No matter what sector you are in, the Internet is impacting you and your communities.

Even though the Internet is currently accessible to only about 40% of the world’s population, data is being collected, stored, distributed, and discussed online at an astronomical rate; even data about many of those offline communities! And legislation and procedures – both informal and formal – regarding online freedom, sharing, and security practices are already being established. This will have a profound impact on current Internet users and the 60% not yet online.

Everyone’s Issue

Many NGOs are staying out of the conversation, possibly because they feel it is not relevant to them. But Lucy Bernholz, a visiting scholar at Stanford University’s Digital Civil Society Lab, writes about how it is absolutely relevant to NGOs.

Fortunately, people around the world care about this very much and many of the thought leaders in this space will be gathering next week: here in the Philippines!

Last year, RightsCon – the premier summit bringing together NGOs/nonprofits, human rights activists, digital thought leaders, businesses and governments on the subject of the Internet and human rights – was held in Silicon Valley. We’re very excited that RightsCon2015 is in Manila!

Before the public event takes place on March 24 & 25, the discussion is beginning this weekend with workshops, forums, and events like the screening of Citizenfour.

open-internetImage Courtesy Blaise Alleyne via CC: “The Internet is Open in Brisbane, Fortunately.”

Responsible Data and Human Rights

One of these pre-event workshops is a Responsible Data Forum on Human Rights Documentation. International human rights defenders, trainers, and researchers will discuss the risks and challenges to using the latest technological tools and innovations for data collection. They will discuss the theory and practice behind topics such as:

  • Anonymity: When and how does identifying information get collected; and when and how should it (or should it not)?
  • Inclusivity: In what circumstances might affected communities become marginalized in the process of data collection, analysis and use?
  • Open Human Rights Data: When is publicly releasing data on human rights good and necessary, and when is it detrimental?
  • Verification: How can data be verified, especially in contexts where anonymity might be necessary to protect human rights?
  • These are all important considerations for every organization, whether you are a business, NGO, or tech entrepreneur!

I will also be presenting on engageSPARK at RightsCon!

Our topic will be one we care about deeply, which is: Internet Rights for those who aren’t yet on the Internet. With engageSPARK, people can use their mobile phones to share their voices with SMS & Voice calls. As the conversations about Internet freedom and security take place, the offline 60% should absolutely be involved, as they will be impacted too.

Of course, along with sharing their voices, people will be sharing their data with engageSPARK as well. We take security very seriously, so all of our data is encrypted and we use the latest security best practices. But still, the collection of personal data always has the potential to be misused, so we want to guide people in only collecting and storing information that is necessarily pertinent to their programs, and nothing compromising.

The panel is called: “Social Media Without the Internet.”

It is being hosted by BlogWatch, a human rights defender in the Philippines. Read more about it and about their other session at RightsCon: “The Future of #PhInternet (Philippines’ Internet)”.

Help us in making everyone’s voice heard!