This conference program has been jointly developed by the Chair, FOC Members and the FOC Advisory Network. Please note that this program is subject to change and will continue to be updated until confirmed.

Day 1
06 Feb 2020
Day 2
07 Feb 2020

Opening Ceremony

Opening Speech by Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Honourable Minister of Communications of Ghana
Ursula Owusu-Ekuful

Opening Plenary: Regional Trends – Spotlight on Digital Inclusion

According to the ICT Development Index (IDI), nearly all countries in the world saw improvements to their ICT technologies in 2016, however the gap between the highest and lowest performing...
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Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako
Anri van der Spuy
Lia Hiltz
‘Gbenga Sesan
Andrew Puddephatt

Parallel Session 4: Content Moderation Trends and Challenges

This parallel session will focus on observed trends and challenges with content moderation policy adopted by the most used platforms by citizens. With the increasing demands from governments and others that companies regulate their platforms, activists and other users are beginning to struggle to have a voice on their most-used platforms. Accounts of legitimate users have been suspended or restricted for making a legitimate expression, which content moderation tools, policy, and/or algorithms, developed by platforms find offensive or violating its rules. This debate around content moderation is often framed as an opposition between freedom of expression on the one hand, and the idea that harmful content should be removed on the other. To what extent are companies poised to respect democratic norms and counter authoritarian demands? How do platforms work to protect such critical voices within a democratic society?
Berhan Taye
Boye Adegoke
Gerald Sowah
Ronan Costello

Parallel Session 1: Safeguarding Elections in West Africa

Securing the integrity of electoral processes and countering disinformation campaigns are key to ensuring free and fair elections as well as a peaceful post-election outcome. The multi-faceted nature of this challenge demands a multi-stakeholder approach, including government, civil society and the private sector. Looking at the solutions advanced to date, gaps and remaining challenges, this panel will explore opportunities and strategies to protect the integrity of elections with a focus on West Africa.
Tidiani Togola
Fatu Ogwuche
Charles Bradley

Parallel Session 2: Beyond a Buzzword: The Role of Human Rights in the Governance of Artificial Intelligence

Rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are enabling exciting new applications, but ethical, legal, and policy frameworks are struggling to keep pace. In particular, the integration of international human rights law in AI governance is hotly contested.
Philippe-André Rodriguez
Adeboro Odunlami
Mallory Knodel

Parallel Session 3: A People-Centered Approach to Transparency Online

In 2016 an ad hoc multi-stakeholder working group produced a report containing recommendations to governments and companies titled "A People-Centered Approach to Transparency Online". This parallel session examines what progress has been made since then and what lessons have been learned, and further aims to identify the key obstacles to further transparency and accountability in how internet users' data is obtained and accessed as well as how speech is regulated and managed online.
Ben Lyons
Rebecca MacKinnon

Parallel Session 5: Child Online Protection

Online Child Sexual Abuse (OCSE) is a global crime that demands a global approach. In an increasingly digital and borderless world, this crime is becoming easier to commit, more extreme in nature and growing in scale. Keeping children safe from online sexual exploitation and abuse and limiting their re-victimisation by preventing the sharing and viewing of child sexual abuse material can only be achieved through proactive cross-sector collaboration. The aim of this session  is to promote a cross-sectoral collaboration approach to tackling Online Child Sexual Abuse.
Andrew Puddephatt

Parallel Session 6: Internet Shutdowns: A “Think and Do” Discussion on Multistakeholder Responses

he scale and scope of government-ordered Internet shutdowns over the past few years has grown exponentially. According to Access Now, the number of shutdowns has increased from 75 in 2016 to 196 in 2018 and 114 in the first half of 2019 alone. State-sponsored shutdowns are a tool to quell protests, curb criticisms against the government, or limit information leading up to and during elections. They can violate the freedom of expression and right to peaceful assembly, disrupt access to essential services, and negatively impact the economy. Leveraging the unique platform of the Freedom Online Conference, this action-oriented session will convene speakers from government, civil society, and the private sector to discuss the challenges presented by Internet shutdowns, current progress, and opportunities for further engagement. Through a panel and breakout discussions, this session seeks to bring together diverse stakeholders to strategize for change.
Berhan Taye
Lisa Vermeer
Chanan Weissman

Parallel Session 7: Open-ended Working Group on Cyber – an FOC Approach

This session is aimed at discussing the implications of digital identity regimes/efforts in countries with no or ineffective legal regulatory frameworks and practices. From public interest perspectives, what minimum considerations and systems need to be in place before a State can be said to be in a good place to enforce digital identity systems? While the concept of digital harmonisation and identity may be laudable, this session will highlight the overarching principles and important elements of an effective digital identity framework that captures human rights’ perspective.
Philippe-André Rodriguez
Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako
Juan Carlos Lara
‘Gbenga Sesan

Parallel Session 8: Towards a meaningfully inclusive multistakeholder governance model for digital technology

Many states have in recent years adopted the position that online spaces and digital technology more broadly, including the use of algorithms in different contexts, should be governed using a so-called “multistakeholder” model. This model seeks to bring together different groups – such as government, industry, technical experts and civil society – to participate in designing and implementing legislative and policy norms. The principle underpinning this model is that all stakeholders meaningfully contributing to the framework for digital governance will result in a consensual decision that reflects a set of negotiated perspectives rather than a single source of validation, and will thus gain legitimacy.
Grace Githaiga
Jason Pielemeier

Parallel Session 9: Tackling Online Disinformation

The Freedom Online Coalition (FOC) is concerned about the growing threat of disinformation. Disinformation can challenge the right to freedom of opinion and expression, necessary for the access of free, plural and reliable information constitutive of democracy. Disinformation can erode trust in public information and democratic institutions, fracture community cohesion, polarise society and, in the most extreme cases, constitute incitement to hatred and threaten public health and safety. State-sponsored disinformation campaigns are sometimes a part of military strategies and hybrid threats.
Jarmo Sareva
Richard Wingfield
‘Gbenga Sesan
Elonnai Hickok

Parallel Session 10: Upholding FOC Commitments

How can FOC member states ensure that domestic policies addressing urgent security, law enforcement, and other public interest concerns faced by many democracies today do not contradict their governments’ commitments to foster a free and open global internet? More than 8 years since the FOC was formed, this plenary session offers an opportunity for frank conversation about the successes and challenges member states have faced in modelling best practices in their own domestic contexts while working together to advance a free and open global Internet.

Parallel Session 11: Surveillance – Efforts to Ensure Effective Oversight and Accountability

Government surveillance is routinely practiced across the world for a host of legitimate reasons, and Africa is no exception. In recent years, discussion and debate about how best to oversee and hold accountable those who conduct surveillance on behalf of the State, as well as those private actors that facilitate such surveillance, has increased in the wake of prominent leaks, investigations, and court cases. This session will bring together academic, civil society, company, and government stakeholders to share experiences, identify lessons, and discuss recommendations on providing effective oversight of surveillance activities in the African context and beyond.

Parallel Session 12: Digital Safety of Human Rights Defenders

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs is pleased to invite the Digital Defenders Partnership (DDP) to launch the Digital Safety Manual: Guidance for Diplomats and Embassy Staff working with Civil...
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Parallel Session 13: Human Rights Impact of Cybersecurity Laws, Practices, and Policies

The discussion in this session will focus on the question of how to ensure complementarity between cybersecurity and the promotion and protection of human rights. More precisely, it will be...
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Social media has fostered community engagement and empowered activism but has also been used by malignant actors to spread hate, incite violence and target vulnerable populations. Some of the worst...
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Parallel Session 15: Data Protection and Digital ID Systems

This session is aimed at discussing the implications of digital identity regimes/efforts in countries with no or ineffective legal regulatory frameworks and practices. From public interest perspectives, what minimum considerations...
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Charlie Martial Ngounou
Karolina Mackiewicz
Jarmo Sareva
‘Gbenga Sesan

Parallel Session 16: Architecture of Global Internet Governance

This workshop aims to gather perspectives and concrete ideas on strengthening the current architecture of global Internet governance. In 2019 a UN High-Level Panel of experts on ‎Digital Cooperation released recommendations for strengthening international cooperation in the online world. This session during the Freedom Online Coalition conference in Ghana is one in a series of multistakeholder worldwide discussions. Following short introductions by the moderators, the time will be devoted to open discussion. The worldwide discussions will be the major source for the compilation of an ‘Options Paper’, which will be delivered as a multistakeholder contribution to the UN Secretary General’s Global Commitment for Digital Cooperation in autumn 2020. The session is open to all, and we particularly welcome perspectives of African governments and nongovernmental organizations.

Closing Plenary: FOC – Vision and Future Direction

This workshop will provide a platform for stakeholders to engage with FOC members and discuss FOC’s priorities for 2020. This workshop will offer an opportunity for stakeholders to shape the...
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