Stories from Quick Reads and Technology
Serbian Authorities Take Control of A Man's Facebook Account Following Alleged Threats Against PM Vucic
In Serbia, the detainment of individuals for personal social media postings has become almost commonplace over the last year. During the mass floods in May 2014, police arrested over a dozen individuals for allegedly “inciting panic” on social media when the country was indeed in a national state of emergency. Some were detained for several days.
In early July 2015, in the Serbian town of Aleksinac, police detained Dejan Milojevic for allegedly threatening the life of Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic on his personal Facebook account. They seized his computer and other communications devices, and also took charge of his Facebook account, changing his password and locking Milivojevic out of his own account.
Serbian NGO Share Defense called the account takeover a “very intrusive measure under questionable legal basis, in particular from the aspect of international protection of privacy and freedom of expression standards.” The Share Defense team of legal experts explained the legal issues in this matter on their website:
Ovakav opis postupanja policije izdvaja aleksinački slučaj od sličnih istraga pokrenutih zbog komentara na društvenim mrežama, i otvara problem nejasnih ovlašćenja policije u digitalnom okruženju. Naime, pristup policije privatnom fejsbuk profilu nedvosmisleno predstavlja povredu tajnosti sredstava komuniciranja koja je zagarantovana članom 41 Ustava Republike Srbije. Odstupanja su moguća isključivo uz odluku suda koja bi se konkretno odnosila na sporni fejsbuk profil, o čemu za sada nema pouzdanih informacija. Dejanu Milojeviću je onemogućen pristup privatnom fejsbuk nalogu, čime mu je ograničena sloboda izražavanja i informisanja.
Policija je prilikom pretresa oduzela Milojevićev kompjuter i telefone (u skladu sa članom 147 Zakonika o krivičnom postupku), na šta ima pravo i bez posebne sudske odluke. Međutim, pretraživanje podataka o komunikaciji koji se čuvaju na tim uređajima nije moguće bez sudskog naloga.
This description of the actions of police separates the Aleksinac case from similar investigations started due to comments on social networks and opens the issue of unclear rights that police have in the digital realm. Specifically, police access to a private Facebook profile undoubtedly represents an injury to the privacy of communication, which is guaranteed under Section 41 of the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia. An exception to this can only be awarded by a court, that would have to reference the Facebook profile in question…Dejan Milivojevic's access to his private Facebook account has been breached, thus his freedom of expression and right to access to information has been limited.
Police seized Milivojevic's computer and telephones during the raid (in accordance with Article 147 of the Law on Criminal Proceedings), which they are authorized to do without exceptional court order. However, search and seizure of communication information that are stored on those devices* is not allowed without a court order. [*editor's emphasis]
While Milivojevic no longer has access to his Facebook account, the status update that had police raiding his home and led to accusations that he was threatening the Prime Minister is still publicly visible on his profile:
Браћо и сестре, враг је однео шалу!!! Дајте да се организујемо да неко убије говнара и да ослободимо земљу. Доста је било, стварно!!!
Brothers and sisters, the joke has gone too far!!! Let's organize and have someone kill the shithead and liberate the country. Enough is enough, really!!!
The Prime Minister's name was not mentioned in the status update or in the comments of the post, although one commenter does ask whom Milivojevic is referencing as “the shithead”. Milivojevic also calls for a “lynching” in his responses to comments, but then later adds in a comment that “of course, I was kidding about the killing; I abhore violence, even towards such a worm and bum.”
Elvans Kidero explains the secrets behind Nairobi's success in ICT sector in Africa:
Where is Africa’s ICT hub? Is it South Africa, Nigeria or Nairobi, the capital of Kenya? By growth, it would have to be Nairobi, with my county’s ICT sector expected to grow by 15 per cent this year, compared to around 6 per cent for the economy as a whole.
Kenya and Nairobi – dubbed the “Silicon Savannah” – has boomed in recent years through international partnerships and home-grown products, the most famous being M-PESA the mobile money transfer service that has revolutionised financial transactions for hundreds of millions across the world. Innovation spaces such as iHub have helped spur growth for young tech entrepreneurs offering opportunities for co-working and incubation. Other products such as M-Farm, an app providing an online marketplace and real-time prices for agricultural buyers and sellers and iCow, an SMS-based service for farming information – just to name a few – have seen Nairobians’ technology spread far beyond city borders.
Only this month, in a real boost for Nairobi, IBM opened a new big data research centre in our city, underlining our new front-runner status. This body will assist in analysing big data, support the decongestion of traffic and improve accessibility and speeds for accessing information and services.
So why has Nairobi been growing so fast?
The winners of the “#HackAgainstEbola” competition at the 2014 Editors Lab organised by the Global Editors Network (GEN) and Penplusbytes in Accra, Citi FM are in Barcelona participating in the 5th annual GEN Summit:
Citi FM, last year, competed with other major new rooms in Ghana at Penplusbytes New Media Hub in a two-day #hackathon to develop digital tools for newsrooms to effectively report on challenges posed by the Ebola outbreak. Their product, Citi Ebola Updates – a Mobile Platform that enables people, both educated and uneducated to receive information and updates on the status of Ebola in the country in their preferred local language, was adjudged the best to win the 2014 Editors.
On January 21, during the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei penned an open letter to the ‘youth in Europe and North America’ defending Islam, and the Western world's skewed reception of the religion. He also started tweeting the sentiments of the letter on his @khamenei_ir twitter account, starting the hashtag #Letter4U. A closer look of this hashtag indicates it remains active through bots, which are still crawling through Twitter four months after the launch of the campaign.
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) January 21, 2015
In late March Morgan Carlston noted that spam bots were promoting the hashtag on Twitter.
Morgan elaborated in a blog post:
There are hundreds if not thousands of accounts, most of them with over 10000 tweets. Twitter has a limit of 1000 tweets per day, and the accounts seem to have been created with this in mind.
Many of the accounts use fake photos taken from a variety of places. Some of them show celebrities, while others journalists or other media personalities.
— Morgan Carlston (@MorganCarlston) March 22, 2015
David Masad, a computational science researcher retrieved the tweet rhythm for the hashtag between May 8th to the 11th, and found the image below, which indicates that bots are still being deployed to spread tweets with the #letter4u hashtag, along with a link to Khamenei's website. Mason explained in an email to Global Voices,
The chart shows the exact same number of tweets using the hashtag being tweeted at precise, regular intervals, with no changes based on the time of day. Human conversations go in bursts, exhibit cycles based on times of day that people are in Twitter, and in general are *not* regular.
Join Accra Technology salon that will take place on May 26th, 2015. The theme of the salon is Games for Ghana’s Development:
Electronic games are a two trillion dollar global industry. Game development in Ghana is growing rapidly, fueled by the popularity of mobile phones and climbing Internet usage rates. African game developers are increasing their share of this demand by developing culturally relevant games that speak directly to local markets.
What is the potential of the game industry to further Ghana’s development?
While games are often considered frivolous entertainment, evidence shows that games can effectively improve cognition, problem solving, and spatial skills development, with a particular benefit for science, engineering, and mathematics education. “Serious” games can also help communities explore different development scenarios to solve critical problems in society.
Please RSVP now to join the next Technology Salon Accra where we will explore questions like:
What kinds of games would excite Ghanaians and improve society?
Who would play them? What would they learn?
How can we incentivize “good” games and improve others?
Where should we look to see the future of gaming in Ghana?
Two African startups have emerged winners of a regional competition organised by Village Capital:
Village Capital today announced the first winners of its innovative program, East Africa: FinTech for Agriculture 2015. The program supports entrepreneurs in making financial services more affordable and accessible for smallholder farmers and other underbanked individuals in East Africa. It is supported by the DOEN Foundation, The MasterCard Foundation, and Duncan Goldie-Scot.
Over 65% of Sub-Saharan Africans do not use financial institutions or mobile money accounts to save or borrow money. Access to financial services can be especially difficult for smallholder farmers, often far from a financial access point. Furthermore, many promising early-stage entrepreneurs addressing this issue cannot find the resources they need to get off the ground.
Village Capital East Africa: FinTech for Agriculture 2015 provided these resources to 12 high-potential, early-stage entrepreneurs from across East Africa. The program also supported them through business development training, mentorship, and opportunities to meet potential customers and pitch to investors. At the end of the 12-week program, the entrepreneur-participants ranked each other on six criteria, and chose two companies to each receive a 50,000 USD investment. The two top peer-ranked companies are:
Atikus Insurance (Rwanda); expands access to credit by increasing the capacity of MSME lenders via reimagined insurance and technology risk solutions.
Farmerline (Ghana, expanding to East Africa); provides accurate and timely agricultural information to farmers and also provides technology to stakeholders to work better.
Storipot is a News aggregator that provides you with headlines of the latest stories (“Feeds”) curated from websites and blogs by or about Uganda.
Storipot helps you filter through the noise of today’s vast information by bringing to surface a summary of the day's most important stories on a single page.
We are currently doing this through clever computer algorithms that routinely crawl through our large database of more than 250(as of launch) Ugandan content sources. We analyze and gauge all this content to bring you the most compelling content on the web from Uganda.
However, with the understanding that nothing beats the human judgement, Storipot also employs human editorial curation mechanisms. With a team of long-time experienced bloggers and journalists, we sieve through the blog sphere to discover and bring you great content that would otherwise go unnoticed.
Designed for both readers and publishers.
Discussions regarding the implementation of “intelligent” filtering have proliferated Internet policy discussions within Iran. “Intelligent” filtering is a process whereby they filter select content on a social media platform, rather than the entire site. Our recent research covered the extent of this program on Instagram. In response to “intelligent’ filtering discussions, Abdolsamad Khorramabadi, an advisor to the Committee Charged with Determining Criminal Content (CCDOC) told Tabnak news on May 5, “Facebook will definitely not be included in this type of [smart] filtering, and will remain completely blocked.”
Commenting on the policy on May 14, the New York based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran stated,
The continuation of the Facebook ban reflects the profound fear with which Iranian officials view social media networks, which have proved enormously popular in Iran, particularly among the younger generation.
Previous Iranian discussions of “intelligent” filtering on social networks never breached how the government would implement this program on networks that use HTTPS protocol, such as Facebook. The only known implementation of this program has been through the unencrypted Instagram API.
For further information on this announcement see the International Campaign for Human Right's recent report: “Iranian Officials Re-Affirm Facebook Will Remain Completely Blocked in Iran.” For technical understanding of “intelligent” filtering, see Frederic Jacob's Instagram testing and analysis on GitHub.
— Efecto Cocuyo (@EfectoCocuyo) May 8, 2015
#YouMustKnow Venezuelan Defense Ministry creates the Joint Staff for Cyber Defense.
The Cocuyo Effect website reported that the Defense Ministry of Venezuela created the Joint Staff for Cyber Defense of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (known in Spanish as FANB).
The Official Gazette number 40,655, where the Act was published, offers no additional details on the operation of this Joint Staff; it only states that the Joint Staff will have several divisions: one for social networks; a division for cyber defense operations; one for IT security management; one for research and development and, of course, a director and a deputy director, as well as an area of administrative management.
The document notes that this new organization will be responsible for the country's cyber defense and supersedes the Joint Staff for IT Security of the FANB.
Other countries such as Spain, United States, Uruguay, and Colombia already have specialized agencies in cyber defense.
The Argentine Council for International Relations defines cyber defense as:
el conjunto de acciones y/u operaciones activas o pasivas desarrolladas en el ámbito de las redes, sistemas, equipos, enlaces y personal de los recursos informaticos y teleinformaticos de la defensa a fin de asegurar el cumplimiento de las misiones o servicios para los que fueran concebidos a la vez que se impide que fuerzas enemigas los utilicen para cumplir los suyos.
the set of actions and/or active or passive operations carried out in the field of networks, systems, equipment, connections, and personal of the IT resources of the Army to ensure the accomplishment of the tasks or services for which they were intended, and at the same time, prevents the enemy forces from using them.
Last month, Angani launched first operational cloud service in East Africa:
Angani, the first fully automated cloud infrastructure company in the region, today officially launched their cloud and hosting services. Angani also announced their partnership with local data center operators that will make it safe and cost effective to provision cloud solutions. With Angani’s cloud platform, users can have a new server operational in a secure, reliable datacenter within 15 minutes.
Angani also offers the following services
• Virtual office includes E-Mail, data backup and PABX
• CCTV Storage and Backup
• Media Storage and Playout