Citizen Lab and partners at RightsCon 2016

February 7, 2016

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Categories: Andrew Hilts, Christopher Parsons, Erik Zouave, Events, Irene Poetranto, John Scott-Railton, Masashi Crete-Nishihata, Ron Deibert

Citizen Lab and its partners will attend the 2016 RightsCon conference in San Francisco, California, from March 30 to April 1 at the Mission Bay Conference Centre.

At RightsCon, Citizen Lab Director Ron Deibert will host a fireside chat with Edward Snowden on technology and information security challenges in 2016. The session will be moderated by Access Now U.S Policy Manager Amie Stepanovich. The session will be held on Friday April 1 from 9:00am – 10:15am at The Hub.

Watch the full video of the fireside chat, or read Director Ron Deibert’s blog post on his conversation with Edward Snowden.

Citizen Lab staff will host two workshops at RightsCon, the first of which is co-hosted with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, entitled “What Do Privacy and Transparency Mean to You? Perspectives from the Global North and South.” The session will be held on Wednesday March 30 from 2:30pm – 3:45pm at The Fishbowl. This workshop, moderated by Irene Poetranto (Citizen Lab) and Katitza Rodriguez (EFF), will feature a roundtable session on privacy issues in Asia and Latin America, and discuss best practices and lessons learned. Our interest in submitting this proposal stems from projects that both the Citizen Lab and EFF have been working on. The EFF publishes the annual “Who Has Your Back?” report which examines the transparency and privacy practices of various online service providers in regards to government requests to access user data.  The Citizen Lab has a related project in Canada, the “Access My Info” (AMI) web application, which helps Canadians file legal requests for access to their personal information to learn about what information that service providers hold, for how long, for what purposes, and when the information was disclosed to other parties (e.g., requests by government and law enforcement agencies). These experiences will be used to engage RightsCon participants in conversations on the definitions and challenges of privacy and transparency in the Latin American and Asian contexts.

The second workshop hosted by the Citizen Lab at RightsCon is entitled “Evidence Based Research and Advocacy Strategies for Engaging Companies: Cases and Lessons.” This workshop, moderated by Citizen Lab Research Manager Masashi Crete-Nishihata, will be held on Wednesday March 30, 2016 from 4:00pm – 5:00pm at The Fishbowl. Recent work conducted by the Citizen Lab and colleagues has shown the importance of this research for revealing practices of companies providing Internet filtering systems, governmental spyware, and consumer level products with security vulnerabilities. This session will present a series of case studies on the global proliferation of web filtering products and commercial spyware, and security vulnerabilities in Korean parental monitoring applications. In particular, the focus will be on the questions and challenges associated with engaging with companies: When and how should researchers engage with companies, especially when there are wider political implications?  The discussion will then turn to the generalizable lessons from the interactions of researchers and companies.

Citizen Lab staff will also be co-hosting a panel discussion with Swedish digital rights group DFRI (the Association for Digital Freedoms and Rights) on Regulating Private Sector Intrusion Technologies and Services.” The panel will be held on Thursday March 31 from 12:00pm – 1:15pm at The Fireside. Computer Network Exploitation (CNE) capabilities are rapidly proliferating as a central component of national security and policing operations across the world yet are characterised by vague or non-existent codifications in law. Most research and advocacy on the issue attempts to clarify and expose corporate activities, or has focused on restricting corporate exports through international regulatory mechanisms such as the Wassenaar Arrangement.We discuss new approaches to regulate private sector services in CNE. Absence of meaningful measures to regulate the hybrid public-private nature of CNE raises an urgent need for critical debate.

With this panel, we reveal and critically evaluate laws that regulate how governments may interact with, support, and acquisition services from private actors (whether corporate or individual) as a means to carry out CNE operations. Specifically, we will seek to expand the debate beyond export controls and open new avenues for thinking about this area of regulation. We will raise awareness on current debates, reflect upon success and failures in regulating the private sector in different legal systems, and seek to increase the exchange of knowledge across national jurisdictions. The panel features Citizen Lab Director Ron Deibert, Dr. Adam Molnar, Lecturer in the Department of Criminology at Deakin University, Citizen Lab Research Fellow William Marczak, Citizen Lab Senior Legal Advisor Sarah McKune, and Citizen Lab Research Fellow and Project Manager in Computer Network Exploitation at DFRI, Erik Zouave.

Cyber Stewards Network partners Asociación por los Derechos Civiles (ADC) and Derechos Digitales (DD) will also host a panel discussion at RightsCon, entitled Surveillance in post-dictatorship countries of Latin America.” The panel will be held on Thursday March 31 from 4:00pm – 5:00pm at The Engine. The session will outline the challenges to reforming surveillance practices in Latin America, such as the lack of human rights discourse, and inadequate legal and judicial controls. DD and ADC have partnered with Citizen Lab to author two reports on surveillance practices in Argentina and Chile, titled “Institucionalidad de la Vigilancia en Chile” (Monitoring Institutions in Chile) and “Descubriendo la Agenda de Ciberseguridad en América Latina” (Describing the Cybersecurity Agenda in Latin America), respectively. In addition to these, the findings of Citizen Lab’s own report, “Packrat: Seven Years of a South American Threat Actor,” will be used to identify trends in the region. The session aims to  improve advocacy approaches in light of these research findings, with particular attention to the Organization of American States and their work on cybersecurity issues. Panelists will include Citizen Lab Senior Research Fellow John Scott-Railton and Cyber Stewards Network Partners Claudio Ruiz, Executive Director of Derechos Digitales, and Valeria Milanes, Director of ADC.

Cyber Stewards Network Partner Colnodo and Sulá Batsú are also hosting a session at RightsCon based on their comparative study of ICT use, online security, and the risks of information management in Costa Rica and Colombia. The session is titled Online threats against women: case studies in Colombia and Costa Rica,” and will be held on Wednesday March 30 from 2:30pm – 3:45pm at The Engine. A prominent theme of the session will be the use of ICTs to empower women against violence and hate speech. Through the use of case studies, the session will develop strategic advice for the use of ICTs by women, such as identifying risks, safe ways to manage information, and how to mitigate digital threats. The broader aims of the session include expanding the scope of the debate beyond harassment and hate speech, to the autonomy, agency, and safety of women. In particular, the session hopes to highlight that online violence against women is not merely an instance of hate speech, but a specific instance of gender based violence.

Further details for the RightsCon conference and fireside chat will be updated here as they become available. Please note that times and venues listed for the sessions above are based on a draft version of the schedule and are subject to change. Read the full RightsCon schedule.

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