Bread&Net is an annual unconference that promotes and defends digital rights across Arabic speaking countries. Hosted by SMEX, Bread&Net is a platform built for and sustained by hundreds of activists, technologists, journalists, researchers, lawyers, academics, entrepreneurs, and human rights defenders from around the world, with a particular focus on digital rights and digital freedoms in Arabic-speaking countries.
After two years of convening entirely online, this 15,16,17 November, the digital rights community will finally meet again in person, in Lebanon, for our first-ever hybrid festival.
In addition to the live-streamed sessions, the 5th edition of Bread&Net will host a range of in-person networking and community-building events across Beirut. Our aim is to promote and strengthen the local culture of digital literacy, privacy, and security while bringing to light the wider digital rights challenges and opportunities emerging in our region.
This year, we're expanding the scope of topics covered to include nineteen different tracks—each aiming to represent and support our vision of a more inclusive, engaging, and open Bread&Net.
We’ve also added an Open Space track for speakers to organize activities or promote their work on digital rights and Bread&Net values.
Over the past decade, civil society has become dependent on digital networks and tools for advocacy efforts and as a means of mobilization.
In our region, however, the advantages that these networks and tools afford have been mitigated by increasingly restrictive laws, scaled-up mass surveillance, disinformation campaigns, and crackdowns on online freedom of expression. The resulting constriction of the online civic space has only fostered stronger advocacy during such a critical time.
The four previous editions of Bread&Net successfully nurtured and expanded a regional digital rights community by offering an open and safe space for participants to discuss issues ranging from state-surveillance to content moderation and knowledge production in the digital rights community.
Founded in 2008, SMEX is a Lebanese NGO that works to defend digital rights, promote open culture and local content, and encourage critical engagement with digital technologies, media, and networks in the Arabic speaking countries. We conduct research, training, and advocacy on internet policy and digital rights to support the expansion of more accessible and participatory environments for individuals and civil society.
SMEX is currently working on building a network of digital rights within Arabic-speaking countries, while running the Digital Safety Helpdesk, which assists users in responding to digital threats such as harassment, wrongful suspensions, and harmful content online. We also document detentions related to free expression on our Muhal database. To learn more, visit our website: smex.org