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cyberBRICS observatory | nº 20, February/2023

cyberBRICS News

Versão em português disponível aqui.

Interactive Map: Online Content Normative Frameworks in the BRICS

This storyMap provides a comparative representation of norms regulating online content, the type of content deemed illegal, and the bodies competent for implementing the regulatory framework in each BRICS country. The regulatory choices of the BRICS members will naturally exert influence on the countries’ regional neighbors, but these frameworks should also be carefully analyzed by non-BRICS nations struggling with similar issues.

Brazil’s Over-Centralised Governance Of Digital Transformation

Paper by CyberBRICS Fellow Larissa Magalhães published at the African Journal of Information and Communication (AJIC).

Data Protection In The BRICS Countries: Legal Interoperability Through Innovative Practices And Convergence

Paper by CyberBRICS Director Luca Belli & CyberBRICS Associated Scholar Danilo Doneda (in memoriam), published at the International Data Privacy Law.

Understanding State-Level Variations In India’s Digital Transformation

Paper by CyberBRICS Fellow Smriti Parsheera published at the African Journal of Information and Communication (AJIC).

India’s Policy Responses To Big Tech: And An Eye On The Rise Of ‘Alt Big Tech’

Paper by CyberBRICS Fellow Smriti Parsheera published at the Indian Journal of Law and Technology.

Community Networks as Enablers of Human Rights

The 2022 Official Outcome of the UN IGF Dynamic Coalition on Community Connectivity was organized by Luca Belli and Senka Hadzic (CyberBRICS Fellow).

Private and Controversial: When Privacy and Public Health Meet in India

Set against the background of the COVID pandemic, creation of the National Digital Health Mission, and the ongoing debate on data protection, the collection of essays in Private and Controversial will explore the intersection between privacy and public health. The contributors include experts and practitioners from the fields of public health, law, economics, public policy, and public administration. The book is edited by CyberBRICS Fellow Smriti Parsheera.

AI regulation in Brazil: Advancements, flows, and need to learn from the data protection experience

Paper by CyberBRICS Director Luca Belli and Research Fellows Yasmin Curzi and Walter B. Gaspar published at the Computer Law and Security Review (CLSR).

CyberBRICS Previous Events

China and the World in the New Age

Our Director Luca Belli participated in the round table "China and the World in the New Age", organized by China Media Group (CMG) Latin America. The event brought together academics and media professionals with the objective of discussing the characteristics of the Asian country in the New Age, addressing the growth prospects in Brazil-China relations, and understanding what to expect from China's goals in the coming years.

MyData Online 2022 Conference

The CyberBRICS Project and the Center for Technology and Society at FGV organised the joint session “Data Governance From The Global South” at the MyData Online 2022 Conference. The session’s goal was to create a space for the exchange of information about the evolving data governance models in the Global South. Experts shared their insights on developments regarding data frameworks at the national and regional level, with a particular focus on data governance innovations. The session was hosted by CyberBRICS Associated Scholar Nicolo Zingales and had Luca Belli (CyberBRICS Director), Wei Wang (CyberBRICS Fellow), Alison Gillwald (CyberBRICS Advisory Board) and Mishi Choudhary (Software Freedom Law Center India) as speakers.


Webinar – 5G Regulation: Standards, Surveillance And Ideology

On Friday, November 18th, the Center for Technology and Society (CTS-FGV) and the CyberBRICS Project hosted the webinar “5G Regulation: Standards, Surveillance, and Ideology”. The event was moderated by CyberBRICS Director, Luca Belli, and counted with CTS-FGV Visiting Professor Niels ten Oever and ANATEL Telecommunications Regulation Specialist Vanessa Copetti Cravo. Speakers discussed recent developments in 5G regulations in Brazil and Europe, and the latest development at the international level, focusing particularly on cybersecurity issues.

BRICS-Plus Digital Competition Forum

The 1st BRICS+ Digital Competition Forum took place in Rio de Janeiro, on 24 and 25 November 2022. The Forum brought together the BRICS Digital Working Group, which held its 6th meeting, while opening an opportunity of participation for competition authorities of BRICS candidate countries (Argentina, Egypt, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan) and for local academics and civil society members (such as CTS-FGV, IDEC, Data Privacy Brasil, Derechos Digitales). The Forum was hosted by the Center for Technology and Society and the CyberBRICS Project at FGV Rio de Janeiro.

CyberBRICS Team at the UN Internet Governance Forum 2022

The 17th annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) took place between November 28th and December 2nd, 2022 in Ethiopia in a hybrid format. Members of the CyberBRICS Team participated in 6 panels to debate this year’s theme: “Resilient Internet for a Shared Sustainable and Common Future”. You can check all panels organized by our Fellows and Associated Scholars at the CyberBRICS Website.

World Internet Conference – Wuzhen Summit 2022

The CyberBRICS Team attended the 2022 edition of the World Internet Conference Wuzhen Summit (WIC Wuzhen). This year, besides participating in two sessions, our team will also publish two papers in the Conference’s Outcome Report. On Wednesday, November 9, CyberBRICS Director Luca Belli attended the “Bridging the Digital Divide” Forum, organized by the China Federation of Internet Societies. Dr. Belli presented the paper “Community Networks: Complementary Strategy to Bridge Digital Divides Sustainably”, co-authored with CyberBRICS Fellow Senka Hadzic. Also on November 9, Dr. Belli attended the Expert Symposium on Working Together to Build a Community of Shared Future in Cyberspace, organized by the Cybersecurity Association of China. He presented the paper “Interoperability to foster Open Digital Ecosystems in the BRICS and beyond”, co-authored with CyberBRICS Associated Scholar Nicolo Zingales.

Government welfare databases in Brazil expose the most vulnerable

The Brazilian government holds detailed information on recipients of social programs. A lack of data protection safeguards puts these individuals at risk of serious privacy breaches. The Brazilian government has hyper-detailed and up-to-date information on at least 80 million citizens - roughly 40 per cent of the country’s population.

Brazil Has A Law In Place Now To Regulate Crypto Assets

“A bill to regulate crypto assets has been approved by the former President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, after it was passed by the country’s Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, according to a report by Coindesk. (...) The bill puts in place a licensing framework for virtual asset service providers such as exchanges, CoinTelegraph reported. It added that the law has a provision to set a penalty for fraud involving virtual assets which carries a prison term of four to six years besides a fine”.

Update of the Brazilian Strategy for Digital Transformation for the period 2022-2026

E-Digital aims to take advantage of the potential of digital technologies to promote sustainable and inclusive economic and social development, with innovation, increased competitiveness, productivity and employment and income levels in the country. The review reinforces digital inclusion actions, the implementation of digital infrastructures, professional training, information security, cyber security and technological development.

Instagram expands AI-powered age verification program to India and Brazil

Instagram, facing scrutiny from safety advocates, started testing a program in the U.S. earlier this year to verify users’ age of those claiming to be 18 or older. It uses techniques including authentication via running video selfies through an artificial intelligence system. The Meta-owned service is now ready to roll out this program to two key overseas markets: India and Brazil.


140 million Brazilians will have access to 5G this semester, according to ANATEL

The deployment of 5G mobile technology advances at fifth generation speed in the country and will soon reach 140 million potential users. In a meeting on January 24, at Anatel of Gaispi - the Anatel group that oversees the 3.5 GHz spectrum clearing for the arrival of 5G - it was decided to expand to 78 more cities that will receive 5G beyond what was specified in the public notice, because the 3.5 GHz frequency clearing is well under way. According to the group's coordinator and Anatel's counselor, Moisés Moreira, with the measures taken so far, 1,610 Brazilian cities will have 5G available by June 30.

Apple removes Russia's largest social media network VK from App Store

Apple on September removed the popular Russian social media app VKontakte and other apps belonging to the developer ( and VK Music, etc) from its App Store globally. (...) Apple’s ability to remove a popular app that is used by millions of users showcases the power the company holds over one of the key digital gateways: app stores. This power has been frequently criticised by developers.


Russia Eyes Domestic Alternatives to Instagram, TikTok, Zoom

Russian software developers have submitted early versions of homemade alternatives to Instagram, TikTok and Zoom, the RBC news website reported in November. Instagram was blocked by Russian authorities following the invasion of Ukraine, while TikTok and Zoom restricted their services within the country.

The proposed domestic platforms — Looky, Sunlight Play and Dion — are part of the Russian government’s efforts to comply with President Vladimir Putin’s ban on the use of foreign software in critical infrastructure by 2025.

Yandex Registers New Companies to Bypass Sanctions

Russian tech giant Yandex has registered holding companies in Armenia and the U.S. in order to bypass international sanctions on Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, Russian-language TV channel RTVI reported in December. Senior Yandex managers Maxim Zagrebin and Dmitry Stepanov registered Beyond ML, a company that itself owns a dozen technology startups, in Armenia in August, according to RTVI, while a second legal entity called Beyond ML Inc. was registered in the U.S. at the same address as Yandex's U.S. office. The channel also reported that a number of the company’s employees had been told that Beyond ML had been set up to facilitate Yandex's continued operation in the U.S. and Europe.

Russia to begin work on CBDC settlement system as sanctions endure

Russia’s central bank is reportedly set to begin developing a cross-border settlement system using a central bank digital currency (CBDC) amid ongoing sanctions in response to its invasion of Ukraine. The plans to move forward with Russia’s digital ruble are expected to come in the first quarter of 2023 and will see Russia’s central bank study two possible cross-border settlement models (...). The first proposed model sees various countries entering into separate bilateral agreements with Russia to integrate their CBDC systems. (...) The second, more complicated model proposes a single hub-like platform for Russia to interact with other countries, sharing common protocols and standards to facilitate payments between the connected countries.

Why Does India’s Parliamentary Panel Want Ex-Ante Regulation For Big Tech?

To address competition concerns arising out of fast-evolving digital markets, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance has strongly recommended ex-ante regulations for online businesses, especially the Big Tech. This essentially means having a system in place to regularly monitor the business conduct of big firms and put forth restraints before an antitrust event has occurred.

Uber’s Facial Recognition System Continues To Threaten Drivers’ Job Security In India

Many Uber drivers have complained that the company’s Facial Recognition System (FRS) is posing a threat to their job security due to failures in face-match process in real time, according to a survey by MIT Technology Review. Almost half of the 150 drivers who were part of the MIT survey reported being temporarily locked out of their accounts due to problems in detection of their selfies. These problems ranged from slight changes in their appearance to lighting issues.

India’s Central Bank Launches Pilot Of E-Rupee For Retail Segment: Here’s Everything To Know

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) commenced its pilot for the retail segment of the digital rupee (e₹-R) on December 01, 2022, according to this press release. The central bank had earlier commenced its pilot for the wholesale segment on November 1, 2022. The announcement revealed that eight banks had been identified for phase-wise participation in the pilot.

India set an ‘incredibly important precedent’ by banning TikTok, FCC Commissioner says

India set an “incredibly important precedent” by banning TikTok two and a half years ago, FCC Commissioner said, as he projected a similar fate for the Chinese giant Bytedance app in the U.S. (...) Carr warned that TikTok “operates as a sophisticated surveillance tool” and told the Indian daily Economic Times that banning the social app is a “natural next step in our efforts to secure communication network”.

India to explore prohibition of unbacked crypto in its G20 presidency

India said on Thursday that under its ongoing G20 presidency, it will prioritize the development of a framework for global regulation of unbacked crypto assets, stablecoins and decentralized finance and will explore the “possibility of [their] prohibition” in a potentially large setback for the nascent industry.

Draft rules for online gaming: What are the regulations govt has released, and why

A self-regulatory body, mandatory know-your-customer norms for verification, and a grievance redressal mechanism are among the key proposals in the draft rules for online gaming, released by the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) on Monday, January 2. Online games will have to register with a self-regulatory body, and only games cleared by the body will be allowed to legally operate in India. Online gaming companies will not be allowed to engage in betting on the outcome of games, the proposed rules say.

Content termed ‘fake’ by PIB’s fact check must be taken down, suggests proposed change to IT Rules

All intermediaries, including social media platforms, will need to ensure that any news article identified as “fake or false” by the Press Information Bureau’s Fact Check Unit is not allowed on their platform, according to a newly proposed amendment to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. (...) If approved, this could mean that all intermediaries linked to the publisher – including their telecom service provider, cloud service provider, domain registrar, web host, social media platforms where the article may be promoted, content management system, etc. – will have to ensure that such content is taken down. This could make the government the ultimate arbiter of what is news.

How China is building a parallel generative AI universe

The gigantic technological leap that machine learning models have shown in the last few months is getting everyone excited about the future of AI — but also nervous about its uncomfortable consequences. (...) In China, where the tech community has always watched progress in the West closely, entrepreneurs, researchers, and investors are looking for ways to make their dent in the generative AI space. Tech firms are devising tools built on open source models to attract consumer and enterprise customers. Individuals are cashing in on AI-generated content. Regulators have responded quickly to define how text, image, and video synthesis should be used. Meanwhile, U.S. tech sanctions are raising concerns about China’s ability to keep up with AI advancement.

China’s state-backed blockchain project aims to be the Swift of stablecoins and central bank digital currencies

Hong Kong-based Red Date Technology, the technical architect for China’s state-backed Blockchain-based Service Network (BSN), has launched a new initiative that aims to make stablecoins and central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) interoperable in order to facilitate cross-border payments.

Didi Chuxing’s main app returns to Apple, Android app stores in China after Beijing gives green light for new user sign-ups

The main app of Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing has returned to China’s iOS and Android app stores, a crucial step for the company to fully resume its business after Beijing banned it from registering new users for 18 months. The Didi Chuxing app returned to Apple’s store on Thursday, while the Android version was restored by Wednesday on various local platforms, including Huawei’s AppGallery and Xiaomi’s GetApps, according to a person familiar with the matter, who declined to be named as they are not authorised to speak to the media.

China’s first case of data export security assessment for data export approved in Beijing

China's first case of security assessment for data export between a hospital in Beijing and a university medical center in the Netherlands got approved in Beijing, providing practical guidance for strengthening the safety management of medical and health data exports and promoting international medical research cooperation. (...) The approval of the project marked the first implementation of security assessments of important data and personal information collected within China which will be provided overseas, providing practical guidance for strengthening the safety management of medical and health data exports and promoting international medical research cooperation.

South Africa: Police Warn Public Against Social Media Scams

Police management in the North West has warned members of the public to exercise caution when responding to social media advertisements, as criminals are coming up with numerous tricks to scam citizens. "The warning stems from numerous scam incidents involving social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp advertisements, circulating since the beginning of this month in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda District," the South African Police Service (SAPS) said on Thursday, December 29.

Reserve Bank testing ‘digital rand’ in South Africa

The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) says it is still investigating and testing a central bank digital currency (CBDC) – however, it is trying to narrow down on a specific use case and isn’t in a rush to be a global leader for the format. Speaking on a panel at the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting (18 January) in Davos, Switzerland, SARB governor Lesetja Kganyago said that South Africa would be “very fast followers” regarding the development and implementation of central bank currencies, learning from other countries that are ahead in development.

The terrible toll of load shedding on South Africa’s mobile networks

Scheduled electricity blackouts are proving to be a hugely expensive problem for South Africa’s mobile operators, which are battling day in and day out to keep their networks running during extended periods without electricity. (...) Money spent on keeping base stations and data centres operational could be better spent addressing the digital divide by accelerating rural coverage and assisting customers with lower tariffs (...)

Africa: As Brics Chair, South Africa Vows to 'Advance African Interests'

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa says he'll use his chairmanship of the BRICS group of leading emerging economies to focus on advancing African interests. The bloc -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- is seen as an alternative to dominant Western economies.

Threat hunts included in cybersecurity strategies, as South Africa is the second most targeted country in Africa

The threat of cyberattack is real and growing, and the likelihood of businesses being attacked is increasing daily. In fact, South Africa is the second most targeted country in Africa, with ransomware among the top five cyberthreats. Public sector, infrastructure and large organisations are the most attractive targets for a number of reasons, chiefly because they have information that is valuable as well as the means to pay the ransom.

After Access 2022: Internet usage trends in South Africa

To develop policies and regulations which will ensure inclusive ICT developments are a vehicle for advancing the United National 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, a deeper understanding is needed of how individuals, households and businesses interact with ICT and how this interaction impacts on their livelihoods and well-being. (...) National representative demand-side surveys of individual or household, and microbusiness access and use, are essential for assessing policy outcomes and are especially in predominantly pre-paid mobile markets like South Africa the only way to obtain data that can be disaggregated by sex, education, income, geographic location – information critical to identifying the exact point of policy intervention to redress different aspect of inequality.  The first point of access into the digital world is the Internet, and so this brief focuses on high-level findings related to the ability to access the Internet across different segments of the South African population.

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