Posts Tagged ‘information technology’

Excellent news: HURIDOCS to receive 1 million $ from Google for AI work

May 8, 2019

Google announced on 7 May 2019 that the Geneva-based NGO HURIDOCS is one of 20 organizations that will share 25 million US dollars in grants from the Google Artificial Intelligence Impact Challenge. The Google Artificial Intelligence Impact Challenge was an open call to nonprofits, social enterprises, and research institutions to submit their ideas to use artificial intelligence (AI) to help address societal challenges. Over 2600 organizations from around the world applied.

Geneva-based HURIDOCS will receive a grant of 1 million US dollars to develop and use machine learning methods to extract, explore and connect relevant information in laws, jurisprudence, victim testimonies, and resolutions. Thanks to these, the NGO will work with partners to make documents better and freely accessible. This will benefit anyone interested in using human rights precedents and laws, for example to lawyers representing victims of human rights violations or students researching non-discrimination.

The machine learning work to liberate information from documents is grounded in more than a decade of work that HURIDOCS has done to provide free access to information. Through pioneering partnerships with the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), HURIDOCS has co-created some of the most used public human rights databases. A key challenge in creating these databases has been the time-consuming and error-prone manual adding of information – a challenge the machine learning techniques will be used to overcome.

“We have been experimenting with machine learning techniques for more than two years”, said Natalie Widmann, Artificial Intelligence Specialist at HURIDOCS. “We have changed our approach countless times, but we see a clear path to how they can be leveraged in groundbreaking ways to democratise access to information.” HURIDOCS will use the grant from Google to work with partners to co-create the solutions, carefully weighing ethical concerns of automation and focusing on social impact. All the work will be done in the open, including all code being released publicly.

We are truly excited by the opportunity to use these technologies to address a problem that has been holding the human rights movement back”, said Friedhelm Weinberg, Executive Director of HURIDOCS. “We are thankful to Google for the support and look forward to be working with their experts and what will be a fantastic cohort of co-grantees.”

We received thousands of applications to the Google AI Impact Challenge and are excited that HURIDOCS was selected to receive funding and expertise from Google. AI is at a nascent stage when it comes to the value it can have for the social impact sector, and we look forward to seeing the outcomes of this work and considering where there is potential for use to do even more.” – Jacquelline Fuller, President of Google.org

Next week, the HURIDOCS team will travel to San Francisco to work with the other grantees, Google AI experts, Project Managers and the startup specialists from Google’s Launchpad Accelerator for a program that will last six months, from May to November 2019. Each organization will be paired a Google expert who will meet with them regularly for coaching sessions, and will also have access to other Google resources and expert mentorship.

Download the press release in English, Spanish. Learn more about the other Google AI Impact grantees at Google’s blog.

Fo more on HURIDOCS history: https://www.huridocs.org/tag/history-of-huridocs/ and for some of my other posts: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/huridocs/

HURIDOCS NEWS

German Africa Prize goes to Kenyan Ushahidi IT pioneer

April 7, 2019

The winner of the 2019 German Africa Prize is Juliana Rotich, founder of software project Ushahidi, which was introduced to monitor violence in Kenya following the 2007 general elections.

Juliana Rotich (Getty Images)

Juliana Rotich became known in professional circles in 2007 as the co-founder of the open source platform Ushahidi (a Swahili word meaning ‘testimony’), which began in Kenya as an internet platform developed to map reports of post-election violence and which went on to revolutionize the international flow of data and information.

A 16-member independent jury selected Rotich from a list of 18 African nominees. The 42-year-old was informed at a meeting on Thursday 4 April 2019 at the German embassy in Nairobi, attended by Deputy Ambassador Michael Derus and the General Secretary of the German Africa Foundation, Ingo Badoreck. The award pays tribute to the Kenyan entrepreneur not only for her business achievements and technological innovations but  also for her outstanding sense of social responsibility. For more on this another regional awards for Africa see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/german-africa-award]

The Ushahidi logo

In an interview with DW in 2013, Rotich explained the philosophy behind Ushahidi: “One of the things that we are doing is that we have a partnership with civil society organizations, peace networks and youth networks. And these are organizations that are doing peace work in terms of messaging and encouraging the population to be peaceful and to conduct themselves in a peaceful way. So in that respect we are part of a partnership. Ushahidi’s key role in this partnership is the technology. And this is the crowdsourcing technology that allows people to report but also provides a way for digital humanitarians to volunteer and help to sift through the information, categorize it and make it available on the website.

Today Ushahidi is used in over 160 countries as a tool for crisis response and for independent election monitoring, for example in Nigeria and Afghanistan. It has also been used following natural disasters in Chile, Haiti and New Zealand. Juliana Rotich is regarded as one of the leading figures of the digital revolution in Africa and beyond.

From Ushahidi she went on to found BRCK, an innovative technology company which is now the biggest Wi-Fi provider in sub-Saharan Africa. The central product is a battery-operated modem which can function for up to eight hours without electrical power. It is used in 150 countries.

See also: https://www.huridocs.org/2018/09/tools-for-human-rights-documentation-our-2018-snapshot/

https://www.dw.com/cda/en/german-africa-prize-goes-to-kenyan-it-pioneer/a-48200177

Reminder: for verification of YouTube videos there is a Citizen Evidence Lab tool

November 13, 2018

With the avalanche of fake news and the BBC doing an interesting series on this topic, it is good to remind you that there is a too that can help human rights defenders to check the veracity of YouTube videos. It was published on 8 July 2014.
During crises or disasters, YouTube is widely used to share footage—including a host of videos that are old or, in some cases, staged or faked. An enormous challenge for human rights workers, journalists or first responders alike is to separate fact from fiction. Now, there’s a website that can help with this. The Citizen Evidence Lab (http://citizenevidence.org/) is the first dedicated verification resource for human rights workers, providing tools for speedy checks on YouTube videos as well as for more advanced assessment. (Video produced by Gaby Sferra)
https://www.bollyinside.com/citizen-evidence-lab-how-to-authenticate-youtube-videos-bollyinside/

Citizen Lab at big RIGHTSCON in Toronto

May 12, 2018

 RightsCon, held this year in Toronto from 16 – 18 May 2018, brings together an international audience to discusses all topics related to human rights in the digital age, such as surveillance, AI, censorship, access to the internet, etc. Citizen Lab researchers, fellows, and associates will be participating in panels and events throughout the week.Citizen Lab is the organization that helped Ahmed Mansoor with his iPone spyware in 2016: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/08/29/apple-tackles-iphone-one-tap-spyware-flaws-after-mea-laureate-discovers-hacking-attempt/.
 on 11 a run-down of topics and where you can find them:

Session name Citizen Lab participant(s) Date Time Room location
Artificial Intelligence: Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems and Peace Time Threats Ron Deibert Wednesday, May 16 14:30 – 15:45 206B
Access My Info: Exposing Disconnects Between Data Protection in Theory and in Practice Masashi Crete-Nishihata, Chris Parsons, Bram Abramson Wednesday, May 16 16:00 – 17:00 200C
Do We Need Free Speech Legislation like We Need privacy Laws? Moses Karanja Wednesday, May 16 16:00 – 17:00 201A
Scrutinizing the Little Brothers: Corporate Surveillance and the Roles of the Citizen Consumer and Company Chris Parsons Wednesday, May 16 17:15 – 18:15 203B
Crypto Wars Revisited? Hosted by the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic & Citizen Lab Wednesday, May 16 17:15 – 18:15 206C
Who Did it? Why We Need an International Cyber Attribution Organization to Address Nation-State Attacks in Cyberspace Ron Deibert Thursday, May 17 12:00 – 13:15 200C
Access My Info: Running a Personal Data Access Campaign Andrew Hilts Thursday, May 17 14:30 – 15:45 200A
Disappearing Space, Disappearing Voices: How the Chinese Government & Big Tech are Silencing Tibetans Online Masashi Crete-Nishihata Thursday, May 17 16:00 – 17:00 203B
Understanding Freedom of Expression in Southeast Asia: Internet Freedom and Online Censorship Irene Poetranto Thursday, May 17 16:00 – 17:00 TBA
Coders Free Speech Rights in The Americas at Risk Sarah McKune Thursday, May 17 16:00-17:00 201C
Journalism Free Expression and Digital Security Masashi Crete-Nishihata Thursday, May 17 17:15 – 18:15 205A
Beyond Security Updates: Providing Relevant, Accessible, and Sustainable Digital Security Advice Online Christine Schoellhorn, John Scott-Railton Thursday, May 17 17:15 – 18:15 201C
The Surveillance Tool We Love to Carry: Cell Phones, Searches, and Privacy in the Evolving Legal Landscape Lex Gill, Jon Penney Thursday, May 17 17:15 – 18:15 204A
How to win the privacy/surveillance debate Jon Penney Thursday, May 17 17:15-18:15 206A
How does the Kremlin Manipulate the Russian IT Industry to Exert Control over the Internet Ksenia Ermoshina, Jakub Dalek Friday, May 18 9:00 – 10:15 203A
A Technologist, a Policy Wonk, and an Internet Advocate Walk into a Bar: Assessing how Internet Communities Build Bridges for Human Rights Moses Karanja, Masashi Crete-Nishihata Friday, May 18 10:30 – 11:45 200A
My First Transparency Report Bram Abramson, Chris Parsons Friday, May 18 10:30 – 11:45 206A
What have We Learnt about 5 Years of Internet Disruptions in Africa? Moses Karanja Friday, May 18 12:00 – 13:15 201A
Tech Against Terrorism – Respecting Human Rights in Tackling Terrorist Exploitation of the Internet Irene Poetranto Friday, May 18 12:00 – 13:15 201B
Frontiers of Feminist Issues Online: Understanding the Tensions and Opportunities at the Intersection of Innovations, Digital Rights, and Security Irene Poetranto Friday, May 18 14:30-15:45 203A
Have We Entered a Brave New World of Global Content Takedown Orders? Jon Penney Friday, May 18 16:00 – 17:00 206C
CLE: Ethical Duties in the Digital Age: Encryption Done Dirt Cheap Sarah McKune Friday, May 18 16:00-18:00 206A
Online Anonymity: Key Lessons & Emerging Threats Bram Abramson Friday, May 18 17:15 – 18:15 200A
Chilling Effects, Surveillance, and the Future of Automation and the Law Jon Penney Friday, May 18 17:15 – 18:15 TBA
Big Brother is Really Watching: Digital Surveillance & Gender-based Violence Irene Poetranto Friday, May 18 17:15 – 18:15 206D

For previous event see: https://citizenlab.ca/2016/02/citizenlab-partners-rightscon-2016/

Jigsaw designed software (“Outline”) for self-controlled VPNs

March 21, 2018

HOTLITTLEPOTATO

A VIRTUAL PRIVATE NETWORK (VPN), that core privacy tool that encrypts your internet traffic and bounces it through a faraway server, has always presented a paradox: Sure, it helps you hide from some forms of surveillance, like your internet service provider’s snooping and eavesdroppers on your local network. But it leaves you vulnerable to a different, equally powerful spy: Whoever controls the VPN server you’re routing all your traffic through.

To help solve that quagmire, Jigsaw, the Alphabet-owned Google sibling that serves as a human rights-focused tech incubator, will now offer VPN software that you can easily set up on your own server—or at least, one you set up yourself, and control in the cloud. And unlike older homebrew VPN code, Jigsaw says it’s focused on making the setup and hosting of that server simple enough that even small, less savvy organizations or even individual users can do it in minutes.

Jigsaw says that the free DIY proxy software, called Outline, aims to provide an alternative to, on the one hand, stronger anonymity tools like Tor that slow down web browsing by bouncing connections through multiple encrypted hops around the world and, on the other hand, commercial VPNs that can be expensive, and also put users’ private information and internet history at risk.

The core of the product is that people can run their own VPN,” says Santiago Andrigo, the Jigsaw product manager who led Outline’s development. “You get the reassurance that no one else has your data, and you can rest easier in that knowledge.”

..A Swedish NGO, Civil Rights Defenders, has been testing Outline since last fall with the group of sensitive internet users it works to protect, who include journalists, lawyers, human rights defenders and LGBT communities in 18 repressive regimes around the world. ..

https://www.wired.com/story/alphabet-outline-vpn-software/

https://www.androidauthority.com/outline-censorship-vpn-847999/

see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/01/10/security-without-borders-offers-free-security-help-to-human-rights-defenders/

2017 was a grim year for imprisoned technologists

December 29, 2017

Prison Hands

Since its founding, EFF has highlighted and defended cases of injustice and fearmongering perpetrated against innocent technologists. We advocate for unjustly imprisoned technologists and bloggers with our Offline project. In 2017, we continue to see fear being whipped up against those who oppose oppression with modern tools—as well as those who have done nothing more than teach and share technology so that we can all use and understand it better:

Dmitry Bogatov, software developer and math lecturer at Moscow’s Finance and Law University. Bogatov ran a volunteer Tor relay, allowing people around the world to protect their identities as they used the Internet. It was one part of his numerous acts of high-tech public service, which include co-maintaining Xmonad and other Haskell software for the Debian project. For his generosity, Bogatov has now spent over a hundred days in pretrial detention, wrongfully accused of posting extremist materials that were allegedly sent via through Tor server. Law enforcement officials around the world understand that data that appears to originate from a particular Tor machine is, in fact, traffic from its anonymised users. But that didn’t stop Bogatov’s prosecutors in Russia from accusing him of sending the data himself, under a pseudonym, to foment riots—and added new charges of “inciting terrorism” when a judge suggested the earlier charge was too weak to hold Bogatov in pre-trial detention.

Ahmed Mansoor, of the United Arab Emirates. Mansoor has been a tireless voice for victims of human rights abuses in the United Arab Emirates. In 2011, amidst the Arab uprisings, he was one of five Emirati citizens to be sentenced to prison for his social media postings. That case provoked international condemnation, and the group was soon pardoned. Mansoor was subsequently targeted with sophisticated government spyware on his iPhone; he recognised and passed on the malware link to experts, which led to the discovery of three previously unknown vulnerabilities in Apple’s iOS. In April, Mansoor was seized by the UAE authorities again. On the day of his arrest, the UAE’s official news agency saying that he had been arrested on the orders of the Public Prosecution for Cybercrimes and accused of using social media to promote sectarianism and hate, among other charges. Mansoor’s family did not hear from him for two weeks, and he has been denied access to a lawyer. Just a year ago, Apple was able to roll out a security fix to their users because of Mansoor’s swift, transparent, and selfless actions. Millions of people are safer because of Ahmed’s actions, even as his family fears for his own physical and mental safety. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/03/28/ahmed-mansoor-under-arrest-emirates-under-pressure/]

Alaa abd el-Fattah ran Linux installfests across the Middle-East and was a key online voice in the Egyptian uprising. Since then he has been jailed, in turn, by the democratically elected Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, and then when Morsi was overthrown in a coup, by incoming President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. Alaa’s appeal against a five year prison sentence for protesting—widely seen as a means to silence him on social media—was refused in November of this yearAmnesty and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention have both condemned Alaa’s continuing imprisonment.

Another long-term case is that of Saeed Malekpour, who has been in jail in Iran since 2008. Malekpour returned from Canada to visit his sick Iranian father in October of that year, at a time when the Iranian Revolutionary Guard was starting to target technologists and Internet experts. As an open source coder, Malekpour had written a free front-end image management utility for websites. The Guard found this software on a Farsi pornography site, and used it to as a pretext to seize Malekpour from the streets of Tehran, charge him with running the web site, and sentencing him to death. Malekpour’s death sentence has been anulled twice following international pressure, but a change of government in his home country of Canada risked reducing the level of support for Malekpour. A campaign to encourage the new Trudeau administration to continue to advocate for Malekpour, even as Canada seeks to normalize relations with Iran, seems to be working. One of Malekpour’s advocates, former Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, has said that the Canadian government is now working on the case. The continuing monitoring of Malekpour’s life sentence is a small consolation, but better than the alternative.

Peter Steudtner and Ali Gharavi travel the world, teaching and advising Internet users on how to improve their privacy and digital security online (Ali was an advisor for EFF’s Surveillance Self-Defence project). The two were arrested in a raid by Turkish police on a digital security workshop in July in Istanbul, along with Amnesty Turkeys’ director, Idil Eser, and eight other human rights defenders. The two technology consultants have been accused of aiding terrorists, despite the long history of both as peaceful advocates for secure online practices. After months of detention, concentrated diplomatic and public pressure led to both being released to join their families in Germany and Sweden. We’re delighted that they are free, but their unjust prosecution—and that of their Turkish colleagues—continues in the Turkish courts. 

Bassel Khartabil, the Syrian free culture advocate. Before his arrest and torture in 2012, Bassel was the driving force behind countless projects to turn technology for the public good in his country. He founded a hackerspace in Damascus, translated Creative Commons into a Middle Eastern context, and built out Wikipedia and Mozilla for his fellow Syrians. Bassel’s generosity brought him notability and respect. His prominence and visibility as a voice outside the divided political power-bases of Syria made him an early target when the Syrian civil war became violent. Bassel was killed by the Syrian government in 2015, shortly after he was removed from a civilian prison and sent into the invisibility of Syria’s hidden security complexes.

 

https://personalliberty.com/grim-year-imprisoned-technologists-2017-review/

Snowden claims his Haven is safe

December 28, 2017

US whistle-blower Edward Snowden has helped create an Android app designed to protect the possessions of journalists and human rights defenders. The software uses sensors – including a phone’s camera, microphone, gyroscope and accelerometer – to detect intruders tampering with someone’s possessions. It is open source, meaning its code can be inspected. It is designed to be used on a “second” smartphone that can be left with the possessions a user wishes to monitor. The app was created as a joint venture between The Guardian Project and Freedom of the Press Foundation, of which Edward Snowden is board president.

Haven turns any spare android phone into a safe room that fits in your pocket,” claims Edward Snowden. In an age where our digital security is at more risk than our physical security, Snowden claims that Haven will change the game of cyber surveillance.

Here’s how it works: once you install the app, it uses the smartphone’s in-built equipment, like cameras, light sensor and microphones, to monitor for any motion, sound or disturbance of the phone. As explained by WIRED: “Leave the app running in your hotel room, for instance, and it can capture photos and audio of anyone entering the room while you’re out, whether an innocent housekeeper or an intelligence agent trying to use his alone time with your laptop to install spyware on it.” Alerts can be sent to your phone, via SMS, Signal or to a Tor-based website.

You shouldn’t have to be saving the world to benefit from Haven,said Snowden, though the app’s primary users are meant to be investigative journalists, human rights defenders, and other people at risk of forced disappearance.

see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/09/29/edward-snowden-can-still-not-collect-his-awards/

——-

https://video.scroll.in/862821/watch-nsa-whistleblower-edward-snowdens-app-turns-your-phone-into-a-physical-security-system

https://www.thequint.com/tech-and-auto/tech-news/edward-snowden-data-privacy-haven-app-android-released

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-42493028

Have a smartphone – become a human rights defender!

August 10, 2017

Witness’ Asia-Pacific team adapted this video from WITNESS’ tip sheet on Filming Hate – a primer for using video to document human rights abuses. “Filming Hate” guides activists through documenting abuses safely, providing context, verifying footage, and sharing that footage responsibly. It may help millions of bystanders become witnesses, and hence human rights defenders, spurred to combat hatred by wielding a powerful weapon: their smartphone. Published on 6 August 2017. Full tipsheet available on our Library at: https://library.witness.org/product/f…     Music credit: ‘India’ — http://www.bensound.com Creative Commons Attribution licence (reuse allowed)

WEBINARS on best practices for digitising documents in March 2017

March 7, 2017

Why digitise? Digitising your documents greatly improves access to your information, whether you are building an online public library to share documents related to corruption, or making documents searchable for your team. Digitisation also helps to preserve and protect important human rights information. Many defenders run the risk that malevolent groups seeking to destroy or confiscate witness testimony, evidence of abuse, and other sensitive information. Others run the risk of documents being subject to harmful storage conditions, such as humidity, insects, and rodents. These are just a few reasons for digitising your documents. However, figuring out the most efficient, affordable, and responsible way to digitise thousands of documents can be a daunting task especially for human rights defenders in the field.

  • When:
  • Where: ReadyTalk (use the access code 2458641 to join)
  • Who: Open to anyone who wants to learn more about digitizing documents

Whether you are a seasoned digitization expert or a human rights defender just starting to think about digitisation, this is a good occasion to learn and share.

If you are interested, please contact Kristin Antin at kristin@huridocs.orgHere is an example of a webinar hosted in January on managing contact information.

Source: Community Discussion: Best practices for digitising documents | HURIDOCS

HURIDOCS: finally new Director and now searching for other staff

February 16, 2017

On 15 February 2017, the chair of HURIDOCS, Gisella Reina announced the appointment of Friedhelm Weinberg as the new Executive Director. She added: “HURIDOCS has a young and energetic director that listens and leads. His experience with our global network, having worked in Asia, Africa and the Former Soviet Union region, gives him the firm understanding of what our community thinks and wants. Friedhelm has proven his capacity to strengthen and motivate our international and distributed team to be creative and effective.”

Friedhelm Weinberg first joined HURIDOCS in 2012. Over the years, he has taken on a variety of roles, including communications and project management and most recently as Deputy Director. Previously, he has worked as a journalist in his native Germany. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/09/06/executive-director-of-huridocs-needs-to-have-the-following/]

 

huridocs-signature-logois also looking to fill two positions: Read the rest of this entry »