Join WITNESS at RightsCon online, June 6-9

WITNESS is excited to continue our tradition of participating in RightsCon, the world’s leading summit on human rights in the digital age! 

RightsCon is online again this year and will be taking place from Monday, June 6th to Friday, June 10th 2022. Registration is open until June 3rd with both free and paid tickets options available to everyone: 

You can catch our team leading sessions alongside long-term partners and allies, offering workshops, community labs, and panels on a range of topics. These topics are priority areas for many of the communities we work with closest across the world. The guidance we will be sharing is sourced from 30 years of working with community defenders on matters at the intersection of video, technology, and human rights. 

RightsCon is one of the many spaces where our guidance is strengthened through the sharing and exchanging of the wisdom of experience in community with other activists.

Here’s where you can find us (and note that you will have to create and account and login to see full details of most sessions):

Monday, June 6th

Getting it right: tackling misinformation with authenticity and provenance infrastructure that works for all

WITNESS Team: Jacobo Castellanos, Raquel Vazquez, Sam Gregory

Time: 1:15 – 2:15pm EDT

To promote participation from a diverse range of people in this session but also in broader discussions around provenance and authenticity infrastructure, our team members will first offer a brief introduction of key provenance and authenticity initiatives and scenarios, and then host an open discussion on stakeholder-centric concerns and opportunities (e.g. content provenance and authenticity in social media and its impact on community, civic and/or independent media). More information here.

Filling in the gaps: activist-led approaches to accessible documentation methods

WITNESS Team: Dalila Mujagic

Time: 2:30 – 3:30pm EDT

To fill the gaps that exist in comprehensive, accessible, and community-led documentation guidance—WITNESS’ Video as Evidence team’s Legal Lead, Dalila Mujagic, joined other facilitators and the Totem Project to create a free, online course on getting started with human rights documentation. The next step is to have activists and their communities lead the conversation on which aspects of the course they want expanded. The goal is to identify remaining gaps in knowledge that are important to participants’ communities to address and have access to. More information here.

Just Joking! Deepfakes, Satire, and the Politics of Synthetic Media

WITNESS Team: Sam Gregory

Time: 2:30 – 3:30 EDT

Around the world, deepfakes are becoming a powerful tool for artists, satirists and activists. But what happens when vulnerable people are not “in on the joke,” or when malign intentions are disguised as humor? This session focuses on the fast-growing intersections between deepfakes and satire, including examples of activism and well as those that attack marginalized communities. Sam Gregory, WITNESS’ Program Director will help participants explore current and potential uses of deepfakes and probe the ethical challenges of democratizing synthetic media production, including how to label these videos as they circulate online, and who is responsible for creating and enforcing best practices, protocols, and laws. More information here

Learn more:

Wednesday, June 8th

Media Investigation and Documentation of Human Rights Abuses in Nigeria Using Technology 

WITNESS Team: Nkem Agunwa

Time: 5 – 6am EDT

Nigeria is the most populous Black nation on Earth. Many perpetrators of human rights abuses in Nigeria are never held accountable or brought to justice and this had led to further violence contributing to conflicts that are out of control. These abuses include unlawful and arbitrary killings, forced disappearances, torture, degrading treatment or punishment, life-threatening prison conditions, political prisoners, privacy violations, and restrictions on free expression. This session will explore media investigations and documentation of human rights abuses in Nigeria within the last decade that have leveraged technology and social media. More information here 

How do NGOs ensure a strong, supportive organization culture for teams? Let’s share it out!

WITNESS Team: Sharon Harrison

Time: 7:30 – 8:30 am EDT

Driving strong organizational culture is Job #1 for Human Resources/People Teams in today’s NGOs. WITNESS’ HR Lead Sharon Harrison will join HR/People Team Members from Access Now in a session focused squarely on how NGOs and civil society entities can, and must, drive organizational culture to ensure long-term stability. Spanning employee support strategies, parity, inclusion and equity, and work/life balance, participants from around the globe will have the opportunity to share and inspire. More information here.

Thursday, June 9th

Learnings on tackling internet shutdowns in the MENA region

WITNESS Team: Raja Althaibani, Mahmoud Elmasry

Time: 8:15 – 9:15am EDT

In this session, our team members will shed light on the learnings and expertise from on-the-ground activists in the Middle East and North Africa who document human rights violations during internet shutdowns. This session will examine the different kinds of shutdowns across the Middle East and North Africa used by authoritarian regimes to repress, or help in suppressing protests or uprisings. Furthermore, the learnings shared here can strengthen the available strategies and tools for addressing the human rights impacts of shutdowns. More information here.

Get related resources from our #EyesOnShutdowns campaign site: 

Inclusive AI governance: the role of civil society organizations in standards development

WITNESS Team: Jacobo Castellanos

Time: 8:15 – 9:15am EDT

This workshop will empower civil society organizations to play a crucial role in European AI governance through participation in technical standards development. While the EU’s Artificial Intelligence Act features an array of protections for fundamental rights and public interests, it depends heavily on technical standards development to operationalize these protections for industry. Yet limited civil society involvement in standards development, along with the predominance of industry technologists, leaves a gap in necessary legal and policy expertise.

Workshop attendees, who will mainly represent European civil society organizations with expertise relevant to the AI Act’s “high-risk” categories and fundamental rights, can help to fill this gap. 

The aim of the session is to enable direct participation in standards development, and in the long term through contributions to policy work aimed at expanding their role. Jacobo Castellanos, Program Associate of our Technology Threats and Opportunities program, will be drawing from the feedback and experience of communities across the world who we have worked closely with in identifying priorities for content authentication infrastructures that center human rights. More information on this session here.

Calling on documenters, investigators, and lawyers: let’s talk “solidarity” across the digital evidence labor pipeline

WITNESS Team: Raja Althaibani

Time: 1:30 – 2:30pm EDT

Calling on documenters, investigators, and lawyers: let’s talk ‘solidarity’ across the digital evidence labor pipeline. Across the globe, documenters create and upload content depicting grave harms and violations of fundamental rights. Open source investigators probe, archive, and report on this material. Legal advocates carry a select few forward into case-building initiatives. Open source tools make it technically possible, and, arguably, easier than ever before to conduct a form of rigorous investigation without a clear, methodological need to foster personal relationships among the people involved.

WITNESS and Mnemonic are considering ways to counter such siloed workflows while writing and teaching the upcoming video as evidence guide, “Airstrikes: Visual Documentation and Analysis.” We want to know: how are you doing this in your own work? How do you wish others in our field would approach or work with you?

This community lab will seek to provide helpful tools for articulating good practices, challenges, and possible solutions. More information here



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