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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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Democracy and Conflict and Shrinking Civic Spaces [clear filter]
Wednesday, June 12


Hey, That’s My Vote! The Emerging Science of Digital Election Observation
What can we do to keep elections free and fair in the age of digitization? And how can the tech rights community get involved with election observation in their own countries and around the world? This session will serve as a fast track introduction to election monitoring for a human rights and public interest audience. We’ll hear from the people who make observation missions happen and discover current solutions, emerging challenges, and innovations in each space with a focus on developing, transitional and conflict countries. We’ll then take a deep-dive into real-world case studies from each of the two communities: How has the #KeepItOn coalition been tracking internet shutdowns during elections, and how does that contrast with the work of media monitoring missions? Where has technology worked and has where it failed to serve the voting public during the last year? The audience is invited to join in and throw their own ideas and solutions into the mix.

avatar for Christel Dahlskjaer

Christel Dahlskjaer

CCO, Private Internet Access
Christel Dahlskjaer is the CCO of Private Internet Access, a leading VPN service provider specialising in secure, encrypted VPN tunnels which create several layers of privacy and security to help users stay safe on the internet. She is keen on community, privacy and freedom of expression... Read More →


Sarah Moulton

National Democratic Institute
avatar for Alp Toker

Alp Toker

Executive Director, NetBlocks
Alp is founder of the netblocks.org digital rights initiative and award-winning Turkey Blocks collective, and Sakharov Fellow for Freedom of Thought with the European Parliament. He works on freedom of expression online, digital transparency and policy tooling for internet governance... Read More →

Wednesday June 12, 2019 10:30am - 11:45am
L'Escale (Laico)


Seeing through the rubble: using crowdsourcing, data and field work to investigate civilian deaths in Raqqa, Syria
The 6th of June marks the two years anniversary since the beginning of the “war of annihilation”, a US-led Coalition military campaign to oust the armed group calling itself Islamic State from Raqqa, Syria. Four months of relentless bombardment killed and injured thousands of civilians and reduced homes, businesses and infrastructure to rubble. Amnesty and Airwars have teamed up and conducted the most comprehensive investigation into civilian deaths in a modern conflict. The investigation, collating multiple data streams, gave a brutally vivid account of more than 1,600 civilian lives lost as a direct result of thousands of US, UK and French air strikes and tens of thousands of US artillery strikes. This session will showcase how a team of investigators at Amnesty and Airwars supported by thousands of digital volunteers from around the world pieced together evidence such as field investigations, satellite images, thousands of user-generated videos and social media reports in one of the most comprehensive accounts of the Raqqa war. The panel will discuss challenges and opportunities for using multi-dimensional investigations for advocacy and change making, as well as the importance of preserving the 'digital memory' of modern conflicts that are increasingly monitored by civilians on the ground.

avatar for Milena Marin

Milena Marin

Senior Advisor for Tactical Research, Amnesty International
I have over ten years’ experience working at the intersection of technology, data and social good on issues like human rights, public sector transparency, anti-corruption and open data. Currently, I am with Amnesty’s Evidence Lab, where I work on complex human rights investigations... Read More →

avatar for Sophie Dyer

Sophie Dyer

Researcher and designer, Independent
#OSINT #Archives #RemoteSensing #Documentation Sophie's research focuses on open source, remote and visual investigations. Over the last two years she has worked with the conflict monitor, Airwars, to reconcile civilian casualty allegations with belligerent reporting, via direct engagement... Read More →

Wednesday June 12, 2019 10:30am - 11:45am
Village Stage (Laico)


Terrorist online content regulations in Europe and beyond: changing the platform liability paradigm?
The approximate structure of the session will be the following: - Opening remarks on the most relevant legislative anti-terrorist proposals (at the EU level and beyond) and their contrast with international standards and most important regional liability exemption regimes. - Reflection on the effectiveness of legislative measures introducing responsibility provisions vis-a-vis platforms regarding terrorist online content. This approach will be provided by anti-terrorist expert(s), using the experience of international security organizations and national law enforcement bodies. - Presentation of cases of national legislation and its effects in different regions of the world (mainly South East Asia, Europe and Latin America). After these presentations, participants in the audience will be asked to share and discuss specific cases, experiences and approaches. The panel aims at fostering a debate that shall combine a human rights and international standards approach together with a proper consideration of the adequate tools to effectively deal with terrorist online content, with the aim of defining best possible models. The debate will also identify global and regional tendencies aiming at transforming the general liability system applicable to online platforms, and possible actions and efforts to properly tackle these tendencies and adequately understand the impact on freedom of expression.

avatar for Joan Barata

Joan Barata

Intermediary Liability Fellow, Stanford CIS
I am the Intermediary Liability Fellow at Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society. As a scholar, I have spoken and done extensive research in the areas of freedom of expression, freedom of information, media and platform regulation, working and collaborating with various... Read More →

avatar for Deniz Yazici

Deniz Yazici

Adviser, Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media
avatar for Hadiya Masieh

Hadiya Masieh

Founder and CEO, Groundswell Project
Hadiya Masieh is an expert consultant in the area of community cohesion, interfaith relations, counter extremism, and women’s involvement in extremism and radicalisation. Her experience spans over 22 years. She has been a counter extremism consultant for various Governments and... Read More →
avatar for Jessica Dheere

Jessica Dheere

Founder/Executive Director, SMEX
I'm the co-founder and executive director of the Beirut, Lebanon–based SMEX (smex.org), the Middle East and North Africa’s leading digital rights research and policy advocacy organization. I'm also a fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society and the Carr Center... Read More →
avatar for Virginia Pérez-Alonso

Virginia Pérez-Alonso

President, Plataforma en Defensa de la Libertad de Información (PDLI)
Chair of the PDLI, deputy editor-in-chief at Spanish news website Público and a member of IPI’s Executive Board. Happy to talk about journalism innovation, newsrooms managing, newsrooms integration and transformation, digital first, transparency in journalism, freedom of speech... Read More →

Wednesday June 12, 2019 10:30am - 11:45am
Leptis (Laico)


False Resistance Leaders: The People Who Decry Trump While Promoting Authoritarianism
U.S. politics is easily viewed as left vs. right, Democrat vs. Republican, and today, Trump vs. everyone else. But the politics of authoritarianism and surveillance are not so simply aligned. Not only are some of the strongest surveillance reformers Republicans, some of the strongest supporters of mass surveillance are also #Resistance champions. In advance of the 2020 election, when some of these people may seek higher office, it is imperative for the human rights community to identify who our real allies are, and who may be the fire to Trump’s pan. This panel will work to identify actors on both sides of that equation and discuss possible responses.

Wednesday June 12, 2019 1:00pm - 2:00pm
L'Escale (Laico)


Social Media and Conflict: Research and product case studies
Understanding the use and abuse of social media is an urgent issue for rights-based organizations and social media platforms, especially in conflict vulnerable countries with transitioning politics and high-stakes elections. What lessons have researchers and tech leaders drawn from working at the intersection of these issues? What investments could improve the response to harms on social media? This discussion will examine these questions and offer suggestions, drawing on insights from researchers from South Asia, Francophone Africa and a Director of Product from Facebook. 

avatar for Javier Pallero

Javier Pallero

Latam Lead, Access Now
Latin America Regional Lead at Access Now. I also coordinate Access Now's work on content moderation and related freedom of expression issues.I also work on: - Net Neutrality ( including zero rating, OTT regulation)- Privacy (surveillance, data protection)- Business and Human Rights... Read More →


Wednesday June 12, 2019 1:00pm - 2:00pm
Caspian (Palais)


20 Years Since the Human Rights Defenders Declaration was Adopted at the UN, Over 150 HRDs Got Together in Paris to Celebrate Achievements, Discuss Current Challenges and Devise an Action Plan
Twenty years since the adoption of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, human rights defenders continue to be attacked, discriminated, criminalized, and killed at alarming levels. There is still much to work do to fully realize the commitment made by States to ensure everyone is fully able to defend human rights.

To confront this situation, in October 2018, 150 activists from all corners of the world met in Paris at the Human Rights Defenders World Summit to remind the world of the essential work they do and the need to create a safe and enabling environment for all those who actively defend human rights. At the end of the Summit, all defenders agreed on a landmark Action Plan, which was presented to the UN General Assembly in December 2018.

The Action Plan calls on Governments, corporations, international financial institutions, donors and others to take practical steps to ensure human rights defenders are recognised and protected, including by adopting national governmental action plans and legislation, and protecting defenders as a key priority in foreign policy, particularly women human rights defenders, LGBT+, indigenous rights defenders and other marginalized defenders who face the most risk and exclusion.
As participants to the Paris Summit continue to spread this message around the world, Rightscon is a key opportunity to keep the momentum going. We want the tech community to join us in our fight for human rights and demand that defenders are protected and recognised everywhere without discrimination.

The digital space has been identified by participants in the Paris Summit as another battleground in which human rights are being fought. This space has enabled defenders to reach new audiences and enable communication and advocacy, but it has also presented new means and opportunities for those who attack human rights defenders, with new weapons being used every day from malware and spyware, to the use of social media to manipulate information. The means may be new but the effects on defenders are as old as the world: delegitimization, discrimination, threats, criminalization, physical attacks, and impunity.

A delegation of human rights defenders will present their experience of taking action to defend human rights, the consequences they’ve had to face, the significance of the Summit and what states, businesses, donors and others, must do to ensure their fundamental role is protected and recognised in the digital sphere and beyond, and calling on the Tech community to join them in the struggle for human rights. The panel will welcome contributions and ideas from the floor.

avatar for Lisa Maracani

Lisa Maracani

Research and policy advisor, Human rights defenders, Amnesty International
Human rights defenders are my bag!Have worked also at: Peace Brigades International, Christian Aid, Amnesty Italy.My last project: Targeting Solidarity: Criminalization and harassment of people defending refugee and migrant rights in Northern France, https://www.amnesty.org/en/la... Read More →

avatar for Khalid Ibrahim

Khalid Ibrahim

Executive Director, Gulf Centre for Human Rights
Khalid Ibrahim is the Executive Director of the Gulf Center for human rights in charge of management, programme development, fundraising and training. He is an Iraqi human right defender with decades of experience in the human rights field, including more than ten years in Dublin... Read More →
avatar for Meerim Ilyas

Meerim Ilyas

Deputy Head of Protection, Front Line Defenders
Protection for HRDs, gendered aspects of holistic security, LGBTI, feminist internet, intersectionality

Wednesday June 12, 2019 2:15pm - 3:30pm
Cyrene (Laico)


If you keep suggesting blockchain, I swear to God I will f—ing scream
Promoting technologies like blockchain as a seemingly simple solution to complex humanitarian and development challenges oversimplifies these issues and celebrates tech as a "silver bullet" solution that will solve everything from poverty to the refugee crisis. This has led to many projects seeking technical solutions first without analyzing the challenges and opportunities, understanding the limits, potential, and threats that come with the technology in question, or including beneficiaries in decision-making. When we make decisions in humanitarian and development projects based on solutions we want to use, instead of user needs, we could be exposing beneficiaries to bigger risks, by leaving them out of decision-making process. Our panel of experts will discuss the following points: *What is technosolutionism and how to avoid it in projects? *How organizations and individuals can deal with technosolutionist demands from funders and partners. *So, what is blockchain and when *should* it be used in projects? *In praise of low-tech or no-tech solutions: How to shift media focus from shiny new toys in tech, to the mundane, consentful, and trusted solutions--and the complexity of the development work, participation, and research necessary that leads to successful and sustainable projects.

avatar for Dragana Kaurin

Dragana Kaurin

Founder & Director, Localization Lab
Dragana Kaurin is a human rights researcher and ethnographer working at the intersection of technology, human rights and migration. She is the founder and executive director of Localization Lab, a non-profit organization that works on technology adoption with local communities, research... Read More →

avatar for Jon Camfield

Jon Camfield

Director, Global Technology Programs, Internews
Tools, training, threats, organizational security, SAFETAG.org, usability and our https://usable.tools project, and more!
avatar for Mallory Knodel

Mallory Knodel

Head of Digital, ARTICLE 19
avatar for Tara Tarakiyee

Tara Tarakiyee

Program Manager, Open Tech Fund
Talk to me about all things censorship circumvention and privacy enhancing technology!
avatar for Neal McCarthy

Neal McCarthy

Sr. Manager, ICT4D Programme, Oxfam
Neal McCarthy leads the ICT4D team at Oxfam America: supporting humanitarian, development and campaign teams in the adoption of technology in the service of program objectives, with the goal of increasing efficiency and amplifying impact. He espouses a rights-based approach to information... Read More →

Wednesday June 12, 2019 5:15pm - 6:30pm
Oya 1 (Laico)
Thursday, June 13


Returning Protest to the People: A campaign to destigmatise protesters
Historically, protests have often inspired positive social change, improved protection of human rights, and continue to help define and protect civic space in all parts of the world. They enable individuals and groups to express dissent and grievances, to share views and opinions, to expose flaws in governance and to publicly demand that the authorities and other powerful entities rectify problems and are accountable for their actions. The current political climate in Kenya and Brazil gives rise to fragility and limited guarantees to human rights. The purpose of this session is to build awareness and stimulate discussion around the negative perceptions on protest. This session is a great opportunity to showcase credible research conducted in Kenya and Brazil and mark the importance of coalition campaigns to change attitudes and behaviours in support of protests. We will use this opportunity to actively engage participants in the discussion, provide lessons learned and hear from others how to devise strategies to expand campaigns in other countries where the right to protest is not protected. Based on our experience, we will invite participants to explore this market research approach to advocacy in other regions of the world and on other topical issues.

Thursday June 13, 2019 9:00am - 10:15am
Village Stage (Laico)


Coffee and Democracy: Let's talk about the EU elections results and what it means for digital rights
Come join us with your coffee for a chat about elections, democracy and human rights defenders, we will provide the cookies :) The session will be a casual chat between the three policy staff of the Access Now Brussels team discussing the results and impact of the EU elections which takes place on May 24-26. We seek active participation of the audience to hear from experiences from different regions. With the rise of populism in the EU and around the world, civil society increasingly has to operate in restrictive environments and adapt its work to not only advance human rights and protect users but also to fight for its existence.

avatar for Fanny Hidvégi

Fanny Hidvégi

European Policy Manager, Access Now
Fanny (@infofannny) is Access Now’s European Policy Manager based in Brussels. Previously, Fanny was International Privacy Fellow at the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C. where she focused on E.U.-U.S. data transfers. For three years Fanny led the Freedom... Read More →

Thursday June 13, 2019 10:30am - 11:45am
Jelsa (Laico)


Separating human rights activism from regime change
This session promotes reflection by activists on how their efforts risk being co-opted by nation states pursuing regime change. Panelists will review ways that governments have used civil society activism to advance geopolitical goals (in state-to-state rivalry.) Then participants will discuss whether that background relates to today's experiences. The first part, on deep background, is multidimensional. It will be historical (e.g. examples of "political warfare" dating back to the Trojan War,) conceptual (e.g. notions of "unconventional warfare," "protest potential," "strategic narratives," etc.), and political (episodes of Internet-empowered activism that led to regime change but not to obvious increases in democracy.) In the second part, attendees will be invited to relate these histories and concepts to their own experiences or to those of their peers. Activists may explore whether today's situations bear any resemblance to past experiences and, if so, what that means for practice. The goal of the session is to make human rights activism more effective in achieving its goals of advancing human rights, social justice, and good governance.

avatar for Hans Klein

Hans Klein

Assoc. Professor of Public Policy, Georgia Tech (Georgia Institute of Technology)
Political science research on Internet governance.


Thursday June 13, 2019 10:30am - 11:45am
Cyrene (Laico)


Data-Dialogue-Decisions: Creating alternative civic spaces for youth
Across the developing world, and the Middle East and Africa in particular, young people typically make up 70% of the population. Yet they are largely excluded from public discourse. In this session we will explore ways to create alternative civic spaces in the digital realm that give young people a platform where they can freely express their needs and views. Participants will discuss how feedback can be channelled to decision makers and influencers in some of the most fragile settings, with our case studies from Yemen, Libya and Burundi. We will highlight best practices, discuss challenges and brainstorm ways to overcome them. These examples will provide context for conversation with the participants on how they approach the problem of shrinking civic spaces. Through interactive dialogue with the audience, we will develop a set of specific suggestions to inform strategies going forward. These strategies will include implementing methodologically sound surveys, adopting ethical codes to govern data collection and publication, and developing evidence on youth needs, aspirations, and behaviours for advocacy with influencers.

avatar for Nigel Pedlingham

Nigel Pedlingham

Programme Manager Citizens' Voice, RNW Media
Nigel is Programme Manager of Citizens' Voice at the Netherlands based INGO RNW Media.RNW Media uses media for change. With innovative approaches to building digital media platforms and large scale inclusive digital communities RNW Media enables young people to make informed choices... Read More →

avatar for Pavithra Ram

Pavithra Ram

Content Strategist, RNW Media
Pavi is an international development specialist focused on the intersection of internet, media and social change. Currently a strategist in RNW Media’s social inclusion program- Citizens’ Voice, she helps build digital communities and create alternate/digital civic spaces in countries... Read More →
avatar for Taruni Kumar

Taruni Kumar

Campaigns Strategist, Change.org Foundation

Thursday June 13, 2019 3:45pm - 5:00pm
Oya 1 (Laico)


Complicit or Neutral? Social media content moderation in conflict areas
Social media companies take pride in their self-proclaimed neutrality: they are free and open platforms for all. Despite such claim, we -digital rights advocates- know it is often not the case. Yet, their mishaps and ill-designed policies are discussed among activists, journalists and policy-makers in either in the context of democracies or authoritarianism. But how do social media and tech companies behave in the context of conflict and occupation? The session questions the position of social media companies, most notably Facebook, by examining their content moderation policies in conflict areas and how they affect politics on the ground, become complicit in human rights violations, and deepen oppression and political asymmetries. Sharing examples from the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Myanmar, the session further discusses how to establish an accountability framework and mechanisms for social media companies when they become complicit in political conflicts.

Thursday June 13, 2019 5:15pm - 6:30pm
L'Escale (Laico)
Friday, June 14


An Innovative Equation for Improved Local Governance: Behavioral sciences + digital tools = new meaningful civic spaces
More often than not, efforts to improve governance and improve transparency are guided by a supply-side assumption by which institution strengthening leads to increased citizens’ satisfaction. While this model has shown its limits, we are struggling to change the way we think of and approach governance and transparency shortcomings. This discussion will showcase a tangible example of innovation and explore alternative avenues to foster transparent local governance utilizing social and behavioral sciences driven solutions to address both supply and demand-side priorities.

avatar for Eguiar Lizundia

Eguiar Lizundia

Senior Governance Manager, International Republican Institute
Eguiar Lizundia is an international development professional with public, private and non-profit experience. Currently, Eguiar works as a Senior Manager for Governance at the International Republican Institute. Prior to IRI, Eguiar helped design, implement and evaluate public sector... Read More →

avatar for Hassen Gharbi

Hassen Gharbi

Assistant Professor, ENSI-University La Manouba
I am an Assistant-Professor in Computer Sciences at ENSI, University of Manouba Tunisia. I was a Fulbright visiting scholar at Carnegie Mellon University, PA, USA in 2014-15 and a Postdoctoral Associate Researcher at Northeastern University, Boston, USA in 2015-16. I am also an elected... Read More →

Friday June 14, 2019 9:00am - 10:15am
Leptis (Laico)


Protecting digital communities in democracies from the global reach of authoritarian countries
The session will be divided into four parts. The first part will be dedicated to an examination of case studies where censorship of one country has been applied abroad. These case studies will be matched with potential solutions proposed by the panel members and audience. The second part will proceed similarly and explore what kind of surveillance countries have instituted most commonly. How can we prevent equipment built by China from being exported globally and used for human rights abuses? Shall countries impose sanctions on companies? Thirdly, the panel will explore how to approach information influence operations abroad. Many countries have experienced Russian and Iranian propaganda. However, it has been difficult to counter this subtle kind of information controls. While the audience is encouraged to interject remarks or ideas at any point of the session, the last part is particularly designed to stimulate their interaction. The moderator will encourage the audience to voice their opinion and give examples that the panel may have missed or deserve attention. The audience will be also invited to introduce the platforms, channels or organisations that they work for if any of them can contribute to tailoring counterstrategies and make a lasting impact.

avatar for Lisa Garbe

Lisa Garbe

Research associate, University of St.Gallen
Our research team maps and analyzes all African ISPs and their shareholders; ISP involvement in shutdowns; and consequences thereof

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 Arthur Gwagwa

Arthur Gwagwa

Senior Research Fellow, Strathmore University (CIPIT)
Arthur is currently working on a project funded by the Open Technology Fund. The project will detect, document, and analyze current and emerging cyber threats with a long term goal to mitigate their impact on users at risk in specific Sub-Saharan African countries especially around... Read More →

Gabrielle Lim

Researcher, Data & Society Research Institute
avatar for Valentin Weber

Valentin Weber

Research Affiliate, Centre for Technology and Global Affairs, University of Oxford
Valentin is a DPhil Candidate in Cyber Security at the Centre for Doctoral Training in Cyber Security and a Research Affiliate with the Centre for Technology and Global Affairs, University of Oxford. He is also an Open Technology Fund Fellow in Information Controls at the Berkman... Read More →

Friday June 14, 2019 2:15pm - 3:30pm
Oya 1 (Laico)