We are excited to welcome our next speaker author, researcher and Internet freedom advocate Rebecca MacKinnon!
In her book Consent of the Networked (2012) Rebecca MacKinnon argued that the internet would not automatically make the world more free and democratic. We must actively work to ensure that the products and services and communities that we use to communicate, organize, and share information are designed, managed, and governed in a way that actually enables human rights and strengthens democracy. She warned that this would not be easy. Events of the past two years – featuring online extremism, misinformation campaigns, the election of populists and demagogues – have unfortunately proven that we have a lot more work to do if we want to ensure that the global information ecosystem can support democracy and not destroy it.
Rebecca MacKinnon was an early and influential critic of corporations that control our online spaces. Currently, MacKinnon is director of Ranking Digital Rights, a project that evaluates the world’s largest internet, mobile, and telecommunications companies on their respect for privacy and freedom of expression. She is also co-founder of global citizen media network Global Voices, a global community of more than 1400, writers, activists, translators and media makers, as well as Global Network Initiative, a multi-stakeholder initiative that works with companies to uphold principles of freedom of expression and privacy in the face of government censorship and surveillance demands.
MacKinnon’s 2012 book was a call to action worth repeating: In the internet age, our freedom depends on whether we defend our rights as much in digital forums and on networks as we do elsewhere when advocating fundamental and civil rights as well as responsible leadership of communities and nations. She urged us to stop seeing ourselves as passive “users” of technology, and instead to act as citizens, taking responsibility for our digital future.
At re:publica 18 MacKinnon will challenge everybody who plays a role in shaping our information ecosystem – internet platforms, media companies, online communities, regulators, and individual users and citizens – to take responsibility for the state of the world today, and where it will go from here. We need to take a hard and critical look not only at how we may be affecting other people’s online rights, but how we are helping or hurting the prospects for democracy’s survival.
Ranking Digital Rights: rankingdigitalrights.org
Global Voices: globalvoices.org