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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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Thursday, May 17 • 14:30 - 15:45
Lightning Talks: Front Lines of Digital Freedom

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Session Emcee: Gemma Shields (EDRi)

Assessing Open Government in Canada: Have promises been kept? (Right to Know Coalition)

Speakers: Michael Karanicolas

Since 2011, Canada has been a member of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a multistakeholder initiative whose participant governments commit to improving transparency, accountability, and civic engagement through a series of two-year action plans. But although the government has reported substantial progress as a result of these action plans, civil society tells a different story. They note that the years from 2011-2015 marked a dark time for transparency and civic participation in Canada, including as a result of chronic underfunding of the Information Commissioner's Office to the point of crisis, the unprecedented use of the Canada Revenue Agency to attack charitable organizations critical of the government, the muzzling of federal scientists from speaking openly about their research, the destruction of years of scientific research data, and the introduction of problematic new criminal restrictions on speech.

In the 2015 election, Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party successfully campaigned on reversing many of these harmful policies. This was reflected in Canada's latest OGP action plan, which was drafted in early 2016, and which promises a range of deliverables related to access to information, open data, open science, restoring relations with Canada's First Nations, and rebuilding the civic space. But has the government delivered on its lofty promises?

This lightening talk will be a presentation of the findings of the Independent Review Mechanism, the OGP's tool for assessing open government progress in participant countries. The talk will be led by Michael Karanicolas, the OGP's Canada researcher who is carrying out this assessment. He will discuss Canada's progress since the election, including areas where the government has done well and where they have failed to deliver on their promises, as well as discussing options for civil society engagement going forward. The talk will be part of a broader national distribution plan for the OGP's mid-term report on Canada, which will be released in early 2018, and it will also include a brief discussion period, to feed into the OGP's final assessment of Canada's progress under the current action plan, which is set to be completed in late 2018.

The Aadhaar Unique ID case: Discussing the litigation challenging the world's largest identity programme

Ujwala Uppaluri & Usha Ramanathan

In this session, the speakers shall discuss the background, primary contentions, and developments of the Supreme Court case on India's national identity program - Aadhaar. The speakers shall also discuss the day to day court proceedings and the challenges of fighting a case with intricate nuances of technology and government practices. 

How Facebook's Explore is killing the freedom of expression

Speakers: Sara Fratti

Facebook users in Bolivia, Cambodia, Slovakia, Guatemala, Serbia and Sri Lanka have a new tool, still in an experimental phase, called "Explore". Its main function is to "free" the pages of the users' feed, added another tab with the icon of a rocket where it collects all the publications of the pages of media, companies, politicians and organizations.

Generally Facebook tests the new tools and functions in some countries prior to its launch to the global market. On this occasion, it seems that the choice of countries for the pilot test was based on a common denominator: small developing countries with fragile democracies. Why?
Because who controls public opinion controls everything. If in these 6 countries, access to information through social media is the rule, how will their citizens continue the fight against corruption?

In Guatemala, for example, the existence of independent media and investigative journalism have made it possible to uncover many cases of corruption in recent years and that at the time have managed to withdraw the immunity to a presidential binomial and its subsequent
resignation, reforms to the electoral political system, among other. These new independent media are eminently digital, which means that they use social networks as the main vehicle to share their publications. Facebook is not the exception. Generally these media suffer cyber attacks by government agents, such as Denial of Services (DDOS) to their websites, and at those times Facebook has been an essential tool to access and share the publications.

The United Nations of Friends and Foes: staking a claim for internet freedom at the Universal Periodic Review (Small Media)

Speakers: Bronwen Robertson

Every four years, every United Nations (UN) member state goes through its very own Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Everybody gets a UPR! Don't let the fact this is a UN mechanism put you off (*yawn*). I'm here to show you how, by using data from previous UPR cycles, we can use the framework to lobby governments to change the way they regulate and control the internet, and protect the livelihoods of the citizens who use it. We'll explore the data to uncover Friends and Foes at the UN, and formulate the 'perfect' recommendation. We'll also show how civil society can get involved, and how you can get involved to support the process.

Internet Protocols and Human Rights: The New Front Line for Digital Freedom (NetBlocks Project) 

Speakers: Alp Toker & Shivan Kaul Sahib & Mallory Knodel

A group of technologists representing civil society and industry are joining forces to build human rights considerations into the core standards that define how the internet works. Critical decisions made at standards bodies including IETF, ICANN and IEEE will define the rules of engagement for encryption, privacy and equal access. The work is deeply technical and almost invisible to the wider human rights community and general public, yet those decision are the basis of all digital products we rely on today.

The alliance has already produced results, consolidating work on the 451 HTTP status code for "legally withheld content" increasingly being used by governments to stifle dissent online, building reference implementations of tools to understand how they may impact at-risk communities, and bolstering privacy in real-time communication systems used worldwide.

How are human rights issues addressed in technical environments, and what are the challenges faced by civil society groups working in the public interest? How can the wider community get involved and how can we level the playing field to allow for a multi-stakeholder future for internet standards?

This session will shed light on the work of the Internet Research Task Force's Human Rights Protocol Considerations (HRPC) research group and its shift towards implementation at the IETF. The task of deploying more secure technologies into consumer platforms and networking devices is technically demanding but the outcome of the work will define the social contract between consumers, technology companies and governments for decades to come.

avatar for Sara Fratti

Sara Fratti

Indela - Fundación Avina
avatar for Michael Karanicolas

Michael Karanicolas

President, Right to Know Coalition
avatar for Mallory Knodel

Mallory Knodel

Head of Digital, ARTICLE 19
avatar for Shivan Kaul Sahib

Shivan Kaul Sahib

Internet of Rights Fellow @ARTICLE 19 | Privacy and Data Governance Engineering Team @Salesforce, ARTICLE 19
I've been working within the IETF on human rights issues, trying to bridge the gap between Internet protocols and human rights considerations. Currently working on HTTP 451 and WebRTC. Day job is working on privacy things at Salesforce.
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 →

Thursday May 17, 2018 14:30 - 15:45 EDT