Nextview Event: From personal stories to concept-prototype

“I’ve never done it before. So I think I can do it.”

– Pippi Longstocking

 

By Nina Nout

We held our Nextview Event on June 19 surrounded by inspirational quotes in the beautiful workshop space of the Nextview Design Centre on the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven. We had the opportunity to collaborate with Nextview on this ideation session, an innovative company which specializes in combining design thinking and technology. With their expertise and know-how for the day, we designed the first concept-design of our Early Warning System prototype.  Needless to say, it was a very productive day!

We had the pleasure of welcoming people from a variety of fields, from human rights defenders, tech experts, designers, and interested students. Most of our team also attended the event, so we could collaborate with others to create a concept design for our Early Warning System technology.

We started the day with general information on the structure of the event and information about our projects. We also invited human rights defenders to speak about their lives and the importance of ethical technology to support human rights activism. After that, we split up into two groups. We dedicated the rest of the morning to the exploration phase, where we discussed the problem, context and the needs of human rights defenders.

 

Shucheesmita draws attention to important moments in her activist journey using a Journey Map.

 

We created journey maps based on the lived experiences of the human rights defenders present at the event. In one group, we followed the journey of a Bangladeshi feminist activist who became the target of human rights violations. We established the key points in her story and discussed how online harassment against her began and escalated.

In the other group, the journey map detailed the story of a man who shared his story from Islam to atheism online. The subsequent storm of online harassment caused him to quit social media for a number of years. After which, he began to build connections and communicate again on social media, this time more aware of the risks of his activism online and offline.

Even though both journey maps had different stories, we found some distinct similarities between the two stories. The journey maps showed that both human rights defender did not intentionally set out to become activists. Their first activity did not come from a political or activist point, but from personal experience and opinions. This meant that they became aware of the importance of safety and privacy online only at a later stage in their work. The lack of a trustworthy source of information about online safety and what actions to take when they received threats was a common theme in both stories.

Despite the similarities, there were also clear differences. An important point that became clearer during the conversations with human rights defenders was that every human rights defender had different experiences and a threshold for what they considered a “serious” threat.

The nuances that came to light during this day proved the importance of trans-disciplinary design sessions . Offering reliable tech solutions takes more than one hackathon. We need to think, discuss and adapt our projects constantly to bring the separate worlds of human rights and technology  together throughout the problem-solving process. Another quote that we were reminded of at Nextview is the old saying: “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” This is also why we need the infrastructure and resources to follow-up with the innovative ideas that come out of ideation sessions to transform them into concrete technologies.

 

One of the groups discuss the shape and characteristics of their Early Warning System technology concept-prototype.

Based on the journey maps, we began to design our tech solutions. Both groups designed variations of the Early Warning System technology. This technology takes into account the individual stories and viewpoints of human rights defenders but also monitors online trends and movements. We have since been busy with the development of these design ideas and have come up with a concept-prototype of the Early Warning System technology. Currently, we are working towards being able to make our first prototype.

Even though it’s summer we have not been sitting still on our other activities either. The Hague Hacks co-organized an informing session for the World Legal Summit on August 1st with The Humanity of Things and The Embassy of Canada to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. We were also invited to speak and educate a dynamic and talented group of youth from CISV about safe practices for activists on social media, as well as guide them through an ideation session to brainstorm new technologies for hate speech online. Several interesting ideas emerged, and the youth were excited about the possibility of seeing these ideas come to life!

We have also begun preparations for our third The Hague Hacks Festival this December. We’re very excited about this, and will update you on the latest news on our blog and our social media channels!

If you are interested in The Hague Hacks, or if you would like to learn more, collaborate, volunteer, or just want to drop a note, we’re happy to hear from you. Send us an email at haguehacks@thehaguepeace.org .

Design for Activism

By Nina Nout

On June 13, we had the pleasure of hosting our Design For Activism lab at the Border Sessions Festival. The goal of the lab was to design a workflow that creates opportunities for tech experts and companies to support human rights activists online. In other words, we wanted to find out how we can engage tech companies long term in order to establish and maintain a sustainable cooperation between human rights defenders and tech companies. In this lab, we also wanted to introduce people to the issues human rights defenders face online, from harassment and arbitrary banning to threats of violence.

We kicked off our lab by getting to know two human rights defenders from Rwanda and Pakistan. Their stories gave us insights into the complicated dynamics of online activism. Technology has been an incredibly powerful tool for them to communicate with others and raise awareness of human rights violations, but it has also exposed them to threats and harassment.

 

Karen van Luttervelt from We Are listens attentively to the stories of our human rights defenders.

 

Online harassment is a worrying trend, as a study conducted in the United States by Pew Research Center (2017) shows. According to Pew, 66% of adult internet users have seen online harassment and 41% have personally experienced it [1]. Among human rights defenders this number may be even higher, as they stand up for the rights of minority groups and victims, resist State and extremists attempts to silence them, and hold existing power structures accountable. Unfortunately, big tech companies have not yet made adequate steps to address and prevent online harassment. An Amnesty International report on online violence against women on Twitter explains: “The company’s failure to meet its responsibilities regarding violence and abuse means that many women are no longer able to express themselves freely on the platform without fear of violence or abuse.” [2]

During the Border Sessions Lab, we used the case of Twitter’s policy on online harassment to demonstrate the power imbalance that human rights defenders’ experiences. We addressed the lived experiences of one of our human rights defenders in detail during a role-play simulation. We divided the group into three smaller groups: human rights defenders, State actors, and Twitter, to discuss how Twitter currently handles online disputes between individuals and the government. This was followed by a discussion about how Twitter could additionally support human rights defenders on their platform. The main question that seemed to form during the discussion was how to translate freedom of expression to an online environment. This showed itself to be a multi-faceted problem. On the one hand Twitter gives human rights defenders a platform to voice their opinions. On the other, the platform enables people to harass and intimidate human rights defenders, as well as spread false information.

The exercise was eye-opening. As we moved further along in the discussion, our participants learned that tech companies frequently use freedom of expression as an excuse not to take action. We also discussed the technological aspects while retaining social understanding of the problem. Another interesting finding was that the human right defenders’ group was overshadowed by the arguments of Twitter and the government. A situation that is also so often the case in real life.

 

Steen Bentall, Head of The Hague Hacks, writes down points discussed during the brainstorming session.

After the simulation we took a short lunch break before we continued with the second part of the day. We split up into two groups to address the question ‘How do we engage tech companies?’. The morning had helped to create a basic understanding of the importance of tech to human rights, and so we built upon this idea during our brainstorming sessions.

We were very happy to see how motivated everyone was to discuss possible solutions. Both of the groups came up with some insightful practical steps and focus points on how to establish and maintain contact with tech companies. The knowledge we acquired from the brainstorm sessions is incredibly valuable. We will incorporate some of the findings into future collaborations with tech companies to ensure support for human rights defenders long-term.

This lab was another example of how important it is for people from different disciplines to come together and talk about tech and human rights. It helped us focus on possible ways of involving tech companies. Our Nextview event also had some great results. We will soon update you on that event too!

If you are interested in The Hague Hacks, or if you would like to learn more, collaborate, volunteer, or just want to drop a note, we’re happy to hear from you. Send us an email at haguehacks@thehaguepeace.org

 

 

References

[1] Online Harassment 2017. (2017). Pew Research Center.

[2] Toxic Twitter – A Toxic Place For Women. (n.d.). Amnesty International.

Meet The Hague Hacks: Connecting Tech and Human Rights

Written by Nina Nout

At The Hague Hacks, we’re all about connecting the worlds of peace and technology. From our annual The Hague Hack Festival, to our events, to building an innovative platform for creating new tech solutions to human rights issues; we are ‘hacking’ the landscape of human rights issues in collaboration with our extensive multidisciplinary network. We want to connect people from different backgrounds to solve human rights issues, and we’re excited to share our progress on this mission.

In December 2018, we brought people from the tech industry, human rights advocates, academics, diaspora members, students and designers for the second annual The Hague Hacks Festival. We unpacked and contextualized five human rights issues from five countries with the help of human rights defenders from those respective communities. Then, we brainstormed solutions to the pressing human rights issues in those countries. The event gave us a wealth of new ideas and perspectives. The Bangladesh group emerged with the strongest plausible tech solution, and we have since focused on developing their concept and collaborating with tech companies. You can read more about the event here.

 

It is becoming increasingly important to find tech solutions to human rights issues in Bangladesh. The number of internet users in Bangladesh has sky-rocketed, from 100,000 in 2000 to over 92 million people as of February 2019 [1, 2]. The rapid technological advancements and increased internet usage have provided an (inter)national platform for human rights activists, but have also resulted in a rise of online harassment and threats. Furthermore, the government is cracking down on privacy and freedom of expression online. International independent observers fear this is an attempt to limit free speech and criticism. [3, 4]

 

Our mission is to address these issues through technological and social solutions. In the last two years, we’ve built a team of inspiring human rights activists, researchers, designers and volunteers to work towards our goal. Since The Hague Hacks Festival, we have brought more people from different disciplines together to approach the issue of online censoring and oppression in Bangladesh from different angles.

 

Today, we are very happy to tell you more about our upcoming events, current research, and our activities.

 

Events

June will be an eventful month for us (literally!). On June 13, we’ll be at the Border Sessions Festival with our very own design lab to create a collective of tech companies and human rights defenders. We want to connect the human rights defenders urgently in need of tech-solutions with tech and design companies.

 

At the end of June, we are collaborating with Nextview for a closed design event at their Design Lab on the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven. The focus of this design session is to connect the tech industry with human rights activists to evaluate the tech solutions from Bangladesh group and begin development and prototyping.

 

We’re very excited for these events and the progress they will bring! The Nextview Event is closed, but we’re happy to welcome interested participants to our Border Sessions Event on June 13. So if you or someone you know of is a member of The Hague’s tech community, please get in touch via haguehacks[at]thehaguepeace.org. We’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Research

Over the last few months, members of our team have been conducting in-depth qualitative research about the issues human rights defenders in Bangladesh face online. This research is essential to validate the ideas that emerged from The Hague Hacks Festival, and ensure that any tech-solutions meet the needs of human rights defenders or aid the victims of human rights violations. Our preliminary results are both surprising and insightful. We’ve identified some key issues related to safe internet practices and online harassment. Given the sensitive nature of the information shared to us by human rights defenders, we will only release an overall conclusion of our observations. Keep an eye on our page for our upcoming post about this research.

 

Activities

Based on the findings of our qualitative research and past events, we are developing projects to support human rights activists in safe online practices. Aside from that, we are working on a video of The Hague Hacks Festival to capture the essence and energy of our organization. We also want to peak the interest of human rights defenders, problem-solvers, and passionate diaspora members. Finally, we are also collaborating with a few talented individuals in the creation of a new podcast that is coming to our site soon.

 

We’ll keep you updated here about our events, activities, and progress. We’ll also bring you the latest news about human rights, tech and the best internet practices to keep you safe. So, check in with us soon!

 

Fotografie Eelkje Colmjon.

 

If you are interested in The Hague Hacks, or if you would like to learn more, collaborate, volunteer or just want to drop a note, we’re happy to hear from you. Send us an email at haguehacks[at]thehaguepeace.org

 

References

  1. Asia Internet Stats by Country and 2019 Population Statistics. (2019). Internet World Stats.
  2. Study: Internet users in Bangladesh have increased 800x since 2000. (2018, October 23). Dhaka Tribute.
  3. Bangladesh: Crackdown on Social Media. (2018, October 19). HRW.
  4. Bangladesh’s new digital law will silence critics, rights groups say. (2018, October 9). CNN.

 

Het samenbrengen van mensenrechten & technologie in Den Haag

Onderstaand artikel is geschreven en gepubliceerd door Impact City

Tijdens Movies that Matter Festival 2019, werd voor de tweede keer de Ideation Session georganiseerd in samenwerking met The Hague Hacks, Border Sessions en ImpactCity. Tijdens deze sessie kwamen vertegenwoordigers uit de mensenrechten-sector en de technologie-branche samen in Den Haag om te brainstormen. Het doel van deze sessie was om ‘slimme’ technologische manieren te verzinnen voor het verbeteren van privacy, surveillance, veiligheid, duurzaamheid en voedselproblematiek in drie specifieke landen uit de Actvist films van dit jaar: Zuid-Afrika, Thailand en de Verenigde Staten.

Als onderdeel van het Activist-programma op het festival worden de activisten uit de acht documentaires uitgenodigd om deel te nemen aan Q&A’s, meet & greets met het publiek en persoonlijk afspraken om hun werk en de impact hiervan zoveel mogelijk te bevorderen. De Ideation Session is in het leven geroepen om de activisten te koppelen aan personen en organisaties in Den Haag, teneinde collectief te brainstormen en creatieve oplossing te bedenken voor de obstakels die zij dagelijks tegenkomen tijdens hun werk.

De deelnemers van verschillende mensenrechtenorganisaties en tech-organisaties keken eerst de films over deze mensenrechtenverdedigers. Hierna konden de activisten, deelnemers en filmregisseurs elkaar beter leren kennen tijdens een diner in Theater aan het Spui. De activisten deelden hun ervaringen met technologie in hun eigen werk. Hierna ging de Ideation Session officieel van start, waarbij de activisten het voortouw namen en elk team in de materie dook.

Voor activist Patima Tungpuchayakul, te zien in de documentaire Ghost Fleet, is meer transparantie in de handelsketen van de visindustrie van groot belang. Patima’s werk draait om het bevrijden van slaven op vissersschepen in Thailand en Indonesië: dit is in Thailand een groot probleem, waar nog weinig over bekend is. Tijdens de sessie werd duidelijk dat communicatie tussen de vissers op zee en hun familieleden op het vasteland niet alleen zeer belangrijk is voor de vissers, maar dit zou ook kunnen bijdragen aan de transparantie van de keten. Zo zijn er ideeën geopperd om op schepen satelliettelefoons te kunnen uitlezen of douaniers uit te rusten met een vertaalapp zodat zij met de bemaning kunnen praten, wanneer ze een schip betreden.

Filmmaker en activist Assia Boundaoui van The Feeling of Being Watched, besprak de uitdagingen en technologische kansen voor het bevorderen van haar huidige project: The Inverse Surveillance Project. In dit project ligt de focus op de vraag hoe overheidsaansprakelijkheid eruit zou zien door middel van Artificial Intelligence, om zo radicale overheidstransparantie af te dwingen. De vraag die werd behandeld tijdens deze sessie was ‘hoe worden de getuigenissen van de moslimgemeenschap en hun ervaringen met FBI surveillance verzameld?’. De deelnemers stelden vast dat het gebruik van bestaande tools, apps en netwerken een belangrijke rol moet spelen in datacollectie, en zo een infrastructuur te creëren die groei bevordert, waarbij de privacy en waardigheid van de gemeenschap gewaarborgd blijft.

“Hoe kunnen we informatie delen, met het gebruik van technologie, zonder surveillance van de overheid?” Dit was de vraag van de activisten Shaeera Kalla, Deliwe Mzobe en regisseur Rehad Desai van de Fees Must Fall movement in Zuid-Afrika en de film Everything Must Fall. Shaeera gaf aan hoe ingewikkeld het is om te communiceren met medestudenten/activisten, voornamelijk tijdens vreedzame protesten waarbij de politie met geweld optreed. De politie en de overheid misbruiken sociale media en creëren nepaccounts om informatie te vergaren over specifieke leiders binnen de beweging en demonstraties. De deelnemers stelden al gauw vast dat een centrale app nodig is voor demonstranten om veilig te communiceren en middelen uit te kunnen wisselen. Deze app zou niet alleen van toepassing zijn op de Fees Must Fall Movement maar voor activisten wereldwijd.

De activisten, filmmakers en organisatoren waren blij verrast door het grote aantal technologische mogelijkheden dat in korte tijd werden bedacht. Alle teams organiseren follow-ups om verder te werken aan de ideeën die zijn besproken, om uiteindelijk concrete innovatieve en technologische middelen te ontwikkelen om die mensenrechten wereldwijd bevorderen.

The Hague Hacks 2018: Being Part of the Solution

Hack. Hacking. Hacker.

These words are traditionally associated with gaining access to a computer system without permission. But a new generation of techies and problem solvers are reappropriating the word. In the last few decades, “Hackathons” have emerged as an exciting meet-up for computer programmers, coders, graphic designers, business professionals, project managers, companies, medical experts… everyone under the sun. All are welcome to Hackathons, as long as individuals share their talents and expertise to achieving a common goal.

The Hague Hacks is no exception.

The North Korea group exploring the complexities of this human rights issue

 

On December 14th, 2018, The Hague Peace Projects organized the second annual Hague Hacks to connect technology professionals, start-ups, and human rights defenders to explore and brainstorm possible technological solutions to human rights issues. Five human rights issues in particular were chosen for this year’s festival: the current polarizing role of social media in Bangladesh; the potential for technology to increase security in Sudan; the freedom of the press and the safety of government critics in Rwanda; the tracking and monitoring the North Koreans slaves outside of North Korea; and the protection of personal data from the government of Pakistan. Participants were encouraged to learn as much as they could about the context and the complexities of these issues before the event.

On a rainy Friday morning in December, the speakers and participants arrived at the Humanity Hub in The Hague. An atmosphere of excitement began to build as The Hague Peace Projects Director, Jakob de Jong, welcomed everyone. Jakob presented The Hague Hacks as the “kick-off” event that will launch a year of planning, collaborating, meeting with experts and committees, fine-tuning, development, prototypes and implementation of these ideas to create actual and sustainable solutions. He explained that The Hague Hacks is not simply a one-time meeting that all participants can feel good and forget about the next day. On the contrary, it’s a continuous, long-term commitment to connecting tech experts and human rights defenders. The Hague Hacks event is designed as a festival to celebrate these kinds of partnerships and foster an environment to stimulate new innovation and collaboration.

 

Jakob de Jonge addressing the crowd at The Hague Hacks Festival

 

ImpactCity also took the stage. As our principle sponsor for this event, they repeatedly and demonstrably supported The Hague Hacks at every stage of the Festival. ImpactCity believes that economic success and social impact go hand in hand. As such, they try to foster a welcoming and supportive space in The Hague for Start-Ups and Scale-Ups. They also have a program called the Humanitarian Action Challenge, which aims to stimulate cooperation between business and NGOs. The winners of the Humanitarian Action Challenge were invited on stage at The Hague Hacks Festival to say a few words about their experiences developing technology to defend and promote human rights issues across the globe. Hack the Planet, Be Data Driven, and Timby were also in attendance, sharing their knowledge and inspiring participants to blend technology and human rights activism to create effective and long-term solutions.

 

A traditional Syrian lunch was served by Ya Laziz. Guests enjoyed falafels with all the fixings, and madlouka for dessert.

 A delicious traditional Syrian lunch served by Ya Laziz

With full stomachs, participants embarked on the first workshop: The Discovery Workshop. Here, participants were asked to gather in groups according to one of the five human rights issues that they wanted to focus on. The purpose of this workshop was to explore the issues in depth with a human rights expert for each region. Participants had the opportunity to ask questions and learn about the context, the actors and the challenges involved before identifying how technology could provide a viable and sustainable solution.

After a short break, everyone returned to their groups to tackle the second workshop: The Focus Workshop. It was finally problem-solving time. The Humanity Hub was abuzz with discussion. Participants collaborated together: sharing their knowledge, skills and talents to explore the potentials of technology and brainstorm innovative ideas. People of every age, gender, ethnicity, religion, background and profession were united in their conviction to create innovative tech solutions. To see such diversity and yet so much unity was heartwarming and inspiring. All groups engaged in interesting, passionate and fruitful discussions. Of the five groups tackling their respective issues, the Bangladesh and Pakistan groups succeeded in developing viable and plausible technological solutions.

Since the event in December, these two groups have continued to meet regularly to grow their ideas. As part of the next step in The Hague Hacks process, they will present their ideas to two committees. First, they will present their idea to a human rights committee composed of several experts in the dynamics and complexities of their respective human rights issues in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Second, a business and technology committee will assess the viability, the longevity and financial sustainability of their ideas. These committees will provide feedback and constructive criticisms to ensure that these ideas can transform into appropriate, respectful, long-term and successful technologies.

 

The Bangladesh group collaborating and brainstorming possible technological solutions

 

The Hague Hacks would like to thank a few people and organizations without whom this event would not have been possible. An enormous thank you to our partners: The City of The Hague/Gemeente Den Haag, Impact City, and The Hague Peace Projects. We’d also like to thank our wonderful host, The Hague Humanity Hub. Thank you to all of the volunteers who helped plan, promote, organize, and execute the event. Moreover, thank you to all of the speakers and experts who donated their time and knowledge to make this collaboration between tech and human rights come true. Finally, thank you to all of the participants who engaged with our speakers and experts, expressed unrestrained passion for helping solve these humanitarian problems, and continue to create and problem-solve viable technological solutions.  See you all again next year.

8-12: The Hague Hacks Conference “Technology and Freedom”

The Hague Hacks conference aims to bring together the world of peace and technology to create opportunities and build partnerships. By stimulating cooperation, The Hague Hacks promotes development and use of emerging technologies for peace and justice. This year we shall investigate aspects of relationships between technology and freedom. We shall be delving deep in the discovery of the potential of peace, justice and technology solutions based on today’s challenges.  The conference is composed of workshops, activities and games in artificial intelligence, fake news and hate speech, digital surveillance, big data and block chain. The theme of this event will be: “Technology and Freedom”

Program:

10:00 am – 10:45 am: Introduction part 1 (3 engaging talk and 15 minute knowledge-share and Q & A)
10:45 am – 11:00 am: Coffee break
11:00 am – 12:00 am: Introduction part 2 (3 engaging talks of 15 minutes with 5 minutes of short    Q & A)
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm: Networking lunch
1:00 pm – 2:15 pm: 5 workshops part 1
2:15 pm – 2:30 pm: Coffee break
2:30 pm – 3:45 pm: Workshops part 2
3:45 pm – 4:00 pm: Coffee break
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm: Plenary session
5:00 pm – 6:00 pm: Networking Drinks

Date : 8th December 2017
Time: 10am – 6pm (Doors open by 9.30am)
Venue: Paviljoensgracht 20, 2512 BP -The Hague, Netherlands
Topics: Artificial Intelligence (AI) | Fake News /Hate Speech | Digital Surveillance | Block Chain | Big Data.

Tickets: 15,- including lunch and drinks, reserve your tickets here.