Iran Cyber Dialogue

Iran Cyber Dialogue (ICD) is annual conference to strengthen the global community working towards improved online access to information in Iran. This year ICD will take place as a satellite event of RightsCon Silicon Valley.

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Iran Cyber Dialogue (ICD) is an annual global conference on ICT development, human rights and diplomacy. Now in its third year, the two-day event will include public panels for the first time together with private hands-on outcome oriented sessions. Each ICD is attended by about a hundred tech innovators, researchers, policy makers, civil society groups and journalists. By attending, all guests agree to abide by the Chatham House Rule.

Inspired by Citizen Lab’s Cyber Dialogues, ICD was founded by ASL19 (Farsi for Article 19), an independent technology and research lab working towards vibrant civil societies through circumvention technology and other digital tools and projects. ICD 2015 is part of the weeklong Circumvention Technology Festival.

Follow us on Twitter @icdiran for updates about our livestreamed public panels on March 5.

San Francisco

ICD 2016 will be held in San Francisco, USA and in collaboration with RightsCon.

Program: Iran, Internet, Opportunities and Challenges

Day 1: Thursday, March 5, 2015

Keynote Panel #1: Iran and the West: International security, human rights and diplomacy -

Representatives from Western governments, the UN and the private sector will engage with perspectives from inside Iran, discussing different foreign policy approaches towards Iran. How can we use diplomacy to support ICT development and human rights in Iran?


Scott is the Director of Free Expression at Google Ideas where he drives implementation of the team’s overall strategy to make online repressive censorship irrelevant. Prior to joining Google, Scott founded and directed Project Fikra as the Keston Family Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where he remains an adjunct fellow. Previously, Scott served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Near East Affairs where he helped conceive and implement the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) before being named Coordinator for the Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative (BMENA). His other roles in government include director of governance for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq from April 2003 to July 2004 and Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Human Rights and Democracy. Earlier in his career, Scott worked for the International Republican Institute where he founded and co-directed its European program from Bratislava, Slovakia and on Capitol Hill. He received his MA from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Alan is one of the U.S. Government’s main experts on Iran, having focused on it professionally and personally for over 30 years. A fluent Persian linguist, he is currently the State Department's Persian Language Spokesperson, responsible for facilitating communication and mutual understanding between Iranians and the State Department. As such, he is active in Persian-language social media, using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and consulting closely with his colleagues regarding the content of the State Department’s ‘Virtual Embassy Tehran’ webpage. Based in London, he is also the head of U.S. Embassy London’s Iran Media/Public Diplomacy Office, responsible for keeping U.S. Government policymakers informed on significant events in Iran. He has also been a supporting member of the U.S. Government’s nuclear negotiating team since it started negotiating with Iran in 2009. He has served twice in Dubai, U.A.E. covering Iran, most recently having served four years as the Director of the U.S. Consulate Dubai’s Iran Office, and prior to that he covered regional energy issues in Azerbaijan as the U.S. Embassy Baku’s Energy Officer.

Nazila Fathi is a journalist, translator and commentator on Iran and the author of The Lonely War: One Woman’s Account of the Struggle for Modern Iran. She reported out of Iran for nearly two decades until 2009 when she was forced to leave the country because of government threats against her. She was based in Tehran from 2001 for The New York Times, during a time when she penned over 2,000 articles for the Times. Prior to that, she wrote for the Time Magazine, Agence France Press and the Times. She translated a book, History and Documentation of Human Rights in Iran, by the Noble Peace Prize Laureate, Shirin Ebadi, into English in 2001. She has written for the New York Review of Books, Foreign Policy, Vogue and Harvard Nieman Report and has been a guest speaker on CNN, BBC, CBC and NPR. She received her Masters of Arts from University of Toronto in Political Science. She was awarded Raoul Wallenberg Fellowship at Lund University in 2003, Nieman Fellowship for journalism at Harvard in 2010-11, Shorenstein Fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School in 2012 and a fellowship at Harvard Belfer Center in 2012-13.

Peter Harrell is an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, where he focuses on the intersection of economics and national security. Research interests include economic statecraft, sanctions and energy.

From 2012-2014, Mr. Harrell served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Counter Threat Finance and Sanctions in the State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs. In that role, Harrell was instrumental in developing the international sanctions against Iran, Russia, and Syria, and in the easing of sanctions on Myanmar. He also played a leading role in the U.S. government’s efforts to counter terrorist financing, including work to combat the financing of the Islamic State (ISIL).

Mr. Harrell served on the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff from March 2009 to June 2012, where he played a leading role in developing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s economic statecraft agenda. He also worked on a variety of other trade and economic issues, with a particular interest in Asia, and authored and edited sections of the State Department’s first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR).

Before joining the State Department, Mr. Harrell served on President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. He previously worked as a reporter for Congressional Quarterly in Washington, D.C., and is the author of one book, Rwanda’s Gamble: Gacaca and a New Model of Transitional Justice. Mr. Harrell is a magna cum laude graduate of Princeton University and holds a J.D. from the Yale Law School. He is originally from Atlanta, Georgia.

Marietje Schaake (Twitter: @MarietjeSchaake) has been serving as a Member of the European Parliament for the Dutch Democratic Party (D66) with the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) political group since 2009.

Marietje Schaake is the ALDE Coordinator of the International Trade committee (INTA). She is the spokesperson for the ALDE Group on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Marietje additionally serves on the committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET), where she focuses on strengthening Europe as a global player. She works on the EU’s neighbourhood policy, notably Turkey, Iran and North Africa and the broader Middle East. In the subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI) she speaks on human rights and coordinates the monthly human rights resolutions for ALDE. Her work has sought to include digital freedoms in EU foreign policy.

Furthermore, she is a member of the delegation for relations with the United States and a substitute member on the delegation with Iran.

Marietje has pushed for completing Europe’s digital single market and copyright reform. She is strongly committed to an open internet in discussions about internet governance and digital (human) rights.

In addition to her parliamentary work, Marietje Schaake is, amongst others, Member of the European Council on Foreign Relations, a Commissioner on the Global Commission on Internet Governance and a Young Global Leader in the class of 2014. She serves as vice-president of the supervisory board of Free Press Unlimited.

Before joining the European Parliament, Marietje Schaake worked as an independent advisor to governments, diplomats, businesses and NGO’s, on issues of transatlantic relations, diversity and pluralism, civil and human rights and integration.

Dr. Ahmed Shaheed is a Lecturer at the University of Essex in Colchester, England. He served as Foreign Minister of the Republic of Maldives from 2005 to 2007 and from 2008 to 2010, during which he led the country’s efforts to sign and ratify all nine international human rights Conventions; to implement them in law and practice; and to improving the country’s compliance with its UN Treaty Body reporting obligations. Dr Shaheed also opened the Permanent Mission of the Maldives in Geneva in 2006 to engage with the United Nations Human Rights Council; established a non-governmental human rights organisation in the Maldives to contribute civil society’s work to advance respect for human rights in the country; and later worked as a member of the Presidential Commission to Investigate Corruption and as a foreign policy advisor to the President of the Maldives. On 17 June 2011, the President of the UN Human Rights Council appointed Dr Shaheed, as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Mr Shaheed commenced his duties officially on 1 August 2011. He has since submitted seven reports to the United General Assembly and the Human Rights Council on the human rights situation in the country.

Bahman Kalbasi is a BBC Persian Correspondent. Over the last 6 years, Bahman has interviewed President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, and many others. Prior to the BBC, Bahman worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and completed studies in Political Science and Communication at York University in Toronto, Canada. He left Iran after being arrested and imprisoned following the student protests of 1999.

Keynote Panel #2: Moving Forward: Building Effective Responses -

Given recent ICT developments in Iran and across the globe, what is the state of the Internet? How can we formulate effective responses as a global community?


Jim Cowie is the Chief Scientist at Dyn. Previously, Jim was the founder and CTO of Renesys, the Internet Intelligence Authority, which Dyn acquired in 2014.

Karl is the CEO of Psiphon Inc, Toronto-based providers of circumvention technologies on multiple platforms. He manages business relationships with broadcasters and organizations that Psiphon is working with, as well as looking for new partnership and funding opportunities, and developing the strategies for increasing use of Psiphon in key geographic regions.

Prior to joining Psiphon, he spent over 10 years at the BBC, managing the distribution of World Service Internet content to a global audience. Karl also led a project with the Citizen Lab team in 2011, studying content distribution strategies for news organizations trying to reach China and Iran, published as “Casting a Wider Net.”

Dan joined RFA in January 2012 as OTF’s inaugural director. As the program’s principal director, he is responsible for OTF’s day-to-day operations and long-term planning.

Over the past decade, Dan has identified as an activist, technologist, journalist, and now funder exploring emerging trends intersecting human rights, transparency, global communication policy and technology, information security, and the Internet.

Before directing the Open Technology Fund, Dan was a senior producer and technologist for the Al Jazeera Network based in in Doha, Qatar. Leading up to and during the Arab Spring, he modernized traditional investigative journalist toolkits with safe communication technology to protect field reporters and their sources from surveillance, created a privacy-protecting global whistle-blowing and news gathering platform, and produced technology-centric stories for global television broadcast.

Before his time at Al Jazeera, Dan was a senior technology fellow at New America Foundation in Washington, D.C. While there, he worked with the Open Technology Initiative and Media Policy Initiative to operationalize new “code-as-policy” technology projects with global communities of policy makers, journalists, and technologists. His focus was to create, educate, demystify, and evangelize open, distributed, and decentralized technologies that increased democratic participation, fought censorship, and disrupted authoritarianism globally.

Mani Mostofi is a human rights lawyer and international law expert. He is the Director of Impact Iran, a human rights advocacy coalition.

Prior to Impact Iran, he was the Communications Director and Senior Researcher at City University of New York's Human Rights in Iran Unit. He was also a Researcher at Human Rights Watch and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, and co-supervisor of a project at Fordham Law School's Walter Leitner Human Rights Clinic.

As a researcher, Mostofi has investigated a range of issues in Iran, including Internet freedom, arbitrary detention, economic sanctions, LGBT rights, and freedom of religion. He has also worked on the abuse migrant workers in Bahrain, domestic violence in New Zealand and torture policies in Malawi.

Mostofi has a Master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas, Austin, and received his Juris Doctorate from Fordham University School of Law.

Amir Rashidi is an Internet security analyst. His educational background is in software engineering. Previously he taught computer science and worked as a web developer for major multinational companies. Currently his focus is Internet security; he conducts research and analysis on Internet access in Iran, online censorship policies and methods, and censorship circumvention tools. In 2011 he received the Hellman/Hammett Award from Human Rights Watch for his human right work in Iran. Born in Iran, Mr. Rashidi was an influential blogger and student activist to the 2009 crackdown.

Roya Soleimani is a Corporate Communications Manager at Google where she focuses on the company's People Operations, Diversity, and Culture. Roya is also the lead Google Trends analyst, highlighting trending topics across Google on radio and media across the country. She holds a Masters degree in Middle Eastern studies from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, and her Bachelors in Political Science and Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley. Roya is involved with several community organizations, including the iBridges, the Iranian American Women's Foundation, the OMID Foundation Bay Area Committee, PAAIA NexGen's National Organizing Committee, and more.

Before joining Google, Roya served as the Research Director and co-founder of the Internet freedom project, Weapons of Mouse Destruction. She spent five years in Washington, DC where she worked for the University of California Washington Center and Voice of America's Persian News Network. During her time at Georgetown, Roya was as a graduate student researcher on a project assessing the condition of urban Iraqi refugees in Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, the Middle East Institute, and served as a Graduate Intern at the Albright Stonebridge Group, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's global strategy firm. Roya is passionate about Internet freedom, free expression, and the continued growth of women and minorities in technology.

Keynote Panel #3: Technology as Catalyst -

Will the evolving tech ecosystem support citizen access to information? Or, will authorities use technology to control freedom of expression online? Using Iran as a case study, what are the emerging trends in liberation technology and government controls?


Golnaz Esfandiari is a Senior Correspondent in RFE/RL's Central Newsroom and editor of the award-winning Persian Letters blog. She previously worked as the Chief Editor of RFE/RL ‘s Persian Service Radio Farda.

Golnaz is the author of the Iran chapter of the 2012 Freedom House's ' Countries in Crossroad' report. Golnaz has reported from a number of countries including Haiti and Afghanistan where she covered the country’s first parliamentary elections.

Her reporting and analysis on Iran has been cited by The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, The Los Angeles Times, and The Weekly Standard.

In 2013, Golnaz (Twitter: (@GEsfandiari) was tagged for the third year in a row in Foreign Policy's Top 100 Twitterati list.

Angie Drobnic Holan is the editor of PolitiFact. She previously was deputy editor, and before that a reporter for PolitiFact, helping launch the site in 2007. She was a member of the PolitiFact team that won the Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the 2008 election. She has been with the Tampa Bay Times since 2005 and previously worked at newspapers in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and New Mexico.

She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University and a master’s of library science from the University of South Florida. Her undergraduate degree is from the Plan II liberal arts program at the University of Texas at Austin. She is a native of Louisiana and attended the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts.

Jillian C. York is EFF's Director for International Freedom of Expression and is based in Berlin, Germany. Her work encompasses a broad range of topics, from digital security to the privatization of censorship. At EFF, she works on a number of projects, including Surveillance Self-Defense, Digital Citizen, and Jillian's writing has been featured in Al Jazeera, the Guardian, Foreign Policy, the Atlantic, and the New York Times, among others. She is also a regular speaker at global events.

Prior to joining EFF, Jillian worked at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, where she worked on several projects including the OpenNet Initiative and Herdict. She is the co-founder of the award-winning multilingual blog Talk Morocco, and has volunteered with Global Voices for many years. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Global Voices, and on the advisory boards of Radio Free Asia's Open Technology Fund and R-Shief.

Jillian holds a BA in Sociology from Binghamton University, where—like a surprisingly large number of individuals in her field—she also studied theatre. She alternately resides in the Internet or on an airplane and can often be found blogging or tweeting, as @jilliancyork.

Day 2: Friday, March 6, 2015

Our core program is a full-day of hands-on outcome-oriented sessions to build collaborative solutions for practical implementation. We will take a closer look at positive and negative developments, i.e. technology and innovation, as well as human rights issues. Our goal is to develop strategies to leverage on opportunities, overcome constraints, and work towards effective responses to enable Iranians to connect in a global digital age.

  • Circumvention and Censorship Tools / Issues
  • Mobile Penetration: Opportunities and Risks
  • Privacy and Surveillance Tools / Issues
  • Iranian Tech Entrepreneurs as Leaders of Change
  • ICT for Economic Development
  • Diplomacy, Sanctions and Its Impact on Technology
  • Monitoring Information Controls Online
  • Political Process Monitoring / Promise Tracking
  • Responding to Civil Society Needs
  • Leveraging on Collateral Freedom Tools
  • Funding for Digital Rights
  • Best Practices from Other Regions


ICD 2015 was held in Las Naves in Valencia, Spain. As part of the Circumvention Technology Festival


For press and general inquiries, please email icd[at]