Policy Observatory

Facebook reveals rise in official data requests

Wed, 2017-12-20 12:29

Requests to see data on users' accounts are up by 20%, says the site's latest transparency report.

Nordic-Baltic digital single market 'no threat to EU'

Wed, 2017-12-20 12:27

'What we want do is add value on top, and do things' such as border controls and free data movement, said Norwegian state secretary Paul Chaffey about Nordic-Baltic digital cooperation.

Facebook’s new facial recognition feature finds you in untagged photos

Wed, 2017-12-20 12:24

 Facebook announced that it will start using its facial recognition technology to find photos of you across its site, even if you aren't tagged in those photos. The idea is to give you more control over your identity online by informing you when your face appears in photos, even those you don't know about. According to a Facebook blog post, the new feature is powered by the same AI technology used to suggest friends you may want to tag in your own uploaded images.

FCC Repeals Net Neutrality Rules

Wed, 2017-12-20 11:48

The Federal Communications Commission voted on Thursday December 14th 2017 to dismantle rules regulating the businesses that connect consumers to the Internet, granting broadband companies the power to potentially reshape Americans’ online experiences.

New York city algorithmic accountability bill to be analysed

Wed, 2017-12-20 11:47

The new algorithmic accountability bill, waiting to be signed into law, establishes a task force that will study how city agencies use algorithms to make decisions that affect New Yorkers’ lives, and whether any of the systems appear to discriminate against people based on age, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or citizenship status.

HP laptops found to have hidden keylogger

Mon, 2017-12-11 15:57

Hidden software that can record every letter typed on a computer keyboard has been discovered pre-installed on hundreds of HP laptop models.

The European Parliament has approved budget for Open Source software bug bounty program

Wed, 2017-12-06 12:25

The European Parliament has approved budget to improve the EU’s IT infrastructure by extending the free software security audit programme (FOSSA) and by including a bug bounty approach in the programme.

The Commission intends to conduct a small-scale "bug bounty" activity on open-source software with companies already operating in the market.


Internet Censorship Detection Tool

Tue, 2017-11-14 17:36

Internet censorship enables governments to manipulate public discourse and erode citizens’ rights. But a five-year-old software program called ooniprobe allows users to fight back, by finding our when, where, and how censorship is occurring.

Ooniprobe is free and open software designed to detect blocking of Internet websites, messenger apps, censorship circumvention tools, speed and performance of your network, or presence in certain systems in the network which might be responsible for censorship.

The tool was developed by the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI) and can be downloaded here.


US court grants ISPs and search engine blockade of Sci-Hub

Sat, 2017-11-11 19:09

Sci-Hub, often referred to as the "Pirate Bay of Science", has suffered another blow in a US federal court. The American Chemical Society has won a default judgment of $4.8 million for alleged copyright infringement against the site. In addition, the publisher was granted an unprecedented injunction which requires search engines and ISPs to block the platform.

Slovenian Internet Governance Forum 2017: public education and awareness are key for the future Internet

Sat, 2017-11-11 19:06
During the Slovenian Internet Governance Forum (SloIGF) which took place on 17 October 2017, public education and awareness were the keywords both during the opening session, as well as during the three panel discussions on: open technologies & open society, extremism & rights an liberties on the Internet, privacy & security in the Internet of the future.

CoE and Kaspersky Lab sign agreement on human rights

Sat, 2017-11-11 18:46

The Council of Europe (CoE) and Russian antivirus software developer Kaspersky Lab, as well as other IT and Internet companies signed an agreement during the World Forum for Democracy 'on protection of human rights and guaranteeing compliance with laws in the Internet', according to Kaspersky Lab. The signed agreement is a step of the CoE Internet Governance Strategy for 2016-2019. The strategy supports and protects citizens on the Internet, 'guaranteeing respect for their rights, ensuring equality and freedom of expression, and combating cybercrime and terrorism,' according to the statement.

New research paper on content regulation and domain name policy

Sat, 2017-11-11 18:40

Should domain name registrars have the right to cancel a domain because they don’t like the content of the website it supports? How many registrars’ terms of service contracts give them this right and how many don’t? Should ICANN’s Registrar Accreditation Agreement ensure registrar neutrality, or is competition sufficient to protect users’ rights?

These questions are explored in a new IGP research paper, “In Search of Amoral Registrars: Content Regulation and Domain Name Policy“, which examines the Terms of Service from 74 ICANN contracted parties who operate more than 2,300 domain name registrars in order to find out how many have “morality” clauses of the sort that knocked the Daily Stormer off the Internet.

What “jurisdiction” does ICANN belong to?

Sat, 2017-11-11 18:36

How far can ICANN go to escape the nation-state? ICANN 60 (held in Abu Dhabi October 28 – Nov 3rd) made important progress on what has become known as “the jurisdiction issue”. ICANN is taking steps to reduce or eliminate the effect that U.S. sanctions against foreign governments would have on ordinary Internet users and businesses in sanctioned countries. It will also introduce choice of law provisions in their registry and registrar contracts, and open up continuing discussions of whether additional immunities are needed.

EFF to ICANN's registrars: don't pick up the censor's pen

Sat, 2017-11-11 18:31

EFF is speaking out against the increasing use of the domain name system as a mechanism for content censorship during the annual general meeting of ICANN, the global multi-stakeholder regulatory authority for Internet domain names and IP addresses.

Back in August, you may recall that domain name registrars GoDaddy and Google both terminated service to the publisher of the odious Nazi website Daily Stormer, in a move that, while popular, set a dangerous precedent

Surveillance laws fall far short of fundamental rights standards

Sat, 2017-11-11 18:18

On 23 October, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) published the second volume of its study on surveillance and its impact on fundamental rights. This study comes following the request of the European Parliament (EP) for information on the consequences of surveillance for fundamental rights. The Agency notes that “the mere existence of legislation allowing for surveillance constitutes an interference with the right to private life” even though it notes the role of surveillance measures in the fight against terrorism and new threats linked to new technologies.

European Court to decide whether UK mass surveillance revealed by Snowden violates human rights

Sat, 2017-11-11 18:14

British spy agencies are under scrutiny in a landmark court case challenging the legality of top-secret mass surveillance programs revealed in documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

A panel of 10 judges at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg held a hearing to examine the U.K. government’s large-scale electronic spying operations, following three separate challenges brought by a dozen human rights groups, including Amnesty International, Privacy International, the American Civil Liberties Union, Big Brother Watch, the Open Rights Group, and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties.

What’s wrong with the EU’s filtering solutions?

Sat, 2017-11-11 18:13

The European Union’s answer to protecting children from harmful content on the internet and combating copyright infringement is to require internet companies to filter the internet.

The European Parliament is about to vote on two pieces of legislation in the near future. One is the Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market, the other is the Audiovisual Media Services Directive. These Directives would forever change the internet for everyone.

Investigation shows Dutch companies share customer data without consent

Sat, 2017-11-11 18:10

Research by the Dutch Consumers Association shows that multiple companies share customer data with Facebook without consent for more targeted advertising. Sharing such information without permission is prohibited in the Netherlands under the Data Protection Act, as confirmed by the Personal Data Authority (AP). Yet, not all companies concerned have stopped sharing data, arguing it is a common practice under companies advertising online. They claim to encrypt their data, making it impossible for Facebook to use it. According to the AP, it is not relevant whether or not the data is encrypted.

The European Commission struggles to find a position on encryption

Sun, 2017-11-05 15:39

On 18 October, the European Commission adopted some form of position on encryption, inexplicably embedded in its “anti-terrorism package”. Home affairs activity in relation to encryption is horizontal (covering all illegal activity) and not specifically related to terrorism. However, the Commission chose to include this topic in its anti-terrorism package.

New Estonian Presidency “compromise” creates copyright chaos

Sun, 2017-11-05 15:38

Following the launch of the controversial proposed Copyright Directive in September 2016, the European Parliament and the Member States (gathered in the Council of the European Union) are now developing their positions. The Council is working under its Estonian Presidency, which has produced a new “compromise” proposal.