Digital Citizenship at MozFest
How do we battle surveillance, censorship and harassment online?
When we talk about reading, writing, and participating on the Web, we often forget that not everyone can participate in the same way, and that not everyone is safe. Even today, many people’s access and level of participation is limited not only by their technical abilities, but also restricted by external forces like government surveillance, censorship, harassment or bullying, and exclusionary cultural traditions that bleed into online life. At Mozilla, we believe in a world where everyone is connected, and at MozFest we’ll explore real-life experiences of online censorship, what people are doing about it, and how you can teach others to protect themselves. And there’s an urgency that surrounds this: every day, governments are enacting laws that make it harder for people to access the cornucopia of information online, and to do so anonymously.
For example, Iran.
Internet censorship in Iran has increased in recent years, leading to the creation of The Supreme Council of Virtual Space. This body is tasked with controlling accessible content by blocking certain sites — including YouTube, Twitter and Facebook — and meting out harsh consequences like harassment and imprisonment for online activity. One of our MozFest facilitators will bring his work on network measurement in Iran, and build strategies with participants for sharing this information with the world.
A working session will look at the Mexican government’s censorship of Twitter campaigns by unleashing bots to override certain hashtags and users. Specifically, we’ll look at the Ayotzinapa tragedy from September 2014 when 43 student teachers were abducted and killed by local authorities, and how the government throttled subsequent protests. We’ll learn how to detect bot attacks using Gephi, how to combat attacks and maintain Twitter trends, and start scoping a new “antibot” tool together. [UPDATE]: We are sorry to say this session will not be taking place, as the facilitator is receiving threats tied to his work back home.
Internet Policy Discussions
We’ll also look at critical Internet policy issues — net neutrality, cybersecurity, copyright reform, and more — and ask participants to help Mozilla better understand the realities in your countries. Dino’s Den, a session designed like Dragon’s Den (global) or Shark Tank (U.S.), will encourage participants to share what policy issues Mozilla should care about and how. More advocacy focused sessions can take ideas from Dino’s Den and design strategies for building communities for digital campaigning. We’ll analyze our earlier net neutrality campaign with the Indian community, and see how we can replicate this collaboration by bringing together Advocacy Task Forces in other regions. Come learn how you can participate.
Fighting the Trolls
It’s also imperative to discuss personal online security and respect. We’ve seen how many individuals — especially women and LGBTQ members — have been targets of horrendous online assaults in recent years. At MozFest, the Tools for Travelers on the Dark Side of the Internet session — facilitated by experts who’ve experienced online harassment — will look at trolling and cyberbullying, and talk about tools to protect ourselves, tips on how to recognize trolls, and strategies to teach others about being respectful online.
Did you know that cyberbullying victims are more likely to suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts? To raise awareness about the damaging effects of cyberbullying, we’ll have a Depressed Cakes pop-up stand with gray cupcakes and other gray baked goods. We ask partakers to make a donation for the baked goods, 100% of which will go to MIND, a UK mental health charity.
These are just a few highlights from 25 Digital Citizenship sessions at MozFest. Others include Privacy Lab where you can get answers to your privacy questions, Be Torrific! where you’ll learn how Tor promotes the freedom expression, to use Tor — and to run your own relay if you’d like — , Your Digital Footprint where you’ll learn more about online tracking, and more. Come meet like-minded activists, legal experts, and practitioners to protect the open Web as a global public resource.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Sessions focused on the experiences of people marginalized online. We’ll look at gender equality, human rights abuses, government surveillance, and other issues affecting online participation.
Building a Crowd: Sessions focused on mobilizing people to protect the open Internet. We’ll look at strategies for growing our advocacy community, and tools that help people lend their voice to protest.
Don’t Feed the Trolls: Sessions focused on cyberbullying and online harassment. We’ll look at ways to protect yourself and your family, and design tools for better protection.
Backdoors + Cryptowars: Sessions focused on using tech tools to protect our freedom of expression. We’ll play with features in Firefox 42, discover ways to teach others about Tor, and design privacy tools we want.
What’s Your Policy?: Sessions focused on Internet policies worldwide. We’ll learn about Mozilla’s stance on certain issues, and talk about how to engage the community in a meaningful way. See you in London!