Your Votes Can Help Human Rights First Get to SXSW 2016

By Mary Elizabeth Margolis

Public voting has begun for sessions and panels to be included in the 2016 SXSW (South by Southwest) Interactive Festival agenda. From now until September 4th the online community can vote (and comment) on the panel ideas they believe are the most creative, innovative and appropriate for the 2016 event.

SXSW Interactive is an annual conference in Austin, Texas that is a breeding ground for new ideas and creative technologies. In recent years the conference has expanded its focus on online activism, foreign policy, and human rights issues that involve and affect the global online community. Human Rights First has a unique and important voice to add to this conversation by promoting American leadership on human rights through technology and protection of human rights defenders online.

That’s where you come in. We need your votes to ensure our panels make it onto the SXSW 2016 agenda.

Human Rights First has submitted two panels for SXSW 2016. Read about the panels below and be sure to click on both of the links to cast your vote:

How to Fight Modern Slavery with Data Analysis:

Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world, a booming $150 billion industry that entraps an estimated 20.9 people worldwide. Many of its victims hide in plain sight—but hard evidence of trafficking can be difficult to pin down. The key to bankrupting this business may be buried online, hiding amongst the data captured by many companies every day. In this session, Chief Compliance Officer of Western Union Barry Koch and Courtney Bowman from Palantir will discuss how they have discovered small indicators lurking in big data to help identify human traffickers and bring them to justice.


  • Barry Koch, Western Union
  • Courtney Bowman, Palantir

Cast your vote


Social Media: Five Years After the Arab Spring

Five years ago thousands took to social media in the Middle East to demand democratic reform. The digital activism of the Arab Spring sparked a movement felt around the world. In turn, repressive governments began using social media as a weapon against freedom of speech. Since then oppressive regimes have wielded the power of the Internet to target activists, political dissenters, and minority communities, including LGBT people. In this session, activists and leading experts will explore what role technology companies and governments can play in protecting rights and free expression online.


  • Sherif Mansour, Committee to Protect Journalists
  • Maryam Alkhawaja, The Gulf Centre for Human Rights
  • Brian Dooley, Human Rights First

Cast your vote


Published on August 11, 2015


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