RightsCon Southeast Asia kicked off with a flurry of events and discussions today in Manila. We saw human rights activists debating ICT policy in Myanmar, in-depth presentations on digital security, and numerous conversations about internet development in the Southeast Asia region.
Importantly, the conference continued to focus on outcomes. An international coalition of organizations endorsed the Manila Principles, an exciting new statement that addresses intermediary liability and freedom of expression. The Global Net Neutrality Coalition met to advance its work across a variety of fronts, and identified new opportunities for collaboration with the Dynamic Coalition on Net Neutrality.
The launch of Facebook’s new Internet.org initiative in the Philippines was matched by an announcement of Mozilla’s effort to provide low-cost mobile phones running Firefox OS in 20 countries across Africa — but not everyone was excited about it. Various stakeholders called for objective research into whether such initiatives improve access or stifle competition through “walled gardens” that don’t enable access to the full internet. The Demo Room showcased new and emerging technologies to promote digital rights across the world, while activists told their experiences of censorship and surveillance from seven different countries.
After a busy day of meetings, RightsCon wrapped on a high note. We celebrated a new judgment from the Supreme Court of India that struck down provisions of a law that impinged on online speech. We’ll share more details about the judgment soon.
For now, it’s time to rest up. Day Two beckons and there’s much more work to do.