RightsCon 2016: Forging the right path for keeping the internet open and secure

At Access Now, we believe that during times of crisis, key stakeholders should come together to develop solutions. That’s how sound policy is created, and how we can craft norms that represent all of us and protect our fundamental human rights.

The tragic events of the past few weeks have highlighted how important it is to respond to assaults on our rights and security by affirming and strengthening our best values. The attacks in Paris, Beirut, Kano, and now in Tunis — and the responses to these attacks — threaten to undermine the principles we are fighting for. We’ve seen misguided calls to ban or weaken encryption and demands for unaccountable government surveillance. We believe the global community should respond to these threats by fostering greater respect for human rights, not less.

These are the issues that we’re reflecting on as we look ahead to RightsCon, our signature conference that gathers digital rights activists, companies, government officials, technologists, and academics from all over the world. On March 30th-April 1st in Silicon Valley — the crucible of technology — we will have the chance to move beyond the knee-jerk response to crisis together, engaging in the kind of sober, expert-driven dialogue that engenders real solutions.

At RightsCon, with the second Crypto Summit taking place alongside it, we’ll be examining the issues surrounding government surveillance and encryption around the world; the rise of government-ordered internet shutdowns and blocking; Net Neutrality and global connectivity; diversity and inclusion of LGBT rights; cybersecurity; privacy by design for startups; and more.

The agenda is still being developed. We are inviting you to help shape the discussion, not just by attending, but also by submitting your idea for a session. Every year, experts from around the world evaluate each submission to make the conference as dynamic and inclusive as possible. Equally important, we’ll focus on defining outcomes for these sessions, working to ensure that what we do at RightsCon has real-world impact.

One of the things that makes RightsCon unique is that we invite a range of stakeholders to the table. Representatives from governments, academia, the technical community, and civil society around the world will be there. As will the companies. We have invited representatives from Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, LinkedIn, Twitter, Microsoft, and telecommunications companies across the globe, including Telenor and MTN. At RightsCon, participants are able to have direct interactions with the people who make decisions that affect our fundamental human rights online..

Our list of confirmed speakers includes:

David Kaye, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression

Eileen Donahoe, Director of Global Affairs at Human Rights Watch

Dan Bross, Senior Director of Corporate Citizenship at Microsoft

Joe Cannataci, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy

Cindy Cohn, Executive Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

Paul Nemitz,  Director  for  Fundamental  Rights  and  Union  Citizenship, European Commission.

Yasmin Green, Head of Research and Development for Google Ideas

Jillian York, Director for International Freedom of Expression Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

Barton Gellman, Journalist, bestselling author, and Pulitzer Prize-winner on the global surveillance disclosure

Walid Al-Saqaf, Board Trustee for the Internet Society (ISOC)

Chinmayi Arun, Research Director of Centre for Communication Governance, National Law University, Delhi

Rebecca MacKinnon, Author of Consent of the Networked, Co-founder of Ranking Digital Rights, GNI and Global Voices

Esther Dyson, Entrepreneur, angel investor, and Principal of EDventure Holdings

Ronaldo Lemos, founder of the Center for Technology & Society at the Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV) Law School Brazil

Christian Dawson, Chairman and co-founder of the Internet Infrastructure Coalition (i2Coalition)

Nicole Karlebach, Senior Legal Counsel, Business & Human Rights at Yahoo

Esra’a Al Shafei, Founder and director of Mideast Youth, a network of online platforms marginalized voices throughout the Middle East and North Africa, Bahrain

Kevin Bankston, Director of the Open Technology Institute (OTI) at New America

Andrew Puddephat, Director, Global Partners and Associates

Katie Shay, Legal Counsel, Business & Human Rights at Yahoo

Elinor Buxton, ‎Senior Cyber Research Analyst at Foreign and Commonwealth Office, U.K. Government

Eve Chaurand, General Counsel, Change.org, an online petition tool with over 100 million users

Andrew McLaughlin, entrepreneur-in-residence at betaworks, former Deputy CTO at the White House, and former Director of Global Public Policy at Google.

Morgan Marquis-Boire,  Director of Security for First Look Media, contributing writer for The Intercept, and Senior Researcher and Technical Advisor at the Citizen Lab

David Pashman, General Counsel at Meetup, and co-chair of policy committee of NY Tech Meetup

David Winstein, Stanford Secure Internet of Things Project, and assistant professor of computer science, Stanford University

We hope you will join us in this critical conversation. Early-bird tickets are now available for a limited time, and you can submit  your ideas for Demo Room and program sessions until December 4th. If you’d like to stay updated on RightsCon, you can follow us on Twitter or Facebook.