The DRAPAC23 Assembly from May 22 to 26, 2023, will feature over 120 co-created sessions spread out across five days in the city of Chiang Mai, covering a variety of topics that are grounded in the digital rights landscape and realities in the Asia-Pacific – from AI, internet shutdowns, and gender-based violence to platform accountability and digital authoritarianism.
Check out the list of breakout sessions open to the public for Day 3, May 24. The panels and talks, roundtables and discussions, and workshops below have been shared with the consent of the organisers.
To join these sessions, register and complete the peer verification process on drapac.engagemedia.org. Only attendees who have been verified will have access to the full DRAPAC23 programme and schedule. For Cinemata Big Screen sessions, check out the film screenings and talkback sessions here.
All times are in UTC+7.
Panels and Talks
Uncovering Violations of Women’s Digital Rights in Authoritarian Regimes
Date and time: May 24, 2023, 11:15-12:30
- Samar El Hussaini, Palestinian Journalist
- Tahera Muradi, Afghan Journalist
- Solafa Magdy, Egyptian Journalist
- Hija Kamran, Digital Rights Activist, Pakistan
This session will discuss how authoritarian regimes in Iran, Afghanistan, and Palestine are limiting women’s rights by restricting their access to the internet. Women in Afghanistan live in constant fear due to Taliban rule, which has closed off opportunities for education and work, and even social media use. Iranian authorities have also used internet shutdowns and other tactics to suppress protests against the government. Women in Palestine face intense digital surveillance, which limits their ability to share experiences online. The session will feature guest speakers from these countries sharing their stories and highlighting the challenges women face in navigating these restrictions. The session aims to raise awareness and promote policy changes that include women’s perspectives.
Protecting my personal Information in the government through privacy advocacies: taking digital ID lawsuit case in Taiwan as example
Date and time: May 24, 2023, 11:15-12:45
Organiser: Open Culture Foundation
- SzuHui Huang Project Coordinator, Open Culture Foundation
- Pamela Huang, member of Executive Committee, Judicial Reform Foundation; senior attorney, Formosa Transnational Attorneys at Law
In 2019, the Taiwanese government launched their digital ID plan; however, it raised many concerns from academia, CSOs and different parties as the government was only focused on tool implementation yet ignored the risks of data security and the importance of legal system setting. This plan was suspended in early 2021 by a series of actions from CSOs during 2019-2021, especially since the lawsuit against the government by JRF and TAHR highly raised the public’s awareness of their privacy and personal information. This session will use this case as a lens to introduce the privacy-related law framework in Taiwan and its challenges. Furthermore, this session will analyse the process to see what the key success factors were to make these legal reform changes and take them as the mid-long term strategy for CSOs.
Technology exacerbated new forms of online gender-based violence (OGBV)
Date and time: May 24, 2023, 11:30-12:45
Organiser: Seerat Khan, Digital Rights Foundation
- Endy Bayuni, Oversight Board Member
- Hyra Basit, Cyber Harassment Helpline Manager
- Rohini Lakshané
- Nina Sangma, Asian Indigenous People’s Pact
- Seerat Khan, Digital Rights Foundation (moderator)
Advanced digital technologies including AI are increasingly becoming a part of our lives, however, AI is also leading to a different kind of gender-based violence online against women through deep fakes and AI-generated ‘revenge porn’. The panel will be a multistakeholder discussion exploring the role of AI and social media platforms in exacerbating online gender-based violence and the need to make this more human-centric.
Engaging governments on digital laws and policies
Date and time: May 24, 2023, 13:00-14:15
Organiser: ICNL and EngageMedia
Facing tech power: using evidence-based research to hold tech companies accountable in Asia-Pacific
Date and time: May 24, 2023, 13:00-14:45
Organiser: Digital Asia Hub and Ranking Digital Rights
- Nayantara Ranganthan, Digital Asia Hub
- Leandro Ucciferri, Ranking Digital Rights
- Jie Zhang, Ranking Digital Rights
The session will introduce participants to a discussion about regional trends in corporate accountability, based on the experiences of adapting the Ranking Digital Rights’ research methodology in countries across Asia-Pacific and other regions in the Majority World. We will engage in a conversation about current challenges in studying technology companies in the region, and what can researchers and advocates do to overcome them. We will also discuss strategies to engage with companies and other key stakeholders (like regulators and policymakers), using research data from RDR adaptations. Finally, we will identify opportunities to collaborate between organisations in the region (and globally), to come up with potential advocacy campaigns to face tech power, based on the participants’ experiences and interests.
Reporting on Myanmar in the Age of Digital Authoritarianism
Date and time: May 24, 2023, 14:15-15:30
Organiser: Exile Hub
- Annie Zaman, Journalist and Asia Advisor, Free Press Unlimited
- Tin Zar Aung, Media Trainer
- Yucca, Multimedia Producer and Researcher
- Shoon Naing, Reuters Senior Correspondent Myanmar
- Gar Gar, Digital Security Expert
The worsening political crisis in Myanmar has resulted in an increase in digital authoritarianism, where journalists both inside the country and in exile face significant challenges in reporting on the situation. In addition to long-standing tactics such as censorship and internet shutdowns, recent documents reveal that the Myanmar military has acquired Pegasus spyware, a powerful surveillance tool that poses a serious threat to journalists and other targets. In light of these developments, the need for journalists to take digital security precautions has become even more urgent. This panel discussion will feature firsthand accounts from Myanmar journalists and insights from digital security experts to address these challenges. The discussion will also explore best practices for safeguarding digital communications, mitigating monitoring and surveillance, and examining the role of media organisations in supporting and advocating for digital rights amidst growing threats of digital authoritarianism. The discussion is expected to revolve around the challenges faced by journalists and reporters in maintaining their digital security while reporting on issues related to authoritarianism in Myanmar. The panel aims to provide insights into the current state of affairs and strategies to mitigate the risks associated with digital journalism in such contexts.
Decolonizing Data for Data Justice
Date and time: May 24, 2023, 14:30-15:45
- Shmyla Khan, Digital Rights Foundation Research and Policy Director
- Shyam Krishna, Alan Turing Institute
- Pranesh Prakash, ORCID
- Seerat Khan (moderator)
Growing the Movement for Platform Accountability in Asia
Date and time: May 24, 2023, 14:45-16:00
- Melanie Hui, Vice President- Asia, Luminate
- Victoire Rio, Myanmar Internet Project
- Malavika Jayaram, Digital Asia Hub
- Dinita A. Putri, Director-Asia, Luminate
The online space has become distorted by social media companies that prioritise profit over people. This panel brings case studies from within the region and beyond to explore the pathways and challenges of fighting mis/disinformation through growing the movement for platform accountability in Asia.
Freedom of Expression and Platform Regulation: New Developments
Date and time: May 24, 2023, 15:30-16:45
Organiser: Centre for Law and Democracy
- Chris Peken, IMS (moderator)
- Andrew Puddephatt, lead drafter of the draft UNESCO Guidelines for Regulating Digital Platforms (joining virtually)
- Laura Notess, Senior Legal Officer, Centre for Law and Democracy
- Miraj Chowdhury, Founder, Digitally Right
Debates over platform regulation have been evolving rapidly in recent years, to some extent starting with the 2017 German NetzDG Law and accelerating with the adoption of the European Digital Services Act (DSA). This session will look at international human rights standards in this area and comparative examples of what States are doing (such as the DSA). It will also discuss the draft UNESCO Guidelines for Regulating Digital Platforms. The session will also discuss the local impacts of such developments, many of which are occurring outside Asia, and reflect on the practical concerns of civil society groups in the region.
The Vital Role of Community Networks in Supporting the Pro-Democracy Movement in Myanmar
Date and time: May 24, 2023, 15:45-17:00
Speakers: MS, Researcher ASORCOM
This session discusses the vital role of community networks in supporting the pro-democracy movement in Myanmar. Despite government-imposed restrictions on internet access and freedom of speech, community networks have served as a lifeline for communication, coordination, and information dissemination. These networks have helped activists circumvent internet shutdowns, provided access to reliable information, facilitated coordination and solidarity, amplified the voices of marginalised groups, and promoted digital security and privacy. The session explores the ways in which community networks have been instrumental in empowering activists and pro-democracy supporters, fostering unity among different groups, and raising awareness internationally about the pro-democracy movement in Myanmar.
Emergency Grants Supporting Frontliners in Asia Region
Date and time: May 24, 2023, 16:00-17:15
Organiser: Digital Defenders Partnership
- Blandina Lintang, Digital Defender Partnership
- Esther, Urgent Action Fund
- Joana, Dignity (joining virtually)
- Article 19 (to be confirmed)
The session aims to acknowledge many initiatives of rapid response funds to support resilience in protecting digital rights amidst the rise of digital authoritarianism practices in the Asia region and the challenges in current practices. This session will dive into current challenges to distributing the fund in certain countries and explore more the issue of harmonising requirements of donor project reporting and the needs of beneficiaries’ accountability. Speakers will share their views on how to tackle the administration issues in the context of decolonizing accountability in grant mechanisms. They will explore the challenges and opportunities this approach brings to project implementation.
Roundtables and Discussions
Beyond the Buzz: Decoding the Impact of AI, Metaverse, and Emerging Technologies on Civic Space & Civil Society Organizations
Date and time: May 24, 2023, 11:15-12:45
Organiser: Forus, Asia Development Alliance, The European Center for Not-for-Profit Law Stichting (ECNL)
Speakers: Jyotsna Mohan (ADA), Bibbi Abruzzini, Forus
As the technological landscape transforms at lightning speed, civil society organisations worldwide face new challenges and opportunities in leveraging AI and emerging technologies for social impact and civic engagement. What risks lurk on the horizon? Join our global roundtable discussion for a thought-provoking exploration of cutting-edge strategies and tools to successfully navigate this ever-changing terrain. Bring your experience along, together we can create a resource to help others in this journey. The roundtable will provide the opportunity to collect testimonials and resources for a toolkit and participative campaign aimed at civil society organisations on how to deal with AI and emerging technologies.
Internet Shutdowns and Restrictions: Rethinking Documentation Methodologies
Date and time: May 24, 2023, 11:15-12:45
Organiser: Access Now, Myanmar Internet Project, Digitally Right
- Miraj Chowdhury
- Victoire Rio
- Zach Rosson
Efforts to document and report on internet shutdowns globally have typically focused on tallying the numbers of shutdown events. Not all shutdowns are made equal, however, with some incidents lasting mere hours, while others last months, if not years. There is a need to rethink how we track the occurrence and impact of shutdowns and internet restrictions. The purpose of this roundtable will be to review existing approaches and explore challenges and possible alternatives.
Language Models in the Age of Mis/Disinformation: Impacts and Challenges for South Asian Media
Date and time: May 24, 2023, 13:00-14:30
Speakers: Denny George, Tattle
Artificial Intelligence is having a cultural moment. Emergent behaviour of Large Language Models has perplexed everyone about the good and bad disruptions they can cause. These models reduce the time and effort needed to create realistic-looking media in text or image form. This has implications for anyone interested in the information disorder space. This session will do a survey of what’s been made possible by the state of the art in Machine Learning. We will focus on the specific challenges of content production and harm mitigation with these models in the South Asian context. We will share experiments from our work and other tools and community efforts around mitigating harms.
Ministry of Renewable Extinction (MRX): Job Vacancies from the Futures
Date and time: May 24, 2023, 13:00-14:30
Speaker: Shin (in-person)
From the failed promises of 27 COPs and the current acceleration of the unjust neoliberalist green transition, the Ministry of Renewable Extinction (MRX) is calling for people who want to explore how to design another future(s) that could ensure the rights to a clean, safe, and sustainable environment of Southeast Asian communities. With the combination of speculative design and environmental ethics framework, the MRX offers a toolset and a mindset to anyone willing to take up climate crisis-induced job vacancies in the future.
Co-creating digital safe spaces for women environmental defenders
Date and time: May 24, 2023, 14:45-16:15
Organiser: EWMI, Asian Indigenous Peoples Pact
- Pyrou Chung, East West Management Institute – ODI (EWMI-ODI)
- Elizabeth Imti, Asian Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)
Does a woman sharing information about her failed riverside crops, destroyed by unseasonal release of flows from an upstream hydropower infrastructure project, count as a security threat? The ODI and partners across the Mekong region are linking technology experts with women environmental defenders to co-create safe spaces. Co-creating these safe spaces involves the joining together and work of different stakeholders to assert more control over the product, in this case, knowledge systems that are safe and secure and which capture value for the user. In this session, we will hear from members of the steering committee on their experiences with the co-creation of these safe spaces.
Both Sides Now, Part II: Media Freedom in Southeast Asia: A democracy classroom with Wai Liang Tham
Date and time: May 24, 2023, 15:00-16:30
Organiser: New Naratif
Speakers: Wai Liang Tham, Freedom of Expression Researcher, New Naratif
As the second of two sessions by New Naratif, this session takes the form of a “Democracy Classroom”, focusing on our media freedom insights. A democracy classroom emphasises engagement and conversation, providing participants with a safe space and opportunity to articulate thoughts and practice democracy. Specifically, we take into consideration the challenges faced by newsmakers and the prospects for digital transformation, networking, and activism. Through these discussions, we hope to shed light on the broader issue of democracy as a lived practice through media work, which is interwoven with gender and our respective regional contexts – in line with our goal of research as activism. Do write to us at [email protected] to find out more beforehand, or stop by on the day itself!
Imagining a feminist internet in SEA
Date and time: May 24, 2023, 16:30-18:00
Organiser: KRYSS Network
- Serene Lim
- Lisa Garcia
The session is an open invitation to everyone who wants to explore the idea of a feminist internet network within the SEA region, including areas for collaboration and opportunities for funding/resource sharing. The session also aims to provide a space for collective analysis and knowledge-sharing towards integrating a feminist approach in digital technologies and the data economy.
Toward Meaningful Digital Transparency: Centering Global Perspectives in Regulatory Conversations
Date and time: May 24, 2023, 11:15-12:30
Organiser: Global Network Initiative
Speaker: Wai Phyoe Myint, Asia Pacific Policy Analyst, Access Now
Concerns about the negative externalities from our growing reliance on digital communications services are well documented, and numerous legal and regulatory, co-regulatory, and voluntary efforts targeting company practices have emerged in response. Tangible progress in addressing these concerns is difficult to measure, however, and some approaches have (sometimes unintentionally) constricted legitimate expression or contributed to internet fragmentation. Correspondingly, there is a budding consensus that meaningful transparency from digital communications companies is a critical component of effective solutions for a more equitable and rights-respecting digital environment. This includes requirements around public reporting, data sharing for research purposes, risk assessments, and audits. Striving to maximise this opportunity, a broad and globally diverse coalition led by civil society has come together under the auspices of the Danish Tech for Democracy Platform to identify barriers to meaningful digital transparency and potential solutions, and to align and amplify the many related efforts. We will utilize this forum to foster additional participation in and awareness of the Action Coalition on Meaningful Transparency, to centre perspectives of majority world contexts that often bear the brunt of regulatory conversations in the global north, and to provide an opportunity for diverse stakeholders to share their work.
Collecting Internet Censorship Measurement using OONI Tools
Date and time: May 24, 2023, 11:15-13:15
Organiser: Sinar Project
- Kelly Koh, Sinar Project
- Siti Nurliza Samsudin, Sinar Project
This session aims to build up the capacity of participants in using tools developed by the Open Observatory Network Interference (OONI) to collect measurements on the censorship of websites, instant messaging applications, and VPNs. After the session, participants will be able to carry out testing of internet censorship on their own, and to verify the accessibility of websites using internet service provided in their local areas. This session will introduce OONI Probe, the application that is used to collect internet censorship measurements, OONI Run, a customised way of testing targeted list of websites, and understanding the measurements collected that are displayed on OONI Explorer.
Anonymous Messaging: Say more, leak less…
Date and time: May 24, 2023, 13:00-15:00
Organiser: OPTF / Session
Speakers: Alex Linton, Director, OPTF
Session is the new kid on the messaging app block, offering users anonymous and secure messaging. Session’s focus on onion-routing, end-to-end encryption, and no-phone-number sign-up is important for people who require anonymity (eg. whistleblowers and other at-risk communities). This session on Session will introduce the application, guide participants through onboarding, and get people communicating. We’ll also discuss other features and provide details about future development. Importantly, the team behind Session is looking forward to feedback from digital security trainers and the broader digital rights community about Session, and other features that could make the app even more useful to at-risk communities.
Date and time: May 24, 2023, 14:00-16:00
Organiser: EngageMedia, Sunflower Film Organization, WITNESS
- Demie Dangla, Video and Engagement Coordinator, EngageMedia
- Tika Pratiwi, Communications and Development Specialist, WITNESS
- Sithen Sum, Executive Director, Sunflower Film Organization
Film Impact production – the creation and management of strategic campaigns of social action and movement building around films with the aim to contribute to positive change – is a key contributor to successful advocacy work. As film has become ever-present in the lives of citizens of the Asia-Pacific, it has proven its capacity to emotionally engage people and create movements of change around key social issues time and again. Join and get a better understanding of how you can harness film to strengthen your advocacy work. Everyone is invited to share their experiences and receive feedback from the experienced filmmakers and impact producers present in this session.
Digital Policy Advocacy Session
Date and time: May 24, 2023, 15:15-17:15
Organiser: Mango Tango Asia
- Chris McCarthy
- Nancy Jaffe
- Bradly L. Murg
- Venchheang Ou
- Apisada Suwansukroj
An action-oriented, mini design thinking session that invites diverse stakeholders in the digital economy to explore the question “How might we promote consumer protection through the lens of regional e-commerce?”. The session hopes to demonstrate the interplay between cybersecurity practices, regional e-commerce, and digital trade policy and how they are mutually supportive of each other. After a mini design thinking session, the facilitators will segue into a conversation about the USAID DAA’s Digital Policy Advocacy program, explaining how we aim to address this issue on a larger scale by engaging with all involved stakeholders, and closing the gap between SMEs and policymakers.