On December 11th the Metamorphosis Foundation organized the 10th International Conference “E-Society.mk: Human Rights on the Internet”. The conference gathered over a hundred people in the City Hall of Skopje with the aim to discuss the freedom of expression, hate speech and privacy in the digital world. While being at its 10th anniversary, the conference provides an overview of activities and practices that enhance the protection and promotion of human rights on the internet.

The conference comprised five sessions that tackled different aspects of the human rights in the digital world. The introductory session “Importance of Human Rights” highlighted the need to keep working in the direction of protecting human rights in a space that seemingly has no barriers – the online space. The session “Freedom of Expression” dwelt upon the the journalists’ dilemma between exercising the freedom of expression and respecting the ethical code of media. “Combating Hate Speech Online” was the topic of the third session which defined the concept of online hate speech, presented actual cases from the most recent incidents in Macedonia and discussed the extent to which the educational system is capable of addressing the issue of fighting hate speech among young people. Milos Ristovski from CID presented the national No Hate Speech Campaign – an action aimed at educating the society to get rid of the hate speech – and the activities planned for the nearest future.

After the lunch break another two important aspects were tackled – privacy and synergies. Special attention was given to the need to monitor children’s access to online content and measures that can be taken by individuals to enhance the security of their data. All the contributions made by the guests added up to general idea that human rights on the internet must be addressed by both individuals and institutions (governmental and non-governmental), because the instruments available to fight hate speech online are less efficient if the effort is dispersed. What we can do as involved citizens is to take the matter seriously and be aware of the fact that our actions in the digital world have consequences.

 The conference agenda with the full list of guest speakers is available at e-society.mk; more outcomes from the discussions can be found on twitter, under the hashtag #esociety14.