A detailed agenda is available through Sched.org.

Thursday 16 May

Mandatory ID-Control, please bring your passport
08:45 – 09:30Welcome Note and Opening Key Note
In many contexts, the Internet has provided increased freedom and opportunity for citizens and civil society to communicate, gather and share information, to collaborate and organise, in ways and to an extent, never before seen in history.

However, the online landscape is shifting rapidly, and the space for online, democratic discourse is shrinking.

The threats have evolved over the past decade. The mostly inept responses from government to popular protests in the Arab world a decade ago have given way to the complex mesh of threats that is the Internet 2019: an increasingly securitised space that is becoming the main battleground for power in the 21st century. This development mirrors the offline space, with repressive measures spreading and becoming more diverse. With governments emphasising the security perspective, the role of citizens and civil society in advocating for a principled, rights-based approach to the online sphere is more significant than ever.

We are at a fork in the road. A toxic mix of state and non-state disinformation, hoarding of personal data, information attacks on core democratic functions, increased authoritarianism and surveillance has created real risks for global democratic development. Use of algorithms and commercially driven polarisation are poisoning the public debate. The normative space is also changing, as the (sometimes intentional) insecurity created by some actors has succeeded in increasing the demand for regulation and limiting the online space, also in democratic countries.

The situation is grave and requires coordinated action between all those working for democratic online space, whether in civil society, technology, politics or business. This session seeks to unwrap this complex mesh of issues, nuance how the phenomenon of “shrinking space” is expressed in different contexts and to different actors, and frame discussions for upcoming panels and chart possible ways forward to support a free, open and secure Internet.
10:30 – 11:30Coffee break – Networking and digital security health clinics
11:30 – 12:30
P1 – Access: Leave no one behind
Co-organizer:Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI)

P2 – The shifting terrain of gender based violence online – what is the future?
Co-organizer: Association for Progressive Communications (APC)

P3 – Privatized public spaces vs public interest media
Co-organizer: Internews
12:30 – 14:00Lunch – Networking and digital security health clinics
With ever more innovative technologies connecting the farthest reaches of the planet, crucial issues remain unresolved. People living in poverty risk not having either resources, physical connectivity nor capacity to take advantage of new technology, being excluded from yet another development leap. For people living in poverty, lower quality of access limits possibilities for participating in and enforcing the internet as a genuinely democratic space.

The shrinking space online takes many forms, which often have negative consequences on both civil and political rights as well as social, cultural and economic rights and development. Online opportunities may be hampered by already existing power dynamics, particularly affecting women and other discriminated groups. The discussion on a rights-based approach to access must, therefore, include both the opportunities and risks presented by increased connectivity.

Previous SIF’s have looked at issues of expanding access (2015) as well as access and power (2017). This year’s session will unpack the concept of access, to look more closely at the drivers and interest behind the expansion and limitations of connectivity. It will attempt to identify practices that might limit the agency of the newly connected and try to devise ways to ensure that increased connectivity empowers individuals, rather than merely create new markets for one-way digital consumption. It will also look at the interface between economic growth and reliable, open connectivity.
15:00 – 16:00Coffee break – Networking and digital security health clinics
16:00 – 17:00
P4 – The cost of restrictions, taxes and shutdowns
Co-organizer: International Trade Centre (ITC)

P5 – Influencing internet governance
Co-organizer: ARTICLE 19

P6 – Online attacks and surveillance
Co-organizer: Civil Rights Defenders
17:30 – 18:30
After hours
After Hours – From Crisis to Response, from Trauma to Recovery
Ali tells a story from inside this crisis and its ongoing aftermath. The purpose is to place and portray the human side of such events, its toll on human rights defenders, and what it portends for the immediate and longterm efforts in response and recovery.

After hours – Global Launch of the 2019 Ranking Digital Rights Corporate Accountability Index
On May 16th the full results of the 2019 Ranking Digital Rights Corporate Accountability Index will be released at SIF19 and livestreamed on the SIF19 and RDR websites. Find out which companies have improved since the 2018 RDR Index —and how.

Friday 17 May

Human rights defenders and pro-democracy actors are increasingly the only counterbalances to a global trend of populist politics, polarised societies, adverse state cyber activities and profit-maximising algorithms.

At the same time, the issues at hand have never been more challenging: challenges to online democratic space now exist across the technological, political, economic and social spectrum, while resources remain limited. New duty bearers and influential actors, including in the private sector, must be brought into a rights-based global discourse. Some existing institutions, previously lacking sufficient knowledge and interest in online issues, are starting to wield their influence, but remain disconnected from the many years of rights-based discussion on these issues.

This session will build on previous panels and be forward-looking: It will discuss priorities, methods and avenues for maximum impact, and seek to advance the discussion on concrete tools, platforms and strategies for improving online democratic space in a dynamic, conflicting and increasingly hostile global political environment.
10:00 – 11:00Coffee break – Networking and digital security health clinics
11:00 – 12:15
P7 – Innovative approaches to access

P8 – Digital issues affecting association and assembly
Co-organizer: Mandate of the United Nations Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association; International Center for Not-For-Profit Law (ICNL)

P9 – Fighting disinformation
13:30 – 15:00Lunch – Networking and digital security health clinics