Friday, 16 March 2018

"I Heard a Siren from the Silicon Docks"

Happy St. Paddy's Day to all the Irish out there and to those non-Irish who just want a reason to drink Guinness.

The Irish may be the largest diaspora in the world. Some 80 million people worldwide claim Irish heritage; this, from a country whose peak population reached 8 million. Even those not so well-versed in history know that oppression sent millions to emigrate or to their deaths. Poverty was a major struggle up until the Celtic Tiger in the 1990s, after decades of European Union structural funds propelled the economy to the top tier. It was an opportune time, as a fledgling tech industry would soon grow into a major global force. Many of the biggest tech companies in the world now have headquarters in Dublin; they have rebuilt the docklands - a once dirty old town of warehouses and factories - into a glittering, glass and steel mini city known as the Silicon Docks. If you've ever been to Dublin, you'd marvel at the changes over the last twenty years. It's a whole new world.

One reason the tech companies flocked to Dublin was its weak privacy laws. Data drinking companies like Google and Facebook were able to build massive data empires in part because these laws made privacy virtually an afterthought. Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner has been repeatedly challenged in courts by the European Union, and a new EU privacy law may open the floodgates for more litigation.

The EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will restrict how tech companies collect, store, and use personal data beginning 25 May 2018. Businesses and organizations that fail to comply with GDPR will be fined 20 million euro or 4% of their global annual revenue, whichever is higher. 

The Irish government is trying to make the state exempt from provisions of the GDPR. A massive 132 page bill is still under debate with some rather bizarre points, such as reducing the age of consent from 16 to 13! Irish data protection experts are universally opposed to the bill, which they say, "has the potential to kill data protection enforcement in Ireland and will take years of litigation to fix.”

So why is Ireland opposed to data protection? For one, most businesses in Ireland are not prepared for the GDPR changes. Then there is the government itself that feels it is not prepared and worries that any fines on its public bodies may drain the budget and prevent them from fixing the problems that led to the fines in the first place.

These issues will be discussed in April at the Dublin Data Sec 2018 conference. Let's hope Ireland can get the bill sorted out before the GDPR deadline. In the meantime, here's to all the Irish out there. 


Thursday, 8 March 2018

SumLinks - Women Matter

In honor of International Women's Day #IWD2018, some links:

The Center for the Protection of Journalists looks at the threats women journalists face.

Have you seen Bombshell: The Hedy Lemarr Story? It didn't seem to get a lot of press coverage, which is a shame, because Hedy Lemarr never gets the credit she deserves for basically inventing wifi.

In addition to Lemarr, here are nine other important women in tech.

Article 19 speaks out about online abuse of women.

Access Now takes a look at women making the internet safer for everyone.

A history of men taking credit for women's accomplishments.

Ten more women who changed the course of history.

And let us not forget the countless number of women who are prisoners of conscience, those who strive for human rights and democracy, who languish in the dank prisons of authoritarian regimes.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

SumLinks - Cyberattacks, censorship, espionage, and more

Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab was sentenced to an additional five years in prison for tweets.

An Inside Look At The Accounts Twitter Has Censored In Countries Around The World

Cyberattacks increasing against civil society in Azerbaijan ahead of election

Worst Innovation Mercantilism Policies of 2017

Internet Governance Forum 2017 was one of the first times that "various organizations and professionals came together to address the links and gaps between the internet governance and media development communities. Synopsis from the Global Forum for Media Development.

The size of your app matters. Just ask Ethiopians.

Pakistanis are speaking out against internet shutdowns.

Zimbabwe: Omnibus Cyber Bill muddies Fundamental rights

Read more at:
Zimbabwe: Omnibus Cyber Bill muddies Fundamental rights

Read more at:
 Cyber bill threatens fundamental rights in Zimbabwe

Laughing in the face of internet shutdowns in Bangladesh
Zimbabwe: Omnibus Cyber Bill muddies Fundamental rights

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New bill threatens internet freedom in Honduras.

EFF and Lookout Uncover New Malware Espionage Campaign in Chat Apps Infecting Thousands Around the World


Dependent Yet Disenfranchised: The Policy Void That Threatens the Rights of Mobile Users in Arab States
Amazon Go’s ambient processing of special category data (eg ethnicity) to create “checkout free shopping” might cause problems if moved to Europe under the GDPR given the inability to freely consent.

Mapping Digital Freedom in Palestine

The Importance of Privacy by Design and Data Protection Impact Assessments in Strengthening Protection of Children's Personal Data Under the GDPR

The State of Privacy in Lebanon

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Olympic Special: Get 12 months of Unlimited VPN for 20.18.

Protect Your Privacy This Year! Limited Time Offer.

To celebrate the 2018 Winter Olympics, we are offering one year (12 months) of unlimited SumRando VPN for 20.18 USD. Get 24/7 protection for your online activities on Android and Windows.

More info:

Friday, 2 February 2018

El corazón de la democracia oriental

Today is Constitution Day in the Philippines. The road to the establishment of the constitution was a rough one, to say the least. Filipinos suffered the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos for two decades, including ten years of martial law. It took the assassination of Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. to inspire a national movement against Marcos and one heck of a strong woman, Ninoy's wife Corazon, to throw Marcos out. What a time it must have been, the end of February 1986, after Marcos had claimed victory in a sham of an election, when 2 million Filipinos took to the streets in the People Power Revolution, wearing yellow ribbons and pining for democracy and freedom.

They got it. The "Mother of Asian Democracy" oversaw the promulgation of the Constitution, which limited the powers of the presidency and reestablished the bicameral Congress. Corzaon was true to her name (Spanish for "heart"), working for human rights and the peace process with communist insurgents and Islamic secessionists. She focused on improving the economy through market-oriented reform and socially responsible enterprise, a far cry from the corruption and extravagance of the Marcos regime.

What a woman! She was awarded Liberty International's Prize for Freedom in 1987 and the Ramon Magsaysay Award (Asia's version of the Nobel) in 1998, and a statue of her stands proudly in Manila next to her husband.

But she must be frowning now, right there in the heart of Manila, el corazon de la perla del oriente.

Why did the Philippines elect a bloodthirsty murderer who jokes about rape, hates Jews, and despises the Constitution that is celebrated on this day? And do the people still support him? Recent polls have show his popularity slipping as people remember unemployment, crumbling infrastructure, and corruption are still rampant and ignored in his obsession with the so-called "Drug War." Thousands of Filipinos rallied last September against 'rising tyranny.'

But you wouldn't know it from social media, thanks to the new phenomenon of "opinion-shaping," where governments use social media to influence elections, drive agendas, inflate support, and counter critics. At least 30 countries are guilty of employing armies of these opinion shapers, according to the latest Freedom on the Net report from the Washington-based NGO Freedom house. In the Philippines, the "keyboard army" is paid a reportedly $10 USD per day to operate fake social media accounts that support Duterte's agenda and his drug war, which has, by some estimates, resulted in the deaths of more than 14,000 people. Regimes use the false perception that most citizens support them to justify crackdowns on human rights and silence opposition. While Philippines still enjoys "free" status in terms of net freedom, its score dropped (which, sadly, is consistent with much of the world.)

Last week, the investigative reporting site Rappler had its operating license revoked for supposedly violating constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership of media. Duterte called Rappler a "fake news" outlet on Tuesday (the "lugenpresse" of the digital age.) Rappler has published a series of reports on the Duterte regime's strategy to "weaponize the internet" by paying bloggers and social media users to be anger-arousing trolls. In one instance, one of these trolls cloned a Facebook page of an anti-Duterte activist and posted a fake assassination plot. The real owner of the page, noted human rights defender Willyn Trabajador, now faces prosecution under the Cybercrime Law, a result predicted by human rights organizations when the law was passed in 2012. 

It remains to be seen whether or not the Philippines Constitution is strong enough to withstand the subtle and not-so-subtle hits it is taking under the Duterte regime. So far, it is presenting itself as a formidable defender of democracy in the Philippines. But we must keep a close eye on the situation and call out the abuses of Duterte's making. A generation too young to remember the Marcos years must learn from history, lest it be repeated.