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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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(un)Censored: The Future of Expression [clear filter]
Wednesday, June 12


North Koreans Need Real Information
North Korea has one of the most heavily censored media environments in the world. Knowing the threat outside information poses to their propaganda and ideology, the North Korean government aggressively limits outside information from reaching the ears, eyes, and minds of their citizens.

This session will explore North Korean government censorship, how technology is being used to facilitate the flow of information into North Korea, and the complications facing human rights groups who are actively participating in data smuggling attempts. Multiple facilitators will speak on the work they are doing to address this issue.

First, PSCORE will present a video interview with a recent North Korean defector. This interviewee has a unique perspective to share, as he was one of the lucky few North Koreans able to access free information due to his high-ranking position that mandated work outside North Korea. He will discuss how access to this information helped facilitate his emancipation from North Korea.

Second, Unification Media Group will discuss the diverse work its media activists, many of whom have escaped from North Korea, do to amplify the free flow of information into, out of, and within the country. UMG will also share details from a recent survey it conducted with over 200 North Korean refugees concerning access to information in North Korea and leveraging the country's shifting media landscape in order to erode the regime's information blockade.

Next, Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG) will discuss their documentation project that maps the sites of gross human rights violations in North Korea, how the transitional justice approach can guide decision-makers, and the need for that approach to be victim-centered.

Lastly, there will be an open panel discussion/ feedback session where participants have the opportunity to discuss and brainstorm ideas and strategies to address the lack of access to free information in North Korea. We hope this presentation serves as a first step in establishing a working group to develop new strategies to connect the North Korean people to the rest of the world.


Dan Bielefeld

Transitional Justice Working Group
avatar for Bada Nam

Bada Nam

Secretary General, PSCORE (People for Successful COrean REunification)
Human Rights defender, Korea focused

Wednesday June 12, 2019 1:00pm - 2:00pm
Village Stage (Laico)


The Benevolent Accomplices of Authoritarian Regimes on the Internet
The Internet helped communities facing oppression to publish and get organized more freely, with unprecedented global reach. Censorship was not eradicated on the Internet but nation-states were not fully successful in controlling access to and distribution of online content till now. With the widespread of online social media platforms where in many countries it is equivalent to many to the Internet, the Internet’s global reach was taken to its next level. Platforms did not remain neutral. In the name of preventing harm or under pressure, fighting with disinformation, terrorism and preserving cybersecurity, platforms have been taking content down. There are many other benevolent actors and activists that are marching towards censorship online in the name of fighting with fake news, protecting children and preventing intellectual property violations. Increasingly states, platforms, political parties and activists have been demonstrating similar behavior to that of authoritarian regimes. We would like to discuss how democratic countries, Internet intermediaries and other benevolent actors can be de facto helping autocratic countries to hamper speech and activism. The goal of the session is to provide some insight into the consequences of online content takedown and access blockage for the societies that live in oppression like in MENA.

avatar for Rafik Dammak

Rafik Dammak

Non-commercial Stakeholder Group former Chair
He is engineer working and living in Japan. He is member of the steering committee for the Dynamic Coalition on Internet Rights and Principles . He has been involved in ICANN community as NCUC (Non-commercial users constituency) individual user member, former elected GNSO Councillor... Read More →

avatar for Emna Mizouni

Emna Mizouni

Emna, a Tunisian-Maghrebi, is a Digital Communications Specialist and the Lead of Digital Citizenship Organization. She is the President-Founder of Carthagina organisation, trying to promote Tunisia globally through digitising heritage. She is an advocate for Open Culture and Open... Read More →
avatar for Milton Mueller

Milton Mueller

Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology
Milton Mueller is the O.G. of I.G. He directs the Internet Governance Project, a center for research and engagement on global Internet governance. Mueller's books Will the Internet Fragment? (Polity, 2017), Networks and States: The global politics of Internet governance (MIT Press... Read More →
avatar for Omer Fisher

Omer Fisher

Head, Human Rights Department, OSCE/ODIHR
I lead the OSCE/ODIHR Human Rights Department and have a strong interest in technology and human rights. In particular, I am interested in freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of expression, technology for human rights monitoring, games as awareness raising / learning tools. I am... Read More →

Wednesday June 12, 2019 1:00pm - 2:00pm
Carthage 1 (Laico)


Engaging Citizens at Scale in Restrictive Environments
This session will bring together leaders from various human rights organizations who have deep experience in global citizen engagement in traditionally hard to reach countries. Their respective specializations range from gender-based violence, the rights of migrants, preventing and countering violent extremism, and measuring trust in CSOs. They will discuss how they leverage citizen voice to hone the focus of their initiatives, boost the impact of their campaigns, enable previously “unreachable” groups, and paint an accurate picture of what any given country truly thinks about important issues. This session will also address some of the barriers and limitations of traditional research methods that have failed to keep up with the pace of technological change and how average citizens engage with new ideas in the 21st century. It is clear that there is a necessity for new solutions that provide access while at the same time providing respondents with true anonymity and security. The panelists will begin by sharing their experiences and learnings. The session will then engage the audience soliciting questions, ideas, and feedback, towards developing solutions for their global challenges.

avatar for Mercedes Fogarassy

Mercedes Fogarassy

Portfolio Manager, Global Citizen Engagement, RIWI Corp.
Mercedes manages the Global Citizen Engagement portfolio at RIWI Corp., focusing on amplifying citizen voices for partners in the humanitarian sector, including the World Food Programme, USAID, Oxfam, Freedom House and more.RIWI is a global survey technology and sentiment analysis... Read More →

avatar for Alix Lawson

Alix Lawson

Program Officer, Freedom House
I am the Program Officer at Freedom House for the Human Rights Support Mechanism, an LWA under USAID for human rights programming. My interests include human rights work and its intersection with technology.
avatar for Vijay Simhan

Vijay Simhan

Manager, Investments, Humanity United
As Investments Manager, Vijay supports Humanity United’s Human Trafficking & Labor Migration portfolio, including engaging with corporations, governments, civil society, and workers to advocate, promote, and defend the rights of workers.
avatar for Katrina Frappier

Katrina Frappier

Katrina is a Needs Assessment Consultant at the UN World Food Programme, the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security. In recent years, Katrina’s work has focused on exploring the use of new innovative technologies to assess the needs... Read More →
avatar for Althea Middleton-Detzner

Althea Middleton-Detzner

Director, Hate Speech and Africa Lab, PeaceTech Lab
Althea is the Director of Hate Speech Programs and the Africa Lab at PeaceTech Lab. She has worked for over a decade in the broader peacebuilding field, with expertise in nonviolent movements, civil resistance, and corporate-community conflicts. Prior to working at the Lab, Althea... Read More →

Wednesday June 12, 2019 3:45pm - 5:00pm
Village Stage (Laico)


Freedom Online Coalition (FOC) Open Forum
The Freedom Online Coalition (FOC) is an intergovernmental coalition of 30 countries committed to advancing Internet freedom – free expression, association, assembly, and privacy online – worldwide. This Open Forum session will provide participants with the opportunity to learn more about the FOC's latest activities under Ghana's Chairmanship of the Coalition and the FOC's priorities under the Program of Action for 2019-2020. This session will include the opportunity to learn about the FOC's latest Joint Statement. In this session RightsCon participants will be encouraged to engage directly with the panellists, consisting of FOC Members and Members of the FOC Advisory Network. Participants in the session will be invited to pose questions and comments, and participate in a lively discussion on promoting and protecting human rights in the face of ongoing and emerging threats to freedom online.

avatar for Lisa Vermeer

Lisa Vermeer

Senior Policy Officer, Dutch MFA
Senior Policy Advisor on Human Rights and InternetDutch Focal Point for the Freedom Online CoalitionManaging Dutch Internet Freedom project portfolio Human Rights FundFormer advisor to Dutch MPs on EU Justice and Home affairs, former research fellow at the Scientific Council for Government... Read More →
avatar for Wafa Ben-Hassine

Wafa Ben-Hassine

Global Policy Counsel, Access Now
Wafa Ben-Hassine is a New York qualified attorney specializing in international law and technology. She is currently a Global Policy Counsel for Access Now, an international non-profit organization defending and extending human rights in the digital age. In her current role, she manages... Read More →
avatar for Albert Antwi-Boasiako

Albert Antwi-Boasiako

National Cybersecurity Advisor, National Cyber Security Centre/Ministry of Communications
Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako is the National Cybersecurity Advisor, responsible for advising the Government of Ghana through the Ministry of Communications on the implementation of Ghana’s national cybersecurity policy and strategy. Albert is also a Cyber Security Expert with the Interpol... Read More →

Wednesday June 12, 2019 5:15pm - 6:30pm
Leptis (Laico)


Tumblr, Porn, Sex Work and Queer Lives on a Healthy Internet: What happens when a platform decides to kill communities?
In late 2018, Tumblr announced it was banning NSFW content. This impacts many existing well-developed communities that exist on tumblr. LGBTQ communities have provided support for countless youth who are trying to find safe environments to connect with similar-minded people. Feminist pornographers curate complex and sophisticated feeds of female-focused adult content that is difficult-to-impossible to find elsewhere. Sex workers use the platform to safely promote, communicate, and collaborate in ways that are increasingly difficult in the wake of FOSTA/SESTA legislation, an issue with often life-threatening real-world implications. All these communities and more -- nude models of colour, fandom content creators, transfolk gender activists, and countless others -- are being wiped out by this ban. And while Tumblr does not have a legal obligation to host any of this content, the sudden and short-notice sterilization of millions of accounts, years of content, and archives of queer history is one with wide-reaching effects. What responsibility do platforms have to existing communities? Is it possible for a marginalized digital community to develop at scale without the infrastructure and goodwill of a major corporation? And what happens in a diaspora of hundreds of thousands of content creators, with few platforms willing to host them?

Wednesday June 12, 2019 5:15pm - 6:30pm
L'Escale (Laico)
Thursday, June 13


Delegated Repression: How do the Russian state forces private actors to censor and to surveil?
One of the most pressing issues arising in the discussion of Internet regulation is the role and responsibility of private companies, as well as the delegation of police and propaganda functions to non-state actors (Internet service providers, national IT-companies, pro-government activists and paid commentators). In recent years, the Russian authorities have taken a number of important steps towards seriously restricting Internet freedom and the right to privacy, seeking to promote the approaches they support at the international level, exerting pressure on global platforms and promoting digital sovereignty. Together with prominent experts from Russia and Ukraine we shall talk about the role of quasi-state actors in the control of the Internet, as well as how do authoritatian regimes force Internet companies to block and filter information, to suspend accounts and to give out personal data as well as how ISPs can protect their users.

avatar for Bulat Mukhamedzhanov

Bulat Mukhamedzhanov

Lawyer, Agora International Human Rights Group
Bulat Mukhamedzhanov graduated from the Faculty of Philology (Kazan State University, Russia) in 2007 and since then became a human rights activist. In 2017 he graduated from the university with a law degree.Mukhamedzhanov started his career as a press-secretary of local human rights... Read More →
avatar for Iryna Chulivska

Iryna Chulivska

Digital Security Lab Ukraine

Thursday June 13, 2019 9:00am - 10:15am
Oya 1 (Laico)


The Palestinian Cause for Digital Freedom
This session will focus on internal and external challenges and threats to Palestinian digital freedom. On one side it will discuss legislative measures implemented by the different governmental actors and on-governmental actors, in particular social media companies such as facebook. These different actors threatened and infringe on digital freedoms of Palestinians in different ways with varying methods. At the same time, there's similarities, not only in intentions but also ramifications, which will be discussed in this session.

Thursday June 13, 2019 9:00am - 10:15pm
Leptis (Laico)


Dynamics of Doing Research in Closed Societies: What we can learn from audience research from online exiled media
This Session is intended to foster collaboration between researchers in the fields of media assistance and digital rights. Based on recent work done by the session organizer in several "closed societies", there remains a significant need to better understand risk and security practices when it comes to doing research in high risk environments. There has long been an overlap between digital rights/ internet freedom work and independent media assistance programs, but there continues to be a disconnect between the two sectors. For researchers working to support either sector, the challenges of doing research in closed environments presents many challenges as well as opportunities. During the session, we will share information about the research projects we are working on, including sharing information about research design, data quality, methodology, digital security practices, and tools and platforms we use in our research efforts. This session will bring together researchers, monitoring and evaluation professionals, internet freedom activists, and media development experts to look at an interesting intersection of the digital rights/ internet freedom community and the media development/ press freedom community.

avatar for Susan Abbott

Susan Abbott

Independent Consultant
Susan Abbott is an independent consultant who specializes in working with non-profit organizations, universities, and donors in the areas of media development, civil society assistance, and digital rights. Abbott provides consulting services in the areas of fundraising and grant... Read More →


Maria Hrimech

Head of MENA region, Conflict Management Consulting (CMC)

Ashley Noia

Country Director, IREX

Thursday June 13, 2019 10:30am - 11:45am
L'Escale (Laico)


Information Expansion in North Korea: Current efforts and challenges
This session will aim to broaden understanding and raise international awareness about the current situation of the government censorship in North Korea. The extent of the government censorship in North Korea is beyond comparison in the 21st century, but the significance of this issue is underrepresented on the global stage. The access to the Internet or foreign media is extremely restricted in the country. During the session, the panel speakers will 1) briefly introduce current research on the government censorship and surveillance technologies in North Korea, such as how the government tracks down the information flow among people, 2) share the current efforts and approaches of human rights activists to expand information into the country in spite of the unprecedented government controls, and 3) open the discussion to brainstorm solutions with audience and seek for collaborations.

Thursday June 13, 2019 3:45pm - 5:00pm
Leptis (Laico)


Detecting, Understanding, and Countering Censorship of Wikipedia
This panel will provide an overview of how a global and open internet platform like Wikipedia can detect and respond to threats to access to information. Censorship of Wikipedia has been observed in twelve countries, preventing a large swath of the world population from accessing the free online encyclopedia. Wikipedia's global audience presents both an opportunity to track internet accessibility around the world, as well as a challenge to quickly identify and respond to censorship events that affect the platform. First, we will review the historical efforts to detect and understand censorship on Wikipedia. Second, we will identify some of the opportunities and challenges that an open platform faces when responding to censorship. Third, we will present and seek input on some possible ways to help everyday internet users learn about censorship and overcome obstacles to access. We present our tools and findings in this session with the hope of strengthening the relations between such projects and civil society groups working in the field of digital rights towards the common goal of making the Internet free and accessible for all.

avatar for Jan Gerlach

Jan Gerlach

Senior Public Policy Manager, Wikimedia Foundation
I advocate for public policy that promotes free knowledge and Wikipedia.

avatar for Maria Xynou

Maria Xynou

Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI)
Maria works with the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), a free software project that aims to increase transparency of internet censorship around the world. She manages OONI's partnerships, engaging human rights communities worldwide with censorship measurement research... Read More →
avatar for Emna Mizouni

Emna Mizouni

Emna, a Tunisian-Maghrebi, is a Digital Communications Specialist and the Lead of Digital Citizenship Organization. She is the President-Founder of Carthagina organisation, trying to promote Tunisia globally through digitising heritage. She is an advocate for Open Culture and Open... Read More →

Thursday June 13, 2019 5:15pm - 6:30pm
Adean (Palais)


Media Beyond Borders: Resilient content strategies for reaching audiences in closed societies
The deepening of global internet infrastructure comes with an invigorated capacity and intent by adversaries to control and limit the information that flows across it. Inextricably, embedded power structures underlie the networks through which we interpret and understand our societies and our world - censorship threatens the integrity of the public sphere itself. Media organizations act as a conduit for the free flow of information in the face of such adversity, but are likewise threatened by the technical and often physical capabilities that endeavour to restrict that fundamental freedom. This panel discussion will share experiences and lessons learned from major international broadcasters and independent media organizations affected by internet censorship in different contexts, and discuss the effectiveness of various strategies and responses, lessons learned, and other established best practices. This session will outline significant new developments, innovations, and trends in that emerged over the course of 2018 and discuss the effects on organizations' ability to successfully reach their audiences, as well as broader impacts observed in the media ecosystem. The panel will discuss the various censorship resilience strategies and approaches pursued by the media organizations represented in response to both established regimes of information control and more acute censorship events.

avatar for Arzu Geybullayeva

Arzu Geybullayeva

Journalist, Freelance
Regional analyst, correspondent, and columnist. Former Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellow at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFERL) and Central Asia Azerbaijan Fellow at George Washington University. Main areas of interest include human rights, advocacy, press freedom, and more recently... Read More →
avatar for Rieneke Van Santen

Rieneke Van Santen

Executive Director, Zamaneh Media
Active in the media development field. Director of an independent media for Iran and consultant in media and NGO management.
avatar for Julian Cable

Julian Cable

Lead Architect, World Service Distribution, BBC
We do what we can to provide verified and impartial news and information for everyone everywhere. Part of my role is to provide technology options both within our organisation and for our audiences to exercise the right to information.

Thursday June 13, 2019 5:15pm - 6:30pm
Celtic (Palais)
Friday, June 14


Kunyamazisha: Gagging online free speech in Sub-Saharan Africa
This session aims to evaluate the state of internet freedom in Sub-Saharan Africa. How netizens are being denied the right to free speech or forced into silence. This will be achieved by straddling both research and practice in our discussion. Hence the main goal of this session is summarised below: 1. To discuss research conducted by DefendDefenders in collaboration with OONI, "Uganda's Social Media Tax through the lens of network measurements” and a creative campaign by Pollicy on perceptions and behaviours by Ugandan citizens to the social media tax passed in July 2018. To carry on the conversation on how to collaboratively create long-term solutions to rampant repressive policies curbing internet freedom across African countries. 2.Share experiences from countries where internet is taxed so as to obtain a clear picture on their impact to internet penetration. Leverage and explore potential frameworks, advocacy strategies that can be taken by stakeholders to revoke and influence change in current policies. Usage of current evidence from monitoring the incidents of violation of digital rights as a means to advocate for policies that protect the online community such as data protection and digital right with proof, way forward and action plans.

avatar for Bulanda Nkhowani

Bulanda Nkhowani

Google Policy Fellow- Southern Africa, Paradigm Initiative

avatar for Nwachukwu Egbunike

Nwachukwu Egbunike

Community Manager Sub-Saharan Africa, Global Voices
My scholarly and journalist writings revolves around social media, politics/ political participation, online free speech and ethnicity. I am the author of "Hashtags: social media, politics and ethnicity in Nigeria".
avatar for Neema Iyer

Neema Iyer

Founder, Pollicy
Civic Technologist, working on the data revolution in Uganda (and East Africa), Digital Rights, Creative Media, Open Data! Come say hi!
avatar for Rebecca Ryakitimbo

Rebecca Ryakitimbo

Google Policy Fellow-East Africa, Paradigm Innitiative

Friday June 14, 2019 9:00am - 10:15am
Celtic (Palais)


Countering hate, preserving free expression
In recent times, there is evidence of use of bots, centres of paid troll armies, volunteer work of online disinformation, and tools for targeted marketing (including the hire of specialised agencies), all used to mobilise for or against political ideas and candidates. As a part of this process, previous debates around Freedom of Expression are also connected, such as the data protection, intermediary liability or the right to be forgotten. There is also a compelling need of considering the role of factors like political polarisation, the use of private messaging applications and foreign interference. With the data collected in the ongoing election cycle in Latin America we perceive the need to discuss the most effective strategy to drive public attention on the documented manipulations, fostering critical thinking and lessons for the future. In particular, think through an open debate how to design tools to educate and get involvement of private sector (media and internet platforms), local authorities around coping these challenges, and see how they should be assessed within the local electoral laws and regulatory frameworks in general.

avatar for Dennys Antonialli

Dennys Antonialli

Executive Director, InternetLab
Dennys Antonialli is the Executive Director of InternetLab, a think tank on internet law and policy based in São Paulo, Brazil. Between 2017 and 2018, Dennys was a Professor of Law at the Department of Public Law of the University of São Paulo Faculty of Law (USP), where he also... Read More →
avatar for Marianne Díaz Hernández

Marianne Díaz Hernández

Public Policy Analyst, Derechos Digitales
Marianne Diaz is a Venezuelan lawyer, digital rights activist and fiction writer, currently based in Santiago, Chile. Her work focuses mainly on issues regarding online freedom of speech, web filtering, internet infrastructure and digital security. She founded the digital rights NGO... Read More →

Friday June 14, 2019 10:30am - 11:45am
Caspian (Palais)


Protecting Freedom of Expression in a Complex World: The role of courts and tribunals
Columbia University’s Global Freedom of Expression Initiative seeks to advance understanding of the international and national norms and institutions that best protect the free flow of information in an inter-connected global community. One of its flagship projects is an online Global Database of Freedom of Expression Case Law. Supported by a network of international experts, it surveys jurisprudence around the world, critically reviews exemplary cases, engages in comparative analysis, and aims to identify national, regional and global trends. The session will introduce the Global Freedom of Expression Database, highlight significant freedom of expression cases from the last two years, and elaborate their importance in terms of legal reasoning and outcome, nationally, regionally and internationally. The cases will vary thematically and cover issues concerning emerging topics such as as Artificial Intelligence, the role of hyperlinks in journalism, content moderation, as well as classic freedom of expression issues concerning violence against speakers and defamation.

avatar for Bakhtiyor Avezdjanov

Bakhtiyor Avezdjanov

Columbia Global Freedom of Expression
Bach focuses on research and analysis of legal trends related to freedom of expression in Russia and Central Asia.

avatar for Hawley Johnson

Hawley Johnson

Project Manager, Global Freedom of Expression, Columbia University
Hawley Johnson is Project Manager for Columbia Global Freedom of Expression, an initiative to advance the understanding of international and national norms and institutions that best protect the free flow of information and expression in an inter-connected global community. She has... Read More →

Friday June 14, 2019 12:00pm - 1:00pm
L'Escale (Laico)