We are headed to RightsCon in Tunis next week, and would love to see you! RightsCon focuses on the intersection of tech and human rights—where WITNESS lives.

We’re more than ever in the center of hot debates around topics such as manipulated media and extremist content, so there’s no better opportunity to meet and collaborate with human rights defenders from all over the world. WITNESS Executive Director Yvette Alberdingk-Thijm, Program Director Sam Gregory, and Tech+Advocacy Program Manager Dia Kayyali will be speaking.

Here’s where you can find us:

Wednesday, June 12th

Future-Proofing Human Rights Documentation: Tools for Protecting Endangered Evidence
WITNESS Staff Speaking: Dia Kayyali, Program Manager, Tech+Advocacy
This panel will bring together those working in various capacities in the human rights field including advocates, lawyers, technologists, usability experts, archivists, and others interested in creating tools and standards and increasing their adoption in the wider community towards the common goal of holding abusers accountable through the ethical collection and preservation of evidentiary media.

AI for Justice: Opportunities and Limitations to Analyzing Today’s Human Rights Data Troves
WITNESS Staff Speaking: TBA
The session will feature an engaging discussion with experts and the audience regarding the evolving challenge of how to document and promote accountability for violations of international law in the world of Facebook and YouTube. It will also explore the possibilities of new technologies, as well as the challenges and ethical concerns inherent in leveraging AI, regardless of the good intentions behind its application.

Prepare Don’t Panic: Strategize a Human Rights-Based Response to Deepfake Technologies, Synthetic Media and Increasing Volumes of Visual Misinformation
WITNESS Staff Moderating: Sam Gregory, Program Director
Speaking: Gabriela Ivens, Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow
Videos, audio and memes, often crudely edited or recycled and re-contextualized, play a critical role in misinformation, influence operations, ‘fake news’ and in inciting violence. New sophisticated, personalized audio and video manipulations called “deepfakes,” as well as other forms of AI-generated and manipulated “synthetic media” that allow changes/additions to videos add to the problem. In the session you’ll learn about proposed solutions/approaches to address deepfakes and synthetic media.

Sustainable Practices Workshops – Sharing What Works
WITNESS Staff Moderating: Yvette Alberdingk-Thijm, Executive Director
The end goal of this interactive workshop would be to co-create a first draft of a ‘best practices’ guide — not a one size fits all solution guide, but shared space for what we learned that works. Super-pragmatic.

Thursday, June 13th

Hope for Resilience: Shifting the narrative, advancing wellbeing
WITNESS Staff Speaking: Yvette Alberdingk-Thijm, Executive Director
How can we solve the burnout and PTSD problem in (online and offline) human rights activist circles? The goal of this session is to identify and map the underlying problems that foster these beliefs/culture, and to advance possible solutions together with participants.

Know Thy Enemy: Narrative framing, storytelling, and tech in the disinformation age
WITNESS Staff Speaking: Sam Gregory, Program Director
Whether in Brazil, Guatemala, the United States, or Germany, far-right forces use the same playbook to promote and spread the disinformation, hate speech, and extremism that are undermining liberal democracies and human rights across the globe. Know Thy Enemy will be structured as an interactive, hands-on workshop focused on helping civil society understand the tactics used to create and spread disinformation.

Defending Democracy from Foreign Interference in a Digital Age
WITNESS Staff Speaking: Sam Gregory, Program Director
There are increasing efforts in the international community to challenge the value of democratic principles and states. At the same time, emerging technologies have created a new environment for foreign interference operations to support these narratives, particularly in the form of disinformation campaigns. This session will offer examples of legal, NGO and government/multinational responses to foreign interference in the form of disinformation.

Solving the problem of vicarious trauma in open source investigations
Speaking: Gabriela Ivens, Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow
The goal of this session is to discuss concrete solutions to the problem of secondary trauma that can lead to burnout or PTSD and depression among human rights advocates. It will emphasize workflow, design, effective mitigation strategies and institutional steps that can be taken right away.

Who wants to be a terrorist? The radicalisation of free speech control through measures against terrorist content online
WITNESS Staff Speaking: Dia Kayyali, Program Manager, Tech+Advocacy
Fear of terrorism facilitates the emergence of laws that give multiple powers to law enforcement, through de facto permanently raising threat levels in cities around the world to “code yellow”; to tackling the emergence of radical messaging online as a terrorist radicalisation tool. Civil and human rights organisations navigate a difficult landscape: on one hand, acts of terrorism should be prevented and radicalisation should be counteracted; on the other, regulatory trends conflate fighting terrorism with simply removing controversial content from before our eyes.

Friday, June 14th

Lightning Talks: Trends in transparent tracking
Ticks or it didn’t happen: Discussing dilemmas when building authenticity infrastructure for multimedia
Speaking: Gabriela Ivens, Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow
The research ‘Ticks or It Didn’t Happen’ – looks at the technical solutions currently being proposed by start-ups, platforms, companies, and civil society organizations for authenticating images, videos or audio recordings on the moment of capture as well as tracking this through the content’s lifecycle and use. These innovations will have a profound impact on how we assess user-generated content, engage with citizen journalists and trust critical dissident voices.

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