On May 16, Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFENET), an organization initiated by ICT Watch, and EngageMedia hosted a discussion on digital rights issues and screened Citizenfour movie in Jakarta, Indonesia. Citizenfour, a documentary film released in 2014, outlines the events surrounding Edward Snowden’s NSA whistleblowing. The film investigated the NSA’s mass collection of public data, and the lack of oversight and transparency in the process. Discussion following the film focused on how everyday citizens can safeguard themselves against privacy intrusions.
Members of the public focused on state sponsored surveillance in the Asian cultural context, where privacy often takes up a different meaning than Western conceptions of the term. Participants cited different parameters for privacy as shedding light on the manner in which users interact with social media platforms such as Facebook.
Read more about the event.
On November 20, 2013, Cyber Steward Network partner Tibet Action Institute (TAI) participated in a panel discussion and tech session titled “Safe Travels Online: Tech Meet” hosted by Students for a Free Tibet Canada in Toronto. The discussion revolved around online targeted threats against activists, members of the Tibetan diaspora community, and their supporters. In attendance were Citizen Lab’s Research Manager Masashi Crete-Nishihata, Nathan Freitas, the Director of Technology of TAI & The Guardian Project, Lhadon Tethong, Director of the TAI, and Lobsang Sithar, the Field Coordinator of the TAI.
The TAI held a similar “Safe Travels Online” event in Dharamsala in June 2013, where representatives from the TAI and the Citizen Lab spoke of the dangers of online threats against the Tibetan community and the importance of digital security. The TAI website also hosts an ongoing “Safe Travels Online” video series starring Tibetan comedian Sonam Wangdue promoting security best practices for users of digital technology.
The TAI has long supported digital privacy. The Institute is a partner in the Guardian Project, a program designed to create apps, open-source software, and smartphone solutions designed to prevent online intrusion and guard the privacy of activists, journalists, humanitarians, and ordinary citizens.
On November 21-23, 2013, Cyber Steward Network partner Bytes for All (B4A) will be participating in the “Asia Regional Consultation on ‘Freedom of Expression for Civil Liberties’” held in Bangkok, Thailand. Working in collaboration with other civil society organizations such as ICT Watch, Global Partners Digital, Association for Progressive Communications and the Thai Netizen Network, the event will focus on three issues relevant to free expression cyberspace in Asia: access to the Internet, online surveillance, and political-electoral communication.
The event will feature Frank La Rue, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. One of the objectives of the consultation will be to assess ways in which participants can best push forward the recommendations of the La Rue’s report on digital surveillance. The report urges states to strengthen existing laws on privacy and regulate the commercialization of surveillance software. The event will also highlight progress made on recommendations stemming from the La Rue’s previous report on access to information, which urges states to eliminate barriers to Internet access, discourage blocking and other means of filtering content, and encourage digital literacy. As an output, the event will produce and collect recommendations from participants on the concept of political-electoral communication for presentation to the UN General Assembly in 2014.
On 12 June 2013, the Tibet Action Institute (TAI) hosted an event in Dharamsala, India, as part of their Safe Travels Online campaign.
The event began Cyber Steward and TAI Field Coordinator Lobsang Gyatso Sither and TAI staff explaining security concepts and the use of security tools to members of the Tibetan community, while distributing awareness raising materials and information on secure apps.
Citizen Lab Research Manager Masashi Crete-Nishihata gave a presentation on the Lab’s Targeted Threats research and what they have learned about online threats targeting the Tibetan community. Lhadon Thetong, the director of the Tibet Action Institute, then gave a talk on the importance of digital security, activism and action in the Tibetan community in the context of the movement and struggle for independence. Both talks were translated live in Tibetan and followed by a Q&A session.
The event was covered widely by the Tibetan media, such as Voice of America: Kunleng News (Tibetan) (starting from 11:28 minute mark), Voice of America Radio (Tibetan), Radio Free Asia (Tibetan) (starting from 19:53 minute mark), Voice of Tibet Radio (starting from 24:00 minute mark), Tibet Times (Tibetan), and Phayul (English). In addition, Dechen Pemba, Editor of High Peaks Pure Earth and author for Global Voices who has advised TAI on education programs, wrote an article on promoting digital security awareness among Tibetans who live in exile using both online and offline methods.