Community Updates

Event Info

Save the date for RightsCon Online: July 27-31, 2020

Access Now is excited to announce that, for the first time, RightsCon will take place entirely online. From Monday, July 27 to Friday, July 31, 2020, we invite you to sign up, log in, and join us for the ninth edition of the world’s leading summit on human rights in the digital age.

2020 is fast becoming the year defining the decade ahead. We are facing a demanding set of challenges and if recent events have taught us anything, it’s this: we are only as strong as the communities we build around us. From the COVID-19 pandemic to #BlackLivesMatter, from the internet shutdowns in Jammu and Kashmir to the global climate crisis and the protests in Hong Kong, the movement for human rights requires all of us, together.

RightsCon Online reflects this revolutionary spirit. A global iteration of our Summit Series, it will provide a critical platform for what is required in this moment: thousands of experts connecting, coordinating, and advancing a shared agenda for the future. Over the course of five days, our community-sourced program will convene technologists, business leaders, activists, policymakers, journalists, and academics who are committed to a vision of justice, equity, and structural change. And we want you to be a part of it.

The extraordinary moment we are living through reminds us why we do this work and why convening matters. When we asked our community what was needed most in this time, the responses reaffirmed the value of RightsCon as a space to connect, strategize, and learn from others. We heard from more than 700 individuals across 100 countries and 10 sectors – and 90 percent told us that if we brought RightsCon online this year, they would make that leap with us. As we build toward RightsCon Online, every decision we’ve made, every step we’ve taken, has come back to that sense of trust and commitment.

A centralized platform for our work

Because our summit traditionally changes location on an annual basis, the bar for selecting the next venue of RightsCon is high. During the selection process, we ask ourselves which localized spaces will best serve the dynamic and energetic atmosphere of our convening. Choosing our online home was no different.

RightsCon Online will take place on a tailored platform, built specifically for us with our partners at TechChange, an online learning organization with a decade of experience in virtual organizing. Within the RightsCon Online platform, participants will be able join the public program, participate in private meetings, and connect with others.

A relevant, responsive program

Through a combination of virtual high-level panels, informative Q&As, facilitated community meetups, and strategy sessions, the RightsCon Online program will provide opportunities for global, regional, and local networks of experts to coordinate.

Built from our Call for Proposals – session proposers will begin hearing from us this week – and strengthened by new sessions responsive to our current context, the program for RightsCon Online will address issues of critical importance, including:

  • Public health in the digital age
  • Protest, participation, and political change
  • Content governance, disinformation, and online hate
  • Privacy, digital identity, and surveillance systems
  • Election integrity and the future of democracy
  • Alternative models for business and labor
  • Connectivity and internet shutdowns
  • Peacebuilding, development, and humanitarian response
  • Civil society resistance and resilience
  • Data protection, and more

Back in February, we emphasized our investment in building “a navigable program for 2020 that better embodies the overlapping, kaleidoscopic, and nonlinear nature of human experience in the digital age.” In  the context of an online program, strengthening the participant journey remains as important a goal as ever. Together with our Program Committee, we are working to update and refresh the thematic content of our session lineup, which we will then weave into a structure that connects the many emerging areas and issues typically covered in our program.

Starting this week, we will notify session proposers on a rolling basis if their session has been accepted and provide detailed instructions on next steps. If you submitted a session through our Call for Proposals, we appreciate your patience as we get in touch with updates over the next few weeks.

A renewed commitment to safe, secure, and inclusive spaces

While the location of RightsCon has changed, our guiding principles and practices have not. We remain committed to a summit program and experience that reflects the diversity of the issues we cover. For RightsCon Online, we’ll leverage the opportunities presented by virtual convening to increase our reach and elevate more voices than ever before.

At the same time, we’ll work to address the challenges that may create unintended barriers to participation. In all steps of our planning, we’re prioritizing security to ensure spaces remain safe and productive. We’re thinking critically about how we build a schedule that allows for participation across time zones. We’re building asynchronous pathways of engagement to create alternative and low-bandwidth options for participants. We’re conducting an accessibility audit of our platform to understand how we can optimize for a range of abilities.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll share important details about our planning, how to register, and the public program. We’ll also provide regular updates on how we’re thinking about 2021 and RightsCon Costa Rica. Stay up to date by subscribing to our newsletter, the RightsCon Rundown, and following us on Twitter. As always, you can get in touch with our team directly by emailing us at [email protected].

Mark your calendars, join our newsletter, and save the date: July 27-31, 2020. We can’t wait to see you online.

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