Why is Internet Freedom Festival a different kind of festival?

This year is my first year of attending Internet Freedom Festival (IFF). The festival was held in Valencia, Spain, in collaboration with Las Naves, IREX, Open Technology Fund, and Valencia City Council. IFF is supported by various partners from around the world such as ifex, Association For Progressive Communications (APC), Ford Foundation, Viet Tan and Article 19, to name a few. What makes IFF different is it’s theme tracks and it’s fellows. IFF’s theme tracks covers complement IFF’s fellows’ categories. Furthermore, IFF’s 10 principles stand out the most in showing to the Internet Freedom community of its commitments while supporting the three goals:

  1. Create an inclusive space
  2. Increase the diversity
  3. Collectively improve

What is Internet Freedom Festival and when to participate?

IFF is known to be the largest and most diverse gathering, bringing together various individuals and organizations from around the world. Nurturing collective efforts through diversity, inclusivity and collaboration is at the heart of IFF in supporting online freedom expression, protection from digital threats and expanded access to online spaces. IFF was grown from Circumvention Tech Festival in 2015 and have been consistent in putting the spotlight on global challenges to digital rights and online freedom of expression at the centre stage. The festival is held each year in Valencia, Spain.

Image credited to Internet Freedom Festival

Why participating Internet Freedom Festival is so important?

When I participate international events, I carry with an agenda, and that is to be able to bring something useful back home and contribute to the local community. Hardly I find international events that take security and privacy very seriously, including the diversity and inclusivity of voices, and I finally found a place at IFF. It has become a safe place for me to exchange ideas/opinions/stories openly and comfortably with participants without any pressure of formality and bureaucracy.

This year’s IFF, I submitted a session that concerns data protection and privacy in Southeast Asia, particularly in exploring best practices in advocacy strategies. Taken into the account of the recent data leak events occurred since last year, I decided to initiate a conversation with the Internet Freedom community and explore solutions. My session was held on Thursday, March 8th at 11.30 am. There was a small crowd attending but we had a very fruitful discussion that helps me to strategize a more focus direction for my session after IFF ends.

How to participate in Internet Freedom Festival?

Initially, I didn’t know about IFF until a close friend of mine introduces it to me, I shall not name my friend here. However, the first step for me to figure out how to participate was browsing to IFF’s website and it led me to the Community Platform webpage. That was the beginning of my participation with IFF and I recommend for you to do the same. Each year, IFF opens the doors for various individuals around the world to apply their Diversity Inclusion Fund (DIF). The fund provides financial support for anyone who are interested and passionate in participating in the annual IFF gathering. Other than DIF, IFF also open doors for individuals to apply to be IFF Fellows. Each fellow carries some more advanced tasks in supporting IFF team to create and curate the programming that inspires and empowers the voices of the Internet Freedom throughout the world. In addition to this, each fellow will be grouped into different categories based on their expertise:

  • On the Frontlines
  • Policy, Advocacy & Research
  • Making Better Tech
  • Training and Best practices
  • Healthier Networks and Organizations
  • Internet Freedom: Present and Future
  • Journalism, Media and Communications

Image credited to Internet Freedom Festival

What’s next?

When it comes to best practices in advocacy strategies, following are some tips shared by the participants for public awareness on data leaks:

  1. Storytelling on data leaks scenarios
  2. A public call-to-action campaign of asking your telcos. For an example, OpenNetKorea’s Ask Your Telcos Campaign
  3. Success stories of Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA)
  4. Op-edge about data protection, security and privacy

Moving forward, I hope to organize a local conversation session with relevant multi-stakeholders in Malaysia about addressing the public awareness of data leaks and action plans in building a national multistakeholder working group on data protection and privacy. In case if you’re interested in collaborating, please do not hesitate to keep in touch via Twitter at @nanyjharon, or Email at nany@youth4rights.asia.


I would like to express my gratitude to the Internet Freedom Festival team for granting me the Diversity Inclusion Fund, and to DataVizMy for supporting the trip. 

*This post is a personal opinion of the writer, Hazwany (Nany) Jamaluddin.


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