RightsCon community: Thank you Brussels — and hello Toronto!

Reflecting on our time together at RightsCon Brussels (March 29-31), the Access Now team and I want to take a moment to say thank you. This has been the biggest and best RightsCon we’ve ever seen, and we’re humbled by what we experienced there with you.

If you missed the closing ceremonies, then you missed an important announcement. Ordinarily, RightsCon would return to Silicon Valley next year. But the current U.S. administration’s policies, including travel bans and device checks at the border, mean many from our community would not be able to attend or feel comfortable doing so. On the other hand, perhaps the U.S. needs a human rights conference now more than ever. After much consultation with the community, including our friends and colleagues in Canada, we are really pleased to announce that RightsCon 2018 will take place in Toronto!

RightsCon Brussels went by too fast. Together, we shared ideas, built strategies, explored new technologies, and created partnerships that will reinforce and energize the global digital rights community in the fights ahead. We have been inspired by the strength and resilience of the community.

At RightsCon, you all did some really amazing things. Here are just a few highlights:

  • At the #KeepItOn Summit, activists and tech experts convened with telcos and internet companies to come together on strategies to prevent internet shutdowns, the Internet Society joined the global #KeepItOn coalition, and the Freedom Online Coalition issued a strong statement against internet shutdowns.
  • Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium Alexander de Croo came out strong against overreaching government hacking.
  • Secure The Internet coalition members met face-to-face to discuss theemerging threats to encryption and learned from each other’s experiences.
  • Digital security experts worked with activists from around the world to share tools, deepen understanding, and identify needs. We shared experiences and explored solutions to protect vulnerable users from censorship, online harassment, and life-threatening privacy breaches.
  • Ranking Digital Rights released its latest Corporate Accountability Index evaluating 22 internet, mobile, and telecommunications companies’ impact on users’ freedom of expression and privacy.
  • Mozilla announced the winners of its Equal Rating Innovation prize, awarded to help connect the next billion and beyond.

There’s so much more to share, and we’re preparing an outcomes report to help everyone track progress that was made for digital rights across the globe. For now, we’re so glad to have been part of your conversations at RightsCon, and we look forward to empowering you in the year ahead.

We loved sharing RightsCon Brussels with you. And we know there is always room to improve. We’ve put together a very short survey to get your feedback about what worked — and what didn’t. Please take a moment to share with us your experience with RightsCon Brussels. You can also email us at conference @ accessnow.org & we will send you the survey.