technologies of dissent – a2k4 – anupam chander

Anupam Chander, UC Davis School of Law

We might see the perfection of surveillance. Because dissidents use the internet to identify dissent. Coffee shops were considered places where dissent plots occurred and were shut down in the 1700s. There is a narrowness of the pre-internet discourse. Traditional media failed and continues to fail in providing voices for the masses. Nowhere is this more apparent than in undemocratic societies.

Technologies of dissent cannot be undermined. The internet is helping develop a critical public sphere. The internet offers a means to express dissatisfaction. Bloggers and twitterers have a big impact – videos of incidents [such as that in Iran] are prevalent.

What should citizens of developed countries do? they should resist surveillance and providing surveillance to autocratic and non-democratic countries. New media can either give voice to dissent or quite the contrary.

– technologies of dissent – a2k – mapping dissent

DSC00289Laura DeNardis, Yale Information Society Project

The dissolution of boundaries between the virtual and the physical in activism. How does it require a re-conceptualization of social action. What are our responsibilities towards dissent?

Interested in DOS attacks as was used example during the Iranian protests. We have seen the use of social media in protest. We have examples of other forms of activism that have an impact on real life events.

Using mapping technology to depict for example same-sex couples in CA. An anonymous website creator created prop 8 maps that depicted donors to prop 8. How is this info available? they collected the info from state websites.

Commonalities of technologies of dissent: in the case of maps, it has privacy implications and the creator has remained anonymous and there is assymmetry here because he protected his privacy but revealed info about others.  Tech of dissent amplify and remix publicly known information but presents it in a way that amplifies it. It also emphasizes the role of private organizations – eg. Google is the one that enabled those maps.

Finally, the impact that these technologies have has to be only accompanied by social change.

beijing yiprenping center

Lu Jun
Lu Jun

Sitting next to me at A2k4 is Lu Jun, Chief Coordinator of the Beijing Yipenping Center in China. He is here on a three-year fellowship at Yale’s Law School. The Center works on   public health and right to education. It also works on policy advocacy and the legal protection against discrimination in employment.

Jun tells me both Facebook and Twitter are banned in China.  At Yale, he is visiting NGOs, scholars and activists and attending these type of conferences and events in the area and around campus. He dissemintate information about issues in China with other scholars interested in Chinese issues and activism.

technologies of dissent – a2k4

A2K4 Panel II: Technologies of Dissent: Information and Expression in a Digital World-  the panel will look into:
  • What are examples of online technology and expression that may be empowered or made vulnerable? How are governments responding to these new forms of dissent? Is there anything truly new about these forms of protest versus more traditional forms?
  • What is the nature of the technical architecture that enables these new types of democratic expression and protest? In what ways can the same technologies be used to violate human rights? Is there a human right to any particular form of technology, or rights vis a vis technology?
  • What is the role of corporate social responsibility in relationship to Internet freedom? To what extent should we be concerned about private control over new forms of dissent and speech, as well as government control?
  • What is the role of government investment in telecommunications, universal access and closing the digital divide, and infrastructure design as human rights issues? Does freedom of expression require positive government efforts to extend technological access and what would these look like? [source:]

intellectual property and a2k

Ahmed Abdel Latif, illness International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development

A2K was born out of frustration of lack of knowledge. Intellectual property – the system of exclusion of rights is not a human right. One enters a trap. Intellectual property rights people tried to push those rights in A2K and there was a lack of progress in this debate. There is a primacy of the diffusion of culture. The protection of moral and material rights of others is important. There is a possiblity of progress.

There is a complimentarity of the two movements is important to emphasize. We have not done enough to formulate a human rights discourse in this regard. The rights of users and the rights of consumers as well as the rights of the visually impaired etc.  They need to look at the convention on the rights of the disabled.

There is very powerful human rights language that provides momentum to the A2K movement.

The WIPO development agenda does not mention a2k specifically but it can be developed as a framework for that.  The issue of climate change can also benefit from access to knowledge.

How do we operationalize and translate this a2k to concrete guidelines that need to be advanced and presented. Much more can be done.