As digital technology reshapes the interactions between citizens and the state, demands for accountability have never been greater. Citizens across political contexts are confronting advances in artificial intelligence, surveillance, censorship, and other forms of information control which are profoundly altering how they engage with politics and participate in their societies. Autocrats have been especially opportunistic in leveraging these technologies to establish high-tech surveillance networks, propagate sophisticated disinformation strategies to manipulate public opinion, sponsor damaging cyber attacks against political opponents, and implement internet censorship strategies against journalists and activists. And yet there are innumerable examples where digital technology has helped stem the tide of illiberalism and has empowered citizen activists to take down corrupt governments and challenge authoritarian regimes. Grassroots outlets, NGOs, investigative journalists working for news organizations, and academic programs have proven especially critical in these movements as they undertake open source intelligence (OSINT) investigations as a form of diagonal accountability to probe government violations. These accountability actors are key to curbing the tide of digital authoritarianism.
This session, composed of leading investigative journalists, is intended to spotlight innovative methods journalists and investigators are using to hold governments accountable in a new digital era.