WITNESS is attending RightsCon in Brussels next week and we’re participating in a variety of talks and workshops. RightsCon focuses on the intersection of tech and human rights—right where WITNESS lives. Here’s where you can find us:

Wednesday, March 29

On Day 1 of RightsCon we’re part of the ‘Beyond Dystopia: The Future Of Human Rights Technology‘ discussion in the Evasion room from 10:30-11:45 – trying to move beyond fear to pragmatic optimism around possible technologies for human rights and what essential human rights tools will look like in 2025. Start your RightsCon on a forward-looking, hopeful (and perhaps even playful) note! Sam Gregory, our Program Director will talk about the potential of immersive experience, co-presence and beaming; as well as how we make sense out of an ever-increasing volume of images.

We will be joining several other exciting projects that are doing demos of their work from 12-13:15 in the Clarity room. Program Director Sam Gregory will share our Mobil-Eyes Us project, which combines livestreaming video with tools that turn passive viewers into active supporters. The Mobil-Eyes Us app provides supporters with specific opportunities for action. For example, it could allow organizers to ask viewers with legal skills to act as distant legal observers. We’ll share insights from our pilot of Mobil-Eyes Us in Rio de Janeiro during the 2016 Olympics games, where we worked with residents of Rio’s favelas to create livestreams focused on the impacts of the Games on their communities, and updates on developing the app and strategies around it in advance of upcoming pilots.

From 16:00-17:00 in the Stoclet Room, join our Africa Program Manager Nanjala Nyabola and Senior Program Coordinator for Tech + Advocacy Dia Kayyali for You Can’t Film That: Should we have the right to record?” More and more people are utilizing citizen journalism and civic witnessing with their smartphones– but from police brutality to assaults on human rights defenders the presumed “right to record” public officials, authorities or matters of public interest in public space is coming into question. David Greene of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, David Kaye, Law Professor at University of California, Irvine and United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and Michael Power of the Legal Resource Center of South Africa, will discuss the legal and practical landscape of the right to record. This interactive discussion workshop will also allow participants to work through some of the challenges surrounding the “Right to Record” in a choose-your-own-adventure segment where they will have to make choices about whether to film.

Then at 5:15 we’re with Nuba Reports, Videre, Radio Zamaneh and the Dutch Ambassador for Human Rights discussing ‘Open and Closed: New Challenges for Human Rights Reporting in Hostile Spaces‘ in the Stoclet room – debating out how to address the challenges of closing and closed civic space and the need for human rights reporting and documentation in the most challenging situations.

Friday, March 31

On Friday, from 9-10:15 am WITNESS will participate in two panels.Livestreaming for Human Rights: Potentials and Pitfalls will be led by Dia in the Harmony room. They will be joined by Joana Varon, Executive Director of Coding Rights in Brazil, and Peter Stern, Global Policy Manager at Facebook. The panel will explore the current technological, tactical, corporate and governmental blocks to successful live-streaming in the public interest. From the difficulties faced by platforms such as Facebook around managing real-time graphic content to the danger both to livestreamers and to the people they are filming, we’ll cover a wide range of issues, with the goal of determining some potential best practices for companies and for live-streamers.

In the same time slot in the Clarity Room, WITNESS Executive Director Yvette Alberdingk-Thijm will join Physicians for Human Rights on “What Do We Owe End Users?: The Ethics and Duties of Non-Tech Groups Creating and Commissioning Tech Tools for Human Rights Documentation.” This panel will feature speakers from human rights NGOs that use and develop tools for human rights defenders.   

From 14:30 to 15:45 in the Demo Room representatives from WITNESS, Global Voices, Article 19 and Derechos Digitales will talk about Storytelling and Technology for Advocacy Campaigns, including strategies for designing campaigns as stories and highlights from campaigns around the world. The panel will feature Elizabeth Rivera, WITNESS’ Program Consultant for Latin America and the Caribbean, Mahsa Alimardani (Global Voices and Article 19) and Marianne Diaz (Global Voices and Derechos Digitales).

And ask any of the WITNESS team at RightsCon – Dia, Nanjala, Yvette, Martin or Sam – if at any point you want a demo of ProofMode. It’s the latest tool from our collaboration with the Guardian Project to develop a one-click tool to create more verifiable and trustworthy photos and videos. It’s part of our fight back against the challenges of ‘fake news’ and the risk that alternative and grassroots voices will be marginalized and not trusted. Download it on the Google Play store here.

You can see the full schedule for RightsCon here.

See you in Brussels!

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