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Welcome to the Official Schedule for RightsCon 2019, the world’s leading summit on human rights in the digital age.

Together at RightsCon Tunis, our first summit hosted in the Middle East and North Africa, more than 2500 expert practitioners will come together across over 400 sessions to shape, contribute to, and drive forward the global agenda for the future of our human rights.

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Wednesday, June 12 • 5:15pm - 6:30pm
Lightning Talks: The cost of speaking up – defending freedom of expression

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eSNI: an easy technical way to end censorship today, which no tech company wants (A19)

Description: HTTPS encrypts information transferred to the websites we use every day. That means to anyone snooping 'on the wire' almost all your communication will look like complete gibberish. However, there is one major exception — at the time your computer connects to the website, it leaks the domain name of that website. Most times, it's not a big deal. It's as a minor privacy issue in the western democracies and is treated as such. But that is a matter of free speech & censorship for millions of people around the world. Right now oppressive regimes around the world 'snoop on the wire' and block connections to websites they deem as a danger to their power. We can take away that technological power to censor the internet from authoritarian governments. Solution is to encrypt the domain name you connect to just as the rest of the communication. That technology is called encrypted SNI and it is already implemented by Firefox & Cloudflare (you need both browser and cloud provider for plug the leak). The last missing piece of a puzzle is eSNI adoption by major players: Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and most importantly, Google. The thing is, Google and other major tech companies are reluctant to implement this change for a business reason. eSNI will take away power to censor the internet from oppressive regimes. Most likely, this regimes will put big internet companies in front of a choice — do the censoring or leave the country. This is where our voices could make a difference.

Speaker: Samat Galimov

The Dissernet Project ()

Description: I demonstrate how activists in Russia expose corruption of public officials and university leadership by finding plagiarism in doctoral theses and academic papers. Data analysis tools are discussed that make exposure of academic fraud possible at industrial scales (ca. 10,000 theses, ca. 20,000 papers per year)

Speaker: Andrew V. Zayaki

#speakup barometer: Assessing the drivers and barriers of digital participation (DW Akademie)

Description: Are you connected to the Internet? If so, congratulations! But does that mean that you are an active citizen in the digital sphere? Not necessarily. In fact, access alone is not the answer: People need more than an internet connection to fully take advantage of the opportunities provided by the web. This lightning talk will introduce DW Akademie’s concept of digital participation and shed light on the result of their #speakup barometer project that assesses digital inclusion on a country basis. To date the project has assessed digital participation in eight countries worldwide, highlighting the respective drivers and barriers of digital inclusion. One outcome of the project has become clear: Digital inclusion is multifaceted. It may involve the use of technology, it addresses societal norms and it sometimes challenges the regulatory environment. The spreading of fake news leads to mistrust towards media and journalists, hate speech is flaring up on social media and powerful hashtag campaigns are changing politics. These trends, as well as digital literacy, digital rights, the innovation landscape and social norms, all impact a person’s ability to rightfully participate in the digital revolution – or not.

Speaker: Steffen Leidel

New media, old censorship: Defending press freedom across borders and media platforms (Committee to Protect Journalists)

Description: Authorities throughout the Middle East and North Africa have ramped up online surveillance, website blocking and hacking -- even as they jam satellite signals, seize newspapers, and set fire to printing presses. Current discourse around media and censorship tend to reflect assumptions that all media activity -- and therefore, censorship efforts -- are inexorably moving into the digital sphere. Yet this view ignores the central role that print, radio, and TV play in news dissemination throughout the region, and how these platforms still constitute a front line in the battle against censorship. This lightning talk will examine the different types of censorship in the region, ranging from the widespread blocking of websites in Egypt and hacking campaigns in Saudi Arabia to censorship at the printing press in Algeria and Sudan, and draw parallels and contrasts between the types of coverage and the audiences reached by different platforms, as well as how authorities target media outlets across platforms. The talk will also invite attendees to collaborate across platforms and sectors and suggest approaches for a unified response to censorship region-wide.

Speaker: Justin Shilad

It took a year for civil society to start reacting to censorship in Ukraine (Internews Europe)

Description: We want to share the dynamic of civil society when reacting to a new "never seen before" threat. Internet censorship came to Ukraine unexpected in May, 2017 - big platforms were blocked (Russian social networks, email providers, payment systems etc), actually the most popular websites in Ukraine were blocked. We had human rights defenders organizations at the moment, as well as independent media outlets and NGOs, however, almost nobody reacted to this censorship. Nobody understood what happened, what is censorship, why it's bad and how to deal with it. It took a year for our civil society to start somehow fight the censorship and communicate it in public, it will probably take few more years to do it more effectively. I want to share the dynamic of this capacity rising and show how long it actually takes.

Speaker: Mykola Kostynyan

avatar for Steffen Leidel

Steffen Leidel

DW Akademie
Steffen Leidel ist Head of Digital Innovation and Knowledge Management at Deutsche Welle Akademie. He works on digital strategy and consulting in media development and is project director of the #speakup barometer (dw.com/barometer) Since 2005 he has been working as a journalism trainer... Read More →
avatar for Samat Galimov

Samat Galimov

Former CTO leading independent Russian media Meduza.ioInterested in censorship & censorship circumvention.
avatar for Mykola Kostynyan

Mykola Kostynyan

Community Engagement Manager, AUDS project (Internews Europe)
Digital security, org security, audits, trainings, ToT, Ukrainewire: bezlimitchykSignal/WhatsApp: +380959104491

Wednesday June 12, 2019 5:15pm - 6:30pm BST
The BeeHive (Palais)