Stories from Quick Reads and Technology
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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
The application RhinoBirdTV, developed by the Chilean Felipe Heusser, who founded the NGO Ciudadano Inteligente, allows users to share video experiences in real time. The makers of RhinoBirdTV hope their product will help facilitate a more democratic world by breaking down boundaries and connecting people through simple-to-distribute live videos.
RhinoBirdTV chose to launch its Android version on April 20, the day of the 119th annual Boston Marathon, allowing users to broadcast and receive live videos from the event, following the hashtag #bostonmarathon.
On Twitter, people welcomed RhinoBirdTV with enthusiasm and high expectations:
— Matias del Rio (@matiasdelrio) April 20, 2015
Far from the Marathon is a marvel made in Chile the USA.
— Rhinobird.TV (@RhinoBirdTv) April 20, 2015
Los Chilenos en Boston son unos capos. Aguantando el frío y la lluvia para apoyar @RhinoBirdTv Emocionante.
— felipe heusser (@fheusser) April 20, 2015
Chileans in Boston are bosses. Enduring the cold and rain to support.
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?
We live in an age in which dizzying technological advances sometimes put minors in danger. In a post on blog Mujeres Construyendo (Women Building), Gloria Serrato delves into society's responsibility to protect them and teach them the appropriate use of new technologies:
Diferentes organismos han emitido iniciativas para defender a los menores de edad con respecto a la protección de su información confidencial, […] para buscar la regulación pertinente que no lesione los intereses del acceso a la información ni a los menores.
El acceso a las redes sociales en internet es una oportunidad para el ejercicio de los derechos de las personas y es una herramienta para el aprendizaje y el conocimiento. Sin embargo es imprescindible saber que los […] adultos deben ser una guía que pueda orientar en los usos adecuados.
Several organizations have launched initiatives in order to defend minors and preserve their confidential information, […] looking for the pertinent regulation that does not harm the accessibility of information or underage children's interests.
Access to social media sites is an opportunity for the exercise of people's rights and a tool for instruction and knowledge. But is essential to know that […] adults should be a guide to direct them in proper use.
The writer states that such an education should take place in schools and family environments. She also lists the lines of work from the Montevideo Memorandum on protection of minors’ data:
a) Recomendaciones en materia de prevención y educaciónb) Recomendaciones para los Estados sobre el marco legalc) Recomendaciones para la aplicación de las leyesd) Recomendaciones en materia de políticas públicase) Recomendaciones para la industria.
a) Recommendations in terms of prevention and education
b) Recommendations to states on the legal framework
c) Recommendations for the application of law
d) Recommendations for public policy
e) Recommendations for the industry
The Cartagena Data Festival has just wrapped up in Cartagena, Colombia. The festival is an international event committed to discussing data deployment for human development and related topics, like open data, data journalism, big data, and other analysis tools.
The festival, which ran from April 20 to April 22 and took place in downtown Cartagena, attracted more than 500 participants and reporters from around the world. Several groups played an organizing role, including the United Nations Development Program, the United Nations Population Fund, the ODI Development Progress, Centro Europeo de Pensamiento Estratégico Internacional, Africa Gathering, and others.