GISWatch report on surveillance launched in ten countries

By Leila Nachawati
Publisher: APCNews     Mopani, 07 February 2015

GISWatch country report on Romania launch in Bucharest. Photo: Társadalomtudományi Tanszék Sapientia Emte Csíkszereda.GISWatch country report on Romania launch in Bucharest. Photo: Társadalomtudományi Tanszék Sapientia Emte Csíkszereda.The latest Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) report is devoted to the analysis of communications surveillance in 57 countries. After the global launch of the report at the Internet Governance Forum in September 2014, authors and partner organisations throughout the world are now launching their reports at the local level to promote engagement by different stakeholders in their regions.

GISWatch is a community of “watchers” that aims to hold governments and international organisations accountable for meeting the commitments they make, by contributing to building a strong and sustainable global civil society policy advocacy network. It also creates a space for collaborative monitoring of implementation of national and international commitments made by governments towards the creation of an inclusive information society. Therefore, building local awareness and action around the implications of surveillance is a key activity of the watchers community.

While each country has its own specific issues, the GISWatch reports’ findings show common challenges in the field of surveillance, such as a lack of legislation to protect privacy, the sale of user data by private companies, and the scarce use of encryption technologies. Below is detailed information about the launch events in Australia, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzgovina, Cameroon, Colombia, Costa Rica, Hungary, Romania, Senegal and Uganda.

Australia

The report was launched at Swinburne University (Melbourne) in collaboration with the 2014 Memefest, on 18 November 2014. The launching was presented by Andrew Pam, board member of Electronic Frontiers Australia, and was attended by journalists, film and television students and special Memefest guests, including international designers and social media strategists.

The event was covered by New South Wales’ Bay FM and Melbourne’s 3RRR, among other media.

Bolivia

Several events were organised in Cochamamba, Santa Cruz and La Paz between the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015, including Education Fair “No caigas en la Red” (Literally: Don’t fall into the net), aimed at raising awareness of the importance of data protection among college students. Special mention of the report appeared at university-sponsored conferences by Eduardo Rojas of REDES, as well as several articles and interviews in local media.

The launching of the report is particularly relevant in Bolivia, said Rojas, because mass internet surveillance, monitoring and intervention are structural forms of digital violence, yet these issues are still underdeveloped in the country.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Following a presentation in Banja Luka on 30 January 2015, Parliament discussed legal amendments which pose threats to free expression.

Read more: OSCE representative’s statement on legal amendments.

Cameroon

APC member PROTEGE QV organised a launch ceremony in Yaoundé, Cameroon and invited participants from government and civil society organisations. Issues related to online communications security were presented.

Read more (in French): Le rapport GISWatch 2014 présenté à Yaoundé.

Colombia

On 11 December, the first Colombia Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was organised by APC member Colnodo along with a multistakeholder group. At the Colombia IGF, the GISWatch 2014 report and a special booklet containing all of Colombia’s GISWatch country reports from the last seven years were launched.

Read more (in Spanish): Primer Foro de Gobernanza de Internet en Colombia

Costa Rica

GISWatch was presented by the APC member organisation Sulá Batsú at their event called “Vigilancia, Seguridad y Privacidad en la Red” (Surveillance, security and privacy online) on 4 February in Berrocal, Costa Rica.

Hungary

At the Public Interest Law Network in Budapest, APC member BlueLink.net launched GISWatch 2014 on 12 January.

Romania

APC member StrawberryNet presented GISWatch 2014 in November 2014 at the Bucharest International Conference on Society, Media and Politics, and at the Transylvanian Media Report Conference.

There are several local articles on the event available in Romanian:

English:

And French:

Senegal

A workshop on topics covered in the Senegal report in GISWatch 2014 was organised by Jonctions in Dakar on 26 November.

Uganda

The Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) organised a workshop for the launch of the report and a policy brief on cyber infrastructure from a gender perspective. It was attended by government actors including the director of Regulations and Legal Services of the National Information Technology Authority, and by leading media figures such as the CEO of the New Vision media group, Robert Kabushenga.

The event was covered by New Vision and widely shared through social media, especially on Twitter.