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RightsCon: Apply to join the Responsible Data Forum

In the days before and after RightsCon, other organizations in the field of internet rights will be hosting events. Applications are now open for the Responsible Data Forum on Human Rights Documentation.

To apply, please fill out the application form by 6 February 2015. The event will be hands on, collaborative, and structured towards concrete and practical responses to responsible data challenges.

The engine room and its partners HURIDOCS, Benetech, Amnesty International and the Center for Economic and Social Rights are currently seeking participants for a Responsible Data Forum on Human Rights Documentation. This RDF will be held just outside of Manila on 21-22 March 2015, on the fringes of RightsCon Southeast Asia.

Who: Approximately 20-25 people working to document human rights violations and protections: front-line activists and human rights defenders, members of the international training and support community, international and national human rights researchers. Organizational partners coordinating this event include HURIDOCS, Benetech, Amnesty International, Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) and the engine room.

Technological tools and innovations have dramatically altered the landscape of human rights documentation. Access to tools and the ability to collect, manage and disseminate information with relatively little technical training promise powerful opportunities for human rights defenders. But the use of these tools and strategies also introduces new risks and challenges, which are little understood in practice or in theory.

  • Anonymity: When does data need to be anonymized at collection, and how does this change in context where different data sets can be easily mixed to re-identify individuals? When does identifying information get automatically collected by digital technologies?
  • Inclusivity: In what circumstances might affected communities become marginalized in the process of data collection, analysis and use? How can human rights defenders identify and mitigate this risk?
  • Red Lines: Some information should never be documented. What are those red lines? How do human rights defenders identify these red lines in practice? How to the account for the long term consequences of data that lives forever?
  • Open Human Rights Data: When does publicly releasing data on human rights strengthen accountability, and when does it risk increasing marginalization, supporting discriminatory policies and enabling violations. How can human rights defenders tell the difference?
  • Verification: In a world where anyone can collect and publish evidence or testimonial about human rights violations , how can the information obtained be verified? How do researchers include verification in efficient data management and advocacy? How do these challenges change in dangerous or repressive contexts and how do they coexist with the need to tell an urgent story?
  • Structure and standards: Is there a benefit to adhere to common protocols and/or commitments for the collection and management of information? Is there a benefit on adhering to common standards for data storage? Could this increase responsible sharing with enhanced source protection?

These are only a few of the challenges now faced by activists, researchers, lawyers, civil society and technology providers. This Responsible Data Forum will address such issues in the specific contexts in which participants are working. The event will be hands on, collaborative, and structured towards concrete and practical responses to responsible data challenges. Participants will leave the forum with a stronger understanding of the responsible data issues at play when documenting human rights enjoyment, protection and violations. Forum outputs may include:

  • Developing guidelines for developing responsible documentation strategies
  • Overview of tools and platforms, their comparative strengths and weaknesses
  • Practical resources for managing responsible data challenges in the field
  • Identifying good practice for responsibly managing and deploying human rights data

RightsCon is the premier summit series bringing together civil society, engineers, activists, lawyers, companies, and governments on the subject of the Internet and human rights. RightsCon happens for the first time in Southeast Asia in Manila, The Philippines, from March 24-25, 2015.