Stories from Quick Reads and Freedom of Speech
The proposed Prevention of Electronic Crimes (PEC) Bill in Pakistan has raised concern among local and international human rights organisations as it could put at risk freedom expression and privacy in Pakistan.
Mariam at Catalyst Woman blog reports:
After the dedicated efforts of numerous advocacy groups, ngos and private citizens, the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication has agreed to a public hearing of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes (PEC) Bill 2015 this Friday, 22 May in Islamabad.
Invitations to the “public” hearing have only been extended to six people to appear before a committee of 20 members. According to the Joint Action Committee on the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Bill 2015 (PECB) & Alliance For Access:
This is contrary to the spirit of a “public hearing.”
The Joint Action Committee members are definitely among the stakeholders, but we are not the only ones. Instead of hand-picking selected invitees, we call upon the NA Standing Committee on IT to conduct the public hearing in a proper manner, by opening it to all concerned members of the public and invite the entire print and electronic media too, in the spirit of transparency and openness.
The Catalyst woman blog proposed a #Tweetstorm to raise awareness of the public’s concerns about the Cyber Crime Bill in its current state. “There should be a public debate on all aspects of the bill,” the blog says.
This text is part of the 46th #LunesDeBlogsGV (#MondayBlogsOnGlobalVoices) on March 23, 2015.
On #LunesDeBlogsGV (#MondayOfBlogsOnGlobalVoices), we work to preserve blogs as an “endangered species”, confronting the challenges that threaten their existence in today's digital jungle. In a similar effort, the blogger Iván Lasso compiles stories about the future of blogging and the problems bloggers face today, when their content runs the risk of being lost in the abundance of different types and quality levels of information on the Internet. The situation bloggers increasingly find online, Lasso argues, is approaching a “David and Goliath” situation.
Lasso says of the biggest issues for bloggers today:
A raíz de la popularización de la web, de unos años para acá hay mucha más audiencia potencial disponible. Pero sospecho que gran parte de esa audiencia nunca podría ser tuya (tuya, mía… de blogs pequeños, vamos). Es audiencia que acude a la red en busca de simple entretenimiento y que si quiere información más “dura”, acude a los medios tradicionales que ahora ya están en la web.
In recent years, following the popularity of the Web, there is a much larger audience available. But I suspect that much of this audience will never be yours. Its's an audience that comes to the Net looking for simple entertainment and when they want more “hard” information, they go to the traditional mainstream media which is also on the Web.
Lasso also offers some solutions for the challenges bloggers face:
Hoy día, para que un blog independiente alcance un cierto grado de éxito (reconocimiento, reputación y visitas) debe convertirse en un rayo láser que apunte a aquello en lo que quiere destacar:
¿Quieres dar noticias? Tienes que darlas lo antes posible, más rápido que nadie.
¿Quieres hacer análisis u opinión? Tienes que profundizar más que nadie.
¿Quieres ser didáctico? Tienes que explicar mejor que nadie. Y también con más detalle que nadie.
Nowadays, for an independent blog to have a certain degree of success (recognition, reputation, and views), you must become a laser beam focused on what readers want:
- You want to report news? You must give it them as soon as possible, faster than anyone.
- You want to offer analysis and points of view? You must go deeper than anyone.
- You want to be instructional? You have to explain things better than anyone. And be more specific than anyone.
Blogger Kureege Fuluheh is a Maldivian ex-police officer, who writes about issues in policing and the police service in Maldives. The blogger analyses how the Maldives Police Service (MPS) is perceived by people over the last seven years and discusses what is the way forward:
Worrying is police’ behaviour towards members of public whilst on duty and the alleged association with crime groups to create fear. [..] In reality, policing has failed to deliver to public satisfaction due to lack of effective strategy and intra-organizational arrangements to cut crime and proactively police.
From crime recording, public engagement, enforcement to investigation, it is evident that policing is ineffective in these areas. [..]
Right now the policing landscape in Maldives fails to perform and deliver through arrangements akin to democratic principles. It is of utmost importance that a police reform bill paves way to create a policing architecture that holds police accountable to its public and public say is counted in how they are policed.
That I am funded, paid for full-time work, I have intelligence software, I'm part of the conservative restoration, and all my other “secrets” … listen to them here :)
After sending a threatening gift of flowers and exposing the individuals behind Crudo Ecuador, however, the Internet satirists surrendered, using the hashtag #UstedGanó (#YouWon).
Well, gentlemen, everything's come to this. Thanks to everyone who supported me morally in this project, but I can not …
On February 25, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights posted a statement urging the Ecuadorian government to protect the rights of the individuals behind Crudo Ecuador, as well as their families’ rights.
Además, la Relatoría Especial recuerda que “[t]anto el derecho a la libertad de pensamiento y expresión como el derecho a la vida privada protegen al discurso anónimo frente a restricciones estatales. La participación del debate público sin revelar la identidad del emisor es una práctica usual en las democracias modernas. La protección del discurso anónimo favorece la participación de la personas en el debate público ya que –al no revelar su identidad— pueden evitar ser objeto de represalias injustas por el ejercicio de un derecho fundamental”.
Furthermore, the Special Rapporteur highlights “the right to freedom of thought and expression, as well as the right to privacy and anonymity against state restrictions. Participating in public debates without revealing one's identity is a common practice in modern democracies. The protection of anonymous speech cultivates individuals’ participation in public debates, as concealing their identity can protect them against unfair retaliations for exercising their fundamental rights.”
Nationally, few civil-society organizations have joined the Manifesto for the Freedom of Expression, Anonymity, and Online Privacy in Ecuador, though several international organizations have signed.
The Mexican groups #YoSoyRed and #loQueSigue have organized a crowdfunding campaign to develop an open-source software that monitors and identify bots used by the Mexican government to influence public opinion and trends in Twitter.
The presentation included some harsh criticism of the groups responsible for the bot nets:
A quien usa esos bots no le gusta la libre información y el libre intercambio de ideas. Tampoco le gusta que el mundo sepa lo que ocurre en México. […] ¿Qué pasaría si aparte de actuar en masa contra los bots pudiéramos difundir masivamente y en segundos todo aquello que pretenden censurar través de un super medio que conecte a todos los medios libres existentes y blogs?
Whoever uses these bots does not like free information and the free exchange of ideas. Nor would they like the world to know what happens in Mexico. […] What if there were a way (other than using bots) to spread widely and instantly everything the authorities wish to censor through a super medium that connects all existing free media and blogs?
The following video explains how the hashtag #YaSeQueNoAplauden, a criticism of the Mexican President, Enrique Peña Nieto, disappeared among the trends on Twitter despite its 133,462 tweets. By comparison, the visible topic trends #MeDesmoronoComoElPAN and #MePasóEnElMetro, according to Topsy, had only 13,411 and 3,046 tweets, respectively. The video suggests that attacks employing bots caused the disappearance of the #YaSeQueNoAplauden hashtag from Twitter trending topics in Mexico and worldwide.
People from LadoB talked to Alberto Escorcia, the developer behind the crowdfunding project, who says the proposed software “would have the ability to analyze millions of messages and could also measure various parameters such as speed trends and its geographical origin.”
Así, en lugar de actuar cuando ya está el el HT creado podemos actuar antes de que surja con una algoritmo de respuesta inmediata que leyendo en tiempo real todos los tweets de México detecte cuando un grupo de bots se está formando.
So, instead of acting when the HT is already created, we can act before it emerges with an immediate response algorithm that reads in real time all the tweets from Mexico and detects when a group of bots is being formed.
The International Media Support (IMS) wants to know what freedom of expression means to you, in the run-up to World Press Freedom Day on May 3.
IMS is encouraging bloggers, human rights defenders, and journalists on social media to participate in this campaign, by tweeting their response or posting it on Facebook with the hashtaq #MyFreeExpression. The response can be text, video or picture.
IMS is a non-profit media development organisation that works in 30 countries where the press and freedom of expression exists under trying contexts. With this campaign they want “to showcase the many faces of and opinions on freedom of expression around the world.”
Danish Filmmaker Nagieb Khaja participated in the campaign with a video, where he said, “Freedom of expression means being able to say what you truly believe without fearing any reprisals. ” And a participant from the Magamba Network, an organization that supports culture, new media and activism in Zimbabwe said, “Freedom is living without fear of no one and nothing.”
IMS is based in Copenhagen, Denmark and is primarily funded by the foreign ministries of the Scandinavian countries.
Bulgaria, a member of the European Union, has a big problem with freedom of the media. The Balkan country is ranked 106 out of 180 countries in the 2015 World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders.
Against this unpleasant background, a new media project was established with the ambitious task of opposing the media empires of local oligarchs and providing an alternative way to access information to the public.
KlinKlin.bg, founded by journalists, designers and bloggers, aims to establish an independent crowdfunding journalist project similar in spirit to those established by colleagues in the Netherlands (decorespondent.nl), Germany (krautreporter.de) and Canada (ricochet.media). But KlinKlin faces a major challenge: 86.5% of the population has no confidence in the local media.
KlinKlin is in the early stage of collecting support and funding. For now, the site is in Bulgarian, but the team is considering an English version too. In less than a week, the Facebook page of KlinKlin has just under 2,700 fans. Below is the group's promo video complete with English subtitles.
Periodistas de a Pie (@periodistasdeapie), an active journalist organization that aims to raise the quality of journalism in Mexico, received the International Journalism Award Julio Anguita Parrado in Spain.
Through training and exchanging investigation techniques, experiences, reporting strategies, narrative styles and ways of approaching a story with colleagues, the group aims to challenge censorship.
— Elena Lázaro Real (@LazaroElena) April 7, 2015
The dean of the University of Córdoba and mayor hand out the 8th Julio Anguita Parrado Award.
Elia Baltazar, a member of Periodistas de a Pie, said in an interview that journalism in her country has recognition only from some sectors. We can see evidence of that in the impunity that exists when it comes to journalists being killed.
“Los que hemos elegido esta profesión no pretendemos cambiar nada sino informar para que sean los ciudadanos quienes tomen las decisiones para cambiar las cosas. Queremos una sociedad abierta, donde los periodistas podamos cumplir nuestra labor sin arriesgarnos porque una sociedad mejor informada va a ser una sociedad que tome mejores decisiones”, apunta.
Those of us who've chosen this profession don't pretend to change anything, just to inform so the citizens can be the ones who make the decisions to change things. We want an open society, where journalists might be able to fulfill out work without risks, because a better informed society will be a society that makes better decisions.
The jury of the 8th Julio Anguita Parrado Award, named after the Spanish journaist that passed away ten years ago while covering the war in Irak, valued the “informative work, silent, without showing off, carried out by communicators in absolute heroic circumstances, in a place where their ives and integrity are under constant threat”.
In the face of government condemnation of anonymity and satire on the Internet, several national and international organizations have signed the Manifesto for the Freedom of Expression, Anonymity, and Online Privacy in Ecuador.
Domestic signatories include Usuarios Digitales and Fundamedios, while some of the international and foreign groups to join the manifesto are Access, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Derechos Digitales (Chile), Oficina Antivigilancia (Brazil), Fundación Karisma (Colombia), TEDIC (Paraguay), Acceso Libre (Venezuela), ContingenteMx (Mexico), and Enjambre Digital (Mexico).
The joint statement stresses that anonymity on the Internet is not a crime:
- Reprobamos cualquier acto de violencia como consecuencia del ejercicio de la libertad de expresión o de cualquier otro derecho.
- El anonimato es parte esencial de la estructura descentralizada de Internet. Esta es una característica intrínseca de su arquitectura y diseño, y forma parte de la esencia de la comunicación en línea.
- El anonimato es una herramienta fundamental para ejercer plenamente el derecho a la libre expresión, ya sea en Internet o fuera de ella.
- La difusión de datos personales de quienes usan legalmente el anonimato constituye una amenaza a la integridad de las personas, promueve la censura y afecta el control legítimo que la sociedad debe realizar de la actividad pública.
- Mientras no se cometan delitos tipificados, el anonimato debe ser garantizado por el Estado y todos sus entes, de acuerdo a la Ley.
- Intimidar o direccionar a grupos para el ataque virtual o físico a personas, independientemente de su posición política, puede derivar en polarización y violencia en la sociedad.
- Consideramos que los recursos públicos deben brindar las garantías suficientes para promover el libre ejercicio de nuestros derechos también en plataformas digitales.
- We condemn any act of violence as consequence of exercising the freedom of expression or any other right.
- Anonymity is an essential part of the decentralized structure of internet. This is an intrinsic characteristic of its architecture and design and makes part of the essence of online communication.
- Anonymity is a key tool to fully exercise the right to free expression, whether online or offline.
- Sharing personal information from those who use anonymity legally is a threat to the integrity of individuals, promotes censorship and affects legitimate control society has to make of public activity.
- As long as no categorized crime is committed, the State must be ensure anonymity, according to this law.
- Intimidating or addressing groups for virtual or physical assault to individuals, regardless of their political position, may end in polarization and violence in society.
- We consider that public resources must provide enough guarantees to promote free exercise of our rights also on digital platforms.
Check here to read the Manifesto for the Freedom of Expression, Anonymity, and Online Privacy in Ecuador.
The first international conference on community radio and free software will be held in Cochabama, Bolivia from June 11-13, 2015. So far, the community radio stations from Spanish-speaking countries that have confirmed their assistance are: Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Uruguay, Venezuela, and of course, the host, Bolivia.
The preliminary agenda includes a forum discussing the advances taking place in Latin America regarding free software, telecommunication legislation, and a migration plan. There will also be workshops and simultaneous talks on free software tools such as Shamatari, Ardour, Audacity, and Creative Commons, amongst others.
Several websites, such as Radios Libres (Free Radio Stations) and Corresponsales del Pueblo (The People's Correspondents), have helped to spread the information found on the official site, liberaturadio.org, while others have stepped up to the task of getting communities to attend the event, such as the Comisión Nacional de Telecomunicaciones de Venezuela, Conatel (National Commission of Telecommunications of Venezuela), which in addition underlines its support for these initiatives:
En Venezuela las emisoras de radio comunitarias también cuentan con apoyo para su independencia. En enero de 2015 fue lanzada otra aplicación libre ideal para medios comunitarios: Shatamari 15.01., que tiene 260 aplicaciones preinstaladas y configuradas para trabajar en medios digitales, audiovisuales, automatización de emisoras radiales y medios impresos.
Community radio station independence also receives support in Venezuela. Shatamari 15.01, another free application ideal for community media, was launched in January 2015, of which contains 260 configured, pre-installed applications made to work with digital, audiovisual, and print media along with the automatization of radio stations.
Twitter users also began to spread the word of the event to others as well as to motivate internet users and community radio stations to meet up at the conference.
We'll be at the 1st International Community Radio and Free Software Conference. Will you join up with us?
#Bolivia's 1st International Community Radio and Free Software Conference.
1st International Community Radio and Free Software Conference in #Cochabamba, Bolivia, June 11-13, 2015.
Sign up starts on April 1; for more information, visit the event's official page at liberaturadio.org.