As we reflect on RightsCon Toronto earlier this month (May 16-18, 2018), we want to express how thankful we are that you joined us. This was a historic RightsCon, with 2,500 participants from 118 countries coming together to engage, workshop, and build a global agenda for the challenges and opportunities that we face for human rights in the digital age.
Our time together was incredible. Your participation at RightsCon — whether in person or online, in pre-events, conference sessions, or through private meetings and spontaneous interactions — has been an inspiring testament to our collective efforts in protecting and defending human rights across the globe.
Here are just a few highlights of the remarkable things our community came together to achieve:
- Access Now and Amnesty International announced The Toronto Declaration on Equality and Non-Discrimination in Machine Learning.
- The Canadian government launched the Playbook for Gender Equality in the Digital Age.
- United Nations human rights expert David Kaye previewed the first-ever United Nations report that examines the regulation of user-generated online content.
- Activists and technologists from around the world came together to form a new coalition fighting for parity, transparency, and accountability from Facebook in non-Western markets (see media coverage).
- A group of civil society organizations pledged to commit resources to community members facing immediate threat in high-risk situations, which Mozilla Foundation agreed to double.
- More than 30 governments signed a joint statement condemning state-sponsored internet censorship as part of the Freedom Online Coalition, and Brazilian activists got together and finalized a statement about shutdown dangers in their country. Also, our campaign to fight internet censorship proposals in Honduras is still live at accessnow.org/honduras.
- NetBlocks in collaboration with the Internet Society unveiled a new technology project called COST to better measure the cost of internet shutdowns, mobile data blackouts, and social media restrictions.
There’s so much more to share, which is why we are compiling an outcomes report to outline the conversations we started, mark the progress we’ve made, and track our goals for the future. If you ran a session, were a speaker, or participated, and you want to highlight an important announcement, step forward, or new collaboration, we encourage you to fill out our form here or send us an email at conference @ accessnow.org
As always, our days together went by far too quickly. But we’re already looking ahead. In the closing ceremonies, we announced the destination for RightsCon 2019…
This will be the first RightsCon summit in Africa and the Middle East, and we’re thrilled to be hosting our wonderful community there. Tunisian civil society has done incredible work to build and defend a rights-respecting democracy, and Tunisians are still fighting daily to protect the essential rights of privacy and freedom of speech. Hard-fought victories in Tunisia have been a beacon of hope for others across the region and the world — but there is still work left to do.
Over the next year, many of us will be hard at work defending the integrity of elections — combating disinformation, threats to digital security, censorship that silences critical voices and obscures access to information, and data mining used to target users on a massive scale. We will be working to hold tech companies accountable for their impact on human rights and our democratic processes, and to solidify global recognition and realization of the right to internet access for all communities. These issues are just a taste of what’s to come at RightsCon Tunis 2019.
In order to make 2019 the best it can be, we’d love to hear from you about your experience at RightsCon Toronto. Please share your feedback with us by filling out this short survey. Your voice can help inform the future of RightsCon as a platform for defending human rights in the digital age.
Once again, thank you for joining us. You’re what makes RightsCon impactful, and we’re grateful that you are a part of our community.