Afsaneh Rigot is a researcher with years of experience covering law, technology, LGBTQ, refugee and human rights issues.
Currently she works with ARTICLE 19 on Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regional issues. At the Berkman Klein Centre (BKC), Afsaneh continues the work and research she designed and led on security issues for LGBTQ communities who use dating apps and social media tools in the MENA region. Her research at BKC focuses on how these apps are used for evidence-gathering by state actors targeting LGBTQ groups. Afsaneh is exploring the admissibility of evidence within the prosecution process, researching which evidence gathered through apps becomes the most detrimental to users, resulting in charges brought against them, as well as how legal teams can prove the inadmissibility of such digital evidence and/or bring about acquittals. Through understanding these patterns in courts, the goal of her research is to identify ways of mitigating these risks for LGBTQ individuals, increasing acquittal rates, supporting legal teams and ascertaining (and advocating on) what changes apps need to make to better protect vulnerable users. Dating apps remain the focus of the research as they provide unique importance for their ability to provide unique insight due to their ability to connect these communities and represent our most intimate and fragile interactions with technology. The broader project and her research at BKC pose questions about the effects of technology in contexts it was not designed for and the effects of western-centrism on vulnerable and/or hard-to-reach communities. It also looks at how the power-holding corporations can be constructively engaged with, highlighting the need for effective corporate responsibility, harm reduction, and user and community-centered research. The collaborative work and research on the wider project has been collaborating, educating and calling on businesses and tool developers to understand how their tools become implicated in human rights abuses - especially when designed without understanding all of the contexts in which they function and communities they function in. Previously, her legal work has also focused on environmental protection and refugee rights, including for immigration detainees. Recently she has been leading an initiative focusing on refugees' information needs, legal rights and secure documentation of rights violations. As part of ARTICLE 19's MENA team, her work has also included leading research on activists' needs for holistic security and access to information laws in the MENA region.