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Your Guide to BKC@RightsCon 2018

Your Guide to BKC@RightsCon 2018

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

Is This a New Face of Info War? "Patriotic" Trolling and Disinformation -- the Iran Edition
Simin Kargar
Details: Wednesday, May 16th, 2018; 10:30-11:45pm – 205A
Online harassment and smear campaigns are increasingly applied as a form of information control to curb free speech and exert power in cyberspace. Targeted harassment of dissidents on social media appears as the most recent form of strategic communication, where particular messages are crafted by state-affiliated actors to manipulate public opinion. This session addresses the circumstances under which these coordinated efforts are likely to emerge, the latest practices of Iran to extend its ideological arms across social media, and the ultimate goals that they pursue.

Young, Safe, and Free: Respecting Children's Online Privacy and Freedom of Expression
Patrick Geary,  Sarah Jacobstain, Jasmina Byrne, Fred Carter, Sandra Cortesi, Ariel Fox, Patrik Hiselius, Natasha Jackson
Details: Wednesday, May 16th, 2018; 12:00-1:15pm – 206C
This is chance to talk about practical steps that companies and public authorities can take to protect and empower children online. Companies and Data Protection Authorities will share how they consider risks to children's privacy online while still providing children with full, open and enriching online experiences. Civil society organizations will highlight the work that remains to be done, and academic researchers will ground this in evidence about how children exercise their rights to privacy and freedom of expression online. 

Combatting Shutdowns with COST: A Data Driven Policy Tool for Internet Freedom
Arzu GerbullayevaNighat Dad, Isik Mater, Peter Micek, Nicolas Seidler, Alp Toker
Details: Wednesday, May 16th, 2018; 12:00-1:15pm – 202B
Internet shutdowns cost globally about $2.4 billion USD and cause untold harm to trade, industry, and communities that rely on the free flow of information for growth and prosperity. In this session, we will discuss and develop a concrete roadmap for the introduction of economic arguments into the day-to-day campaigning and policy-work using COST, a new data-driven policy tool that will automate the task of economic estimation. Our international panel brings together experts from legal, technology and policy backgrounds and invites active participation from the audience to better understand how a next-generation policy tool can impact internet freedom and digital rights community. How can we make policy work more visible to under-represented communities? How can we build advocacy tools that empower the general public?

Online Criticism, Falsified Court Orders & the Role of Intermediaries: Coping With Takedown Requests of Questionable Legitimacy 
Adam Holland, Daphne Keller, Eugene Volokh
Wednesday, May 16th, 2018; 2:30-3:45pm – 204B
Lumen is a research project devoted to collecting and analyzing requests to remove online materials. Recently, researchers and advocates, including Professor Eugene Volokh, have uncovered an alarming pattern of falsified court orders used to seek and often achieve the removal of online material. The Lumen team will open the workshop with a brief introduction to Lumen and to the site’s API. Once the attendees are familiar with Lumen, they will facilitate a discussion about the implications of falsified court orders within the takedown request landscape.

New Tools for Visualizing Communities, Projects, and Resources: Inspiring Engagement and Exploration
Sandra CortesiJustin Clark
Wednesday, May 16th, 2018; 2:30-3:45pm – 200A
In this tech demo, we will present interactive tools that have been developed at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University to visualizing communities, projects, and resources. 

Documenting ICT Companies' Impact on Civic Freedom & Human Rights Defenders
Rebecca Mackinnon, Jessica Anderson, Ellery Biddle, Peter Micek, Ana Zbona
Wednesday, May 16th, 2018; 4:00-5:00pm – 200A
When internet, mobile, and telecommunications companies fail to put in place human rights-respecting commitments and policies, their practices may directly or indirectly result in the violation of users’ freedom of expression and privacy rights. These violations in turn intensify the global attack by governments and populist demagogues, and non-state actors, including companies, against human rights defenders and journalists. Highlighting this human impact of company policies and practices is crucial in making the case for why companies must institute—and policymakers should support—policies that foster and reinforce respect for internet users’ rights. Although stories of such violations sometimes make the news, until recently there were no systematic efforts to gather evidence in a way that helps all stakeholders better understand the scale and impact of the abuses and attacks.

Language Access and Humanitarian Response: A Matter of Human Rights
An Xiao Mina, Olly Farshi, Natasha Jimenez
Wednesday, May 16th, 2018; 5:15-6:15pm – 205C
The world is seeing an unprecedented scale of migration due to conflict and climate-related natural disasters. People from different linguistic backgrounds are coming together in a number of humanitarian contexts, such as rapid response work and support in refugee sites. Without the ability to communicate effectively, both aid workers and beneficiaries stand to lose significantly. In this panel, members of Meedan and Outside will share their experiences in the field in dialogue with others who are looking at issues of language barriers in humanitarian work.


Teaching AI to Explain Itself
Suchana Seth
Details: Wednesday, May 16th, 2018; 5:15-6:15pm – 205A
A growing body of artificial intelligence algorithms are NOT black-box - they can explain their decision mechanisms. What do "good" explanations look like in the world of accountable algorithms - from the perspective of users, consumers, and regulators of AI? How do we set realistic expectations about explainable or interpretable machine learning algorithms?

Scrutinizing the Little Brothers: Corporate Surveillance and the Roles of the Citizen, Consumer, and Company
Katie McInnis, David O’Brien, Christopher Parsons
Wednesday, May 16th, 2018; 5:15-6:15pm – 203B
In this session, we will bring together panelists from Toronto University’s Citizen Lab, the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard University, and Consumer Reports, each of whom are addressing issues of corporate surveillance and accountability. Panelists will share overviews of their organizations’ goals, challenges their programs face, and changes they hope their projects will effectuate. We will present three different perspectives: the consumer, the citizen, and the company. All three projects are responses to pervasive corporate surveillance and aim to lessen the imbalance between corporations and individuals.


Thursday, May 17th, 2018

Data Driven Decency: New, Collaborative Experiments to Diminish Online Hate and Harassment Online
Rob FarisSusan Benesch
Thursday, May 17th, 2018; 9:00-10:15am – 205C
In this session we will report on - and brainstorm new possibilities for - experimental methods for diminishing harassment and hate speech online. The speakers will describe the first academic research experiment with an Internet platform that committed in advance to sharing data and allowing publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Participants will be asked to share best practices from their own experiences with collaborative online research. In closing, the moderator will ask for ideas to continue research experiments that aim to diminish hate speech online. Afterward, we will circulate the newly generated ideas, and invite continued collaboration for their implementation.

Secure UX Principles: Let's Build a Checklist of User Security and Good Design
a panel moderated by An Xiao Mina
Thursday, May 17th, 2018; 10:30-11:45 – 201C
We present a research and design checklist for people who are developing technologies to help communities at risk. This checklist is designed to promote human rights-centered design by streamlining the process of user research. We believe this resource will aid builders of tools, platforms, and services with limited resources and time. 

Beyond the Hype Cycle: What Does Blockchain Mean for Human Rights Online?
Chris Doten, Yasodara Cordova, Rachel Pipan
Thursday, May 17th, 2018; 11:00-11:25– Village Main Stage
The panelists hope to foster a conversation on who is or would like to be using blockchain for human rights and democratic advocacy - and how. In particular, the discussion will include: Information on current pilot projects and lessons learned from the Blockchain Trust Accelerator; Open sharing of other blockchain initiatives, in whatever phase; Discussion of the ways in which blockchain can - and won’t - be useful to the RightsCon community; Ways the Blockchain Trust Accelerator or academic institutions like the Harvard Berkman Center may be able to assist social good-focused organizations.

Mind the Shark: Informational Flow in Natural Disasters, from Fake News to Rumors
An Xiao Mina, Olly Farshi, Natasha Jimenez, Antonio Martinez
Thursday, May 17th, 2018; 12:00-1:15pm – 200B
While misinformation has risen to the top of the agenda in journalism, its impact on humanitarian workers has yet to be fully discussed. Misinformation during natural and human disasters is a consistent theme, causing confusion and leading people to miss access to critical resources - whether that’s the frequent false threat of sharks during hurricanes or confusion about where ICE is detaining people fleeing a disaster site. What are the challenges and opportunities in this space? How can we design solutions that address this? This conversation will look at specific cases of address misinformation after disasters, when rapid responders may not even have access to the most current accurate information.

Cross-Harm Collaboration: Building Strategic Responses to Risks and Harms Online
Nikki Bourassa, Chloe Colliver, Henry Tuck
Thursday, May 17th, 2018; 1:20-2:20pm – 206D
Recent revelations linking the use of disinformation, fake accounts, and hate speech to sway elections, coupled with the rise of harm from cyber-bullying, coordinated online harassment, misogyny and child sexual exploitation, demonstrate the range of threats facing internet users. Tech companies are asked to tackle these issues, but often by a huge range of uncoordinated voices. In this workshop, ISD and the Berkman Klein Center will discuss the inefficiency of current silos in online harm prevention work, foster cross-sector collaboration on research and projects, and create actionable suggestions for ways to make collaboration successful and useful for CSOs and technology companies.

Translation Project: A Translation Suite for Humanitarian Organizations
An Xiao Mina, Olly Farshi, and Natasha Jimenez,
Thursday, May 17th, 2018; 2:30-3:45pm – 200A
As the global population of forcibly displaced people reaches record levels, the language barrier between refugees and those seeking to help them remains among the first challenges in serving their immediate relief needs. The Translation Project seeks to prototype and develop open-source technology and a community of translators to address this pressing need in a way that is scalable and sustainable.

Do Bots Have Rights? Do They Threaten Rights?
Dinah PoKempner, Camille Francois, David Kaye
Thursday, May 17th, 2018; 2:30-3:45pm – 203A
This session aims to uncover the potential of social botnets to both advance and to harm rights, and asks whether this type of speech should be protected by human rights law, when, and to what degree. Social bots are being developed for good purposes—such as language learning, practicing social skills, providing guidance, information or entertainment—as well as purposes that pose serious risk to rights, such as trolling, spreading ‘fake news,’ or improperly influencing elections. Artificial intelligence applications are attempting to make social bots more ‘human’ by the day.

Machine Learning, Human Understanding: AI and Access to Knowledge
Jan Gerlach, Maria Paz Canales, Rob FarisMalavika Jayaram, Caroline Sinders
Thursday, May 17th, 2018; 2:30-3:45pm – 206B

This session explores the relationship between artificial intelligence (AI) and access to knowledge. The panel examines AI’s potential for expanding human participation in the creation of knowledge online. Panelists will discuss the principle of “AI plus human review”, which can empower online communities to collaborate and make decisions collectively, e.g. on Wikipedia. The session will also discuss the effects that machine learning and automatic decision-making about content on internet platforms have on people’s ability to find, engage with, collect, contribute to, and share knowledge.

Reframed! Media Analysis for Digital Inclusion
Belen Febres-Cordero, Nikki Bourassa, Natalie Gyenes
Thursday, May 17th, 2018; 4:00-5:00pm – 200B
Access to media analysis tools has generally been limited to academic researchers and industry communications or media professionals. In the absence of tools accessible to community groups or advocacy organizations, there are limited opportunities for more marginalized or vulnerable communities to gather evidence-driven knowledge regarding how their own issues are covered in the media. Global Voices, in partnership with Media Cloud, is piloting an initiative that democratizes access to media analysis tools, bringing them to vulnerable populations so that they can understand, and possibly direct, their own representation in the media.

Internet of (Stranger) Things: Privacy Threats of the Next Generation of Vulnerable Devices
Rob Pegoraro, Ann Cavoukian, Bruce Schneier, Amie Stepanovich, Beau Woods
Thursday, May 17th, 2018; 4:00-5:00pm – 206C
As more internet-connected products become available on the markets globally, so, too, are the number of reports of data breach or security flaws of such devices skyrocketing. This session will showcase short presentations about the dangers of an insecure internet of things, highlight existing legal frameworks that do (or don't) provide adequate protections, and discuss proposed solutions, including rules for security and privacy by default, to ensure people and their data are protected.

When Repressive Authorities #KeepItOn
Arthur Gwagwa, Arzu GerbullayevaGrace Mutung'u, Alp Toker, Maria Xynou
Thursday, May 17th, 2018; 5:15-6:15pm – 204A
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. 

Friday, May 18th, 2018

Countering Media Manipulation: Linking Research and Action
Robert Faris, Joan Donovan, An Xiao Mina, Claire Wardle
Friday, May 18th, 2018; 9:00-10:15am – 206D
Although widespread propaganda and disinformation is not a new phenomenon, its occurrence within today’s online networked environments has wrought new challenges for democracy. A mix of legitimate political entities and malicious actors have exploited and leveraged vulnerabilities in platform architectures to surreptitiously insert false news narratives into unwitting media environments. Worse, these campaigns are often coordinated to take advantage of platform algorithms and muddy the difference between genuine and false. Plentiful opportunities remain to foster greater collaboration within the research community and between researchers, journalists, and media watchdogs. In this workshop, we will identify and put into place better mechanisms to coordinate research efforts and to link researchers with practitioners.

Internet Monitor: Real-time Internet censorship research and visualization tools demo
Casey TiltonJustin Clark
Details: Friday, May 18th, 2018, 2:30-3:45pm
Interested in learning more about the technology behind real-time Internet censorship research and contributing to the Internet Monitor project? In this session, researchers from the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University will demo two tools developed by the Internet Monitor project. First up is the Internet Monitor Dashboard, a tool that compiles and visualizes data about Internet activity and content controls in over 100 countries. Next up is AccessCheck, a tool that lets users test in real time the availability of websites in countries around the world. Test results include a thumbs up/down notification indicating whether the website is available, as well as a screenshot and more detailed data on status codes, timings, and any errors encountered. In addition to testing single urls, AccessCheck allows users to test the availability of lists of country-specific websites that have been created by experts in the censorship practices of governments around the world

Have We Entered a Brave New World of Global Content Takedown Orders?
Vidushi Marada, Jennifer Daskal, Daphne Keller, Vivek Krishnamurthy, Stefania Milan, Jonathon Penney
Friday, May 18th, 2018; 4:00-5:00pm – 206C
From the Supreme Court of Canada's Equustek decision to Germany's "NetzDG" law, concerns of a "race to the bottom" are mounting as every country seeks to enforce its national preferences on the global internet. Now that the brave new world of global content regulation is here, what do we do about it? When is it legitimate for a government to enforce its preferences on a global rather than a national basis? And where do private forms of governance, like algorithmic curation on and by social media platforms, fit into this picture? Join our panel of experts from North America, Europe, and South Asia for an update on some of the biggest recent developments in this area and a wide-ranging discussion of how all those who care about the open, global internet should best respond to these trends.

What Keeps a Security Professional Up at Night?
Camille Francois, Jen Ellis, Nathaniel Gleicher, Karl Holmqvist, Beau Woods
Friday, May 18th, 2018; 4:00-5:00pm – 206B
The panel will open with brief introductions from panelists working on security at global companies. The first part of the discussion will then focus on the threat of state actors and their changing manifestations (through proxies, obfuscating their capabilities, etc.), as well as public policy and diplomatic options to respond to those threats. The second half of the conversation will then focus specifically on the implications of these changes, giving the audience an understanding of how stakes, restraint, and unintended consequences have and will continue to play out, as well as the challenges in applying existing and developing international norms and laws. Finally, all speakers will be asked to identify the most concerning emerging threats and trends that they see and to forecast how we must adapt to overcome them. An open round of questions with the audience will close the session.

Artificial Intelligence: Governance and Inclusion
Eduardo Magrani, Chinmayi ArunSandra Cortesi, Christian Djefal, Malavika Jayaram
Friday, May 18th, 2018; 5:15-6:15pm – 201B
Even though the developing world will be directly affected by the deployment of AI technologies and services, policy debates about AI have been dominated by organizations and actors in the Global North.. As a follow up to the international event “Artificial Intelligence and Inclusion” held in Rio de Janeiro earlier this year, this discussion will focus on development of AI, and its impact on inclusion in areas such as health and wellbeing, education, low-resource communities, public safety, employment, among others. The goal of this roundtable is to bring these debates to the RightsCon community, enlarging the conversation and deepening the understanding of AI inclusion challenges, governance and opportunities, to identify and discuss areas for research, education and action.

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Publications 01

Aug 16, 2017

Partisanship, Propaganda, and Disinformation: Online Media and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election

In this study, we analyze both mainstream and social media coverage of the 2016 United States presidential election.