APrIGF 2024 Session Proposal Submission Form
Part 1 - Lead Organizer
Contact Person
Mr. Michael Caster
Organization / Affiliation (Please state "Individual" if appropriate) *
Asia Digital Programme Manager
Economy of Residence
Sri Lanka
Primary Stakeholder Group
Civil Society
Part 2 - Session Proposal
Session Title
nfrastructures of repression: Cybersecurity and Human Rights in the Asia Pacific
Session Format
Panel Discussion (60 minutes)
Where do you plan to organize your session?
Onsite at the venue (with online moderator for questions and comments from remote participants)
Specific Issues for Discussion
Internet infrastructure is developing across the region, however at times through opaque partnerships with providers and State actors who combine the provision of infrastructure with the promotion of their own models for internet governance at odds with international norms. The Asia Pacific is experiencing an observable trend in the drafting and adoption of cybersecurity laws and policies which raise serious concerns for the freedom of expression and information online. They appear to put forward a model for internet governance that, rather than a secure, open, and interoperable internet, favor unaccountable State control. This includes requirements that impose censorship and surveillance obligations or vague and overbroad definitions of ‘critical information infrastructure’ in ways that stifle free expression online. This can be seen in Vietnam's cybersecurity law, which took effect in 2019, and its subsequent Decrees imposing concerning localization requirements and restrictive notice and takedown orders, or Cambodia's draft cybersecurity law which seeks to label the media as 'critical information infrastructure' and imposes harsh restrictions and penalties, to Nepal's 2023 National Cybersecurity Policy which among other provisions calls for a national internet gateway. Hong Kong is also expected to adopt its own cybersecurity law, which raises further questions for Hong Kong as a regional hub. Despite these challenges, international human rights law and internet freedom principles offer valuable guidance for shaping this element of internet governance. Alternatives to State control through digital public infrastructure also offer inclusive paths forward. The expert panelists will identify the challenges and relevant international standards to equip researchers, advocates, and policymakers toward positive, rights-based laws and policies on cybersecurity and digital infrastructure governance in Asia Pacific. During the discussion, focus will be given to Taiwan.
Describe the Relevance of Your Session to APrIGF
This session is relevant to this year’s overarching theme of evolving ecosystems and enduring principles. If the current trend progresses, the region will be overrun by cybersecurity policies that fail to adhere to international standards as States tamp down on internet freedom through greater control of expression online and its core infrastructure. This session is about reframing narratives on security and trust to ensure transparency by design and human rights upfront, through multistakeholderism and community engagement rather than multilateralism and State control. It also acknowledges the need for greater connectivity and digital development and posits that merely critiquing rights-abusing pathways to development and digital governance without positioning positive counterexamples will fail to stem the tide of restrictive policies. The topic and discussion is well-suited for this year's APrIGF, but not as a one off. The session is envisioned by ARTICLE 19 as a starting point to develop a more systematic coalition of actors across the region engaged in tracking and counter-acting repressive cybersecurity laws and policies to confront rising digital authoritarianism with rights-based internet governance norms.
Methodology / Agenda (Please add rows by clicking "+" on the right)
Time frame (e.g. 5 minutes, 20 minutes, should add up to 60 minutes) Description
10 minutes Opening remarks and introduction of speakers
5 minutes Thailand Cybersecurity Law (Darika)
5 minutes Nepal National Cybersecurity Policy (Tanka)
7 minutes Cybersecurity norms and digital repression PRC and beyond (Charles)
7 minutes Reversing the trend, digital public infrastructure (Helani)
20 minutes Discussion with participants (focus on Taiwan)
6 minutes Closing remarks and key takeaways
Moderators & Speakers Info (Please complete where possible)
  • Moderator (Primary)

    • Name: Michael Caster
    • Organization: ARTICLE 19
    • Designation: Asia Digital Programme Manager
    • Gender: Male
    • Economy / Country of Residence: US but based in Sri Lanka (non-public)
    • Stakeholder Group: Civil Society
    • Expected Presence: In-person
    • Status of Confirmation: Confirmed
    • Link of Bio (URL only): Not provided
  • Moderator (Facilitator)

    • Name: Lulu Keng
    • Organization: Freedom House
    • Designation: Program Manager
    • Gender: Female
    • Economy / Country of Residence: Taiwan
    • Stakeholder Group: Civil Society
    • Expected Presence: In-person
    • Status of Confirmation: Invited
    • Link of Bio (URL only): Not provided
  • Speaker 1

    • Name: Charles Mok
    • Organization: Stanford Cyber Policy Center
    • Designation: Visiting Scholar
    • Gender: Male
    • Economy / Country of Residence: Hong Kong but based in the US
    • Stakeholder Group: Academia
    • Expected Presence: In-person
    • Status of Confirmation: Confirmed
    • Link of Bio (URL only): Not provided
  • Speaker 2

    • Name: Darika Bamrubgchok
    • Organization: Thai Netizens
    • Designation: Community Manager
    • Gender: Female
    • Economy / Country of Residence: Thailand
    • Stakeholder Group: Civil Society
    • Expected Presence: Online
    • Status of Confirmation: Confirmed
    • Link of Bio (URL only): Not provided
  • Speaker 3

    • Name: Tanka Aryal
    • Organization: Digital Rights Nepal
    • Designation: President
    • Gender: Male
    • Economy / Country of Residence: Nepal
    • Stakeholder Group: Civil Society
    • Expected Presence: In-person
    • Status of Confirmation: Confirmed
    • Link of Bio (URL only): Not provided
  • Speaker 4

    • Name: Helani Galpaya
    • Organization: LIRNEasia
    • Designation: CEO
    • Gender: Female
    • Economy / Country of Residence: Sri Lanka
    • Stakeholder Group: Civil Society
    • Expected Presence: In-person
    • Status of Confirmation: Confirmed
    • Link of Bio (URL only): Not provided
Please explain the rationale for choosing each of the above contributors to the session.
Michael Caster (moderator) leads ARTICLE 19's work on internet freedom in the Indo-Pacific region. His recent research, in particular, has involved tracking cybersecurity laws and policies around the region and China's influence over internet governance norms through Digital Silk Road partnerships. This work has included analysis and advocacy relating to cybersecurity and 'critical information infrastructure' laws and policies in Cambodia, Malaysia, Nepal, and Thailand.

Lulu Keng (facilitator) is a Program Manager with Freedom House, based in Taiwan, where she manages its work on countering digital authoritarianism through the Indo-Pacific Center for Promoting Civil Society Resilience. Prior to this she was the Deputy CEO of Open Culture Foundation, Taiwan’s leading civic-tech and open data organization. She will facilitate the discussion to ensure highlight and inclusion of Taiwan perspectives.

Charles Mok is a former ICT functional constituency representative in Hong Kong and current visiting scholar at the Cyber Policy Center at Stanford University he is capable of representing the technical community, legislative, and academic stakeholder groups. He is an expert on cybersecurity and cybercrime legislation and how it can be applied in service of restricting human rights and fundamental freedoms online.

Helani Galpaya is the CEO of LIRNeAsia, a Sri Lanka based pro-poor, pro-market think tank specializing in digital infrastructure and human rights rights-based internet governance around the region. She has done research and policy advocacy across the region.

Darika Bamrubgchok is a member of both Thai Netizens Network and Security Matters, where she is an expert on digital security and civil society resilience. In addition, Darika has done research and advocacy specifically on Thailand's cybersecurity law and its relevant provisions through ministry regulations and other policies.

Tanka Aryal is the President of Digital Rights Nepal where he has led numerous research and advocacy actions relating to internet governance in the country and around the region. Digital Rights Nepal was one of the leading organizations to engage with the National Cybersecurity Policy in Nepal.
Please declare if you have any potential conflict of interest with the Program Committee 2024.
Are you or other session contributors planning to apply for the APrIGF Fellowship Program 2024?
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