APC hosts event on solutions to internet-enabled human rights violations one year after Snowden's revelations

BARCELONA, Spani, Jun 2 (APCNews)

PRESS STATEMENT FROM THE ASSOCIATION FOR PROGRESSIVE COMMUNICATIONS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

APC hosts event on solutions to internet-enabled human rights violations one year after Snowden’s revelations

On 4-5 June 2014 at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya in Barcelona, the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) is holding Take Back The Net!, a one-of-a-kind event where human rights advocates and transformative technology providers will meet to discuss solutions to today’s climate of internet-enabled human rights violations and loss of privacy.

One year after the Edward Snowden revelations that exposed an unprecedented level of mass surveillance of internet users, Take Back The Net! comes at a crucial time. The outcry in the face of numerous reports of privacy and other human rights violations has not produced satisfactory responses from governments and communication service providers. Privacy as we knew it is a thing of the past. Most of these changes have taken place without the conscious awareness of internet users. We all need to be aware of how the privacy and digital security landscape is changing and what can be done to protect our digital rights and the rights of others.

Yet choosing alternatives can be challenging. How do we know what critical vulnerabilities exist in our communication behaviour? How do we know how much privacy we are sacrificing to online services? How do we know when we are having a truly private conversation? What sort of standards can we set for our own organisations and for others?

APC Executive Director Anriette Esterhuysen considers that even though some regions are active in terms of getting the message out that alternatives exist, activists and civil society people are still rather ad hoc about what products and platforms they use. In this sense, “the explosion in digital security training and advice does not really help. People learn how to use certain products that are safer than others, and they also learn how to be scared as they begin to grasp how insecure their data and behaviour really are. But they are not really encouraged to consider choice at a more comprehensive level and to be empowered in a longer term way.” For instance, when choosing more sustainable hardware options, people make choices with energy use in mind. In this case, it is a matter of “choosing platforms and products that are integrally safer, choices that actively support those techies and developers who are creating alternatives to the mega companies and platforms that dominate the market,” she reflected.

“We would like for developers, users, service providers and activists to talk about strategies for getting more people aware of choice – how do we really popularise awareness that choice exists?” said Esterhuysen.

Event facilitator Steve Song noted, “Increasingly internet users are concerned about the Faustian bargain they have made with ‘free’ online service providers that barter privacy in exchange for services. There is insufficient transparency about how user data is stored and who it is made available to.” He added, “As if that weren’t enough, most of us now carry around mobile phones which are also the perfect tracking device, giving off location and call information wherever we are. We no longer know how much privacy we are giving up.”

About the vulnerabilities that exist in our daily electronic interactions, Renata Avila, global campaigns manager at the Web We Want initiative, agreed with Song. “It was a widely known fact that mobile and electronic communications were vulnerable and unreliable, by design, for years. What we recently discovered is the extent of exploitation by five governments of such vulnerabilities, without a reason and in clear violation of international human rights standards,” she said. “Do not forget that you carry a responsibility as custodian of those who are offline but whose data is online,” Avila added.

APC invites journalists and media to take part in this gathering where civil society organisations and individuals will debate how to restore trust in communication infrastructure. Key people in the field will be available for interviews on hot topics such as digital security, privacy, internet rights and internet-enabled human rights violations, and transformative technology, among others. Some of the key partners of the event include Tactical Tech, Web We Want, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mozilla, Front Line Defenders, AkiraChix, Access, CiviCRM, eQualit.ie, Guifi.net, Open for Change, The Guardian Project, Ushahidi and Citizen Lab, among others.

Follow on Twitter the hashtag #takebackthenet

Where: Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Agora Room, C. Jordi Girona, 31, 08034 Barcelona, Spain. Tel: +34 93 401 62 00.
When: 4-5 June 2014

Know more about the Take Back The Net! event:
Take Back The Net! page
You do have a choice: APC organises Take Back The Net! event

About the 2014 APC Member Meeting
The APC 2014 Member Meeting is the most important gathering for the APC community. Organisational members, individual affiliates, staff and partners will come together to share learning and activities, strengthen networking and collaboration within the community, assess progress and identify priorities in our strategic plan (2013-2016), and get to know each other better. APC Council members will also elect APC’s Board of Directors at this event. We are pleased to announce that this is the first time individual affiliates will be joining a Member Meeting.

APC 2014 Member Meeting

About the Association for Progressive Communications
The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) is an international network and non-profit organisation founded in 1990 that wants everyone to have access to a free and open internet to improve lives and create a more just world. Since its formation in 1990 the APC network and its members have been committed to achieving universal and affordable access to a free and open internet.
www.apc.org

Press contacts
Mallory Knodel
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mallory@apc.org
Tel: +1 514 573 6340

Flavia Fascendini
Women’s Rights Programme communications associate
flavia@apc.org
Tel: + 55 02477 640312

(END/2014)

Media contact

Mallory Knodel
Communications & network building manager
Tel: +1 514 573 6340
mallory@apc.org
Montreal, Quebec

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