New medical testing: affordable and quick

Kanav Kahol, a biomedical engineer and researcher at Arizona State University, realized that physicians and engineers were doing little to make diagnostic testing more affordable. As a result, billions of people receive inadequate preventative healthcare. Intent on creating a solution, Kahol moved back to New Delhi in 2011 where he developed the Swasthya Slate.

The Swasthya Slate is a mobile medical device that performs 33 medical tests covering a broad range of assessments, including blood pressure, heart rate, heamoglobin, HIV, malaria, and typhoid. The device is roughly the size of a large textbook and costs $600. Each test takes one to two minutes, and results are automatically stored on the patient’s cloud-based medical records.

After finishing the slate in Jan. 2013, Kahol introduced it to 2.1 million people served by medical clinics in the Northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Swasthya Slate is now used in six continents, and the next generation of the device—HealthCube—was tested last month in Clinica Internacional, Peru’s most prestigious hospital. Alvaro Chavez Tori, Clinica’s general manager, is optimistic about the integration of the HealthCube in Peru and Latin America as the “acceptance of the technology was amazingly high.”

HealthCube has great potential in the United States as well. Over 10 percent of the U.S. population still lacks health insurance, and thus receives less preventative care and experiences greater serious illness. Basic tests provided by Swasthya Slate and HealthCube would alert Americans to health issues early and affordably, cutting costs for citizens and for the government.

Article via The Washington Post, March 11, 2016

Photo: Infant patients get a checkup via World Bank Photo Collection [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Nation divided over Apple decision

Apple’s decision to refuse the FBI order requiring the company to unlock a phone used by Syed Farook, one of the terrorists in the San Bernardino shooting, has divided the nation into two camps. Those who support the company believe that the FBI order jeopardizes individual privacy. Others argue that Apple’s challenge threatens national security.

In order to unlock Syed Farook’s iPhone, Apple would have to design a new software that would provide a backdoor through the phone’s security features. That software does not yet exist, and Apple argues it should stay that way.

“The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices,” states Tim Cook’s response posted on the Apple website.

The non-profit advocacy group Fight for the Future organized demonstrations across the nation following the Apple decision in order to show solidarity with the company. Evan Greer, the organization’s campaign director, spoke about the importance of encryption in protecting public facilities like hospitals and airports, as well as in assuring the safety of individuals.

“For myself as a member of the LGBT community, I know there are a lot of people that have heightened needs for security. A breach is not just inconvenient or embarrassing, but can put people in threat of physical violence,” Greer said.

Henry Nickel, a San Bernardino city councilman, has the opposing opinion that Apple’s decision is an obstruction of justice. He likens Apple’s refusal to access the contents of Farook’s phone to a landlord’s refusal to unlock a suspect’s door in the face of a search warrant.

“I do not feel that digital data is in any way subject to additional protection from search or seizure than any other aspects of our lives,” Nickel said. “Apple is simply wrong if it believes digital information is somehow more sacred than any other type of information.”

San Bernardino Mayor R. Carey Davis felt similarly. “The attacks on December 2nd was the deadliest terrorist attack in the US since 9/11, and law enforcement officials continue to follow up on leads related to the case… It is my hope that Apple cooperates given the circumstances of this investigation,” he said.

Article via: The Washington Post, 19 February, 2016

Photo: Laughing Squid iPhone Webclip Icon by Scott Beale [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


China to pass new decryption law

Tech companies await the final version of a new Chinese law that targets terrorism by providing the government more powers to use decryption. According to experts, the current wording of the law is vague, and thus the actual implications of the legislation are unclear.

Owen D. Nee, a Greenberg Traurig attorney and lecturer at Columbia and NYU law schools, said that the law “creates a duty” but doesn’t specify how it will be “exercised.” He added, “When China writes a law like this, vagueness is an intended consequence.”

Nee said that the law could possibly require Internet service providers to aid the government in decryption. Pam Dixon, the executive director of the World Privacy Forum, said that it’s possible tech companies will pull out of China in order to protect user data, or the law could have virtually no effect on the tech industry in the country.

The law “gives even broader rights [to the government] which is troubling,” Dixon said. “There’s already a lot of censorship.”

Currently, telecommunication companies and Internet service providers are likely providing opinions on drafts as tech companies lobby to Chinese authorities. A report from the Xinhua news agency stated that Li Shouwei of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee legislative affairs commission “admitted that a number of countries and enterprises had voice concerns about certain provisions of the law” at a recent press conference.

Chinese officials responded to criticisms by exposing the hypocrisy of the United States in regards to anti-terrorism initiatives. A commentary published by Xinhua said, “In short, the U.S. criticism against China’s anti-terrorism legislation is but yet another case of Washington’s application of double standards in dealing with issues of terrorism.”

Article via: LegalTech News, 29 December 2015

Photo: Chinese Warships Visit Portsmouth by Defence Images

[Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Farmers in India use WhatsApp to sell organic produce

Farmers in India are now using WhatsApp to network with customers. Santhosh Kittur and Abhijit Kamath, for example, grow pesticide-free vegetables using traditional farming techniques. But they have a very modern method of advertising their produce: an 80-member WhatsApp group that receives updates and photographs of the farm.

Members of the group can message Kittur and Kamarth to reserve specific vegetables. “First preference is given to the members of the group. The system has worked well for us, even financially,” Kittur commented.

The trend of using WhatsApp to connect farmers to customers is a result of rising demand for organic produce in India. An October report by the Agriculture Ministry exposed that the amount of vegetables, fruit, meat, and spices treated with pesticides over the legal maximum level had almost doubled since 2009.

“It is very hard to find chemical-free vegetables. We had stopped using cabbage, cauliflower, and brinjal [eggplant] after learning about their high chemical content,” said customer Shraddha Bagi. “When these farmers [Kittur and Kamath] supply fresh and safe vegetables right at our doorsteps, we should definitely encourage them. It’s come to such a point where we eagerly wait for their produce.”

WhatsApp has exceeded its role as an advertiser to become a support system for farmers. Over a hundred farmers from different villages are part of the group named Baliraja, which serves as a forum for the farmers to share advice and connect with experts.

“Farmers’ queries are getting answered quickly,” said the coordinator of another agricultural WhatsApp group.

Article via: Mashable, 11 February 2016

Photo: Woman Laughing with Hoe, Purna Wildlife Sanctuary by Adam Cohn  [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Safe Harbor 2.0 in the making

The United States and the European Union have reached a new agreement in replacement of Safe Harbor, as announced on February 2. Safe Harbor originally outlined the rules for electronic data transfers between the U.S. and the EU, until it was nullified by a European court for jeopardizing the privacy of European citizens. According to negotiators, the new deal will create a “Privacy Shield” in order to protect European data. Whatever the new agreement might entail, it will affect e-discovery—electronic evidence used in litigation or government investigations—as well as social media and business-related data transfers between the U.S. and the EU.

The European court decision on Safe Harbor’s validity is a result of fundamental differences in the way that Americans and Europeans view privacy. The 1995 EU Data Protection Directive established data protection requirements in the European Union that are far more comprehensive than current laws in the U.S. One of the stipulations of the 1995 law is that citizens’ personal data cannot be transferred to countries lacking sufficient data protection, such as the United States. When the Patriot Act was passed in 2001, the divergence between European and American privacy laws widened even further.

The Safe Harbor framework was considered to be a loophole to the European law. It allowed any individual company with EU privacy certification to transfer data between the U.S. and EU, even though the U.S. as a nation did not comply with the 1995 EU data Protection Directive. Moreover, American companies were only required to self-certify—essentially, a company had only to state that they were abiding by European privacy standards in order to transfer any amount of data.

Max Schrems, an Austrian law student, created an organization called “Europe versus Facebook” (EvF) in order to fight Safe Harbor in court. Although he lost his case before the Irish Data Protection Authority, the European Court of Justice held on October 6, 2015 that “There is no general privacy law or other measures enacted in the U.S. that shows the U.S offers ‘an adequate level of protection’ for personal data relating to European data subjects.”

Some call the new agreement “Safe-Harbor 2.0.” Until more information is provided, it’s impossible to know whether the deal includes real improvements, or just more loopholes.

Article via: Legaltech News, 11 February 2016

Photo: European Union Colours by Tristam Sparks  [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]

 


Julian Assange should be free according to UN ruling

After nearly four years of being camped out in a converted office in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange awaited the United Nations ruling about his detention with anticipation. The verdict: Assange, according to the UN, has been “arbitrarily detained” since June 2012 given that he had not been provided due legal process prior to arrest.

The UK government disagrees. “This changes nothing,” a government representative said. “An allegation of rape is still outstanding and a European Arrest Warrant in place, so the UK continues to have a legal obligation to extradite him in Sweden.” Assange declined to respond to any allegations of sexual assault following the UN ruling, but his lawyer stated in 2010 that the charges were part of a “honeytrap” to discredit Assange.

Assange spoke to journalists via video webcast following the ruling. “I consider the outcome in this case to be vindication,” he said. “It is now the task of the United Kingdom and Sweden to implement the verdict.” He further described his detention as “illegal, immoral, [and] unethical.”

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) argued that the Wikileaks founder has suffered “deprivation of liberty” since 2010, when he was sentenced to ten days in Wandsworth Prison and then 550 days under house arrest. Edward Snowden commented on the UK’s response to the ruling, saying that it “writes a pass for every dictatorship to reject UN rulings.”

Assange agreed, saying that his arrest would be a blow to international human rights efforts. “What right does this government, or the US government, or the Swedish government have to deny my children their father for five and a half years without any charges in any country?” he asked.

Article via CNET, 5 February 2016
Photo: Julian Assange Supporters — Embassy of Ecuador, Knightsbridge, London by Marshall24  [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]