Writing Rights Ltd
Writer, Editor, Founder at Writing Rights
It is all about resistance - pushing back against the gradual erosion of human rights online in the name of national security, efficacy, and even Internet access itself.
This weekend was ORGCon, the UK's biggest digital rights conference organised by the Open Rights Group - two days of discussion and debate around the digital fightback.
And it's hardly a small area for debate: there are a huge number of threats hanging over us all. Panels and talks tackled a huge range of ideas, from Brexit to pornography, and online abuse to the GDPR.
And though the sheer scale and range of threats to our rights is daunting, there was a genuine and good-humoured optimism in the air, with organisations like Privacy International, Amnesty International, and the Open Rights Group themselves, as well as campaigners and writers like Caroline Criado-Perez and Jamie Bartlett.
Data security and censorship remain top concerns, intersecting with issues from sexuality to surveillance.
While the Investigatory Powers Bill and its implementation remains a huge threat to rights online, routine data collection and failures of data security pose comparably huge threats to the right to privacy. And what to do? The usual suspects: encryption, Tor, VPNs.
But how to make people care enough to build them into their routine usage of the Internet and digital tech? The usual silences.
The questions of online abuse and of extremism come up too - and the answers here become murky - what do we do to limit the online targeting of women and people of colour with abuse, while also maintaining a right to free speech?
There is, of course, no simple answer, and though reporting abuse on social platforms seems a trivial solution, Jamie Bartlett's assertion that we have to be more relaxed about seeing things we do not like online so that we can develop our critical faculties and be able to reject the ideas properly seems not entirely adequate to the abuse being faced online, often by already-vulnerable online voices and communities.
The issue of how to protect vulnerable and marginalised voices without restricting human rights remains a tough one, but it honestly feels like everyone is up for the (myriad) challenges.
In a room full of engaged and informed individuals, on a rainy London weekend, asking questions and taking notes, planning hackathons in the cafeteria, and discussing solutions with strangers while washing their hands in the loos, I could feel determination in the air, as well as excitement about the creative solutions in our grasp.
For me, it was a weekend of getting back to grips with the threats being posed to our digital rights, and a refresher course in hope and humour in the face of truly terrible policy decisions the world over. More than ever, it is a set of issues I feel excited and privileged to be working on.
A personal highlight was Myles Jackman, obscenity lawyer and personal hero, offering to fight Ofcom and the BBFC for the job, and become the new 'Censor of the Whole Internet'. He's got my vote.