RightsCon 2019 discourses the impact of technology on society and human rights

Access Now organised RightsCon 2019 in Tunisia from 11-14 June with 17 thematic tracks, over 450 sessions, and more than 1000 speakers who participated to reflect the breadth and depth of technology’s impact on society and human rights. This year the thematic tracks revolved around elections, digital identities, technology-facilitated gender-based violence, and content moderation. During the landmark session on ‘Human Rights Heroes and Villains’, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet spoke about the courage of human rights defenders in the digital world. She highlighted how digital tools were deployed to support encroachments on human rights, including the surveillance of human rights defenders, journalists, oppressed minorities, and dissenting voices. ‘We’re here at RightsCon, to try to turn that around, and ensure that digital tools don’t overpower our human rights – and instead, empower us all to enjoy them,’ she noted. She further stressed the importance of state regulation to ensure digital spaces are open, inclusive, safe, and just.