Mar 2015 24 – 25


Crowne Plaza Manila Galeria Hotel, Manila, Philippines

RightsCon2015 – hosted by Access, EngageMedia and the Foundation for Media Alternatives – is coming to the heart of Southeast Asia: Manila. The Internet Democracy Project, together with the Foundation for Media Professionals, is organising a session on regional networking and collaboration among civil society in the Asia Pacific at the event. In addition, Anja Kovacs is speaking on panels relating to sexual speech and freedom of expression, surveillance and democracy.

From Singapore to Malaysia, Burma to Hong Kong, Southeast Asia’s 600 million people are coming online rapidly, and its businesses and activists are making innovative uses of emerging and online technologies to develop their economies and champion human rights. However, many in the region are encountering censorship, surveillance and attacks on their basic rights. This is why,this year, RightsCon is taking place in the very heart of Southeast Asia.

RightsCon Southeast Asia will include a mix of interactive and participant-driven sessions that explore a range of themes, including:

  • Protecting rights online in the age of surveillance
  • Technology and infrastructure interdependence
  • Digital rights and economic development
  • Freedom of information and Open Data
  • Tech solutions for human rights challenges
  • Limiting and measuring risk in the ICT sector

The Internet Democracy Project, together with the Foundation for Media Professionals, is organising a roundtable-cum-workshop, Connecting the dots: how to strengthen the work of Internet rights advocates in the Asia Pacific through regional networking and organising, on Tuesday 24 March 2015, 23.15 pm. 

Though Internet rights advocates in the Asia Pacific may know of each other, the systematic regional networking and collective organising seen in many other regions hasn’t happened here yet. This session seeks to investigate what role regional networking and organising can play in strengthening Internet rights advocacy in the Asia Pacific by bringing together civil society concerned with human rights and members from other stakeholder groups who support their work.

All are welcome.

In addition, Anja Kovacs will be speaking at the following sessions:

Cyber Sex(y): Sexual speech, Privacy and Freedom of Expression — Wednesday 25 March 2015, 9.1510.30 am (Organised by EroTICs) 

A global panel composed of activists working at the intersection of sexuality rights and digital rights will lead an interactive session on issues including queer speech online, pornography, public and private censorship, and negotiating sexual citizenship and privacy in a digital world. The session aims to bring people working in the fields of freedom of expression and digital privacy together with sexuality rights activists, providing a platform for cross-country exchange and collaboration on issues that find themselves at the heart of many contemporary debates.

Mass Surveillance and The Right to Privacy: Perspectives from Asia — Wednesday 25 March 2015, 10.4512.00 am (organised by the Brennan Center for Justice) 

Edward Snowden’s revelations about the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) indiscriminate collection of digital communications and data worldwide have sparked debate about the appropriate balance between privacy and security. There is mounting evidence that the NSA’s mass surveillance practices are bad for democracy around the world. Several governments have proposed plans to create their own Internet networks, raising fears that a fragmented Internet might make it easier for governments to censor and spy on their citizens online. Commentators also predict that the revelations will hurt the US government’s credibility as a leading proponent of a free, open and global Internet, and its ability to challenge Internet repression elsewhere. However, mainstream coverage of the global impact of the NSA’s surveillance has been largely Western-centric. With the exception of Brazil, media coverage and international policy debates have largely focused on reactions from the US and Western Europe. In response to this lopsided dynamic, this panel discussion will curate a range of Asian perspectives on Snowden’s revelations (and, more broadly, abusive surveillance activities) and their impact on efforts to improve Internet freedom in the region.

Democracy 3.0 — Wednesday 25 March 2015, 3.004.15 pm (organised by DotAsia) 

Why are democracies failing’?” is a question that needs to be addressed with urgency. From Thailand to Ukraine, Greece to the Arab Spring. Internet has played a significant role in recent political and civil movements. But even when such movements achieve successful revolutionary results, as the public rush into new Democracy 2.0 style” constitutions many fail equally spectacularly. This session hopes to explore the ideas of Democracy 3.0 motivated by the pervasive adoption of the Internet, informed by the developing multistakeholder model experiments in global Internet governance, and nurtured in the eve of the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong, to inform not only the possibilities of the Hong Kong situation but democratic developments around the world, new and old democracies, local and global governance alike.