Closing in on the 11th edition of RightsCon (and where we hope to see you in 2023)
The 11th edition of RightsCon comes to a close today, and we have a lot to celebrate: a record-breaking 9,329 registered participants joined us for 560 sessions, we welcomed our first head of government, and introduced a brand new space for our community with the RightsCon Studio.
The first event in our second decade of convening has sent a strong message: our community’s work is more important, necessary, and powerful than it has ever been.
Over the course of our five days together, we talked, listened, workshopped, and consulted, and the small selection of tangible outcomes below are a testament to why we come together:
- Sanaa Seif, sister of detained Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, outlined what the RightsCon community can do to help #FreeAlaa in this crucial moment as his hunger strike passes day 70.
- U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet reaffirmed her call for a global moratorium on the sale and use of spyware, echoing the resounding call from civil society voices all around the world.
- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the United States will become the Chair of the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC) for the first time in 2023, alongside the FOC’s launch of the global #MyDigitalInclusion campaign highlighting the importance of ensuring connectivity for all.
- Access Now, ARTICLE 19, and Center for Human Rights in Iran made recommendations to Meta for better understanding the complexities of Persian-language content, and ensuring its content moderation practices uphold and protect human rights.
- Social media companies met with civil society to coordinate strategies for defending LGBTQ rights in Ghana in the face of dangerous legislation, as well as for expediting support to LGBTQ people across the region facing abuse on their platforms.
- A new campaign #TireMeuRostoDaSuaMira was introduced to the community, mobilizing civil society to call for a total ban on the use of digital facial recognition technologies in public security in Brazil.
- #KeepItOn coalition members launched important new resources for the global movement, including a Taxonomy of Internet Shutdowns to help inform circumvention strategies and the new Advocacy Assembly Shutdowns Academy to share knowledge and skills across the network.
- U.N. Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues Fernand de Varennes launched a global consultation process for draft guidelines on hate speech online and harm to vulnerable and marginalized groups.
- In a session focused on Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, participants formed a coalition of Central Asia digital rights experts, out of the recognition that their governments are using similar methods and legislative initiatives to ramp up censorship.
- USAID Administrator Samantha Power and New America CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter launched a new technologist code of ethics.
- Civil society voices from Russia, Nicaragua, Hungary, and Tunisia connected to share successful strategies on how to counter the proliferation of “foreign agent” laws restricting funding and work of independent media and NGOs around the world.
- EngageMedia in partnership with the Oxen Privacy Tech Foundation (OPTF) launched their new report, Through the Looking Glass: digital safety and internet freedom in South and Southeast Asia.
- A session outlined how internet outages go against the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and committed to finding avenues to better defend vulnerable groups against them.
- Internet and Jurisdiction Policy Network released a new framing brief on categories of electronic evidence.
- And many, many more.
What comes next for RightsCon
For the last three years, we have hosted RightsCon online. Historically an in-person event, we continue to be in awe of how the community transitioned, adapted, expanded, and found a home in a virtual environment.
At the same time, as the world manages multiple competing crises, we have heard from many of you, around the world, a desire and readiness to connect in-person again. For months, we have been thinking deeply about the future of RightsCon and where it’s hosted, and we couldn’t wait any longer to share our decision with you.
The 12th edition of RightsCon will take place in Costa Rica (and online), June 5-9, 2023.
RightsCon Costa Rica will be our first hybrid event, bridging where we started – a vibrant in-person gathering – with where we are now – a dynamic online network. While we will approach our vision for 2023 with the same intentionality we have every summit before, we recognize that we are making this announcement amidst many open questions about resourcing and equitable access.
We must acknowledge that our participants have many different realities, have experienced the impact of COVID-19 differently, and are still grappling with vaccine inequity, economic instability, and other hardships that may prevent travel or in-person participation.
We want to be in conversation with you about how we construct a hybrid event that meets the needs of this diverse and growing community, no matter how you come to this space. As a first step in that process, we encourage you to take our survey about RightsCon 2022, tell us what you would like to see us carry forward from your experience this year, and how we can evolve the event further in 2023.