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Amid “Intelligent” Censorship Discussions, Iran Affirms Facebook Will Remain Blocked

A user logs onto Facebook from their phone. Photo from Flickr User: Maria Elena (CC: AT)

A user logs onto Facebook from their phone. Photo from Flickr User: Maria Elena (CC: AT)

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.

 

 

Venezuela Creates the Joint ​​Staff for Cyber Defense

#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.

Angani: First Operational Cloud Service in East Africa

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

A Chilean Real-Time Video App Launches at the Boston Marathon

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.

RhinoBird.TV, imagen extraída de Twitter, utilizada con autorización

RhinoBird.TV. image from Twitter, used with permission.

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:

Far from the Marathon is a marvel made in Chile the USA.

Chileans in Boston are bosses. Enduring the cold and rain to support.

Protecting Personal Data in Argentina Is a Work in Progress

Cloud Computing - Photo by Quinn Dombrowski on Flickr. (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Cloud Computing – Photo by Quinn Dombrowski on Flickr. (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

In an article for online magazine Digital Rights: Latin America & The Caribbean, No.21Argentinean lawyer Valeria Milanés explains that even though the United States is a world leader in data processing, it does not have legislation for the protection of personal data. The US is also considered to have “an inadequate level of protection in relationship to national and international standards.”

Unfortunately, in North America and other countries, the evolution of technology has outpaced the development of legal regimes intended to govern their use. Milanés explains the case of Argentina and mentions National Directorate for Personal Data Protection and the Law of Personal Data, D.N.P.D.P., (Laws 25.326 and 26.343), which is among the “most advanced on the issue of data protection.” The problems lie in its implementation:

…en 2012, y luego de doce años de funcionamiento, la D.N.P.D.P. tenía registradas 20.000 bases de datos, contra 1.600.000 que tenía registradas a la misma fecha y en similar plazo la Agencia Española de Protección de Datos.

…in 2012, after twelve years in service, the D.N.P.D.P. had registered 20,000 databases, compared with 1,600,000 databases registered by that date and within the same period with the Spanish Data Protection Agency.

Milanés says that cloud computing presents new challenges:

…las grandes empresas multinacionales prestadoras de los servicios de nube pública se caracterizan por utilizar contratos de adhesión, que por lo general no contienen las especificaciones requeridas en la ley 25.326 y en los que hasta la ley aplicable y jurisdicción prefijada corresponde al país en los que estas empresas tienen sus domicilios legales –por lo general, ciudades de Estados Unidos–. Es más, inclusive los servidores en los que se almacena la información pueden no encontrarse en Argentina.

…large multinational public cloud service providers are known for using adhesion contracts, which generally do not contain specifications established by Law 25.326 and in which the applicable law and predetermined jurisdiction are that of the country where these companies are legally domiciled, mainly US cities. Furthermore, even the servers that store the information are sometimes not in Argentina.

Thus, the Argentinean experience is no different from other countries in the region, who despite having laws protecting the personal data of individuals and corporations still have a long way to go.

Milanés concludes that the issue needs “actions towards effective implementation and compliance with current laws and adoption of responsible and sound business practices to allow, to the extent possible, for personal data privacy and security guarantees to be preserved.”

Khamenei's #Letter4U Bots Still Active Four Months After Its Launch

A #letter4u campaign photo tweeted on the Supreme Leader's Twitter account.

A #letter4u campaign photo tweeted on the Supreme Leader's Twitter account.

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.

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.

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.

The tweet frequency for #letter4u from May 8th to 11th.

The tweet frequency for #letter4u from May 8th to 11th. Image provided by David Mason, and used with permission.

Can Electronic Games Accelerate Ghana's Development?

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?

Keeping Minors Safe Online Is Everyone's Responsibility

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 educación
b)    Recomendaciones para los Estados sobre el marco legal
c)    Recomendaciones para la aplicación de las leyes
d)    Recomendaciones en materia de políticas públicas
e)    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

Continue reading Gloria Serrato's post here and follow her on Twitter.

This post was part of the 49th edition of #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on April 13, 2015.

Colombia's Festival on the Value of Data in Development

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 ProgressCentro Europeo de Pensamiento Estratégico InternacionalAfrica Gathering, and others.

Archived webcast footage from the event is available online, and social media content about the festival can be found searching for the hashtag #data2015.

Cartagena Data Festival - Día 1 // Foto: Helkin René Díaz CEPEI, con autorización

Cartagena Data Festival, Day 1. Photo: Helkin René Díaz CEPEI, used permission

Caracas #SmartCityHack Proposes Solutions to People's Problems

The Venezuelan edition of the Hackathon Smart Cities took place in Caracas from 6 to 8 March, 2015. Don't you know what a hackathon is? If so, read this post!

The #SmartCityHack event was simultaneously organized in 27 cities by Global Datafest.

5 histories from behind  #SmartCityHack Caracas showing that where there is a will, there is a way

The Venezuelan edition, organized by SDI Innovation and Wayra accelerator, yielded positive results, serving as inspiration for innovative projects aiming to improve citizens’ quality of life. Estefanía Salazar, a Global Voices contributor, wrote a review of the event for the Spanish-language website Komunumo, highlighting some of these projects:

- CCSMoveOn: es un “Waze” del transporte público. Permite al usuario generar rutas con su teléfono inteligente, con la posibilidad de enviar alertas por SMS sobre posibles eventualidades.

- Compártelo: es un sistema de referencias para Pequeñas y Medianas Empresas basadas en recomendaciones cara a cara.

- Caracas CityCare: Conecta problemas urbanos con propuestas de solución en una misma interfaz.

- Favor x Favor: sistema para favorecer el intercambio gratuito de servicios y bienes entre vecinos de una comunidad.

- Identidad en Línea: sistema de nube para facilitar la difusión encriptada de información y procesamiento de documentación de usuarios de servicios públicos o privados.

- Iniciativa Yokoima: comunidad de intercambio de información y servicios interesados en la recuperación del río Yokoima en la ciudad de Upata (estado Bolívar) […]

- CCSMoveOn: “Waze” for public transport, allowing the user to generate routes using a smartphone, with the ability to send SMS alerts about possible eventualities.

- Share it: a reference system for small and medium-size businesses based on face-to-face recommendations.

- Caracas CityCare: Connects urban issues with proposed solutions in a single interface.

- Favor x Favor: a system that encourages free exchange of goods and services between community members.

- Online Identity: a cloud system to facilitate the spread of encrypted information and process public or private user’s documentation.

- Yokoima Initiative: an information and service exchange community aiming to recover the Yokoima River in the city of Upata (Bolivar state) […]

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