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The Week in Internet News: IoT Hacked? Who Knows?

Lun, 21/01/2019 - 15:53

IoT survey: Nearly half of all companies using IoT devices don’t have mechanisms in place to detect if any of their devices have been hacked, according to a survey featured in a Fast Company story. Just 14 percent of the respondents to the Gemalto survey believe providing security is an ethical consideration.

Huge leak: More than 22 million unique passwords and 772 million email addresses were leaked and distributed by hackers in a folder named “Collection #1,” Mashable reports. The cache of emails and passwords were collected from several data, dating back to 2008.

Pushing back: WhatsApp is planning to fight India’s recent crackdown on encryption, FT.com reports. Indian policymakers have proposed rules that would allow authorities to trace the origin of encrypted messages, but WhatsApp says it will protest the proposals.

Fighting fake news: Japan’s government plans to come up with a plan to fight fake news by June, Japan Times says. The plan could include requiring social media companies to create codes of conduct. Several other attempts by governments to fight fake news have led to concerns about censorship, however.

AI as a weapon: Forbes.com has a story raising concerns about the weaponization of Artificial Intelligence. “Artificial intelligence is leading us toward a new algorithmic warfare battlefield that has no boundaries or borders, may or may not have humans involved, and will be impossible to understand and perhaps control across the human ecosystem in cyberspace, geospace and space,” the story says.

Self-aware software: A cryptocurrency mining malware package has become kind of self-ware, The Next Web reports. One form of a common malware has evolved and can now switch off security services to continue mining without being detected.

Read the Internet Society’s IoT Trust Framework, which identifies the core requirements for people from all sectors to understand, assess, and embrace effective security and privacy.

The post The Week in Internet News: IoT Hacked? Who Knows? appeared first on Internet Society.

Consumer Electronics Show: Everything’s Connected, But What About Security and Privacy?

Ven, 18/01/2019 - 18:02

We spent last week at the Consumer Electronics Show (aka CES) in Las Vegas, with over 180,000 of our closest friends. And with 4,500 exhibitors present, you’d have less than 30 seconds at each booth if you wanted to talk to all of them. Many articles have covered the cool new things, so in this blogpost we are going to discuss our overall impressions as they relate to our work on consumer IoT security and privacy.

Not surprisingly, there were many interesting conference sessions and a wide variety of innovative products on display, including some that seemed to push the bounds of credibility in their claims. Integration of devices with voice-driven and other platforms was everywhere – Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, and Samsung SmartThings being the most widely adopted to date. 5G was a hot topic, especially for its improved speeds and flexibility, though specifics about its availability are still hard to pin down.

Everything these days is getting connected to the Internet – from cat toys to sports simulators to home automation. One area that seems to be gaining more traction because it has gone beyond the “gadget” stage and is solving real problems is health and wellness services for the home. These range from tools to monitor and improve your health to tools that monitor elderly or disabled people and send alerts or provide assistance. These connected devices all around us are collecting and transmitting a great deal of data about us – about our habits, our interests, our movements (both physically and online), our communications (including our spoken conversations in many cases), and what other connected devices we use. Machine learning and artificial intelligence are being applied both to analyze activity (what is the camera seeing?) and proactively control surroundings (turning on lights and firing up a playlist as you come home from work).

This leads to many questions, including:

  • What happens to all of this data after it is collected and transmitted into the cloud? Who has access to it, and under what circumstances?
  • What is happening behind the scenes, within and between manufacturers, to correlate and analyze the collected data and derive conclusions about us and our lives?
  • What ability, if any, do users have to understand and control what is being collected and transmitted, and how it is being used?
  • Do users have the ability to review the data being held, and to delete some or all of it upon their request?
  • How much can we as consumers expect industry to monitor and police itself?
  • What ought to be the role of regulators and policy authorities in protecting consumers from inappropriate actions on the part of manufacturers and related service providers?

While security and privacy were discussed in a few specific sessions, focus on features, functionality, and convenience ruled the day. Because frequent headlines about security and privacy lapses in consumer IoT services have raised awareness and concerns for both consumers and policymakers, we believe industry has an opportunity to proactively address security and privacy and make it part of the core conversation. To help provide guidance on implementing appropriate levels of security and privacy, the Online Trust Alliance (OTA), an Internet Society initiative, has produced the IoT Trust Framework. This set of 40 principles covers security, privacy, and long-term sustainability (lifecycle) issues. It is intended as a guide for IoT manufacturers, for procurement (including governments), and for retailers to use as a “filter” by which to evaluate the products and services they choose to sell.

How can you learn more? The Internet Society has produced a number of resources about the various issues surrounding IoT, including with our partner Consumers International (the membership organization for consumer groups around the world), such as:

And lastly, our IoT resource center at https://www.internetsociety.org/iot/.

The connected future is here. Imagine the possibilities. #GetIoTSmart

The post Consumer Electronics Show: Everything’s Connected, But What About Security and Privacy? appeared first on Internet Society.

Internet Society Delhi Chapter and CCAOI Organize Webinar on India’s Draft Intermediary Rules

Gio, 17/01/2019 - 15:24

On 10 January, the Internet Society Delhi Chapter and CCAOI jointly organised an interactive webinar on the draft Information Technology [Intermediary Guidelines (Amendment) Rules] 2018 (“the draft Intermediary Rules”) to improve understanding of it and to encourage members and other Indian stakeholders to submit their comments to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) during their public comment period. The draft Intermediary Rules seeks to modify Section 79(2)(c) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (the IT Act). Section 79 of the IT Act introduces obligations for intermediaries to meet to gain exemption from liability over the third-party information that they “receive, store, transmit, or provide any service with respect to.” These proposed changes were developed by MeitY to try to address misinformation and harmful content on social media, which have been connected with lynching and other recent violent acts of vigilantism.

The session was moderated by Subhashish Panigrahi, chapter development manager for Asia-Pacific at the Internet Society, and Amrita Choudhury, treasurer of the Internet Society Delhi Chapter and director of the CCAOI.

The changes to the IT Act proposed in the draft Intermediary Rules would require intermediaries to provide monthly notification to users on content they should not share; ensure that the originator of unlawful content is traceable; deploy automated tools for proactively identifying and disabling unlawful information or content; and obligate intermediaries with over 5,000,000 users to set up office in India and appoint a nodal officer (for coordination with law enforcement agencies).

An “intermediary” under the IT Act includes any person or entity who on behalf of another receives, stores, or transmits a message or provides any service with respect to a message. Under the IT Act, intermediaries include ISPs, cybercafés, online companies, social media, etc. Looking at the broad definition of intermediaries, some argue that the proposed changes to the IT Act would be difficult for many intermediaries to comply with. Other concerns include whether the draft Intermediary Rules have the capacity to affect the fundamental rights of free speech and privacy or may erode the safe harbor protection for intermediaries which Section 79 of the IT Act provides.

During the interactive webinar organized by the Delhi Chapter and CCAOI:

  • Shashank Misra, Senior Associate at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co, gave an introduction to the draft Intermediary Rules, the definition of intermediaries under the IT Act, and obligations for intermediaries. He presented an overview of the draft Intermediary Rules, categorizing the amendments under five broad themes, and reiterated the importance of commenting on the draft now before it becomes a law.
  • Nehaa ChaudhariPublic Policy Lead at Ikigai Law, highlighted the draft Intermediary Rules’ lack of clarity on oversight mechanisms for the state and central government. She called attention to the lack of safeguards on take down requests under Section 5 of the draft Intermediary Rules. She also questioned the introduction of some obligations as part of “delegated legislation,” instead arguing that these should be proposed under new legislation. (In India, delegated legislation occurs when an executive authority is given the power to make laws to implement a primary legislation.) The Intermediary Rules are a form of delegated legislation to implement the IT Act. She also questioned the necessity of some of the proposed suggestions, such as the monthly user notification by all intermediaries, and whether it achieves its objective.
  • Arjun Sinha, a tech lawyer, argued that the government needs to adopt a graded approach for requesting for information or assistance from online platforms, rather than adopting a 72-hour timeline. Using this approach, different grades would be based on the importance of the information requested. He also questioned the metrics used to calculate the 5,000,000 users, including how the government would independently verify the number and ensure compliance.
  • Gurshabad Grover, Policy Officer at CIS India, highlighted that the draft rules may exceed the scope of what is allowed to be “delegated legislation.” In addition, he argued that the draft rule 3.9, which asks for deploying automated tools for “proactively identifying and removing or disabling public access to unlawful information or content,” is technically impossible for some intermediaries to implement.
  • Paul BrooksChair of Internet Australia, an Internet Society Chapter, shared the Australian chapter’s experience and lessons learned during their own advocacy on Australian regulations and policies that could impact Internet security. In 2018, the Chapter engaged in an advocacy campaign to inform lawmakers and the public on the issues that could arise from proposed legislation on encryption. During their campaign, Internet Australia’s activities included holding a public workshop, making submissions on draft legislation, and conducting interviews with media outlets about the legislation.
  • Subhashish Panigrahi emphasized the Internet Society’s commitment to support Indian chapters in making their submissions on the draft Intermediary Rules. He also gave an overview of the work done by the Internet Society on encryption, such as the Encryption Policy Brief. He encouraged participants to visit the Internet Society’s encryption issues page for more resources.

With nearly fifty people attending the webinar, there were various questions raised by the participants, which were responded to by the experts.  Based on interest, another discussion may be held just after the submission deadline so that counter comments can be submitted.

All are encouraged to submit their comments on the draft guidelines by 31 January to:

  • gccyberlaw[at]meity[dot]gov[dot]in
  • pkumar[at]meity[dot]gov[dot]in
  • dhawal[at]gov[dot]in

Watch the Livestream of the event!

The post Internet Society Delhi Chapter and CCAOI Organize Webinar on India’s Draft Intermediary Rules appeared first on Internet Society.

Update on Latin America and Caribbean Workshop for Chapter Leaders

Mar, 15/01/2019 - 15:00

In July 2018, the Internet Society’s Latin America and Caribbean Bureau held another edition of the Workshop for Chapter Leaders. Besides discussing the challenges and opportunities of participation in their respective chapters, the 34 attendees began the implementation of several projects related to our 4 key issues of 2018. Starting 2019, I am glad to share with you the main results of these projects.

Participation showed a strong preference for Internet access issues. As a result, 10 of the 23 projects implemented were focused on Community Networks. Following our vocation in favor of the multistakeholder approach and the participation of the community, 8 of the projects took Internet Governance as a central theme. The remaining 5 projects focused on trust and security by focusing on Internet of Things (IoT) and Internet routing security through MANRS.

The results are inspiring, since they reflect the diversity of the Latin American and Caribbean region. In Community Networks, projects include a broad spectrum of related topics, ranging from the deployment and implementation of networks to the analysis and mapping of regulatory conditions to ensure such deployment. In addition, some of the projects focused on capacity building through webinars.

In terms of Internet Governance, awareness and capacity building were the most preferred ways of implementation. This is the same course taken by the projects related to IoT security. The participants who implemented these projects identified the need to carry out campaigns using the information resources offered by Internet Society.

Facing 2019, we are sure that we’ll maintain and increase the level of participation of the Chapters in the region. The year will be full of exciting challenges that we will face as a community. Our main goal will be to work together in favor of an open, globally-connected, secure, and trustworthy Internet for everyone.

Help build a digital future that puts people first. #SwitchItOn

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The Week in Internet News: Connected Hot Tub Lands in Hot Water

Lun, 14/01/2019 - 16:00

Hot tub vulnerabilities: New connections to the Internet of Things for hot tubs – allowing users to do things like adjust water temperature using their smartphones – also may make the products vulnerable to attacks, Naked Security writes. At least one connected hot tub would be easy to attack by a nearby hacker, according to research.

IoT security by BlackBerry: The vintage smartphone maker is rebranding itself as an IoT security vendor, with the release of three products, CNet reports. BlackBerry wants to license its technology to IoT device makers.

It’s a fake fake news study: Researchers who released a study on fake news in mid-2017 have retracted it, saying erroneous data lead to the study’s conclusion, Vice reports. The study had suggested that fake news is as likely to go viral on social media as true information, but the reevaluated data doesn’t support that conclusion, the authors said.

The golden years for fake news: Meanwhile, people over age 65 are likely to share the most fake news on Facebook, The Verge says. That’s the conclusion of researchers from New York University and Princeton University.  Older users shared more fake news than younger ones regardless of education, sex, race, income, or how many links they shared, and age predicted their behavior better even than party affiliation.

Worrying about an AI apocalypse: U.S. adults expect major advancements in Artificial Intelligence in the coming years but are also concerned about the direction of AI, according to a study detailed at Vox.com. Survey respondents were concerned about issues like data privacy, AI-enhanced cyberattacks, and surveillance, but also about longer-term issues like hypothetical AI-related safety issues that kill at least 10 percent of the world’s population. Yikes.

Selling your location: U.S. mobile carriers, through a credit risk reporting firm, have been selling cell phone location data to third parties, ZDNet reports. A U.S. senator has called for Congress to pass legislation to ban the sale of location data.

Shutting down after attempted coup: The government of Gabon shut down Internet and broadcasting services after an attempted coup in the country, Al Jazeera reports. The government then claimed the coup had been thwarted.

Do you know the risks of what you’re buying? Get IoT smart!

The post The Week in Internet News: Connected Hot Tub Lands in Hot Water appeared first on Internet Society.

Get IoT Smart: Homework for Many Indonesians

Ven, 11/01/2019 - 16:16

Today’s guest post is from Bhredipta Socarana, an Intellectual Property lawyer based in Indonesia and a Youth@IGF Fellow.

As one of the most populated countries, Indonesia has grown as one of the biggest markets for technology development. From the import of various over-the-top platforms to the implementation of Artificial Intelligence, technology has changed the Indonesian livelihood, including my own. This is also the case for Internet of Things (IoT).

As an emerging country, Indonesia admittedly has not been an advance player in responding to technology improvement. Despite the heavy invasion of technology-related products, many Indonesians have homework to do, especially for IoT. The business player needs to be aware of the responsibility of manufacturing and distributing IoT, while the public must also be aware of the various risks that they may be exposed to using IoT products.

Through the rapid development of technology and the intention of the Indonesian government to push the public to enter the “Industrial Revolution 4.0,” it will be mostly impossible to prevent penetration of IoT to our life. This leaves the public with the need to get smart with IoT.

Privacy and cybersecurity are among the issues revolving around IoT, and the need to have a safer and reliable IoT becomes more relevant as our private life becomes connected to the Internet.

The Indonesian public must realize that safety should start with themselves. Taking preventive measures as the initial step in using IoT can never go wrong. It starts when an IoT purchase is made.

As a lawyer specializing in intellectual property and information technology law practice, I am accustomed to the risks of using counterfeit products: from losing money, being attacked by ransomware, to not being able to claim after-sales warranty, just to name some. Furthermore, in terms of operation, terms and conditions related to IoT usage must also be understood. This could include giving the device and its apps permission to record, to track, to store, and other activities involving our privacy. Ultimately, users need to know their rights and have the relevant authority to ask help, if something goes wrong.

As such, a collaborative effort must be made in Indonesia. We must get smarter in choosing and operating IoT, and these efforts must be made by everyone who has a stake in its security: government, business, as well as the public.

The connected future is here. Imagine the possibilities. #GetIoTSmart

Photo of the Indonesia Jakarta Chapter during the Internet Society’s 25th anniversary celebration

The post Get IoT Smart: Homework for Many Indonesians appeared first on Internet Society.

The Internet Is Knowledge and Knowledge Is Power

Gio, 10/01/2019 - 14:00

Adisa Bolutife is a 22-year-old open access advocate based in Lagos, Nigeria. A graduate of the University of Lagos with a degree in and electronics engineering, he is passionate about issues related to access, technology, inclusion, and Internet Governance. In 2016, Bolutife founded Open Switch Africa, where he leads a group of students, researchers, and academics to advocate for open access in research, education, and data in Nigeria. He is also a co-founder and director of Digital Grassroots, a global initiative that works to improve digital literacy in local communities. He is an Internet Society 2017 Youth@IGF fellow and an alumnus of the UNESCO Youth Leadership Workshop on Global Citizenship Education, Mozilla Open Leaders, and OpenCon 2017.

Like many people around the world, the Internet has contributed largely to the person I am today – building my knowledge base through access to a wealth of information. Without the Internet, a lot of things would not be as easy as they are right now.

As a recent graduate, I can relate to the fact that the Internet has been extremely helpful in aiding and improving student learning and research, as I can cite academic resources online and watch lectures from world class tutors from the comfort of my room. I am a strong advocate for open access in research, education, and data, and the Internet has been a powerful enabler in bridging knowledge gaps between privileged and underprivileged communities. The ability of the Internet to serve as a platform for disseminating information to all and sundry, regardless of race, gender, or nationality is what makes the Internet a global tool trusted by billions of people around the world.

In 2016, I founded Open Switch Africa, where I advocate for an accessible and inclusive Internet where information is not hindered by paywalls, regulation, or lack of connectivity.

Without connectivity we cannot have the vast interconnection that the Internet creates between billions of computers and devices, thereby forming an interconnection between people and information. Information brings knowledge, and knowledge, as they say, is power.

It has become increasingly clear that the Internet is at the core of almost all that we do. With automation and machine learning at the forefront of transforming the scope of future jobs, open education and open data driving the scope of education and research, and social media plus blogs disrupting the status quo in communication, very soon a much larger percentage of the world population will depend on the Internet for their livelihood. This is why it is extremely important, in preparation for the future, that we ensure all voices are heard when it comes to critical decisions regarding the future of the Internet.

The Internet is diversity by its very nature, and youth involvement is crucial to shaping the Internet of tomorrow. Young people are already shaping the online culture in so many ways. They are building their dream Internet. And yet when it comes to policy discussions, they are not at the table.

We need policies that protect us and prepare us for the future of the Internet, while ensuring that no one is left behind.

Visit #CountMyVoice and help build an Internet that’s for everyone!

The post The Internet Is Knowledge and Knowledge Is Power appeared first on Internet Society.

Future Thinking: Chris Yiu

Mer, 09/01/2019 - 20:00

In 2017, the Internet Society unveiled the 2017 Global Internet Report: Paths to Our Digital Future. The interactive report identifies the drivers affecting tomorrow’s Internet and their impact on Media & Society, Digital Divides, and Personal Rights & Freedoms. While preparing to launch the 2019 Global Internet Report, we interviewed Chris Yiu to hear his perspective on the forces shaping the Internet’s future.

Chris is a senior policy fellow for technology in the Renewing the Centre team at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. His work focuses on how new technologies can be used to enhance the functioning of liberal democracy, and on policy solutions to the new economic challenges of automation and the digital economy. Chris was previously a general manager at Uber and has held senior roles in a number of public, private, and third-sector organizations. He recently authored the report, “A New Deal for Big Tech: Next-Generation Regulation Fit for the Internet Age (Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, 2018).

The Internet Society: In your report you write that this “new deal for big tech” is urgent for protecting democratic values globally. Why?

Chris Yiu: Political leaders face an external environment characterised by disruption and rapid change, which people of all backgrounds are struggling to make sense of. Looking at the rise of populism across the West, what started as a closed-minded turn against globalisation is now being compounded by a backward-looking turn against progress. Technology has stripped traditional gatekeepers of their power, delivered real progress for consumers and businesses, and increased many freedoms. But it has also brought significant economic upheaval and heightened cultural pressures, along with huge unknowns about the future. Most importantly, technology has concentrated power in the hands of a relatively small number of companies that all too often wield it clumsily and without sufficient legitimacy.

In your report you also argue that regulation for legacy industries aren’t relevant for the pace and scale of the Internet, and that a new approach for regulating technology companies is needed. Why?

The Internet has fundamentally changed the operating environment for both companies and regulators, with very different cost structures giving rise to new incentives and business models. Across the board, technology-based challengers have not so much out-competed incumbent firms as made them obsolete. The same is true of old approaches to regulation: detailed rules and permissions worked well when markets were finite and relatively stable, but the Internet is characterised by effectively infinite scalability and rapid change. And of course we can no longer view it as a special case that can be dealt with by a few careful carve-outs and exemptions, because in today’s environment it has a bearing on every aspect of our economy and society. A fresh approach, based on stronger accountability coupled with more freedom to innovate, is the best way to align private incentives with the public interest.

You’ve written about competition law’s limitations, as have other popular media like The Economist recently. What is the role of data and consumer protection in your proposed new approach?

Stronger controls on things like data protection and privacy are necessary but not sufficient for consumers to make better decisions or competition to work effectively. In the report we talk about ensuring users have a meaningful understanding of what they are signing up to. This is different to impenetrable terms and conditions or being able to download your data file – when convenience supersedes most other considerations, people need an easy way to assess whether they are happy with the basic relationship they have with a service. More broadly, when we think about competition policy it’s important to remember that Internet-era cost structures and business models tend to result in firms getting large because they are doing something consumers want. So a long view of protecting consumers should not be overly concerned with scale per se, and instead place more weight on ensuring new challengers can get established.

You have suggested that a new regulator is needed to promote tech company responsibility, increase consumers’ digital literacy, and “rewrite obsolete rules for the Internet age.” Are existing regulators not up to the task of doing these things?

There are a couple of aspects to this. First, the core capabilities of many traditional regulators are not necessarily those required to exercise effective oversight of new, technology-based business models and markets. To be able to match the power of large tech companies, regulators need to be expert and fluent in the same fundamentals of Internet-scale operations, speed, data, and innovation. Large tech companies recruit different for different sorts of skills and mindsets compared to incumbent firms; we know that making this pivot is hard for traditional organisations and there is no reason to think that the regulators that mirror them are any different.

Second, the Internet is shaping the operating environment for all industries, and the impact of fundamental shifts in things like cost structures and business models is being felt across the economy. So when it comes to public policy, there is more commonality in the systemic issues arising from big tech firms across different sectors than there is between individual firms and the narrow markets they have disrupted. This puts a premium on a new generation of regulator anchored on the Internet rather than traditional sectors or industries.

Is there hope in data portability as a way of countering data effects and addressing consolidation concerns?

Data portability is an important principle, but I don’t think we can expect this alone to be enough to solve the biggest policy challenges. For one thing, as services achieve scale and differentiate from one another, it’s not always clear what portability would mean in practice (it’s easy to imagine porting your profile info and avatar from one service to another, but content far less so, let alone data observed or inferred about you). And of course some of the data that would have the greatest impact on competition – i.e., a user’s social graph – is explicitly off limits under regulation like Europe’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). Given the propensity of large firms to try to use their scale to consolidate their power, stronger checks on acquisitions of potentially competitive startups may be a better lever.

What are your fears for the future of the Internet?

That in the face of unrelenting external pressure, our political leaders and policymakers will get stuck trying to fight the Internet rather than accepting it and figuring out how to maximise its opportunities and mitigate its challenges. This could manifest in many ways, from a fracturing of the global commons into closed regional blocs, through to overbearing or poorly designed policy responses that do major collateral damage or inadvertently favour large incumbents over smaller competitors. In particular Europe and North America have much in common in terms of shared values; a renewed period of transatlantic cooperation on technology is of the utmost importance, but without strong political leadership it may be easier to turn inward than work together.

What are your hopes for the future of the Internet?

We can’t uninvent the Internet – and even if we could, we wouldn’t want to. Despite all of the challenges – both economic and cultural – that we are grappling with, the Internet itself and the big tech companies that shape so much of daily lives are the product of a benign operating environment anchored on liberal democracy. And so I am optimistic that we can move past the techlash and leverage technology as a source of optimism about the future. A structured dialogue between those changing the world with new technologies, and those seeking to respond with policy and regulation, can still get us to a place where the benefits of technology are widely shared.

Read “Splintering the Internet: The Unintended Consequence of Regulation.”

The post Future Thinking: Chris Yiu appeared first on Internet Society.

South Africa Gauteng Community Outreach: Why Community Networks Matter

Mar, 08/01/2019 - 15:37

On 14 December 2018, the young and old people of Mamaila Tribal Authority convened at Wholesale Village in the Limpopo Province in South Africa to learn about community networks (CNs). The workshop, with the theme Why Community Networks Matter, took place at Moratabatho Missionary Church International, and was organized by the Internet Society South Africa Gauteng Chapter and supported by the Beyond the Net Funding Programme. The purpose was to create awareness about community networks as innovative solutions that contribute towards closing the digital divides experienced by communities that lack access to telecommunication infrastructure. The workshop was delivered in partnership with Soweto Wireless User Group (SOWUG) and the Zuri Foundation. Thato Mfikwe, the president of the South Africa Gauteng Chapter, introduced participants to the Internet ecosystem and the opportunities available within the Internet value chain. The presentation by Thato stimulated a conversation with participants curious to know how to:

  • Make money from the Internet, specifically how to monetize their content on YouTube
  • Participate in the Internet ecosystem
  • Contribute to policy making

The session introduced participants to cybersecurity, the Internet of Things (IoT) concepts, and the basic infrastructure required for setting up a community network. The presentation created curiosity among the participants, leading into a discussion about how IoT works, how to safeguard their personal data, and how to create their own connectivity infrastructure. This was followed by the presentation “What are community networks and why do they matter?” According to Thato, “some of the advantages of CNs is that  they are a solution created by the community to resolve their telecommunications challenges and creating digital solutions to support their day to day community processes.” Participants also learned that CNs use inexpensive infrastructure, unlicensed spectrum, and could be deployed by anyone who is willing to learn, meaning that participants do not require technical skills such as engineering and computer networking.

Thanks to SOWUG, the curiosity and knowledge gap was immediately closed when participants received hands-on training on how to create their own community network using unlicensed spectrum. The training was facilitated by Jabulani Vilakazi and Boitumelo Luthuli from SOWUG, who are also members of the South Africa Gauteng Chapter. Both facilitators shared their experience and knowledge on how they created community networks in Soweto as well as the business model of their social entrepreneur enterprise. The session started with participants creating their own ethernet cables, learning how to crimp the RJ45 connector, and learning the meaning and functions of the different wire colors. This was followed by a process to assemble Ubiquiti LiteBeams and configuring their point-to-point connections using the equipment provided by SOWUG. The technical training was regarded by participants as the most empowering session of the workshop as the training bridged the gap between theory and practice.

Prior the technical training, participants were requested to rate their Internet knowledge, attitude, and practice (KAP). Twenty participants out of 30 completed the questionnaire.

Analysis

The KAP assessment revealed that participants:

  • Had exposure to the Internet (98% of the participants)
  • Viewed the Internet as an important tool that contribute towards improving people’s lives
  • Used the Internet to search for information, which further improved their general knowledge and exposed them to global events as well as news

The analysis further indicates that 99% of those who completed the KAP assessment would love to have access to WiFi within Mamaila Tribal Authority because data is expensive. The respondents indicated that accessibility will:

  • Enable learners, students, and graduates to reach their goals by empowering those who do not have data to apply online at universities using the available connectivity
  • Assist students to find information and conduct research as many people are disadvantaged
  • Improve the lives of the disadvantaged individuals to search for information, solutions, and have more knowledge about their region
  • Improve people’s lives because most job vacancies are advertised online, therefore, it is convenient for job seekers as well as networking and skills development
  • Empower musicians to upload their work online
  • Create jobs and allow business to distribute messages to clients

Participants further indicated that they use Internet mostly for communication, social media, research, and video/music download. One user creates websites while others use it for school, business marketing, and job vacancies. Most participants indicated that they access the Internet from their mobile phones. Two users indicated that they have routers at home. Participants reported that they use Internet on an hourly and daily basis, costing them anything between R5 daily to R280 per month for data various data bundles. The cost for connectivity emerged as the main barrier towards effective usage of the Internet, especially for participants who hoped to monetize their work by uploading content online. Participants highlighted that the region lacks community centers and libraries, and as a result learners experience digital divides at many levels. Therefore, connecting schools was viewed as a priority for villages within Mamaila Tribal Office and surrounding jurisdictions.

The highlight of the workshop was when participants were given free access to WiFi. The free connection enabled participants to livestream content and update their software. Unfortunately, the 3GB was consumed in less than thirty minutes, demonstrating the participants’ needs for high data consumption. The training ended in high spirits with the South Africa Gauteng Chapter donating 10 backpacks, 1 wireless router, and an MTN SIM card with a R1000 voucher to Moratabatho church. The highlight of the day was when participants asked for a follow up training sessions which will empower them to embark on a journey to create their own community networks.

Testimonials

“Our Kopano Radio can grow even bigger and have more listeners if in our area  we can have community networks and affordable Internet access.”
Manthole Mashala

“Building our own networks will also help to create the atmosphere of job and business opportunities. The content producers will be needed, amongst others, and the services offered by community networks will also be on a fee to those outside our targeted areas.”
Fridah Seakakgole

We are looking for new ideas from people all over the world on how to make your community better using the Internet. The Internet Society Beyond the Net Funding Programme funds projects up to $30,000.00 USD. Start with this report by Carlos Rey-Moreno to get inspired: Supporting the Creation and Scalability of Affordable Access Solutions: Understanding Community Networks in Africa.

Check out our Community Networks landing page with information about partners, projects, and resource materials, and follow us on Twitter!

Related articles:
TunapandaNET Paves the Way for Kenya to Connect the Underserved
Zenzeleni – Do it Yourself! – How a rural community in South Africa became a telecommunication operator
LibreRouter: A Multi-Radio Wireless Router for Community Networks
Developing Community Networks in Northern Brazil: Strengthening Marginalized Communities
Tusheti Community Network One Year Later: Creating Impact, Sustainability, and Scalability

The post South Africa Gauteng Community Outreach: Why Community Networks Matter appeared first on Internet Society.

Investing in Indigenous Connectivity Is an Investment in Our Future Online

Lun, 07/01/2019 - 17:47

There’s one New Year’s resolution we can bank on to improve the health and livelihoods of millions of people across North America this year, and it doesn’t involve buying into health fads or gadgets.

The newly-released 2018 Indigenous Connectivity Summit (ICS) Community Report shows a strong correlation between Indigenous connectivity and the well-being and sustainability of rural and remote Indigenous communities, especially when solutions are local.

The report summarizes outcomes of the 2018 Indigenous Connectivity Summit that brought nearly 140 Indigenous leaders, policy makers, network operators, and community members to the Arctic community of Inuvik, NT last October.

Like most New Year’s resolutions, connectivity solutions are neither quick nor cheap. This is especially true in northern rural and remote regions of the U.S. and Canada with geographic hurdles that make it hard for Internet service providers to achieve economies of scale.

It’s one of the main reasons today in 2019, millions of people across North America – yes, millions – still don’t have access to reliable broadband Internet.

Last October, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities called on the federal government to invest $4 billion over ten years to connect all Canadians to the Canadian Radio-television and Communications Commission’s universal service target of 50Mbps/10Mbps.

Yes, that’s a big ask – but investments such as these are both critical and doable. We faced similar and arguably larger barriers when building the railroad and highway systems that have been integral to the health and success of our nations and economies.

As digital citizens, it’s our turn to finish paving the communications infrastructure that is no longer a nice-to-have, but crucial to the self-determination and competitiveness of individuals, communities, and countries everywhere.

While there have been several initiatives to help promote universal broadband in both Canada and the U.S., it’s up to all of us to urge our governments, policymakers, and corporations to make bigger and bolder investments to cover the real cost of ensuring Indigenous voices are part of our digital future.

Nation building costs a lot of money, but making sure that every household in North America can connect to the opportunities the Internet offers is worth it. The more we invest into empowering underserved areas with the tools to contribute in our digital spaces, the better the return for everyone.

To truly close the digital divide, we need to aim for infrastructure solutions to make sure rural and remote Indigenous communities can keep up to a rapidly changing world of communications technology and products requiring speeds 100 to 1,000 times faster than what our best-connected regions already get.

The ICS report features advice from Indigenous community network operators across North America who have successfully empowered people with fast, affordable, and reliable connectivity on their own terms.

If Canada got its wish for a federal investment of $4 billion over ten years towards connectivity solutions, it would go a long way towards empowering individuals and communities to bring more of these opportunities to light.

Luckily, there are solutions in all shapes and sizes. Community networks are “do it yourself” networks built by people for people.  They’re being built all over the world, too. From rural and remote locations in India to the mountaintops of Tusheti, Georgia, community networks are great examples of how people can come together to build an Internet connection.

So how can we as digital citizens support more of these solutions? The 2018 ICS report has some useful recommendations:

  1. Ensure governments consult with Indigenous communities to develop universal connectivity strategies that benefit everyone.
  2. Build universal service strategies that include the flexibility to adapt to technological advances.
  3. Consider different technological solutions for different connectivity realities and challenges.
  4. Ask open questions about connectivity needs to avoid justifying a specific agenda.
  5. Demand open access to data from telecommunications companies that can help inspire solutions.
  6. Make funding opportunities accessible to all kinds of providers, large and small.
  7. Prioritize connectivity solutions to the hardest places to connect first.
  8. Encourage respect when developing solutions for service in tribal, treaty, and land claim areas.
  9. Consider different models of connectivity to best serve individual geographic locations.
  10. Free up more spectrum from companies who hold a license without using it.

The benefits of ensuring Indigenous voices are included online go beyond promoting the individual and economic health and well-being of our physical communities. It’s also critical to the infrastructure and integrity of the Internet.

The Internet connects people because of its open, distributed, and interoperable design.

It’s a network of voluntarily-connected networks created as a community for everyone. It works because everyone can contribute and only gets better when more of us are able to.

While it’s safe to predict this year’s Internet-based innovation will have a profound impact on our lives in 2019 and beyond, it’s hard to celebrate advancement if millions are still left behind.

Imagine what more could be possible if our governments invested in connecting the millions of other minds and cultural perspectives our countries have to offer. The possibilities are virtually infinite.

Keep an eye on our Indigenous Connectivity page for news and updates on the upcoming 2019 Indigenous Connectivity Summit.

Help build a digital future that puts people first. #SwitchItOn

Photo ©Jim Schlichting

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The Week in Internet News: Massachusetts Town Says ‘No Thank You’ to Broadband Network

Lun, 07/01/2019 - 15:00

Build your own: A Massachusetts town has declined an offer from a major ISP to build a high-speed broadband network and instead will create its own, the Boston Globe reports. While a locally owned network will initially cost more, residents of Charlemont say they want local control and local customer service.

Congo shuts it off: The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has shut down the Internet in several cities after a much-delayed presidential election, the BBC reports. Opposition candidate Martin Fayulu’s campaign accused the government of ordering the shutdown to avoid broadcasting his “overwhelming victory.” The shutdown in the Congo shows that China’s philosophy of Internet censorship is spreading, CNN comments.

Bangladesh, too: Meanwhile, Bangladesh ordered its own mobile network shutdown related to an election, Engadget reports. The country’s Telecommunication Regulatory Commission shut down 3G and 4G mobile data ahead of its Dec. 30 parliamentary elections to “prevent rumors and propaganda” from influencing the vote.

Blockchain marries IoT: Some large companies are looking for ways to use the blockchain technology with the Internet of Things, Network World says. Volkswagen is one of the companies, and automotive uses for blockchain include authenticating mileage for a lease return, or remote, over-the-air software updates.

AI vs. hackers: Companies are increasingly turning to Artificial Intelligence to help identify and predict cyberattacks, Bloomberg says. Large tech companies are moving away from older “rules-based” technology designed to respond to specific kinds of intrusion and “deploying machine-learning algorithms that crunch massive amounts of data on logins, behavior and previous attacks to ferret out and stop hackers,” the story says.

IoT and power outages? Some recent power outages may have been caused by IoT-related cyberattacks, Network World suggests. The writer notes several recent power outages at airports and wonders if they are related to hacker-controlled IoT botnets.

Targeting newspapers: A cyberattack in late December caused major printing and delivery delays at the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and other newspapers, CNBC.com reports. The cyberattack appeared to originate outside the United States.

The connected future is here. Let’s make sure it’s secure. #GetIoTSmart

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Because Our Future Depends On It

Ven, 04/01/2019 - 15:38

Esther is a youth leader passionate about gender, digital literacy, and grassroots advocacy. She is founder of the SAFIGI Outreach Foundation and President of Digital Grassroots.

She is also a 2019 IFF Community Development fellow, a 2019 Engineers Without Borders Canada Kumvana fellow, a Mozilla Open Leader, an Internet Society 2017 Youth@IGF fellow, an open knowledge advocate, and a champion for capacity building of youth and girls.

Esther graduated summa cum laude in multimedia journalism, and is a contributor on Impakter.com and Africa.com.  She is an emerging African writer, working on her debut fantasy novel and does photography in her free time.

Born in 1994, about the same time Tim Berners-Lee founded the World Wide Web Consortium and a commercialized Internet started to take form, the Internet has inextricably shaped my life and career.

At 16 years old, I got my first job at an Internet café. I had taught myself to type, and that was all I needed to teach people that they couldn’t just guess a password if they had not already set up an email account. Many young people in developing nations are still grappling to learn the computer (it’s far worse for adults). This fact, however, has not stalled a social media boom. There’s a robust consumer market, but the consumers aren’t reflected in the faces of those making decisions for them in shaping the future of the Internet.

At 17 years old, after living abroad alone as a young girl, I founded the SAFIGI Outreach Foundation (Safety First for Girls) in an effort to create a world where girls are empowered, equipped, and fulfilled for the benefit of the entire world. UN Online Volunteers allowed me to collaborate with over 250 volunteers in 50 countries to use Safety Education, Research, and Advocacy in order to respond to core issues affecting safety for girls across the globe.

At 23 years old, I was named an Internet Society 2017 Youth@IGF Programme fellow, and received funding to attend my inaugural Internet Governance Forum (IGF) at the United Nations Office at Geneva in Switzerland. What would become a harrowing journey across borders without a passport, this was my first glance at the wires behind the glossy and bright screen called the Internet and the birthplace of my brainchild, Digital Grassroots.

Shape Your Digital Future! could not have been a more fitting theme for the 2017 IGF. It inspired me to create Digital Grassroots in response to what I see as a gaping digital divide. Despite being major stakeholders of the Internet, young people from marginalized communities are underrepresented in major policy developments and implementation processes that shape our digital future. Events like the IGF can often be taken for granted, and I believe it sets a dangerous precedent for the global IGF to be circulating throughout Europe, when digital rights abuses like Internet shutdowns, social media tax, and threats to journalistic freedom of speech happen predominantly outside the region. While the IGF is mainly for dialogue, for persons who live under administrations that believe “governance” in Internet Governance means government, such dialogue could make a world of difference.

Our team of 2017 Youth@IGF fellows, all under 25 years old and living in 11 different nations across the globe, are passionate about the core values of the Internet. Together we are striving towards ensuring openness, security, privacy, web literacy, and decentralization of the Internet. Starting at the grassroots level, Digital Grassroots created an Internet literacy course to address the existing lack of awareness of basic Internet literacy knowledge in local communities in the developing world. Our Cohort 1 Outcome Report highlights the impact we’ve had. After three cohorts, the final one being in French, we have released a Communiqué on Youth Resolutions in Internet Governance. Mozilla Open Leaders gave our team the tools we needed to work and lead Open, helping us to empower and collaborate within inclusive communities. In 2018, we trained at least 300 young people in digital literacy and mentored over 100 in youth participation in Internet Governance.

Now at 24 years old, I recognize that representation matters if we want to see transformative change online and off. And this is why Digital Grassroots is so important. If we do not create these spaces for ourselves to participate and to be heard, no one will.

Young people seem to have to do more to get a seat at the table, especially young people from underrepresented regions. For most of our team it has meant sleepless nights, working long hours, and sacrificing our own resources to create a relatable Internet literacy course, build a Digital Rights Monopoly game, mentor youth in Internet Governance, travel to meetings, and organize youth IGFs and national IGFs. Digital Grassroots has also recently raised a petition asking local and international Internet Governance bodies to include youth at the table and we invite everyone to sign it.

It’s our future

The journey may start at the IGF but it does not end there. In 2019, I will be curating the Internet Freedom Festival (IFF) as the Next Net IFF Community Development fellow. Next Net focuses on the future of the Internet, opportunities, and risks. The Internet we want.

The Web may not have been invented for a person like me, who did not start out life as a digital native regardless of the era. Policymakers may brush someone like me aside because I don’t fit the market group and seem to have little influence. This is an oversight.

Youth have the power and skill to reinvent and shape an open and healthy Internet, if given the opportunity.

Regardless of attitudes towards young people, girls, and the underrepresented when it comes to participating in Internet issues, it will remain that the Internet is on our side; a neutral platform that embraces all equally.

We are inventing the Internet we want because our future depends on it.

 We need your help! Are you a young person who wants to be a part of the making the Internet for everyone? Here’s where you can get started.

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Emerging Technologies: Bridging the Digital Gap in Africa

Gio, 03/01/2019 - 16:37

With all the excitement about the role of technology in contributing to social change and improved development outcomes across Africa, it is easy to forget that only 11% of the world’s Internet subscribers are Africans, while only 35.2% of Africans use the Internet. An effective science and innovation system in any country, and globally, I believe, depends on strong basic research and higher education infrastructure. In addition to knowledge production, basic research facilities, development of human resources, and applications are critical. But in the course of conducting, applying, and managing research, both researchers and managers of research and innovation have information needs. These needs must be satisfied in order for the scientists and the science innovation system to function effectively.

My recent participation at the 13th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Paris as a Youth@IGF Fellows brought me closer to the realization that technology has really increased the speed and reach of information everywhere – and now to communities in Africa.

Africa is leapfrogging information and communication technology development, which is also fueled by mobile broadband, but there are also worrying trends, such as a growing the digital divide between men and women, and between urban and rural areas.

While organizations need to address barriers around the digital divide, I also think if we champion a course for the combination of low and high-tech approaches to ensure that citizens are able to access critical information that can help improve their lives as well as contribute to our quest in connect the unconnected.

IGF2018 was a platform for many realizations. One of the key moments was embracing the fact that technology can enable critical information to reach marginalized communities at a rate and scale never before. What is left for digital ambassadors like me to do is to create more awareness on how this information can be used appropriately while encouraging organizations to integrate technology-driven approaches into their programs to maximize their impact. When doing so, however, it is important to think about how these approaches can be combined with low-tech methodologies, which are already known to be effective.

In terms of both numbers and reach, mobile telephony is the dominant form of telephony in developing countries in Africa. But we can also take a second look at the new, low-cost, emerging technology where increased utilization of TV white space (TVWS) can provide an opportunity to connect the world’s population. Google and Microsoft are already chasing the emerging white space market in Africa. Because the waves can travel up to 10 kilometers in radius, it is great for remote, off-the-grid villages.

Paris is beautiful and overall the 13th IGF was a great experience for me. The session on digital inclusion reignited my interest to do more for the continent. There were a few sessions that discussed issues in Africa. The desire to help my continent grow digitally is alive, hence what governments and international development organizations in Africa can also do is to enhance the public-private partnership in investment in ICT services and ICT-related infrastructure. I believe we also need more ICT schooling at all levels of education, especially in rural regions – and especially for girls, another initiative I will champion starting from home. It’s one of the issues that has been taken lightly but it needs refocusing.

While inadequate knowledge of English and weak ICT infrastructure topped as factors contributing to the digital divide in Africa, it is my hope to further create more awareness on the continent using my experience and knowledge, not forgetting the good connection built at IGF2018 to help reshape the continent while connecting the next billion.

Learn more about community networks and then let’s work together to #SwitchItOn.

Image © Internet Society/Nyani Quarmyne/Panos Pictures

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Zimbabwe Chapter Meetup on IoT: Converse / Create / Collaborate

Gio, 03/01/2019 - 15:05

On December 6th 2018, the Internet Society Zimbabwe Chapter held an Internet of Things (IoT) meetup supported by the Beyond the Net Small Grants, a programme intented to assist the Internet Society Chapters with financial support to organize initiatives that contribute to the development of their communities.

An exciting convening brought together Zimbabweans with a keen interest in solving some of the pressing issues facing the country using IoT. The meetup was a drive by the Zimbabwe Chapter to create a platform for conversations around IoT security and the potential benefits of Internet-connected devices. More so, it sought to harness innovation potential by creating a space for IoT creativity and collaboration. It ran under the tagline “Converse/Create/Collaborate.”

The meetup was engineered on the basis that in order to push the IoT Security agenda forward there is need to use a multistakeholder approach. The first section of the meetup was a conversation on the subject matter through a keynote presentation and a panel discussion. Solomon Kembo gave the keynote talk and really set the pace on what IoT was and how it would solve most of our challenges in society. He also talked about the IoT projects that the Chapter has been doing and future plans. After him was a vibrant panel discussion that consisted of James Mutandwa from the Ministry of ICT, Verengai Mabika, Internet Society Africa Senior Policy Advisor, and an upcoming IoT disrupter and innovator Harvey Binamu. Moderated by Kudzai Mubaiwa, the panel discussions raised important issues on the roles and responsibilities of manufactures, users, ISPs, and policymakers in ensuring security and privacy of connected devices. They also touched on data issues and consent as well as surveillance. James from the ministry of ICT emphasised that Digital Transformation is definitely coming and will change a lot of aspects of our day to day activities; there is therefore need for preparedness and sound policy.

The second section was the most exciting: the hackathon.  Participants were divided into 5 thematic groups: health, tourism and hospitality, agriculture, smart energy and smart cities. The whole idea behind this was to encourage IoT innovation that takes privacy and security at the forefront. OTA guidelines and various stationary was provided to the groups so that they could create IoT Solutions in the thematic areas. The room roared with excitement as the groups had 2 hours only to complete their task.

The third session was the pitching of the ideas. The groups came out with amazingly innovative ideas and presentations that pleased the audience and the panel of judges. The winning team was the smart energy team. Their solution was to implement an IoT and Big Data analytics-powered solution to measure with a higher degree of accuracy how much power is being produced, transmitted, and used in the whole power grid. This is to save energy and improve service delivery with better and faster fault detection. We intend on leveraging the Beyond the Net Grants to implement it in 2019. More so, we hope to help the other 4 projects with capacity building and access to opportunities as they were really amazing ideas that could impact the various sectors positively.

I am excited that the The IoT meetup saw more than 20 new members from the already existing 400+ joining the Chapter, networks, and collaborations created, as well as the further strengthening membership relations. We are planning to have more membership meetings across the main cities of Zimbabwe going forward to enhance participation and provide opportunities for all.

We’re looking for new ideas from people all over the world on how you can empower your community using the Internet. The Beyond the Net Funding Programme funds projects up to $30,000.

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Flor de Ceibo Conecta2: Sharing Experiences

Mer, 02/01/2019 - 18:10

Today’s guest author is María Julia Morales González, the “Flor de Ceibo Conecta2” project manager and a professor at the Department of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Space of the University of the Republic Uruguay.

The Internet Society Uruguay Chapterin partnership with the The University of the Republic and the Consejo de Formación en Educación, as well as with financial support from the Beyond the Net Funding Programme, has taken significant steps to help children and teenagers to develop digital skills in a creative and innovative way in three of the nineteen segments in which Uruguay is politically divided: Paysandú, Rivera, and Salto. Their project Flor de Ceibo Conecta2 aims to train young people from disadvantaged communities using digital resources in creative and challenging classes to help them improve their everyday lives and expand their chances for a better future.

Hoy queremos acercarles 2 experiencias que estamos transitando en el Proyecto Flor de Ceibo Conecta2.

Una de ellas se desarrolla en la ciudad de Salto en el liceo N° 7 del Barrio Artigas, zona de alta vulnerabilidad. Allí el equipo está trabajando en el uso de redes sociales y en particular en este taller en referencia al uso de whatsapp.

Se realizan acciones con docentes y autoridades del Liceo para trabajar la temática y particularmente con estudiantes de 3er año, aproximadamente de entre 14 y 15 años en formato de talleres; dónde se visualiza, socializa y reflexiona el uso de las redes sociales principalmente en relación a las ventajas y desventajas del uso que se le está dando.

En los talleres han emergido por ejemplo como ventajas: conocer personas a la distancia, socializar, compartir, aprender, informarse, re-encontrar miembros de la familia, enamorarse, poder expresar opiniones (libertad de expresión), entretenerse y como desventajas: exponer información privada, ciberbullying, acoso, pornografía, exposición a personas extrañas, difamación, identidades falsas, hackers, información y fotos  falsas, violencia, amenazas, robo de información.

Estas temáticas surgidas de los talleres y de la participación de los adolescentes, permiten problematizar el uso de las redes sociales y aportar a la discusión de cómo debería darse un uso que pretenda respetar las libertades individuales y el ejercicio de los derechos.

La otra experiencia se realiza en la ciudad de Rivera, en la escuela primaria N°105 que atiende población sorda.

En esta intervención se trabaja el encuentro con el lenguaje propio como expresión de identidad, de vida y deseo, haciendo hincapié en la utilización del cuerpo, la sincronía y el equilibrio.

Para ello se problematiza en cuanto al lenguaje y cómo se manifiesta, trabajando en la elaboración de GIF como herramienta de comunicación, experimentando diversas técnicas para la producción de los mismos y de videos en tiempo real. El objetivo final de estos talleres es facilitar recursos a los niños y niñas para que encuentre un lenguaje propio.

Read the Flor de Ceibo Connecta2 Project Blog and follow Beyond the Net on Twitter!

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The Week in Internet News: India Pushes for Sites to Remove ‘Unlawful’ Content, Break Encryption

Mer, 02/01/2019 - 16:08

Not this again: India’s government wants websites and social media platforms to remove content regulators determine as “unlawful” within 24 hours and to create automated tools to identify this material, BuzzFeed reports. The government also wants the tech companies to trace the source of the content, requiring platforms like WhatsApp to break encryption. This follows passage of an Australian law that forces online services to provide the government there with encryption workarounds.

The Wire of India defends the proposal, however, saying it’s aimed at holding websites and social media platform more responsible for the content they distribute.

More blocking: The government of Sudan has shut down most Internet access in the country and blocked access to social media platforms, Rogue Media Labs says. The government blamed the shutdown on massive protests over income inequality and other issues.

Missed assignments: In a related story, some college students in the Indian region of Kashmir have missed deadlines for submitting online application forms of their bachelors of education examination because of frequent and lengthy Internet shutdowns there, reports Kashmir Reader. Students are asking the University of Kashmir to extend its deadline.

Blockchain vs. national security? An ex-CIA official is targeting blockchain, saying the technology represents a bigger threat to U.S. national security than Russia, North Korea, or climate change, Coin Telegraph notes.  “The first one to figure out how to hack it, manipulate it or bring it down wins,” Andrew Bustamante wrote in a recent Reddit Q&A.

Bitcoin wallet leaks: An attack on the popular Electrum bitcoin wallet allowed hackers to get away with about US$750,000, CCN.com reports. Developers moved quickly to fix the security hole, which involved malicious servers added to the Electrum network.

AI shoppers: With chatbots, 3D printing, and drone deliveries, Artificial Intelligence is beginning to assist the retail industry in a big way, Wired UK reports. But there’s still room for the human touch, says Federico Marchetti, the chief executive of online luxury retailer YOOX NET-A-PORTER: “Luxury fashion has a human aspect of beauty and emotion. Machines are about speed and information. You have to strike a balance between the two.”

Read about the Freedom on the Net report, which was sponsored by the Internet Society and other organizations.

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NAT64Check Version 2 is launched!

Mar, 01/01/2019 - 03:00

With the New Year comes the launch of NAT64Check version 2 from the Internet Society. The first version of NAT64Check was introduced a couple of years ago and has proved very popular and successful, so for the past year we’ve been working on a number of enhancements in response to feedback and requests. And we’re very happy to be able to make the new version available as we welcome in 2019.

NAT64Check is a tool developed by the Internet Society in collaboration with Stichting IPv6 NederlandGo6, SJM Steffann, Internetbureau Max and Simply Understand. This allows you to enter the URL of a particular website, and then run tests over IPv4, IPv6 and NAT64 in order to check whether the website is actually reachable in each case, whether identical web pages are returned, and whether all the resources such as images, stylesheets and scripts load correctly. It also compares responsiveness using the different protocols, therefore  allowing network and system administrators to easily identify anything is ‘broken’, to pinpoint where any non-IPv6 compatible elements need to be fixed.

The original version of NAT64Check though, ran on two separate servers at Go6 and the IPv6 Lab which each had a limited view of the Internet from a topological perspective, and did not allow results to be easily aggregated. This was because it was put together quickly as a proof-of-concept using scripting tools, but its popularity encouraged us to develop something that was more scalable and adaptable for the future.

Version 2 therefore introduces a distributed concept that allows for different test locations, and indeed allows people to easily install their own test instances. However, results can be aggregated from any or all of these test locations and queried via a central web interface. Other improvements include better error detection and feedback when problems are experienced with particular sites, and as well as extendability for additional tests.

The new modular based design is based around three core elements. Marvin is a module based on Chromium that can run as separate instances on servers in different geographical locations for testing services over IPv4, IPv6 and NAT64. Trillian is a module that can collect, compare and output these test results based on different user profiles, whilst the Zaphod module undertakes the aggregation and provides the centralised web interface. Students of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” will of course recognise from where the codenames were derived!

The tool is very easy to use – simply go to https://www.nat64check.org, type the URL you wish to check into the box at the top of the page, and the result should be returned within a few seconds. It’s simple and easy, and will help you identify what needs to be done to make your website accessible with IPv6.

We’re also calling out for volunteers to help improve the usefulness of this tool by installing their own test instances. This requires a KVM, a VM running Ubuntu 18.04, a login, sudoers file, separate IPv4 and IPv6 addresses and a static /64 routed to the VM.

Deploy360 also wants to help you deploy IPv6, so please take a look at our Start Here page to learn more.

Acknowledgements

NAT64Check was developed by our colleague Jan Žorž, Sander Steffann, Corinne Pritchard, Max Dammers, and Musa Stephen Honlue.

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Another Step Closer to Our Mission

Lun, 31/12/2018 - 01:15

The Internet now reaches more than half the world.

A recent estimate indicates that nearly 4 billion people – more than half the world’s population – now use the Internet. More people are now online than existed in the world the year I was born. Everyone, it seems, values the Internet. We all still know the Internet is for everyone.

The Internet Society, including all our chapters and members, was part of Internet growth in this period. 2018 was a year of many changes at the Internet Society. We changed the staff and ways of organizing work to make things clearer. We changed our CEO. But at the same time, we brought infrastructure to some of the most remote parts of the world. We pushed for better security for many of the new devices that are connecting to the Internet. And we worked to include the whole range of voices when it comes to who’s making decisions about the Internet’s future.

These are just a few of the things we, the whole Internet Society, did together. We work together because that’s what internetworking is: working together, each of us making a greater whole of our individual parts.

So, as the year draws to a close, I would like to thank everyone who makes this possible. We are all ages, all backgrounds, and all experiences. Most of you give time, voluntarily, to make sure the Internet becomes more open, globally-connected, trustworthy, and secure: the Internet for everyone. Some of you are staff who work tirelessly on these issues because you believe in the Internet. Whoever you are, our work together must not stop.

We have some important work to do in 2019 and a new focus for how we do it. Our vision of the Internet for everyone remains as clear as ever. But the clarity of our vision offer us no easy road.

We must face the fact: the Internet was once a great human hope, but has lately become a locus of human fear.

The Internet created new means for human expression and communication, and new opportunities for markets for every vendor, from tiny niche to mainstream. But the open human expression sometimes looks like an opportunity for the expression of the worst human impulses. The open communication sometimes looks like a great way for malign forces to attack the social order. And the open markets sometimes look like a desperate race to the price bottom, with no other factor even under consideration. No wonder people fear the Internet as an instrument of social erosion.

Yet, the Internet is still a global network of voluntarily-connected networks. There is nothing else it could be: anything else would just be an “internet” in name only. At the Internet Society, we believe in the real Internet. A network of networks puts the end point – the humans, really – in charge. Anything else is not in the hands of end points, so it’s not really the Internet.

This is not to long for an earlier, “innocent” Internet that did not face the current challenges. It is instead to remind ourselves that, if we want the enormous benefits of the Internet, we must not discard the essential property that brings those benefits. All people have an interest in how we face the current issues, but we can only face them one way: together. We must connect people across borders, environments, and cultures to build new partnerships and engage individuals, communities, NGOs, corporations, and governments. Nobody gets a free pass; but nobody who cares for the Internet is excluded, either.

That is the challenge that faces us in 2019. We must build our existing partnerships to be a more effective advocate for the neutral, open network of networks. We must work to ensure that people have the tools they need to make good choices on the Internet, whether that be with the Internet of Things or with routing security. We must continue to work effectively in communities to ensure that the other half of the world – the part that is the hardest to connect – can enjoy the benefits we connected people take for granted. We must do this collaboratively, so that the alternative vision of the controlled, sanitized “internet” does not win. For community is much more than just belonging to something; it’s about doing something together that makes belonging matter.

If you are just hearing about us for the first time but have a passion to protect the open Internet, please join us in 2019. We cherish our diversity and together we will be able to take on the challenges in the year ahead.

So, again, thank you for so much. I am humbled to be able to work with all of you, and I look forward to 2019 as we continue our journey to bring an open, globally-connected Internet to the world.

Visit our 2018 Year in Numbers page.

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LibreRouter: A Multi-Radio Wireless Router for Community Networks

Ven, 28/12/2018 - 17:26

Since their inception, community networks have depended on modifying existing off-the-shelf routers to adapt them to their particular needs. Software development originated in community-network groups and the free software movement as a whole have pushed the barrier of innovation and helped commercial enterprises develop new products over the years.

The LibreRouter, created by the collaboration of the Internet Society Community Networks Special Interest Group (CNSIG) and AlterMundi with the support of Beyond the Net Funding Programme, is an open-source hardware WiFi router designed for the specific needs of community networks.

The LibreRouter Project works to achieve autonomy and technological sovereignty that allows deploying, managing, scaling, and sustaining community networks. The reality is that community networks are not a profitable market segment for the industry. This means that the equipment used is not adequate to solve the particular needs they have. To manufacture the equipment you have to be encouraged to understand it and do it in a different and integral way.

Besides the hardware development, the most important part of this project is the integral work that involves software solutions and documentation material. It’s an important work focused on the communities themselves having the capabilities to deploy their own autonomous communication infrastructures and exercise their right to collective creation of the Internet.

How it works

In a nutshell, the LibreRouter is a weatherproof 3-radio wireless router, but it is much more than that. It comes from the same factory as LibreMesh, which is an operating system for geek-free wireless mesh networks that makes it easy for a non-technical community to do the deployment, maintenance, and expansion of the network.

Using its two 5 GHz radios and sector antennas, the LibreRouter automatically forms a mesh network with other LibreRouters within range. Using the 2.4 GHz radio, it creates a hotspot around it for clients to connect to the network, and the resulting mesh network enables communication between all the devices connected to it. Moreover, if any router on the local network connects to other networks (such as Internet) all devices on the local network automatically have access to the external network through the mesh.

The Special Interest Group on Community Networks (SIG CN) brings together 14 organizations and the diverse experiences of community networks from all over the world. As part of the collective work and experience, the need for the development and implementation of an organized remote support system for networks deployed with LibreRouter was identified.

This stage of the project has a special relevance since the need to provide remote technical support and the creation of training spaces for regional technical references were identified with great force in the last Latin American Summit of Community Networks. This was reflected in the final document drawn up collectively.

Goals:

This stage of the LibreRouter Phase II project was presented and chosen for the Beyond the Net Program and its main objectives are:

  • Design and implement a dashboard so that the support team can perform statistics, respond, and follow up on requests for support from the communities.
  • Develop a support and follow-up request mechanism (on the client side) that allows temporary access to the community network that requests assistance to coordinate and perform actions with the assistance team remotely.
  • The development of this initial stage of the organized remote support system is fundamental to continue building tools that allow lowering barriers when deploying community networks.

AlterMundi wrote a chapter on the FreeRouter for The Community Network Manual: How to Build the Internet Yourself. This volume is jointly published by Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV), the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), and the Internet Society. It is the result of the 2018 call for papers of the UN IGF Dynamic Coalition on Community Connectivity (DC3) and is the Official 2018 DC3 Outcome.

Watch Nico Echániz’s presentation of the LibreRouter during the Internet Governance Forum 2018 in Paris:

Do you have a great idea to make your community better via the Internet? Apply for a Beyond the Net grant, which funds projects up to $30,000 USD, and follow Beyond the Net on Twitter!

The post LibreRouter: A Multi-Radio Wireless Router for Community Networks appeared first on Internet Society.

The Year in Review: Governments Try to Restrict Free Speech Online and Break Encryption

Ven, 28/12/2018 - 15:37

In 2018, the Internet saw concerted government efforts to restrict free speech on the Internet – some in the name of fighting “fake news” – and to compromise encryption on devices and messaging apps.

Can the government decide what’s fake news? Several countries either passed or explored laws intended to combat so-called fake news and online disinformation. In some cases, the laws contained significant prison time for those who create or disseminate fake news.

The problem, of course, is that the government decides what’s fake and what’s legitimate news. Free speech advocates have warned that the anti-fake news laws amount to censorship, with government officials playing content gatekeepers.

In Malaysia, the fake news law was quickly used to investigate an opponent of the administration in power. Malaysia repealed its anti-fake news law about four months after it passed, when opposition leader Mahathir Mohamad, one of the first people invested under the law, became prime minister.

In November, France passed its own anti-fake news law, allowing judges to determine fake news and order its removal. Distributors of news determined to be fake can face one year of prison time. India also considered but abandoned a fake news law earlier this year.

Fighting fake news without new laws: Meanwhile, several groups have launched efforts to fight the very real problem of fake news, some using technology and some using human investigations.

Many groups have recognized fake news as a serious challenge, but there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on how to fight it, or how to even define it. Nevertheless, Mozilla cited fake news and a loss of privacy online as major concerns in its Internet Health Report released in April. Many people “have started to argue that technology companies are becoming too dominant; social media has been weaponized as a tool of harassment; our personal information has been stolen; and democratic processes have been undermined by the manipulation of online media and ads,” the report said.

With lawmakers and other groups focused on fake news during much of the year, Facebook faced scrutiny for its role in allowing the sharing of disinformation during the 2016 U.S. election. Facebook executives ended up testifying before the U.S. Congress in April and in August and before European policymakers in November, with critics accusing the social media outlet of looking the other way as fake news creators flooded its pages.

No Internet for you: While some countries explored anti-fake news laws, others used an even more blunt instrument to block the distribution of information they didn’t like. Several countries shut down Internet access, mobile networks, or individual communications apps during 2018, with the excuse, in some cases, being that users were spreading fake news.

Among the countries shutting down Internet access during the year:

It’s no wonder that Freedom House determined that the amount of freedom on the global Internet declined for the eighth straight year, with a group of countries, led by China, moving toward “digital authoritarianism.”

A number of factors, including the spread of false rumors and hateful propaganda online, have contributed to an Internet that “can push citizens into polarized echo chambers that pull at the social fabric of the country,” said the report. These rifts often give aid to antidemocratic forces, including government efforts to censor the Internet, Freedom House suggested.

Governments push for holes in encryption: While China and a handful of other authoritarian-minded countries worked to censor large parts of the Internet, countries with a longer history of free speech also took steps against user privacy. The United States, United Kingdom and other Western nations pushed tech companies to build encryption workarounds into their devices and apps.

In December, the Australian Parliament passed a law that requires tech companies to give law enforcement agencies there access to encrypted communications. Many privacy groups and tech companies protested, saying encryption is an essential part of Internet users’ efforts to protect their data against cybercriminals.

Meanwhile, Russia jumped on the anti-encryption bandwagon by requiring messaging apps used in the country to turn over their encryption keys to authorities. Russia ordered messaging app Telegram to comply early in the year, but Telegram basically told the government there to take a hike.

Once in a while, governments push for privacy: While some governments looked to invade privacy, others attempted to protect their citizens. In May, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, a set of wide-ranging privacy rules, went into effect, prompting businesses on both sides of the Atlantic to post new cookie warnings on their websites. GDPR goes much farther than cookie notifications, however, with rules allowing Internet users to limit how their personal information is collected and shared.

With the U.S. Congress so far unable to pass a comprehensive privacy law, the California State Legislature took matters into its own hands by passing its own legislation in June. The California Consumer Privacy Act, which goes into effect in 2020, will require most businesses to tell consumers how they’re using their data and allow consumers to opt of data-sharing agreements a business may have. The California bill has fewer rules to protect privacy than the GDPR, but some advocates called it a good start.

Read “Splintering the Internet: The Unintended Consequence of Regulation” and learn what you can do so that we #DontBreakTheInternet.

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