AFROTECTOPIA began as a new media arts, culture and technology festival designed to recognize the contributions of Black artists, designers, technologists and activists; as well as build community amongst creatives currently working at the intersection of art, design, technology, activism and Blackness.
The festival was created by Ari Melenciano during her last year of graduate school at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP).
Afrotectopia began with a vision and a zero-dollar budget. After immediate support from NYU (especially ITP and other departments) and quickly going viral, the festival created a wave in the New York City tech scene—selling out shortly after being announced, building a vibrant community of Black innovators (300 attendees, 1,700 engaged online), investing over $10,000 in Black/People of Color businesses, and creating a $5,000 scholarship for an incoming Black ITP student.
The festival was experienced through a variety of different panels, performances, skill-sharing workshops, film screenings, lightning presentations, think tanks and more.
- Website: AFROTECTOPIA.org
Speakers from Afrotectopia
Ari Melenciano is a Brooklyn-based artist, creative technologist and researcher, passionate about how various forms of design impact the human experience. She is the founder of Afrotectopia, a social institution fostering interdisciplinary innovation for Black empowerment. We are most traditionally experienced through our New Media Arts, Culture and Technology Festival. Afrotectopia cultivates and celebrates a community of socially minded innovators working at the intersections of art, design, technology, Black culture and activism.
Ari Melenciano will be presenting:
The NYC chapter of the Anarcho-Tech Collective provides technological and digital infrastructure support services to anti-fascist, anti-racist, and anti-capitalist organizations in New York City. These services range from computer training for activists and advocacy groups, to direct assistance with digital components of advocacy efforts and private audits of an ally’s security posture when requested. We are an entirely volunteer-run organization operating without any licensing or legal recognition and a financial budget intentionally as close to zero as possible.
- Website: github.com/AnarchoTechNYC/meta/wiki
Speakers from Anarcho-Tech NYC
The Anarcho-Tech NYC Collective presents itself as a nameless collective. While individual members contribute where and when they are able, we do not sign our name to these actions when it is unnecessary to do so.
Anonymous Members will be presenting:
Atlantic Plaza Towers Tenants Association
The tenants of Atlantic Plaza Towers Tenants Association reside in one of two 22-story buildings that make up the towering complex at 216 Rockaway Avenue and 249 Thomas S. Boyland Avenue in Brooklyn, New York. The tenant population at Atlantic Plaza Towers consists of approximately 90% or more people of color, more than 80% women, and a large number of elders and minors. It is inhabited predominantly by multigenerational families who have lived there for decades—some residents have been there since the buildings were constructed over fifty years ago. Today, Atlantic Plaza Towers sits in the middle of the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of Brownsville.
Speakers from Atlantic Plaza Towers Tenants Association
Tranae Moran is a resin artist and luxury sales and merchandising professional from Ocean Hill, Brownsville. She’s a graduate of Brooklyn College with a Bachelors in Business Administration with concentration in Marketing. She is a community advocate and serves through service initiatives such as Art Grief Therapy and using her voice and skill set as a floor captain and member of The Atlantic Towers Tenants Association. She has been on the frontlines with her neighbors speaking out against the use of Facial Recognition technology in the 24 story apartment complex in Ocean Hill, Brownsville and has made positive strides in pushing back against building management and creating awareness around facial recognition and the collection of biometric data in residential communities.
Tranae Moran will be presenting:
Tasliym Francis is a community activist, floor captain, and Chandler (candle-maker), residing at Ocean Hill, Brooklyn. She has interned with Assemblywoman Latrice Walker, and has received both, a leadership role as a student/parent representative, and an honorary award of appreciation through The Children’s Center of John Jay College. Since then she has become a strong advocate in pushing for laws to protect tenants against future biometric technology, banning the use of facial recognition on residences, and representing communities such as her own, that are too often overlooked/disregarded.
Tasliym completed her bachelor’s degree in law and Society at John Jay College and has completed program trainings such as the Law School Prep Program given by the Pre-Law Institute.
Tasliym Francis will be presenting:
Black Movement-Law Project (BMLP)
After working in Ferguson, Baltimore and Cleveland, lawyers and legal activists came together to create the Black Movement-Law Project (BMLP). From 2015 through 2017 BMLP provided legal support to local communities throughout the country as they demonstrate against police brutality and systemic racism. We believe in a community centered approach—providing holistic legal and technical training with an understanding that mass defense movement legal experience is often missing from the local equation. BMLP’s work included legal observation and traditional know your rights trainings, as well as emergency infrastructure such as jail support mechanisms designed to meet the needs of the specific community.
- Website: BMLP.org
Speakers from Black Movement-Law Project
Abi Hassen is an attorney, technologist, and co-founder of the Black Movement-Law Project, a legal support rapid response group that grew out of the uprisings in Ferguson and Baltimore. He is currently a partner at O’Neill and Hassen LLP, a law practice focused on indigent criminal defense. Formerly, he was the Mass Defense Coordinator at the National Lawyers Guild. Abi has also worked as a political campaign manager and strategist, union organizer, and community organizer. Mr. Hassen leads trainings, speaks, and writes on topics of race, technology, and the law. His podcast, Against the Law is available at AgainstTheLaw.info.
Abi Hassen will be presenting:
Brooklyn Pirate Radio Sound Map (BPRSM)
When the sun goes down in Brooklyn, pirate radio stations power up, beaming renegade, culture-laden signals into Caribbean, Orthodox Jewish and Latino neighborhoods. The Brooklyn Pirate Radio Sound Map archives the sounds of an ad hoc underground community radio service that persists deep into the digital age amidst a rising tide of anti-pirate legislation and enforcement.
The Brooklyn Pirate Radio Sound Map (BPRSM) traces the lingering connections between unlicensed radio broadcasting and Brooklyn’s local neighborhood culture in the digital age. This ongoing archival audio project explores the conditions that allow stations to operate openly and illegally, the needs of their audiences and their effect on licensed stations. Audio samples are drawn from recordings made from 2014 to the present.
- Website: PirateRadioMap.com
Speakers from Brooklyn Pirate Radio Sound Map
David Goren, creator of the Brooklyn Pirate Radio Sound Map, has been researching New York City’s pirate radio scene for the past five years, talking with station staff and listeners on both sides of the legal divide. In this talk, David explores the cultural and political forces driving underground radio in NYC since the late sixties via live tuning, archival recordings and excerpts from his recent BBC radio documentary.
David Goren will be presenting:
Dave Cintron, aka DJ Cintronics, founded Brooklyn’s legendary pirate radio station WBAD, which delivered uncensored underground hip hop to a devoted audience in the mid-90’s. After WBAD went off the air in 1998, he went on to DJ for Sirius Satellite Radio. Dave also produces and remixes his own music and DJs private parties/clubs. He has held a full time position with UPS for the past 28 years. In 2016, Dave created an internet radio station called Local 804 radio, dedicated to informing local union members about company news. For more information, visit djcintronics.com and check out his podcast.
DJ Cintronics will be presenting:
The Calyx Institute’s mission is to educate the public about privacy in digital communications and to develop tools that anyone can use to build “privacy by design” into their internet access. By developing encryption and anonymity tools that can help users maintain their privacy, we hope to make online security easier and more accessible for everyone online.
We are a non-profit education and research organization devoted to studying, testing and developing and implementing privacy technology and tools to promote free speech, free expression, civic engagement and privacy rights on the internet and in the mobile communications industry.
We believe that everyone deserves privacy and security online, regardless of their technological know-how. Many tools exist for encrypting online communications and keeping your data private. However, many people don’t know that they need these tools or how to access them. The Calyx Institute will continue to develop these tools and educate the public on the best ways to use them, with the goal of making cybersecurity, privacy and freedom of expression accessible to everyone. Through research and development, legal advocacy and defense, and by distributing information and open source software as widely as possible for the benefit of the general public, in both democratic and repressive contexts, we hope to build a more free and accessible internet.
- Website: CalyxInstitute.org
Speakers from Calyx Institute
Nick Merrill is the Executive Director of The Calyx Institute. The Calyx Institute’s mission is to educate the public about privacy in digital communications and to develop tools that anyone can use to build “privacy by design” into their internet access. By developing encryption and anonymity tools that can help users maintain their privacy, we hope to make online security easier and more accessible for everyone online.
Nick Merrill will be presenting:
Constitutional Communications is a nonprofit organization that specializes in information security for professionals and civil society organizations.
- Website: ConstitutionalCommunications.org
Speakers from Constitutional Communications
Jonathan Stribling-Uss, Esq.
Jonathan Stribling-Uss, Esq. is a Media Democracy Fund Technologist Fellow. Before being chosen as a fellow, he founded and directed Constitutional Communications—a nonprofit organization that specializes in information security for professionals and civil society organizations. He led trainings and accredited Continuing Legal Educations for hundreds of attorneys and law students on cybersecurity, professional ethics, international law, and attorney-client communications with the New York County Lawyers Association, The American Bar Association, Law for Black Lives, and the New York State Bar Association.
He has also trained journalists, foundations, activists, and technologists from more than 40 countries at the Center for Constitutional Rights, ThoughtWorks, the Ford Foundation, as a Weathering the Storms Roadmap consultant and as a staff partner at Social Movement Technologies. His work has been featured in the ABA Journal, the Indypendent, NY Magazine, and the New York Law Journal.
Jonathan received his law degree from CUNY School of Law and is admitted to practice in the State of New York.
Jonathan Stribling-Uss, Esq. will be presenting:
The CyPurr Collective is a group of some tech-minded folks who are very jazzed about cybersecurity, cats, and helping folks out with their digital dilemmas. We offer workshops for activists, journalists, educators, and everyday folks who want to up their encryption game. Check out our site for links to upcoming events, and come by our monthly workshops at The Brooklyn Public Library Central Branch, Bluestockings Bookstore, and BabyCastles. :)
- Website: CyPurr.nyc
Speakers from CyPurr Collective
Grey will be presenting:
Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF)
Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that protects, defends, and empowers public-interest journalism in the 21st century.
The organization works to preserve and strengthen First and Fourth Amendment rights guaranteed to the press through a variety of avenues, including the development of encryption tools, documentation of attacks on the press, training newsrooms on digital security practices, and advocating for the public’s right to know.
Freedom of the Press Foundation is built on the recognition that this kind of transparency journalism — from publishing the Pentagon Papers and exposing Watergate, to uncovering the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program and CIA secret prisons — doesn’t just happen. It requires dogged work by journalists, and often, the courage of whistleblowers and others who work to ensure that the public actually learns what it has a right to know.
- Website: Freedom.press
Speakers from Freedom of the Press Foundation
Olivia Martin is a Digital Security Trainer at Freedom of the Press Foundation. Olivia’s professional work focuses on researching and workshopping countermeasures to digital threats faced by journalists, activists, and media makers. At FPF, she works with a team of trainers to provide direct support to journalists through newsroom trainings, individual consultations, and technical writing.
Olivia Martin will be presenting:
Inrupt is a proud member of the World Wide Web Consortium and believes it’s time your data worked for you as an individual, group or organization—and not solely for the profit of others. With Solid you have unprecedented control of your data. Create, manage and secure your own personal online data store (POD). You decide who accesses it. We call this “personal empowerment through data” and it’s one of inrupt’s founding principles.
What if your apps all talked to each other?
That’s what it’ll feel like using apps built on Solid. Instead of relying on many discrete apps to run your life and business, use inrupt to find new customized, enriching and intelligent apps. Enhance your personal and business productivity in ways that today’s web simply cannot handle.
- Website: Inrupt.com
Speakers from Inrupt, Inc.
Davi in the last two years led development of client-side field-level encryption in a non-relational database. He brings 25+ years’ experience as a head of security and trust managing global security engineering, operations and assessments, and over a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. Davi has helped serve customer data protection needs across many industries including data storage and management, software, investment, banking, international retail, as well as higher education, healthcare and aerospace.
Davi Ottenheimer will be presenting:
No New Jails NYC
No New Jails NYC is a multiracial, intergenerational, abolitionist network of residents, activists and community members fighting for the immediate and permanent closure of Rikers Island and against Mayor de Blasio’s multigenerational jail expansion plan. After initially coming together to agitate and organize against the land use proposal—recently approved by the New York City Council—to rezone four sites in New York’s boroughs for the construction of the tallest skyscraper jails in the world, in a plan that also includes the expansion of hospital jail wings and the construction of one or two new nursery jails to lock up babies together with their mothers, the work of No New Jails NYC has expanded to include mutual aid and solidarity particularly with incarcerated comrades and NYCHA residents, interventions against private companies and foundations that support the city government’s attempt to cement of a future of incarceration, the development of a detailed 55 page plan calling on New Yorkers to mobilize towards abolition, and far more.
- Website: NoNewJails.NYC
Speakers from No New Jails NYC
Nabil Hassein is a technologist, organizer and educator who has been involved with No New Jails NYC since its inception in 2018, and previously participated in other (unpaid) grassroots abolitionist efforts such as the Campaign to Shut Down Rikers in 2015 and 2016. Professionally, Nabil has worked as a public high school math teacher, a software developer, a freelance technologist and educator, and is now a PhD student in NYU’s Department of Media, Culture and Communication.
Nabil Hassein will be presenting:
We are anti-(techno)capitalists, solarpunks, and radical technologists. Our ethics place us against “Adtech,” “Fintech,” and Silicon Valley. We believe technology is an intangible earth, with which we can and should have an earthly relationship. It is power that we can harness through holistic methods as individuals and cooperative networks for the empowerment of oneself and of one’s actual communities. Our approach stands in contrast to isolationism, sterility, and authoritarianism by being participatory, flexible, and adaptive.
- Website: ShiftCTRL.space
Speakers from Shift-CTRL Space
red_clover is a queer radical technologist and anarcho-autonomist whose primary interest in digital technologies lay in how they may be leveraged for communal autonomy and revolutionary momentum.
red clover will be presenting:
Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (S.T.O.P.)
S.T.O.P. fights to end discriminatory surveillance. Our team challenges both individual misconduct and broader systemic failures. We craft policies that balance new technologies and age-old rights. And we educate impacted communities on how they can protect their rights.
S.T.O.P. litigates and advocates for privacy, fighting excessive local and state-level surveillance. Our work highlights the discriminatory impact of surveillance on Muslim Americans, immigrants, and communities of color.
S.T.O.P. fights to ensure that technological advancements don’t come at the expense of age-old rights. We hope to transform New York City and State into models for the rest of the United States of how to harness novel technologies without adversely impacting marginalized communities. S.T.O.P. also believes that directly-impacted communities are best equipped to lead this fight, and that their voices should be at the forefront for this and any movement.
S.T.O.P. is a proud member of the Electronic Frontier Alliance, which is committed to the proposition that intellectual freedom is indispensable to a democratic society.
- Website: StopSpying.org
Speakers from Surveillance Technology Oversight Project
Albert Fox Cahn, Esq.
Albert Fox Cahn is S.T.O.P.’s founder and executive director, a fellow at the Engelberg Center on Innovation Law & Policy at N.Y.U. School of Law, and a columnist for Gotham Gazette. As a lawyer, technologist, writer, and interfaith activist, Mr. Cahn began S.T.O.P. in the belief that emerging surveillance technologies pose an unprecedented threat to civil rights and the promise of a free society.
Mr. Cahn is a frequent commentator on civil rights, privacy, and technology matters and a contributor to numerous publications, including the New York Times, Slate, NBC Think, Newsweek, and the N.Y. Daily News. He has been quoted hundreds of times by leading national and international media outlets, and he has lectured at numerous universities, including Harvard Law School, New York University School of Law, Columbia University, and Dartmouth College.
Mr. Cahn previously served as legal director for a statewide civil rights organization, overseeing its direct legal services, impact litigation, and government affairs during the first two years of the Trump Presidency. Prior to that, he worked as an associate at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, where he advised Fortune 50 companies on technology policy, antitrust law, and consumer privacy.
In addition to his work at S.T.O.P., Mr. Cahn serves on the Immigrant Leaders Council of the New York Immigration Coalition. He is a member of the New York City Bar Association and the New York County Lawyers’ Association. Mr. Cahn received his J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School (where he was an editor of the Harvard Law & Policy Review), and his B.A. in Politics and Philosophy from Brandeis University.
Albert Fox Cahn, Esq. will be presenting:
Tech Learning Collective (TLC)
Tech Learning Collective is an apprenticeship-based technology school that trains politically self-motivated individuals in the arts of hypermedia, Information Technology, and radical political practice.
Founded and operated exclusively by radical queer and femme technologists, we offer unparalleled free, by-donation, and low-cost computer classes on topics ranging from fundamental computer literacy to the same offensive computer hacking techniques used by national intelligence agencies and military powers (cyber armies).
Our students are primarily people of marginalized groups and other individuals who are politically engaged.
Unlike coding bootcamps that focus on moving the highest number of students through rote memorization exercises for the goal of job placement, Tech Learning Collective teachers facilitate foundational skill building through Socratic discussion and kinetic, experience-based training.
- Website: TechLearningCollective.com
Speakers from Tech Learning Collective
As a collective, all Tech Learning Collective instructors are actively engaged in one or more of the projects Tech Learning Collective funds. This ensures that they have demonstrated a deep and lasting commitment to anti-State, anti-racist, feminist ideals. Further, the majority of our teaching team is genderqueer and femme, which we feel meaningfully impacts the experience of our students for the better.
TLC Instructors will be presenting:
Tenants Rights Coalition of Brooklyn Legal Services at Legal Services NYC (TRC BLS LSNYC)
The Tenant Rights Coalition of Brooklyn Legal Services at Legal Services NYC is at the forefront of the fight to prevent evictions, preserve affordable housing, combat harassment, and ensure that New York City tenants’ homes are safe and in good repair.
Brooklyn Legal Services (BLS), Legal Services NYC’s largest program, stops evictions, preserves affordable housing and homeownership, helps people access essential public benefits, identifies and redresses discrimination in housing and mortgage lending, empowers victims of domestic violence, supports Brooklyn residents who are LGBTQ or HIV+ in gaining access to the services they need, promotes the rights of immigrants, veterans and the disabled, protects borrowers from abusive and illegal collection tactics, and ensures proper care and housing for elderly Brooklynites.
BLS has deep roots in communities throughout Brooklyn. We work closely with community-based organizations, conduct community-based outreach and legal clinics, and partner with our pro bono colleagues to maximize our services and address the root causes of poverty.
- Website: www.LegalServicesNYC.org
Speakers from Tenants Rights Coalition of Brooklyn Legal Services at Legal Services NYC
Mona Patel is an advocate with the Tenant Rights Coalition of Brooklyn Legal Services at Legal Services NYC, which is at the forefront of the fight to prevent evictions, preserve affordable housing, combat harassment, and ensure that New York City tenants’ homes are safe and in good repair.
Mona Patel will be presenting:
The Tor Project, Inc, became a 501(c)3 nonprofit in 2006, but the idea of “onion routing” began in the mid 1990s.
Just like Tor users, the developers, researchers, and founders who’ve made Tor possible are a diverse group of people. But all of the people who have been involved in Tor are united by a common belief: internet users should have private access to an uncensored web.
The need for tools safeguarding against mass surveillance became a mainstream concern thanks to the Snowden revelations in 2013. Not only was Tor instrumental to Snowden’s whistleblowing, but content of the documents also upheld assurances that, at that time, Tor could not be cracked.
People’s awareness of tracking, surveillance, and censorship may have increased, but so has the prevalence of these hindrances to internet freedom. Today, the network has thousands of relays run by volunteers and millions of users worldwide. And it is this diversity that keeps Tor users safe.
We, at the Tor Project, fight every day for everyone to have private access to an uncensored internet, and Tor has become the world’s strongest tool for privacy and freedom online.
But Tor is more than just software. It is a labor of love produced by an international community of people devoted to human rights. The Tor Project is deeply committed to transparency and the safety of its users.
- Website: TorProject.org
Speakers from Tor Project
Isabela Bagueros is Executive Director of the Tor Project. She has been part of the free software community and an activist for democratization of information since the late 90s. She joined the Tor Project as Project Manager in 2015 after working as Product Manager for International and Growth at Twitter for four years. Prior to Twitter, she worked with the Brazilian Federal Government on digital inclusion and other free software projects from the Ministry of Communications as well as the Presidential Palace of Brazil. Isabela became ED in 2018.
Isabela Bagueros will be presenting: