Week in Review: February 17, 2016

by Muira McCammon

France: The Government Might Give Workers the “Right to Disconnect”

French Labor Minister Myriam El Khomri has suggested that the French government might consider giving its citizens the “right to disconnect.” The reforms would potentially let workers ignore emails after leaving the workplace. James McAuley, a journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald remarked, “It would essentially codify a division between work and home, and, on a deeper level, between public and private life.” Labor Minister El Khomri is expected to share her reform proposals sometime in the next few weeks. She is said to have discussed some of her ideas with Bruno Mettling, the Deputy CEO of the multinational telecommunications company, Orange.

Indonesia: Messaging App Removes LGBT-Themed Emoji from Store

In early February, LINE removed its LGBT-themed emojis from its store, after receiving complaints from many of its 30 million Indonesian users. This week, the Indonesian branch of the company posted a full apology on its Facebook page for having included the emojis on their website; at this juncture, the message has not yet been fully translated into English. (LINE was initially designed by 15 members of NHN Japan, a subsidiary of the Korean Internet search platform Naver.) Ismail Cawidu, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Communications, congratulated LINE for speedily removing images that he called “offending” In response, Human Rights Watch released a statement encouraging Indonesian President Joko Widodo to protect LGBT communities in his country: "President Jokowi should urgently condemn anti-LGBT remarks by officials before such rhetoric opens the door to more abuses," said Graeme Reid, LGBT rights director at Human Rights Watch. "The president has long championed pluralism and diversity. This is an opportunity to demonstrate his commitment." A number of newspapers have reported that the Indonesian government has plans to ask Facebook and Whatsapp to follow LINK’s example in removing LGBT-themed emojis from their respective platforms. A considerable amount of reporting on the matter has not yet been translated into English.

Turkey: After Ankara Attack, Social Media Platforms Remain in Limbo

A number of netizens asked Facebook to activate its safety check following news that a bomb had gone off in Ankara, Turkey’s capital. However, TurkeyBlocks (https://turkeyblocks.org), an Internet monitoring service, reported that Turkish ISPs including TTNet have blocked Twitter and Facebook by implementing bandwidth throttling. Still, a number of Turkish politicians have taken to Twitter to remark and reflect upon the nature of the attack. Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Twitter the attack was an act of terrorism; his tweets, all in Turkish, are available in full here.

Twitter: The Company Vows to Make GIF Searches Possible, Soon

Motherboard reported on Wednesday, February 17, that Twitter had started to make it possible for users to search for animated GIFs on the platform. Since 2013, it had only been possible to copy and paste GIFs from websites such as Giphy.com. Now, Twitter says that users will be able to click on a GIF button inside the Tweet composition window, search by a certain keyword (“dictatorship”) or browse pre-established GIF categories, including “Deal With It” or “Awesome.” This GIF search will be initially powered by Giphy and Riffsy. Sasank Reddy announced the arrival of the GIF search function on Twitter’s blog and stated, “Last year, people on Twitter shared over 100 million GIFs — expressing everything from their mood, to an amazing dunk, to their favorite dance move from a music video. Now, sharing GIFs in Tweets and Direct Messages is even easier with our new GIF search.”

United States: Tensions Rise Between Apple and the Department of Justice Over Encryption

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym has ordered Apple to help the FBI decrypt a work-issued IPhone that was allegedly used by one of the two individuals involved in the San Bernardino shooting. Apple CEO Tim Cook released a statement titled “A Message to Our Customers” on Wednesday, February 17, 2016 and described the demand as “chilling." He reflected upon Apple’s willingness to work with the FBI but only to a point: “When the FBI has requested data that’s in our possession, we have provided it. Apple complies with valid subpoenas and search warrants, as we have in the San Bernardino case. We have also made Apple engineers available to advise the FBI, and we’ve offered our best ideas on a number of investigative options at their disposal.” In a tweet, forensic scientist Jonathan Ździarski claimed, “[The] FBI isn’t looking for access to this phone. They want Apple to develop a forensics back door for them.” Christopher Sohhoian tweeted, “[The] DOJ's fight w/ Apple is really about using software update mechanisms for surveillance. This is dangerous territory.” A number of individuals have criticized Apple for its unwillingness to work more with the U.S. government. In an interview, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump remarked, "To think that Apple won't allow us to get into her cellphone? Who do they think they are?". When asked about CEO Tim Cook’s statement, a representative of the the Justice Department pointed to a statement by Eileen M. Decker, the United States attorney for the Central District of California: “We have made a solemn commitment to the victims and their families that we will leave no stone unturned as we gather as much information and evidence as possible. These victims and families deserve nothing less.” More reporting on the developing situation is available here and here.