Using data to enhance digital rights advocacy in the Middle East

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Session Description

How we can gather, organize, and share digital rights data, such as laws and case data, to improve evidence-based digital rights advocacy in Arab countries and other regions? We will start by sharing our Arab digital rights data set (, which is a mapping of laws affecting multiple facets of digital rights including freedom of expression, data protection, privacy, surveillance, etc., and look at other initiatives, such as Columbia's Global Free Expression Database and Derechos Digitales RedLatAm. Using these initiatives as a jumping off point, we will then engage participants (which we hope to draw from technologists, journalists, activists, policy analysts, and academics at IFF) in a discussion that generates new ideas or user scenarios about how to use this kind of data to improve digital rights policy advocacy in the region, as well as other types of datasets that might be useful. Next, you'll propose other models or datasets that might be useful, as well as potential challenges or issues--such as privacy issues--that might arise from collecting, collating and sharing these data. We hope that by the end of the session we will have started a community of practice around the production and use of Arab region and/or Global South digital rights data for policy advocacy that wants to take this work forward as well as some concrete ideas for how to do so.

Using data to enhance digital rights advocacy in the Middle East
Presenter/s Jessica Dheere/Mohamad Najem
Organization Social Media Exchange (SMEX)
Bio/s Jessica Dheere is cofounder and executive director of Social Media Exchange, a Beirut–based NGO that since 2008 has pioneered the design and delivery of digital media workshops for journalists and activists in the Arab world, on-site and online. Jessica also researches the emerging legal framework for Internet rights in the Arab region and its contribution to the rising tensions between states, corporations, and citizens, security and human rights. She is a member of the Digital Development and Openness working group of the Freedom Online Coalition and has a master’s degree in media studies from the New School in New York City. She was a 2014 Kathryn Davis Fellow for Peace.

Mohamad is advocacy and policy director at Social Media Exchange (SMEX). He has initiated and contributed to several successful online campaigns since 2010, such as #stopthislaw and Protect Privacy. He’s currently focused on bringing together knowledgeable and progressive voices to push for sound Internet rights in the Arab region. He tweets as @MoNajem and blogs for SMEX and Global Voices Advocacy. He previously worked as a fixer and translator for journalists and activists covering the aftermath of the 2006 war.

Language English
Topics digital rights, data collection, data visualization, cross-sector collaboration, cross-regional collaboration, internet advocacy, internet policy, internet law

Session Comments