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[liberationtech] Call for Tenders SMART 2013/N004 “European Capability for Situational Awareness” (ECSA) - European Federation for cyber-censorship and human rights monitoring

Camino.MANJON at ec.europa.eu Camino.MANJON at ec.europa.eu
Tue Sep 3 08:27:19 PDT 2013


Dear colleagues (and some friends in the lists),


The purpose of this email is to inform you of the recent publication of the Call for Tenders SMART 2013/N004 “European Capability for Situational Awareness” (ECSA). If you are interested in this contract, you should submit your tender no later than 26/09/2013.


You will find all the relevant information (invitation to the tender, tender specifications and model contract) in the following link:

http://bit.ly/16E6sfG


At the initiative of the Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT), in close cooperation with other European Commission services (DG Development and Cooperation and DG Enterprise) and the European External Action Service (EEAS), the European Commission has put in place the No-Disconnect Strategy.1 The goal of this policy toolkit is to provide on-going support to counter-censorship and surveillance to facilitate the role of activists, political dissidents, bloggers, journalists and citizens living and/or operating in high-risk environments, or elsewhere. This way we make operational our commitment to uphold human rights and fundamental freedoms online and support that the No-Disconnect Strategy embraces the wider EU strategy for Human Rights.2


For those who are not yet familiar with the Strategy, its four main strands of activity are: (1) development of technological tools; (2) training/awareness and capacity building; (3) development of methods to provide a global capability for situational awareness; and (4) cooperation with the ICT/Internet industry, EU Member States and third countries, also involved in the protection of online freedom of expression and privacy.


The tender "European capability for situational awareness" (ECSA) is aimed at providing to the European Commission the framework and information necessary to evaluate the creation of a wider European Federation for cyber-censorship and human rights monitoring, and the underlying system infrastructure required to that end.


To achieve this objective, the ICT-PSP Work Programme 2013 will support the development of the ECSA platform with an allocation of approximately EUR 400,000 for the initial phase (conceptualization of the platform according to the conditions seth forth in the tender specifications that you will find in the link above, and the design of a first prototype of the systems infrastructure and interactive map).


The idea departed partially from the “OECD Communiqué on Principles for Internet Policy Making”, in particular the following two ones:

  *   “Develop capacities to bring publicly available, reliable data into the policy-making process. Publicly available data can increase the quality of all stakeholders’ participation in Internet policy- making as well as governments’ ultimate policy decisions. The collection, validation and public dissemination of objective data to inform Internet policy decisions should be reinforced and used to augment the combined research capacities of governments, other competent authorities and other stakeholders. International comparable metrics will help to quantify the ongoing economic developments and assess the proportionality and effectiveness of any policy solutions created in multi-stakeholder processes. Data gathering should be undertaken so as to avoid administrative burdens and data analysis should be done carefully to enable sound policymaking.”

  *   “Transparency, fair process, and accountability. In order to build public trust in the Internet environment, policy-making processes and substantive policies that ensure transparency, fair process, and accountability should be encouraged. Transparency ensures that Internet users have timely, accessible, and actionable information that is relevant to their rights and interests”.

Is in this context in which we realized that a tool enabling evidence-based policy-making and transparency related, in this case, to censorship and surveillance, could also provide situational awareness not only to EU policy and decision makers but also to those affected directly by the aforementioned restrictions, maximizing their empowerment: political dissidents, activists, human rights defenders, bloggers, journalists and several other essential actors in the fight for online (and offline) freedom.


Now, shifting the focus of this email to the tender itself, the tasks outlined in the tender specifications (http://bit.ly/16E6sfG) will address, among several other things, the definition of the governance framework and systems infrastructure that should govern and support the operations of the federation of organizations that tenderers will have to propose, taking into account that all sorts of expertise on Internet-event monitoring will be needed.


With the view to translate the Internet reality into a “cartography” of cyber-censorship and cyber-surveillance, the federation will be anchored in a dynamic platform -controlled from a dashboard-, where the aforementioned federated network of partners with Internet and censorship/surveillance monitoring capabilities will aggregate a variety of clearly defined sets of data (including Open Data and Big Data) coming from several sources and stakeholders.


We expect this project to provide reliable and real time or near-real time information on the status of network connectivity and network traffic alterations/restrictions, as well as timely information on legal, social and political developments related to the use of the Internet and media for the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms.


As it seems obvious, the gathering of data (and in some cases of information) will be related to the location and intensity of cyber-censorship and surveillance in non-democratic countries, nascent democracies, jurisdictions where human rights are most at risk or other parts of the globe where similar trends have been arising in recent times.


The data gathering will have two tracks: the first one addressing restrictions/disruptions of Internet and ICT infrastructure, access, traffic, content, Internet cut-offs or security events, inter alia, overlaid with a second track of contextual data of political, social, legal, regulatory, policy, media, journalistic or human rights nature, related to the Internet or not and with a global scope, which would help provide the full picture and enable the EU and other actors to swiftly act upon reliable and timely information. Examples of this second track could be arrests of journalists, restrictions on freedom of expression in times of elections, laws affecting Internet openness, crack-downs on activists or restriction to NGO´s establishment, to name a few.


That near-real time information will be mashed-up and controlled from the dashboard, and presented in a user-friendly manner, ideally in different layers (thematic, geographic, highly troubled areas, etc.) through interactive visualizations via live maps as an essential condition, coupled with the generation of alarms; subject-matter reports and geographical reports. As you will see in the tender, new ways of dissemination of information are most welcome.


As highlighted before, this type of capability is expected to enhance the current EU´s early-warning, decision-making and policy-making skills and strengthen the level of situational awareness of, but not limited to, stakeholders such as digital activists or human rights defenders, but even researchers.


In particular, the tasks you will find in the tender are:


Task 1 Creation of an Internet censorship monitoring Federation

Task 2 Provision of a Data Sources catalogue

Task 3 Definition of a Data Governance Framework

Task 4 Definition of the technical and infrastructure specifications, features and functionalities (including security measures)

Task 5 Recommendations


Some of the expected positive impacts of ECSA we can name are as follows: (1) Ensuring Internet resilience and stability; (2) Reinforcement of early-warning capabilities and emergency response concerning events affecting human rights, legal, policy and media restrictions; (3) Better measurement of the evolution of non-democratic environments to democratic ones ("democracy thermometer"); (4) Better exchange of information and capacity building among relevant stakeholders; (5) Better response in case of attacks to human rights and activists networks; (6) Creation of a body of knowledge at the disposal of academics and researchers, as well as of the general public (Open Science); (7) Publication of timely reports and alarms on relevant Internet and human rights related events (including activity and threat reports); (8) Support to the implementation of Human Rights-based approaches; (9) Optimization of resources and tailored targeted grant support in areas where human rights are most at risk in terms of cyber censorship and surveillance; (10) Reinforcement of capabilities to ensure global Internet connectivity; (11) Provide (new) methods for network measurement; (12) Provision of a new source of information about Internet security and infrastructure incidents; or (13) Provision of capabilities for crisis mapping, among others.


In Part 1 of the Tender specifications you will find the Technical Description, containing the general context, the specific context and examples of organisations and existing projects in the area of Internet monitoring (whereby some of your projects we regularly observe are mentioned).


As regards the Elegibility Criteria, we recommend you to have a look in detail at Part 2 of the Tender Specifications containing the Administrative Details, in particular Section 1 “Elegibility requirements”; Section 2 “Administrative Requirements”; Section 5.2 “Selection Criteria” and Section 5.3 “Award Criteria”.


At the request of tenderers, additional information will be communicated solely for the purpose of clarifying the nature of the contract and the tender specifications. Such information will have to be communicated on the same date to all interested parties hence your questions will be published in the link referred to in the document “invitation to the tender” (https://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/news-redirect/l1626). This means that for whatever doubt you may have, you can write directly to camino.MANJON at ec.europa.eu<mailto:camino.MANJON at ec.europa.eu> (copying our functional mailbox CNECT-D1 at ec.europa.eu<mailto:CNECT-D1 at ec.europa.eu>). We will do so for transparency reasons and to guarantee equal competition, making publicly available both, question and answers.


The opening of received tenders will take place on 10/10/2013 at 10.00h in the Commission building located in Avenue de Beaulieu 25, Brussels. One authorised representative of each tenderer may attend such opening. Tenderers who plan to attend the opening session have to inform me (Ms Camino Manjon Sierra) by e-mail camino.MANJON@,ec.europa.eu; by fax (+32 2 296 89 70) or letter at least 72h in advance.


I advance a clerical mistake in the section referring to the information to be stated in the outer envelope when you send us over your tenders: "INVITATION TO TENDER SMART 2013/N004 / FULL OJ REF" "NOT TO BE OPENED BY THE MESSENGER/COURIER SERVICE" "NOT TO BE OPENED BY THE OPENING COMMITTEE BEFORE 16/9/2013", where 16/9/2013 should be 26/09/2013.


As a closing, I would like to sincerely thank my colleague and mentor Andrea Glorioso for his support in the firs steps of this complex project and for conducting our European Capability Situational Awareness workshop celebrated in November 2012, when due to a contractual pause before my current position in the European Commission I could not be on the driving seat or provide any out of the box thinking!


I take the opportunity to also sincerely thank all those organizations which took part in the workshop (Agenda available at http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/newsroom/cf//document.cfm?doc_id=1094).


We look forward to receiving your proposals and we thank you all for the good inspiration that your work has meant for us.


1<https://remi.webmail.ec.europa.eu/owa/14.2.342.3/scripts/premium/blank.htm#sdfootnote1anc>http://blogs.ec.europa.eu/neelie-kroes/eu-fighting-cybercensorship/

2<https://remi.webmail.ec.europa.eu/owa/14.2.342.3/scripts/premium/blank.htm#sdfootnote2anc>http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/131181.pdf



Best regards


Ms Camino Manjon Sierra

European Commission - DG Communication Networks, Content and Technology

Unit D1 (International relations)

Internet Governance; ICANN GAC; dot.EU; Internet and Human Rights

Desk Officer Iran, Syria, Sudan, Iraq & Yemen

Avenue de Beaulieu 25 (5/98) / B-1049 / Brussels / Belgium

T: +32-2-29-78797

M: +32-488-203-447

Twitter @msprotonneutron

Linked-In https://www.linkedin.com/pub/camino-manjon/50/b20/240

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