RightsCon conference on human rights in information & communications tech sectors - 2014

RightsCon, a conference organised by the NGO Access, was held 3-5 March 2014 in San Francisco, USA.  (Previous RightsCons were in 2011 and 2012.)  For RightsCon 2014, Access "took submissions under the following...themes:

  • Measuring and preventing risk in the ICT sector
  • Tech solutions for human rights challenges
  • Innovations in digital rights
  • Internet governance reform
  • Restoring rights in the age of surveillance"

This page covers:

Roche resigned from IPASA end of January 2014. The campaign proposed by PAE to IPASA is neither in the interest of Roche, nor of our industry in South Africa, and undermined the good relationship we have established with the South African authorities.


We believe that access to quality healthcare is a shared responsibility, requiring all stakeholders to work together, which requires a collaborative and inclusive approach based on mutual trust.   



Latest additions to this page

New campaign by Access: "Encrypt All the Things" - calls on companies to protect privacy, ensure data security - provides 7-step action plan

Statement by Scott Busby, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights & Labor, US Government: "State Department on Internet Freedom at RightsCon", 4 Mar 2014

"Where Open Net and Human Rights Met", blog post on RightsCon 2014 by Phil Bloomer, Director, and Annabel Short, Program Director - Business & Human Rights Resource Centre




Key sessions on business & human rights

Full programme

3 March

- "This Mess We're In: The Surveillance Landscape and Coercion-Resistant Design", with Morgan Marquis-Bore, Security Researcher, Citizen Lab/Senior Security Engineer, Google
- "Laggards and Leaders: Moving Companies Towards Respecting Human Rights", organised & moderated by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, with representatives of Bolo Bhi (Pakistan), Citizen Lab, Enodo Rights, Microsoft, NYU Stern Center for Business & Human Rights, Privacy Intl.
- "Localizing the Global Internet: Data Centers, Traffic Re-Routing, and the Implications of Post-Surveillance Policy Proposals", with representatives of Evernote, Google, Renesys
- "Transparency Reporting for Beginners", with representatives of Credo Mobile, Dropbox, Google, Tumblr
- "Early Stage? You Aren't Too Small To Be Concerned About User Rights"
- "Designing Platforms For Digital Rights? Brett Solomon's Fireside Chat With Google, Facebook And Tumblr"

4 March

- "Protecting User Rights Online: Practical Issues Facing Early-Stage Technology Companies"
- "The Public-Private Surveillance Partnership: Myth or Reality?"
- "Supply Chain Transparency: Advancing Human Rights Through Tech & Innovation"
- "Game of Phones: Global Telcos on Transparency, Regulatory Restrictions, and Human Rights", with representatives of AT&T, British Telecom, Verizon, Telecommunications Industry Dialogue, and former CEO of Sudatel (Sudan)
- “Toward Accountability: Reflecting on ICT Industry Action to Protect User Rights” - with representatives of TeliaSonera, Yahoo, Foley Hoag, EFF, Human Rights Watch

5 March

- "Leverage: How Business Can Change the Paradigm for Protecting Human Rights"
- "Privatized Enforcement and Corporate Censorship: The Future of Freedom of Expression"
- "Holding Companies Accountable on Free Expression and Privacy”
- "Holding Your Government to Account: Using the U.N. Universal Periodic Review Process for Digital Rights" – among other topics, "the private sector will also be invited to attend…to facilitate brainstorming with the private sector and organizations working on corporate social responsibility on how to report on compliance with the Ruggie framework [UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights] in the context of digital rights and UPR"
- "Home And Away: International Parent Company Responsibility For Human Rights” - moderated by BSR, with Rebecca MacKinnon of New America Foundation, Michael Posner of NYU Stern School of Business, Patrik Hiselius of TeliaSonera
- "Tech Companies and Human Rights in China: Mutual Challenges, Common Solutions" - with representatives of Cato Institute, Chinese Democracy Education Foundation, Tiananmen Academy, Huawei-Symantec
- "The Forgotten Pillar: Concrete Remedy in the Fluid Tech Sector"

Other sessions not specifically about ICT companies' impacts include activists from, or concerns regarding, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Iran, Lebanon, Mongolia, Palestine, Peru, South Korea, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda and Ukraine, as well as organizations based in Western Europe and North America.


Media coverage & commentary

"Where Open Net and Human Rights Met", Phil Bloomer, Director, and Annabel Short, Program Director - Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, 5 Mar 2014
Excerpt: "Richard Lusimbo of Sexual Minorities Uganda described the dangers of advocating for gay rights in a country where known homosexuals’ lives are at risk – technology is an essential tool for his cause...We also heard from people within companies who have come right up against government repression.  The former CEO of Sudatel in Sudan talked about the intimidation faced by a telco operator when a government decides to cut off access at a time of protest, as happened in Sudan during protests against fuel price rises in 2013.  Personal stories are going to be key to building a broader public movement for human rights in tech."

"Information technology - the power and responsibility of business", Annabel Short, Program Director, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
Excerpt: "Three defining themes are emerging at the intersection of technology and human rights: 1. Weakness of government protections – and prevalence of corporate complicity in government violations...2. The fast-changing nature of technology, and of human rights risks...3. The importance of technology to the human rights movement as a whole."

"Russia Goes for Gold in Internet Regulation", Gigi Alford, Internet Freedom Senior Program Officer at Freedom House, on Huffington Post Tech blog, 2 Mar 2014
Excerpt: "...NSA revelations...have caused a crisis of public trust in the internet itself, and the corporations and technical experts that currently run it. It is a convenient wedge for Russia to divide and conquer supporters of a truly open internet.  The United States and other states linked to the massive online data collection and surveillance programs should acknowledge and address these concerns. They also should work with tech companies to regain the international community's confidence in their commitment to human rights and democracy online."

"Snowden made cyber-geek nightmares true. Can 'private' be normal again?", Dan Gillmor, director of Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State Univ. Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication, in Guardian (UK)
Excerpt: "In the nearly nine months since the Edward Snowden revelations began...some of the most jaw-dropping surveillance news has involved a company called RSA,...one of the top computer security firms in the world. Boiled down, RSA is alleged to have weakened a core element of a widely used encryption product at the behest of the National Security Agency, receiving $10 million...[to provide] a 'back door' for government snooping...This week, at its annual cyber-security conference..., the company was on defense... Its CEO said that any weakness was inadvertent, at least on RSA’s part, and not the result of some nefarious deal with the US government."