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Last updated: Version 2.3 (Updated May 15, 2018).

Thursday, May 17 • 17:15 - 18:15
When Repressive Authorities #KeepItOn.

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Field research in Africa and other regions, for example, Turkey, reveal that authority-led information manipulation is assuming different patterns: reflecting a range of motivations, and can include efforts undertaken to open up access to information or secure privacy as much as efforts undertaken to do the opposite.

While the current focus on internet shutdowns remains of utmost importance, less discussed are instances when authorities keep the internet on, for their benefit including by seeking to control the public discourse on it to achieve political goals. This trend is increasingly seen during key political events such as elections and coups. Such controls which are often applied in highly dynamic ways often respond to events on the ground. For instance, during public uprisings, authorities view the Internet as a double-edged sword, therefore to shut it down or to keep it open is the authoritarian's biggest dilemma.

The session will debunk the notion that the internet needs to be "controlled" to be safe. This session therefore seeks to develop a stronger analytical and conceptual understanding of the strategies being pursued by the set of leading authoritarian powers in Africa and globally in controlling information online; to assess the nature of the challenge this presents to the Internet Freedom Community; and to determine what opportunities may be available to digital rights activists within these countries—and to those outside seeking to support them—that have not been adequately explored or exploited. It will also equip advocacy strategists with solid facts to lead the global fight against censorship and disruption of networks, information, and communication by presenting an opportunity to discuss other emerging trends in surveillance and censorship, such as new forms of surveillance by police officers and intelligence services such as social media intelligence (SOCMINT) and offer recommendations.

avatar for Arturo Filastò

Arturo Filastò

Project Lead, OONI

avatar for Arzu Geybullayeva

Arzu Geybullayeva

Journalist, Azerbaijan Internet Watch, Azerbaijan
Arzu Geybulla is a columnist and writer, with a special focus on digital authoritarianism, and member of the Forum 2000 Foundation Program Council. She has written for Al Jazeera, Eurasianet, CODA, Open Democracy, and RFE/RL, with a byline on CNN International. Ms. Geybulla is also... 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 →
avatar for Grace Mutung'u

Grace Mutung'u

Associate, Kenya ICT Action Network
dawn grows to day
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 →
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 →

Thursday May 17, 2018 17:15 - 18:15 EDT