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Your Guide to BKC @ Internet Freedom Festival 2019

Panels and discussions led by the Berkman Klein community

Towards dissident technologies: mapping the routes of technology production to imagine futures in common

with Paola Ricaurte and others Monday, April 1, 2019 | 5:15-7:15PM

We conceive technology as an assemblage of materialities, norms, flows, actors, practices, territories, bodies, and subjectivities: something inextricably related to what we are, think and feel. In many indigenous and non-urban or alternative communities, the respect of nature, the attachment to the land, the preservation of memory and traditions, shared goals and a strong organization are crucial to surviving. However, these imaginaries are not compatible with the dominant and corporate technological rationality that takes advantage of people’s lives and environments and produce narratives that separate the land, the people and their affections. For these communities, digital colonialism, the datafication of the self, and the capture of life produce poverty, exclusion, the loss of natural resources, and, in some cases, death. In this workshop, we would like to analyze the implications of digital colonialism in our quotidian lives and in relation to our traditional cultures. Through participatory methodologies and the support of different visual materials, we will map the routes of technology production and locate our place in that network of relationships, resources, narratives, agents, territories, bodies, and subjectivities. We will frame these flows within a socio-technical system that includes the extraction of minerals and the effects on the land and territories, energy consumption (in transportation, manufacturing and packaging, data centers, cryptocurrency mining, end users, among others), labor exploitation and labor rights in the ‘maquilas’, technological dumps, and affectivity. We want to intervene those routes: How can free technologies contribute to building narratives that are significant for indigenous and non-urban or alternative communities? How can we imagine other futures, where free software development is closer to indigenous, non-urban territories, bodies, and subjectivities? How free technologies contribute to decolonize ourselves and our territories? From these traces, we will create alternative narratives based on the ethics of free technologies.

 

Beyond Rough Consensus: Lessons from the Community Consultation on the Future of Global Voices

with Ivan Sigal, Arzu Geybulla, and others Tuesday, April 2, 2019 | 4-5PM

The session will share lessons and provide insights for other community-driven organizations that may want to adopt elements of a Community Council model for consultation on strategic directions for the organization or collective. For many years, Global Voices relied upon rough consensus to make decisions about profound changes within our community, the world around us, and the technologies we use. Over the course of our 13-year history, our community had grown too large for successful community-wide discussion over email or messaging platforms. To address our persistent challenge in organizational decision-making and ensure opportunities for diverse voices within our community, we built a deliberative body called the Community Council to debate complex strategic questions and discuss issues that affect the entire community. We convened this group over a period of two months for the purpose of advising on our future. By expressing their preferences and opinions on four substantial questions about our values, how we organize ourselves, how we work, and how we find resources, this Council has helped us build a roadmap for our future. The model has proven to be an important way for a community-driven organization comprised primarily of volunteers to have a say in the organization’s direction. Building projects and initiatives that take community interests and priorities into account requires consultation, outreach and ongoing support for participants. The Council has helped us articulate and gain community support for changes to our organizational structure and mission.

 

Apples and Onions: Improving Tor for iPhone Users

with Nathan Freitas and others Tuesday, April 2, 2019 | 4-6PM

Participants in this session will be asked to test the Onion Browser on the devices we will provide or to install it in their own, then we will guide them through all its features and clarify all their questions. We want this session to be a very hands on workshop, where members of the Guardian will assist participants on the installation and use of the app, allow them to test it and then express their likes and concerns about it.

 

Bills, Bills, Bills – Upcoming Policy Challenges in Iran, and How We Can Resist Them

with Simin Kargar and others Tuesday, April 2, 2019 | 5:15-6:15PM

2019 marks the ten year anniversary of the introduction of heavy-handed internet censorship in Iran since the Green Movement, during which social media played a key role in mobilizing protests. Over the last decade, Iranian technologists and campaigners have been actively mobilising to resist online censorship, and to fight for a free and open internet. So far, this process has been a messy game of cat-and-mouse, with Iranian authorities generally failing to articulate a coherent, formalised agenda for developing internet-specific laws and regulations. As the different policy-making centres of the Iranian state have acted so unpredictably, digital rights activists have been forced to take a largely reactive approach to rights violations. However, since Rouhani’s reelection in 2017, Iran has stepped up its game with regard to ICT policy-making, with the ICT Ministry preparing at least five major internet governance bills for the current parliament. If they’re passed, digital rights activists and advocates should stand ready to resist any threatening aspects of these bills. But advocates should also not pass up the opportunity to push policymakers to drop or amend these bills as they pass through Iran’s complex policy-making landscape. As Iran changes the way it seeks to govern the Internet, so must we reevaluate the way we defend it. We believe our community must adopt new methodologies to detect future challenges, and start thinking about how to predict and preempt new threats, as well as respond to them. In this session, we’ll outline the emerging institutions that are most heavily involved in forming ICT policies in Iran, show how they relate to each other, and explain how they look set to shape Iran’s internet policy and legislative agenda for years to come. We will also take a closer look at these newly proposed bills and how they differ with the current legal framework in Iran and the broader MENA region. Then, we’ll demonstrate that even in closed societies like Iran, opportunities still exist for civil society to hold policymakers to account, and to nudge decisions in a direction that benefits citizens’ digital rights.

 

Let’s make the Internet standards feminist

with Joana Varon and others Tuesday, April 2, 2019 | 5:15-6:15PM

As part of the Human Rights Protocols Considerations Research Group (HRPC-RG) at the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF/IETF), we have been working on a draft which gives an intersectional feminist framework to analyse the impacts of internet protocols on society. This draft will be discussed for the first time inside the HRPC-RG during the 104 IETF Meeting (March, 2019), just before the IFF. Because of the nature of this draft, we think it is not only valuable but very important and necessary to discuss this 'work in progress' document with the Feminist Internet movement, and receive their feedback and proposals to improve its content. We have no doubt the IFF is the most appropriate place to do this. In this session, we will share with participants the state of progress of the feminist-draft, the discussions and comments it has received from the HRPC-RG members and our views around the future of the document and the group at IRTF/IETF. In addition, the draft will be open to individual and collective interventions. We hope this session to be the first step in a kind of open channel between the HRPC-RG and the Feminist Internet movement, in order to strengthen our feminist lecture, analysis and practice to a more feminist and fair internet. This can be an opportunity to "get the IETF out of their comfort zone" and open the door to a more critical views on how the internet architecture and protocols are being designed and defined.

 

#MoreThanCode: Practitioners reimagine the landscape of technology for justice and equity

with Sasha Costanza-Chock Wednesday, April 3, 2019 | 11-12PM

In this session, several practitioner/researchers will facilitate a conversation about the key findings and recommendations from #MoreThanCode (morethancode.cc). #MoreThanCode is a participatory action research report based on interviews, focus groups, and data analysis with 188 tech practitioners from across the U.S.A. The report explores the current ecosystem and demographics; practitioner experiences; visions and values; documents stories of success and failure; and provides key recommendations for the future of the field. We hope our findings and recommendations will be useful to all those who want to use technology to make a more just and equitable world. Key recommendations include: Nothing About Us Without Us: Adopt Co-Design Methods and Concrete Community Accountability Mechanisms; From Silver Bullets to Useful Tools: Change the Narrative, Lead with Values, and Recognize Multiple Frames and Terms Across the Ecosystem; #RealDiversityNumbers: Adopt proven strategies for diversity and inclusion; Developers, Developers, Developers? Recognize Different Roles and Expertise in Tech Work, and Support Alternative Pathways to Participation; Coops, Collectives, and Networks, Oh My! Support Alternative Models Beyond Startups, Government Offices, and Incorporated Nonprofits. The project is co-led by Research Action Design and the Open Technology Institute at New America, together with research partners Upturn, Media Mobilizing Project, Coworker.org, Hack the Hood, May First/People Link, Palante Technology Cooperative, Vulpine Blue, and The Engine Room. The project was funded by NetGain. Conversation will be facilitated by 3-4 staff from these organizations (TBD if our session is accepted).

 

Staying uncensored in censored times: stories of new media initiatives from Azerbaijan

with Arzu Geybulla and others Wednesday, April 3, 2019 | 2:45-3:45PM

While lack of access to quality, independent and free information is one of the biggest challenges faced in Azerbaijan, other factors such as production of medium to poor quality news, lack of public interest in news and quality journalism overall, government control over media space, lack of interest on behalf of public institutions to engage with media for PR and so on only aggravate the scale of the problem. It is against this environment that a number of smaller, independent, and yet popular media initiatives have emerged as alternatives. They resort to new technologies, approaches, and new ways of spreading and sharing the news. HamamTimes is among a few of these platforms. With a mission to improve the space where access to information is readily available and widespread, HamamTimes also aims to strengthen the resilience of Azerbaijani civil society by keeping it informed and providing it with the independent news. How they do it? Come and join this session, where its presenters are going to tell you all about the "BathTimes" aka "HamamTimes", its work, the origin of its name (surely we are not talking about "hamam" culture in Azerbaijan although the name does come from there) and other creative initiatives from Azerbaijan that give hope in a highly divided, uninformed, dismantled and unfree environment.

 

Digital Election Observation: Rewriting the Playbook

with Arzu Geybulla and others Wednesday, April 3, 2019 | 4-5PM

Can our tools and communities be adapted to defend democracy? How can internet freedom underpin and facilitate free and fair elections? Internet disruptions are increasingly threatening democratic processes across sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and even Europe. Over the last decade, shutdowns have become more targeted and precise to the point where they can be used to suppress specific voter demographics and minorities, and enable the distribution of false information. Observation is the first step towards a remedy in any problem space. Let's discuss was to adapt our existing work as a community, and explore areas where technical and social innovation can lead to short-term and long-term solutions to counter the emerging global threat of stolen elections.

Marco Polo: Finding One Another

with Nathan Freitas and others Thursday, April 4, 2019 | 11-2PM

This session focuses on methods for connecting tool teams and users. Within this session we want attendees to be exposed to practical activities and methods for discovering and communicating needs and co-creating solutions. In addition, we will showcase stories and insights gained by our team and other teams working directly with communities on the ground and with development teams.

 

For the Global South, by the Global South: Building More Collaborative, Autonomous Networks for Internet Freedom Research

with Jessica Dheere and others Thursday, April 4, 2019 | 2:45-4:45PM

As global south-based internet freedom research organization supporting the growth of a multi-stakeholder community on digital rights legal research, SMEX and others have observed a two-fold challenge towards maximizing the impact of internet freedom research towards defined policy outcomes: a lack of coordinated research agendas among regional stakeholders that capture shared issue and policy priorities, and the collaborative, interdisciplinary networks of practice among global south researchers to advance these agendas sustainably. In this session, we will facilitate a strategic roundtable discussion to further conceptualize and develop a proposed initiative that takes a "for the global south, by the global south" approach to maximize research efforts for responsive, evidence-driven internet policy advocacy. By catalyzing the growth of more collaborative and autonomous global south communities of internet freedom research practice, this initiative aims to support more coordinated regional research agendas, encourage interdisciplinary research collaborations driven by local priorities, localize and promote research methodologies, tools and datasets, and de-centralize research capacity building into the hands of local communities. As this initiative is still nascent, we would like to involve wider community participation and input from the very beginning. We invite attendees to this session to help us brainstorm strategies for pushing this forward: what can we begin doing now? In the medium-term? In the long-term? We would also like to identify potential project partners, in particular other global south CSOs and academic institutions engaged in internet freedom research and data gathering.

 

Localization Lab Sprint

with Dragana Kaurin and others Thursday, April 4, 2019 | 2:45-6:45PM

Ever wondered how to make Internet freedom technology available in your language? Localization Lab will host a 4-hour localization sprint for anyone who wants to make internet freedom technology and resources available in their language. It is also an opportunity to learn more about Internet freedom tools and how they can help your community. Our contributors are journalists, human rights defenders, students, activists, translators and more -- everyone is welcome to join. With the support of select developers and technologists, we will collaboratively translate internet freedom technology into a variety of languages. The sprint will begin with a “meet and greet” to introduce new participants to a showcase of supported Internet freedom tools, allowing time for a demo and an explanation by the developers. This will provide participants with an opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of the chosen tools and to ask questions to demystify their use. We will then move into the localization event, working collaboratively in language teams to kick start -- and possibly finish -- the tools. Sprints like this are not only an efficient way to localize tools but are also a great way to build regional and linguistic networks within the Internet freedom space. This session is also a chance for end-users to discuss regional/linguistic issues that affect their communities with developers.

 

CYRILLA: Improving the Usability of Legal Data for Civil Society, Human Rights Defenders, and Lawyers

with Jessica Dheere and others Friday, April 5, 2019 | 12:15-1:15PM

CYRILLA, an open legal database, organizes and makes accessible legislation and case law that affects human rights in digital environments so that a wide range of actors can confidently assess legal trends and their impacts in digitally networked spaces. Across the world, laws that regulate digital rights are drafted and passed without a full understanding of the technologies or their implications on the preservation of the core values of the internet. At the same time, jurisprudence citing such laws is only beginning to emerge and, where it does exist, can be difficult to locate. Feedback on the CYRILLA platform is essential in order to ensure users can quickly locate laws and cases, navigate the taxonomy, and easily identify and evaluate legal trends in the digital sphere. Members of the CYRILLA Collaborative, which includes SMEX, Derechos Digitales, APC, the Center for Intellectual Property and Technology Law (CIPIT), and HURIDOCS, will spend the first 10 minutes of the session briefly explaining the evolution of CYRILLA, giving participants a tour of the platform, and demonstrating the different visualization and mapping options. Then, for the next 10 minutes, attendees will have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the platform by exploring legal data, including new legislation and cases, and experimenting with mapping and visualizations, including a view beta versions we will develop specifically for this IFF session. For the remainder of the session, attendees will critique the navigability of the platform, suggest improvements to the taxonomy, and together we will brainstorm new ways to map and visualize these laws.

 

Threats against women and non-binary journalists in the global south

with Arzu Geybulla and others Friday, April 5, 2019 | 2:45-3:45PM

Journalists have to deal with online threats and harassment on daily bases. This collaborative talk aims to address online threats faced by journalists (especially women and non-binary) and to find the best tools to protect themselves when they encounter a digital threat, to protect their social media accounts getting hacked, to protect their sources and the information they received? Different scenarios can be discussed including phishing, surveillance, how to stay anonymous, how to secure devices, protect privacy.

 

Localizing Usability: Community-Driven Design

with Dragana Kaurin, Nathan Freitas, and others Friday, April 5, 2019 | 2:45-3:45PM

This session will focus on the importance of getting community members involved in the development process from the beginning. Presenters will address factors that assist in creating community driven tools and share stories, insights, and opportunities from community specific cases. This session is an opportunity for technologists, designers, and community members to understand key areas that should be kept in mind when developing for users living in diverse contexts around the globe, and provide examples for how users can be more seamlessly integrated into the design process through different activities (including localization). So together we can create more sustainable, more useful, more inclusive, more desired solutions. Specific regions addressed in this session include: Southeast Asia with Burmese, Indonesian and Cambodian users at Localization Sprints, Colombia through Colnodo, Latin America and the Caribbean through the Viento project and Speaking Up, and Digital Security trainings of women in Kenya.

 

Bridging the gap: Strategies for reporting on Internet and Tech

with Dragana Kaurin and others Friday, April 5, 2019 | 4:00-5:00PM

The media’s primary mandate is to inform and educate the citizen. This includes informing and educating the citizen about the ever dynamic world of tech, internet, and digital rights. However, this is not always possible. Journalists who come from countries where the mother tongue is not English but rather Shona, Swahili, French, Portuguese, Zulu, Yoruba, to name a few, tend to have greater challenges in fulfilling their mandate because; In some of these countries, there are no immediately recognisable terms for the Internet, Wi-Fi, encrypt, network, mobile app, browser, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, etc. The journalists/ media themselves do not understand the tech terms that keep cropping up at the speed of light. The media has to have an above average level of understanding of what they seek to inform the masses on, and in many instances, this is not the case. How then can the media and the journalists based in these countries be trusted to best inform the masses and how can they provide a simplified and easy to understand version of tech terms? During first-hand interactions with the media (online and offline) and interviews with dozens of journalists (Zimbabwe, Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, Belgium), there was a discovery that the existing knowledge and education on digital rights, internet, and tech is at two extremes. On one hand, you have a number of journalists that don't have a clear understanding of what the internet is, let alone internet freedom and digital rights. On the other hand, there are the few that do know and understand the fundamentals but are far too technical in approach. This is mainly because they are not necessarily journalists but people who studied various aspects of tech who happen to work and write for publications whose concentration (specialization) is Technology. What we then find is a situation where; Those who do write articles on the subject are too technical and use too many complex terms (jargon and semantics). Those who attempt to write on the subject have no real grasp of the concepts behind certain terms. In both instances, the citizen/ consumer is left uninformed, uninspired and (for lack of a better word, clueless). Hence what we have in these countries is a media space that is trying to talk about a subject they either have no clear understanding of, or, is speaking from a level that is far too technical for the consumer to comprehend. This failure on the part of the media/ journalist to inform the citizens/ consumers, may be due to the language barrier (Tech is predominantly in majority languages- English, French, Chinese, etc) where countries in the Global South struggle with coming up with Tech terms in their own languages (minority languages), no education on the use of tech in school/ college/varsity or the use of obsolete technology. Whatever the case may be, this failure on the part of the media to educate and inform in the simplest way possible is what we feel is contributing to the plateauing of the data penetration rates in countries such as Zimbabwe, and the continued existence of the digital divide. This session seeks to start a conversation about how we can collaborate and come up with ways and means to improve the media’s ability to tell stories and report on digital rights, internet, and technology.