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The RightsCon Toronto Survival Guide: Making the most of your RightsCon experience

On May 16-18th, 2018, our community of business leaders, policy makers, general counsels, government representatives, technologists and human rights defenders from around the world will come together to shape the future of human rights in the digital age.

RightsCon Toronto features our community’s most ambitious program yet with 18 thematic program tracks and 450+ unique sessions. At any given time, there will be nearly 20 sessions happening simultaneously. On top of that, there will be a number of ways to engage outside of scheduled sessions: visiting the Community Village, hanging out in various lounges, or through bilateral meetings with trusted and perspective partners.

While the scope of this program signifies the growing significance of our collective work, we also know it might feel overwhelming to navigate. Think of this post as your RightsCon Toronto cheat sheet. Everyone’s RightsCon experience will be different — tailored to their work and interests — and here’s how we suggest making RightsCon work for you:

1. First things first, sign up for Sched

This year, our program is going digital, meaning we’ll be hosting our expansive program on Sched, rather than a formal printed version. By creating a profile on Sched, you will be able to easily explore issues areas, learn more about speakers, and even build your own personal schedule. Find exactly what you’re looking for by using the search tool and a session’s title or ID number.

Want access to your RightsCon schedule directly on your phone? The best way is to download the RightsCon app for your mobile device on the App Store or Google Play Store so you can access your schedule on the go.

2. Build your personal schedule in advance

Approach One: Build your expertise by getting to know the program through a thematic track

Each of the 18 thematic program tracks at RightsCon is like a mini-summit in and of itself. We have multiple sessions on specific topics — everything from the debate on encryption policy, to fighting online harassment, to building a human rights framework for non-discrimination in machine learning. By choosing one program track and following it during RightsCon, you’ll be able to speak with experts, ask questions, share your ideas, and leave the conference with in-depth knowledge in your area of interest. Check out the different tracks below and their associated sessions at RightsCon.

Approach Two: Hop around to get an overview of the future of human rights

Want to broaden your scope and get a little taste of everything the program has to offer? No problem! With the scheduling tool, you can design a program schedule specifically to give you an overview of the most pressing issues in human rights and technology. Select sessions from different tracks to learn about a range of topics — such as the role of tech platforms in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, what you can expect when the European Union’s GDPR comes into effect, how to fight internet shutdowns around the world, and what approaches are being used to combat politically motivated disinformation online. You’ll leave the conference with a bird’s eye view of our community’s global efforts to protect and extend human rights online.

3. Add the finishing touches with these important RightsCon highlights

Listen to experts present new idea in rapid fire through our lightning talks

This year’s program has many dynamic and compelling lightning talks — 5- to 15-minute presentations from experts across fields on new and insightful issues, projects, and ideas. These talks are designed to spark critical thought and innovation in the digital rights space. Check them out here.

Visit with organizations and businesses in our Community Village

This year at RightsCon Toronto, we’re introducing a new way to connect with other community members and learn about the work of organizations from around the world. You can meet up with representatives from Media Matters for Democracy, ICANN, Google, Mozilla Foundation, and more. The Community Village is a dynamic space, with room to lounge and set up last-minute meetings. It’s also home to the Village Main Stage, a new session format that brings together fast, dynamic talks on emerging issues. Check out which sessions will be hosted on this stage here in Sched.

Check out cutting-edge technology tools in our Demo Room

The Demo Room will host dynamic presentations on technological innovations, the latest software, circumvention tools, and digital security strategies. You’ll hear from practitioners, advocates, and entrepreneurs who are tackling human rights issues and creating the technologies of the future. Check them out here.

Drop in and chat with our Digital Security Clinic

Technologists from our free-of-charge, 24-hour Digital Security Helpline will be on hand to help you improve your digital security practices and guide you on solutions and techniques to protect you or your organization against online threats. Take a moment to sit down with them by stopping by the clinic in the Access Now lounge during RightsCon. (Pro tip: You can also schedule a one-on-one session with a member of the Helpline team during the conference by emailing help@accessnow.org.)

Take action with Betterplace at RightsCon

In Toronto, we’re introducing a new way to take action and make change, through a partnership with a Toronto-based company called Betterplace. We’ll be using the mobile Betterplace app at RightsCon to give you the opportunity to join fellow participants in a core set of campaigns and initiatives that we can tackle together as a community. You can learn more about this new initiative in our blog post here.

Sign up for our first Continuing Legal Education (CLE) course

Access Now is excited to offer its first ever RightsCon CLE Credit Bearing Course, “Ethical Duties in the Digital Age: Encryption Done Dirt Cheap.” This interactive workshop on data security strategies to help lawyers protect confidential information will be held in the afternoon of May 18, 2018. Learn more about it and sign up on our website.

Set up one-on-one meetings before you arrive

Some of the most effective work at RightsCon takes place in bilateral meetings that allow you to advance your work with trusted partners. Take a look at the program to see who’s coming. While we can’t share contact details of participants for privacy reasons, we encourage you to set up conversations ahead of time. Sched allows you to create your own profile and link your social media handles, making it easier for your fellow RightsCon attendees to contact you.

Meet, connect, and celebrate

At RightsCon, we’ll have plenty of opportunities to connect informally. These include After Dark events, meetups for coffee, and get-togethers. It’s a chance to put aside your devices, relax, and talk to other people who are dedicated to keeping the internet open, free, and secure.

Make it all the way to the end here?

Great time to create your Sched profile and get building!

We can’t wait to see you there.

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