Welcome to the Communication for Development masters programme at Malmö University.

If you are starting your studies with ComDev this autumn then you will find all the information that you need in the Course Start Guide. It is here that you will find information regarding registration for new courses, our IT systems and some important dates for the first few weeks of your new course.

If you are already a student with ComDev and continue your studies with us in the autumn then you will also find important information concerning your studies in the autumn in the Course Start Guide

Please make sure that you read the course start guide carefully and that you are clear about all the important dates for the autumn term.

The ComDev Team

Our ComDev 15th anniversary seminar is nicely taking shape and we would like to take the opportunity of returning from our summer vacation to share some updates with you. Below is the draft program for the 1.5 days in September. Our post from before the summer break outlines the rationale behind the seminar with some details. We also awarded the alumni travel grants and we are expecting a fantastic group of alumni, new students and colleagues from around the ComDev universe.

If you have not filled out the registration form yet, please do so. It helps us to keep track of numbers and we will send those who expressed their interest a message with a few more details, encouraging you to share your ComDev, C4D, professional and/our academic insights with us. The #ComDev15 hashtag will be ‘soft-launched’ these days and you can always contact us @mahcomdev or through the comdev(AT)mah.se email.

ComDev 15th anniversary event, Malmö Högskola, 18-19 September 2015

Friday 18 September

Morning

9:00-9:30: Registration, coffee & mingle at Malmö Högskola ‘Niagara’

9:30-10:00: Welcome, overview, reflections from students & alumni (ComDev team)

10:00-11:30: Morning keynote Vicensia Shule (University of Dar es Salaam/TZ): Communication and Democracy-The role technology in enhancing citizens’ participation in monitoring and observing electoral processes in Tanzania

11:45-12:30 Glocal Times 10th anniversary special issue launch (Florencia Enghel & Oscar Hemer)

12:30-1:30: Lunch (Niagara)

Afternoon

1:30-2:00 Timeline presentation of students & alumni

2:00-4:00 C4D Network panel & discussion Celebrities and the development industry (Lisa Richey, Roskilde University/DK))

4:15-5:00 What did you do this week? Practical challenges & theoretical reflections of C4D work (ComDev team, C4D network members, alumni & friends)

5:00-5:45 How will we celebrate ComDev’s 25th anniversary? Reflections on the future of C4D (Tobias Denskus)

6:00-6:45 Evening keynote Thomas Hylland Eriksen (University of Oslo/NO): Culture as a commons of humanity

7:00-9:00 Dinner Niagara/Orkanen

9:00-late ComDev party

Saturday 19 September

Morning

9:30-10:00: Coffee & mingle (Orkanen)

10:00-11:30 Media, Globalization & Development-a discussion on ComDev’s core themes and how they are relevant in the future (Thomas Hylland Eriksson, Susanne Schech, ComDev alumni & team)

11:45–1:00 PhD research panel

1:00-2:00 Lunch
Afternoon
2:00–4:00 ComDev Degree Project examination seminar (Orkanen)

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In his guest post, Italian ComDev student Adriano Pedrana shares his reflections on the Milano-based Hacking Team’s recent hack and why it matters for the development and ICT4D community.

Hacking Team being hacked. The news that the company that had specialized in providing spyware to governments and police forces was targeted by anonymous hackers broke last week. New details emerge as people go through 400 GB of their private data (mail, source code etc.) which have been hacked and made public, and some already predict that all that will remain of this company will be their video ad, which makes clear visual reference to the Anonymous hacker movement.

Hacking Team Commercial 3One of the things I regret about this piece of news is that it arrived with bad timing, when the Greek economic crisis captures everybody’s attention. Nevertheless there has been good news coverage. And there have already been some official reactions, such as an inspection by Italy’s data protection authorities (link in Italian) and a case being opened by a public prosecutor (whether against the hack or Hacking Team itself remains open at this stage).

The Hacking Team spokesperson stated that their software has now become a weapon in the hands of terrorist groups, an argument that Pedro Vilaça, an IT researcher, has called “PR bullshit”.

Hacking Team also asked their customers to stop using their software – though, some say, they could have done it themselves through a speculated backdoor under their control, which, if proved right, would give a huge monitoring power to a private company. Hacking team has denied the existence of such a backdoor in a press release on 8th July 2015.

What has this story to do with international development and ICT4D? After all, Hacking Team products were (said to be) used by police forces and governments solely against organized crime (with remarkable results, if we have to believe the software house’s official information). But the story behind the scenes seems to be a bit different.

The starting point is that software is not an innocent, long string of 1s and 0s. Some computer programs can definitely be used as a weapon as well. And this is not something new. In the 1990s, the US Export Regulations prohibited free trade of strong cryptographic software. Among other things, these rules blocked the legal spreading of the de-facto cryptographic standard PGP. To circumvent them, PGP inventor Philip Zimmermann had to print the whole software code in 12 books. In this form he could then send them abroad legally under the US First Amendment (the one protecting the freedom of speech). The books were then scanned abroad and reconverted to code lines. So the software could be reconstructed and distributed in a legal way all over the world (for more information about this story, click here). Nowadays US rules are more relaxed about cryptography, but they still prohibit some goods to be exported or sold to specific countries or people (further information here).

The UN also bans the export of certain products through ad hoc resolutions, and the EU has done the same. Most of these bans, though, are linked to weapon and weapon related products. But what about the type of software produced by Hacking Team? According to Privacy International, the UN consider this software as a weapon and have been investigating specifically on Hacking Team about a supply to intelligence in Sudan, which is subject to international embargo. Privacy International says that Hacking Team declared having stopped cooperating with Sudan at the end of 2014, though they have never replied on a specific UN request about their previous cooperation with government in Khartoum. Now, thanks to the hack it seems that there is proof of this cooperation with this and with other more or less oppressive regimes. Hacking Team staff internally labeled cooperation with Sudan and Russia as “not officially supported“, a sign that they were probably aware of various grey areas.

According to some news articles (here is one, in Italian), Hacking Team also lobbied the Italian Government in order to lift a ban on their products being exported because of EU regulations. They were successful, showing to have more than one ‘friend’ in the world of politics. This may also be one of the reasons why Hacking Team has been financed by the regional government of Lombardy, through Finlombardia Gestioni a venture capital fund aimed at companies based in the region. You can see the name of Hacking Team appearing in Finlombardia’s investment porfolio.

Moreover, Citizen Lab has published extensive material that suggests that Hacking Team products were used to spy on journalists, the media and dissidents.

These are some of the links between Hacking Team scandal and international development, human rights and foreign policy. What could happen now? Hacking Team is trying to save their business and fight back. Its CEO has accused Wikileaks’ founder Julian Asssange (where his company’s email are freely searchable): “he should be arrested, he is the bad guy”.
On a more general basis, as Tobias Denskus has pointed out on his blog, the Hacking Team story has all the ingredients to trigger an interesting debate, as well as, hopefully, some change in the way legislation is applied to this type of digital weapons. The end result could be a better consistency between EU, development and human rights discourses and the practice of exporting technology and software which have a real potential to undermine said policies.

My personal opinion (for what it’s worth) is that all this fuss will instead distract the attention from other, lesser known companies working in the same field. After the scapegoat is sacrificed to the altar of the media outrage, the survivors will be able to go on “business-as-usual”, with the extra advantage of sharing a probably considerable pool of former Hacking Team clients, who will also be eager to continue doing what they have done ’till now, no questions asked.
Nor answered.

This post is an edited version of a post Adriano shared on LinkedIn. We are always interested in guest blog posts and comments from students, alumni & friends-so please feel free to comment below or get in touch with us directly!

New Communication Theory Special Issue on Advocacy and Communication for Social Change

by Tobias Denskus July 2, 2015 Comdev News

A recently published special issue of a major international communication journal features research from ComDev staff and partners. The Communication Theory special issue on Advocacy and Communication for Social Change features co-authored research by ComDev’s program coordinator Tobias Denskus as well as contributions by previous ComDev guest lecturers, including co-editor Karin Wilkins. She writes in […]

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‘Memory on Trial': Book launch of new Örecomm anthology

by Tobias Denskus June 3, 2015 Comdev News

Last week ComDev’s Oscar Hemer and Anders Hög-Hansen launched a new anthology, Memory on Trial, a collection based on papers presented at the 2013 Örecomm festival: This book approaches the memory sharing of groups, communities and societies as inevitable struggles over the interpretation of, and authority over, particular stories. Coming to terms with the past […]

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Degree project examination & seminar on social capital, open data & ICT4D (4-6 June)

by Tobias Denskus May 29, 2015 Uncategorized

Dear all, Welcome to our final ComDev seminar this term in conjunction with the Degree Project examination! The schedule for the degree project examination is now online  and you are welcome to join us in person and online for 15 exciting presentations and discussions that wrap up two years of studying ComDev between Thursday morning […]

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‘Learning for change’ conference: ComDev student reflections on online learning

by Tobias Denskus May 26, 2015 ComDev lectures

ComDev student Muhammad Al-Waeli participated online in the ‘Learning for Change’ conference hosted by the Nelson Mandela Institute of Science and Technology in Arusha, Tanzania. We re-publish his reflections that originated from discussions on our itslearning platform and his subsequent blog post. Muhammad’s reflections are not only relevant in the context of the Glocal Classroom […]

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Celebrate 15 years of ComDev with us!

by Tobias Denskus May 22, 2015 Alumni

Dear students, alumni, colleagues & friends of ComDev Malmö! ComDev was founded in 2000 and we are celebrating the program’s 15th anniversary this year! We would like to take this opportunity to invite students, alumni, colleagues and friends of the program to a special 2-day event in Malmö on 18 & 19 September 2015. The […]

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Swedish association for media and communication research awards Florencia Enghel’s PhD thesis

by Tobias Denskus April 30, 2015 Comdev News

The ComDev team is very pleased to share the announcement made by Föreningen för svensk medie- och kommunikationsforskning (FSMK) that Florencia Enghel’s doctoral thesis from Karlstad University won the association’s 2015 award for best dissertation. Sharing the great news with the ComDev team, Florencia remarked: Beyond recognition of my individual work, I believe that the […]

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New Nordicom open access publication on “New thinking in communication for social change”

by Tobias Denskus April 28, 2015 Comdev News

Featuring contributions from ComDev team members and guest lecturers including Florencia Enghel, Jo Tacchi and Jessica Noske-Turner, Nordicom just published a special issue of the Nordicom Review entitled “Beyond the Impasse: Exploring new thinking in communication for social change“, edited by Pradip Ninan Thomas from the University of Queensland, Australia. Combining insights from both theory […]

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