Tunisian Internet Agency as an innovation and hackerspace

In June, Tunisia played host to the third meeting of the Freedom Online Coalition, a coalition of governments formed in 2011 committed to respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The conference was the third in a series, with the first two held in The Hague and Nairobi, respectively. Leading up to the conference, the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI)—which under the Ben Ali regime was the home of the country’s censorship and surveillance apparatus—opened its doors to the public as #404Lab, an innovation and hackerspace. As Jillian York wrote at PBS MediaShift: “The ATI, once Tunisia’s censorship and surveillance apparatus, has aimed to become the country’s neutral Internet exchange point (IXP), pushing back against numerous attempts over the past couple of years to force it to censor. The ATI’s commitment to openness was made concrete in the run-up to the conference when its doors were opened to hackers to create the #404Lab, a space for innovation. Those present were invited to investigate the 2007-era censorship equipment left over from the Ben Ali regime.” The conference occurred shortly after the revelation that the United States National Security Agency was conducting widespread surveillance through platforms such as Facebook and Google, making surveillance a hot topic of discussion. From a side event (video) held at Tunisian media organization Nawaat.org emerged a statement presented in the final plenary of the conference. The statement, which urged Freedom Online Coalition governments to adopt the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance, read in part: The explosion of digital communications content and information about communications, or “communications metadata,” the falling cost of storing and mining large sets of data, and the provision of personal content through third party service providers make State surveillance possible at an unprecedented scale. Broad collection of such information not only has a chilling effect on free expression and association; it threatens confidence in the internet as a safe platform for personal communications. It is therefore incumbent upon FOC members to extend and defend fundamental rights in ways that respond to this changing environment.TunisiaTunisian Internat AgencyGovernmentFreedom Online Coalition1.0Jul 17, 2013Jun 25, 2013https://www.digcit.org/2013/07/17/67/https://www.digcit.org/ar/2013/07/17/71/http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2013/06/freedom-online-coalition-takes-surveillance-prism-tunisiahttps://nawaat.org/portail/2013/06/19/freedom-online-coalition-a-call-to-governments-from-civil-society/