by Andrea Monti – adjunct professor of law and order at the University of Chieti-Pescara – Originally published in Italian by Formiche.net
A piece of recent news is that China has decided to test Ad5-nCoV, a possible vaccine for the Coronavirus, on its armed forces. According to the British newspaper The Telegraph, the choice would depend on the fact that the military “offers a more compact medical control group than the public”.
Although the use on civilians and not only by Chinese descent could be possible (the experimentation was also authorized in Canada), it is useful to think about the meaning of the choice to develop and test the vaccine in the military. Continue reading “China to vaccine the Army to avoid the Roman Empire’s fate”
Online contact tracing is changing business: from a means to counter the Coronavirus contagion to a tool of public order. Can we afford it? The analysis of Andrea Monti, Adjunct-Professor in charge of law and order and public safety at the University of Chieti-Pescara
Originally published in Italian by Formiche.net.
A series of tweets from the American network NBC News bounce the news that the authorities in Minnesota plan to use data from Coronavirus contact-tracing software in public order and security operations to contain the antiracist protests broken out over the death of George Floyd caused by a police officer.
This announcement re-ignites the controversy about the risks of abuse by the State, if it is allowed to have at its disposal vast amounts of data of all kinds on citizens and, in Italy, reinforces the position of those who praised the incredible technological complication that “to protect privacy” has delayed and castrated the development of Immuni, the contact tracing software that should warn us if we came into contact with someone who tested positive at Covid-19. Continue reading “Minnesota’s protests to mark the end of Immuni?”
Like many people, I often talk about COVID-19 and its impacts in various areas. By academic and professional habit, I try to do so by applying three criteria:
- to talk about things I have direct knowledge of, to ask for explanations (explanations, not “clarifications”),
- when I have to draw conclusions of my competence that require non-legal knowledge,
- to avoid talking about topics outside my area of knowledge.
This attitude, proper of people accustomed to reasoning on a logical basis, is less widespread than one might think and not (only) out of ignorance, but out of a form of intellectual arrogance in the name of which the fact of having competence in an area self-attribute title and authority to talk about whatever topic comes on the floor. Continue reading “COVID-19: fake news and individual arrogance”
At every press conference, starting with those announcing the first containment measures, the watchword of government communication was “sugaring the pill”.
It is a reasonable choice because conveying the perception that everything is under control and therefore spreading optimism is undoubtedly essential to contain negativity and defeatism. Too bad that, in practice, this has produced ambiguous and opaque messages. Continue reading “COVID-19 and Government communication in Italy”
In its “Re-use of Public Sector information” website section, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner writes verbatim
All of the information featured on our website is the copyright of the Data Protection Commission unless otherwise indicated. You may re-use the information on this website free of charge in any format.
At first sight this statement might looks innocuous, but actually it carries a blatant mistake that will turns into a dangerous trend: imposing copyright on information.
In the EU, Copyright – better, the Right of Author – grants legal protection to the way an idea is creatively put in writing or in whatever way can be perceived by a human beings. In other words, this Shakespear’s quote from Hamlet’s Act II, Scene II
Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t.
is protected by the Right of Auhtor because of the “how” (creative form) rather than of the “what” (raw information).
Therefore, the statement of the Irish Data Protection Commissioner is a wrong enforcement of the Right of Author prerogatives.
But why is it dangerous too?
The talk I did at the 2004 Licensing Executive Society of Britain and Ireland Annual Conference, lately edited in a paper published by Ciberspazio e Diritto (English version available here) explains what is at stake:
The impossibility of securing patents did not stop the attempts to establish some sort of “ownership” on the genetic information, and alternative ways have been sought. As far back as 1987, Walter Gilbert, one of the pioneers in bioinformatics research, declared to the Washington Post: “I don’t believe in the patentability of the genome. What we are actually interested in is securing copyrights on the sequences. This means that if someone wishes to read the code, they will have to pay us to get access. Our goal is to make the information available to everyone. Provided they pay a price.
Imposing “copyright” over information, then, is not only wrong because there is no creativity on raw data. Is dangerous because it is a way to deprive people of their right to knowledge (right to science) and to be informed (free speech)