Posts Tagged ‘Activism’

Iran: routing around censorship, blogging anonymously, and following the coverage online

Monday, June 15th, 2009

persiankiwi: Internet very slow ...

from Twitter

The events in Iran the last several days illustrate a theme repeatedly at this year’s CFP in the panels on Internet censorship, China, anonymity, and social network activism: governments will routinely block access to the internet and SMS to prevent organizing.  Or at least they’ll try to …

As the video of CFP08’s panel on Breaking the Silence: Iranians Find a Voice on the Internet discusses, activists in Iran have plenty of practice in getting around their government’s technical and legal restrictions.   And so, despite horrendously slow internet speeds in Iran and multiple reports that the government is blocking SMS and Facebook, there continue to be viable communication channels in cyberspace:


“CFP moments”

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

Every Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference has some magic moments that capture the essence of CFP.  For example, when I think of 2005 in Seattle, I remember the grainy surveillance camera and eyecam footage projected in parallel with the opening “panopticon” knot of people surrounding Undersecretary of State Frank Moss after the ACLU’s RFID demonstration, and the four local teens on danah body’s panel explaining their use of technology to astonished oldsters like me.

What about 2009?

For me, magic happened a coupel of times on Thursday:

  • the panelists on the Internet and social change in China panel using Twitter and their cellphones to track reports of the demonstrations in Hong Kong and the mass censorship of the Chinese internet
  • at the closing Panopticon panel, where speakers like Anne Roth and Steven Hatfill talked about how their lives had been turned upside down by total government surveillance — at the same time as tweets about the unexpected success of the Chaffetz amendment limiting whole-body imaging (aka “digital strip search”) showed the potential for privacy advocates using social network activism

What are the other “CFP moments” you particularly remember, from CFP 2009 or past years?


Panel, June 4: the Internet and social change in China

“Online activism around the world” on the CFP Wetpaint wiki

Monday, June 8th, 2009

At Thursday’s Online activism around the world session, Ralf Bendrath described how the path to getting 75,000 people in the streets in Germany to protest surveillance started with “a mailing list and a wiki”, and I showed Willow Witte’s slide of the Join the Impact wiki and talked about the work Baratunde Thurston had done with the Voter Suppression Wiki.   Notice a theme here?

The wiki page we’ve created for the session has the video, presentations by Ralf, Gaurav Mishra, and me, and links out to moderator Nancy Scola’s Global Digital Activism Case Study: Germany’s Freedom Not Fear in techPresident as well as Gaurav’s The 4Cs Social Media Framework, which provided a great intellectual framework for the session.  There’s also a document Katrina Neubauer put together summarizing panelists’ email responses to a handful of questions.  If there’s other information that should be here, please add it to the page or leave it as a comment here … thanks!

There were a lot of logistical challenges with this panel, and so four of the invited panelists weren’t able to attend in person.   We’ll try to work with Basem Fathy, Evgeny Morozov, Michael Bolognino, and Willow Witte to incoporoate their perspectives on the page as well, via a presentation, video, blog post, and/or article.  Over time, we’ll hopefully have with similar pages for other sessions as well. In other words, stay tuned for more!

And it’d be great to hear what others thought of the session — and thoughts what other campaigns we should have covered.  So please feel kick off some discussion in the comments!


Creating the future at #cfp09: showtime for privacy and civil liberties activsm!

Monday, June 1st, 2009

“Fight for me!”
– a privacy-loving Facebook friend, wishing me luck at the conference

Here’s our opportunity to realize the promise of the Net that was so present in the 1990s when CFP started.
– Deborah Pierce on the CFP blog

The program for this year’s Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference is outstanding even by CFP’s high standards. The mix of technology, legal, policy, and activism perspectives is particularly strong this year, and with the new administration and Washington DC location there’s significant involvement by government employees for the first time since the 1990s. As well as CFP regulars like Jennifer Grannick, Jim Harper, Ed Felten, Nicky Ozer, Alessandro Acquisti, Stewart Baker, and Lillie Coney, speakers incude first-timers like Marcy Wheeler, Dori Maynard, Paul Ekman, Shireen Mitchell, Rebecca Mackinnon, Nancy Scola, and Ari Melber. Don’t take my word for it — check out the program and prepare to be impressed.

Best of all, with streaming video, the #cfp09 Twitter backchannel ,* live-blogging, and a community wiki, the conference will be more accessible onine than every before. Kudos to Katy Nelson of the ACLU and Robert Guerra of Freedom House for taking the lead with the video streaming, and to all the volunteers of the online visibility team for all the great work on the blog, Twitter, and Facebook. The online schedule has details, we’ll do our best to keep the web site updated regularly, and the Twitter feed will be best way to keep up what’s going on.


Twittering in the Trenches: Monday’s Social Networking Workshop

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

The Twittering in the Trenches Workshop is Monday, June 1, 9am-5pm (eastern). Please join us online or in person

In 1995 I went to my first Computers, Freedom, and Privacy (CFP) conference. I was completely boggled: every issue that was discussed had at least three compelling sides to it. I was also inspired because I could really see how the Net could be great for building communities.  Even back then it seemed that the Net was about building bridges and communities.

I remember David Brin speaking about surveillance cameras (no cell phone cameras yet), how ubiquitous they were going to become, and how we had to turn them to our advantage. I remember very smart, tech-savvy, civil libertarians like John Gilmore and Mike Godwin on panels with representatives from the White House and the FBI debating the use of cryptography, free-speech, and privacy issues. The techies stated that the Net was going to be a place where we would have the ability to share knowledge widely, without regard to geographical location, and where we would have more freedom to discus topics than in traditional media.  We could reshape our reality; old-fashioned laws wouldn’t hinder us, technology would finally give power to ordinary people.  It was exciting stuff.

I also remember the White House representative responding, almost in angry frustration, that we may have won the first round of the crypto wars, but that they’d be back and he Net wouldn’t be a “lawless” place — meaning that the status quo would be regained.

Of course, he was right. Now we have CALEA, the Patriot Act, Carnivore and its successors, draconian copyright laws, and a host of other privacy-invading tools that governments can use against people.

So here we are again in 2009.  The same kind of power is there on social network sites – on Facebook, MySpace, Tribe, Second Life, Free-Association, LiveJournal, and all the rest. Unlike Usenet and other ways of communicating on the Net a la 1995, social networks now are quite usable for us non-technical people, and the interfaces are pretty and inviting.  It’s never been easier to communicate with friends, family, and colleagues online.

Computers, Freedom, Privacy, and NEWS! A weekly news roundup.

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

The efforts of Internet organizers being met with both opposition and success around the world.  In Iran, access to Facebook was blocked by the government in order to curb their opposition’s organizing efforts during presidential elections.  And in Maryland, grassroots organizes have also tapped Facebook in their efforts to stop a new speeding camera law about to go into effect.  An all day CFP tutorial Twittering in the Trenches will focus on technology, policy, and privacy, and there will be an online component as well for those who can’t attend in person.

A new study by Cambridge law Professor Pratricia Akester looks at the effects of Digital Rights Management on Freedom of Expression.   Apparently, it turns us all into pirates.

With Obama about to announce a new Cybersecurity Czar with a “Broad Mandate,” folks are weighing in on what path the senior White House official should (or shouldn’t) take.  A CFP Panel on Cybersecurity and the New Administration, featuring congressmen Alan M. Grayson (D-FL) ask what is the best way to improve the security of the nation’s cyber infrastructure.

As Proposition 8 was upheld on Tuesday, activists from across the country turned to Join the Impact as they organized demonstrations.  Michael Bolognino of JTI will join us at CFP to discuss net-roots organizing on the Wednesday’s Online Activism Around the World panel.


We’d love to hear about the news related to CFP topics that you’re interested in!  Please share your links and ideas in the comments!