Internet Legislation Atlas Brainstorm Session in Beirut  

The IGMENA team hosted a meeting of Internet Legislation Atlas (ILA) contributors at the AltCity co-working space in Beirut for a check-in and brainstorm session on 31 March and 1 April 2015. The Internet Legislation Atlas is an initiative to share and analyze laws governing the Internet for 7 countries in the MENA region: Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, and Syria. The Atlas will be a web-based resource that examines the extent to which existing laws meet internationally recognized human rights standards.

Staff from Tactical Tech facilitated the two day session, which brought together individuals and organizations working on ILA project and subject matter experts who could provide new perspectives and insights. Bloggers, activists, lawyers, representatives from local and regional NGOs, web designers, data visualization experts, and technical project managers joined Hivos and Article 19 staff for a lively discussion. The meeting allowed contributors to brainstorm and build consensus on the project’s concept, process, and delivery.

The discussion first focused on a review of work the team completed so far. At this point, Article 19 has produced a series of papers examining laws relevant to digital rights and the Internet in 7 countries. The papers include an overview of the legal landscape, as well as a more in-depth look at how laws measure up to specific human rights principles. In the Beirut session, participants familiarized themselves with this “dataset” and provided feedback on how to best leverage this work for the website.

Another key part of the discussion focused on user needs. The following questions were raised with participants: What types of individuals and groups would potentially use the Atlas? What are the needs of these audiences? How could information be organized and presented so that the content is accessible and engaging to different types of users?

Discussion later delved into design. The team went through a series of activities to start putting ideas onto paper. The purpose of the design exercises was not only to start making the abstract concepts more concrete and explore possibilities with design experts, but also to highlight commonalities and differences in project vision among the different stakeholders. After each design activity was completed in small groups, the larger group was invited to discuss similarities and distinctions between the outputs of each team. 

Following a busy and productive two days, the IGMENA team is compiling a lot of great feedback and ideas from session participants and distilling it into a single, cohesive game plan. Thanks to all who participated!