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“The problem we have with surveillance isn’t really in big corporations”

- November 25, 2014 in Digital Single Market, eu, event, hackathon, online mobbing, Open Data, Open Innovation, Open Knowledge, surveillance

Joakim Jardenberg – a Swedish Internet debater and an expert in social media shares his views on surveillance, Digital Single Market and mobile mobbing.

Joakim Jardenberg

Joakim Jardenberg

Jardenberg is a Head of Internet of Helsingborg since November 2013. He is a business angel who runs the company and the blog Mindpark. Moreover, he was an appointed “expert” to work with the Swedish Prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldtat on the Northern Future Forum.

Jardenberg had a speech on Open Data Hackathon in Örebro on 20th November, 2014. The whole presentation you can see here.

OKFN Sweden met Joakim in Örebro and asked him some questions.

- As an Internet expert, what level of surveillance, do you think, is right for the open democratic society?

- It depends. If the surveillance per say is open as well then I think we can allow pretty much. But, if we don’t know about the surveillance or it is done stealthy or within closed rooms when we can’t survey the surveillance, then we have a real problem.

In terms of Internet specifically, I think the problem we have with surveillance isn’t really in big corporations. Because we can choose to leave Google, we can, it’s true. We can choose to not be on Facebook. What we can’t choose is the country’s level of surveillance that have to stand with. I think for instance, in Sweden the FRA-law* is horrible. This is the thing that we should not accept in a civil society…

The important thing for everyone is to be knowledgeable about what surveillance is being undertaken.We should be informed about what we can do and how we can argue against it and work against the levels of surveillance that we think is going too far.

*FRA law (in Swedish FRA-lagen) is the informal name given to a series of legislative changes in Sweden as well as a new law on electronic communication and on signals in defense intelligence, which came into force on 1 January 2009. Försvarets radioanstalt (FRA) by means of FRA-law got extended rights to conduct surveillance. The law has been repeatedly criticized by the media and society.

In terms of our Open Censor Data Network in Helsingborg we have no individual data there whatsoever. Everything is just aggregated data. Since we don’t collect it ,we can’t misuse it. So we try to keep the very high level of integrity in everything we do.

- What is your opinion about the EU-initiative of establishing the Digital Single Market**?

**Digital Single Market – is a new project initiated by the EU. The idea behind is that many barriers still block the free flow of online services and entertainment across national borders. The Digital Agenda will update EU Single Market rules for the digital era. The aims are to boost the music download business, establish a single area for online payments, and further protect EU consumers in cyberspace. Here is a mission letter of Andrus Ansip who is the new Vice-President for the Digital Single Market. More information on Digital Single Market is presented by the European Commission.

- I am not quite familiar with this project. I have a fear for initiatives like this because they usually tend to take the path of the most resistant parties. If we talk about Copyright, what we’ve seen is that every effort to unify the Copyright laws has extended the Copyright term. So it has been extended, it has been longer, more intrusive and turned into a really bad situation. So, I think in broad initiatives like this we should make sure that we go as open and wide as possible, which is often not the case. In this specific initiative, I see certain fears that for instance, legislation containing how we should handle long files and what kind of traceability we should have, is going to be extended. Generally, when we try to unify legislation in very broad areas it tends to go very wrong.

If we talk about terms like mobile roaming and sales taxes, I would be happy to see the EU as one market, absolutely. That would be a good thing. But if it goes beyond than tearing down borders and opening up for possibilities then it might go over to the flip side.

- From which age, do you think, children should be introduced to the Internet? Do you have any rules or restrictions in Helsingborg’s schools or kinder gardens?

In Helsinborg, we think that accessibility to the Internet and tools you need to use the Internet should be provided as soon as you feel the desire to, so that could be at the age of two or eleven month, I don’t know. We don’t put any restrictions or don’t have any general ideas that before the age of seven you shouldn’t be allowed to do that.

In terms of health, which is a big discussion, our brain changes all the time. I don’t see it as a problem that our brain is being changed and adapted to using digital tools. The only restrictions, I would like to set up, are to prohibit schools from taking cell phones from pupils. A lot of schools do that today. I think that is a massive intrusion on our privacy and integrity and it’s counterproductive to anything that could be evolving into a great possibility to learning. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

There are also schools that put restrictions on what be should available online. They see bulling on or they see bulling on this app called Secret and they decide to restrict the accessibility to those services by different means which is absolutely ridiculous. We shouldn’t do that, cause we are not censors here.

We should work hard to try and get our pupils and citizens in Helsinborg to understand the true values of citizenship and human rights and respect for each other. And these are the same questions in the physical world as they are in the digital world. We shouldn’t put specific digital restrictions in the digital space. So, open and free and available for everyone.

And if we see a lot of bulling online then we are actually in a good position because we can finally see the bulling. We can see and work with what is actually happening as opposed to traditional bulling which takes place around the corner, wherever there isn’t an eye of an adult. This hidden bulling is a real problem.

The problems we have in a digital space are like a litmus paper of the problems we have in a physical world. We can use that litmus paper and spotlight on the problems and bring it in into the physical world and say ‘Hey, should we really be treating each other like this? Someone actually said this in this classroom. Is that OK? Is that the kind of relationship we want to have with each other?’ And we have physical prove of what is happening. We never used to have that. So, this is a big possibility to solve some of the fundamental human problems we have in our interpersonal relationships. So, no restrictions!

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Data Roundup, 30 August

- August 30, 2013 in Data Roundup, infographic, surveillance

How to animate your infographic, why colour shouldn’t be an after-thought and will open data destroy us all? – the US government department asking that question.
Mapping balloons, photo jokin lacalle, flickr

Mapping balloons – check out the free course next week in London

Tools, Events, Courses On events coming up this month, another shout out for OKcon, the big OFKN event in Geneva running from the 13th September. Tickets, programme and contact details here. Other events in September include a free five week course on data mining and machine learning from some of the celebrities of the data mining world, the creators of Weka, a popular suite of machine learning software. Waikato University in New Zealand are offering a an online course starting September 9, 2013, with enrolments now open. The course teaches data mining and machine learning. Some one-off courses are open in London’s UCL in September, good for those interested in mapping. UCL is hosting two free DIY aerial photography workshops. Using kites or balloons, participants can learn to make a composite aerial photograph with MapKnitter and potential uses for the data. On 7th Sept 14:00- 18:30. See the UCL excites programme or email cindy[dot]regalado[dot]11@ucl[dot]ac[dot]uk Open Refine is a powerful and free tool for helping anyone clean up their data, view it, structure it, link it. Ruben Verborgh’s blog describes the new release of the software coming up in September and a guide book that helps make the tool easier to use for newbies. Want to make your infographic a bit more exciting? Make it move. A video tutorial on how to animate infographics in After Effects is here by Klaas Diersmann. Choosing a colour to use in your visualization shouldn’t just be an afterthought. Here’s an excellent blogpost on the possibilities and pitfalls of colour and where to start when you have to chose some. And finally, want to make a simple static site quickly out of a Google spreadsheet or document? Try out Tarbell, a super-simple CMS built out of Google Drive, built by the Chicago Tribune News Applications Team. Data stories Could open data destroy us all? Alarmist but DARPA Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, are looking into it, as Bloomberg report. It’s ironic because the US government has a lot of data already as the recent NSA stories have shown. This nice infographic from the Washington Post visualizes the US government’s black budget – what the US spends on surveillance and security. The New York Times is tracking you too… but to provide insight into reader behavior. Interesting to anyone working in journalism or user interfaces – this description of how the NYT tracks its readers gives some insights into how people behave, read and share online. Still on New York, you can see just how popular the candidates are in Track NYC’s Mayoral race… And the site TechPresident describes how a very simple open data tool telling people where their nearest polling stations were helped thousands more people to vote in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Sean Ndlovu who worked on GotToVote! told the International Journalists’ Network (IJNet) that it has always been a long process to find a polling place in places like Kenya and Zimbabwe, and simply letting people know what the closest places are makes a difference. Report here. And finally, an interview with a renowned Brazilian infographic designer Luis Iria. Data sources Some new datasets on include a curated set of open data for Zimbabwe.
And an open dataset from the Belgian city of Gent, aimed at fuelling smart city projects. flattr this!

How Spending Stories Fact Checks Big Brother, the Wiretappers’ Ball

- February 27, 2012 in Open Spending, Spending Stories, surveillance

This piece was co-written with Eric King of Privacy International and comes as Privacy International launches a huge new data release about companies selling surveillance technologies. It is cross-posted on the MediaShift PBS IDEA LAB and the OpenSpending blog. Today, the global surveillance industry is estimated at around $5 billion a year. But which companies are selling? Which governments are buying? And why should we care? We show how the OpenSpending platform can be used to speed up fact checking, showing which of these companies have government contracts, and, most interestingly, with which departments…

The Background

Big Brother is now indisputably big business, yet until recently the international trade in surveillance technologies remained largely under the radar of regulators and civil society. Buyers and suppliers meet, mingle and transact at secretive trade conferences around the world, and the details of their dealings are often shielded from public scrutiny by the ubiquitous defence of ‘national security’. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this environment has bred a widespread disregard for ethics and a culture in which the single-minded pursuit of profit is commonplace. For years, European and American companies have been quietly selling surveillance equipment and software to dictatorships across the Middle East and North Africa – products that have allowed these regimes to maintain a stranglehold over free expression, smother the flames of political dissent and target individuals for arrest, torture and execution. They include devices that intercept mobile phone calls and text messages in real time on a mass scale, malware and spyware that gives the purchaser complete control over a target’s computer and trojans that allow the camera and microphone on a laptop or mobile phone to be remotely switched on and operated. These technologies are also being bought by Western law enforcement, including small police departments in which the ability of officers to understand the legal parameters, levels of accuracy and limits of acceptability is highly questionable. The data that has just been released on the Privacy International Website included the following:
  1. An updated list of companies selling surveillance technology, and
  2. Naming all the government agencies attending an international surveillance trade show known as the wiretappers ball.
Some names are predictable enough: the FBI, the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the UK Serious Organized Crime Agency and Interpol, for example. The presence of others is deeply disturbing: the national security agencies of Bahrain and Yemen, the embassies of Belarus and the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Kenyan intelligence agency, to name but a few. A few are downright baffling, like the US department of Commerce or the US Fish & Wildlife Service and Clark County School District Police Department. Now, with the aid of OpenSpending, anyone can cross reference which contracts these companies hold with governments around the world. The investigation continues…

Using OpenSpending to speed up fact-checking

Privacy International approached the Spending Stories team to ask for a search widget to be able to search across all of the government spending datasets for contracts held between governments and these companies (until this point, it had only been possible to search one database at a time). The Spending Browser is now live at And, as the URLs correspond to the queries, individual searches can be passed on for further examination and, importantly, embedded in articles directly. Try it yourself against the list of companies listed in the Surveillance Section of the Privacy International Site (Just enter a company e.g. ‘Endace Accelerated’ into the search bar). The Spending Browser will become increasingly more powerful as ever more data is loaded into the system. Want to help make this tool even more powerful? Get involved and help to build up the data bank.


You can read more about the background to these stories on the Privacy International Site and recent coverage by the International Media: