The RightsCon Online program: 250+ sessions, representing 106 countries, across 20 time zones

Today we released the public session list for RightsCon Online, the ninth iteration of our summit and the first-ever to be hosted entirely online. The session list is your first look at what to expect from RightsCon Online – 250+ sessions, supporting perspectives from 106 countries, and set to take place across all time zones and regions of the world.

In many ways, RightsCon Online is a turning point in our approach to convening. The curation of our public program required constant iteration and questioning, as the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic rippled across different countries and contexts. How would we capture the magnitude of the human rights issues that drive our community to action in 2020? How would we provide an online platform that would allow people to connect, collaborate, and look ahead to the next year and the next decade?

In searching for answers, we returned to the core of our mission: providing a platform to strengthen the work of a community of activists, policymakers, business leaders, journalists, and researchers who are defending and extending human rights in the digital age.

Creating an online program in a moment of transition

In 2020, we received a record-breaking 1330 proposals through our Call for Proposals. By the time we announced the postponement of RightsCon Costa Rica in March, we had nearly completed our program review and session selection process for an in-person summit experience.

When we decided to pivot to an online summit, we knew that the Call for Proposals would form the foundation for our programmatic approach. We reopened our review for a second round, and revised our session selections based on the priorities identified by our community survey. We also conducted targeted outreach to members of our community who could address emerging global and regional issues that were not covered in the Call for Proposals, including on the COVID-19 pandemic, racial justice campaigning, protest and political organizing, and more.

Once we finalized the session list, we did a further review to assess regional representation and address any power imbalances in the allocation of session space. These accountability measures continue in our audit of all confirmed sessions to align with our policies on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

We would like to specifically thank the members of our 2020 Program Committee, who went above and beyond during this transition. Their support allowed us to fill critical gaps in our public programming and create a comprehensive set of sessions that represents the full spectrum of issues our community works on. Click here to view the 50+ experts from around the world who comprised our Program Committee this year.

What’s on the agenda in 2020?

The RightsCon Online program features 250+ sessions across a range of thematic areas. From content governance and data protection, to election integrity and democratic stability, to protest and political change, there is a concerted push in 2020 to find common ground in our work to promote the human rights of all – online and off.

Sessions will deepen conversations on longstanding issues, such as the future of artificial intelligence and algorithmic justice; approaches to privacy and data stewardship across societies; and the role of companies and providers in creating rights-respecting technologies. Within these broad issues, we have also seen rising trends, and sessions will host conversations on digital identity, content governance, facial recognition, and more.

RightsCon Online will also build out new and emerging focus areas. At the forefront is our portfolio of sessions on COVID-19, pandemic response, and public health in the digital age. Sessions will consider health disinformation, surveillance under quarantine, election security, protection of patient data, and meaningful connectivity. (You can sort our session list specifically for health-related topics on our website.)

Environmental justice, as stated back in September, is an issue that deserves a closer look at RightsCon, and our program this year aims to fulfill that commitment, with sessions on sustainable digital spaces, corporate environmental responsibility, and the carbon footprint of the internet, among many other topics.

We have also expanded our intersectional approach to convening and connecting on human rights issues. Not only are labor rights and racial justice on the agenda, but we are also invested in supporting gender justice and equality in our programming. In addition to a slate of sessions that focus specifically on gender, technology, and human rights, we are proud to announce that:

  • 65 percent of our session organizers in 2020 identify as female, nonbinary, or genderqueer;
  • 60 percent of sessions feature a lineup where at least half of speakers and facilitators identify as female, nonbinary, or genderqueer; and
  • 45 sessions list only female-identifying speakers.

All of this, and more, will be available to registered RightsCon participants, both through live programming and asynchronous content. The program will allow participants to set their own time zone, navigate and create their journey through our session list, while searching for the issues that are most important to them. With 250+ sessions happening across a range of time zones, the program is intended to be a roadmap, rather than a single path, that will point you in the direction you want to go.

You can explore the list of our public sessions now on our website and register to receive access to the full program schedule, which will launch on the RightsCon Online platform next week.

What’s next for technology and human rights? Find out from July 27 to 31, 2020!

RightsCon is a global summit series, but this year, for the first time, we’ll have the chance to see our community tune in from their corner of the world, from the United States to Uganda, Bolivia to Hong Kong, Tunisia to Tuvalu. As of today, we have over 3,500 people registered for the summit, hundreds of influential speakers ready to take the stage, and a program that covers every human rights issue that’s shaping our world in 2020.

From July 27 to 31, we’re setting the agenda for human rights and technology issues – and we’re saving a seat at the table for you. Registration for RightsCon Online is open until July 21. Join us now and make sure your voice is heard.

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