Debian Bug Squashing Party in Tirana

On 3 March I attended a Debian Bug Squashing Party in Tirana. Organized by colleagues at Open Labs Albania Anisa and friends and Daniel. Debian is the second oldest GNU/Linux distribution still active and a launchpad for so many others.

A large number of Kosovo participants took place, mostly female students. I chose to focus on adding Kosovo to country-lists in Debian by verifying that Kosovo was missing and then filing bug reports or, even better, doing pull requests.

apt-cache rdepends iso-codes will return a list of packages that include ISO codes. However, this proved hard to examine by simply looking at these applications on Debian; one would have to search through their code to find out how the ISO MA-3166 codes are used. So I left that for another time.

I moved next to what I thought I would be able complete within the event. Coding is becoming quite popular with children in Kosovo. I looked into MIT’s Scratch and Google’s Blockly, the second one being freeer software and targeting younger children. They both work by snapping together logical building blocks into a program.

Translation of Blockly into Albanian is now complete and hopefully will get much use. You can improve on my work at Translatewiki.

Thank you for the all fish and see you at the next Debian BSP.


Report on education and internet in Kosovo / Raport për arsimin dhe internetin në Kosovë

Shqip më poshtë

2016-coverA report I have written on the role of internet in support of the right to education in Kosovo for Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) has been published by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and presented at the recent Internet Governance Forum in Mexico.

The theme in 2016 is Economic, social and cultural rights and the internet. Reports from 41 countries have been

contributed, presenting a kaleidoscope of topics on the theme. The report was written over the summer, before the results of the 2015 PISA test for Kosovo became available. I hope the report will contribute to the ongoing debate.

A future yet to be delivered: The education system’s failure to take advantage of widespread internet access (PDFHTML)


Një raport që kam shkruar për Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) mbi rolin e internetit në mbështetjen e së drejtës për arsim  është botuar nga Association for Progressive Communications (APC) dhe International Development Research Centre (IDRC) dhe paraqitur në Forumin për Qeverisje të Internetit në Meksikë.

Tema për vitin 2016 ishte “Të drejtat ekonomike, sociale dhe kulturore dhe interneti”. Janë kontribuar raporte nga 41 vende, duke paraqitur një kaleidoskop të temave të ndërlidhura. Raporti është shkruar gjatë verës, para se rezultatet e testit të vitit 2015 të PISA-s për Kosovën të bëheshin të ditura. Shpresoj që raporti të kontribuojë në debatin që është hapur.

E ardhmja e parealizuar: Dështimet e sistemit arsimor në shfrytëzimin e qasjes së gjerë në internet (PDF)

ADS-B reciever up


So finally my Flightradar24 feed is up and I am all very excited. The “radar” is actually a receiver for the open ADS-B signal being transmitted on 1090 MHz. The system consists of a Beaglebone computer in a nice metal case, an external Mode-S omni-directional antenna (55 cm), and a GPS antenna for data timing precision and MLAT (not shown).

I received this system from Flightradar24 and have to feed coverage data to them in exchange for a premium account. It is not open data although the public does get access to the result at

You can also build your own ADS-B receiver using a Raspberry Pi and a low cost DVB-T USB stick (terrestrial tv receiver). Your receiver will run Flightradar24’s Rasbian-based Pi24 client to track flights within 200-400 miles and will automatically share data with Flightradar24. You can track flights directly off your Pi24 device or via

There are some options to keep the data you collect while losing access to the data of other receivers — Planeplotter seems to be the more mature one — but unfortunately none of them seems to be under active development and all are proprietary and most Windows-based.


Basic setup with internal antenna, DVB-T dongle and Raspberry Pi/PC


Reciever Coverage

Based on relief around my receiver in Gjakova, I’m providing good coverage of western Kosovo. My house is situated slightly below the immediate terrain and 60 m below the Gjakova airport runway midpoint 7.5 km to the north, meaning I might not be able to see aircraft on the ground once that airport is operational. I also have high mountains 8-16 km from south-west to north-west and further away facing south. Below is a polar plot of the aircraft being seen, with north to east coverage clearly dominating, also a result of traffic routes.




Rooftop view north-east



View of Gjakova Airport

Gratitude to antenna master Teki Dobroshi for helping with its setup and Yll Ferizi for troubleshooting network cabling problems.

Happy hacking!

Open Data Index 2015 – Kosovo

Open Knowledge Foundation has Published its 2015 edition of Open Data Index. Taiwan has taken 1st place away from the UK. Kosovo is judged 43% open, ranking 35th, down from 31st place last year. In the neighbourhood, Albania ranked 37th after a large jump and Macedonia ranked 69th. Others have not been scored.

Overall the process this year was much more rigokfn2015ksorous.

The 2015 index has been extended to 15 data sets, compared to 10 last year. The extra data sets are: Government Procurement Tenders, Water quality, Land Ownership, Weather Forecast and Health Performance, although this last one was not counted due to issues with methodology.

The drop in ranking is due to three reasons. First, not making any advancements during 2015 on what gets counted towards the index.

Second, improper copyright notices marking content in public websites as protected when it is actually in public domain according to the Law on Copyright, causing unnecessary legal uncertainty.

Third, addition of new data sets where Kosovo ranks particularly bad. Ex. the Hydro-meteorology Institute collects the required weather data on their website but they are published only for a few days and then removed but they are not published.

Once again, while Kosovo does a fine job in collecting the data in question, they are not made publicly available on what I suspect are for the most part pure organizational reasons rather than political, policy or technical ones. While this is unfortunate, the good news is that improvement would be quite easy.

What I believe would really make a difference though and is politically difficult to achieve is land ownership transparency. A more transparent cadastre would go a long way towards a better governed Kosovo.

Unless some dedication is put on this issue, other countries will advance while Kosovo remains at standstill, like it did this year.

Open Data in Kosovo – so close and yet so far

The Economist had an article a few weeks ago how internatitional indices have been cropping up all over place, and more specifically how they determine the fate of nations and yet could be abused by massaging the numbers.

Open Data Index is another of these indices, this time on the concept of open data. The survey checks 10 rather simple datasets:

  • Transport Timetables
  • Government Budget
  • Government Spending
  • Election Results
  • Company Register
  • National Map
  • National Statistics
  • Legislation
  • Postcodes/Zipcodes
  • Pollutant Emissions

against 9 questions:

  • Does the data exist
  • Is data in digital form
  • Publicly available
  • Is the data available for free
  • Is the data available online
  • Is the data machine readable
  • Available in bulk
  • Openly licensed
  • Is the data provided on a timely and up to date basis

Out of the 108 countries crowdsourced for this index (mostly me in the case of Kosovo) and checked by reviewers (mostly Besfort Guri in the case of Kosovo), Kosovo ranks 32st with a score of 515 out of 1000. UK scores first, and other usual Open Government well governed suspects follow. So at least  on the ladder we did pretty well on this new thing that still very few people know about in Kosovo (likely because the foreign founders haven’t either 😀 ). This is way better than Kosovo’s normal numbers on other indices.

What gives?

For one, these are simple datasets that most countries have, so the requirements are modest to start with. Here, Kosovo is completely missing two datasets: transport timetables, probably due to nonexistent public inter-city transport, and no postcodes with relevant geographic boundaries.

Our data is in digital format, again not a fancy requirement today since having it otherwise makes it more burdensome for public officials.

Our copyright law is rather good in placing public documents in the public domain so free use, including for commercial use, it not hindered (except for the national map, in this case a simple requirement, but in Kosovo all maps are highly protected and commercialized by the Cadastre agency). The Law on Access to Public Documents is another matter, however, since it stops use of documents accessed through this law “for commercial or propaganda purposes”.

On machine readability, which allows easy manipulation without further human intervention, it startes getting tricky as we are not meeting this requirement on 7 datasets.

On bulk availability — that is all data downloadable in one go — we again miss out on 7 out of 10 dataset. Here we would probably miss all of them if it was not for some of the datasets being quite simple to make sense as Excel files. We have quite a bit of spreadsheets and not enough databases, and when we have good databases such as the case of the business registry, we don’t have access to them in bulk. To get around this problem BIRN tried scraping the public face of it  and I did try without success to FOI the whole database.

We score well on time and up to date provision, but once again requirements are not very high here. Pollution data for air pollution only, for example, are required on a yearly basis.

Where do we go from here?

Some bright spots are already apparent. The guys at Open Data Kosovo with UNDP support have been doing an excellent job liberating and applying data to questions as well as training young people to make use of them. Democracy for Development has launched an indicators’ panel,  GAP has built an open spending tool and FOL has done an asset declaration panel of high officials. And GIZ is very serious about and has a dedicated project to open cadastre data. We need to bring all the data that feeds this work together and coordinate it in an efficient manner.

In the Open Government Partnership Action Plan (Albanian only) (on the drafting of which I participated consulting for Ipko Foundation) we managed to put the following (my translation):

Action Item 12. Government of Kosovo through the state portal will develop policies and
build a portal where it will publish open government data.
Sub-action 12.1 . Government in collaboration with the World Bank will start the procedures for conducting an Open Data Readiness Assessment.

(By 1 September 2014, the Information Society Agency will identify the data at or collected from public institutions by the Statistics Agency, the Treasury and Regulatory Authority of Electronic and Postal Communications and encourage their publication on their institutional web sites.
By 1 October 2014, distribution and licensing policies for the publication of data will be formalized through a Government decision.
By 1 March 2015, a central portal for publishing open data will be built.
By 1 June 2015, public institutions will publish all data collected from there on.
By 1 January 2016, all other archival data will be published.

As far as I am aware, we are behind on the first two items and there are no plans yet to build the government open data portal. Now that the government has been caretaking for the past 5 months, this looks like an overly ambitions plan, but we were not ambitious, since countries like Romania in our neighborhood have had open data portals for years. If anything, we’re behind.

The Readiness Assessment is scheduled to take place in February. And the Office of the Prime Minister in November was discussing amending the Law on Access to Information to include the EU Directive on the re-use of public sector information which will provide a strong legal basis for opening public data.

Fresh devotion needs to be found about this topic once again. Not that I have any illusions that this will be the panacea to the problems we face, but I strongly believe that it will strengthen transparency and evidence-based policy making and be a strong base for all other things well-intentioned people are working on in Kosovo.

Why Kosovo’s new draft law on interception is still wrong

On 29 April Government of Kosovo said it would be sending to Parliament a revised Draft Law on Interception of Electronic Communication. The Draft has undergone some positive changes but is still unacceptable in this form.

Here are the problems with it:

Interception interfaces. First and major problem is the separate interception  interface it provides to the intelligence agency AKI. While the draft requires court warrants also for the AKI, in practice AKI has their own interface. The law calls for two types of electronic solutions: the monitoring facilities, placed at the authorized institutions who would be getting the feed that they have been authorized for upon showing the warrant,  and the interception interfaces placed at communication companies that do the actual feeding of the data. But AKI also gets one of these interfaces at their own facility. This is unacceptable as it provides no means to control against abuse and practically gives the Agency, which has been scoring negative headlines daily, a carte blanche to intercept.

Data retention. Second major problem. Despite promises by the Minister and the CJEU ruling annulling the Directive, data retention is still there, albeit in a somewhat lighter version. Data to be retained  for 12 month include (Article 12):

– the calling telephone number;
– the name and address of the subscriber or registered user;
– the user identification allocated;
– the user identification and telephone number allocated to any communication entering the public telephone network;
– the name and address of the subscriber or registered user to whom the internet protocol address or telephone number was allocated at the time of the communication;
– the numbers dialed, and, in cases involving supplementary services such as call forwarding or call transfer, the number or numbers to which the call is routed;
– the name and address of the subscriber or registered user;
– the user identification or telephone number of the intended recipient of an internet telephony call;
– the name and address of the subscriber or registered user and user identification of the intended recipient of the communication;
– concerning fixed network and mobile telephony, the date and time of the start and end of the communication;
– the date and time of the log-in and log-off of the internet access service, together with the IP address allocated by the internet access service provider to a communication, and the user identification of the subscriber or registered user;
– the date and time of the log-in and log-off of the internet e-mail service or internet telephony service;
– concerning fixed network and mobile telephony, the telephone service used;
– concerning internet access, internet e-mail and internet telephony, the internet service used;
– the calling and called telephone numbers;
– the international mobile subscriber identity of the calling and the called party;
– the international mobile equipment identity of the calling and the called party;
– in the case of pre-paid anonymous services, the date and time of the initial activation of the service and the location label from which the service was activated;
– the calling telephone number for the dial-up access;
– the digital subscriber line or other end point of the originator of the communication;
– the location label at the start of the communication;
– data identifying the geographic location of cells by reference to their location labels during the period for which communications data are retained.

Since sponsoring Minister Vlora Çitaku has stated that the Draft has been approved by the European Commission, and EU Special Representative / Head of EU Office in Kosovo  Samuel Žbogar  has said that the law, while not perfect, meets minimum standards, I wonder if the dragnet surveillance of the above data is the new interpretation of CJEU ruling by the Commission?

Authorized institutions. The Draft Law does not limit the “special laws” that could be used for issuing warrants to be complied with under this law. This means that if the law is passed in this form, permanent attention will be required to make sure that other institutions don’t get access through other less onerous laws through this back-door.

Purpose (Art 1 and 12.7). The EU directive was specifically directed at the fighting of serious crime, although we know that through implementation it became subject to much abuse. In the Draft the reference to the Directive has been expunged but limiting of scope to “serious crime” has now been introduced. This is an advancement, provided it does not get abused, which from European experience we know will happen.

Notification. The Law refers to the Criminal Code and the AKI Law as two of the legal basis for getting warrants. While the criminal code has the concept of notification of citizen upon surveillance built in, the AKI law does not. Therefore, no citizen would be allowed to know that they had been surveilled by the AKI, since unless otherwise expressly allowed by another law, the notification is prohibited by this one. As ruled by the ECtHR, notification is a right, hence the Draft is in violation of this Convention which Kosovo has unilaterally embraced but its citizens still can’t seek redress from its court due to Kosovo not being party to the Convention.

Interception assistance (Art. 9). “Based on a lawful inquiry, in full compliance with the Criminal Procedure Code of Kosovo” the Draft allows for the breaking of anonymity of a citizen by requesting the identity of a target in preparation for the interception. Indirectly this article states that no warrant would be required for this procedure. Furthermore, notification principle is once again violated in this article as it is expressly prohibited.

Records of interception (Arts. 11 & 13). Request to keep records and provide data on the number of  interception requests is a positive change in this draft. Yet this point becomes somewhat moot when considering that AKI will have its own interface. In the reporting requirements, there is no criteria about the effectiveness and indispensability of data retained to combat crime, only on the effectiveness of the ability to provide data, which privacy advocates in Europe have argued with regard to the Data Retention Directive.

Penalties (Art. 15). For violations of non-compliance a network operator or service provider could be fined with a penalty of at least 86,000 EUR and up to 7% of the annual income from their economic activity in electronic communication. There are no penalties foreseen for the violations that harm the privacy of citizens, clearly favoring the sharing of citizen’s data with the authorities.

Data transmission security standards (Art. 5.5). The law refers to data security standards used otherwise by the operator, or relegates this matter to secondary legislation.

There you have it.

Looking at how well done the relevant parts of the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code are, it seems to me that there could be only two reasons to push this new law: data retention and extension of AKI’s ability to tap.

Interception Draft Law sent to Parliament / Projektligji për përgjimet dërgohet në Kuvend

Government of Kosovo announced today that it will send to the Parliament the Draft Law on the Interception of Electronic Communications.

On first look it looks pretty bad. Comments will follow.

Qeveria e Kosovës ka njoftuar sot se do të procedoj në Kuvend Projektligjin për Përgjimin e Komunikimeve Elektronike.

Në shikim të parë duket mjaft i keq. Komentet do pasojnë.