GNI & Member Sessions RightsCon 2019

GNI staff and many of our multistakeholder members will join over 2500 global experts, advocates, policymakers, and companies on 11–14 June for RightsCon 2019, the first-ever RightsCon in Tunis.

GNI will lead participatory discussions on the human rights impacts of the increasing adoption of 5G network technologies and on budding challenges facing telecommunications companies in mitigating risks of governments’ access to user data (more details below). In addition, GNI members have organized over fifty sessions in Tunis (see the full list) on both GNI policy priorities and other digital rights topics. Visit the full program to view an up-to-date schedule and to find more staff and member speaking roles.

Want to learn more about GNI membership or other opportunities for collaboration, but can’t make one of the sessions above? Email [email protected] to connect during our time in Tunis.

Millimeter Waves, Small Cells, Beamforming, Oh My! Anticipating and addressing human rights impacts in a 5G environment

Wednesday, 12 June, 9:00–10:15 a.m.
Room: Carthage 2

5G technology is well touted, but poorly understood. Experts agree that the transition from 4G to 5G will be significantly different from previous transitions, leading to new physical infrastructure and system architectures, bandwidth utilization, capabilities, and uses. These include the introduction or expansion of smart cities, augmented/virtual reality, driverless cars, and the “Internet of things” (IoT). Yet, despite this fanfare, there has been relatively little public discussion or analysis of the human right impacts and implications of 5G. The goal of this session is to educate participants about these differences and workshop an assessment of the opportunities that currently or will soon exist to influence the 5G roll-out to enhance positive and mitigate negative human rights impacts. This session will build on an initial session on 5G and human rights that the Global Network Initiative (GNI) organized at the Freedom Online Conference in Berlin in November 2018. A summary of that session can be found here. No expertise or prior experience on this topic is required!

“Demystifying Direct Access: Demands, Definitions, Data”

Thursday, 13 June, 3:45–5:00 p.m.
Room: Limes

“Direct access” refers to the ability of a government to copy, retrieve or receive user data directly from a communications network. Though the human rights concerns that emerge under direct access scenarios are globally significant, advocacy has been limited due to a lack of shared terminology and understanding of the phenomenon. There is no standard definition of direct access. Privacy International describes it as “situations where law enforcement and intelligence agencies have a direct connection to telecommunications networks in order to obtain digital communications content and data (both mobile and internet), often without prior notice or judicial authorization and without the involvement and knowledge of the Telco or ISP that owns or runs the network.” The former Telecommunications Industry Dialogue (now part of the Global Network Initiative) defined direct access in 2017 as “…systems that allow government authorities real-time access to the networks of telecommunications operators without making specific or periodic demands of the operator.” Over the course of the session, participants will come to a common understanding of direct access and identify next steps for continuing to build a multistakeholder community of practice around this issue.