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Luminate at RightsCon 2021

This week RightsCon will bring together business leaders, human rights defenders, government representatives, technologists, and journalists from around the world to tackle the most pressing issues at the intersection of human rights and technology.  We're proud to again sponsor the event, now in its 10th year. If you're registered, don't miss Luminate team members in these sessions this week:

Fund no evil? The human rights due diligence responsibilities of venture capital

7 June from 3:45-4:45 PM EDT/8:45-9:45 PM GMT+1

Luminate participant: McKenzie Smith

The ongoing backlash against Big Tech is driven in part by a growing popular understanding of the ways in which social media platforms and new technologies threaten our human rights. Tech companies themselves are increasingly wrestling with this issue, incorporating human rights due diligence processes into product design and establishing teams focused on responsible innovation. At the same time, the financial services industry – including major investment banks and private equity firms – face increasing pressure to incorporate ESG principles into their investment portfolios. Yet little attention has been paid to the human rights and ESG responsibilities of venture capital firms, which sit at the intersection of the tech and financial sectors. VC firms play a critical role in the start-up ecosystem, especially in places like Silicon Valley. Their investment decisions about what companies to fund – and what type of companies they fund – determine the future of the tech sector. Given their influence and power, it's surprising – and concerning – that so few efforts have been made to engage VC firms on their human rights responsibilities, especially as regards what kinds of due diligence they should undertake as part of the investment process, as well as what kinds of companies (and business models) they should potentially avoid.


The data delusion: reclaim your collective rights – a Latin American perspective

10 June from 2:15-3:15 PM EDT/7:15-8:15 PM GMT+1

Luminate participant: Gabriela Hadid 

When scandals like Cambridge Analytica break, the focus is always on the individual, with those affected asking themselves, “how can I protect my data?” This is appealing but a mistake. We are more impacted by other people’s data than we are by our own. One person’s data isn’t valuable. What makes data valuable is how it’s networked with that of others, allowing us to see patterns and make predictions about people’s behavior. Faced with this, all of the policy tools we’ve thrown at the problem focus on building walled gardens around “our” data. How do we control our digital doppelgänger without falling for the “ownyourdata” delusion? Our power comes from the groups we belong to. Let’s reclaim that power: our collective rights to data. Against this backdrop, this session will explore the issue of collective data rights from a Latin American perspective. How do collective harms from data play out in Latin America? And how might solutions (e.g. collective data rights?) play across different countries in the region?

Ahead of the session, read a recent blog series we published on collective data rights in Latin America with perspectives from panelists Javier Pallero, Carlos Cortes, and Mariana Valente.


Diversity of capital: building and nurturing digital rights ecosystems from funders' perspectives

11 June from 4:45-5:45 AM EDT/ 9:45-10:45 AM GMT+1

Luminate participant: Olena Boytsun

Diversity of Capital is an important condition for building and nurturing new ecosystems. In this session, the representatives of different type of funders will share their experience and lessons learnt. Moderated by a representative of an NGO, the perspectives of a private foundation (Luminate), a fund (Civitates), a governmental funder (Estonian MFA) will be highlighted. Speakers will share their learnings and strategies on supporting and building data and digital rights and e-governance ecosystems in Europe and beyond with the goal to enhance transparency of decision making and free exchange of ideas and cooperation. An interactive poll is suggested to ask the RightsCon participants on what type of capital they are working with (from the CSOs perspective) and whether there are any other ways that would unlock more efficiency for the sector. The panel will encourage free exchange of ideas and experience sharing for funders, looking for a new approaches, and will help civil society actors to better understand the funding landscape and to influence the funding system developments. Civil society actors will have a possibility to ask questions to understand better the decision making process, and at the same time, funders would be interested to hear from the NGOs, what kind of barriers the NGOs face when developing the eco-systems and how funders can best support them in overcoming those.