By Syvlie Doppelt
From the latest legislative debate in the U.S. on personal and data privacy, to headlines from Algeria, Brazil and beyond, here’s “What We’re Reading” from the past week.
News From Around the World
Brazil, “Why we should call them favelas”
Rio’s favelas, police brutality and forced evictions are now on the world’s stage in advance of the 2014 World Cup, media outlets are consistently using degrading and inaccurate language to describe the communities. “Slums,” “shantytowns,” “squatter settlements,” and “ghettos,” to name a few, only serve to further stigmatize residents. The term “favela” is used by their inhabitants proudly, “to represent a range of community qualities.”
U.S. to Support ICC War Crimes Prosecution in Syria
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has been pushing to open a thorough U.N.investigation on supposed war crimes in Syria, and the U.S. and Obama Administration are now backing the effort, just as long as the U.N. does not investigate possible crimes committed by Israel. A special resolution is required because Syria is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, meaning they do not fall under the ICC’s jurisdiction. Russia is expected to be the most challenging nation to persuade, and others in the U.S. question how effective the investigation would be in protecting Syrians even if passed.
Afghanistan: Investigation into Police Torture
We noticed journalist Matt Aikins’ Twitter “essay” questioning U.S. support for Kandahar’s police chief. Upon the death of a young man, several citizens protested outside of Kandahar’s police headquarters in Afghan citizens and human rights groups are not satisfied with the police authorities’ plan to investigate because they believe they are complicit in the disappearances and will not be impartial.
1. Who is this man and why does the US military like him so much? Time for a Twitter essay on torture in Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/hM8fwjgyfx
— Matthieu Aikins (@mattaikins) May 13, 2014
Two Activists Arrested During Electoral Crackdown in Algeria
We recently discussed theAlgerian authorities forcible repression to peaceful opposition after the country’s Presidential election. Following peaceful demonstrations in mid April, two men were arrested. Algerian citizens and international supporters took to the streets again on April 30th, calling for their immediate release. Their cases will be decided on May 18th. Check out the Human Rights Channel for video footage from the protest.
Ethics, Digital Security, Journalism Trends
A Place for Advocacy Journalism?
WITNESS Executive Director Yvette Alberdingk Thijm and other renowned media pioneers discussed the changes in the journalism field with the growing contributions of citizen journalists, the place of ‘advocacy’ in news reporting and more at the Tribeca Film Festival last month. See the highlights from the panel here.
New Tool for Verifying Digital Images
Izitru, a website and iOS app for journalists to use to verify the authenticity of images. After being put through a series of forensic tests, the images can be tagged and given a “trust” rating for further testing when necessary. Read these WITNESS Blog posts for some important lessons learned and real-world examples of how we have grappled with verifying citizen video.
Digital Security and Privacy
The Court of Justice of the European Union recently rules in a groundbreaking privacy case, that Google has to listen and, in certain cases, remove links to personal information on the search engine. Some free speech advocates oppose the decision and its potential impact on censorship, while those supporting it call upon their “right to be forgotten.”
The National Security Agency has profound power to learn our whereabouts and other personal information simply based on metadata. But this peek, the House Judiciary Committee and House Intelligence Committee voted to amend the USA Freedom Act to reduce the NSA’s power to spy on citizens. Although many remain skeptical of how much the bill will really bolster personal privacy.
Lead image: “Supersonic Ear, electronic listening device” via Flickr user Stephen Melkisethian