February 29, 2012 | By Katitza Rodriguez

SHARE Conference 2012: Uniting Digital Rights Activists, New Media Artists, and Tech Innovators

12 years ago, hundreds of thousands of Serbians filled the streets of Belgrade, blocking the entire city in protest of Slobodan Milošević’s regime. At the time such a widespread protest had seemed unimaginable. Before the uprising, the mood in the country was melancholic, cynical, and hopeless amid disillusionment with a government that became plagued with corruption, repression, and war. An unprecedented campaign of civil resistance against the Milošević regime paved the way for eventual democratic reform and the Serbian independence in 2006. One influential aspect to this movement was the young students who inspired their country to leap into political and creative action through a 100 day plan—100 days of debate, dancing, performances, and workshops.

These days, activism and political engagement continues to be prevalent around the world. People are now largely relying on the Internet for raising political awareness and organizing campaigns in their communities. Through the Arab Spring, the Occupy movement, Internet protests against SOPA, PIPA, and ACTA, as well as other popular movements, the world continues to see how the Internet unleashes the creative potential of the masses to transform political attitudes and policy debates. The SHARE Conference in Serbia builds on these leading movements, rekindling the passion of anti-Milošević protests to tackle a new repressive threat: Internet censorship, surveillance, and locks on digital culture.

The SHARE conference is in its second year. It was founded by many of the young activists who started the instrumental student campaign in 2000 to resist the Milošević regime. Now called the Exit Festival, the movement has turned into one of the biggest annual music festivals in southeastern Europe. Staying truthful to their activist roots, however, Exit Festival hosts various talks on Internet and politics, in which EFF has participated.

On April 26 - 28, EFF will again participate in the conference in Belgrade, Serbia, speaking against surveillance regimes. SHARE will gather more than two thousand thinkers, innovators, and activists for three days of enlightening lectures, engaging workshops, contemporary music, and nights full of dancing, at the Dom Omladine — Belgrade Youth Center.

SHARE by Day: The Internet as a Space for Resistance

This year’s SHARE conference comes at a watershed moment in the Internet freedom movement. SHARE’s speakers will include street-art groups, security researchers, dissidents, innovators, and freedom fighters — individuals who have used the Internet to inspire radical change and community action. This year’s SHARE conference focuses on both the benefits and challenges of the Internet. Participants will discuss how they use the Internet to create, learn, innovate, and stir political action for positive social change. At the same time, they will examine the Internet’s dangers and the methods of mitigating its capacity to trace, track, and secretly surveil individuals.

SHARE by Night: Art, Music and Activism

“SHARE by Night,” the conference’s music program, presents innovative international electronic and contemporary music blended together with the talents of the local clubbing scene. Last year, Improv Everywhere stormed the streets of Belgrade with a “mobile party.” Crowds of onlookers stood in awe and joined in the celebration as speakers and young attendees danced through the night. SHARE by Night is keeping its full performance lineup secret until the date approaches, and no one can foresee all the spontaneous events that will surely take place throughout the conference.

A few EFF picks from Share’s 2012 lineup ...

Voina — A collective of provocative Russian street-artists known for its politically charged performance art. Since the very beginning, Voina has been involved in a variety of radical art against former KGB headquarters, police repression measures, and the Russian political system at large. Due to its radical art, members of their collective were jailed until Banksy bailed them out in 2010.

George Hotz — A security researcher who developed a code to jailbreak the iPhone and Sony Playstation 3. Last year, Sony sued Hotz and other security researchers who disclosed security vulnerabilities in the PS3 that had allowed users to install and run the Linux operating system on their consoles.

Slava Mogutin — Siberian-born artist and writer exiled from Russia at the age of 21 for his queer writings and activism. In the past decade, Mogutin’s photography and multimedia work have been exhibited internationally. At SHARE, he will present his work and his ongoing battle with censorship.

Vuk Ćosić — Active in politics, literature and art since 1994, Ćosić is well known for his ground-breaking work as a pioneer in the field of net.art. His evolving oeuvre is characterized by an interesting mix of philosophical, political, and conceptual network-related issues on the one hand, and an innovative feeling for contemporary urban and underground aesthetics on the other.

Rob Van KranenbrugKranenbrug will examine the impact Radio Frequency Identification has on cities and the wider society. At the same time, he will reflect on possible alternative network technologies to safeguard our privacy and empower citizens. It will be both a timely warning and a call to arms.

Peter Sunde — Berlin-based Swedish IT expert best known for co-founding The Pirate Bay. Sunde is currently working on the Flattr project, which is a microdonation system that enables viewers of websites to make small donations by clicking a "Flattr this" button.

Khannea Suntzu — Apart from being a conceptual artist, an independent blogger, a futurist, and a hobbyist-philosopher, Khannea supports radical democratization and advocates the extension of fundamental human rights. Her work resounds a warning about the dangers of "technological unemployment" in creating effectively irreversible societal divisions. She argues for proactive social activism against this growing disparity.

Sawor MonOf Hmong descent, Mon lives in Burma, a country that was until recently, under military dictatorship and is currently led by a military-backed government. The most common term among activists for this type of government is the “hybrid regime.” Mon argues that the Internet is an essential tool for combating political brainwashing and propaganda.

Church of Kopimism / Isak Gerson Isak Gerson, a philosophy student from Stockholm, had a couple of issues while attempting to get the Church of Kopimism recognized by the Swedish authorities. The main belief of this religion is that copying and sharing information are ethically and morally correct. One of their key dogmas is that CTRL+C and CTRL+V are sacred symbols.

SHARE partners with Bturn — an international online magazine covering music, film, and art in Balkan and Eastern European cultures. Bturn will continue to highlight picks in the days to come until the day of the Conference.

SHARE will also host discussions by Smari Mc Carthy, and the crowd source reform of the Icelandic Constitution, Jeremie Zimmerman from La Quadrature du Net on arguments against ACTA, Elizabeth Stark on the Open Video Alliance, EFF’s Katitza Rodriguez on the reality of mass surveillance as seen in films, Desiree Miloshevic from Afilias, and Google. There will be more speakers to come.


Follow the SHARE Conference on Twitter for updates, or the hashtag #shareconference.

You can also watch the documentary on last year's SHARE Conference or watch videos of last year's discussions.

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