The Internet Freedom Festival is one the largest, most diverse, and most inclusive unconferences in the world. Every year, 1,400+ activists, journalists, technologists and human rights defenders from over 130 countries gather for a week of sharing and learning. Made by the community for the community, the IFF is known for creating a positive and inclusive environment for hands-on, multidisciplinary collaboration. As an example of this – women make up 50% of participants and presenters, while every year some of the most affected communities get assistance to participate through IFF’s well-known Diversity and Inclusion Fund.
Internet Freedom Festival’s History
Since its beginning as the Circumvention Tech Festival in 2015, the Internet Freedom Festival (IFF) has grown into one of the largest, most diverse and inclusive gatherings in the Internet Freedom community.
The Internet Freedom Festival Evolution, from Circumvention Tech Summit I to 2016 Internet Freedom Festival
Challenges to digital rights and online freedom expression have increased in reach and complexity, and so have the communities of practice which have grown and organized to address them. As the evolving Internet Freedom space explores and defines an identity as a community, several realities have become clear:
Online threats to human rights and freedom of expression affect us all
These issues have grown in sophistication and scope, with more and more closing spaces for open discussion of these obstacles both online and offline.
Networks of practice who address these threats are stronger now than ever before
So is the need to bring these networks together to learn from each other’s experience, to organize collective efforts that are more inclusive and better coordinated.
Opportunities for participants to set the agenda are few and far between
More often than not, participants in Internet Freedom community events must find space within a ready-built agenda to have the conversations they want, and need, to have.
Diversity of voice is fundamental to the health of a community
A community with a truly comprehensive grasp of the complex challenges it faces is
possible only through inclusion of all voices – especially those typically underrepresented
Internet Freedom Festival’s Goals
Each year, the IFF brings together those who defend digital rights around the world – journalists, activists, technologists, policy advocates, digital safety trainers, and designers – in support of the following core goals:
1. Create an inclusive space and cultivate an atmosphere of trust for the Internet Freedom Community to pool resources, share knowledge, and network.
2. Increase the diversity of the Internet Freedom community by engaging perspectives from a variety of backgrounds brought by underrepresented groups.
3. Collectively improve the services, strategies, and tools offered to the most vulnerable individuals on the frontlines by mapping censorship, surveillance and access obstacles faced in different regions in the world.
The 10 Guiding Principles of the Internet Freedom Festival
ONE | Digital Rights are Human Rights
The Internet is more than just a communications channel – it’s a cornerstone of society, and hosts real, tangible extensions of our identities both digital and physical.
TWO | Humans > Technology
Technology is a vehicle for human action. While much of our work revolves around tools and tech, we must remember that it is ultimately in the service of human needs.
THREE | Diversity and inclusivity of Voice
Communities cannot abide intolerance or harassment, and gatherings must incorporate clearly defined and well-supported Codes of Conduct.
FOUR | Transparency and Accountability
As community leaders and members, we must be transparent with – and willing to be held accountable for – our actions, in order to build and maintain trust.
FIVE | Power of Collaboration
Building face-to-face relationships of trust and solidarity are fundamental to the effectiveness of our work, and we must hold spaces for it to grow.
SIX | Community of Communities
The Internet Freedom space is made up of many different networks and communities, whose perspectives and capacities all contribute equally.
SEVEN | Give and Take
Sharing of knowledge and resources benefits everybody in the community, and we always remember to give back as much as we take.
EIGHT | Humility
We take pride in our work, but never forget who we support. We must empower and raise awareness among users and the public, using approachable and relatable narratives.
NINE | Flexibility
To keep pace with the ever fluctuating landscape of Internet Freedom challenges, people and approaches must remain open to change and adaptation.
TEN | Common Obstacles & Goals
The challenges we face don’t exist in a vacuum – solutions to them emerge from the intersections of our respective capacities and practice areas.