Tag Archives: Privacy

Derechos Digitales and the EFF publish report on Chilean ISP privacy policies

Cyber Stewards Network Partner Derechos Digitales has published a report in collaboration with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, titled “Who Has Your Back in Chile? First-Annual Report Seeks to Find Out Which Chilean ISPs Stand With Their Users.” The report evaluates the privacy practices of Chilean Internet service providers (ISPs) and telephone companies.

Chileans go online more than any nationality in Latin America, while their data goes through just a handful of ISPs, making defending their information largely the task of these companies. The report examines, among other indicators, things like whether the companies notify users when complying with judicial requests for access to their account data, or whether companies challenge surveillance laws or individual demands for user data. The report also incorporates questionnaires and private interviews conducted with the ISPs, along with a relative ranking for the privacy protections these companies offer.

Read the full report or a Spanish summary of the report.

New Report: An Overview of Internet Infrastructure and Governance in the Phillippines

The Cyber Stewards Network is pleased to announce the release of a report titled “An Overview of Internet Infrastructure and Governance in the Philippines.” The report outlines the key actors, regulatory structures, and challenges facing the development of the information and communication technology (ICT) sector in the country, as well as privacy and security concerns.

The report begins by outlining the political context of the Philippines and then describes the regulatory landscape and mandates of various organizations responsible for decision-making, as they relate to the establishment and operations of ICTs.

Throughout the document, key issues relating to access, privacy, and human rights more broadly are flagged. In particular, the report identifies gaps in state capacity and ICT leadership as germane to policy issues in the Philippines, including a lack of coordination among state agencies and the government’s absence from multistakeholder fora like the Internet Governance Forum. Finally, the report explores issues related to communications surveillance, online piracy, and anti-obscenity initiatives.

Key Findings

  • The absence of an overall, nationwide access strategy for information and communications technology means that basic elements of this access have not been put in place.
  • Rapid advances in technology have outpaced policy and legislative arrangements on many levels, as suggested by the Supreme Court’s decision on libel provisions of the Cybercrime Prevention Act.
  • Unlike some of its Southeast Asian neighbours, the Philippines does not have a history of content controls, though recent developments suggest that content controls could be on the horizon, including anti-obscenity and anti-piracy initiatives, as well as the use communications surveillance tools by the government.

Based on these findings, the Foundation for Media Alternatives made recommendations for future improvement, which are briefly outlined below.


  • Support and build up champions of a progressive ICT agenda among current and future government officials.
  • Build a new ICT masterplan that incorporates a clear Internet governance framework, one that is developed in close consultation with various stakeholders, including civil society.
  • Develop the capacity of key institutions governing the ICT sector, including the Department of Information and Communications Technology and National Telecommunications Commission, by ensuring their financial viability and enabling them to respond to regulatory challenges.
  • Produce a post-2015 ASEAN ICT master plan in a consultative environment, both at the national and regional levels.

Read the full report (PDF).

This research was made possible by the generous support of Hivos Southeast Asia.

Research and writing was completed by Al Alegre, Nica Dumlao, Jamael Jacob, Jessamine Pacis, and Randy Tuano of the Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA), and Irene Poetranto, Adam Senft, and Amitpal Singh of the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto.

Thanks also to Masashi Crete-Nishihata, Ron Deibert, and Jacqueline Larson.

The Internet in the Trump Era: Prospects for Democratic And Labor Rights In The US and Globally

Citizen Lab Cyber Stewards Network Partner Kemly Camacho of Sulá Batsú will join a forum at Stanford University titled “The Internet in the Trump Era: Prospects for Democratic And Labor Rights In The US And Globally.” The event will be held on February 9, 2017 from 7:00pm – 9:00pm in Room 126, at the Margaret Jacks Hall at Stanford University.

Participants will discuss issues raised this past December in Guadalajara, where the annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was held. The issues of Internet rights and privacy, and the effects of information technology and the internet were debated and discussed. The election of President Trump has escalated fears of attacks on democratic communication rights while the privatization of the Internet grows. The forum at Stanford, featuring attendees at the recent IGF meeting, will look at the issue of protection of communication rights and privacy. It will also assess how information technology is affecting workers, as well as private sector control of the Internet through projects, such as the Facebook led-partnership Internet.org.

Kemly Camacho will join speakers from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, LaborNet, and Stanford University.

7iber interviews Citizen Lab staff on spyware in the Middle East

Cyber Stewards Network Partner 7iber met with Citizen Lab Director Ron Deibert, as well as Senior Research Fellows John-Scott Railton and Bill Marczak to discuss the Lab’s work in exposing spy systems in various countries, and in particular, the Middle East. In the interview, they discussed the presence of FinFisher and BlueCoat in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and other Gulf countries.

In the interview, Bill noted that there is an increasing trend of countries wanting to construct their own spyware platforms instead of purchasing them from third parties. He gave the example of Stealth Falcon, a recently identified as being produced by a cybersecurity company from the UAE, which has been used to target dissidents and journalists. Citizen Lab recently released a report titled “Million Dollar Dissident,” detailing the use of Stealth Falcon against Ahmed Mansoor, an internationally recognized human rights defender.

Bill Marczak explained that while spy software can have legitimate functions in combating terrorism and foiling crimes, companies marketing these products are often wiling to sell to any buyer, leading to it being in the hands of individuals or agencies with little or no oversight. Ron Deibert said “I think the problem is that in most of these cases, we have seen no checks and balances, no judicial authority and no warrant, and so criminals are left unharmed but Human Rights’ activists like Hisham Almirat and Ahmed Mansoor are pursued and prosecuted. There is certainly abuse of this technology going on, and how you prevent that from happening is the question. We can’t outlaw the technology but we do need to prevent the abuse of that technology.”

Read the full interview.


ICT Watch, SAFENET, and EngageMedia hosted discussion and movie screening

On May 16, Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFENET), an organization initiated by ICT Watch, and EngageMedia hosted a discussion on digital rights issues and screened Citizenfour movie in Jakarta, Indonesia. Citizenfour, a documentary film released in 2014, outlines the events surrounding Edward Snowden’s NSA whistleblowing. The film investigated the NSA’s mass collection of public data, and the lack of oversight and transparency in the process. Discussion following the film focused on how everyday citizens can safeguard themselves against privacy intrusions.

Members of the public focused on state sponsored surveillance in the Asian cultural context, where privacy often takes up a different meaning than Western conceptions of the term. Participants cited different parameters for privacy as shedding light on the manner in which users interact with social media platforms such as Facebook.

Read more about the event.



Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper interviews Shahzad Ahmad regarding cybercrime legislation

Pakistani newspaper DAWN interviewed Shahzad Ahmad, a Cyber Stewards Network partner and director of Bytes for All. Ahmad spoke on the topic of cyber crime in Pakistan, in particular regarding a new bill, the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2015 (PECA), which has been criticized as violating Pakistan’s commitments to universal human rights standards.

Shahzad Ahmad told Dawn that he was disappointed with the government’s failure to make citizens a part of the process when drafting the bill. “Unfortunately, our incumbent government has shown a tendency to discuss, debate and implement critical legislation behind closed doors. In practice, what this means is that those who’ll be affected by this new legislation are kept out and their voices shunned,” he said.

Ahmad called for the government to establish Privacy Commissioners to oversee the government’s handling of this issue, given that judicial oversight has been ineffective or simply absent. He noted that this would be a critical step towards ensuring that everyday citizens are engaged with cyber crime issues and related policies, and reducing the likelihood of enforcement agencies misusing authority. In addition, Ahmad explained that as a signatory to the United Nations convention on human rights, Pakistan needs to establish a national human rights institution, which would serve as a body that can receive and remedy citizen complaints.

Read the full article.


Bytes for All convenes 2015 Pakistan Cyberspace Conference

The 2015 Pakistan Cyberspace Conference, a two day conference (February 26-27) hosted by Bytes for All, convened government officials, human rights activists, media professionals, and business leaders to discuss a range of issues related to cyberspace in Pakistan. The conference sought to encourage government officials to formulate informed policy on cyberspace issues, in light of input from civil society and business leaders.

Panel discussions focus on five topics, including “The Media and the Internet: Opportunities and Obstacles” and “Surveillance, Privacy  and the State Security Narrative in Pakistan.” Deibert weighed in on the panel entitled “Cyber Warfare: A New Battleground,” moderated by Shahzad Ahmad, Director of Bytes for All, and includes speakers such as Mushahid Hussain Syed, the Chairman of the the Pakistani Senate Standing Committee on Defence; Ammar Jafri, the Chairman of Cyber Security Task Force of Pakistan; Aamir Atta, the editor of ProPakistani.com; and Quratulain Zaman, an author with Global Voices. Panelists discussed the possible shaping of online space into a new battleground for military, intelligence and corporate agencies.

When asked about ways in which the global community is responding to increasingly invasive technology based surveillance, Ahmad offered the example of evidence-based public interest litigation. In particular, Ahmad cited Citizen Lab research revealing the presence of FinFisher Command and Control servers in Pakistan [PDF], which in turn prompted legal action by Bytes for All.

Citizen Lab Director Ron Deibert was also in attendance, and delivered a keynote address outlining how online censorship in Pakistan has been used to suppress political dissent and free speech. In the same vein, he explained that governments throughout the world have had “backdoors” built into major telecommunications companies for easy access to consumer information. Deibert concluded his remarks in the keynote by placing emphasis on the fact that “for a truly open, free, [and] secure cyberspace, individuals and societies will actively have to strive for it.”

Read more about the 2015 Pakistan Cyberspace conference, including attendees and schedule. A live Twitter feed of the conference can be found on Bytes for All’s Twitter account.

Media Coverage: Daily Times.

Hisham Almiraat launches Moroccan Digital Rights Association

On August 31, Cyber Stewards Network partner Hisham Almiraat  launched the Moroccan Digital Rights Association, or also known as Association des droits numériques (ADN) in French.  Almiraat is also the director of Global Voices Advocacy, an international organization advocating for freedom of expression online.

For the next three years, the organization plans to focus their attention on privacy and surveillance issues. The next big item on the agenda is creating a national workshop to bring together all the stakeholders and set priorities for the short term.

The Moroccan Digital Rights Association is in partners with Privacy International (UK), Nawaat (Tunisia), Unwanted Witness (Uganda) and HRD Coalition (Kenya), and was started with the support from Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) (Sweden).

The organization can be followed on Twitter here and Facebook here.