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Announcing RightsCon Southeast Asia

In 2015, Access and EngageMedia bring the international conference on human rights challenges in technology to the region.


Earlier this month EngageMedia was at the third RightsCon event held in San Francisco by Access. RightsCon is the premier summit bringing together civil society, engineers, activists, lawyers, companies, and governments on the subject of the internet and human rights. It is the only conference dedicated to exploring the role of the private sector and civil society in human rights and digital technologies.

We are excited to announce that EngageMedia and Access will host RightsCon Southeast Asia in March 2015 to bring together thought leaders, highlight emerging voices, engage the technology sector, host strategy and implementation sessions, and provide opportunities to showcase new initiatives. Once again, we’ll organize unique roundtables that allow the private sector, government decision-makers, civil society, activists, and academics to meet face-to-face.

As the world is going online, so too is the rights discourse: the rights to information, expression, association, health, and education are all facilitated by digital tools. At the same time, we face stark revelations regarding state and corporate surveillance and centralization, and increasingly challenging issues of jurisdiction, governance, and accountability.


Southeast Asia’s 600 million people are coming online rapidly, often with limited scrutiny of business and government activities, or participation from civil society. Countries like Indonesia are amongst the highest social media users anywhere in the world, making use of emerging technologies to champion human rights and other causes. From the Philippines to Malaysia to Burma, activists are making innovative use of online technologies, and also often placing themselves at risk in the process.

South-East Asia has a growing number of technology and media organisations engaging with internet rights issues, from developing homegrown open source technologies to pushing back on surveillance and filtering. Many South-East Asian governments are simultaneously engaging in censorship, surveillance and attacks on online freedom of expression including the arrest and detention of bloggers and journalists and filtering of content.

Located in this rapidly evolving technology and civil society space, RightsCon Southeast Asia will:

Map of Southeast Asia for use on Wikivoyage. By Cacahuate. CC BY-SA 4.0
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  • Provide an opportunity for Southeast Asia civil society actors in the technology and media space to establish and deepen their networks in this field, creating opportunities for collaboration.
  • Bring companies face-to-face with frontline actors to facilitate conversations between corporate representatives (including engineers) and some of their users. These conversations help ensure that products and services more readily meet the unique needs of at-risk users, who are often not the primary demographic for which they have been designed.
  • Provide companies with principled and pragmatic guidance on implementing human rights in policy and practice. The RightsCon approach focuses conversations on what companies are actually being asked to do, and how they can limit liability and maximize rights-respecting use of their technologies.
  • Highlight emerging threats, opportunities, and new thinking, allowing participants to learn more about advances in the quickly changing discourse around human rights and technology, discuss and share lessons and experiences, consider new perspectives on thorny issues, and have the information they need to better prepare for and mitigate upcoming challenges.
  • Build strategies and partnerships across stakeholder groups, providing an opportunity to discuss the future of the space within a group of participants with a relatively high level of assumed knowledge, allowing for the creation of strategic coalitions on identified issues. We will further link communities in a format that promotes collaboration and coalition-building within and across stakeholder groups.

We hope you will join us there!