Nov 2011 02 – 04

Assessing Freedom of Expression in South Asia

The Soaltee, Kathmandu, Nepal

From 2 to 4 November 2011, the Internet Democracy Project, in collaboration with Point of View (India), the Centre for Policy Alternatives (Sri Lanka) and Global Partners and Associates (UK) will be organising the second South Asian Meeting on the Internet and Freedom of Expression in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Background and Aims

In June 2011, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Mr. Frank La Rue, submitted to the UN Human Rights Council his report on the Internet and Freedom of Expression. This meeting seeks to promote a shared understanding among participants of what constitutes compliance with Mr. La Rue’s recommendations, and to contribute to a focused analysis of the recommendations and what needs to be done to implement them in our national contexts in South Asia. It also hopes to provide a space to share experiences about threats to freedom of expression in the countries in the region and about challenges to implementing the recommendations. Finally, it aims to facilitate the cross-fertilisation of ideas and experience concerning tactics for implementing recommendations.

The meeting takes forward the work started in the first South Asian Meeting on the Internet and Freedom of Expression, organised by the Centre for Internet and Society (India) and DEMOS (Guatemala) in Delhi, in March 2011. That Delhi meeting was part of the global consultations that fed into Frank La Rue’s Internet and Freedom of Expression Report.

Participants

Our intention is to make this a very interactive gathering, with a lot of small group work, and very outcome-oriented. The meeting thus will not be so much a seminar as a workshop, where we are hoping for the active and in-depth involvement of all participants throughout. For this reason, meeting participation is by invitation only and restricted to about twenty five individuals whose past and current work, we believe, indicates a clear interest in and concern for the challenges that the Internet poses to freedom of expression. Delegates will be joining us from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, as well as the UK. In addition, we are extremely delighted that Mr. La Rue himself will be joining us as well (a list of participants can be accessed here).

So far, collaboration on Internet governance issues among South Asian civil society has remained extremely limited. It is our hope that the meeting will lead to concrete ideas for strategies, and perhaps even collaborations, to combat the challenges freedom of expression online is facing in all South Asian countries. We hope that it will also be the beginning of a broader South Asian civil society network on these issues.

Agenda

2 November 2011

9.00-10.00: Welcome and introductions, of people and goals of the meeting

10.00-11.30: Access to the Internet: trends and interests

Moderator: Sharmini Boyle | Speakers: Ram Bhat, Mishi Choudhary

11.30-11.50: Tea/coffee break

11.50-13.00: Access to the Internet: tactics to move forward

Moderator: Sharmini Boyle | Group work/group discussion

13.00-14.00: Lunch

14.00-15.30: Surveillance, security, privacy and data protection online: trends and interests

Moderator: (tbc) | Panel discussion with: Ahmed Swapan, Babu Ram Aryal, Dilrukshi Handunetti, Shahzad Ahmad

15.30-15.50: Tea/coffee break

15.50-17.20: Surveillance, security, privacy and data protection online: tactics to move forward

Moderator: Ujjwal Archarya | Group work/group discussion

17.20-17.30 Conclusions for the day

3 November 2011

9.00-10.30: Arbitrary filtering and blocking of content and criminalisation of expression: trends and interests

Moderator: Nalaka Gunawardene | Speakers: JJ Robinson, Nabiha Meher Shaikh, Nigel Nugawela

10.30-10.50: Tea/coffee break

10.50-12.30: Filtering, blocking and criminalisation: hate speech online

Moderator: Geeta Seshu | Speaker: Frank La Rue | Facilitator exercise: JJ Robinson | Exercise and discussion

12.30-13.00: Country-groups brainstorm

Moderator: Geeta Seshu | Group work

13.00-14.00: Lunch

14.00-16.00: Intermediary liability: trends and interests

Moderator: Shahzad Ahmad | Speakers: Binay Bohra, Pranesh Prakash, Syeda Gulshan Ferdous Jana

16.00-16.20: Tea/coffee break

16.20-17.20: Special session with Frank La Rue

Moderator: Anja Kovacs | Speaker: Frank La Rue | Discussion

17.20-17.30: Conclusions for the day

4 November 2011

9.00-11.00: Brainstorming strategies to move forward: national, regional, global level

Moderator: Bishakha Datta | Group work

11.00-11.20: Tea/coffee break

11.20-12.20: Reporting back and moving forward

Moderator: Bishakha Datta | Plenary

12.20-13.00: Summing up, thank yous and good byes

13.00-14.00: Lunch

14.00 onwards Participants’ departures

The agenda of the meeting can also be accessed here.


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