Call for participants: Hackademia! Activism, Scholarship & the Internet

Along with Jillian York, I am organizing a workshop on academic & civil society Internet research on Tuesday, October 4, 2016, from 2-6pm in Berlin, Germany (location TBA). The call for participants is below:

Workshop organizers:
Nathalie Maréchal, University of Southern California/Ranking Digital Rights
Jillian York, Centre for Internet and Human Rights/Onlinecensorship.org

Many Internet researchers straddle the line between academic Internet research and digital rights advocacy, including hacker communities. This workshop aims to strengthen the ties between these two modes of inquiry, leveraging AoIR 2016’s location in Berlin to invite digital rights activists from outside the academy to engage with the scholarly conversation. While many scholars and activists express interest in cross-sector collaboration, there are a number of barriers to such efforts, including mismatches between the career incentives, funding mechanisms, and timelines prevalent in the academic and NGO worlds. Nevertheless, the organizers of this half-day workshop have found that collaboration between civil society and academia are crucial to both research and to change.

The first portion of the workshop (two hours) aims to:

  • Explore what “research” means to scholars and to activists
  • Surface the barriers to cross-sector collaboration
  • Brainstorm strategies for transcending such barriers
  • Provide a networking forum for scholars and activists working on similar or complementary projects

The second portion of the workshop (two hours) will include a dive into the world of commercial content moderation. Using a fishbowl format, we will hear from experts looking at the the topic from a variety of angles: as an issue of labor, of free expression, and of information hegemony. Participants will be encouraged to take part in the discussion and share new ideas for research and advocacy.

Interested participants should complete the registration form at https://goo.gl/forms/9isVlduYmkeqMeG43 by Sept 1, 2016. The organizers hope to have roughly equal participation from academia and from civil society, and will use the requested information to plan the details of the workshop.

Questions can be addressed to Nathalie Maréchal, marechal@usc.edu, at any time.

We look forward to seeing you in Berlin!

Nathalie & Jillian

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Internet Governance Forum 2015 in João Pessoa, Brazil

I had the opportunity to travel to João Pessoa, Brazil for the 2015 Internet Governance Forum, a UN-sponsored multistakeholder event focused on Internet governance. I moderated a workshop on “Benchmarking ICT companies on human rights.”

There has been growing interest over the past few years in civil society efforts to hold ICT companies accountable for their impact on human rights,. All stakeholders including companies have an interest in setting clear industry standards on dimensions of privacy and freedom of expression. To that end, more research and comparative data about different companies’ policies and practices can encourage companies to compete with one another on respect for users’ rights. Given the international scope and complexity of the sector, this task is more than any single organization can fully tackle on a global scale, and it is important to recognize the diversity of goals and perspectives represented by organizations working in this space. The purpose of this roundtable workshop is to bring together a geographically diverse range of NGO’s and researchers to share experiences and perspectives on creating projects to rank or rate ICT companies. The goal is to create a “how to” guide on launching such projects as well as a collaborative network of organizations and researchers. Company and government stakeholders will also provide feedback on how such projects can most effectively influence corporate practice and government policy.