Goodbye San Francisco, Hello Southeast Asia!

with summaries by Tyler Snell, Global Advocacy Intern


RightsCon Silicon Valley 2014 is behind us and it was an overwhelming success! A big thanks goes out to all our expert speakers and sponsors and a special shout out to all RightsCon 2014 attendees for bringing the conference to life!

We saw some of the most prominent human rights experts, corporate leaders, engineers, activists, investors, and government representatives come together from around the world to share their ideas and develop real world solutions. These talented people worked to advance solutions to digital human rights challenges, concentrating on the possibilities within the technology sector.

This impressive collection of expertise condensed a wealth of information that Access is proud to share with our community.

Day 1

We are incredibly excited at the large turnout and fruitful discussions that kicked off RightsCon 2014 Silicon Valley today! With panels focusing on data privacy and localization, decentralized networking, government surveillance and censorship, transparency reporting, internet governance, and women on the web, participants were given the opportunity to digest the most urgent issues currently facing internet users. Given the increased media attention on digital rights and policies in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations, today’s talks emphasized the technical and political challenges facing online rights.

Closing today’s discussions was the incredibly timely and interesting discussion of online activism in Venezuela, Ukraine, and Uganda. Panelists stressed the importance of freedom of information, secure networks, and the continued work by Access and other organizations using technological advances to protect human rights around the world.


Day 2

Today at RightsCon 2014 participants dove into issues of network neutrality, fundamental human rights, technological dissent, competing jurisdictions, state surveillance and information security. Scott Busby, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights & Labor made the most substantive announcement of the day when he shared with participants the six principles that govern U.S. signals intelligence practices. These principles include: rule of law, legitimate purpose, non-arbitrariness, competent authority, oversight, transparency, and democratic accountability. Mr. Busby detailed the global threats to online privacy and the open internet, including specific examples of how we must fight to ensure freedom of expression in the Persian Gulf, Vietnam, and Turkey. Mr. Busby highlighted the common theme throughout RightsCon, supporting coalitions in the multistakeholder effort for online governance, bringing policymakers, technology companies, and civil society organizations together, and promoting substantive change both on and offline.

RightsCon 2014 closed with a focus on global and regional internet governance. The discussions expanded from a general debate on ideals to specific measures for businesses, governments and NGOs to work together to ensure accountability, human rights, and freedom of expression for all internet users. Special attention was paid to Latin America as Brazil prepares to host Net Mundial in April – a conference designed to address the principles of internet governance and prepare a framework for future online governance.



 Day 3

A number of panels today focused on the overlap between technology, businesses and human rights. The consensus among these talks was a desire to make access to information a standalone Sustainable Development Goal to ensure that everyone, not just countries under the umbrella of the Millennium Development Goals, is assured this fundamental right. Finally, government surveillance and censorship were centerpiece issues throughout today’s sessions. Speakers discussed the policies and technical capacities users can utilize to make sure that journalists, activists, and citizens are able to organize and express themselves freely.