Law and Legal Assistance

June Mobile Tech Salon, NYC: Our Mobile Data Exhaust

Posted by MarkWeingarten on Jun 14, 2011

According to the Wall Street Journal, “[Data produced by the use of mobile phones] generates immense commercial databases that reveal the ways we arrange ourselves into networks of power, money, love and trust.” As mobile phone use increases and applications become increasingly sophisticated, the volume of mobile data we create continues to grow at an incredible rate, creating new possibilities and posing new challenges to notions of privacy.

Businesses want this data for marketing. Congress wants to regulate it. Activists and privacy advocates want to ensure that it is not used to compromise their safety or freedoms. Meanwhile, projects such as UN Global Pulse want to use information gleaned from mobile phone use to detect and prevent slow-onset humanitarian crises. We invite you to join us on the evening of June 30th for our next New York City-based Mobile Tech Salon as we explore these tough questions:

  • How do we determine socially beneficial uses for mobile data?
  • How can the safety, security, and privacy of individuals be respected while using mobile data to benefit them?
  • How can our mobile data be effectively aggregated and anonymized? Or can’t it?

Mobile Reporting as a Child Abuse Detection Tool

Posted by MarkWeingarten on Mar 07, 2011
Mobile Reporting as a Child Abuse Detection Tool data sheet 1209 Views
Nyirubugar, Olivier
Publication Date: 
Apr 2010
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

The concept of mobile reporting, combined with community reporting is changing the way we perceive previously ignored local issues. While they hardly make it into mainstream media, they are now flooding into the cyberspace and the blogosphere thanks to the Web and the mobile phone technologies. The power of the mobile phone in the context of community reporting approach resides in its simplicity, both through the ordinary tools used by reporters – the phones which almost everyone knows or owns by now – and through the reporters themselves, who are members of the community being reported about.

In this presentation, I want to highlight how one issue – childabuse – is being ‘naturally’ captured and documented by mobile reporters following a training offered by Voices of Africa Media Foundation in various African countries. The capturing is ‘natural’ in the sense that, viewed locally, the abuse is tolerated, justified, or even approved by communities, who do not perceive them as abuse. The idea is to draw the attention of political leaders and decision makers, who mostly rely on mainstream media, the ones known for neglecting non-profit generating local issues.

In this paper, I want to deal with three main points. In the first place, I will conceptualise mobile reporting combined with community reporting in the light of existing theories on culture convergence and participatory media. Secondly, I will focus on one case, child abuse, which our reporters have covered spontaneously. In the end, I will discuss the potential impact of this way of approaching local news on local leadership and politics.

Mobile Activism or Mobile Hype?

Posted by MohiniBhavsar on Aug 09, 2010
Mobile Activism or Mobile Hype? data sheet 2081 Views
Firoze Manji
Publication Date: 
Jan 2008
Publication Type: 
Journal article

Based on two experiences using mobile phones in Africa to address women’s rights and social development, the author tries to understand whether mobile technology will bring social progress to the economically poor of Africa.

The author first examines mobile phone use in the campaign for the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, adopted by the African Union (AU)in 2003 and in need of ratification by 15 countries. The technical barriers to message transmission in the campaign and the message spamming that it attracted inhibited the success of this particular application of mobile technology but did not reduce the campaign effectiveness because the uniqueness of the cell phone campaign strategy drew a large amount of publicity for ratification.

In the second example, the UmNyango Project intended to promote and protect the rights of rural women in the province of KwaZulu Natal (KZN), South Africa, from domestic violence against women and landlessness amongst women. The project created "an SMS gateway through which messages could be distributed to all those enrolled in the project, and it enabled every individual to send messages to the organisers and to the local paralegal officers where they needed assistance with regard to any incidence of violence or threat to their access to land....In practice, the project found SMS to be prohibitively expensive, despite the fact that some level of subsidy was provided by the project towards the cost of SMS." The author states that, "Mobile phones, after all the hype, are like pencils, tools for communication.... Like all technologies, tools do not themselves do anything." He uses the example of SMS hate mail messages to support the position that effects of technology result from the underlying values and morals of its developers, not from the tools themselves, and concludes: "In capitalist societies, all technologies have the potential for magnifying and amplifying social differentiation. It is only through the imposition of the democratic will of citizens can this inherent tendency of technologies be overcome."