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September 22 Tuesday

The Role of Corporate Accountability in the Digital Age; Jessica Dheere, Ranking Digital Rights

  • Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at 12:00PM - 1:30PM
  • Online
  • Open To The Public
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More than half the world’s population now connects to the internet via private-sector technology platforms and telecom operators, giving these companies unprecedented power to shape how people access and participate in the digital public sphere. The power asymmetry between these companies and their users approximates that between states and their citizens, but historically has not been subject to the same degree of regulation or accountability. As more and more companies become digital and driven by user data, it becomes increasingly urgent to develop effective mechanisms for corporate accountability in the tech sector. At RDR, we have developed a rigorous set of human rights–based standards, including new standards for targeted advertising and algorithmic systems, for holding Big Tech accountable. Drawing on findings from our annual RDR Corporate Accountability Index, as well as recommendations formulated for policymakers in our recent #ItsTheBusinessModel report series, I’ll provide an overview of the essential levers we must deploy to begin to equalize power between people and tech sovereigns and protect human rights.

Jessica Dheere is the Director of Ranking Digital Rights. She is founder, former executive director, and board member of SMEX, the Middle East’s leading digital rights research and advocacy organization. As a 2018–19 research fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, she launched the CYRILLA Collaborative. She is also a member of the 2019-20 class of Technology and Human Rights Fellow at Harvard’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. Dheere has presented at the Internet Governance Forum, the Milton Wolf Seminar on Media and Diplomacy, RightsCon, and the International Journalism Festival.

Her recent publications include “Misguiding Multistakeholderism: A Nongovernmental Perspective on the Arab IGF,” and a legal research methodology for locating digital rights-related law. She is a member of the inaugural Advisory Network to the Freedom Online Coalition, and co-chair of the policy committee of the Global Network Initiative.

She graduated from Princeton University with a bachelor’s degree in art history and Latin American studies, and earned her master’s in media studies from the New School in New York City. In 2014, she was awarded a scholarship to study intensive Arabic as a Middlebury College Kathryn Davis Fellow for Peace


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