Apply for the Digital Rights Summer School

The applications for the 2023 Digital Rights Summer School in Perast, Montenegro are now open!

The School takes place from 23 to 29 July, and the program for 2023 is designed for enthusiasts based in Southeast Europe, who are passionate about digital rights and eager to learn more about the latest developments in this field. 

During the School, we will explore the impact of emerging technologies on human rights with the help of expert lecturers. You will have an opportunity to delve deeper into the issues and dilemmas posed by artificial intelligence, especially in the context of new advanced AI models which are increasingly causing public attention. If you become a participant, you will also get to learn about protecting female journalists from online harassment, information warfare and the link between migration policies and data exploitation. These are just some of the topics you will hear about, gaining both theoretical and practical knowledge!

This program is organised by SHARE Foundation, European Digital Rights (EDRi) and Digital Freedom Fund – it offers a unique opportunity to learn from leading experts and network with other professionals in the field. Join us for an engaging program in the beautiful setting of Perast. Accepted applicants will be provided with travel, accommodation and full board during their stay.

To apply, please fill out the form at the following link:  

Applications form closes on 5 June 2023, 17.00 CEST (Belgrade time). Decisions of acceptance will be made in mid June. 

Please feel free to reach out at [email protected] if you have any questions.

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Conference on socio-ecological impacts of technology

Digital | Green | Society

A two-day international conference dedicated to the consequences that the dizzying development of technology has on the environment, citizens and society, will be held from May 14 to 16 in Belgrade

The conference organized by the leading regional organization for digital rights SHARE Foundation, will take place in the KC Grad. The full program with line-up is available here. Due to limited space, it is necessary to register for a seat.

Despite significant achievements in science and social activism, new digital technologies have brought us closer to the horizon of dystopia thanks to the unprecedented and uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources. At the same time, various applications of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things or robotics, transform people – their features, behavior, mutual relationships and interactions with the environment – into data (datafication) that is increasingly easier to manage.

What exactly are the new types of political system such as extractive capitalism and surveillance capitalism? In what way is it possible to analyze their key elements and establish a new social critique? What do you know about the life cycle of your smartphone, from the cobalt pit in the Congo, to a landfill in your city – and at which of these stages do you recognize your personal responsibility? What are the new, greener policies that we need to truly bear that responsibility? These are just some of the issues the participants will reflect upon during the event.

Conference Digital | Green | Society is developed as a platform for discussing the existing and opening new questions from the intersection of politics, human rights and technology. In addition to lectures and presentations, the program includes the local premiere of a documentary on the expansion of surveillance in China (as part of the Beldocs festival), various workshops, as well as professional guidance through public spaces in Belgrade of importance for human rights and freedoms.

Contact: [email protected] 
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Green politics and digital society: join us!

The Digital/Green/Society, 14-16 May, Belgrade

The issues of climate crises and the rapid development of information technologies are closely related, although the public generally does not discuss it enough. The processes of exploitation of natural resources for the purpose of creating and maintaining the global digital infrastructure have an increasing influence on socio-political relations.

If you are an environmental or digital rights activist, a researcher, involved in green policies, or just concerned about these issues, join us for the event where we will discuss current challenges and potential advocacy plans for the future at the intersection of green policies, human rights and technology.

Please register for the event at this link, the full conference program will be announced by mid-April.

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Round two of the battle against mass biometric surveillance

The controversial Draft Law on Internal Affairs was withdrawn from the procedure on Monday, December 26. The decision to withdraw followed two sessions of the public discussion, which was initially open for three weeks and then extended at the request of civic organisations.

At the same time, the Government announced “broad consultations” in further work on the draft of this regulation, with the aim “to clarify all doubts in the public and for everyone to understand the intention of the law, which is of particular importance for the safety of all citizens of the Republic of Serbia.”

In a little more than a year, this is the second attempt to reform one of the key areas of regulation that was abandoned during the public discussion. Unlike the first one, the work on the second draft went on in parallel with a series of consultative meetings with the expert community. However, both experts and the general public contested a number of proposed provisions regulating the powers of the police and the competent minister.

As an organisation dedicated to protecting digital rights and freedoms, SHARE Foundation focused on those articles of the Draft which deal with mass, indiscriminate processing of citizens’ biometric data through a smart video-surveillance system. We remain on the position that indiscriminate biometric surveillance of public spaces is contrary to the Constitution of Serbia and international conventions on the rights and freedoms of citizens.

SHARE Foundation advocates for the introduction of a moratorium on the use of intrusive technologies that involve mass, indiscriminate processing of the most sensitive personal data of citizens. From the first announcements of the acquisition of the smart surveillance system from the Chinese company Huawei, we have been warning the public and the authorities that such measures have no basis in the Constitution and laws of Serbia, and that its use would grossly violate the principles of necessity and proportionality, embedded in the national and international regulation of police powers.

We would like to thank the activists, collaborators and all partner organisations with whom we won this victory.

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What are the provisions of new policing draft laws

The analysis of the new Draft Law on Internal Affairs, the Draft Law on Data Processing and Records in Internal Affairs, as well as the new working draft of Data Protection Impact Assessment, shows that the fundamental issues of the intrusive technology application in Serbia have not been addressed.

Specifically, the Draft Law on Internal Affairs enables mass, indiscriminate processing of biometric data which is special category data, by means of recording in public spaces and storing the recorded data. As described in the Impact Assessment working draft, biometric data is collected by detecting faces in the course of recording, and by extracting biometric data from a captured photo. The Draft Law on Data Processing and Records provides that photos with biometric facial features are kept for 72 hours from the moment of creation. These processes take place within police powers, meaning that biometric data are indiscriminately collected and stored outside the prescribed procedures for special evidentiary actions, that is, without the court order.

The Draft Law on Internal Affairs defines cases in which an authorised officer can use the biometric data processing software for identification purposes. These are cases of finding the perpetrator of criminal or preparatory offences prosecuted ex officio, or finding a missing victim of a criminal offence prosecuted ex officio. However, the process of establishing an identity is subject to the conditions of the Criminal Procedure Code of Serbia, although it is not entirely clear which of the procedures would be applied for the special evidentiary actions, given that different conditions are prescribed for each of these evidentiary actions.

The draft laws describe two types of access, automated and semi-automated biometric data searches, but their difference is instead defined in the Impact Assessment working draft. The automated search of biometric data is limited either to locations or to persons determined by the security profiles and implies a real-time search. Semi-automated processing is a retroactive search of biometric data either for identification purposes, where biometric data from the system is used as an input for other databases held by the Ministry of Interior of Serbia, or for establishing the movements and whereabouts of an already identified person.

The SHARE Foundation has consistently advocated against the legalisation of mass, indiscriminate biometric surveillance for the past four years, particularly during the consultation process launched upon the withdrawal of the first Draft Law on Internal Affairs. A new draft with old fundamental issues is now before us. The public hearing is open until the end of December.

Please find the SHARE Foundation’s complete Position Paper at this link.

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Biometrics again in the Draft Law on Internal Affairs

The Ministry of Interior published a new version of the Draft Law on Internal Affairs, the Draft Law on Data Processing and Records in Internal Affairs, as well as a series of other laws from its jurisdiction. The proposed legislation contains provisions regulating biometric surveillance in public spaces. The public discussion on the drafts is open until 31 December.

SHARE Foundation remains absolutely opposed to any use of biometric surveillance in public spaces, regardless of whether it is in a domestic or international context.

The previous Draft was withdrawn from the procedure last September, after warnings from the domestic community and international actors that the adoption of such a law would legalise mass biometric surveillance of public spaces and reduce the rights and freedoms of citizens.

In the meantime, the Ministry organized a series of consultative meetings attended by representatives of SHARE Foundation, #hiljadekamera initiative, as well as other civil society organisations, experts and representatives of the academic community.

  • 30 September 2021 – The initial consultative meeting at which the Ministry indicated the need for consultations due to civil society criticism of the Draft Law on Internal Affairs, especially biometric surveillance in public areas.
  • 29 October 2021 – Meeting regarding the functioning of the video surveillance system, with special reference to the processing of biometric data, in the context of the Draft Law on Internal Affairs.
  • 21 December 2021 – Meeting on the protection of personal data when using biometric surveillance, in the context of the Draft Law on Internal Affairs.
  • 22 February 2022 – Meeting on the Impact Assessment of the processing of biometric data by the video surveillance system on the rights and freedoms of citizens, in the context of the Draft Law on Internal Affairs.
  • 13 May 2022 – Presentation and discussion on the first draft of the Impact Assessment prepared by the Ministry’s working group.
  • 18 July 2022 – Meeting on the topic of other disputed provisions of the Draft Law on Internal Affairs.
  • 30 November 2022 – Presentation and discussion on the second draft of the Impact Assessment prepared by the Ministry’s working group.

SHARE Foundation used these meetings to constantly point out to representatives of the Ministry of Interior the domestic and international legal framework that regulates this area and the risks that the biometric surveillance system carries with it. We particularly emphasised the conditions of necessity and proportionality for the use of such a system, which were not met.

It is particularly important that in May 2022, the Ministry of Interior again prepared a draft of the Impact Assessment of the processing of biometric data by the video surveillance system, on which we submitted comments. The Ministry submitted the latest draft of the Impact Assessment to us in November 2022. Although it accepted a part of SHARE Foundation’s comments on the May draft, certain essential issues were not addressed, which is why we sent comments to the Ministry in December 2022. Impact Assessment on the protection of personal data, approved by the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection is a prerequisite for further consideration of this issue.

During the public debate on the Draft Law on Internal Affairs and other draft laws, SHARE Foundation will analyse the text and send comments with the aim of influencing as much as possible that the text that will be submitted to the parliamentary procedure protects the rights of citizens in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, international standards of human rights and the European Convention on Human Rights and prevent the mass biometric processing of personal data from public spaces. We invite representatives of the civil sector, academic community, expert public, media and journalist associations, as well as all citizens to join the public discussion so that the front against mass biometric surveillance of our streets is as broad and inclusive as possible.

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All you need to know about harassment on the internet

Social media have long been more than just scrolling through photo galleries from vacations or family gatherings. With all the benefits they provide us, social media platforms also carry great risks for their users. How to deal with harassment on the internet, what are the consequences and which steps to take to protect yourself?

The video is also available in Serbian, Macedonian and Albanian.

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All you need to know about security on the internet

Without basic digital hygiene there is no security on the internet. The software we use is not perfect and each vulnerability puts our data at risk of being misused by cybercriminals. Why is it important to take care of the security of online services, accounts and devices we use and how to protect our personal data, financial information and other digital resources?

The video is also available in Serbian, Macedonian and Albanian.

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All you need to know about data protection on the internet

Personal data is information that identifies you more closely and with the help of which, directly or indirectly, an individual can be identified. Examples are name, telephone number, fingerprint, political belief or medical history. What is personal data protection and what are the guarantees that the collection and processing of data are carried out transparently and in accordance with the law?

The video is also available in Serbian, Macedonian and Albanian.

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