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Privacy & Human Rights in Syria:
Facing New Challenges in the Digital Age

Friday, April 16, 2021

Noon CT (6 p.m. CET)
Online on Zoom

Register Online


Registration is free for all attendees.

Governments throughout the world are increasingly using digital technology to monitor and surveil activists, attorneys, journalists, aid workers, and dissenters. Join UIC Law's International Human Rights Clinic to explore the rise of digital monitoring and surveillance on Syrian human rights advocates and its impact, including the unique threat to human rights presented by electronic monitoring, how surveillance leads to breaches of privacy, and how human rights can be protected in an era when breaches are common.

  • Featured Speaker: Professor Joseph Cannataci, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Privacy and Human Rights, will discuss his mandate as Special Rapporteur and offer a look at the future of the intersection of privacy and human rights.
  • Executive Director Mohammad Al Abdallah, Syria Justice & Accountability Centre, will address the Syrian Regime’s monitoring and surveillance practices before and after the 2011 Syrian Uprising and the targeting and resulting arrests of human rights defenders.
  • Dima Samaro, MENA Policy Associate, Access Now, will address the use of digital surveillance, internet shutdowns, and digital data in privacy breaches by governments and how these practices have led to the suppression of the right to freedom of expression and human rights activism.

Professor Sarah Davila-Ruhaak, Director of the International Human Rights Clinic, will moderate this event.

Read "Digital Dominion: The Syrian Regime’s Use of Pervasive Digital Monitoring to Control its People in Violation of Human Rights,” a critical report released by UIC Law's International Human Rights Clinic and Access Now that exposes mass electronic and digital surveillance carried out by the Syrian government. The report details how the Assad Regime, in concert with third-party hackers such as the Syrian Electronic Army, proactively monitors dissenters and physically tracks activists, resulting in the arrests, torture, forced disappearances, and death of Syrian people. The report is part of "The Privacy and Human Rights Project," a broader initiative to investigate, document, and report on breaches of the right to privacy and the use of surveillance in violation of human rights.

Download "Digital Dominion: The Syrian Regime’s Use of Pervasive Digital Monitoring to Control its People in Violation of Human Rights"

Presenting Speakers

Professor Joseph Cannataci was appointed as the first-ever U.N. Special Rapporteur on Privacy in 2015, following the Snowden revelations about mass surveillance. His UN mandate was renewed in 2018 until August 2021. He is head of the University of Malta's Department of Information Policy & Governance. He is Co-founder/Co-director the Security, Technology & e-Privacy Research Group at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, where he is Full Professor and holds the Chair of European Information Policy & Technology Law. He is a Fellow of the British Computer Society and U.K. Chartered Information Technology Professional, a Senior Fellow and Associate Researcher at the CNAM Security-Defense-Intelligence Department in Paris, France, and a Full Professor (Adjunct) at Edith Cowan University's Security Research Institute & School of Computer and Security Science in Australia.
Mohammad Al Abdallah, Executive Director of the Syria Justice & Accountability Centre, is a Syrian human rights and democracy researcher and activist. He previously worked as a research assistant for Human Rights Watch in Beirut from where he covered Syria. Mr. Al Abdallah is a former political prisoner who was imprisoned in Syria on two separate occasions for his work defending human rights and lobbying for political reform. He holds a Bachelor of Law from the Lebanese University in 2007 and a Master of Public Policy from George Mason University in 2014.
Dima Samaro, a Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Policy Associate at Access Now, works closely with Access Now's policy team conducting policy analysis and promoting human rights activism on the internet in the MENA region. Before joining Access Now, Dima served as a legal researcher at the International Commission of Jurists in Tunisia. She most recently completed a fellowship at King’s College London, where she researched the political participation of Palestinian women and the impact of freedom of expression in strengthening their role in the political process.
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