Internet-based information controls and elections

Date: Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Time: 11:00 - 12:00 PM
Room: La Factoria
Skill Level: Intermediate
Language: English
Duration: 1 hour(s)
Format: On the Frontlines
Presenter: Arthur Gwagwa
Other Presenters: Grace Bomu, Peter Micek, Katherine Kumatu, Poncelet Illelji, Maria Xynou
Elections can decide the political course of nations for years and even decades and pose critical moments for a range of human rights, including the freedoms of expression and association, and the rights to privacy and political participation. An election’s success depends on transparent and accountable protection and promotion of these rights. As voting and identification procedures become digitized, technology is increasingly inextricable – and influential – during elections, in ways that authorities have yet to address. While modern computing methods, in particular cloud-based machine learning, which is fuelled by big data technology, constitute a paradigm shift in how we interact and communicate and enhance the protection of human rights, their role in undermining human rights has been under spotlight, especially in the conduct of elections. Some of the challenges include the use of social media for propaganda and questions around the integrity of electronic voting, as we saw in Kenya. The misuse of technology has negatively impacted on the freedom to participate in the political process. Yet, the same technologies that potentially threaten rights also provide opportunities for their enhanced protection. For example, social media has been used to provide information to voters vital for them to make informed choices. Drawing on the wide range of interdisciplinary panellists, the panel will consider both the opportunities for the enhanced protection of human rights by technologies, the threats they pose and approaches that need to be adapted to meet the rapidly evolving technological landscape. The panel will discuss: Safeguards in the use of election biometric technologies as Kenya and a number of African countries are adopting such technologies. Computational Propaganda, Algorithms-based Misinformation, Intermediaries Measuring Technical based censorship and Technical Countermeasures Social Media, Civic Space, Off and Online Freedom of Expression.
Target Audience:
Hackers such as Hackers Without Borders, Academia such as Citizen Lab, African Researchers and Advocate and those funding them like HIVOS, Ford Foundation, OTF, those working on elections in other regions of the world.
Desired Outcome:
A nuanced understanding of the problem of technology and big data and impact on elections and democratic processes. Whether fundamental human rights concepts and approaches need to be adapted to meet the rapidly evolving technological landscape. How to architect human rights considerations in election technology design. How to embed non-technological safeguards in tech-based elections, such as paper trail for verifiability. a fundamental re-assessment of the theory and practice of human rights and will advance approaches to regulation in a constantly changing technological world.