a mirror image of the infamous ‘three hops’ <a href="http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/nsa-three-hops-youre-out-8766">FISAA rule</a>, allowing them to restrict the right to share and access any information relating to a “situation which is suspected to have resulted” from a terrorist crime, and allowing a broad interpretation of any activity as possibly connected with what might be considered a terrorist offence. It is this broad interpretation that prompts most criticism. The law remains silent on the procedures applicable in making such decisions and the bodies competent to decide whether the ‘suspicion’ is justified. The actual link between the terrorist crime and the introduction of special measures could be dangerously loose and vague. </p> <p>The other argument made by the critics of the new law is that it is discriminatory - most of the antiterrorist measures are aimed at foreigners, including those from EU countries and applicable to all non-Polish persons (a vague resemblance to the US FISAA logic of applying constitutional privacy and civil liberties guarantees only to “US-persons” can be traced here). For example the conversations of foreigners (regardless of the nationality of the person on the other side of the line) may be eavesdropped and recorded by the Internal Security Agency (Agencja Bezpieczeństwa Wewnętrznego, ABW) without a court order. &nbsp;</p> <p>The third point of contention is the right granted to the authorities to limit the freedom of assembly in circumstances perceived as entailing a terrorist threat – a provision viewed as a possible way of curtailing public protests, ones which Poland seems to have indulged in regularly of late. Luckily no official reference to online assemblies has yet been made, but one is left to wonder whether Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leading the governing PiS party, will follow in the footsteps of another authoritarian leader and take Erdogan’s example by applying the law on assembly to online gatherings on e.g. Facebook or Twitter, resulting in country-wide blocking of those services for all country users. </p> <h2><b>Internet filtering </b></h2> <p>With regard to the application of human rights online, the introduction of a court-ordered blocking seems particularly alarming. In 2010 there was a debate on “a list of forbidden sites and services” in the context of enforcing Polish gambling law. Its provisions required anyone operating a gambling service, both off-line and online, to register with the local Ministry of Finance. The reason for this was primarily a tax concern – the government wanted to ensure that gambling revenue fuelled the budget. The authorities quickly realized that the gambling law would be unenforceable against online services and in consequence there was much talk of introducing a list of gambling sites to be blocked unless registered. The usual arguments (ineffectiveness of blocking, risk of unauthorized censorship etc.) resulted in Donald Tusk’s government abandoning this idea. </p> <p>While the debate in 2010 proved to be vocal and public, the 2016 law was rapidly passed, with few civil society organizations expressing any concern. Unlike in 2010 there was no roundtable debate with the government. Unlike with the ACTA protests there were no protests in the streets. The official reasons presented briefly by the government referenced broadly increasing terrorist risks, in particular in the face of planned high-level meetings and mass events to take place in Poland this summer. Should such terrorist threats appear online, whether it involved the inciting of a terrorist attack or instructing how to assemble a bomb, the power to curtail free speech and block such threatening content for the purposes of terrorism prevention rests with the ABW. As explained by the government, this “new instrument relates to information and communication systems” and its purpose is the “prevention and detection of terrorist offences” as well as “prosecuting the perpetrators” of such crimes. These measures are directed at terrorist organizations that use the internet to promote their ideology, instruct on carrying out terrorist attacks or to communicate with followers. Yet rumor has it that in the works is also a list of gambling sites to be blocked. While there is no talk of copyright violations as of yet, the UK example indicates that those avenues will be explored next. </p> <p>While the ABW authority is broad, there is a sense of judicial supervision present in the new act. It grants courts the power to issue an order for the ABW to install blocking or require the system administrator to block specific data or data communication services available in the ICT system that they manage. This court order is to follow a written request from the ABW chief, made after having received written consent from the Attorney General. The data or services to be blocked need to be “related to an event of terrorist nature” and they are to be blocked “for a specified period not longer than 30 days”. In undefined “urgent cases” however the decision to block or to have the ISP block data or services “related to an event of terrorist nature” can be made by the head of the ABW after obtaining a written consent from the Attorney General. Once consent is granted, the ABW chief must refer to Warsaw District Court with a written request for a decision on the matter. The court may then decide on blocking the relevant data for no longer than three months, unless the circumstances justifying the blocking have ceased. The court has five days to consent to the blocking or its continuation and unless a court decision is in place, the blocking is to stop. The relevant court decisions are subject to appeal as per the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, but the right to appeal has not been granted either to the ISP or to the individual whose data has been blocked. </p> <h2>Poland in a “Yildirim situation” </h2> <p>While the act provides for some court supervision over internet filtering, it fails to address the rights of users. The individual whose data is being blocked has not been given any right to object against unjustified blocking, either against the state, or against the ISP. It is only the ABW chief and the Attorney General who can object to the blocking order. </p> <p>Moreover, it is likely that the current infrastructure in place will make it difficult to ensure that only individual content (websites) will be blocked. Poland might find itself in <a href="https://www.article19.org/resources.php/resource/3567/en/turkey:-landmark-european-court-decision-finds-blanket-google-ban-was-a-violation-of-freedom-of-expression">a <i>Yildirim situation</i></a>, with court orders resulting in overbroad blocking – a scenario confirmed by e.g. the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) as a violation of Article 10 of the European Human Rights Convention. It was in the 2012 <i>Yildirim v Turkey</i> case that the ECHR decided against overbroad internet filtering lacking sufficient judicial supervision. But other countries have also struggled with finding an equilibrium between crime prevention online and human rights guarantees, not to mention the shifting line of adjudication of the European Court of Justice in copyright-related cases or the changing focus of national courts in France or Germany.<a href="#_ftn2">[2]</a> </p> <p>And also in Poland, as already indicated, the<b> </b>Internet filtering<b> </b>act fails to indicate who takes the decision and based on which procedures on there being a justified suspicion of a terrorism-related ‘situation’. The limited court supervision, granting the ABW chief permission to run surveillance without authorization, raises serious human rights concerns.</p> <h2><b>Solid as a rock</b></h2> <p>While the new bill raises justified and serious concerns on its legality and compliance with the rule of law, there seems little practical chance of it being reviewed or revised soon. On July 1, Parliament approved another amendment to the recently changed act on the Constitutional Tribunal, awarding the President of the Republic a broad authority to interfere with the work of the judges. Among other new prerogatives, the President has been granted the authority to decide on the sequence in which the Tribunal is to review the cases. Effectively, should the Polish Ombudsman file a constitutional complaint against the new antiterrorist law, indicating possible threats to the rule of law and individual rights and liberties present in the act, the Tribunal may actually be halted in its work of reviewing the Ombudsman’s motion. Moreover, the recent amendments of the act on the Constitutional Tribunal introduced a power of four (out of the appointed fifteen) judges to veto the proceedings of the court. In case of their veto vote, the investigation of the controversial case is to be suspended for three months. Should any consensus on such a case prove unattainable after that period, the Tribunal is to dismiss the case in its entirety without giving its opinion. Effectively, a minority of judges in the Constitutional Tribunal have been given the power to paralyze its work and ensure that any controversial law stays in force, making the Tribunal unable to declare it null and void. </p> <h2><b>Human rights in decline?</b></h2> <p>The faults of the new law are plenty – next to the threat they hold for free speech online, and the (non-virtual) right to assembly, they also introduced the controversial obligation to register any pre-paid phone with the buyer’s personal data and grant the Internal Security Agency vast access to public databases on social security or the municipal fingerprint records kept by the police. </p> <p>Poland seems to be following the policies of fear popular in many European states but also well represented in the US presidential debates. One could argue that Poland is a universal trendsetter with an internet-related law countering the most current of threats, that of global terrorism, following the most recent UN Security Council plans to introduce universal regulations on controlling hate speech and communications supporting or inciting terrorism, following the agenda they set out in 2015.<a href="#_ftn3">[3]</a> Yet even though the world’s major powers, including China, the US or UK, may agree on the need to combat dangerous words online, the practical limits to any corresponding legal regulation will surely be difficult, if not impossible, to trace. The <i>Draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism</i>, unsuccessfully negotiated since 2000, has taught us that much. </p> <p>Terrorism is nothing more than a shorthand allusion to a set of problems reflecting the era of globalised culture and trade. The fragile balance between free expression and hate speech has been discussed in volumes of academic writing and court files, but remains unattainable in practical terms. With that in mind, any limits set for free expression online must be traced in pencil, not in ink, and not, and this is particularly important - within a hastily drafted piece of legislation. </p> <hr size="1" /> <p><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> <a href="http://isap.sejm.gov.pl/DetailsServlet?id=WDU20160000904">Ustawa o działaniach antyterrorystycznych</a>, Official Journal (Dziennik Ustaw) 2016/904, only available in Polish.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref2">[2]</a> For a detailed discussion see e.g.: Joss Wright, Yana Breindl, <a href="http://policyreview.info/articles/analysis/internet-filtering-trends-liberal-democracies-french-and-german-regulatory-debates">Internet filtering trends in liberal democracies: French and German regulatory debates</a>, Internet Policy Review, 2/2/2013<a href="http://policyreview.info/articles/analysis/internet-filtering-trends-liberal-democracies-french-and-german-regulatory-debates"></a>. </p> <p><a href="#_ftnref3">[3]</a> Caitlin Dewey, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2015/09/24/the-united-nations-has-a-radical-dangerous-vision-for-the-future-of-the-web/">The United Nations has a radical, dangerous vision for the future of the Web</a>, Washington Post, September 24, 2015. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p> <p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/digitaliberties/joanna-kulesza/as-poles-shift-right-democracy-runs-scarce">As Poles shift right, democracy runs scarce </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Poland </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Internet </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> digitaLiberties hri Can Europe make it? United States EU Poland Civil society Culture Democracy and government International politics Internet Powers behind the screen Joanna Kulesza Sun, 31 Jul 2016 18:30:07 +0000 Joanna Kulesza 104412 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Surveillance, power and communication https://www.opendemocracy.net/digitaliberties/robin-mansell/surveillance-power-and-communication <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Coalitions of actors – scholars, activists, some politicians, and even some captains of industry, will need to collaborate if the pathway we pursue to a calculated, unequal future is to change.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" alt="HRI" width="460px" /></a></p> <p><i><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/2612820208_43994df40d.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/2612820208_43994df40d.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Algorithmic drawing X11. Flickr/ Brett Renfer. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>This presentation is organised around three keywords:&nbsp; Surveillance, Power and Communication. Another keyword is algorithm. This keyword was omitted from my original title – perhaps there was a worry that this talk would be very technical.&nbsp; It won’t be.</i></p> <p><i>I want to discuss an answer to a deceptively simple question -&nbsp; In this increasingly algorithmic world of ours, is digitally mediated communication governable? In 1950, one of my PhD supervisors, the Canadian Political Economist, Professor Dallas Smythe, was also asking a similar question! He put it this way: ‘What kind of world will be borne through the midwifery of our new and more powerful communications tools?’ He was concerned about the consolidation of the communications industry in the post-war period. He was worried about what was happening to the public’s right to access information, to the right of citizens to be free from that era’s forms of surveillance, and about the protection of privacy – in today’s terms – the right not to be tracked, analysed or acted upon in harmful ways. </i></p> <p><i>In my <a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=yT-glZKTi4YC&amp;printsec=frontcover&amp;source=gbs_ge_summary_r&amp;cad=0#v=onepage&amp;q&amp;f=false">own research</a></i><i> my primary interest is always in how we imagine the digitally mediated environment we inhabit, and in whether alternative worlds or pathways are possible. What alternatives are realistically available for societies when they embrace digital technological innovations?&nbsp; Are the dominant trends in digitally mediated surveillance, power and communicative practice congealed, or, can they change and be better aligned with citizen interests in social democracy, a good society or whatever you wish to call it? </i></p> <p><i>Scholarship on algorithms asks - What are they? Who or what governs them? Are values embedded in them? What are the consequences for social sorting and discrimination? Are users aware of them? This field is a growth industry. It is attracting lots of research funding. &nbsp;Research focuses on the algorithm as a sensitising concept, as an active agent, and as a black box to be unpacked. It also asks normative questions about the political, ethical and accountable character of algorithms.&nbsp; </i></p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <h2><b>Is there anything new to say? </b></h2> <p>The digitally mediated world is governable. But - great care is essential to situate both what is governed and who governs in the context of what kind of world is desirable and for whom.&nbsp; <span class="print-no mag-quote-right">Questions about governance, power, surveillance… matter because of their relation to very big social, political and economic problems.</span></p> <p>Surveillance communication is obviously connected with power relations. These are understood entirely differently by algorithm makers and their corporate and state overseers, as compared to many – though not all - social science scholars and many users. I want to shift the analytical spotlight away from algorithms or algorithmic assemblages <i>per se</i>. In this presentation I am going to highlight a core societal problem. This is the increasing fascination with - and attachment to - the quantifiable. </p> <p>As you all know, some research in our field is very media centric. Similarly, even when the algorithm is treated as a sensitising concept (<a href="http://sth.sagepub.com/content/41/1/3">Ziewitz</a>), research in this area is often very algorithm centric.&nbsp; Sometimes it seems to be at risk of forgetting why questions about governance, power, surveillance and algorithmic communication matter.&nbsp; Of course they matter.&nbsp; They matter because of their relation to very big social, political and economic problems.</p> <h2><b>So, what kind of world is being born through our new communications tools?</b></h2> <p>My doctoral student, Joao Vieira Magalhaes, says that, ‘algorithms are simultaneously effective and unfathomable’. This reminds me of Wittgenstein’s phrase - ‘we cannot […] say what we cannot think’. &nbsp;For most people, most of the time as users of digital services, we do not think about what is happening. <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1369118X.2016.1154086">Taina Bucher</a>’s (2016) research on the algorithmic imaginary, affect and perception does examine user awareness. But it is almost impossible for us to say and think about what choices are being made for us and by whom when we go online. For the algorithm makers, of course, algorithmic computation is mainly about patterns of data and the choices that make them what they are.&nbsp; The problems are about &nbsp;‘prediction’ and ‘contextualisation’ to rub out the foibles of human beings – to achieve and optimise the quantification of behaviour. <span class="print-no mag-quote-left">Algorithms make digitally mediated surveillance or watching over technically very easy.</span></p> <p>Algorithms make digitally mediated surveillance or watching over technically very easy. Applications can support and mitigate the damage of disasters, they can help protect people in public spaces, they can help signal health risks and in that sense, they combat disease. &nbsp;They help in monitoring climate change. Algorithms are being used to help companies to boost profits and countries are (in some cases) experiencing economic growth as a result – that is the claim and it can be verified. Algorithms also of course support sousveillance or undersight as <a href="http://www.surveillance-and-society.org/articles1(3)/sousveillance.pdf">Steve Mann</a> and others call it; and so algorithmic based watching from below also supports a radical politics of resistance.</p> <h2><b>But is this world that is being born inclusive? </b></h2> <p>How does it fit with notions of a good society? A quick overview of the digital communications environment will give us some idea – usually this environment is depicted in this way – at least if we were to find ourselves at the World Economic Forum at Davos it would be: </p><blockquote><p>-&nbsp; some 914 million people have at least one international connection on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and WeChat and most are using it for electronic commerce.</p><p>-&nbsp; Global data flows raised the world’s GDP by more than 10% to $7.8 trillion in 2014.&nbsp; Small businesses can become ‘micro-multinationals’. The most connected are in Singapore, the Netherlands, the US, Germany, Ireland and the UK, with China clocking in at number 7, according to McKinsey. </p><ul><li>-&nbsp; Around 12% of global goods trade is done via electronic commerce on platforms like Alibaba, Amazon, e-Bay, Flipkart, and Rakuten. Social media exposes consumers to products that go viral - Adele’s song ‘Hello’ had 50 million views on YouTube in its first 48 hours. </li><li>-&nbsp; Some company platforms and automated processes operate at hyperscale. Thanks to Airbnb, Agoda and TripAdvisor, data analytics-driven decision making is the order of the day.</li><li>-&nbsp; The Internet of Things is feeding all this, monitoring, sensing, tracking, and combining data in novel ways. Companies are investing big time to improve productivity, innovation and customer retention.</li><li>-&nbsp; Digital communication is central to the majority of people’s lives in the Global North. It is becoming so in many parts of the Global South. Generated by LinkedIn, Weibo, price comparison sites, and government information online sites, networks are carrying the traffic of billions of internet users. Of 1.6 million gigabytes of data transmitted every minute, a lot of it is transactions by citizens or consumers. </li></ul><p>Global flows are becoming more inclusive.&nbsp;</p></blockquote> <p>This and the claims I’ve outlined are <a href="https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=Digital+Globalization%3A+The+New+Era+of+Global+Flows&amp;ie=utf-8&amp;oe=utf-8&amp;client=firefox-b-ab&amp;gfe_rd=cr&amp;ei=60p1V57aBO2LtgfFtKDgCg">McKinsey</a>’s (2016) in its recent report on data flows. <span class="print-no mag-quote-right">For McKinsey and other corporate analysts, the biggest sources of vulnerability for society are from disgruntled employees, criminals, political activists, and other countries, not from the algorithms themselves.</span> But more soberly, McKinsey also notes that lagging countries are catching up extremely slowly. The data flows of the leading countries just keep on rising, outpacing less wealthy countries and perpetuating gaps that do exclude. And we should not overlook the fact that six billion people do not have high speed broadband, some four billion do not have Internet access at all, and some two billion do not have a mobile phone.&nbsp; </p> <p>The data industry is highly concentrated globally in terms of its capacity for processing data. <a href="http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11135-012-9787-z">Barnett and Park</a>’s (2014) work shows that global internet connectivity is concentrated among a few core countries which serve as hubs – with a Gini coefficient of .930 – that is very concentrated. The hub countries are the US, the UK, China, Germany Brazil, France, India, Italy, Japan, Spain and Russia. With the growth of the so-called ‘big data’ ecology, new types of risk can command public attention and data processing using the algorithms can come to the rescue: the failure of power grids, financial crises, or information leaks.&nbsp; For McKinsey and other corporate analysts, the biggest sources of vulnerability for society are from disgruntled employees, criminals, political activists, and other countries, not from the algorithms themselves. Net losses due to cyberattacks according to McAfee and Lloyds of London insurers are around US $400 billion annually.</p> <p>But inclusion and the penetration of technology and stats on the gaps cannot be the sole criteria for deciding whether the pathway towards an algorithmic society is a good one.</p> <p>Yet this is the world which is being born:<b>&nbsp; </b>a society that privileges quantification.&nbsp; Let me put all this apparent newness or novelty into a context. </p> <p>If ‘big data’ is short hand for algorithmic computing, why is it that it only relatively recently has become a topic for communication scholars and other social scientists?&nbsp; We encounter it as novel in a way that is similar to the way we encountered the so-called birth of the digital revolution or the information society. We encounter it as new partly because the discourse on big data and algorithms is being hyped by powerful actors as a solution to some very big social problems – here I am not hinting at any co-ordinated or organised conspiracy. But, there is a campaign to assure people that, whatever the functions of today’s algorithms, they are designed to keep us safe, happy, and make us wealthier.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>In addition, a recent shift from commerce and concerns about consumer privacy to public discussion about the State’s role in war and migration is bringing algorithms into the public eye through the mainstream media in a different way. This, to some extent, is deflecting citizen attention away from threats to their privacy and rights to freedom of expression – at least for a while. </p><h2><b>Nothing new</b></h2><p>The catch phrase, ‘big data’, is new, but data processing most certainly is not new.&nbsp; The ‘data science’ term which includes algorithmic computing was coined in the 1960s. According to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/quora/the-history-of-data-scien_b_10116442.html">Sundaresan</a> writing in the Huffington Post recently, Jeff Wu, an engineering professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, used it in the 1970s to refer to statistical data analysis. <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1751-5823.2001.tb00477.x/abstract">William Cleveland</a>, an environmental statistician, used it in 2001 in an article in the <i>International Statistical Review. </i>Big data analytics is about statistically detecting patterns in IP addresses, unusual data accesses, or suspicious files. And machine or algorithmic learning is a branch of artificial intelligence. It too has been around for quite a while. <span class="print-no mag-quote-left">There is a campaign to assure people that… today’s algorithms are designed to keep us safe, happy, and make us wealthier.&nbsp; </span></p> <p>What is new to the public realm is the move into behavioural analytics and learning algorithms where the analytics happen beyond the knowledge of the algorithm makers. This is a departure from the past and this seems to be deepening the fascination of many with the quantification of every day life.</p><p>An example: MIT announced a new AI-based Cyber Threat Analysis Framework. The objective is to ramp up the speed and accuracy of analytics to find threats in the Dark Web - the part of the Web which is not indexed by search engines. By scanning for malware releases and ransom-ware tools, the technology will be used to identify new threats and observe the activities of hackers.&nbsp; Before assuming this is a major new development though, it is worth paying attention to <a href="http://wiprodigital.com/heres-well-win-cyber-security-war/">people</a> who are very experienced.&nbsp; One commentator says that ‘the effectiveness of AI-based systems in detecting threats is yet to be fully determined … solutions such as MIT’s are no silver bullet’. There have been high hopes for similar earlier communication machines. Yet we persistently treat each generation as if it is new.&nbsp; Historical memory is washed away. </p><p>In addition, knowledge or skills gaps in the algorithmic computation area are not new either.&nbsp; There is a gap on the science and social science sides. But the digital communications skills gap generally is big and there has been debate about deskilling and up-skilling for decades.&nbsp; It is true that few people have the knowledge to understand what an algorithm is or what it means to do ‘data analytics’. It is true that skilled people in areas like artificial intelligence, data management, data quality control, and data visualisation are short in supply. But the debate itself isn’t new. </p> <h2><b>Inequality</b></h2> <p>In this society or world which is being born through the midwifery of our digital communication technologies, another gap is growing.&nbsp; Inequality is growing.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.oxfam.org.uk/media-centre/press-releases/2016/01/62-people-own-same-as-half-world-says-oxfam-inequality-report-davos-world-economic-forum">Oxfam</a> claims that 62 people have as much wealth as the poorest half of the world's population.&nbsp; Countries are facing economic instability, bubbles and financial crashes. There is the spread of new viruses – Ebola or Zika. Poverty, lack of housing and poor water sanitation due to migration and asylum seeking are all too visible. And the answer for some? All these are symptoms of calculable risks. &nbsp;They can be managed by relying on algorithms and data analytics.&nbsp; <span class="print-no mag-quote-left">The Cathedral or Temple of Computation is the big societal issue alongside inequality.</span></p> <p><a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/01/the-cathedral-of-computation/384300/">Ian Bogost</a> suggested in US <i>The Atlantic</i> magazine that we are rapidly moving towards a ‘computational theocracy’. &nbsp;He is right I think.&nbsp; This isn’t new either, but I suggest to you that the Cathedral or Temple of Computation is the big societal issue alongside inequality. These are much bigger issues than what algorithms can, or cannot, do to us, or for us.&nbsp; </p> <p>The challenge isn’t so much whether digitally mediated communication – based on algorithmic computation - is exploitative <i>or</i> liberating, inclusive or excluding. It may sometimes seem that algorithms are the drivers of the kind of society that is being born. But this is hype. Or it may sometimes seem that growing online participation is coinciding with a negation of human agency. But, human agency and power still matter – and of course they are contradictory! &nbsp;In practice, these developments in communication are conditioned by norms and rules – They are conditioned by governance arrangements and by power relations.</p> <p>So let us turn now to the governability of societies that depend increasingly on algorithms, surveillance and online communication.<b> </b></p> <h2><b>In what sense are the computational ‘black boxes’ governable? &nbsp;</b></h2> <p>Governance is complex. The term is often used loosely. By governance, I mean the rules, norms, and practices which are accepted or resisted in a given society.&nbsp; Governance influences the kind of world that is being borne; it is about the fundamentals of life, the quality of people’s lives, and whether, by any measure, societies aspire to be ‘good’ societies – societies which are inclusive, respectful, and enabling. </p> <p>Sometimes governance is about legislation or policy. Some argue governance is needed to make sure that algorithms which signpost Twitter trends, the most read press articles, or support policing, should be transparent. Of course it is useful to understand their biases, who or what they sequester or hide, and when they are successful and when they fail some or other criterion. <span class="print-no mag-quote-right">When the results algorithms produce are treated as if they are certain, this discourages our capacity to think about alternative worlds and development pathways.</span></p> <p>However, when we think instead about algorithms in society as Networked Information Assemblages, governance is a much more subtle issue.&nbsp; <a href="http://sth.sagepub.com/content/41/1/93.abstract">Mike Ananny</a> defines these assemblages as ‘institutionally situated code, practices, and norms with the power to create, sustain, and signify relationships among people and data through minimally observable, semiautonomous action’ (p. 93).&nbsp; Algorithms govern by structuring possibilities. When the results they produce are treated as if they are certain, this discourages our capacity to think about alternative worlds and development pathways. In this sense, these assemblages are our most recent disciplining technology – they discipline the mind.&nbsp; </p> <p>We can think of governance as the ‘the ensemble of techniques and procedures put into place to direct the conduct of men [and women] and to take account of the probabilities of their action and their relations’, if we follow <a href="https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/15586001/neoliberalism-in-action-inequality-insecurity-and-the-reconstitution-">Mauizio Lazzarato</a>.&nbsp; This suggests that governance research must focus on why machine learning or algorithmic computation is becoming a ‘black box’ even for the designers. And we need to remember that algorithms do not ‘make’ a world. Human beings in their institutional settings make the world. Governance analysis needs to focus on how practices and knowledge are interconnected in ways that produce governed subjects who are making their worlds and choosing their pathways.&nbsp; </p> <p>In line with this, <a href="http://sth.sagepub.com/content/41/1/17">Lucas Introna</a> says in a 2016 paper that the big governance challenge today is that ‘calculative practices are established as legitimate (or true)’ (p. 39). They are being internalised.&nbsp; But, I suggest that while they may be more effective in producing self-governing subjects than some earlier technologies, they are not 100 per cent effective! </p> <h2><b>Disciplining the mind</b></h2> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/2612818208_2d8e2ac749.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/2612818208_2d8e2ac749.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Algorithmic drawing X. Flickr/ Brett Renfer. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>The big governance challenge is not so much the ‘black box’ of the algorithm, but the core assumption that human conduct is predictable enough to allow human beings to defer to machine-driven decisions (as <a href="http://sth.sagepub.com/content/41/1/118">Tal Zarsky</a> says). &nbsp;When those decisions exacerbate inequality, unfairness, and discrimination, surely we cannot be on a pathway which aligns with most people’s ideas of a good society. Resistance to the seductive algorithmic computational drama as it has been called, is definitely called for. </p> <p>Here is a quote of the kind that needs to be resisted: </p> <blockquote><p>‘Algorithms can produce actionable insights even though it is not yet possible to explain the reasons behind these insights. Once AI starts consistently producing recommendations that improve outcomes, people should start using these algorithms and investigating why exactly these recommendations work as well as they do’ </p></blockquote> <p>This is a quote from <a href="http://www.inc.com/empact/the-future-belongs-to-leaders-who-get-artificial-intelligence.html">leading software developers</a> – it is symptomatic of today’s forms of the governance of conduct. This developer asks a why question, but he and others like him do not follow up by asking - with what consequence or impact?</p> <p>I suggest to you that the ‘black box’ that really needs unpacking is not the inner workings of an algorithm – albeit this may be a nice theoretical challenge. It is a different black box that we need to focus on.</p> <p>Here we can learn from a bit of history. In digitalisation’s earlier history, the late <a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=GSyGBicq1NIC&amp;printsec=frontcover&amp;source=gbs_ge_summary_r&amp;cad=0#v=onepage&amp;q&amp;f=false">Nathan Rosenberg</a>, a US economist at Stanford University who studied technological innovation, said that researchers need to look in detail inside the black box of technology. But he meant we should focus on points of control – on economic or political power. In the early 1970s when he was writing and now, instrumental, anti-normative, social science treatment of ‘black boxes’ power needs to be challenged at every opportunity. As <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/comt.12039/abstract">Philip Napoli</a> says, the algorthmic assemblage black box needs to be opened. But the aim must be to understand how the velocity, volume, and value of data are encouraging us to ‘embrace algorithmically driven decision making’ – to bow to the cathedral of computation and quantification. </p> <h2><b>Who decides?</b></h2> <p>And who is embracing this attachment to the quantification of our lives and to what end? Professor <a href="http://dro.dur.ac.uk/9331/1/9331.pdf">Louise Amoore</a>, of Durham University in the UK, shows us how data derivatives – the combinations of traces left by people – are being used with probabilistic techniques to yield unimagined correlations and new possible risks in the surveillance and security field. The risks are then acted upon, but who actually has the power to act and who – which companies, states or social movement groups - can and does respond? <span class="print-no mag-quote-left">Those who interpret, make choices and act on data analytics results can be questioned. They are people - they are not algorithms.&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></p> <p>Empirical analysis of who has the power to act - imagined <i>and </i>in practice is hugely needed. Which sets of data analytic results are privileged? Power asymmetries in the digital ecology are framed by global capitalism and we should not forget this. &nbsp;When we do, we fall into the ‘twin traps of economic reductionism and of the idealist autonomization of the ideological level’ as political economist, Professor <a href="http://mcs.sagepub.com/content/1/2/123.extract">Nicholas Garnham</a>, might say. Or as Amoore in fact does say, the data derivative – ‘a specific form of abstraction that is [being] deployed in contemporary risk-based security calculations’, is little acknowledged because the goal is to calculate the incalculable. </p> <p>In practice, when the present and future are visualised as risk maps, scores or flags, someone – a human – takes a decision to act. Designers and engineers choose algorithms based on how quickly they return results or on their computational elegance, but surely this should not be the main determinant of choices about which actions to take. </p> <p>This shift from numbers – quantifiable life – to action is in fact a gateway or control point through which power is being exercised. It is this control point that I suggest we should focus on – who can and does take action? Online participation negates only some people’s agency, only some – the vast majority, but still, only some. </p> <p>Citizens who rely on the Cloud, self-managed bioteams, avatars or Facebook have little chance of mastery.&nbsp; They have few resources to take action.&nbsp; But for others with asymmetrical power, such as the military and big companies, choices and actions lead to judgements about the use of aerial surveillance and drones or geo-mapping, targeting ‘persons of concern’. These actions reinforce uneven mobilities and they expose marginalised populations. These are the societal problems that we need to be focusing on. Those who interpret, make choices and act on data analytics results can be questioned. They are people - they are not algorithms.&nbsp; &nbsp;Formal governance arrangements could hold them better to account, at least they may able to do so in societies that respect the fundamental rights of citizens.<i>&nbsp;</i></p> <p>But instead, the growing captivation by the siren call of a computational theocracy means that comparatively relatively little research is focusing on how the people who do act on data – or on data derivatives – can be better held to account. This is a very different approach than seeking to hold the algorithmic code itself to account or indeed the individual makers. </p> <h2><b>Why is this siren attraction to computational theocracy so effective? </b></h2> <p>Let me answer by using the social or learning machine as an example.</p> <p>A reification of calculated futures is taking hold, I suggest. This is without regard to the varied values of the makers of algorithms, but it is influenced by what they privilege as an understanding of points of control over human beings. <span class="print-no mag-quote-right">The goal is the ‘web-extended mind’ which can participate in the mental states of human beings.</span></p> <p>Social computing is a field which brings computing science together with engineering and social science. <a href="http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/361399/1/SocialMachinesv8.pdf">Social machines</a> are being built. These are <a href="http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319086804">described as</a> ‘web-based socio-technical systems in which the human and technological elements’ aim for ‘the mechanistic realization of system-level processes’. &nbsp;Another way to say this is that the goal is the ‘web-extended mind’ which can participate in the mental states of human beings. Most of these social machine makers will tell you that they give equal weight to the technological and social features and that these machines are designed to foster ‘desirable’ behavior. </p> <p>What do these algorithm-based social machine makers read in the social sciences to understand the social and governance issues? The following is based on my survey of a vast amount of the literature: </p> <ul><li>- First<b>,</b> from business and management studies they tend to cite works which argue that ‘desirable behaviour’ is anything that helps to exploit economic returns. Algorithms and digital platforms are seen simply by many such as <a href="https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/aer.104.5.475">Bresnahan and Greenstein</a> as ‘a reconfigurable base of compatible components’ . They are neutral ‘conduits’ for data transmission. </li><li>- Second, economists with engineers are cited. Algorithms are depicted as self-organising agents. The technical system is said to ‘create itself out of itself’, according to Sante Fe Institute’s, <a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=phkgssCTlpgC&amp;printsec=frontcover&amp;source=gbs_ge_summary_r&amp;cad=0#v=onepage&amp;q&amp;f=false">Brian Arthur</a>. The best algorithm is optimised to ‘select the fittest’. </li><li>- Third, legal scholars are cited.&nbsp; The human being now is an object to be predicted as a rational agent. Values are not neglected, but justice is ‘<a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Local_Justice.html?id=nlWjGuuxYVEC&amp;redir_esc=y">local</a>’ – it is about allocating resources using rational choice procedural models. &nbsp;Transparency is a property of the technical system. Policy requirements, for instance, privacy, are noted, but the goal is to make digital records of behaviour, Facebook Likes, automatically and accurately predict personal attributes. </li><li>- Fourth, Psychology. Here the most cited are cognitive and neuroscientists who believe there can be a natural science of mind. Personal construct theory supports decision science and decision making is formalised. Analogies are drawn between genes in biology and human neural states. <a href="http://www.albacharia.ma/xmlui/bitstream/handle/123456789/31987/kahnmtversky.pdf?sequence=1">Kahneman</a> and Tversky’s Prospect Theory helps in modelling ‘<a href="http://www.dangoldstein.com/papers/FastFrugalPsychReview.pdf">fast and frugal</a>’ decision making algorithms, but loses its insight into the unpredictability of human agency.</li><li>- Fifth, Political theory. <a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=4xg6oUobMz4C&amp;printsec=frontcover&amp;source=gbs_ge_summary_r&amp;cad=0#v=onepage&amp;q&amp;f=false">Elinor Ostrom</a>’s work on governing the commons and <a href="http://prospect.org/article/prosperous-community-social-capital-and-public-life">Robert Putnam</a>’s work on social capital are frequently cited, but always with reference to a rational expectations model of human behaviour. Why? Because rational expectations are potentially codable, uncertainty and emotion are not (yet). </li><li>- Sixth and last, philosophy and ethics. <a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=_XHcAAAAQBAJ&amp;printsec=frontcover&amp;source=gbs_ge_summary_r&amp;cad=0#v=onepage&amp;q&amp;f=false">Floridi</a> on the ethics of information is cited because his work is analytical and avowedly non-normative. <a href="http://openedreader.org/chapter/coases-penguin-or-linux-and-the-nature-of-the-firm/">Benkler</a> is much cited on modular software design, but rarely <a href="https://www.nyu.edu/projects/nissenbaum/papers/jopp_235.pdf">Benkler and Nissenbaum</a> on virtues. <a href="http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674064317&amp;content=toc">Martha Nussbaum</a> is cited on context and data objectification but then her work is parked – her theory is not amenable to coding. The search is on for an ‘<a href="http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00146-013-0531-6">axiomatised computational logic</a>’ to find the way to formalise fairness, utility, and equity.<i> </i></li></ul> <p>In sum, scientists and engineers turn to those strands in the social sciences which emphasise only a certain kind of rationality, one that fits into the computational temple or cathedral. <span class="print-no mag-quote-left">In sum, scientists and engineers turn to those strands in the social sciences which emphasise only a certain kind of rationality, one that fits into the computational temple or cathedral.</span></p> <p>These social or algorithmic machines are the fruits of defence-sponsored research. For decades the aim has been to build a unified theory of artificial intelligence. The goal is to solve the problem of making inferences about the internal structure of a system when all that is known about that system is the input and output signals. As <a href="http://mcps.umn.edu/philosophy/9_10Dennett.pdf">Dennett</a> says the aim is to automate human intelligence by creating ‘an all-powerful executive homunculus whose duties require almost Godlike omniscience’. </p> <p>Examples of technologies moving in this direction are driverless cars, the augmented soldier and the so-called enabled consumer. Semiconductor manufacturer, Qualcomm, is working on neuroprocessing engines for smart phones. These developments are starting to come out of the lab.</p> <p>So in summary, for scientists, despite the commitment to interworking with social science (and some media and communication scholars) algorithms are understood to ‘reason’ about reliability and honesty. They are seen as facilitating ‘good’ behaviour. But this computational attraction is, as <a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=lX9QKNbO0nkC&amp;printsec=frontcover&amp;source=gbs_ge_summary_r&amp;cad=0#v=onepage&amp;q&amp;f=false">Harold Rheingold</a> says, ‘changing what it means to be human’. </p> <p>Of course there is resistance to the virtues of a calculable ‘good life’ in other domains of the social sciences. There are alternative perspectives! Many media and communication scholars understand that the internet is ‘radically incomplete’ as <a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=nCfAE_LJGa4C&amp;pg=PR8&amp;lpg=PR8&amp;dq=Feenburg+Radically+incomplete&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=GjTLC1Xw33&amp;sig=ciNjBifFKTMYsbI7yFVL06x4UqA&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=0ahUKEwj5iMTmjdLNAhVCDcAKHR_1Ba8Q6AEIITAA#v=onepage&amp;q=Feenburg%20Radically%20incomplete&amp;f=false">Andrew Feenberg</a> says and so must be the algorithms and science. But his work on ‘hegemonic forces’ in software and hardware design, or <a href="https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-culture-of-connectivity-9780199970780?cc=gb&amp;lang=en&amp;">van Dijck</a>’s work on ‘platformed sociality’, for instance, do not really ask fundamental questions about what it means to be human. <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01972243.2015.1020197?journalCode=utis20">Maria Bakardjieva</a> says that ‘many directions are open to the social construction or deconstruction of socialbots’. My colleagues at LSE, <a href="http://bds.sagepub.com/content/spbds/1/2/2053951714539277.full.pdf">Nick Couldry and Alison Powell</a>, see big data ‘as a variegated space of action’, one that is open to resistance and shaping along different pathways. But which different pathways?<b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p><a href="http://dro.dur.ac.uk/9331/1/9331.pdf">Louise Amoore</a> says research is needed on how algorithmic techniques can ‘rule out,<i> </i>[and] render invisible, other potential futures’ (p 38). &nbsp;When it comes to the big social problems – policing, migration, climate change or inequality and poverty - what alternatives are being concealed by the gleam of risk-based algorithmic solutions? And who governs which solutions are acted upon in practice?&nbsp; </p> <p>Even if algorithms operate at speeds and scales beyond the threshold of human perception, surely this doesn’t mean we should give up on governing the control points where the algorithmic results are translated into action.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <h2><b>Conclusion</b></h2> <p>The challenges of governing in this world that is being borne of algorithms.&nbsp; What alternative worlds and policy pathways might there be? <span class="print-no mag-quote-right">Governance is needed, not so much of individual algorithm makers, but of the states and companies who finance their work.</span></p> <p>I do think we should treat ‘the algorithm’ and a surveillance society as a complex system of persons and things – as assemblages.&nbsp; But I also think as scholars we need to pay much more attention to the control points of surveillance, power and communicative action.&nbsp; This is where choices are being made and action is being taken by relatively limited numbers of human beings who set the pathway for social, economic and political development.</p> <p>Governance is needed, not so much of individual algorithm makers, but of the states and companies who finance their work. Governance using conventional approaches to privacy legislation and policy are one part, but not the whole, of the governance challenge. Of course, some countries are limiting data processing and data flows. &nbsp;Indonesia, Nigeria, Russia, and Vietnam have legislation. Brazil has its&nbsp; ‘Internet Bill of Rights’. The EU 2014 ruling by the European Court of Justice upholds the ‘right to be forgotten’. &nbsp;But companies and states are extremely innovative. They can evade legislation.&nbsp; For instance, they can run their analytics engines on separate databases such as airline passenger name records, alert data, financial or health data, without breaking the law. Companies can focus on open cross-border data flows to accelerate economic growth, evading national policies.&nbsp; <span class="print-no mag-quote-left">But rights-based approaches to privacy and surveillance that rely on ‘informed consent’ are becoming unenforceable.</span></p> <p>States are calling for open data flows to facilitate their security agendas. Companies lobby for self-governance, claiming their formal representations of data access rights, copyright, and privacy norms in algorithms are, by definition, consistent with good behaviour. &nbsp;As <a href="https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/jep.28.2.3">Hall Varian</a>, Google’s chief economist, says, ‘big data’ gives rise to a host of new tricks for econometricians, but as we also know, to healthy profits for Google and, we must assume, good things for consumers and citizens. </p> <p>Conventional privacy protection and human rights legislation for individuals has some traction. But rights-based approaches to privacy and surveillance that rely on ‘informed consent’ are becoming unenforceable. Policy frameworks are being devised with the expectation that, whatever the market power of digital platform companies, and the political power of states, their actions are aligned with citizen interests, or at least with consumer interests. </p> <p>If attraction to the quantification of everything means that life itself is becoming humanly ungovernable, then care of the self and others will become meaningless too. The dominant default assumption is that humans are empowered by our immersive mediated environments. Focusing on regulatory toolkits that might govern social machines and their developers is one thing, but what we really need is better insight into how to influence and change the discourse of machine worship and the notion that quantification is synonymous with the good life.&nbsp; This is much more urgent than it has ever been.&nbsp; </p> <p>We need research on the scope for relatively autonomous subjects to exploit the emancipatory potential of these technologies, of course we do. But the digitally mediated world is not benign. Nor is it completely hegemonic. Alternative societal outcomes are possible, but only if we can say and think of them, only if we can imagine them. </p> <p>We need revealing research on the orchestrators of actions based on the technologies and processes of surveillance (and sousveillance as well). We need a clearer view of who funds computational research, who commercialises it, and who is using it to act on and shape our world. As <a href="http://mixedrealitycity.org/readings/Gillespie_TheRelevanceofAlgorithms.pdf">Gillespie</a> says, the idea precedes the social algorithm. Coalitions of actors – scholars, activists, some politicians, and yes, even some captains of industry, will need to collaborate if the pathway we are following to a calculated, unequal future is to change. This pathway is incompatible with human agency for the great majority of the world’s citizens and it is in need of change. The narrative needs to change to resist the overwhelming fascination with quantification.&nbsp; </p> <p>I close with the thought that the intense ‘datafication’ of our lives is only pre-determined if we persist in believing that it is, and we fail to change this. </p> <p><i>This keynote speech was first delivered at the International Communication Association (ICA) Conference Plenary, Fukuoka, 13 June 2016.</i></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p> <p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Internet </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Science </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> digitaLiberties digitaLiberties hri Culture Democracy and government International politics Internet Science Robin Mansell Wed, 20 Jul 2016 15:20:57 +0000 Robin Mansell 104112 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Jurisdiction: the taboo topic at ICANN https://www.opendemocracy.net/digitaLiberties/pranesh-prakash/jurisdiction-taboo-topic-at-icann <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The issue of jurisdiction seems to be dead-on-arrival, having been killed by the US government. Meet the new boss: same as the old boss.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/finalbannerhri2_0.jpg" alt="HRI" width="460px" /></a></p> <p class="p1"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/512px-Icannheadquartersplayavista.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/512px-Icannheadquartersplayavista.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="371" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>ICANN headquarters in Playa Vista, Los Angeles, California. Wikicommons/ Coolcaesar. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>In March 2014, the <a href="https://www.ntia.doc.gov/press-release/2014/ntia-announces-intent-transition-key-internet-domain-name-functions">US government announced</a> that they were going to end the contract they have with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to run the <a href="https://www.iana.org/">Internet Assigned Numbers Authority</a> (IANA), and hand over control to the “global multistakeholder community”. They insisted that the plan for transition had to come through a multistakeholder process and have stakeholders “across the global internet community”.</p> <p><strong>Why is the US government removing the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) contract?</strong></p> <p class="p2">The main reason for the US government's action is that it will get rid of a political thorn in its side: keeping the contract allows them to be called out as having a special role in internet governance (with the Affirmation of Commitments between the US Department of Commerce and ICANN, the IANA contract, and the cooperative agreement with Verisign), and engaging in unilateralism with regard to the operation of the root servers of the internet naming system, while repeatedly declaring that they support a multistakeholder model of internet governance.</p> <p class="p2">This contradiction is what they are hoping to address. Doing away with the NTIA contract will also increase — ever so marginally — ICANN’s global legitimacy; this is something that world governments, civil society organisations, and some American academics have been asking for since ICANN’s inception in 1998. For instance, here are some demands made <a href="https://www.itu.int/net/wsis/docs2/pc3/contributions/sca/hbf-29.doc">in a declaration by the Civil Society Internet Governance Caucus at WSIS, in 2005</a>:</p> <p class="blockquote-new">- ICANN will negotiate an appropriate host country agreement to replace its California Incorporation, being careful to retain those aspects of its California Incorporation that enhance its accountability to the global internet user community.</p><p class="blockquote-new">- ICANN's decisions, and any host country agreement, must be required to comply with public policy requirements negotiated through international treaties in regard to, inter alia, human rights treaties, privacy rights, gender agreements and trade rules.</p><p class="blockquote-new">- It is also expected that the multi-stakeholder community will observe and comment on the progress made in this process through the proposed [internet governance] Forum.</p> <p class="p2">In short: the objective of the transition is political, <a href="http://www.apple.com">not technical</a>. In an ideal world, we <em>should</em>&nbsp;aim at reducing US state control over the core of the internet's domain name system. [i]</p> <p class="p2">It is our contention that US state control over the core of the internet's domain name system is <em>not</em>&nbsp;being removed by the transition that is currently under way.</p> <p><strong>Why is the transition happening now?</strong></p> <p class="p2">Despite the US government having given commitments in the past that were going to finish the IANA transition by September 30, 2000 (the <a href="https://www.icann.org/resources/unthemed-pages/white-paper-2012-02-25-en">White Paper on Management of Internet Names and Addresses</a> states: "the US Government would prefer that this transition be complete before the year 2000. To the extent that the new corporation is established and operationally stable, September 30, 2000 is intended to be, and remains, an 'outside' date.") and later by "fall of 2006" [ii], those turned out to be empty promises. However, this time, the transition seems to be going through, unless the US Congress manages to halt it.</p> <p class="p2">However, in order to answer the question of "why now?" fully, one has to look a bit at the past.</p> <p class="p2">In 1998, through the <a href="https://www.icann.org/resources/unthemed-pages/white-paper-2012-02-25-en">White Paper on Management of Internet Names and Addresses</a> the US government <a href="http://www.icannwatch.org/archive/mueller_icann_and_internet_governance.pdf">asserted it’s control over the root</a>, and asserted — some would say arrogated to itself — the power to put out contracts for both the IANA functions as well as the 'A' Root (i.e., the Root Zone Maintainer function that Network Solutions Inc. then performed, and continues to perform to date in its current avatar as Verisign). The IANA functions contract — a periodically renewable contract — was awarded to ICANN, a California-based non-profit corporation that was set up exclusively for this purpose, but which evolved around the existing IANA (to placate the Internet Society).</p> <p class="p2">Meanwhile, of course, there were criticisms of ICANN from multiple foreign governments and civil society organisations. Further, despite it being a California-based non-profit on contract with the government, domestically within the US, there was pushback from constituencies that felt that more direct US control of the DNS was important.</p> <p class="p2">As Goldsmith and Wu summarise:</p><p class="p2"><span class="blockquote-new" style="line-height: 1.5;">Milton Mueller and others have shown that ICANN’s spirit of “self-regulation” was an appealing label for a process that could be more accurately described as the US government brokering a behind-the-scenes deal that best suited its policy preferences ... the United States wanted to ensure the stability of the internet, to fend off the regulatory efforts of foreign governments and international organisations, and to maintain ultimate control. The easiest way to do that was to maintain formal control while turning over day-to-day control of the root to ICANN and the Internet Society, which had close ties to the regulation-shy American technology industry.</span></p> <p class="p2">And that brings us to the first reason that the NTIA announced the transition in 2014, rather than earlier.</p> <p class="p2">The NTIA now sees ICANN as being mature enough: the final transition was announced 16 years after ICANN's creation, and complaints about ICANN and its legitimacy had largely died down in the international arena in that while. Nowadays, governments across the world send their representatives to ICANN, thus legitimising it. States have largely been satisfied by participating in the Government Advisory Council, which, as its name suggests, only has advisory powers. Further, unlike in the early days, there is <a href="http://www.internetgovernance.org/2012/05/24/threat-analysis-of-itus-wcit-part-1-historical-context/">no serious push for states assuming control of ICANN</a>. Of course they grumble about the ICANN Board not following their advice, but no government, as far as I am aware, has walked out or refused to participate.</p> <h2>L'affaire Snowden</h2> <p class="p2">Many within the United States, and some without, believe that the US not only plays an exceptional role in the running of the internet — by dint of the historical development and dominance of American companies — but that it<em> ought </em>to&nbsp;have an exceptional role because it is the best country to exercise 'oversight' over 'the internet' (often coming from <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303563304579447362610955656">clueless commentators</a>, and from dinosaurs of the internet era, like <a href="http://www.circleid.com/posts/20140316_if_the_stakeholders_already_control_the_internet_netmundial_iana/">American IP lawyers</a> and <a href="http://www.lawfareblog.com/2014/03/who-controls-the-internet-address-book-icann-ntia-and-iana/">American 'homeland' security hawks</a>, Jones Day, who are ICANN's lawyers, and other <a href="http://homepages.wmich.edu/~cooneys/poems/cummings.nextto.html">jingoists</a> and those policymakers who are controlled by these narrow-minded interests.</p> <p class="p2">The Snowden revelations were, in that way, a godsend for the NTIA, as it allowed them a fig-leaf of <a href="https://www.rt.com/usa/nsa-fallout-relinquish-internet-oversight-002/">international criticism</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/carolinegreer/status/454253411576598528">with which</a> to counter these domestic critics and carry on with a transition that they have been seeking to put into motion for a while. The Snowden revelations led Dilma Rousseff to state in September 2013, at the 68th UN General Assembly, that Brazil would "present proposals for the establishment of a <a href="https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/68/BR_en.pdf">civilian multilateral framework for the governance and use of the Internet</a>", and as <a href="https://icannwiki.com/Diego_Canabarro">Diego Canabarro</a> points out, this catalysed the US government and the technical community into taking action.</p> <p class="p2">Given this context, a few months after the Snowden revelations, the so-called ‘<a href="https://www.apnic.net/community/ecosystem/i*orgs">I* organisations</a>’ met — seemingly with the blessing of the US government [iii] — in Montevideo, and put out a '<a href="https://www.apnic.net/publications/news/2013/montevideo-statement-on-future-of-internet-cooperation">Statement on the Future of Internet Governance</a>' that sought to link the Snowden revelations on pervasive surveillance with the need to urgently transition the IANA stewardship role away from the US government. Of course, the signatories to that statement knew fully well, as did most of its readers, that there is no linkage between the Snowden revelations about pervasive surveillance and the operations of the DNS root, but still they, and others, linked them together. Specifically, the I* organisations called for "accelerating the globalisation of ICANN and IANA functions, towards an environment in which all stakeholders, including all governments, participate on an equal footing."</p> <p class="p2">One could posit the existence of two other contributing factors as well.</p> <p class="p2">Given political realities in the United States, a transition of this sort is probably best done before an ultra-jingoistic president steps into office.</p> <p class="p2">Lastly, the ten-yearly review of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) was currently under way. At the original WSIS (as seen from the civil society quoted above) the issue of US control over the root was a major issue of contention. At that point (and during where the 2006 date for globalisation of ICANN was emphasised by the US government).</p> <h2>Why jurisdiction is important</h2> <p class="p2">Jurisdiction has a great many aspects. <em>Inter alia</em>, these are:</p> <p class="p2">- Legal sanctions applicable to changes in the root zone (for instance, what happens if a country under US sanctions requests a change to the root zone file?)<br /><span style="line-height: 1.5;">- Law applicable to resolution of contractual disputes with registries, registrars, etc.<br /></span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">- Law applicable to labour disputes.<br /></span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">- Law applicable to competition / antitrust law that applies to ICANN policies and regulations.<br /></span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">- Law applicable to disputes regarding ICANN decisions, such as allocation of Generic top-level domains (GTLDs), or non-renewal of a contract.<br /></span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">- Law applicable to consumer protection concerns.<br /></span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">- Law applicable to financial transparency of the organisation.<br /></span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">- Law applicable to corporate condition of the organisation, including membership rights.<br /></span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">- Law applicable to data protection-related policies &amp; regulations.<br /></span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">- Law applicable to trademark and other speech-related policies &amp; regulations.<br /></span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">- Law applicable to legal sanctions imposed by a country against another.</span></p> <p class="p2">Some of these, but not all, depend on where bodies like ICANN (the policy-making body), the IANA functions operator (the proposed "Post-Transition IANA", insofar as the names function is concerned), and the root zone maintainer are incorporated or maintain their primary office, while others depend on the location of the office (for instance, Turkish labour law applies for the ICANN office in Istanbul), while yet others depend on what's decided by ICANN in contracts (for instance, the resolution of contractual disputes with ICANN, filing of suits with regard to disputes over new generic TLDs, etc.).</p> <p class="p2">However, an issue like sanctions, for instance, depends on where ICANN/<strong>PTI/RMZ </strong>are incorporated and maintain their primary office.</p> <p class="p2">As <a href="http://content.netmundial.br/contribution/roadmap-for-globalizing-iana-four-principles-and-a-proposal-for-reform-a-submission-to-the-global-multistakeholder-meeting-on-the-future-of-internet-governance/96">Milton Mueller notes</a>, the current IANA contract "requires ICANN to be incorporated in, maintain a physical address in, and perform the IANA functions in the US. This makes IANA subject to US law and provides America with greater political influence over ICANN."</p> <p class="p2">He further notes that:</p> <p class="blockquote-new">While it is common to assert that the US has never abused its authority and has always taken the role of a neutral steward, this is not quite true. During the controversy over the .xxx domain, the Bush administration caved in to domestic political pressure and threatened to block entry of the domain into the root if ICANN approved it (Declaration of the Independent Review Panel, 2010). It took five years, an independent review challenge and the threat of litigation from a businessman willing to spend millions to get the .xxx domain into the root.</p> <p class="p2">Thus it is clear that even if the NTIA's role in the IANA contract goes away, jurisdiction remains an important issue.</p> <h2>US doublespeak on jurisdiction</h2> <p class="p2">In March 2014, when NTIA finally announced that they would hand over the reins to “the global multistakeholder community”. They’ve laid down two procedural conditions: that it be developed by stakeholders across the global Internet community and have broad community consensus, and they have proposed 5 substantive conditions that any proposal must meet:</p> <p class="p2">- Support and enhance the multistakeholder model;<br /><span style="line-height: 1.5;">- Maintain the security, stability, and resiliency of the Internet DNS;<br /></span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">- Meet the needs and expectation of the global customers and partners of the IANA services;&nbsp;<br /></span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">- Maintain the openness of the Internet; and,<br /></span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">- Must not replace the NTIA role with a solution that is government-led or an inter-governmental organisation.</span></p> <p class="p2">In that announcement there is no explicit restriction on the jurisdiction of ICANN (whether it relate to its incorporation, the resolution of contractual disputes, resolution of labour disputes, antitrust/competition law, tort law, consumer protection law, privacy law, or speech law, and more, all of which impact ICANN and many, but not all, of which are predicated on the jurisdiction of ICANN’s incorporation), the jurisdiction(s) of the IANA Functions Operator(s) (i.e., which executive, court, or legislature’s orders would it need to obey), and the jurisdiction of the Root Zone Maintainer (i.e., which executive, court, or legislature’s orders would it need to obey).</p> <p class="p2">However, Mr. Larry Strickling, the head of the NTIA, in his <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8v-yWye5I0w&amp;feature=youtu.be">testimony before the US House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology</a>, made it clear that,</p> <p class="blockquote-new">Frankly, if [shifting ICANN or IANA jurisdiction] were being proposed, I don't think that such a proposal would satisfy our criteria, specifically the one that requires that security and stability be maintained.</p> <p class="p2">Possibly, that argument made sense in 1998, due to the significant concentration of DNS expertise in the United States. However, in 2016, that argument is hardly convincing, and is frankly laughable. [iv]</p> <p class="p2">Targeting that remark, in ICANN 54 at Dublin, we asked Mr. Strickling:</p> <p class="blockquote-new">So as we understand it, the technical stability of the DNS doesn't necessarily depend on ICANN's jurisdiction being in the United States. So I wanted to ask would the US Congress support a multistakeholder and continuing in the event that it's shifting jurisdiction?</p> <p class="p2">Mr. Strickling's response was:</p> <p class="blockquote-new">No. I think Congress has made it very clear and at every hearing they have extracted from Fadi a commitment that ICANN will remain incorporated in the United States. Now the jurisdictional question though, as I understand it having been raised from some other countries, is not so much jurisdiction in terms of where ICANN is located. It's much more jurisdiction over the resolution of disputes.<br /><br /><span style="line-height: 1.5;">And that I think is an open issue, and that's an appropriate one to be discussed. And it's one I think where ICANN has made some movement over time anyway.<br /><br /></span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">So I think you have to ... when people use the word jurisdiction, we need to be very precise about over what issues because where disputes are resolved and under what law they're resolved, those are separate questions from where the corporation may have a physical headquarters.<br /><br /></span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">As we have shown above, jurisdiction is not only about the jurisdiction of "resolution of disputes", but also, as Mueller reminds us, about the requirement that ICANN (and now, the PTI) be "incorporated in, maintain a physical address in, and perform the IANA functions in the US This makes IANA subject to US law and provides America with greater political influence over ICANN.</span></p> <p class="p2">In essence, the US government has said that they would veto the transition if the jurisdiction of ICANN or PTI's incorporation were to move out of the US, and they can prevent that from happening *after* the transition, since as things stand ICANN and PTI will still come within the US Congress's jurisdiction.</p> <h2>Why has the ICG failed to consider jurisdiction?</h2> <p class="p2">Will the ICG proposal or the proposed new ICANN by-laws reduce existing US control? No, they won't. (In fact, as we will argue below, the proposed new ICANN by-laws make this problem even worse.) The proposal by the names community ("the CWG proposal") still has a requirement (in Annex S) that the Post-Transition IANA (PTI) be incorporated in the United States, and a similar suggestion hidden away as a footnote. Further, the proposed by-laws for ICANN include the requirement that PTI be a California corporation. There was no discussion specifically on this issue, nor any documented community agreement on the specific issue of jurisdiction of PTI's incorporation.</p> <p class="p2">Why wasn't there greater discussion and consideration of this issue? Because of two reasons: First, there were many who argued that the transition would be vetoed by the US government and the US Congress if ICANN and PTI were not to remain in the US. Secondly, the ICANN-formed ICG saw the US government’s actions very narrowly, as though the government were acting in isolation, ignoring the rich dialogue and debate that’s gone on earlier about the transition since the incorporation of ICANN itself.</p> <p class="p2">While it would be no one’s case that political considerations should be given greater weightage than technical considerations such as security, stability, and resilience of the domain name system, it is shocking that political considerations have been completely absent in the discussions in the number and protocol parameters communities, and have been extremely limited in the discussions in the names community. This is even more shocking considering that the main reason for this transition is, as has been argued above, political.</p> <p class="p2">It can also be argued that the certain IANA functions such as Root Zone Management function have a considerable political implication. It is imperative that the political nature of the function is duly acknowledged and dealt with, in accordance with the wishes of the global community. In the current process the political aspects of the IANA function has been completely overlooked and sidelined. It is important to note that this transition has not been a necessitated by any technical considerations. It is primarily motivated by political and legal considerations. However, the questions that the ICG asked the customer communities to consider were solely technical. Indeed, the communities could have chosen to overlook that, but they did not choose to do so. For instance, while the IANA customer community proposals reflected existing jurisdictional arrangements, they did not reflect on how the jurisdictional arrangements should be post-transition, while this is one of the questions at the heart of the entire transition. There were no discussions and decisions as to the jurisdiction of the Post-Transition IANA: the Cross-Community Working Group on Internet Governance’s (CCWG) lawyers, Sidley Austin, recommended that the PTI ought to be a California non-profit corporation, and this finds mention in a footnote without even having been debated by the "global multistakeholder community", and subsequently in the proposed new by-laws for ICANN.</p> <p><strong>Why the by-laws make things worse &amp; why "Work Stream 2" can't address most jurisdiction issues</strong></p> <p class="p2">The by-laws could have chosen to simply stayed silent on the matter of what law PTI would be incorporated under, but instead the by-law make the requirement of PTI being a California non-profit public benefit corporation part of the *fundamental by-laws*, which are close to impossible to amend.</p> <p class="p2">While "Work Stream 2" (the post-transition work related to improving ICANN's accountability) has jurisdiction as a topic of consideration, the scope of that must necessarily discount any consideration of shifting the jurisdiction of incorporation of ICANN, since all of the work done as part of CCWG Accountability's "Work Stream 1", which are now reflected in the proposed new by-laws, assume Californian jurisdiction (including the legal model of the "Empowered Community"). Is ICANN prepared to re-do all the work done in WS1 in WS2 as well? If the answer is yes, then the issue of jurisdiction can actually be addressed in WS2. If the answer is no ­— and realistically it is — then, the issue of jurisdiction can only be very partially addressed in WS2.</p> <p class="p2">Keeping this in mind, we recommended specific changes in the by-laws, all of which were rejected by CCWG's lawyers.</p> <h2>The transition plan fails the NETmundial statement</h2> <p class="p2">The <a href="http://netmundial.br/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/NETmundial-Multistakeholder-Document.pdf">NETmundial Multistakeholder Document</a>, which was an outcome of the NETmundial process, states:</p> <p class="blockquote-new">In the follow up to the recent and welcomed announcement of US Government with regard to its intent to transition the stewardship of IANA functions, the discussion about mechanisms for guaranteeing the transparency and accountability of those functions after the US Government role ends, has to take place through an open process with the participation of all stakeholders extending beyond the ICANN community<br /><br /><span style="line-height: 1.5;">[…]<br /><br /></span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">It is expected that the process of globalization of ICANN speeds up leading to a truly international and global organization serving the public interest with clearly implementable and verifiable accountability and transparency mechanisms that satisfy requirements from both internal stakeholders and the global community.<br /><br /></span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The active representation from all stakeholders in the ICANN structure from all regions is a key issue in the process of a successful globalization.</span></p> <p class="p2">As our past analysis has shown, the IANA transition process and the discussions on the mailing lists that shaped it <a href="http://cis-india.org/internet-governance/blog/global-multistakeholder-community-neither-global-nor-multistakeholder">were neither global nor multistakeholder</a>. The DNS industry represented in ICANN is largely US-based. 3 in 5 registrars are from the United States of America, whereas less than 1% of ICANN-registered registrars are from Africa. Two-thirds of the Business Constituency in ICANN is from the US. While ICANN-the-corporation has sought to become more global, the ICANN community has remained insular, and this will not change until the commercial interests involved in ICANN can become more diverse, reflecting the diversity of users of the internet, and a top-level domain like .com can be owned by a non-American corporation and the PTI can be a non-American entity.</p> <h2>What we need: jurisdictional resilience</h2> <p class="p2">It is no one's case that the US is less fit than any other country as a base for ICANN, PTI, or the Root Zone Maintainer, or even as the headquarters for 9 of the world's 12 root zone operators (Verisign runs both the A and J root servers). However, just as having multiplicity of root servers is important for ensuring technical resilience of the DNS system (and this is shown in the uptake of Anycast by root server operators), it is equally important to have immunity of core DNS functioning from political pressures of the country or countries where core DNS infrastructure is legally situated and to ensure that we have diversity in terms of legal jurisdiction.</p> <p class="p2">Towards this end, we at the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) have pushed for the concept of "jurisdictional resilience", encompassing three crucial points:</p><p class="p1">- Legal immunity for core technical operators of internet functions (as opposed to policymaking venues) from legal sanctions or orders from the state in which they are legally situated.</p><p class="p1"><span style="line-height: 1.5;">- Division of core internet operators among multiple jurisdictions</span></p><p class="p1"><span style="line-height: 1.5;">- Jurisdictional division of policymaking functions from technical implementation functions</span></p> <p class="p2">Of these, the most important is the limited legal immunity (akin to a greatly limited form of the immunity that UN organisations get from the laws of their host countries). This kind of immunity could be provided through a variety of different means: a host-country agreement; a law passed by the legislature; a UN General Assembly Resolution; a UN-backed treaty; and other such options exist. We are currently investigating which of these options would be the best option.</p> <p class="p2">And apart from limited legal immunity, distribution of jurisdictional control is also valuable. As we noted in our submission to the ICG in September 2015:</p> <p class="blockquote-new">Following the above precepts would, for instance, mean that the entity that performs the&nbsp;role of the Root Zone Maintainer should not be situated in the same legal jurisdiction as the&nbsp;entity that functions as the policymaking venue. This would in turn mean that either the Root&nbsp;Zone Maintainer function be taken up Netnod (Sweden-headquartered) or the WIDE Project&nbsp;(Japan-headquartered) [or RIPE-NCC, headquartered in the Netherlands], or that if the IANA Functions Operator(s) is to be merged with the RZM, then the IFO be relocated to a jurisdiction other than those of ISOC and ICANN. This, as has been stated earlier, has been a demand of the Civil Society Internet Governance Caucus. Further, it would also mean that root zone servers operators be spread across multiple jurisdictions (which the creation of mirror servers in multiple jurisdictions will not address).</p> <p class="p2">However, the issue of jurisdiction seems to be dead-on-arrival, having been killed by the US government.</p> <p class="p2">Unfortunately, despite the primary motivation for demands for the IANA transition being those of removing the power the US government exercises over the core of the internet's operations in the form of the DNS, what has ended up happening through the IANA transition is that these powers have not only not been removed, but in some ways they have been entrenched further! While earlier, the US had to specify that the IANA functions operator had to be located in the US, now ICANN's by-laws themselves will state that the post-transition IANA will be a California corporation. Notably, while the Montevideo Declaration speaks of "globalisation" of ICANN and of the IANA functions, as does the NETmundial statement, the NTIA announcement on their acceptance of the transition proposals speaks of "privatisation" of ICANN, and not "globalisation".</p> <p class="p2">All in all, the ‘independence' that IANA is gaining from the US is akin to the "independence" that Brazil gained from Portugal in 1822. Dom Pedro of Brazil was then ruling Brazil as the Prince Regent since his father Dom João VI, the King of United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves had returned to Portugal. In 1822, Brazil declared independence from Portugal (which was formally recognised through a treaty in 1825). Even after this ‘independence’, Dom Pedro continued to rule Portugal just as he had before independence, and Dom João VI was provided the title of "Emperor of Brazil", aside from being King of the United Kingdom of Portugal and the Algarves. The ‘independence’ didn't make a whit of a difference to the self-sufficiency of Brazil: Portugal continued to be its largest trading partner. The ‘independence’ didn't change anything for the nearly 1 million slaves in Brazil, or to the lot of the indigenous peoples of Brazil, none of whom were recognised as ‘free’. It had very little consequence not just in terms of ground conditions of day-to-day living, but even in political terms.</p> <p class="p2">Such is the case with the IANA Transition: US powers over the core functioning of the Domain Name System do not stand diminished after the transition, and they can even arguably be said to have become even more entrenched. Meet the new boss: same as the old boss.</p><p class="p2">&nbsp;</p><p class="p2"><span style="line-height: 1.5;">[i]:&nbsp;</span>It is an allied but logically distinct issue that US businesses — registries and registrars — dominate the global DNS industry, and as a result hold the reins at ICANN.</p> <p class="p2"><span style="line-height: 1.5;">[ii]: As Goldsmith &amp; Wu note in their book *Who Controls the Internet*: "Back in 1998 the US Department of Commerce promised to relinquish root authority by the fall of 2006, but in June 2005, the United States reversed course. “The United States Government intends to preserve the security and stability of the Internet’s Domain Name and Addressing System (DNS),” announced Michael D. Gallagher, a Department of Commerce official. “The United States” he announced, will “maintain its historic role in authorizing changes or modifications to the authoritative root zone file.”</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">[iii]: Mr. Fadi Chehadé revealed in an interaction with Indian participants at ICANN 54 that he had a meeting "at the White House" about the US plans for transition of the IANA contract before he spoke about that when [he visited India in October 2013](http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-10-22/news/43288531_1_icann-internet-corporation-us-centric-internet) making the timing of his White House visit around the time of the Montevideo Statement.</span></p> <p class="p2">[iv]: As an example, [NSD](https://www.nlnetlabs.nl/projects/nsd/), software that is used on multiple root servers, is funded by a Dutch foundation and a Dutch corporation, and written mostly by European coders.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/smallhribanner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p> <p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/hri">Human Rights and the Internet</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/digitaliberties/maria-farrell/with-one-bound-he-was-free"> With one bound he was free!</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> digitaLiberties hri Pranesh Prakash Thu, 14 Jul 2016 17:59:49 +0000 Pranesh Prakash 103824 at https://www.opendemocracy.net