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The 2020 RightsCon will take place online from 27 to 31 July. The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) values the conference as a convening space to strategise, share and contribute to discussions concerning the protection of human rights in the digital space. Given the unprecedented circumstances brought on by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to take the opportunity to build, in this and other international fora, strategies to face the challenges, fear and uncertainty of these difficult times.

Key areas of focus in our team’s participation this year will be:

  • The intersections between gender and ICTs

If digital technology and the internet are the lifelines of our days, then a feminist internet becomes an imperative. We need not only to recognise and support, but to actively listen, network and amplify the work of individual and collective nodes of hyperlocal resistance happening in the streets to the global digital highways of the internet. In particular, how feminist research methods can contribute to decolonising knowledge and the internet will be in focus this year.

  • Internet governance, ICTs and environmental sustainability

Digital technologies can play a part in mitigating the impacts of climate change, as well as helping displaced and affected communities adapt to the challenges that lie ahead. The internet is also a crucial tool for environmental activism, and for keeping governments and extractive industries accountable. However, numerous areas require reinvigorated policy advocacy by internet rights activists. There is, for example, a need for unfettered public access to big data sets dealing with the environment, as well as open access to the latest scientific and environmental health research. Policy needs to consider the impact of the mass production and sale of consumer technology with short lifespans (built-in redundancy) on human wellbeing, the climate and the environment. Through our participation at this year’s RightsCon, APC will work to advance understanding among key actors of how environmental sustainability could and should be incorporated into internet governance processes, and how the internet should be governed in a way that enables environmental justice and sustainability.

  • The value and potential of community networks, in the framework of meaningful digital inclusion

It is critical that attention be urgently given to affordable and appropriate internet access for communities. A radical change of policy, logic and strategy is necessary to address the needs of the billions of people in developing countries who still suffer from digital exclusion. The first step is to provide alternatives for infrastructure deployment, expanding coverage and addressing affordability. Governments should create enabling ecosystems to allow small-scale networks and locally owned telecommunications infrastructure to emerge and expand. Decentralised community-built and owned networks are the most effective way to overcome digital exclusion in areas that are still isolated from the social and economic dynamics of the digital era.

  • Shrinking civic space and threats to human rights online

The exercise of the rights to freedom of association and expression, both offline and online, is being increasingly affected. States are engaging in regressive and anti-democratic measures through digital technologies, and activists and human rights defenders are being persecuted and criminalised. The space for civil society is shrinking nationally, regionally and globally both offline and online. At RightsCon, APC will work and exchange views with other groups towards identifying key strategies to strengthen civil society organisations as key actors in the internet policy and governance ecosystem. Meaningful inclusion and participation of all stakeholders remains necessary in internet policy discussions and decision-making processes, using online multistakeholder settings and mechanisms.

Throughout the programme we plan to promote a global South perspective to human rights online, including by supporting and promoting the important work of APC members.

Please find below the panels, workshops and meetings organised by APC and members, chronologically organised under the 11 RightsCon tracks.

APC organised sessions:

28 July - 11:15 UTC: Feminist internet research for a feminist internet

28 July - 16:45 UTC: Environmental sustainability and internet governance: a roadmap for policy action (with BlueLink)

30 July - 13:00 UTC: Militarisation of cyberspace: Grappling with applicability of international law to the cyberspace (co-organised with the Centre for Multilateral Affairs)

APC staff speaking at sessions:

30 July - 16:00 UTC: Regulatory agenda on community networks in LAC

30 July - 14:15 UTC: The criminalisation of digital rights defenders  

31 July - 14:00 UTC: Online protests: Lessons from the pandemic 

APC members sessions:

27 July - 16:30 UTC: Caught in the (social safety) net: Social exposure and intensive data exploitation in Latin American social protection (with Derechos Digitales)

27 July - 16:30 UTC: From production to deployment: addressing the global proliferation of spyware (with 7amleh)

27 July - 17:45 UTC: Nos ven la cara: A Latin-American declaration on human rights and facial recognition (with Derechos Digitales)

27 July - 20:15 UTC: Internet shutdowns in the Arab region: a challenge to defeat (with SMEX) 

28 July - 02:15 UTC: Face recognition technology and state surveillance in East Asia in the wake of COVID-19 (with Jinbonet)

28 July - 8:45 UTC: Not "revenge porn": New trends in non-consensual intimate imagery in Uganda and the role of digital security (with WOUGNET)

28 July - 13:15 UTC: Digital rights and disability: A framework for measuring ICT accessibility for persons with disabilities in Africa (with CIPESA)

28 July - 16:45 UTC: Online gender violence: Towards the configuration of international standards (with TEDIC)

28 July - 16:45 UTC: Content removal in Latin America: Censorship practices on the internet and regulatory approaches for the region (with Intervozes)

29 July - 11:30 UTC: National digital ID systems in Asia: mapping considerations of potential benefits and harms (with Open Culture Foundation) 

29 July - 12:45 UTC: Localising algorithms in trans-global tech: Development impacts of AI in local economic contexts (with Derechos Digitales)

29 July -  12:45 UTC: COVID-19: can Global South institutions survive the GovTech onslaught? (with Derechos Digitales)

29 July - 12:45 UTC: Consent by design: How design in tech impacts choice, power and control in data-sharing processes (with Derechos Digitales)

29 July - 12:45 UTC: Meaningful connectivity: from COVID and beyond (with Digital Empowerment Foundation)

29 July - 15:15 UTC New influencers: putting digital rights on the policy agenda (with CIPESA)

30 July - 11:45 UTC How authoritarian leaders use ambiguous and rhetorical terms to dramatise internet shutdowns in Africa (with WOUGNET)

30 July - 14:15 UTC: A world in revolution: lessons and tactics from 2019 protests (with SMEX)

30 July - 14:15 UTC : Crafting a scalable response to disinformation: truth online (with Derechos Digitales)

30 July - 16:00 UTC: Facial challenges: networking global responses to the spread of facial recognition technology (with Unwanted Witness)

31 July - 10:00 UTC: Digital rights solidarity in South Asia (with Body and Data Nepal)

31 July - 11:15 UTC: Net positive advertising: dream or reality? (with Derechos Digitales)

31 July - 11:15 UTC: Digital health certificates: are they immune from violating the rights of users at risk? (with Derechos Digitales)

31 July - 14.00 UTC: Rapid response funds and the promotion of human rights in the digital environment (with Derechos Digitales)

31 July - 16:30 UTC: Surveillance, safeguards, and strategy: Campaigns for surveillance reform in North America, LATAM and Africa (with Derechos Digitales)

31 July - 16:30 UTC: Data for development: shaping future scenarios (with Derechos Digitales)

31 July - 17:45 UTC: The revolution will be tracked: How to protect activism in the age of mass surveillance (with Derechos Digitales)

31 July - 17:45 UTC: Innovating for inclusion: How to combat bias through policies, product design and community engagement (with Mallory Knodel)

More information
  • The forum can be followed through the #RightsCon hashtag and by following @rightscon (En), @RightsCon2es (Sp), @rightscon2fr (Fr), @rightscon3rabi (Ar) on Twitter. APC will be sharing live updates on @apc_news, under #RightsCon, #HumanRightsOnline, #EnvironmentandICTs, #FeministInternet, #InternetFeminista, #ChallengeHate, #CommunityNetworks, #RedesComunitarias

  • Access our press section to stay updated on pressing news and other resources.

  • For interviews, coverage and other press inquiries, contact Leila Nachawati, APC’s media outreach lead:

List of suggested readings / resources

On gender and ICTs

On internet governance, ICTs and environmental sustainability

On community networks

On civic space and threats to human rights online