Osgoode Hall Law School at York University and the eQuality Project (Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa) present a two-day conference centred around technology-facilitated violence.
Technology-facilitated violence (TFV) is an expansive, dynamic, and rapidly evolving harm. Bailey and Mathen have defined it as “a spectrum of behaviours carried out at least in some part through digital communications technologies, including actions that cause physical or psychological harm”.
There are many questions to ask about how to better understand and tackle TFV, including:
- How do we understand the problem of TFV?
- Who is impacted by TFV and how does their social location influence the types of attacks they face?
- What are the larger systemic and institutional issues that contribute to TFV?
- When crafting solutions to TFV, which actors should be involved and whose perspectives are currently missing from these discussions?
- How can we build connections in order to create stronger communities of stakeholders working to end TFV in Canada and beyond?
- What solutions do those targeted by TFV want?
Between April and May 2021, the Tackling Technology Facilitated Violence Conference brought together various voices on the issue of TFV to address these questions. Through public panels, meetings with civil society organizations, and academic workshops this Conference examined the individual impacts of TFV as well as the larger systemic issues that arise through the use of technologies including predictive algorithms.
The Conference launched in April with a panel titled, “Technology-Facilitated Violence: Thinking Intersectionally.” Panelists Nasreen Rajani and Pam Hrick shared their insights on the ways racialized and LGBTQI+ individuals face specific forms of TFV and discussed administrative bodies in other jurisdictions that have provided supports for targets of TFV. A second panel was hosted in collaboration with the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund’s TFV Project. This event presented LEAF’s newly released report, Deplatforming Misogyny, authored by Cynthia Khoo. Khoo, University of Calgary Professor Emily Laidlaw, and Torys lawyer Molly Reynolds discussed potential avenues for regulating harmful content on social media websites, and the effectiveness of current legal responses to harms such as the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.
In May, the Conference hosted three sets of events. First, several civil society organizations gathered to begin a conversation on what a potential national network of TFV actors may look like and what needs their organizations and the people they serve have in regard to TFV. Second, two invitation-only workshops brought together senior scholars to review academic articles written by emerging scholars on TFV that will later be published as a special edition in the Canadian Journal of Law and Technology. Third, the Conference hosted two public panels with global experts on TVF, titled “Discredited Data: Epistemic Violence, Technology, and the Construction of Expertise” and “Technology-Facilitated Domestic Violence Against Immigrant and Refugee Women”.
At the first panel on May 25, Professor Ngozi Okidegbe from the Cardozo School of Law presented her research on the ways in which predictive policing technologies contribute to technology-facilitated state violence. This presentation was followed by a discussion between Professor Okidegbe, Professor Jessica Eaglin from the University Mauerer School of Law, Professor Jamelia Morgan from the University of Connecticut, and Professor India Thusi from the Delaware Law School about the negative impacts of algorithmic decision making and predictive policing on racialized communities.
At the second panel on May 26, Professor Nicola Henry from RMIT University shared her research findings on how immigrant women were targeted by TFV in Australia. Professor Henry’s presentation was followed by a discussion on migrant women’s experiences with TFV with Deepa Mattoo, Executive Director of the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic, and Yee Man Louie, PhD candidate at RMIT University.
The Conference events that took place during the two months led to rich discussions, knowledge dissemination, and coalition building among those participating.
This Conference serves a springboard for future collaboration among those actively working on TFV and those whose communities are in need of better supports and representation. A central ambition of the project is to shift the typically narrow focus of policy discussions around gender-based TFV by recognizing intersecting systems of oppression, racial injustice, and the realities of structural and state-based tech-facilitated violence. Another key focus of the Conference was to start imagining what a cross-Canada network of scholars, civil society actors, community activists, lawyers, and relevant governments actors would look like, and to work toward building that network.
The Conference was supported by the Institute for Feminist Legal Studies (Osgoode Hall Law School at York University); the eQuality Project, the Centre for Law, Technology & Society, and the Shirley Greenberg Chair in Women and the Legal Profession (University of Ottawa); and a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Connections Grant (PI: Professor Carys Craig). The Conference was organized by Professor Carys Craig, Professor Sonia Lawrence, and PhD candidate Amanda Turnbull (Osgoode Hall Law School); Professor Jane Bailey, PhD candidate Suzie Dunn, and law student Michelle Liu (University of Ottawa); and Pam Hrick (Executive Director & General Counsel, Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund).
Past Public Online Events
Tuesday, April 6, 11:30 AM EST — Technology-Facilitated Violence: Thinking Intersectionally with Hawa Y. Mire, Nasreen Rajani, and Pam Hrick.
Tuesday, May 25, 4:00 - 6:00 PM EST — Discredited Data: Epistemic Violence, Technology, and the Construction of Expertise, Ngozi Okidegbe in conversation with Jessica Eaglin, Jamelia Morgan, and India Thusi. Watch the event recording here.
Wednesday, May 26, 4:00 - 6:00 PM EST — Technology-Facilitated Domestic Violence Against Immigrant and Refugee Women, Nicola Henry in conversation with Deepa Mattoo and Yee Man Louie. Watch the event recording here.