As the 2007 protests in Burma, the 2009-2010 post-election demonstrations in Iran, and recent events in Tunisia and Egypt have stunningly demonstrated, the Internet and mobile phones have become powerful tools to bring together those whose freedom is being denied. Social networks have been used to organize protests, and new media have been widely used to document the unfolding of those attempts at establishing a new period of rule of law and political freedom. In response to these threats, governments have successfully monitored cellphone networks and attempted to shut down Internet access, posing a threat to the security of human rights activists. This panel will discuss how people can communicate in face of a complete shutdown of key communication infrastructures imposed by their government.
Yahel Ben-David (AirJaldi.Org)
Subramanian Lakshminarayanan (NYU)
Eric Blantz (Inveneo)
Kathleen Reen (Internews)
Yahel Ben-David is the founder and CTO of AirJaldi. Before shifting his focus to social entrepreneurship, Ben-David co-founded the Xpert group (1993), a multinational security and continuity solutions provider.
Ben-David designed and led the technical setup for some of the world's largest ISPs, consulted to many fortune 500 companies, and supervised a large number of security projects for governments and top dot-com leaders. Following the sale of his Xpert group holdings in 1999, Ben-David has been living and working in the Indian Himalayas (Dharamsala), where he harnesses his professional expertise to support a wide range of social causes and projects in the ICT/ICT4D spheres. Ben-David is the founder of two Dharamsala-based nonprofit organizations - AirJaldi.ORG (a 501-c-3 non-profit corporation in California) and the Tibetan Technology Center - TibTec.
Ben-David presently divides his time between Dharamsala and Berkeley, California, from where he leads AirJaldi's R&D, and works closely with UC Berkeley's TIER research group and the De Novo Group. He brings to AirJaldi over 20 years of extensive hand-on, diverse, technical experience, as well as a wide network of leading experts and professionals.
Eric Blantz is the senior director of Inveneo. Blantz has ten years experience in IT and business research, consulting, and marketing. Prior to joining Inveneo, Blantz held positions at G2 Research as a Senior Consultant in IT services research; Gartner as a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Program Director; and US Web as a Sr. Business Consultant.
With Inveneo since 2005, Blantz now serves as the Senior Director for Healthcare Solutions and is responsible for Inveneo's overall approach to this rapidly changing problem area, including strategy, select project management and development of health-specific ICT solutions in collaboration with Inveneo's strategic partners in the health sector.
Blantz holds a BA in Political Science from UC Berkeley, and a MA in International Relations from the University of Chicago, where he focused on economic development.
Lakshminarayanan Subramanian is an Assistant Professor in the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at NYU. His research interests are in the areas of networks, distributed systems and computing for development. He leads the Networks and Wide-Area Systems(NeWS) research group (jointly with Jinyang Li) and the CATER research initiative at NYU. CATER is a multidisciplinary research initiative across different departments within NYU that focuses on the development of Cost-Effective Appropriate Technologies for Emerging Regions (CATER) to address important problems in development. He is a recipient of the NSF CAREER Award (2009), IBM Faculty Award (2009, 2010), C.V. Ramamoorthy Award at UC Berkeley and Microsoft Research Challenge Award on "Cellphones for Healthcare" (2008).
Eric Blantz, senior director of Inveneo, analyzes the idea of an internet kill switch from a human rights perspective. He argues that until there is a way to make a kill switch that is “democratically and responsibly controlled,” Internet access needs to be protected as a human right.
Rights that belong to an individual as a consequence of being human. The term came into wide use after World War II, replacing the earlier phrase natural rights, which had been associated with the Greco-Roman concept of natural law since the end of the Middle Ages. As understood today, human rights refer to a wide variety of values and capabilities reflecting the diversity of human circumstances and history. They are conceived of as universal, applying to all human beings everywhere, and as fundamental, referring to essential or basic human needs. Human rights have been classified historically in terms of the notion of three generations of human rights. The first generation of civil and political rights, associated with the Enlightenment and the English, American, and French revolutions, includes the rights to life and liberty and the rights to freedom of speech and worship. The second generation of economic, social, and cultural rights, associated with revolts against the predations of unregulated capitalism from the mid-19th century, includes the right to work and the right to an education. Finally, the third generation of solidarity rights, associated with the political and economic aspirations of developing and newly decolonized countries after World War II, includes the collective rights to political self-determination and economic development. Since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, many treaties and agreements for the protection of human rights have been concluded through the auspices of the United Nations, and several regional systems of human rights law have been established. In the late 20th century ad hoc international criminal tribunals were convened to prosecute serious human rights violations and other crimes in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The International Criminal Court, which came into existence in 2002, is empowered to prosecute crimes against humanity, crimes of genocide, and war crimes.