RightsWatch Conference: Internet freedom- enabling repression or revolution?

September 21, 2013

Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University 55 Dundas St W, Toronto, Ontario M5G 2C5
3:45 pm


BCCLA Policy Director Micheal Vonn will speak as a part of the 2013 RightsWatch Conference in a panel about the liberatory or oppressive potential of the internet.  For more information on the full conference, click here.

Plenary session – Internet freedom – enabling repression or revolution?

  • Valerie Steeves B.A., J.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Criminology at the University of Ottawa
  • Alex Smith, Lawyer, Torys LLP
  • Micheal Vonn, Policy Director, British Columbia Civil Liberties Association
  • Moderator: Carmen Cheung

In 2000, Bill Clinton stated that attempting to control the Internet in China would be like trying to “nail Jell-O to the wall”.  Over a decade later, the Chinese and numerous other foreign governments have proved highly adept at tracking and controlling online activity.  Recent revelations from the UK and USA have confirmed that almost all our online activity is monitored. And in Canada, the government has tried, and failed, to introduce ‘lawful access’ legislation to delve deeper into digital communications. Yet we persistently also refer to the Internet as a radically democratic communications forum.  Individuals and local communities continue to use online and networked communications to great effect – leaking citizen videos to ensure accountability, organizing large demonstrations, multiplying the reach of dissenting viewpoints and engaging thousands – or millions – in advocacy campaigns.  Technology is a tool that can either be put to use to serve democracy and enhance freedom, or entrench power and support authoritarianism.  Are we winning or losing the battle?