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Welcome to the Official Schedule for RightsCon Toronto 2018. This year’s program, built by our global community, is our most ambitious one yet. Within the program, you will find 18 thematic tracks to help you navigate our 450+ sessions

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

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Friday, May 18 • 14:30 - 15:45
Lightning Talks: Transformative Technology in a Changing Global Economy

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Session Emcee: Isaac Stone Fish

Algorithms Trump Agency: A Requiem for Democracy

Dr. Christina Szurlej

Bill C-59 (An Act Respecting National Security Matters) overhauls Canada’s current national security framework under the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015. It permits the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) to collect, query, and exploit datasets of “publicly available” information on every person in Canada, as well as foreigners, if the collection of such data is “relevant” to its work. Despite no direct connection to countering security threats, these surveillance powers significantly infringe the right to privacy, erode several constitutionally protected rights, and represent an assault on democracy. Publicly available information can include information available by subscription or purchase without the knowledge or consent of the person concerned. Most users blindly accept privacy agreements to gain access to digital platforms without realizing their data is collected, shared, stored, and sometimes sold. Publicly available information can also extend to information obtained illegally and sold by a third party. CSIS, and by extension the ruling party, would have access to information rendering a comprehensive account of someone’s preferences, opinions, and ideologies. Algorithms could be used to query and analyze high volumes of data on Canadian voters, representing a significant advantage during an election cycle. Campaign platforms could be crafted according to majority views on key issues, guaranteeing popular support and thus victory, the potential for which is illustrated by Cambridge Analytica’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections. Is this consistent with free and fair elections on which the core Canadian value of democracy is predicated? 

First we are banned. What comes next? Reflections on the WTO case

Speakers: Maria Paz Canales, Valeria Milanes, and Rafael Zanatta

In this talk, we will discuss how and why 60 NGOs were banned from the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting by the government of Argentina in December 2017. We will question and contest the dangerous narrative of "security concerns" and discuss the harmful effects of this decision on future meeting that deal with e-commerce and Internet governance. The conversation is designed to increase awareness of the digital rights community and foster networks of resistance and reaction.

Hacking an earthquake: data and civil participation for emergency response (Derechos Digitales)

Speakers: Gisela Pérez de Acha

When catastrophe strikes, what technologies can be deployed to assist in the aftermath? When a deadly earthquake hit Mexico in September 2017, a group of tech-savvy citizens ended up building a tech-based system from scratch. #Verificado19s was a response that leveraged online and offline methods to map and visualise data in order to coordinate relief efforts where the government was glaringly absent. Despite the inroads made and
successes celebrated about open source software for similar crises, these were not readily applicable in Mexico for a number of reasons.

What lessons, then, can be gleaned to help cement the place of open source code and solutions to build or adapt existing systems for future crises? This session will revisit those trying moments during the earthquake and how the tech community galvanised to put their skills to use. Participants will be invited to reflect and share ideas on what constitutes rapid response technologies, and if open source platforms/code systems are just as easily deployable as Sillicon Valley’s suite of applications was in this case.

Researching women’s lives and livelihoods in the time of sieges and shutdowns (The Bachchao Project)

Speakers: Chinmayi S K & Nonibala Narengbam

According to the tracking website InternetShutdowns.in, there have been 107 shutdowns in India since 2012, of which 47 have happened in the current year. India witnessed the highest number of shutdowns in the world in the year 2016. While the frequent and high number of internet shutdowns in India has a been a topic of much research and activism, there is little information to shine a light on sensitive geographies within India and from the lens of gender. We’re presenting the findings of our recent study in Imphal, Manipur on the nature and impact of intentional Internet shutdowns on the lives and work of feminist activists. The activists and organisations we surveyed locate themselves in different areas of empowerment of women: relief for victims of domestic abuse, increasing the number of women in governance, economic independence, and so on. Many of the women are also entrepreneurs with small or medium businesses, leveraging the availability of the Internet for one part or another of their business operations, such as seeking microloans and selling their goods online.

Manipur has limited avenues for employment and economic growth owing to the terrain and the prevalent political situation. Additionally, support groups for war widows, victims of domestic abuse, et cetera use the Internet for their activities. Internet shutdowns and poor network connectivity have been detrimental to their efforts and work, causing financial losses to their businesses, curbing their human rights, and disempowering them. This intersection of gender, digital and civil rights, activism, and censorship is further complicated in the region due to the politically sensitive situation prevalent since the 1980s and poor air and railway connectivity with the rest of the country. The findings of our study reveal how the women of Imphal balance the online and the offline and the in-between (bad quality of network services) to manage their lives and livelihoods.

avatar for Gisela Pérez de Acha

Gisela Pérez de Acha

Public Policy Officer for Latin America, Derechos Digitales
Gisela Perez de Acha is a Mexican lawyer and activist who specialises in free speech and gender rights within the digital world. She is the public policy officer for Latin America at Derechos Digitales, a non-governmental organisation where she mostly conducts research on algorithmic... Read More →
avatar for María Paz Canales

María Paz Canales

Executive Director, Derechos Digitales
avatar for Isaac Stone Fish

Isaac Stone Fish

Senior Fellow, Asia Society
Chinese influence in America, North Korea, international affairs journalism.

Friday May 18, 2018 14:30 - 15:45 EDT