Romania

SEEDIG 2019 Is Coming to Bucharest. Join Now, Not to Regret Afterwards…

We are thrilled to announce that this year South Eastern European Dialogue on Internet Governance (SEEDIG) is coming to Bucharest, Romania, on May 7-8, 2019.

Why should you join SEEDIG in Bucharest? It’s simple:

  • We are the only sub-regional initiative dedicated to open, inclusive, and informal dialogue on Internet policy and governance
  • We specifically focus on South Eastern Europe and neighbouring area (SEE+)
  • We are an amazing community of like-minded people passionate about Internet and its governing policies
  • We unite people coming from various backgrounds and all stakeholder groups (governments, private sector, technical community, academia, civil society)
  • We discuss topics relevant for the SEE+ region, such as digital divide, cybersecurity, IDNs, digital rights, and digital economy
  • We want our region to use its human and technological potential to the fullest, and have an equal stand in Internet governance ecosystem.

This year’s programme is still being shaped by the programme committee, and you have all the chances to be a part of the agenda. In May at SEEDIG we will talk about:

  • Cybersecurity and building trust in digital technologies
  • Internet infrastructure and using technologies for digital innovation
  • Digital technologies for all by enhancing accessibility and skills
  • Trends, challenges and regulations in digital businesses.

You can follow the agenda drafting process, and check the programme for regular updates by visiting SEEDIG official website.

If you are passionate about asking thought-provoking questions and know how to peacefully and productively manage a discussion between stakeholders with opposite interests, write to us, and we can discuss about your potential role as a moderator.

If, otherwise, you feel more like sharing your own experiences and expertise, drop us a line, and we will gladly talk about your contribution to the discussions.

If you want to make sure that none of the key messages discussed during the sessions gets lost, we have a role for you. Join us as a rapporteur, take notes of the discussions, and share them afterwards with the community for a follow-up and further collaboration in-between the annual meetings. We are waiting for your expressions of interest.

Want to support us financially and increase your visibility in the region? After you check our sponsorship proposal, send us a notification, and we will contact you to discuss details, and will feature your name among our partners (ICANN, ISOC, RIPE NCC, Council of Europe, European Commission, EuroDIG, etc.).

Have you heard about SEEDIG before but never had a chance to attend? Or is it the very first time that you come across this abbreviation? We are open to both experienced participants and absolute newcomers. Participation in the SEEDIG 5 meeting is totally free and inclusive, but registration is required. Register now, and become a part of the biggest Internet governance event in the region.

We are preparing one more surprise for you to celebrate SEEDIG’s 5th anniversary. If you are not yet a part of the community, or haven’t been active so far, it’s the right time to join, and unite efforts to shape a better digital future for our region.

You are the one we need in the community of Internet governance enthusiasts. Let’s meet in Bucharest this May!

Intelligence sharing without effective oversight in Romania

Intelligence sharing, according to the US Department of Homeland Security (via. Wikipedia) is “the ability to exchange intelligence, information, data, or knowledge among Federal, state, local or private-sector entities as appropriate.” To this US-centric definition, Wikipedia adds “Intelligence sharing also involves intergovernmental bilateral or multilateral agreements and through international organizations. Intelligence sharing is meant to facilitate the use of actionable intelligence to a broader range of decision-makers.”

In the real world, however, intelligence sharing is, most of the time, an opaque process that lacks effective oversight and control.

One example of a completely out-of-control intelligence sharing operation is revealed in Edward Snowden‘s leaks. In the leaks there are documents that shed light on the fact that the NSA has been collaborating with intelligence agencies from 33 other countries at the time of the leaks. Were all those agreements between the parties of this network established following transparent procedures by democratically elected bodies? Given the parties involved and what we’re about to find out below, the answer is most likely “No”.

In Romania, the intelligence services were flatly denying any intelligence sharing with the NSA: “There was never any secret accord or protocol or deal between SRI, as the national authority for communications investigations and the NSA” was what then SRI (Romanian Intelligence Service) director George Maior was claiming. At all debates on various privacy-shredding SRI-supported bills, whenever their authority was contested by reasons of them being a militarized and completely opaque organization that is beyond effective oversight, they were always defaulting back to the position that they are overseen by a democratically elected body, namely the parliamentary SRI oversight committee. Replies that the parliamentary intelligence oversight committees were less intelligence oversight committees and to a much larger degree intelligence cheerleading committees were falling on deaf ears.

But, to paraphrase the Buddha, “three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth”. At the end of 2017, as a result of a open letter to the Romanian parliamentary intelligence oversight committees which was sent by the Association for Technology and Internet and Privacy International, the SRI parliamentary oversight committee gave a much more candid answer than anybody was expecting.

We find out that the committee can ask for access on anything, and the service is compelled to respond, but only if it is not about “the documents, data and information related to intelligence activities concerning national security which are currently taking place or which will be taking place in the future, considered as such by the Committee, at the recommendation of the Supreme Defence Council, as well as the information which could lead to breaking of the cover of operatives, to the identification of sources, of concrete methods and means of work used in intelligence gathering, to the extent that these do not infringe on the Constitution and standing legislation.” This isn’t even that big of a revelation, given that this is an excerpt of the regulation outlining the authority of the intelligence oversight committees – which is little to none when it comes to relevant current activities of the intelligence services. But that is not all. We find out that “[…] concerning the access of the Committee’s members to relevant information regarding state intelligence sharing, given its purview and the concrete situations which came to the attention of the Committee, these informations can be obtained upon request and with the accord of the involved parties.” So oversight happens only if “the involved parties” agree.

Then we find out that “the Committee’s competences are exercised only in relation to the SRI, not in relation with the Government/State. As a consequence, there is no general mandate given to the Committee to perform an independent control of the intelligence sharing activities of the Government/State.” – so it seems that the SRI parliamentary oversight committee publicly states that the intelligence sharing activities of the SRI flat out lack any oversight whatsoever.

Finally, we find out that “Intelligence sharing between SRI and partner intelligence services from other countries are done according to the rules established through cooperation protocols between SRI and similar foreign organizations, while respecting established norms.” If the previous quote may have not been clear enough, this one puts the issue to rest, clearly stating that the terms of all intelligence sharing agreements entered by the SRI are are completely at the latitude of the SRI and their partners, without any oversight, democratic or otherwise apart from “respecting established norms”. They could have skipped the “respecting established norms” altogether and it wouldn’t have made any difference.

So it seems that all those “crazy” people complaining about the lack or oversight weren’t, in fact, paranoid. They were just reading between the lines correctly.

Romanian MEPs you’ve got mail! Over 100 postcards saying no to link tax and Internet censorship

FotoJetIn the last month, more and more Romanian voice are gathering to send out a clear message to decision makers: We don’t want link taxes and upload filters!

Besides calling and sending letters to Romanian MEPs to delete Articles 11&13 from the copyright reform proposal, EDRi member ApTI organised a series of activities to trigger more public attention regarding the damaging copyright reform proposals. Along with 57 other civil rights organizations, we also signed the Civil Liberties Union for Europe open letter to stop the censorship machine. (more…)

EU Copyright Reform Directive debate with MEP Victor Negrescu

Friday, June 23rd, ApTI along with ANBPR (The National Association of Librarians and Public Libraries of Romania) and CJI (The Center for Independent Journalism) organized a meeting about the European Commission’s Directive proposal on the copyright reform Directive. Romanian MEP Victor Negrescu took part in the event.

This came in the context of the Europe-wide effort to mitigate the damage that the EU Copyright Directive threatens to inflict on human rights and on the Internet in the EU. The biggest two problems are Article 11, which would introduce an ancillary right for press publishers, a.k.a. “the link tax” and Article 13, which would mandate all EU-based online platforms that allow user-made content to implement upload filters, under the guise of protecting copyrights. (more…)