7amleh – The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media and The Media Development Center (MDC) at Birzeit University, under the patronage of the Palestinian Ministry of Education and with the support of the Deutsche Welle on the campus of Birzeit University, organized the first Digital Security Education Conference. The conference was attended by more than 200 participants; from universities, colleges and representatives of civil society organizations working in the media, students, professors, media rights activists, journalists and researchers interested in education, media and digital security.

The Director of the Media Development Center, Nibal Thawabti, welcomed the participants and affirmed the capacity of the center through years of work on digital media. He noted the importance of dealing with new media in a scientific manner which is useful in all fields entered by the media, both in cases of women trafficking or children and teenager’s use of social networking.

In the opening speech, Thaer Thabet, educational media director at the Ministry of Education, confirmed that the ministry is keen to promote partnerships with universities as an embodiment of integration between the ministry and different educational institutions.

Mona Shtayyeh, a member of the advisory committee of 7amleh presented the results of the most recent survey research “Network caught him: the effects of deterrence on the political participation of Palestinian youth in social media” made by 7amleh.

Following the presentation of the study results, the first session of the conference on “Four lessons learned from experiences in the field” was facilitated by Dr. Amal Nazzal, researcher and assistant Professor. The session addressed experiences in the digital sphere in Palestine. Nadim Nashif, director of 7amleh talked about the limits of a digital “manual”, which was produced by 7amleh and the importance of work in this area to ensure the security of the digital philosophy that protects the users’ privacy. Dr. Saeda Affouneh, Dean of Educational Sciences at Al Najah University presented her discussion on “How do we protect the family from cyber crime?”. The research and policy coordinator at Birzeit’s Media Development Centre, Saleh Masharqa, reviewed the centre’s experience in launching the first digital media diploma, and spoke about planning processes, learning designs, market needs and the importance of Palestinians turning to the digital transformation of media productions, academia and Palestinian content management. At the end of the session, Thaer Thabet, educational media director at the Ministry of Education, and Hazem Shamlawi, head of the Ministry’s Information center, presented a paper entitled “Media and digital awareness in the Palestinian educational system” and reviewed the efforts of the ministry and its initiatives and partnership in this regard, believing in the importance of introducing media literacy to education in Palestine.

The first session was preceded by a lecture presented by Sobhi Khatib, Track Owner at Amsterdam Applied Sciences University,  about “Human Rights in the digital era”.

Maryam Shaheen, communication expert, moderated the second session of the conference titled “The impact of the Digital World on Human Rights and Digital Security for Palestinians”.

Eliot Bendinelli, technologist at Privacy International, talked about “Digital threats to human rights organisations: international perspective and trends”. Khalil Shreteh, information and networks security officer at Alquds Open University, presented “The negative impact of hacking of social media websites on Individuals”. Suheir Farraj, general director at Women’s Media & Development Organization (Tam), introduced the topic “The impact of digital violence on privacy”.

Following the two sessions, the audience was able to participate in one of four workshops at the media center of the University of Birzeit: The exploitation of the social media intelligence targeting individuals and communities online for the benefit of others given by coaches Antonella Napolitano and Eliot Bendinelli, and the problem of gender based violence online, presented by Professor Sobhi Khatib, digital security outside the virtual space and security threats beyond smartphones and computers provided by the trainer Fadi Sandouka, and the directions of modern digital security in institution’s organization presented by coach Gillo Cutrupi.