Cities and Pandemics: Towards a more just, green and healthy future
Author : UN-Habitat
April, 2021
The UN-Habitat’s Report on Cities and Pandemics: Towards a More Just, Green and Healthy Future presents an analysis of the situation of the COVID-19 in cities and urban areas after one year since the declaration of pandemic and outlines a range of bold measures that could deliver a lasting and sustainable recovery from the current crisis. From the early days of the pandemic, cities have been on the frontline of COVID-19. The spread of the virus globally through travel, trade and mobility meant that a large number of the first detected infections appeared in urban areas, prompting many to question their future. These concerns only deepened as restrictions to contain transmission, such as lockdowns and curfews, brought local economies to a standstill. Yet in the months that followed, as the challenges of the pandemic have evolved, so too has our understanding of the disease and its complex relationship with cities.
UN-Habitat’s Solutions Start with Cities
Author : UN-Habitat
March, 2021
UN-Habitat’s new Brochure - Solutions Start with Cities - illustrates how UN-Habitat draws on over 40 years of experience to unlock the value of cities and work towards a sustainable urban future. It features compelling stories on UN-Habitat’s catalytic role with a wide range of partners and its multi-level impact from global guidelines to local projects. The Brochure describes how core funding enables UN-Habitat to utilize its experts, systems, knowledge and capacity to deliver norms, guidance and solutions in an urbanizing world.
Mid-Term Evaluation Accelerating Climate Action through the Promotion of Urban Low Emission Development Strategies
Author : UN HABITAT
December, 2020
The Urban-LEDS project Phase II (“Accelerating climate action through the promotion of urban low emission development strategies” 2017-2021) aims to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and enhancing climate change resilience by the promotion of Urban Low Emissions Development Strategies (Urban LEDS) and climate action plans (CAPs) in cities/towns in emerging economies and Least Developed Countries (LDC). The Project is financed by the EU in the amount of Euro 8 Million and implemented by UN-Habitat in close collaboration with ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI). This mid-term evaluation (MTE) serves both accountability and learning objectives.
Using Participatory Action Research Methodologies for Engaging and Researching with Religious Minorities in Contexts of Intersecting Inequalities
Author : S. Bharadwaj, J. Howard, P. Narayanan
January, 2021
While there is growing scholarship on the intersectional nature of people’s experience of marginalisation, analyses tend to ignore religion-based inequalities. A lack of Freedom of Religion and Belief (FoRB) undermines people’s possibilities of accessing services and rights and enjoying wellbeing . In this paper, the authors discuss how religion and faith-based inequalities intersect with other horizontal and vertical inequalities, to create further exclusions within as well as between groups. We offer our experience of using participatory action research (PAR) methodologies to enable insights into lived experiences of intersecting inequalities. In particular, they reflect on intersecting inequalities in the context of India, and share some experiences of facilitating PAR processes with marginalised groups, such as Denotified Tribes (DNT). The authors introduce a FoRB lens to understand how DNT communities in India experience marginalisation and oppression.
The Green Revolution and Poverty in Northern Tamil Nadu: a Brief Synthesis of Village-Level Research in the Last Half-Century
Author : B. Harriss-White
December, 2020
Between 1972 and 2014, in Northern Tamil Nadu (NTN), India, the Green Revolution (GR) in agriculture was studied through five rounds of village-level studies (VLS). Over the decades, the number of villages dwindled; from 11, rigorously and randomly selected (together with a ‘Slater’ village first studied in 1916), through to a set of three villages in a rural–urban complex around a market town, to one of the original eleven, in the fifth round. During the reorganisation of districts in 1989, the villages sited on the Coromandel plain shifted administratively from North Arcot, a vanguard GR district, to Tiruvannamalai, described then as relatively backward. A wide range of concepts, disciplines, scales, field methods and analytical approaches were deployed to address i) a common core of questions about the economic and social implications of technological change in agriculture and ii) sets of other timely questions about rural development, which changed as the project lengthened. Among the latter was poverty.
Assessing unpaid care work: A participatory toolkit
Author : D. Chopra, K. Sempere, M. Krishnan
March, 2021
This is a participatory toolkit for understanding unpaid care work and its distribution within local communities and families. Together, these tools provide a way of ascertaining and capturing research participants’ understanding of women’s unpaid care work – giving special attention to the lived experiences of carrying out unpaid care work and receiving care. Please note that these tools were developed and used in a pre-Covid-19 era and that they are designed to be implemented through face-to-face interactions rather than online means. We developed the first iteration of these tools in our ‘Balancing Care Work and Paid Work’ project as part of the Growth of Economic Opportunities for Women (GrOW) programme. The mixed-methods project sought to collect data across four countries – India, Nepal, Tanzania, and Rwanda – with data collected in four sites in each country (16 sites in total). The participatory tools were developed with two main intentions: (1) as a data collection tool to gain a broader understanding of the social norms and perspectives of the wider community in each of the 16 sites; and (2) to be implemented with our local partners as a sensitisation tool for the community regarding women’s unpaid care work burdens. While it is not essential to apply these tools in the order that they are presented, or even all of them, we would suggest that this toolkit be used in its entirety, to gather in-depth knowledge of social norms around the distribution of unpaid care, and the impacts that these have on care providers’ lives and livelihoods.
STEPS Centre, Institute of Development Studies (STEPS)
Author : B. Harriss-White
January, 2021
The STEPS Centre is a new interdisciplinary global research and policy engagement hub, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. STEPS aims to develop a new approach to understanding, action and communication on sustainability and development. By acknowledging the interactions between social, technological and environmental factors in diverse local settings the Centre aims to create more sustainable, socially just and favourable conditions for the poor. Uniting development studies with science and technology studies, it seek to address two vital global challenges: how to link environmental sustainability with better livelihoods and health for poor people how to make science and technology work to reduce poverty and increase social justice. Based at the Institute of Development Studies and SPRU Science and Technology Policy Research in the UK, the STEPS Centre works with partners in China, India, Kenya and Argentina.
Arrow for Change: The right to freedom of speech and expression
Author : Various
January, 2021
Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right. Captured within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights under Article 19, it is defined as follows: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without judgements, interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” However, the right to freedom of speech and expression is quickly becoming one of the most contested and restricted issues around the world today. This volume showcases various perspectives and voices on the right to freedom of expression and speech in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly around the issues of the right to seek, impart and receive information and ideas. It explores current protests across the region and delves into the current calls for action these movements are fighting for, all while drawing attention to the intersectionalities between freedom of speech and how it ensures the whole range of human rights. This issue of Arrow for Change includes contributions from Gayatri Khandhadai, APC's Asia policy regional coordinator, and Shubha Kayastha, the director of Body and Data, an APC member organisation in Nepal.
Technology and elections in Uganda: New policy brief highlights digital rights
Author : CIPESA
January, 2021
As Uganda heads to presidential and parliamentary elections in January 2021, digital communications have taken centre-stage and are playing a crucial role in how candidates and parties engage with citizens. The country's electoral body decreed in June 2020 that, due to social distancing required by COVID-19 standard operating procedures, no physical campaigns would take place so as to ensure a healthy and safe environment for all stakeholders. Further, Parliament passed the Political Parties and Organisations (Conduct of Meetings and Elections) Regulations 2020, which aim to safeguard public health and safety of political party activities in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and, under regulation 5, provide for holding of political meetings through virtual means. The maximum number of persons allowed to attend campaign meetings was later set at 70 and then raised to 200. The use of the internet and related technologies is growing steadily in Uganda with 18.9 million subscribers, or 46 internet connections for every 100 Ugandans. However, radio remains the most widely accessible and usable technology with a penetration of 45%, compared to television at 17%, and computers at 4%. For the majority of Ugandans, the internet remains out of reach, particularly in rural areas where 75.5% of Ugandans live. The current election guidelines mean that any election process that runs predominantly on the back of technology and minimal physical organising and interaction is wont to come upon considerable challenges. Given Uganda's history of curtailing usage of digital technologies during elections (including through websites blockage, SMS censorship, mobile money and social media shutdowns), and prosecution of various individuals that published opinions critical of the government, a level playing field for technologically-aided elections cannot be guaranteed. Will the 2021 elections see government organs leverage incumbency to appropriate the power of technology to their self-serving interests? Or will they allow fair, meaningful, and transformative use of technology in the elections? This brief highlights the likely play-out of Uganda’s so-called “scientific election” - one that is tech-based and honours the COVID-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs), and what it means for electoral democracy in the country.
Putting cybersecurity on the rights track
Author : Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
December, 2020
This report is a compilation of the outcomes of the research component of a small project entitled “Putting cybersecurity on the rights track” that the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) implemented during the course of 2019 with the participation of APC members. The project was supported by the Mozilla Foundation, and its goal was to enable the APC network to develop a research and advocacy strategy to ensure that cybersecurity policy and norms are influenced by civil society and progressive techie voices so that these policies integrate a rights-based approach. The project built on the pre-event on a rights-based approach to cybersecurity organised by APC at the 2017 Internet Governance Forum in Geneva. Based on the outcomes of that event, APC identified what it believed to be the primary challenges for civil society in relation to the cybersecurity landscape: The sidelining of civil society from cybersecurity processes. The fragmentation of cybersecurity processes. The rights and security “balance” myth. The “cybersecurity is a national security issue” myth. A lack of common understanding and strategy amongprogressive non-state actors (rights defenders, civil society organisations, technologists, progressive internet companies and ethical hackers). Strategies identified at this event by APC and its partners and members to address these challenges included: Deepening discourse: This can be done by connecting and combining the “rights” approach used by civil society organisations working in the digital space with the “network security” approach used by engineers and cybersecurity tech experts. Debunking myths: Through research and evidence, we can debunk the “security vs rights” approach, as well as the idea that cybersecurity should be dealt with primarily through “national security” strategies. Connecting people, movements, sectors: In particular, this involves bringing technologists and human rights experts together so that they see the challenges through one another’s eyes. We also want to use opportunities such as the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace to develop rights-based norms. Moving out of civil society’s comfort zone: By promoting opportunities for civil society to participate in and speak at mainstream cybersecurity events, we will contribute to breaking down silos, gaining knowledge and developing tactics which will strengthen rights advocacy. The “Putting cybersecurity on the rights track” project sought to move forward the implementation of some of these strategies through the development of the following key activities: Conducting a survey of APC members to establish a baseline of their cybersecurity-related perceptions, understanding and concerns. Mapping the ecosystem of who the key actors are and where critical cybersecurity decisions are being made (globally and regionally) to identify opportunities to advance human rights-based approaches to cybersecurity and identify where the main threats to human rights-based approaches to cybersecurity lie. Identifying and documenting case studies where APC members approached a cybersecurity challenge from a human rights perspectives in order to extract some lessons that can be shared. Visualising the ecosystem to map the issues, actors, institutions and processes making up the cybersecurity universe Building a longer-term research agenda. You can download the full report here.
Jurisprudence Shaping Digital Rights in South Asia
Author : Divya Srinivasan and Gayatri Khandhadai
December, 2020
Jurisprudence developed by courts are central to the understanding, application and implementation of laws. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have irreversibly impacted every walk of personal and public life, including how courts function and deliberate on rights. Given the number of ICT specific laws and policies that have developed, in some cases hastily, over the past decade, the views of courts are ever more important. The rise of the internet and its impact on governments and governance processes has caused states to ring in various laws and extend offline regulations to online spaces. We have been faced with challenges that existed in our societies prior to the internet, but now, the forms they take and the speed of proliferation of content is unimaginable. This is further complicated in regions which are inhabited by large populations of diverse linguistic, ethnic and religious groups. South Asia, which shares a broad history of colonisation and current socio political and economic challenges, has much to contribute to the evolution of the internet and its governance. Therefore, the study focuses on the South Asian sub-region and explores selected cases relating to digital rights from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The objective of this report is to make available a resource that can be used by lawyers, policy experts and civil society to gauge the trajectory of judicial discourse on digital rights and use this as a tool to advocate for greater protections. This is not a compendium of all cases relating to the topics dealt with. For studying the cases, the researchers developed a workbook that collated decisions available in online databases including CYRILLA and the Columbia University’s Global Freedom of Expression database. Resources developed by national groups on the state of digital rights in their countries provided critical guidance. The cases selected naturally fell into three categories of access, privacy and freedom of expression. A key challenge faced, while developing this research, relates to collection of data. In many of the countries (except India), case laws are not easily available on free, open and searchable case lawdatabases. Judgements and orders are often not available or are difficult to access on official court websites. In some countries, many of the decisions or orders relating to digital rights were not reported and thus were inaccessible. In a few instances, particularly for Nepal and Pakistan, some judgements were not available in English and reliance had to be placed on the analysis of the judgement provided by researchers with knowledge of the local language. The countries selected share similar legal systems and challenges in the exercise and enjoyment of digital rights. Some of the issues covered by the report include discussions around access to the internet and its impact on other rights as well as network shutdowns. Judicial pronouncements in relation to privacy, surveillance, national identity programmes, data protection have been analysed across jurisdictions. A significant number of cases studied related to challenges surrounding freedom of expression. Judgements on access to the internet indicate that there is some recognition of the central role the internet and connectivity play in the lives of all individuals. Cases discussed in this report include judgements relating to equitable telecast rights, instances where use of mobile phones were prohibited, providing limited internet access to prisoners, recognition of medium of information being protected and multiple cases on network shutdowns. However, judgements on internet shutdowns have varied in terms of decisions on procedural propriety, legality and ultimately in providing actual remedy to the people most affected by it. Despite the developing jurisprudence on network shutdowns, ground realities remain unchanged with repeated imposition of disruptions in the region.
COVID-19 and the Right to Privacy: An analysis of South Korean experiences
Author : Byoung-il Oh, Yeokyung Chang and SeonHwa Jeong
December, 2020
This new report jointly published by the Korean Progressive Network Jinbonet and the Institute for Digital Rights summarises digital rights violations during the response to COVID-19 in South Korea. South Korea's COVID-19 response has been considered successful thus far. However, punishment- and control-oriented policies have raised many concerns from a human rights perspective. In particular, excessive collection and disclosure of personal data in the process of epidemiological investigation and contact tracing of people with COVID-19 has resulted in the infringement of digital rights. In some cases, patients’ personal data and movements were disclosed, causing them to become targets for hate speech online. More than 10,000 people’s access information for mobile base stations was collected in the name of tracking contacts. In addition, despite opposition from the National Human Rights Commission of Korea and human rights organisations, those who violate self-quarantine orders are being forced to wear electronic positioning devices, which have previously only been applied to sex offenders. This report summarises digital rights violations during the response to COVID-19 in South Korea. Based on the report, the Korean Progressive Network Jinbonet and the Institution for Digital Rights will conduct further research in the coming year. This report was produced with the support of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) through a subgrant made possible by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and has been published in English and Korean.
How Do Indonesian Media Portray the 2019 Presidential Debate?
Author : Centre for Innovation, Policy and Governance
December, 2020
In the midst of rising intolerance, a polarised society and massive hoaxes, the 2019 presidential election was a huge test for Indonesia’s democratisation. This was the year when 190 million voters – the biggest electoral participation in the history of Indonesia – cast their vote to elect the president for the next five years. Seen by many as the most complicated election season the country has ever had to face, the event also inspired a rapid rise in hate speech, hoaxes and fake news, with the Ministry of Communication and Informatics recording a total of 1,224 cases of fake news and hoaxes from August 2018 to March 2019. Most of this content was related to politics and governance. In the meantime, although Indonesia has been regarded as a role model for interreligious harmony and Muslim democracy, since 2014, Indonesia has seen divisive intolerance in public debate. During the 2019 presidential election, the religious intolerance among society increased even further, with the highest number of violations recorded in West Java, followed by Jakarta. This study aims to generate quantitative data on media coverage during the period of the 2019 presidential debates to determine the framing used and how these affected public discourse. In addition to this, the study aims to highlight how the media covered the issues of religious tolerance and hate speech. Showcasing the urban setting, in particular the Greater Jakarta area, as the barometer of Indonesia politics and secularism, this study aims to analyse media coverage around five topics of presidential debates aired on television.
Continuing the conversation: Lessons from APC's subgranting experience
Author : APC
December, 2020
Subgranting – when a donor allocates a substantial amount of money to a credible organisation for further disbursement to other organisations – is becoming more common as a strategy by large donors to make sure that funding is reaching the right people. It reduces the administrative burden for donors on working individually with organisations on relatively small projects, and the uncertainty they might feel about worthy or convincing projects or organisations to support. Organisations like APC serve as intermediaries to these funds – they are strategically situated to provide the kinds of guarantees needed by donors that their money will be disbursed well. Subgranting is not without its detractors; for some it limits the ability of organisations to approach mainstream funders for the first time, and curtails their access to funding. This places an additional responsibility on organisations like APC to make sure they are doing their job of subgranting well and being transparent and fair in how they share the funds. Since 2016, APC has run a subgranting programme funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), disbursing over USD 1.2 million to 35 organisations over the period. The programme has an annual competitive open call for project grants, and a rolling small grant fund that is available to members throughout the year. It has funded diverse projects, mostly in the global South, in countries such as Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon in Africa, Argentina and Colombia in Latin America, and Bangladesh, India and the Philippines in Asia. A discretionary fund in the organisation made up from members fees, called the Solidarity Fund, has meant organisations in the United States, and other so-called “developed countries” such as Spain and South Korea, have also received support as part of the programme. APC is not entirely new to subgranting, at least as far as disbursing funds amongst member organisations with a collective goal in mind goes. Its earliest experience of this, Banks says, were the ICT Policy Monitors, cross-border projects that were part of APC’s earliest internet rights work in Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa, funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Open Society Initiative (OSI) and Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst (EED) in the early 2000s. Subgranting has also been an advocacy strategy for several projects at APC, including GenARDIS, EROTICS and the Take Back the Tech! Fund, run by the organisation’s Women’s Rights Programme (WRP). More recently, subgranting is being used in its Sida-funded “Connecting the Unconnected” project on local access and community networks in the global South, has been tested in WRP’s Feminist Tech Exchange, and now forms an important part of its EU-funded Challenge project, just launched in Asia, which is advocating at the intersection of freedom of expression and religious intolerance. All of these have worked with APC members as well as non-members. But if subgranting is to grow as an advocacy mechanism for APC, what are the opportunities and challenges that it faces, given its commitment to building a network that is collaborative, and works towards realising shared ideals and concerns? What can we learn from APC’s subgranting experience, and what can its own experience tell it about how to move forward strategically, and coherently, as a membership-led organisation focused on human rights, social justice and the internet? This report presents the findings of a discussion developed through a series of 11 interviews with APC members who were grant recipients of its core subgranting programme, as well as staff working on subgranting in the organisation. It includes a review of project reports, and a survey sent to all grant recipients, as well as those who have been the recipients of subgrants as part of the “Connecting the Unconnected” project.
Unshackling Expression: A study on criminalisation of freedom of expression online in Nepal
Author : Body and Data
November, 2020
Unshackling Expression: A study on criminalisation of freedom of expression online in Nepal, developed by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) with the support of the CYRILLA Initiative, is a study in continuation of the 2017 report Unshackling Expression: A study on laws criminalising expression online in Asia. This report was prepared by Body & Data, an APC member organisation based in Nepal that is focused on creating a free, open and just internet that respects the autonomy of individuals and upholds their dignity. Freedom of expression is a basic human right, which extends to the digital space too. This report provides insights on how the laws and policies in Nepal surrounding freedom of expression are operationalised and implemented, either to protect and promote freedom of expression or to restrict it. The report also examines case laws relating to freedom of expression and the rationale behind the judgements. It provides a comprehensive scenario of freedom of expression online with Nepali laws and policies and the problems surrounding it. The report is divided into sections to address the ways the legal framework impacts on freedom of expression online in terms of the country's constitution, the Penal Code and various sectoral laws. The report also deals with the issues surrounding draft laws that are currently under consideration in the parliament that can be used to restrict freedom of expression online.
Joint civil society statement on the outcomes of the UN General Assembly Third Committee 75th session
Author : Various
November, 2020
As we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, the civil society organisations behind this joint statement have discussed the various outcomes achieved at this session of the Third Committee, despite additional challenges associated with the session being held mostly online. The slender opportunities for civil society to engage with the Third Committee became even fewer during COVID-19 times as in-person restrictions did away with encounters with states delegates and UN officials at UN headquarters. Given this, it was deeply disappointing that more states did not extend an invitation to civil society organisations to join online informal meetings and defend the presence of civil society as observers. This was particularly disappointing, given that well before the start of the Third Committee session, in April, 14 civil society organisations called on UN agencies, mechanisms, and bodies to ensure that, in adapting their work to social distancing measures during the COVID-19 pandemic, they not limit the meaningful inclusion of civil society voices in UN discussions. Read the full joint statement here.
Non-state stakeholders' position paper on UN Tech Envoy
Author : Various
November, 2020
This document sets out the aspirations of non-state actors engaged in the digital cooperation process concerning the guiding principles, profile, roles and responsibilities, and working methods of the United Nations Technology Envoy to be appointed by the Secretary-General. It is a consensus document among several organisations, networks and industry stakeholders. The process leading to this document has sought to be open, inclusive, and as transparent as possible. Four consultations over six months, one week of open call for contributions on the draft, and an open session at the virtual Internet Governance Forum of 2020 were held, allowing broad consultation and a diversity of contributions from as many organisations as possible.
Unshackling Expression: A study on online freedom of expression in Indonesia
Author : Alghiffari Aqsa
November, 2020
Freedom of expression and opinion is an important factor in the fulfilment of human rights. The United Nations Human Rights Committee states that freedom of expression and opinion is the basis for the full enjoyment of other human rights. For example, freedom of expression is integral to the fulfilment of freedom of association, freedom of assembly and the right to vote. In its development, freedom of expression is not only offline, but also online via internet access. The United Nations Human Rights Council affirms that the same rights of people offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression, which applies regardless of boundaries and through any media chosen by a person, in accordance with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This report aims to provide an overview of the fulfillment and protection of online freedom of expression, identify specific issues related to laws that are often used against it and also provide recommendations for improvements related to online freedom of expression in Indonesia. This report follows the format of analysis of the 2017 APC report Unshackling Expression: A study on laws criminalising expression online in Asia. It uses a normative-empirical legal research method that combines the analysis of written regulations related to freedom of expression online with the practice of how these regulations are applied, both to protect or even violate freedom of expression online. The publication of this report was supported by APC through the CYRILLA Initiative. It is available in English and Bahasa Indonesia.
APC policy explainer: A human rights-based approach to cybersecurity
Author : APC
November, 2020
Definition A human rights-based approach to cybersecurity means putting people at the centre and ensuring that there is trust and security in networks and devices that reinforce, rather than threaten, human security. Such an approach is systematic, meaning that it addresses the technological, social and legal aspects together, and does not differentiate between national security interests and the security of the global internet. The problem People, in particular human rights defenders (HRDs), groups that are subject to intersecting discrimination and marginalisation, and journalists, rely on the internet and its availability, integrity and confidentiality to exercise their human rights. If the internet is not secure, then their ability to exercise their rights can be threatened, and in extreme cases, their personal security. For example, weakened encryption (through backdoors to software and devices) can make it easier for malicious hackers to gain access to people’s personal communications and metadata, which can lead to journalists’ sources being revealed, HRDs (and their networks) being targeted by governments, and a person in an abusive relationship being blackmailed. It is important to ask who/what the security in cybersecurity stands for – often cybersecurity policies, like national security policies, define security in relation to the state, rather than the people (and the infrastructure needed). Insecurity on the internet is real, and threats to cybersecurity can be human rights violations. Examples of this include the following: Threats to encryption and anonymity-enhancing technologies (both legal and practical) undermine freedom of expression, opinion and assembly and the right to privacy. Laws outlawing the use of these tools, countries blocking encrypted apps, proposals for backdoor access and arrests of digital security trainers pose threats to these rights. Targeted malware and ransomware with different motivations (financial, security-related, etc.) all pose risks to privacy (and related rights). Government hacking (to get access to data in other jurisdictions) also poses a risk to these rights. Exploitation of vulnerabilities makes the internet less secure for everyone. Confidentiality of information being compromised, whether through data breaches for financial gain, mass government surveillance or targeted attacks on HRDs or journalists, violates the right to privacy, among other rights. Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, used by a variety of actors, render websites unavailable temporarily or indefinitely. These attacks have been aimed at activists and HRDs, among others. The denial of availability of information and its underlying infrastructure, in the form of network shutdowns, violates a wide range of rights, including by unduly restricting access to information and the ability of people to express themselves and peacefully assemble and associate, as well as enjoy a range of economic, social and cultural rights. Most cybersecurity policy efforts tend to do little more than pay lip service to human rights. Many contain provisions that actually threaten or undermine rights, and cybersecurity is often pitted against human rights, i.e. you have to pick between privacy and security, or openness and vulnerability. This framing is misguided and counterproductive. Security is a human right. Rather than balancing rights against security, cybersecurity policies must provide security in a way that reinforces human rights.
Consumer and digital rights groups call on the international joint initiative on e-commerce to safeguard data protection and privacy
Author : Various
September, 2021
Since January 2019, more than 80 countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have been negotiating a new rule book for digital trade. This process is called the Joint Statement Initiative on e-commerce (JSI). The announced goal of this initiative is to define global rules to make it easier for consumers and companies to trade online. Cross-border data flows are one of the key provisions in these negotiations. The purported objective is to facilitate international data transfers across national borders. It is crucial to consider the broad implications of any cross-border data flows provisions, which could undermine people’s human right to privacy and personal data protections. Failing to do so would defeat another ostensible purpose of these negotiations: to enhance consumer trust online. Many digital services rely on the collection and processing of personal data. At the same time, consumers wish to have control over their personal data. Scandals like Cambridge Analytica, the invasive and constant tracking and exploitation of people’s data have eroded people’s trust in cross-border data transfers. 72% of surveyed consumers across the globe are concerned about the collection of their personal data by companies online. That is why consumer and digital rights groups around the world are uniting their voices to call for strong and meaningful privacy protections in any international agreements that touch on cross-border data transfers. The outcome of the JSI negotiations must put people’s rights to privacy and personal data protection first. We understand certain countries are seeking to secure rules to guarantee companies have a right to free flow of data across borders. Some of their proposals for the JSI replicate clauses from trade agreements, such as the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement and the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership. These proposals seek to prioritize unhindered data flows above data protection and privacy. From a consumer and digital rights perspective, the logic should be exactly the opposite: the protection of people’s rights comes first. The good news is that other WTO members involved want to both put citizens fundamental rights first and ensure the digital economy can thrive. This is the case of the European Union. Such an approach could secure a privacy-friendly outcome for the negotiations on cross-border data flows, thereby improving consumer trust in the global digital economy. It would also create new business incentives and enable innovation in privacy-friendly, human-centric technology. If countries cannot agree to follow such a constructive approach, we urge them to exclude rules on cross border data flows, data protection and privacy from the final text of any e-commerce initiative. Indeed, the risks for citizens’ rights would be far greater than the economic benefits that can potentially be achieved in a few countries. Instead, countries could adhere to the only binding international treaty on data flows and personal data protection to date, Convention 108+.
Examining women’s access to digital platforms: A case of mobile broadband connections in Uganda - Policy brief
Author : WOUGNET
November, 2020
This document presents the findings from an evidence-based study that examines the gendered aspects to women’s internet access on mobile broadband connections in Uganda. The outcome of the study will help to drive well-tailored and specific advocacy around policy and regulatory practices in the industry to lower the cost of broadband connection. The objective was to examine the gendered aspects to women’s internet access on mobile broadband connections to guide advocacy around policy and regulatory practices in Uganda. This publication was produced through an APC subgrant, made possible with the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). Read the full policy brief here.
The Contagion of Hate in India
Author : Laxmi Murthy
November, 2020
What is the “corona jihad”? In the time of a pandemic, how has hate speech made matters worse for the Muslim population in India? How do we curb hate speech online? These are just some of the questions that the report The Contagion of Hate in India aims to answer. Authored by Laxmi Murthy, a journalist based in Bangalore, India, the paper attempts to understand the phenomenon of hate speech and how it can lead to violence against its targets. This paper attempts to understand the phenomenon of hate speech and its potential to legitimise discrimination and promote violence against its targets. It lays out the interconnections between Islamophobia, hate speech and acts of physical violence against Muslims. The role of social media, especially messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook, in facilitating the easy and rapid spread of fake news and rumours and amplifying hate, is also examined The complexities of regulating social media platforms, which have immense political and corporate backing, have been touched upon. This paper also looks at the contentious and contradictory interplay of hate speech with the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and expression and recent jurisprudence on these matters. Finally, it presents some examples of the pushback of hate speech and outlines concerns that must be addressed to counter the spread of hatred.
Dialling in the Law: A comparative assessment of jurisprudence on internet shutdowns
Author : Aayush Rathi, Arindrajit Basu and Anoushka Soni
November, 2020
State-mandated internet shutdowns are becoming more frequent as governments use these to quell dissent and silence critics. Can citizens push back against these shutdowns by taking their own states to court? Do countries in the global South have a legal framework to address and counter internet shutdowns? “Dialling in the Law: A Comparative assessment of jurisprudence on internet shutdowns”, a report by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), through the CYRILLA initiative, pins down the literature to address these questions. Aayush Rathi and Arindrajit Basu have authored this report, with research assistance from Anoushka Soni. The report outlines jurisprudence across the global South on the legality of internet shutdowns. It tackles the growing challenge of government-mandated disruptions of internet access around the world, often under the guise of safeguarding public order and upholding national security interests. Restriction of internet access has been used to quell dissent particularly during moments of intense political turmoil such as protests, anniversaries of key historical events, civil unrest and elections. Internet shutdowns have happened in countries supposedly governed by a democratic system and in countries with authoritarian regimes.
APC policy explainer: Platform responsibility and accountability
Author : APC
November, 2020
Platform responsibility and accountability are terms that evolved in the context of the expanding role that social media platforms play in managing, moderating and curating content online and in removing user accounts. Not holding the carriers or hosters of online content liable for the content their users share and create is important to ensure freedom of expression and the free flow of information. This is reflected in the Manila Principles on Intermediary Liability. The notion of platform “responsibility and accountability” is not a retreat from this position. What it implies is that even if they are not to be held legally liable for the content they make available, platforms do need to take responsibility and be accountable for their own actions to manipulate, rank, filter, moderate and take down content or user accounts. Platform responsibility and accountability are also necessary for these intermediaries to live up to their responsibilities under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The problem Social media platforms are used to form opinions, for expression, to associate and organise with others, and to protest. They enable participation in public life, often for people who, without the internet, would not be able to do so. When these platforms remove content or user accounts, it constrains activism and silences dissent. Bias in how content is moderated – or not moderated – can result in, for example, ethnic violence offline. Misogynistic and anti-feminist speech makes online spaces hostile and unsafe for women. Disinformation is moderated in opaque ways, undermining trust in democratic processes. Companies that operate these platforms regulate content in ways that lack clarity and consistency. They often violate rights without accountability or remedy for users. The change we want to see Companies should use international human rights law as the authoritative global standard for ensuring freedom of expression and other rights on their platforms, not the varying laws of states or their own private interests. How APC works on this issue By contributing to policy processes, and raising awareness. We will also engage critically with social media platforms, calling on them to align their terms of service (ToS) and community guidelines with international human rights standards; to be more transparent and consistent in their application of their ToS and community guidelines; to provide users with access to remedy; and to be more responsive to users outside of North America and Europe, as well as those in positions of marginalisation or vulnerability. The idea of a “social media council”, proposed by ARTICLE 19, can facilitate greater transparency and accountability on the part of platforms. This will prevent civil society from having to negotiate with “one platform at a time” and having to sign non-disclosure agreements.
Comments from civil society organisations and academia to the Ethiopian Communications Authority on the Universal Access and Service Framework and Un
Author : Various
October, 2020
In Public Notice “Third Round of Consultations”, 11 October 2020, the Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) invited interested stakeholders to submit their comments on the issues related to four documents, which include two draft directives, one framework, and one draft regulation, which are: (1) Mobile Number Portability Directive, (2) Telecommunications Wholesale National Roaming Directive, (3) Universal Access and Service Framework, and (4) Universal Access Fund Regulation. The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) joined the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), Bahir Dar Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) Research Center, Internet Society, Internet Society Ethiopia Chapter and Network for Digital Rights for Ethiopia to submit feedback. In presenting our feedback, we focused on documents (3) and (4) above and wish to recommend that the government considers innovative models, particularly those that support the growth of community networks to participate in the competitive telecom market. In our submission we have outlined why this is important to accelerate the growth of the broadband sector. We are encouraged to see that the Ethiopian Communications Authority is seeking input from various stakeholder groups before producing the final version of the documents. We hope this collaborative, multistakeholder approach begun by the ECA will continue as Ethiopia pursues a competitive and viable digital economy and telecoms sector.
Movement building in a digital age: Evaluation report – learnings for networks
Author : Sheherezade Kara
October, 2020
In April 2014, the Association for Progressive Communications’ Women’s Rights Programme (APC WRP) organised the first global meeting on Gender, Sexuality and the Internet, which produced the Feminist Principles of the Internet (FPI) framework. Since then, APC WRP has organised and collaborated on several global, regional and local meetings to collaboratively reflect on and interrogate shared concerns such as the changing landscape of movement building due to digitally networked technologies, online gender-based violence, digital expression of sexuality and gender identity, and other challenges and opportunities presented by current technologies. Between November 2019 and April 2020, APC WRP held an evaluation of this work on movement building in the digital age. The evaluation sought feedback from feminist internet meeting participants, including around the impact of the convenings on participants’ movement work and activism, their evolving relationships with digital technologies, and challenges in taking this work forward. Through a survey and interviews reaching 82 people across regions, the evaluation revealed a circuitry of people engaged, committed and eager to take the work forward in their own contexts, but with limitations connected to resourcing, network building and infrastructure.
https://www.apc.org/
Author : Sheherezade Kara
October, 2020
In April 2014, the Association for Progressive Communications’ Women’s Rights Programme (APC WRP) organised the first global meeting on Gender, Sexuality and the Internet, which produced the Feminist Principles of the Internet (FPI) framework. Since then, APC WRP has organised and collaborated on several global, regional and local meetings to collaboratively reflect on and interrogate shared concerns such as the changing landscape of movement building due to digitally networked technologies, online gender-based violence, digital expression of sexuality and gender identity, and other challenges and opportunities presented by current technologies. Between November 2019 and April 2020, APC WRP held an evaluation of this work on movement building in the digital age. The evaluation sought feedback from feminist internet meeting participants, including around the impact of the convenings on participants’ movement work and activism, their evolving relationships with digital technologies, and challenges in taking this work forward. Through a survey and interviews reaching 82 people across regions, the evaluation revealed a circuitry of people engaged, committed and eager to take the work forward in their own contexts, but with limitations connected to resourcing, network building and infrastructure.
The African School on Internet Governance: Tracer study of seven rounds of AfriSIG (2013-2019)
Author : Debbie Budlender
October, 2020
The African School on Internet Governance (AfriSIG) is an annual five-day residential knowledge and leadership building event organised by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) in partnership with the African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Internet Governance Forum (AfIGF). The primary objective of AfriSIG is to give Africans from multiple sectors and stakeholder groups the opportunity to gain knowledge and build the confidence that will enable them to participate effectively in internet governance processes and debates at all levels: national, regional and global. AfriSIG has been convened annually since 2013. Each event brings together between 40 and 60 participants including fellows (the core “learners”), resource persons and faculty. Many of the annually selected fellows who participate in the annual School later serve as faculty or resource persons at subsequent AfriSIG events, and many faculty have played this role at more than one of the annual events. This study, conducted during March 2020, covers seven schools (2013-2019).
Joint civil society letter to the UN treaty bodies and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Author : Various
October, 2020
To the attention of the UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies and the Human Rights Treaties Branch of the OHCHR: We, the undersigned civil society organisations, write to you concerning the functioning of the UN Treaty Bodies during the COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on the work of the Treaty Bodies, with the postponement, cancellation and scaling-down of nearly all sessions scheduled for 2020. Since July 2020, most of the Treaty Bodies have met virtually and limited their activities, rescheduling all the reviews of states parties planned. The effects of the pandemic have been exacerbated by the financial crisis that the OHCHR and the UN are undergoing. This is an unprecedented situation which requires exceptional efforts from all stakeholders to overcome it. Appreciating the significant efforts of Treaty Body members to continue many activities, we remain concerned that the challenges and constraints analyzed very well by the Treaty Bodies’ Working Group on COVID-19 still apply. The 28th August letter of the High Commissioner to Member States recommended that all sessions until the end of the year will take place online, while some will be cancelled. Although we understand that the current situation has created enormous challenges, we are seriously concerned by the increasing backlog and protection gap due to the fact that the Treaty Bodies are not reviewing States. We are also concerned that there is lack of clarity as to what work they will be able to carry out in the coming months. We urge the Treaty Bodies and their Secretariats to schedule State reviews no later than 2021, and OHCHR to prioritise resources and tools for this. We recommend anticipating risks and possible scenarios with clear mitigation and contingency plans that are public and proactively communicated to civil society. Should the pandemic further prevent the scheduling of physical sessions of the Treaty Bodies in 2021, we consider that a pragmatic approach should be taken which allows online State reviews on a temporary and exceptional basis. Learning from the experiences of the past months, the Treaty Bodies should define the conditions for online State reviews and be supported by the OHCHR and the other UN departments accordingly to allow such reviews to take place online or in a hybrid mode. Moreover the webcast is essential in the specific context of online public sessions and must be reliable. Predictability, transparency, inclusivity, and accessibility are essential conditions to enable the full participation of civil society, and all stakeholders, in the work of the Treaty Bodies, in particular if online reviews are organised. Civil society organisations require advance notice of the up-coming work of the Treaty Bodies, to enable them to undertake human rights monitoring, prepare alternative reports, plan briefings and raise the funds to undertake this work. In addition, sufficient time allocation and technical requirements, including accessibility for persons with disabilities relying on screen readers and sign language, and availability of good quality audio for interpreters, should be ensured for online private briefings with members of civil society organisations.
Joint civil society feedback on the Open-ended Working Group on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of int
Author : Various
September, 2020
Global cyber governance, including the protection of a secure and stable cyberspace, cannot be limited to any one actor. Only collectively with non-state actors can traditional public actors, nation-states and multilateral forums address complex and transnational global cyber threats. Therefore, an inclusive approach to maintaining peace and stability in cyberspace is needed. In order to support the implementation of the agreed UN GGE norms adopted in 2015, we provide feedback on the proposals which are part of the current Open-ended Working Group on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security (OEWG). The overarching key messages in our feedback include the following: The operationalisation, by which we mean the enforcement and implementation of existing norms, should be the focus of current efforts by both state and non-state actors. Implementation should take into account the impact on human rights, as humans are the ones impacted by cyberthreats, incidents and operations. This includes the differentiated impacts on people or groups in positions of marginalisation or vulnerability because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, ethnicity, race, and other social and cultural hierarchies. Therefore, states should encourage further analysis or promotion of the eleven voluntary norms of the 2015 GGE, including their gender dimensions. To meaningfully interpret the 2015 norms in a gender-sensitive way, gender-sensitivity approaches should be included from the start and built into the beginning of future initiatives to operationalise the norms. The engagement of all relevant stakeholders including civil society, technical community and academia from a broad range of countries is essential.
Unshackling Expression: The Philippines Report
Author : Foundation for Media Alternatives, APC and the Cyrilla Collaborative
September, 2020
The Foundation for Media Alternatives, in collaboration with the Association for Progressive Communications and the Cyrilla Collaborative, is proud to share, “Unshackling Expression: The Philippines Report.” Developed by the Foundation for Media Alternatives, an organisation that assists civil society in the use of ICTs for empowerment, the report looks at government restrictions through laws and policies that affect or directly violate the population’s freedom of expression online and offline. The Philippines spends more time on social media than any other country but it is also challenged with attacks and restrictions on its freedom of expression. It has been, in fact, part of the top five “most dangerous countries for journalists.” This document examines the issues relating to laws regulating ICTs in the Philippines, particularly those that relate to freedom of expression, and explores the problems with how these are implemented. The report also provides insights to help understand how these laws are operationalised, how judgments are made, and how the courts provide reason and justification on decisions made. The report furthermore provides a comprehensive audit of the Philippine’s laws and policies and how they affect and curtail freedom of expression and free speech online. There are sections devoted to the discussion of legal foundations and fundamental laws and freedoms; governance of online and networked spaces; sectoral laws; curtailment of freedom of expression; and future violations and draft laws. The report also captures key issues in relation to draft laws currently under consideration by the government. By citing appropriate case laws, the jurisprudence around key digital rights issues is further articulated. This report is a continuation of the Unshackling Expression - A study on laws criminalising expression online in Asia. Published in 2017, this document analysed the problematic trends in the use of laws against freedom of expression in online spaces in Asia, particularly Cambodia, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan and Thailand. This 2017 report can be accessed here. As social media presence and use in the Philippines continues to grow, it is our hope that this growth is seen as an opportunity to speak up against these restrictions and to widen the space for citizens to express dissent, dissatisfaction and a louder call for state accountability and better governance. This report seeks to advocate for ICT laws in the Philippines to be in compliance with national and international guarantees on human rights. Access the full report on Unshackling Expression: Philippines Report here.
APC, Redes A.C., Universidad Politécnica de Catalunya
Author : APC, Redes A.C., Universidad Politécnica de Catalunya
September, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore the critical importance of universal affordable access to internet connectivity. Despite efforts from the different stakeholders, universal affordable access is far from being achieved, as existing national operators focus their efforts on using technologies and building infrastructure in more profitable areas. This means sparsely populated areas, where household incomes are low and infrastructure costs are high, remain unconnected. As a result, there is an emerging consensus regarding the need to do something different from “business as usual”. Based on recent changes in the telecommunications industry, this paper analyses solutions for the expansion of the telecommunication operator ecosystem. In particular it focuses on the local operator as the actor to fill the coverage and usage gaps left by national operators, in a complementary way. These local operators serve a much smaller and more distinct market, with deeper knowledge of their users, able to provide more affordable connectivity when it comes to serving a local market. Local operators can be further classified into two types: commercial and social-purpose. In the telecommunications world, the latter manifests itself in the form of cooperative self-provision of connectivity infrastructure. Examples of local social-purpose operators are consumer cooperatives, community-owned networks, and even municipal networks whose interest is to meet the communication needs of their communities. There are a variety of barriers that local operators face because most regulatory frameworks have been designed primarily to cater for national operators deploying their own infrastructure. This paper presents an analysis of solutions that have been implemented by regulators worldwide to address the key barriers faced by local operators, grouped in the following categories: Operator licensing Spectrum licensing and fees Backbone and backhaul infrastructure Financial support Access to network information Regulatory interventions identified in these five areas are making it more possible for local operators to provide coverage in places where there was none, as well as considerably more affordable telecommunication services in areas where users do not have the disposable income to afford the data packages available from national operators. Based on this evidence, this paper concludes with a set of recommendations for regulators wishing to create a more enabling environment for local operators by replicating and localising the best practices included in this document.
Open letter from APC: Facebook’s complicity in enabling hate speech in India must end
Author : To: Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg and Ajit Mohan
September, 2020
The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) is writing to express deep concern about the escalating instances of hate speech in India and is alarmed at reports of Facebook India’s failure to apply its community standards to the perpetrators of hate speech on its platform. We call on you to immediately conduct an investigation into the reported incidents and take action against such content. While this investigation is being undertaken, Facebook officials implicated in this conduct must be placed on leave or removed from their current responsibilities. Situation in India Over the past few years, we have noted a steady rise in hate and communal violence against persons belonging to minority religions in India. Earlier this year, India experienced historic protests against the draconian and discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens. In response, India has witnessed large-scale violence against dissenters, police excesses, and a clampdown on freedoms of religion and expression as well as assembly and association. Communal violence against religious and caste minorities has come at a severe human and monetary cost. This has been propelled by state complicity and rampant hate speech in media and online spaces. Unfortunately, this has worsened with a steep rise in Islamophobic and other hate speech content against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, where members of India’s ruling party took to social media to propagate misinformation and stigma against minorities. Hate and the role of platforms Hate speech not only hurts, but also lays the ground for hostility and violence. Even speech that is not a direct incitement to violence or discrimination may contribute to fostering greater acceptance of such violence and condones if not encourages such acts. Systematic dehumanisation carried out through smear campaigns, slurs, misinformation, sensational and fabricated “news” on social media enable the construction of an “other” as a threat to the social fabric or national security. This has the effect of routinising discrimination and even physical violence, ultimately paving the way for communal disharmony and genocide. Social media platforms such as Facebook, which are a dominant source of information and communication, must ensure that your platforms are not used to perpetuate such violence. Not a surprise The seriousness of the situation in India cannot come as a surprise to you. With over 290 million users, which is the highest across the globe, Facebook India has five offices in the country employing thousands of Indian nationals. Concerns relating to hate speech in India on the company’s platforms have been repeatedly brought to your attention. For instance, in the aftermath of the implementation of the National Register of Citizens in the Indian state of Assam last year, Facebook was flooded with hate speech against Muslims, calling them “parasites” and “rats”, and calling for them to be exterminated. Little was done by you to curb this despite repeated reporting of posts by activists and users. Facebook faced a similar situation in Myanmar where it was used to propagate hate and violence against Rohingya Muslims, which has repeatedly resulted in riots and violent killings. Following concerted efforts by civil society and international experts, who held that Facebook played a determining role in the spread of hate speech in Myanmar, you promised to take efforts to ensure that your platform will “never again” be used to perpetuate violence. Unfortunately, this has not translated into tangible action, as hate is rife on your platforms not only in Myanmar but also in other countries such as India and Sri Lanka. Given the serious implications that hate speech can have in diverse and complex societies such as India, it is shocking to note that the issue is not being given due importance by Facebook. The Wall Street Journal revelation In light of the gravity of the situation, reports from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) of Facebook India’s top policy executive, Ms. Ankhi Das, opposing and preventing the application of hate speech rules to members of the ruling party in India is deeply disturbing. One reported case, for example, relates to a post by T. Raja Singh, a Bharatiya Janata Party state legislator, stating that Rohingya Muslim immigrants must be shot, calling Muslims traitors and threatening to raze mosques. It was reported that there have been other such instances where community standards were not applied to members of the party on concerns relating to this affecting the monetary prospects of the company. Subsequent reports have highlighted bias against certain political parties and other reports also indicate that Facebook India employees have raised questions about community standards not being applied even-handedly by the Facebook India office and the lack of diversity in the public policy team. Given that there are other instances where officials in Facebook have allegedly prevented efforts to ensure that the platform is a safer space for all persons, you must immediately investigate the matter and ensure that officials involved in such decision making are put on leave during investigations to ensure that the findings are not biased in their favour. Facebook must also engage with a range of stakeholders impacted by such practices to ensure that changes are introduced to avoid similar situations in the future. Following the publication of the WSJ article, Ms. Das has been subjected to intimidation and sexualised harassment online, including on Facebook. This has caused her to file a criminal complaint against several individuals. In her complaint, Mr. Awesh Tiwari, a journalist, was included for his social media post commenting on the WSJ article.
DEF's COVID-19 relief initiatives as a digitally enabled humanitarian organisation
Author : Digital Empowerment Foundation
August, 2020
India has been under lockdown since 24 March 2020, to break the spread of COVID-19 infection. While it is the only solution to avoid community spread, many like migrant workers, marginalised communities and poorest of the poor are adversely affected due to the lack of information, livelihood and connectivity. Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) launched the Digital Emergency Relief Programme through its Community Information Resource Centers (CIRC) across 600+ locations in India. These centres have been rigorously responding to the crisis by reaching out to the most vulnerable communities. The CIRC centres, with the help of the 5,000+ "digital foot soldiers", after mapping the needs of the communities in rural regions, identified that the immediate need was for information dissemination. Raising awareness regarding information on the coronavirus, its symptoms and the preventive measures needed, along with countering fake news and misinformation, were carried out using various means like WhatsApp groups, leaflets and word-of-mouth. Further, awareness around the relief package announced by the government was raised through the Digital Mobile Van, public address systems and WhatsApp groups. This proved to be one of the most effective ways of disseminating information and ensuring social distancing. Simultaneously, DEF’s digital foot soldiers created a relief kit which included dry food rations to help sustain families for at least a month, masks, and a DEF COVID-19 information guide. These efforts were made possible by local fundraising and support from local government administrations. Several surveys and publications were also published, along with visual documentation of the issues faced, the numerous initiatives carried out, and expert opinions on the same. This report seeks to document the various initiatives that were undertaken by DEF to confront the pandemic. Read the full report here.
Israeli impact on Palestinian digital rights during the coronavirus pandemic
Author : Dr Nijmeh Ali
August, 2020
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, states are increasingly using dangerous technologies at the cost of protecting fundamental human rights. In March 2020, the Israeli government approved two emergency regulations that served two purposes: first, enforcing new social isolation rules, and second, tracking the locations of patients infected with the virus. The mission was allocated to Israel’s domestic security agency, the Shin Bet, also known as the General Security Service (GSS) or the Shabak. Privacy and human rights activists have responded with outrage, as this is an expansion of the Israeli government's use of mass surveillance technologies, especially by Shin Bet, and is a further violation of digital rights and human rights. The purpose of this report is to document the deployment of mass surveillance technologies by Israel during the coronavirus pandemic and explore the impact of these policies and practices on Palestinian digital rights – the right to privacy, freedom of expression and data protection. It also exposes the securitisation framework, how the coronavirus has created an opportunity for states to frame policies and practices as necessary for security, leading to expansion and a sense of normalisation with mass surveillance in the time of crisis. This report is based on media articles, academic journals and books, as well as position papers and statements from civil society organisations. It begins by looking at the construction of the online surveillance regime in Israel and then focuses on state surveillance during coronavirus, presenting online surveillance laws adopted by the Israeli government and their implications on digital rights. The third section specifies the mass surveillance technologies used to manage the coronavirus and highlights the negative impact on the right to privacy and data protection that these technologies can have on all individuals in Israel and the Palestinian occupied territories, including Israeli Jews, as well as how these technologies are used to target specific groups of the population systematically. The adoption of mass surveillance strategies also raises issues of discriminatory policies exposing the "technological face" of Israeli oppression. Finally, to protect digital rights in Israel and Palestinian occupied territories, the paper offers recommendations for ensuring a free, safe and equal digital space for everyone – particularly for social, national and political groups such as Palestinian citizens in Israel and Palestinians of the occupied territories.
Alternate realities, alternate internets: African feminist research for a feminist internet
Author : Neema Iyer, Bonnita Nyamwire and Sandra Nabulega
August, 2020
For the past decade, internet connectivity has been praised for its potential to close the gender gap in Africa. Among the many benefits of digitalisation, digital tools enable groups that are marginalised across the intersections of gender, race, sex, class, religion, ability and nationality to produce and access new forms of knowledge and conceive counter-discourses. However, the internet, once viewed as a utopia for equality, is proving to be the embodiment of old systems of oppression and violence. In order to understand experiences of African women in online spaces, this violence must be viewed on a continuum rather than as isolated incidents removed from existing structural frameworks. Discriminatory gendered practices are shaped by social, economic, cultural and political structures in the physical world and are similarly reproduced online across digital platforms. This report presents the findings of research conducted on the online lived experiences of women living in five countries across Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Senegal, and South Africa) to illustrate that repeated negative encounters fundamentally impact how women navigate and utilise the internet. The research was carried out by Pollicy, a civic-technology organisation based in Kampala, Uganda, in partnership with the Feminist Internet Research Network project led by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), with funding from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
Making a Feminist Internet: Movement building in a digital age in Africa
Author : Christy Zinn and Gorata Chengeta
January, 1970
From 28 to 31 October 2019, 54 feminists from 19 countries, including Association for Progressive Communications (APC) staff members, came together in Muldersdrift, South Africa, to discuss “Making a Feminist Internet: Movement building in a digital age in Africa.” The purpose of the convening, abbreviated as #MFIAfrica, was to deepen the understanding of how the digital landscape has affected feminist, women’s rights, sexual rights and intersectional movement-building work; strengthen the capacity of feminist, women’s rights, sexual rights and digital security activists to respond to emerging challenges and threats; and engage in the creation of collaborative ideas and strategies on how to make a feminist internet that can contribute towards building strong and resilient movements. The convening was made up of multiple facets of connection and conversation between a participant group of African feminists, diverse in geographical origin and field of work, from the continent and African diaspora. This report presents a perspective of those conversations, and is drawn up from a diversity of materials that were created throughout the meeting duration, including text notes, photographs and audio recordings. The convening was documented and continues to be reflected upon by different people through different mediums, and this report is a contribution to #MFIAfrica’s multifaceted, decentralised archive of memory.
Civil society groups welcome Irene Khan as the new Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression
Author : Various
July, 2020
The undersigned civil society organisations congratulate and welcome Irene Khan to her new role as Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. We take this opportunity to express our strong support for the vital work of the mandate. We stand ready to support the new mandate holder, and look forward to working collaboratively and constructively together over the next six years to address the most pressing freedom of expression concerns of the day. Since its creation in 1993, the mandate has proven essential in the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of expression worldwide. The mandate’s innovative annual reports have set increasingly progressive international standards, while thousands of communications to governments and 39 country visits have contributed to the protection of people at risk and ensured accountability for abuses and violations. The mandate continues to be as important as ever. Over recent years, challenges for freedom of expression have only grown more complex. Across the globe, attacks against dissenting voices have intensified, while governments have designed repressive legal frameworks to silence criticism or opposition, including laws premised on disinformation and “fake news”, terrorism and extremism, and defamation and insult. The digital age has brought its own challenges for freedom of expression, notably internet shutdowns and website blocking, artificial intelligence and algorithmic systems for moderating information online, interferences in tools for encryption and anonymity, and the deployment of tools for mass and unlawful targeted surveillance. In recent years, journalists and independent media have struggled to operate and survive financially, a challenge made more acute by the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The mandate has been at the forefront of many of these challenges, particularly by working closely with civil society groups, including national and grassroots organisations. As we look to the future, we believe it is essential that strong methods for civil society consultation and participation are continued, including in the design and prioritisation of the work of the mandate. The current pandemic has moreover brought into stark contrast the need to develop and commit to new and emerging forms of civic engagement, including through virtual channels. Ultimately, this relationship ensures that the work of the mandate is guided by, and responsive to, the communities it represents. As we work together over the next six years, we consider the following to be among broad priority themes that require particular attention: The persistent and, more importantly, emerging challenges faced by journalists, media workers, writers, bloggers, human rights defenders, artists, academics and other civil society actors targeted for exercising their right to freedom of expression, including under the guise of national security. As attacks against these actors are increasingly met with impunity, it is more important than ever to form innovative solutions to counter such trends and ensure the safety and security of these actors at both the international and national level. The opportunities and threats to freedom of expression in the digital age, including those posed by new and emerging technologies, such as surveillance tools and artificial intelligence. As part of this, the issue of disruptions to the internet, including shutdowns, website blocking and attacks on net neutrality, warrants the full scrutiny of the mandate. There is a need to not only elaborate on the human rights obligations of states and other actors in securing freedom of expression in the digital sphere, but to ensure that these are being implemented in practice. The best practices in creating an enabling legal and regulatory environment that allows the development of a free, diverse and pluralistic media landscape. This must be responsive to how the media around the world has fundamentally changed in recent years. Although broadcast radio and television remain important sources of information and ideas, the internet, and particularly social media platforms, have taken a position of growing importance as content distribution platforms.
Open letter from human rights NGO coalition to the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism
Author : Various
July, 2020
Dear Mr. Rasmussen, We, the undersigned organizations, are writing to apprise you of shared civil society concerns and perspectives on the reorganization of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (‘GIFCT’) and its work moving forward. Over the past few years, many of us have discussed our concerns with the GIFCT’s founding companies about the growing role of the GIFCT in regulating content online. We have enclosed a letter that a number of civil society organisations sent to those companies in February outlining these concerns, including risks of extra-legal censorship from government participation in the Independent Advisory Committee (‘IAC’), increasing use and scope of the hash database and persistent lack of transparency around GIFCT activity. We also highlighted a number of issues with the mandate and structure of the IAC itself, including its lack of focus on the protection of human rights—a key component in countering terrorism—as well as an uneven playing field that disadvantages civil society, and lack of structural independence for NGOs. In our February 25 letter, we made a number of detailed recommendations on how to address these concerns. We chose not to apply to participate in the IAC because these concerns have not yet been addressed, including in the April 3 private communication from the Interim Executive Director of GIFCT . This suggested to us that GIFCT may not be responsive to our concerns and that civil society participation would create the perception of input without actually addressing our substantive issues or suggestions. Genuine multi-stakeholder engagement requires sustained, honest, responsive engagement with the concerns raised by civil society. As noted in your own terms of reference, the recently announced IAC is meant to, amongst other things, “[e]nsure that GIFCT’s work is aligned with international human rights laws,” and to promote transparency and accountability. This won’t be possible without being open and responsive to critique from human rights experts. However, GIFCT’s prior lack of responsiveness to our critiques informed our decision to not apply to join the IAC, thus leaving the IAC composed almost entirely of government officials and academics. Despite our choice to not join the IAC, we remain committed to addressing the issues we have raised. Some of our organizations will be participating in Working Groups because it is clear to us that GIFCT is taking an increasingly large role globally that could threaten human rights and we have valuable expertise we can contribute to the focus areas of the Working Groups despite our concerns outlined above.
Joint statement welcomes the gains in advancing the rights of women and girls at the 44th session of the Human Rights Council
Author : Sexual Rights Initiative, Center for Reproductive Rights, Choice for Youth and Sexuality, Association of Women’s Rights in Development and Association for Progressive Communications
July, 2020
Joint Statement by Sexual Rights Initiative, Center for Reproductive Rights, Choice for Youth and Sexuality, Association of Women’s Rights in Development and Association for Progressive Communications, welcoming the gains in advancing women’s and girl’s human rights at the 44th Session of the Human Rights Council The resolution on elimination of discrimination against women and girls, led by Mexico, and co-sponsored by 63 States as of 17 July 2020 focused on multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination faced by women and girls and the measures states should take to address the same. The resolution, which is leaner and streamlined from previous years, also pays particular attention to the impacts of COVID-19 on women and girls, highlighting that COVID-19 has exacerbated pre-existing inequalities and structural discrimination including patriarchy, racism and xenophobia and mandates states to address impacts of patriarchy and xenophobia on women and girls. It also centres substantive equality and requests States to consider incorporating, inter alia, temporary special measures as essential. It mandates states to take a human rights and gender responsive approach in their measures to deal with COVID 19, such as socio economic opportunities, health care services, vaccines and treatments options and underlying determinants of health, including food, adequate housing, safe drinking water and sanitation. However, the resolution fails to address the gendered impact of the systematic paring down of health systems (almost universally, with only a few exceptions) and the likely further weakening of systems resulting from structural adjustment aid conditionalities and also State's misguided and lethal commitment to neo-liberal macroeconomic policies and market logics. The resolution also urges States to “repeal all laws and policies that exclusively or disproportionately target or criminalize the actions or behaviour of women and girls” and requests States to review their legislative frameworks using a gender-responsive and intersectional approach. It by-annualizes the resolution on the elimination of discrimination against women and girls. Significantly, the resolution highlights the gendered impacts of the pandemic on health including the need to prioritise sexual and reproductive health information and services. In this context the resolution recognises sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights free from coercion and violence, requests States to respect, protect and fulfil the right to sexual and reproductive health and the right to bodily autonomy. It is the first ever Human Rights Council resolution to not include Beijing and ICPD qualifiers, and therefore the sovereignty clauses contained in both these documents, (terms that restrict the scope) when dealing with issues and concepts related to sexual and reproductive health and rights. This resolution represents a major advance in women’s and girls’ human rights by: Acknowledging and recognising the impact of multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination faced by women and girls Recognising that substantive equality can be achieved by eliminating root causes of structural and systemic discrimination which includes, deep rooted patriarchal and gender stereotypes, socio-political and economic inequalities, systemic racism. Reaffirming that full enjoyment of all human rights by all women and girls includes sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, free from coercion, discrimination and violence Urging states to respect, protect and fulfil the right to sexual and reproductive health and including by addressing social determinants of health and upholding the right to bodily autonomy Ensuring universal access to evidence based comprehensive sexuality education Calling upon states to implement policies and actions designed to eliminate racist, xenophobic, patriarchal, ablest and gender stereotypes that perpetuate multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination against women and girls. Urging states to enable the full effective meaningful participation of feminist groups, women and girls human rights defenders, girl and youth led organisations in the creation, design, implementation and monitoring of all legislation and policies relevant to achieving substantive equality. While the significance of these concepts in the resolution cannot be overemphasised, we are disappointed that the term ‘sexual and reproductive health and rights’ was not retained in the resolution. While included in the first draft, it was removed during the negotiation process. We are concerned by the manner in which states politically instrumentalize the Human Rights Council and its resolutions as a forum for political point-scoring and posturing, instead of meeting their legal obligations in ensuring women and girls’ human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled and upholding the highest standards of international human rights law, as should be the role of the HRC. As the resolution points out, “women make up 70 percent of front line workers in the health and social sector across a range of occupations,” yet women’s and girl’s fundamental human rights were up to discussions. The (defeated) amendments put forward by Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the Russian Federation and statements of disassociation against progressive paras of the resolution highlight this trend. We are also concerned by the global trend of coordinated attacks against women’s and girls’ rights by conservative and anti-choice organizations and groups at the HRC, negating women’s and girls’ experiences and realities and bringing social control over their lives and bodies to the negotiating rooms of the Council. The 44th session of the Human Rights Council was held during a pandemic with severe restrictions on participation. This was especially true of Global South civil society actors. The COVID 19 pandemic has made it startlingly clear we live in a deeply unequal world. Inequalities on gender, racial, ethnic, class lines in every state cannot be ignored. While the Council has started to address these patterns of intersectional discrimination, it needs to remind itself that it is primarily accountable to women and girls themselves and put them at the centre of any and all of its deliberations.
Mexican Congress’ implementation of USMCA IP provisions threatens democracy and digital rights
Author : Various
July, 2020
We, the undersigned public interest organizations and individuals, in reaction to the approval by Mexican Congress of sweeping changes to the federal copyright regime in implementation of the Agreement between United States-Canada-Mexico Free Trade Agreement (USMCA), declare: We oppose the bills that implemented USMCA intellectual property rules in Mexico without adequate debate, justification, and without even using the flexibility within the USMCA to lessen their harm to fundamental human rights and to the Mexican economy. These bills reinforce the draconian copyright system in place in Mexico, and worsen them by importing some of the most troublesome aspects of US copyright law. We, the undersigned, have been part of global discourse documenting the many ways in which copyright maximalism enters trade agreements, circumventing democratic processes and evidence-based debates. We see this process at work again in Mexico and we oppose it. While these revisions are allowed to stay in force, Mexico is struggling with the "notice and takedown" system — a notoriously easy-to-abuse system of censorship based on unreviewed copyright infringement allegations. This system apes the model in force in the United States since the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA). While this system has coincided with the expansive growth of US-based internet platforms delivering user-generated content, it has allowed for a significant amount of restrictions of legitimate speech, including political criticism. It has also opened the door for automated speech restrictions. It is a system of censorship without judicial review of allegations of wrongdoing, and without any meaningful consideration of the free- expression-preserving limitations and exceptions to copyright. It allows for “copyfraud” takedowns, in which material in the public domain, or material that is freely licensed, or material that is not owned by the complainant is removed without due process. The revisions to Mexican copyright law fail to take into account the system’s negative impacts on freedom of expression, as well as standards on content restriction based on international human rights law, such as the Manila Principles on Intermediary Liability. The revisions also implement legal restrictions on the removal of “technological protection measures” (TPMs) in Mexico, without proper safeguards for cases where circumventing these measures has legitimate purposes. Federal criminal law now establishes steep fines and the risk of prison in case of infringement. Anti-circumvention regimes have been a disaster for fundamental rights, including the right to freedom of expression, the right to access to knowledge, properly secure in all cases the right of people with disabilities to adapt their technologies to suit their needs, the right to independent repair. These rules can result in prosecution in violation of Mexico’s obligations under the Marrakesh Treaty. Moreover, anti-circumvention rules are catastrophic to competition, enabling dominant firms to use TPMs to prohibit normal competitive activities, such as the manufacture of third-party spares and consumables, and the creation of interoperable products. TPMs have proliferated like mushrooms, springing up in every sector, for use in purely anticompetitive ends. Recent deployments include TPMs for ventilators, tractors, diabetic glucose monitors and automobiles, all to prevent independent repair, and to allow dominant firms to harvest data and constrain the conduct of their critics, customers and competitors. The USA had the excuse of making its TPM law in 1998, before anyone had irrefutable evidence of the negative consequences of such a rule and before devices governed by copyrightable software had become ubiquitous. Twenty-two years later, the harms have been documented in numerous government rulemakings and court cases within the United States, establishing harm to creators, innovators, researchers, and the general public. Mexico has no excuse for adopting this backwards copyright regime that has proven harmful to law-abiding persons, which hinders rather than promoting the broad participation in creative activities that copyright is intended to support. The rushed approval of these revisions is an abdication of the duty of the federal Congress to democratically, openly, and transparently debate the rules under which the Mexican citizens will be legally obliged to live their lives in the digital era. This abdication represents a missed opportunity to discuss the real needs for freedom of expression for Mexican creators, innovators, researchers, and the general public. Tragically, the Mexican Congress has failed to explore the flexibilities within the text of USMCA that would allow Congress to more appropriately respond to the needs of the Mexican population and the values embodied by the Mexican Constitution. An example of this is that the limited existent exceptions and limitations to copyright in Mexican law were not reviewed or expanded to adjust to this new regime and this deepens Mexico’s disadvantage in front of its partners that have far more robust exceptions through fair use and fair dealing. USMCA is a trilateral agreement, and the other party to it, Canada, has preserved much more space for free expression, innovation and competition in its own implementations of its treaty obligations. Where the US and Mexico have “notice and takedown” for copyright infringement accusations, Canada has “notice and notice” - a much more measured system where due process and free expression weigh more heavily than the desire of putative rightsholders to remove material from the public Internet. Likewise, Canada’s anti-circumvention rules are far more flexible than either the USA’s or Mexico’s, and gained still more flexibility as the power of TPMs to distort industrial policy and affect fundamental rights were made obvious. In 2019, Canada’s Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology made 36 recommendations for reforms to Canada’s copyright rules, including several that intersect with TPMs protections: notably, the Committee recommended a blanket exemption for TPMs circumvention for non-infringing purposes, including making uses permitted under limitations and exceptions to copyright; as well as making repairs. Even as Canada was relaxing its own TPMs regime, the USA has held six “triennial reviews” in which the US Copyright Office hears petitions for exemptions to USA’s anti-circumvention rules to allow users to bypass TPMs for lawful purposes (a seventh proceeding is scheduled for 2021). These reviews have created a long list of exemptions to anti-circumvention that Americans can enjoy. In other words, two of the three parties to USMCA have far less restrictive versions of the laws just adopted by Mexico’s Congress: US and Canadian firms enjoy a substantial competitive advantage over their Mexican counterparts. US and Canadian firms can make complementary products and services to those offered by Mexican firms, including repair, improvements, consumables and parts, and collect the revenues these products and services generate. However, Mexico’s lawmakers have tied the hands of its own industries, prohibiting them from doing the same to products from Canada and the USA, on pain of criminal sanction.
Joint civil society statement: Structural intervention is required to mitigate the racially discriminatory impacts of emerging digital technologies i
Author : Various
June, 2020
As widespread recent protests have highlighted, racial inequality remains an urgent and devastating issue around the world, and this is as true in the context of technology as it is everywhere else. In fact, it may be more so, as algorithmic technologies based on big data are deployed at previously unimaginable scale, reproducing the discriminatory systems that build and govern them. The undersigned organizations welcome the publication of the report “Racial discrimination and emerging digital technologies: a human rights analysis,” by Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, E. Tendayi Achiume, and wish to underscore the importance and timeliness of a number of the recommendations made therein: Technologies that have had or will have significant racially discriminatory impacts should be banned outright. While incremental regulatory approaches may be appropriate in some contexts, where a technology is demonstrably likely to cause racially discriminatory harm, it should not be deployed until that harm can be prevented. Moreover, certain technologies may always have disparate racial impacts, no matter how much their accuracy can be improved. In the present moment, racially discriminatory technologies include facial and affect recognition technology and so-called predictive analytics. We support Special Rapporteur Achiume's call for mandatory human rights impact assessments as a prerequisite for the adoption of new technologies. We also believe that where such assessments reveal that a technology has a high likelihood of deleterious racially disparate impacts, states should prevent its use through a ban or moratorium. We join the Special Rapporteur in welcoming recent municipal bans, for example, on the use of facial recognition technology, and encourage national governments to adopt similar policies. Correspondingly, we reiterate our support for states’ imposition of an immediate moratorium on the trade and use of privately developed surveillance tools until such time as states enact appropriate safeguards, and congratulate Special Rapporteur Achiume on joining that call. Gender mainstreaming and representation along racial, national and other intersecting identities requires radical improvement at all levels of the tech sector. The structural racism and discrimination that the report identifies as endemic to the field of technology (just as it is in many if not all facets of societies around the globe) cannot be remedied if the teams conceiving of, building, and promoting technological solutions do not understand and represent the concerns of those who will be impacted by them. When implemented, these demographic changes must be meaningful: past “diversity” and “inclusivity” efforts in the industry have often been mere tokenizations of underrepresented groups. Meaningful improvement will mean significant changes to industry power structures, funding flows and models, cultural changes in the workplace, and reevaluation of existing and future product lines that may be employed to target racially marginalized communities and other vulnerable populations. [1]
Open letter to request strong user privacy protections in the Philippines’ COVID-19 contact tracing efforts
Author : Various
July, 2020
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) Department of Health (DOH) Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Multisys Technology Corporation (Multisys) World Health Organization (WHO) Open letter to request for strong user privacy protections in the Philippines’ COVID-19 contact tracing efforts To whom it may concern, Following the spread of COVID-19, the Philippine government has launched an exposure notification application, StaySafe.ph, which aims to contain the pandemic in the country. The app was developed by Multisys Technology Corporation in partnership with the National Task Force Against COVID-19. While the effort is commendable, the importance of combating COVID-19 while protecting people’s individual freedoms, particularly the right to privacy, cannot be emphasized enough. We urge the authorities to provide more transparency in the COVID-19 contact tracing efforts in the Philippines to protect the privacy of users. Given StaySafe.ph’s potential to put the privacy of its users at risk, the undersigned organizations request the Philippine government to provide users with a higher level of transparency and to uphold their privacy rights by releasing the white paper and the source code of StaySafe.ph, under an open-source license. The white paper should document the system’s architecture, functions, protocols, data management, and security design. The source code should be of the deployed system; it should be complete, up-to-date, and buildable. This will help independent experts to examine any vulnerabilities in the system, which in turn can help secure the privacy and security of users and their data. Resolution No. 45 of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) notes the donation and use of StaySafe.ph, and provides information on the app’s source code, ownership of all data, and the related intellectual property rights. The Resolution also states that all data in the app’s database shall be migrated to the COVID-KAYA application. COVID-KAYA has been developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in coordination with the Department Information and Communications Technology (DICT) with the purpose to have a data collection system that can be used by health authorities when they collect COVID-19 case reports. We request the Department of Health (DOH) and relevant authorities to provide more transparency over the process by also releasing the white paper and the source code of the COVID-KAYA system under an open source license regarding its architecture, functions, protocols, data management, and security design. Resolution No. 45 also states that the donated version of StaySafe.ph must be able to connect to existing digital proximity tracking technologies (e.g. Google and Apple); as such, we would like to encourage the Philippines to explore international best practices that protect the privacy of users. The use of a decentralized protocol for exposure notification apps (e.g. Decentralized Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing (DP-3T) or Temporary Contact Number (TCN)) is especially recommended. Human rights assessments, in particular a privacy impact assessment, should be conducted for both StaySafe.ph and COVID-KAYA according to NPC Circular 16-01, which has been issued by the National Privacy Commission on the security of personal data use by government agencies. The result of the assessment should be publicly available. The DOH should also ensure that the collected data by SafeStay.ph will, without exception, only be used for contact tracing purposes. All these measures form part of the DOH’s obligations as a personal information controller (PIC) under the Data Privacy Act of 2012 (DPA), which mandates higher levels of security for the handling of any sensitive personal information by the government, including those handled through its contractors. The DPA also requires PICs to observe the principle of transparency, which is outlined in numerous international data protection standards. These obligations will help the Philippines align its contact tracing efforts with relevant international human rights instruments to which it adheres, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 12) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 17). Our request finds support in the Interim Guidance issued by the WHO, “Ethical considerations to guide the use of digital proximity tracking technologies for COVID-19 contact tracing” (WHO reference number: WHO/2019-nCoV/Ethics_Contact_tracing_apps/2020.1). The Guidelines identify 17 principles to guide governments, public health institutions, and non-State actors on the ethical and appropriate use of digital proximity tracking technologies to address COVID-19. The document recommends that the use of a contact tracking application should be based on the voluntary and informed consent of users. It also recommends that digital proximity tracking technologies be subjected to a test that is performed by an independent agency or research body and that the results of tests are made publicly available. Furthermore, it recommends that data collection and processing be transparent, and that COVID-19 responses include the free, active, and meaningful participation of relevant stakeholders, including civil society organizations. Summarizing the above statements, we request the authorities in charge to take the following actions: Release the white paper and the source code of StaySafe.ph. The white paper should contain all the necessary details of the system’s architecture, functions, protocols, data management and security design. The source code should be that of the deployed system; it should be complete, up-to-date, and buildable so that the system’s security and privacy treatment can be independently verified. The white paper and the source code must be regularly updated along with the app. Provide transparency of the COVID-KAYA system regarding its architecture, functions, protocols, data management, and security design by releasing the system’s white paper and source code under the open source license. The white paper should contain all the necessary details of the system’s architecture, functions, protocols, data management and security design. The source code should be that of the deployed system; it should be complete, up-to-date, and buildable. The white paper and the source code must be regularly updated along with the app. Conduct human rights assessments, particularly a privacy impact assessment of both StaySafe.ph and the COVID-KAYA systems, as mandated by NPC Circular 2016-01, and release the results thereof to the public. Follow the WHO’s Interim Guidance, ‘Ethical considerations to guide the use of digital proximity tracking technologies for COVID-19 contact tracing’, and protect the privacy of citizens in any upcoming contact tracing efforts in keeping with its international commitments to protect the fundamental human right to privacy.
Joint submission to the Ethiopian Communications Authority on draft telecommunications licensing regulations
Author : Various
June, 2020
On 17 June 2020, APC collaborated with the ICT4D (Information and Communication Technology for Development) Research Centre at Bahir Dar University, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Internet Society Ethiopia Chapter, the Internet Society and the Network for Digital Rights in Ethiopia to submit a contribution to the draft Telecommunications Licensing Directive No. 1/2020. In the contribution, we recommend that the Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) consider international recommendations, as well as best practices in other countries both regionally and globally. This includes: Creating a licensing framework for telecommunications operators that considers the neutrality of technology, layer separation and scale sensitivity, as well as licence exemptions for complementary access solutions such as community networks, as well as those covered by a Social Purpose Licence. Developing an innovative, transparent and accessible spectrum licensing scheme that enables complementary local infrastructure solutions, such as community networks and access to radio spectrum for network service delivery. Some examples are: A licence exemption framework for the use of the Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) spectrum, which is the one used by Wi-Fi and is exempted worldwide. Provisions within national IMT spectrum licences that affirm the right of the regulator to grant additional authorisations to allow the use of licensed spectrum in underserved areas. Social purpose licensing of IMT spectrum in rural areas. Dynamic spectrum management approaches allowing secondary use of spectrum such as TV white space technology. Innovative approaches to licensing fees to work towards closing the global digital divide. It is always appreciated when regulators carry out consultative practices so that civil society organisations can contribute to directives like the Telecommunications Licensing Directive No. 1/2020. We hope the ECA considers our input, which is not only based on international best practices, but we also believe it will assist the ECA in developing a telecommunications regulatory system that responds to the needs of Ethiopian citizens. The submission can be downloaded here.
COVID-19 and the increase of domestic violence against women: APC submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and c
Author : Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
June, 2020
In this brief submission to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, APC identifies the nexus between domestic violence and online gender-based violence in the context of COVID-19, drawing on some issues to consider from country-led and regional case studies. At the outset, we dive into provisions around women’s right to live a life free of violence and discrimination. There is strong evidence to posit that technology-mediated environments are conducive to already existing gender-based violence against women in all spheres of human interaction. Hence, we put forward that the disclosure and the understanding of ICT-related implications is crucial to thwart potential risks of violence against women that the internet might bring along and amplify in a fertile sphere of expansion, searchability and transmission. Second, we conduct a review of what domestic violence stands for across jurisprudences. Although the legal definition of domestic violence does not entail a univocal meaning, it conversely embeds a ubiquitous technological dimension that should rather be treated as a serious offence. In this regard, we stress that practice, policy and actions should ensure that the same human rights of women offline are also guaranteed online, including all used, emerging and envisaged means of human interaction that prevent women from living in a society free of direct or low-key manifestations of gender-based violence. Third, we foreground COVID-19 repercussions on the broader state of gender equality and social justice. We note with concern the uptick in domestic violence fuelled in a context of online gender-based inequalities that can neither be overstated nor go unnoticed. We reaffirm how the pandemic is taking a disproportionate toll on women, particularly on those who are digitally disenfranchised. Fourth, we highlight high-priority issues for the Special Rapporteur’s consideration that require immediate action in light of the international pledge to dismantle the shadow pandemic against women. Finally, we present recommendations for action for governments, United Nations agencies, special procedures and civil society. Throughout this submission, APC recognises that in most jurisdictions, both the existing legal frameworks and their practical implementation remain highly inadequate to properly investigate, address and mitigate the digital manifestations of gender-based violence, including domestic violence.
Upholding human rights online in the context of COVID-19: APC statement at the 44th session of the Human Rights Council
Author : APC
June, 2020
The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) submits this written statement ahead of the Human Rights Council’s 44th session to express our concerns about the online human rights implications of states’ measures adopted to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. The current pandemic has raised challenges for human rights and, in some cases, responses by governments have revealed fault lines that challenge international human rights law. While we recognise that these are extraordinary times, this should not be the basis for human violations in online spaces. States’ responses to the crisis should be proportionate and avoid curtailing human rights. The following sections are addressed within this statement: I. Internet access and exacerbated digital divides II. Human rights concerns regarding responses to the pandemic Privacy and surveillance Attacks on journalists and human rights defenders Misinformation and social media platforms Online gender-based violence, hate speech and discrimination III. Recommendations To the Human Rights Council To governments The full statement is available for download here.
APC input to the public consultation on the Santa Clara Principles on Transparency and Accountability in Content Moderation
Author : APC
June, 2020
As an organisation that has worked at the intersections of human rights and technology for nearly three decades, APC welcomes this public consultation on the Santa Clara Principles on Transparency and Accountability in Content Moderation, as it is timely and integral to our work. Censorship is increasingly being implemented by private actors, with little transparency or accountability, and disproportionately impacts groups and individuals who face discrimination in society – groups and individuals who look to social media platforms to amplify their voices, form associations, and organise for change. The current pandemic has raised challenges for content moderation. While we recognise that these are extraordinary times, human rights laws and principles should be the default standards guiding companies’ content moderation policies and procedures. In general, the number of platforms releasing transparency reports and the details contained in those reports has increased in recent years. Companies, however, still need to do more to comply with their responsibility to ensure that their policies for restricting content are being applied in a non-discriminatory and equitable manner. Platforms report very little about when they remove content or restrict users’ accounts for violating their terms of service (ToS), and often fail to provide adequate notice: users are not adequately informed about the rules they have violated. Moreover, companies enter into agreements with states to operate locally, and the terms of these agreements, which have implications for content regulation, are often completely unknown. We encourage the Principles to urge companies to improve reporting mechanisms following these criteria: Legitimacy: The mechanism is viewed as trustworthy and is accountable to those who use it. Accessibility: The mechanism is easily located, used and understood. Predictability: There is a clear and open procedure with indicative time frames, clarity of process and means of monitoring implementation. Equitable: It provides sufficient information and advice to enable individuals to engage with the mechanism on a fair and informed basis. Transparency: Individuals are kept informed about the progress of their matter. Human rights-respecting: The outcomes and remedies accord with internationally recognised human rights standards. Source of continuous learning: It enables the platform to draw on experiences to identify improvements for the mechanism and to prevent future grievances
Protecting human rights during and after COVID-19: Submission in response to the joint questionnaire by Special Procedure mandate holders
Author : APC
May, 2020
APC welcomes the invitation of the Human Rights Council's Special Procedures to reflect on the impacts of COVID-19 on the exercise of human rights offline and online. The current pandemic has posed challenges for human rights and, in some cases, responses by governments have revealed fault lines that challenge international human rights law. While we recognise that these are extraordinary times, this should not be the basis for human rights violations in online spaces. States’ responses to the crisis should be proportionate and avoid curtailing human rights. Access to the internet is vital for an informed, cooperative and people-centred global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It plays a crucial role in enabling a flow of information and sustaining communities in times of crisis, and is integral to any disaster management plan. While devastating structural inequalities across the world are being laid bare by the virus, a sense of community and collective resilience are acquiring new meaning and importance. The internet is part of this emerging resilience. Because of this, it needs to be protected as a public good, and human rights must be upheld online in any response to the crisis. APC's submission in response to the questionnaire addresses the following questions: What challenges and obstacles has the pandemic highlighted in terms of access for all to the internet? Has the recent situation given rise to increased violations of human rights, mobbing and bullying online? If so, how was this addressed? What approach have the relevant authorities taken to monitor online information related to the pandemic? Have some contents been removed from the internet? If so, what criteria were applied to decide that the specific contents should be erased? Have specific measures been implemented against hate speech in cyberspace? The submission ends with a set of recommendations for both the Human Rights Council and governments.
Creating Safe Online Spaces for Women: Policy brief
Author : Liz Orembo and Mwara Gichanga
May, 2020
Online harassment has become a common occurrence on social media and women often find themselves on the receiving end. In response to the growing incidence of cyber harassment on Kenyan online platforms, KICTANet ran a study to highlight the struggles of the victims of cyber harassment. The purpose of this policy brief is to understand the nature of cyber harassment and the existing policy gaps. The study took an observation method where the researchers observed the Twitter environment over a period of four months. Key cases were picked out of the hashtags and classified into themes. One of the main findings is that Kenya has sufficient policies, but the problem is in the lack of impact of such policies. For example, there are laws that can deal with so-called "revenge porn", sharing of private messages, and defamation, among others. The problem then stems from the perception of the internet as a luxury good where one has the potion of opting out when things get unpleasant, so law enforcement does not take reports of cyber harassment as seriously as they should. Another finding is that both men and women are victims of cyber harassment. However, there are differences: women face more cyber harassment than men and the nature of such harassment is more harsh as it focuses on social issues, ranging from body shaming to questioning their career suitability and qualifications. The fact that Kenya has sufficient policies to deal with online gender-based violence is a clear indication that cyber harassment is not stopped by law, but rather by a change of narrative. The brief therefore recommends bringing more women into these spaces to challenge and change the narrative by, for example, suggesting that media organisations should support female journalists in the areas of information and communications technology (ICT) reporting and other male-dominated fields. The study also calls for the creation of online reporting and support platforms as a more immediate approach to online harassment.
African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms Coalition: Position paper in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
Author : African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms Coalition
June, 2020
This position paper is informed by monitoring conducted by the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms (AfDec) Coalition of developments relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. Various measures adopted by states and other relevant stakeholders have had a direct impact on the enjoyment of rights online. This position paper consolidates the Coalition members’ assessment of, and positions on, the protection, promotion and exercise of human rights online as African states respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The paper focuses on five key areas found in the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms, namely: Internet access and affordability Regulation of content online Privacy, surveillance and data protection The right to information. The positions in this paper are made mainly with reference to the African Declaration, as well as the newly adopted Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR Declaration). Furthermore, consideration has also been given to the April 2020 report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression regarding the exercise of the right to freedom of expression in the context of disease pandemics. These resources provide guidance on the triad of information rights – freedom of expression, access to information and privacy – as well as their interplay with other associated rights. At the outset, it must be noted that any limitation of a right – including the rights to freedom of expression, access to information and privacy – must comply with the three-part test for a justifiable limitation under international law. The three-part test mandates that a restriction must be prescribed by law; serve a legitimate aim; and be a necessary and proportionate means to achieve the stated aim in a democratic society. It bears noting that with regard to any limitation of the right to freedom of expression, the ACHPR Declaration establishes: "States shall ensure that any law limiting the rights to freedom of expression and access to information: a) is clear, precise, accessible and foreseeable; b) is overseen by an independent body in a manner that is not arbitrary or discriminatory; and c) effectively safeguards against abuse including through the provision of a right of appeal and impartial courts." The ACHPR Declaration further explains that a limitation will be considered to serve a legitimate aim where the objective of the limitation is to preserve respect for the rights or reputations of others, or to protect national security, public order or public health. Importantly, in order to be necessary and proportionate, the limitation must originate from a pressing and substantial need that is relevant and sufficient; have a direct and immediate connection to the expression and disclosure of information, and be the least restrictive means of achieving the stated aim; and be such that the benefit of protecting the stated interest outweighs the harm to the expression and disclosure of information, including with respect to the sanctions authorised. While this paper focuses on recommendations to states, regulators and the private sector, the Coalition also encourages other civil society actors and digital rights activists to engage in advocacy to promote these reforms in line with the African Declaration and human rights standards. Download the full position paper here. Lire le document d'opinion en français ici. Também disponível em português, aqui.
Protocol for Accompanying Community Network Deployments in Social Isolation Scenarios
Author : AlterMundi
May, 2020
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, people’s daily lives have been disrupted, limited and greatly digitised. In the face of this emerging situation, the inequality between those who have internet access in their homes and those who do not is even clearer. In rural or precarious areas, connectivity is non-existent, deficient and/or costly. These areas have always suffered from the violation of their essential rights, neglect by the state and lack of appropriate proposals from private providers who do not consider it profitable to provide coverage in these areas. For this reason, these communities are suffering from numerous deficiencies, the impossibility of exercising their rights to health, education, work, among others, and are facing excessive and exclusive expenses to face this new reality. These characteristics open up a range of possibilities to develop digital communication tools that bring real solutions to achieve access to health and education systems, to sustain the social fabric, promote the local economy, strengthen support networks for gender violence, facilitate teleworking tools, guarantee access to information, and offer entertainment, among other things. In the current scenario of social isolation, the network deployment work stages have been adapted through this specific protocol that guarantees the recommendations for social distancing and prevention of COVID-19. Communities from Latin America that decide to co-create their own bits of internet will have Community Network Starter Kits, training and loving and powerful remote support.
DEF: Chronology of rumours and misinformation during COVID-19
Author : Anoushka Jha and Osama Manzar
May, 2020
This publication by the Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) tries to understand the chronology of events that started rumours, fake news and misinformation about COVID-19 that eventually managed to spread across communities. It highlights the conditions that provide a fertile ground for rumours and the role that social media and word of mouth play in giving them unprecedented speed and reach. Rumours and fake news are social behaviour exhibited by people and fuelled by television news channels which provide the necessary impetus for rumours to take off. Social media is the laboratory where fake news and rumours are incubated. Certain sections of the society are ready consumers of these rumours and fake news that often culminate in violence, putting social amity into danger while authorities remains mute spectators of these social nightmares.
Community-led Connectivity: Assessing the potential of community network models in the context of forced displacement in East Africa
Author : Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
May, 2020
This report by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) was commissioned by the UNHCR Innovation Service as part of the Digital Access, Inclusion and Participation programme. Evolving from the Service’s work on Connectivity for Refugees, this report aims to further examine frameworks for extending access to connectivity out to refugees and their hosting communities. In order to support community self-reliance, UNHCR often seeks to leverage market-based approaches to telecommunications services, and principally the inclusion of refugees in national frameworks and regulation to facilitate this. The impetus for this report is two-fold, firstly the tendency for market failure to occur when attempting to support last-mile connectivity provision, often where significant numbers of refugees are hosted, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Secondly, in the delivery of communications services in refugee hosting areas, the skills and capacities of the refugee / host community are often under-utilised. This is not only a missed opportunity for refugee engagement but the resultant economic benefits of connectivity provision are often little felt inside the community. By exploring the potential of community-based approaches to provision of connectivity services, UNHCR is seeking to not only explore opportunities for extending coverage into current connectivity ‘black spots’, but also to further ownership, knowledge and skills pertaining to connectivity services within the refugee and hosting community, and potentially bring extended economic benefit.
Open letter to President Ramaphosa on South African copyright laws
Author : Association for Progressive Communications and International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
May, 2020
The President of South Africa Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa Your Excellency, We are writing to you in connection with the letter addressed to you by Her Excellency Riina Kionka, European Union Ambassador to South Africa, on 20 March 2020, concerning the Copyright Bill that currently awaits your signature, following its approval by Parliament. As you will be aware, educators, researchers, librarians and user rights representatives across South Africa and internationally have been following closely the progress of our country’s Copyright Bill as it has progressed through Parliament and multiple consultations and discussions. The Bill itself is long overdue. With the last major update having taken place 42 years ago, there is a pressing need to bring laws into the digital age, as well as to address the significantproblems around the governance of rightholder organisations set out by the Farlam Commission. The resulting Bill marks a significant step towards these goals. It improves the situation of creators by ensuring more effective oversight of collecting societies and introducing reversion rights – steps which align closely with measures recently taken in the European Union – and introduces the concept of a ‘making available right’ to support publishers. It also gives South Africa’s teachers, learners, researchers and librarians new possibilities to use works which they have lawfully accessed, without doing harm to the legitimate interest of rightholders, in line with practice in many of the world’s most innovative economies. Furthermore, the bill will make the necessary changes for South Africa to benefit from the provisions of the Marrakesh Treaty, and so for people with print disabilities to enjoy equal access to information. The Department of Trade and Industry is to be commended for the thorough research and extensive consultation with all stakeholders that they undertook to inform the development of the Bill.
Open letter to the EU Ambassador to South Africa on copyright laws
Author : Association for Progressive Communications and International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
November, 2020
Association for Progressive Communications and International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions 11 May 2020 To the EU Ambassador to South Africa Ms. Riina Kionka, Riina.KIONKA@eeas.europa.eu Your Excellency, We are writing to you in connection with the letter you addressed to Dr Cassius Reginald Lubisi on 20 March 2020, concerning the Copyright Bill that currently awaits the signature of President Ramaphosa, following its approval by Parliament. As you may know, stakeholders across South Africa have being waiting for many years for the update of the country’s copyright laws. With the last reform having taken place 40 years ago, there is a pressing need to bring laws into the digital age, as well as to address the significant problems around the governance of rightholder organisations set out by the Farlam Commission. The resulting bill achieves many of these goals. It improves the situation of creators by ensuring more effective oversight of collecting societies and introducing reversion rights – steps which align closely with measures taken in the European Union itself – and introduces the concept of a ‘making available right’ to support publishers. It also gives South Africa’s teachers, learners, researchers and librarians new possibilities to use works which they have lawfully accessed, without of course doing harm to the legitimate interest of rightholders. These measures too simply reflect common practices elsewhere, notably in many of the world’s most innovative countries. Furthermore, the bill will make the necessary changes for South Africa to benefit from the provisions of the Marrakesh Treaty, and so for people with print disabilities to enjoy equal access to information. It is also worth noting that the EU and South Africa’s Dept. of Science and Technology (now Science and Innovation) have been involved for a number of years in an Open Science Dialogue - see the 2019 report at http://www.eresearch.uct.ac.za/eresearch/news/sa-eu-open-science-dialogu... in the Bill would enhance research and innovation, and would facilitate open access and open science programmes as envisaged by this cooperative project. Given the work of your Mission to promote education and inclusion in South Africa, we believe that these are goals we share with you. It is therefore disappointing that your letter seeks to delay the entry into force of this law, a move that would slow the achievement of our common objectives. It does so on the basis of unfounded claims made by particular lobbies, rather than any clear evidence. In particular, and as highlighted above, it is also incorrect to suggest that the draft bill is inconsistent with international law. The combination of a flexible, principles-based exception to copyright with additional specific exceptions has long existed in the United States, and is being adopted in a number of other countries without challenge. The possibility for users to disapply terms of contracts that remove rights given them under law is an idea that has been much strengthened in European law thanks to the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive. Furthermore, and far from leading to uncertainty, the new laws will rather create welcome clarity by ensuring that the law will adapt better to technological change in future. South Africa’s judiciary – we hope you will agree – also has the capacity to implement the new laws. Finally, and despite the claims of some, the proposed law makes it clear that the impact of uses on markets and the interests of rightholders must be central to assessments of fairness. As you will know through your work, South Africa faces major challenges in tackling inequality and promoting inclusion. The proposed copyright law is designed to contribute to this effort by broadening possibilities for education, research and access to information for people with disabilities, helping strengthen our country as a solid long-term partner for the European Union, including its researchers and businesses. Many of the provisions in the proposed copyright law would have been extremely helpful during the current Covid 19-related lockdown in South Africa. For example, educational institutions have had to transfer material and courses online in a very short period; a scenario that would have been extremely well-served by the fair use provision in the proposed legislation. I hope, therefore, that you will be able to reconsider your letter of 20 March, and rather offer encouragement for legislation that will contribute to South Africa’s equitable development, and the objectives of your own mission. Sincerely Association for Progressive Communications International Federation of Library Associations Contacts: Koliwe Majama, APC – koliwe@apc.org Stephen Wyber, IFLA - stephen.wyber@ifla.org cc. Ursula von der Leyen, Commission President, ec-president-vdl@ec.europa.eu Thierry Breton, Internal Market Commissioner, cab-breton-contact@ec.europa.eu Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for ‘a Europe Fit for the Digital Age’, margrethe-vestager-contact@ec.europa.eu Phil Hogan, Trade Commissioner, cab-hogan-contact@ec.europa.eu Jutta Urpilainen, International Partnerships Commissioner, cab-urpilainencontact@ec.europa.eu; Maroš Šef?ovi?, Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight Commissioner, cab-sefcoviccontact@ec.europa.eu. APC - the Association for Progressive Communications is an international network of civil society organisations founded in 1990 dedicated to empowering and supporting people working for peace, human rights, development and protection of the environment, through the strategic use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). IFLA – the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions – is the global organisation for libraries, with members in over 150 countries worldwide. With a missionto inspire, engage, enable and connect the global library field, it works both to build the capacity of libraries of all types to serve users, and to strengthen the voice of libraries worldwide.
Digital Rights in Palestine Between Emergency and Pandemic
Author : Dr. Issam Abdeen
May, 2020
This position paper was prepared by 7amleh - The Arab Center for Social Media Development as part of 7amleh's advocacy work, focused on defending Palestinian digital rights. It is a part of a series of position papers examining the effects of the policies and practices of governments and companies on Palestinian digital rights. The Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, issued a decree on 5 March 2020, declaring a state of emergency in all of the Palestinian territories for one month to confront the coronavirus and prevent an outbreak. On 22 March 2020, he issued the State of Emergency Law by Decree that stipulates, among other issues, penalties for any person who violates the decisions, instructions, and measures applied by the official authorities to achieve the goals of the state of emergency. These penalties include one year of imprisonment and fines, without prejudice to any other penalties stipulated in other Palestinian laws. Moreover, the president issued a decree on 3 April 2020, to extend the state of emergency in all Palestinian territories 30 more days to confront the coronavirus, and then a new presidential decree for the state of emergency was announced again until 5 June 2020. The emergency legislation has explicitly targeted digital rights and privacy, among other things, and includes broad terms related to criminalisation and punishment, with no legal provisions, safeguards, or measurable standards.Criminalising and punishing posts, statements, or news on social media related to the state of emergency provides more space for restrictions on freedom of opinion, privacy and digital rights in emergency legislations. Any post can be criminalised as long as it is not premised on an official source; regardless of whether it is true or false. In addition to these measures, there is insufficient transparency and government plans to deal with the pandemic. Even though civil society is working to document arrests related to digital content, only the official news is reaching the public. This foreshadows the further challenges and constraints that Palestinians will face in the coming stages as the health, economic, social and psychological consequences of the crisis aggravate. The position paper can be downloaded here or from the 7amleh website here. It is also available in Arabic here.
Understanding community networks through comics
Author : Carla Jancz, Helena Prado and Thais Jussim
April, 2020
It is not easy to explain the concepts behind community networks, both the technical characteristics of radio frequency networks and the social and human aspects of community technologies. One of the principles we have developed in teaching technologies with a gendered perspective is language. Teaching a workshop for popular groups using colonising terms and methodologies can increase the existing barrier between people and a technology that was not created for their interests. With this in mind, images and analogies are powerful tools to make it easier to explain a technical term or an idea. We reject the premise that to do so would in any way underestimate people’s ability to understand technical matters. We believe that explaining concepts in a language that brings them closer to people and their realities is a form of resistance to the hegemonic, North-centric and patriarchal language in which technology is often taught. This material is a partnership between Brazilian women, technologists and artists, with the collaboration of people working with community networks in various countries. Its purpose is to illustrate some of these images by blending technical terms such as "line of sight" and "mesh topology" with reflections on why we make community networks and the often invisible role of women within these initiatives. This learning resource was developed by Instituto Bem Estar (IBE) Brasil, one of the 12 community network organisations that were selected and granted funding towards activities that create and foster a peer learning community as part of the project "Connecting the Unconnected: Supporting community networks and other community-based connectivity initiatives", implemented by APC in partnership with Rhizomatica with funds from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The text was written by Carla Jancz of IBE Brasil, with illustrations by her and Helena Prado and layout by Thais Jussim.
Connecting the Unconnected
Author : Gustaff H. Iskandar (Project coordinator and chief editor)
May, 2020
This joint publication by APC and Common Room Networks Foundation (Common Room), Bandung, Indonesia, is part of a community networks learning grant, conducted through the project “Connecting the Unconnected: Supporting community networks and other community-based connectivity initiatives”. The project, developed by APC in partnership with Rhizomatica, aims to directly support the work of community networks, with the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The initiative intends to contribute to an enabling ecosystem for the emergence and growth of community-based connectivity initiatives in developing countries. It is part of a multi-year, multi-donor strategy envisaged to address the human capacity and sustainability challenges, along with with the policy and regulatory obstacles, that limit the growth of community-based connectivity initiatives. This report offers a storytelling journey through the various meetings, forums, peer visits, field experiences and collective exchanges in which Common Room along with other peers played a substantial role in their path towards creating and fostering a local access peer learning community. The first example takes place in West Java, within the Kasepuhan Ciptagelar indigenous community. The Kasepuhan Ciptagelar have been facing increased development in the region, which threatens their traditions and their land. Common Room proposed the project in 2013 and in 2016, multiple organisations came together to implement a data centre for local land information. Using satellite data and field surveys, the project recognised the importance of connectivity for the protection of traditions. The project was deployed by the residents of Kasepuhan Ciptagelar and was assisted by Awinet, a local internet service provider, and the community set up a network of wireless infrastructure across several villages. Also featured are traditional activities that take place within the Kasepuhan Ciptagelar community. The report also touches on the 2019 Indonesia Internet Governance Forum, and the importance of digital literacy, the voices of women, and the digital divide. Finally, this report includes the details involved in visits to community networks in Indonesia, Myanmar and India. In October 2019, members of various APC-connected community networks visited networks in Indonesia. This included attending the Ngaseuk rituals, which are part of a traditional indigenous farming practice to mark the beginning of a new planting season. Another stop included visiting the internet infrastructure in the Ciptagelar and Burangrang area, as well as the micro-hydro turbine which powers the Kasepuhan Ciptagelar networks. This visit also included an internet radio workshop led by Janastu. There is also a report on the visit to the internet and radio networks in the villages of Thuklai and Valvum in northern Myanmar. Finally, the CNLG peer visit also included a trip to India, where peers visited community networks such as the Pathardi Village in Maharashtra and the ProtoVillage in Andhra Pradesh, as well as participating in the AnthillHacks event, which supports the idea of open and accessible technology.
KICTANet proposals to the Kenyan judiciary on the use of video conferencing in judicial proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic
Author : Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet)
April, 2020
As of 23 April 2020, Kenya had 320 confirmed cases of COVID-19 virus, the highest within the East African Community, with around 848 cases. The government has taken steps to contain the spread of the pandemic, including, among others, implementing a nation-wide curfew, mandatory quarantine, contacts tracing and recommending hand washing and sanitising, mask wearing and social distancing measures. Following the announcement of the pandemic, the Judiciary and the National Council on the Administration of Justice (NCAJ) took measures to scale down the operations of courts across the country, and made recommendations to safeguard the health of court users and court officials. However, these drastic measures have resulted in calls to balance the need to ensure access to justice, service delivery and the health and safety measures. Consequently, the NCAJ has seen it fit to find ways to upscale court operations and quickly pivot them by fast-tracking the use of technology to ensure continued access to justice. In the past month, the NCAJ and various courts across the country have demonstrated their versatility, resilience, innovation and ability to leverage on video conferencing applications to hold meetings and deliver judgements and rulings respectively. These efforts to adapt are indeed commendable and KICTANet applauds the effort. KICTANet further welcomes the recent announcement by the Chief Justice that Microsoft has donated its Microsoft Teams video conferencing application for use by the Judiciary in the coming weeks. The rapid adoption of video conferencing technologies is not without its fair share of challenges. Courts still need to address the legal issues surrounding technology usage, capacity of court users to understand and use of the technologies, the application features and the new procedures required. Further, the financial resources to ensure the availability of functional equipment, reliable internet connectivity and technical support will be key. A critical challenge, in our view, is the lack of clear guidelines on etiquette and procedures when conducting court sessions through video conferencing. It is worth noting that while virtual court sessions are similar to open court proceedings, it is not enough to translate open court procedures to virtual sessions. In light of this, KICTANet submitted this memorandum to the Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya with a series of recommendations on legal aspects, technical aspects, responsibility for video conferencing, arrangements before commencement of proceedings, and conduct of proceedings and audience management, among other aspects.
Forum for Freedom of Expression, Bangladesh audit of attacks on the media during the 30 days of lockdown
Author : Forum for Freedom of Expression, Bangladesh
April, 2020
The Forum for Freedom of Expression, Bangladesh (FExB), a network of media rights defenders, has expressed grave concern over the developments during the 30 days of the lockdown which has taken a toll on Bangladesh news organisations, journalists, whistleblowers and citizen-journalists. The country is reeling from the COVID-19 crisis and the vulnerable segments of our society are the most at risk. Besides the “healthcare warriors”, journalists are also on the frontline. The country's journalists and citizen-journalists are frequently targeted by state and non-state actors while reporting on the COVID-19 outbreak, which FExB considers to be a serious threat to freedom of expression. FExB has released an audit of the attacks, intimidation and harassment experienced by journalists and other media organisations all over the country during the 30 days of lockdown. FExB demands an end to the impunity of the local leaders, police and district administration officials responsible for the attacks against the frontline “media warriors”, and calls for them to be brought to justice. Read the full audit here.
Open letter on COVID-19 content moderation research
Author : Various
April, 2020
Dear Social Media and Content-Sharing Platforms: As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the globe, the importance of your platforms and their real world impact has never been clearer. Your platforms are being used to communicate, assemble, research the virus, provide mutual aid, and more. We understand that many platforms have increased their reliance on automated content moderation during the pandemic, while simultaneously removing misinformation and apparently inaccurate information about COVID-19 at an unprecedented rate. The importance of accurate information during this pandemic is clear. But knowledge about the novel coronavirus is rapidly evolving. This is also an unprecedented opportunity to study how online information flows ultimately affect health outcomes, and to evaluate the macro- and micro-level consequences of relying on automation to moderate content in a complex and evolving information environment. But such studies rely on information that your companies control–including information you are automatically blocking and removing from your services. It is essential that platforms preserve this data so that it can be made available to researchers and journalists and included in your transparency reports. The data will be invaluable to those working in public health, human rights, science and academia. It will be crucial to develop safeguards to address the privacy issues raised by new or longer data retention and by the sharing of information with third parties, but the need for immediate preservation is urgent. We, the undersigned organizations, institutions, and researchers, urge you to: Immediately commit to preserving all data on content removal during the COVID-19 pandemic, including but not limited to information about which takedowns did not receive human review, whether users tried to appeal the takedown (when that information is available), and reports that were not acted upon. Preserve all content that the platform is automatically blocking or removing, including individual posts, videos, images, and entire accounts. Produce transparency reports that include information about content blocking and removal related to COVID-19 Provide access to this data in the future to researchers and journalists, recognizing that privacy will need to be ensured. Signed, Organizations Access Now Africa Media Development Foundation (AMDF) AlgorithmWatch ARTICLE 19 Association for Progressive Communications (APC) Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio & Communication Carnegie Mellon University Center for Human Rights Science Center for Democracy & Technology Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) Committee to Protect Journalists Cook Islands Internet Action Group CREOpoint Dangerous Speech Project Democracy Reporting International Derechos Digitales Digital Trade and Data Governance Hub, GWU Electronic Frontier Foundation EU DisinfoLab Foundation for Media Free Press Unlimited Gatef organization Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) Gulf Centre for Human Rights Hellerstein & Associates Institute for Strategic Dialogue Internet Sans Frontières IPANDETEC MediaLab ISCTE-IUL Media Matters for Democracy Media Monitoring Africa New America’s Open Technology Institute New York University Stern Center for Business and Human Rights Paradigm Initiative PEN America PersonalData.IO Ranking Digital Rights Reporters Without Borders (RSF) RNW Media South African National Editors Forum Stiftung Neue Verantwortung (SNV) Syrian Archive TEDIC WITNESS Individuals (Institutions listed for identification purposes) Agustina Del Campo, Centro de Estudios en Libertad de Expresión y Acceso a la Información (CELE), Universidad de Palermo, Argentina Alexa Koenig, Executive Director, Human Rights Center, Berkeley Law Anthony Fargo, Center for International Media Law and Policy Studies, Indiana University Dr Argyro Karanasiou, Director of LETS Lab, University of Greenwich Chinmayi Arun, Resident Fellow, Information Society Project, Yale Law School Claudio Fogu, President, UCSB Faculty Association Constance Penley, University of California, Santa Barbara Damian Loreti, Lecturer Universidad de Buenos Aires – Social Sciences Fac. Daphne Keller, Stanford Cyber Policy Center David Morar, Visiting Scholar, GWU Elliott School, Digital Trade & Data Governance Hub Deirdre K. Mulligan, School of Information, University of California, Berkeley Eileen Donahoe, Executive Director, Stanford Global Digital Policy Incubator Elaine Monaghan, Professor of Practice, Journalism, Indiana University-Bloomington Ellen P. Goodman, Rutgers Law Emma L. Briant, Associate Researcher at Bard College Enrique Piracés, Program Manager, Center for Human Rights Science, Carnegie Mellon University Filippo Menczer, Observatory on Social Media at Indiana University Hannah Bloch-Wehba, Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law Jay David Aronson, Professor of Science, Technology, and Society, Carnegie Mellon University Jennifer Holt, Associate Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara Jessica Fjeld, Harvard Law School Cyberlaw Clinic at the Berkman Klein Center Jun Liu, Associate Professor, Department of Communication, University of Copenhagen Lisa Parks, Professor, MIT Marianne Franklin, Professor of Global Media and Politics Marietje Schaake, Stanford Cyber Policy Center and Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence Michael Karanicolas, Wikimedia Fellow, Information Society Project, Yale Law School Molly Land, UConn Human Rights Institute Robin Mejia, Department of Statistics & Data Science, Carnegie Mellon University Sebastian Schwemer, Associate Professor, Centre for Information and Innovation Law (CIIR), University of Copenhagen Wafa Ben-Hassine, Human Rights Lawyer Yong Liu, Hebei Academy of Social Sciences ¡La carta está disponible en español aquí! ??????? ?????? ??????? ?????? ???. TopicAccess to informationArtificial intelligenceFreedom of expressionHuman rights and ICTs
Joint civil society open letter to the UN on public-private partnerships
Author : Various
April, 2020
Catherine Pollard, Under Secretary General for Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance Ilze Brands Kehris, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Maria Luiza Riberio Viotti, Chef de Cabinet, Executive Office of the Secretary-General (EOSG) Miguel de Serpa Soares, Under Secretary General for Legal Affairs United Nations Headquarters New York, NY, 10017, USA Dear Excellencies, The undersigned organizations write today to emphasize the fundamental importance of ensuring transparency and adequately assessing the human rights impact of any public-private partnerships that the United Nations (U.N.) may enter into, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. We acknowledge that the COVID-19 pandemic poses many unique challenges which must be addressed in order to effectively reach the global community and advance international cooperation during an unprecedented global health crisis. We further acknowledge that public-private partnerships – particularly with information communication technology (ICT) companies that have the capacity to reach millions of users – could provide much-needed technical resources to increase the U.N.’s capacity and improve accessibility for all stakeholders to the U.N.’s discussions, meetings, and other processes. We consider that initiatives from the private sector that go beyond their duty to respect human rights, and to actively promote them, are positive. At the same time, we believe there should be increased consultation with various stakeholders and scrutiny around both the process and content of any public-private partnership. This ranges from questions about whether potential conflicts of interest have been identified and mitigated, to whether a human rights impact assessment was conducted, and to the scope of the potential terms of an agreement and the privacy, data protection, and security measures in place to govern these services. We specifically caution against the use of proprietary technologies, especially those based on algorithmic and machine-learning techniques, unless significant safeguards are in place. These consultations should adopt a truly open and multi-stakeholder approach where all actors, including civil society, are on an equal footing. In relation to analogous public-private partnerships at the national level, Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council have warned that “[c]are must be taken to ensure that negotiations for public-private partnerships are fully transparent and are not kept confidential. [1] Each new public-private partnership the U.N. enters should provide a positive precedent for future cooperation between intergovernmental organizations and ICT companies. We therefore encourage the U.N. to conduct meaningful and transparent due diligence and prioritize engaging with companies that demonstrate a public commitment to respecting human rights. Often, the “medium” impacts the “message,” especially in online discourse. Therefore, intentionally or not, such partnerships may create the perception that the ICT company is in a unique position to influence conversations, or conversely, that the imprimatur of the U.N. extends to all aspects of the company’s operation. As a result, this influence can impact the level of participation (opt-out) or the quality of response (self-censorship). We express concerns regarding privacy, data protection, and security measures that govern digital platforms, particularly for those who communicate with the expectation that their data be held securely from third parties. Public-private partnerships in this area typically require exclusive contracts and allow the private company to analyze project data, including personal information, for various purposes. Such sensitive and contextual situations under U.N. auspices must be undertaken with the highest standards of care and human rights protection. Safeguards must be set in place to protect users already at risk of censorship and reprisals for exercising their freedom of expression. Even before COVID-19, we have witnessed U.N. agencies and offices increasingly enter into public-private partnerships. Currently the U.N. has no dedicated office or Special Representative to govern and monitor such partnerships. This is evident in the diverse array of officials addressed in this very letter. A dedicated U.N. office or Special Representative may assist the transparency and human rights monitoring of public-private partnerships and therefore strengthen public trust. Such a mechanism is becoming increasingly important given the wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. We therefore recommend: Seek out companies who engage in routine, public transparency reporting on their human rights impacts and who exemplify a genuine commitment to respect human rights.Make a public commitment to transparency and undertake consultations with various stakeholders, including experts in academia and civil society. Conduct meaningful and transparent due diligence to ensure no conflicts of interest exist or will arise, and conduct human rights impact assessments on projects and partners, engaging independent experts where necessary. If or when entering into a contract with a private company, carefully review the requirements the U.N. is obliged to meet under the contract, including issues such as: What is the sustainability of the partnership or project? What are the contract’s durations, sunset, and renewal terms? What terms and conditions apply to the conversations, documents, and other data planned to be hosted by the platform? What domestic or international laws or regulations govern these conditions? Do they align with human rights law? Will the private company have access to and the ability to process user data under this partnership? Ensure that contract language is aligned with the highest standards of rights protections, in particular in the areas of transparency, data protection, privacy and freedom of expression. Upon entering into a formal partnership, announce clearly the safeguards put into place to ensure that participants’ rights to privacy and free expression will be respected, and that they can participate freely without threat of intimidation or reprisal. Commit to promptly addressing any case of intimidation or reprisal that is reported in connection to participation in U.N. processes on a digital platform directly with the government in question and in partnership with the senior official responsible for reprisals. Develop and implement a dedicated U.N. office or Special Representative to monitor public-private partnerships, ensuring transparency and respect for human rights. We remain open to engaging with and advising the U.N. on the human rights implications and unintended risks of any public-private partnership the U.N. considers to undertake. We therefore remain committed to engage in further dialogue with you, your agencies, and affiliates as you navigate this difficult time. Sincerely, Access Now ARTICLE 19 Association for Progressive Communications (APC) Chinese Human Rights Defenders CIVICUS International Service for Human Rights Ranking Digital Rights Safeguard Defenders cc Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression Clément Voule, UN Special Rapporteur on Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association Joseph Cannataci, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights United Nations Global Compact Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, B-Tech Project UN Global Pulse [1] Special Rapporteur on the Right to education, report A/70/342 at para 110.
Why Gender Matters in International Cyber Security
Author : Deborah Brown and Allison Pytlak
April, 2020
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and the Association for Progressive Communications Gender matters in international cyber security. It shapes and influences our online behaviour; determines access and power; and is a factor in vulnerability, whether real or perceived. As a result, malicious cyber operations can differently impact people based on their gender identity or expression. Online gender dynamics have been shown to reinforce or even amplify the social, economic, cultural and political structures of the offline world. As gender affects the way people and societies view weapons, war, and militarism, a gender analysis of international cyber security can generate more nuanced understandings of the dynamics which shape policy and practice in this area. Yet, much of what is known about gender and cyber security comes from studies of online gender-based violence (GBV) and gender inequality within the information and communications technology (ICT) sector. There is growing recognition that online GBV is rooted in historical and structural inequalities in power relations between genders, which needs to be addressed as part of broader efforts to realize women's human rights. At the international level, human rights and "international security" are sometimes kept separate, meaning that while human rights should be a consideration when discussing international cyber security, the reality is that this has rarely been the case. As a result, less is known about how malicious international cyber operations between states affect people differently on the basis of gender or other characteristics that may put them in positions of vulnerability. While great strides have been made in recognizing the applicability of the human rights framework to threats and abuses against women's digital contexts, including though resolutions and recommendations from authoritative human rights bodies, the gender dimensions of international cyber security remain nearly unexplored. This report aims to fill that gap. It will have relevance for those working in or studying international cyber security policy, diplomacy, or research as well those interested in the nexus of gender and security. This report, commissioned by Global Affairs Canada, should help to inform recommendations for how multilateral cyber security processes, in particular the United Nations’ (UN) Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on "developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international cyber security" and participating member states can incorporate a gender perspective into future work. It opens by presenting key gender-relevant terms and concepts, alongside relevant frameworks in order to establish a common baseline of knowledge among readers. The subsequent sections use both desk and original research in the form of interviews to consider what are the potential impact of international cyber operations, in particular internet shutdowns, data breaches, and disinformation campaigns. The third section explores gender diversity and women’s participation within cyber policy and diplomacy. There are some limitations to highlight for readers at the outset. While the subsequent section will unpack terms and concepts that relate to gender, the original research found in later sections of the report focus exclusively on the experiences of women (except where otherwise noted). The researchers fully acknowledge and support the importance of approaching this topic with the wider lens, but because of time and other constraints were unable to examine the broader spectrum of people who may be impacted in relation to their gender identities and expressions. More research in this area should be encouraged. For similar reasons, the research does not include girls in its consideration of gender. The section on participation focuses mainly on the policy and diplomatic sectors within cyber security, and less on technical roles. Finally, the report assumes that readers have more familiarity with cyber security than gender. The researchers relied on desk research and interviews, conducted over a two-month period. Our methodology is detailed at the start of sections III and IV. Table of contents Section I: Introduction Section II: Framing Section III: Differentiated Impact of Cyber Incidents on the Basis of Gender Internet Shutdowns Data Breaches Disinformation Section IV: Participation Section V: Recommendations Annex I: Normative Frameworks Relevant to Gender and Cyber Security
Civil society comments on Kenya's "Draft Dynamic Spectrum Access Framework for Authorisation of the Use of TV White Spaces"
Author : Various
April, 2020
Comments in Response to the Public Consultation on the Draft Dynamic Spectrum Access Framework for Authorisation of the Use of TV White Spaces Submission Date: 17th April 2020 Introduction On the 3rd March 2020, the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) invited all stakeholders to submit their comments with respect to the Draft Dynamic Spectrum Access Framework for Authorisation of the Use of TV White Spaces. The following organisations are herewith submitting their comments with the common objective to help create a quality and affordable telecommunications service to all Kenyans, especially those in rural and underserved areas : Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet) Tunapanda Association for Progressive Communications Internet Society ? Rhizomatica Context Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is a key enabler in achieving Kenya’s vision 2030, which aims to transform the country into a globally competitive, middle-income, knowledge-based economy. Last year the government launched the “Big Four” agenda, which has four priority areas drawn from vision 2030. These are food security, affordable housing, universal healthcare and manufacturing. In the last decade, Kenya has experienced growth in the ICT sector, with the government investing in critical infrastructure such as fiber optic cables, which connect Kenya to international fiber networks. In addition, the government also connected each county to the national fiber optic backbone. Even with the progress, 48% of Kenyans, especially those living in rural areas, still remain unconnected to mobile networks. Fixed-line and wired networks are beyond reach for most Kenyans; this is indicated in the latest released statistics for the last quarter of 2019 in which the total broadband subscriptions from all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) combined was less than half a million. In the absence of affordable and reliable internet connection, Kenya’s rural population, who are mostly youth, will lack the skills and tools that can enable them to contribute and participate in the knowledge-based economy, thus impacting negatively the achievement of the country’s vision 2030. During these tough times of the global COVID-19 pandemic has reemphasised the importance of connecting every household in Kenya to ensure access to essential government services, digital healthcare and education. We welcome this opportunity to contribute to the work of the CA in such an important process. Click here to continue reading the full set of comments, or on the "Download" link on the right.
KICTANet submission on technology-related solutions to COVID-19
Author : Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet)
March, 2020
The Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet) is a multistakeholder platform for people and institutions interested and involved in ICT policy and regulation. The network aims to act as a catalyst for reform in the ICT sector in support of the national aim of ICT-enabled growth and development. ICTs are already playing a critical role in the management of the COVID-19 situation through information dissemination and availing tools that support business continuity, education and commerce, just to mention a few. KICTANet notes that it is important to support the continuity of activities such as learning, business and civic activities, and citizens' access to information. Pursuant to the notice requesting public input into the COVID-19 situation, and after intense consultation with its stakeholders, KICTANet prepared this submission to the Kenyan Senate COVID-19 Ad Hoc Committee with a series of recommendations related to ICT solutions to confront the pandemic.
Closer than ever: Keeping our movements connected and inclusive – The Association for Progressive Communications' response to the COVID-19 pandemic
Author : APC
April, 2020
Access to the internet is vital for an informed, cooperative and people-centred global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It plays a crucial role in enabling a flow of information and sustaining communities in times of crisis, and is integral to any disaster management plan. While devastating structural inequalities across the world are being laid bare by the virus, a sense of community and collective resilience are acquiring new meaning and importance. The internet is part of this emerging resilience. Because of this, it needs to be protected as a public good, and human rights must be upheld online in any response to the crisis. This position paper outlines the Association for Progressive Communications' (APC) current thinking on the pandemic. It identifies several key, interrelated issues that require attention by governments, the private sector and civil society: Digital exclusion makes the vulnerable more vulnerable The importance of upholding human rights online A feminist lens to respond and transform Reinvigorated attention to climate action and environmentally sustainable technologies Deepening inclusivity and connectedness, and strengthening our movements Summary of recommendations raised in this position paper The following key issues need attention by governments, private sector actors and civil society in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic: It is essential that governments respect human rights and that any limitations are justified and do not undermine the democratic foundations of societies. Measures adopted to respond to the crisis should be proportionate and avoid curtailing human rights unnecessarily. The internet is a global public resource that should be governed as a global public good. In the context of the pandemic, the publicness of the internet and the global digital commons should be strengthened rather than eroded. Governments and private sector actors should urgently develop strategies to increase internet access for digitally excluded communities, or those with limited connectivity. In the short term, data costs should be lowered, free public Wi-Fi spaces enabled, and the cost of access to devices reduced or subsidised. In the near term, plans for a rapid upscaling of community networks should be supported in policy directives. For the internet to be a terrain for resilience and connection, it has to be a safe space for all. Therefore, the importance of a feminist internet cannot be overstated. Donors and civil society organisations have a critical role to play in implementing strategies aimed at minimising the anxiety that emerges from the need to perform at a certain level of competence in relation to professional work and invisibilised and unpaid labour domestic work. The right to privacy needs to be upheld in the implementation of any surveillance and tracking technologies and solutions in managing the pandemic. The private sector also has an obligation to ensure that the rapid uptake of their applications safeguards privacy and is free from surveillance. Measures implemented by governments that impact on privacy need to be clearly communicated to the public. Freedom of expression and access to information need to be safeguarded. Internet shutdowns or other restrictions to internet access should not be considered as a response to the crisis under any circumstances. Censoring content or criminalising disinformation should be avoided, while practices of content verification should be encouraged. While the labour rights of content workers need attention, attention also needs to be given to the restrictions that automated content curation can place on accessing health information and freedom of expression. We need to critically rethink our idea of sustainable development, and what can be learned from the pandemic in terms of changing our work and social behaviour. Reinvigorated information and communications technology (ICT) policy advocacy is needed to promote environmentally safe technology solutions in tackling the climate and environmental crisis. How feminist, digital rights and environmental movements occupy the digital space will be a determining factor in how internet governance addresses power imbalances in the future. Meaningful inclusion and participation of all stakeholders in internet policy decision-making processes and forums remains necessary during the current crisis.
APC submission to the UN Human Rights Council 44th session report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of asso
Author : APC
March, 2020
As an organisation that has worked at the intersections of human rights and technology for nearly three decades, and which recognises the critical importance of ICTs for the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, APC welcomes the invitation of the Special Rapporteur to reflect on the mandate and to provide its inputs regarding growing challenges for the exercise of these rights offline and online. This submission responds to the following questions: What have been the most important areas of progress and achievements in your work over the past decade in advancing the exercise on the freedoms of peaceful assembly and of association (FoAA)? How is your organisation engaging with the UN human rights mechanisms to promote FoAA? Please provide specific examples or concrete cases. What are the main challenges that your organisation has confronted in seeking to protect the freedoms of peaceful assembly and of association since 2010? How have you addressed these challenges? What part of the population was particularly affected by those challenges? To what extent has the work of the Special Rapporteur proved useful in support of your work and to address the above-mentioned challenges? What were the most impactful actions of the mandate vis à vis your work and these challenges? In your view, a) where does the mandate stand today in terms of achieving progress or pushing back against closing civic space? b) What are your expectations of the mandate for the future? c) What should the mandate do more of, and where should its priorities lie in the coming years?
Ecuador: Surveillance technologies implemented to confront COVID-19 must not endanger human rights
Author : APC and Derechos Digitales
March, 2020
The undersigned organisations, which are dedicated to the promotion and defence of human rights, express their concern over the announcement of the use of satellite monitoring and georeferencing systems to track individuals as part of the disease containment measures established in Ecuador. The announcement was made on 17 March 2020 by Interior Minister María Paula Romo, [1] who announced a series of measures adopted by the government to confront the COVID-19 outbreak alongside the declaration of a state of emergency. [2] Use of surveillance and monitoring technologies must adhere to criteria of necessity and proportionality While the measures adopted in the framework of the state of emergency are aimed at slowing the spread of the virus in order to protect public health, it is crucial to ensure that the use of information and communications technologies – especially technologies for the surveillance and monitoring of the population – strictly adhere to the criteria of necessity and proportionality, in order to safeguard the exercise of human rights that could be negatively impacted by these measures, particularly the rights to privacy, physical and mental integrity, and non-discrimination. On 16 March, United Nations human rights experts issued a statement urging governments not to abuse emergency measures to suppress human rights. “While we recognize the severity of the current health crisis and acknowledge that the use of emergency powers is allowed by international law in response to significant threats, we urgently remind States that any emergency responses to the coronavirus must be proportionate, necessary and non-discriminatory,” the experts stated. [3] There is a danger that some states may use the public health emergency as a justification to implement measures that arbitrarily restrict public freedoms, and that, in the absence of robust legal and institutional frameworks, these restrictions could become permanent, given the impossibility for citizens to ensure that they are adequate, necessary and proportionate. In their statement, the UN experts stress: “To prevent such excessive powers to become hardwired into legal and political systems, restrictions should be narrowly tailored and should be the least intrusive means to protect public health.” The state of health of individuals must be viewed as highly protected information Because of its intrinsic connection with human dignity, information on the state of health of individuals is confidential and personal, and in accordance with both national and international norms, it should be subject to reinforced protection to prevent it from being used in a discriminatory manner. The legislation of most countries around the world treats health-related data as sensitive data within legal data protection frameworks, in terms of both general and health sector-related legal standards, which establish strict requirements for authorisation for its processing, and particularly severe penalties for violation of the rules on the use, storage and provision to third parties of this data. In Ecuador, legal protections are very clear in this regard. In article 66 of the country’s constitution, paragraphs 11, 19 and 20 establish the confidentiality of personal information, including health-related data, which can only be disseminated with personal authorisation or under a court order. Likewise, the Patients’ Rights and Assistance Act, in articles 2 and 4, establishes the right to be treated with dignity and the confidentiality of health-related information, which is reinforced in article 61 of the Organic Health Act, which obligates health care institutions and professionals to guarantee the confidentiality of all information provided and received. The country’s criminal code includes provisions aimed at protecting reserved, personal and confidential information, such as as articles 179 and 180, which establish the revelation of information covered by professional secrecy and restricted information as criminal offences. Given the delicate and confidential nature of health-related information, any measure that entails the identification of individuals as patients with specific diseases could exacerbate pre-existing situations of vulnerability and become a direct or collateral source of arbitrarily discriminatory actions by those who have legitimate or illegitimate access to this information, creating social stigma whose consequences may be as severe as those of the disease itself, as illustrated by recent experiences from the COVID-19 outbreak in South Korea. [4] It is crucial to ensure that the implementation of prevention and control measures related to the pandemic do not aggravate the already vulnerable situation of minority groups or individuals who are at greater risk of infection due to socioeconomic or other factors. Added to this concern is the evidence of the high degree of imprecision and fallibility of mass surveillance systems, and the impact they have on people’s personal safety and privacy due to their intrusiveness. In countries that have used georeferencing to track the population’s movements during a COVID-19 outbreak, there have been reports of system errors that not only led to false positives, but also stigma against certain patients because of the locations they may visit during their daily activities (for example, if they are in the vicinity of supposedly high-risk areas). In addition, these systems make it possible to trace links between patients that reveal private information, exposing them to public scrutiny, such as in cases where the disease is contracted during an extramarital affair, or while undergoing a particular type of treatment, for example. [5] The fallibility of georeferencing technology becomes an even greater risk when it is used to facilitate the criminal prosecution of individuals who violate medical quarantine measures. It is therefore important to ensure that legal proceedings against individuals deemed to have violated the measures established through the state of emergency adhere to the principles of due process and international human rights standards, and that the enforcement of justice is carried out in an independent and impartial manner. It is worth noting that in order for evidence to be admissible in a legal proceeding, it cannot be obtained through means that violate the constitution or other laws. The concerns outlined here around the use of georeferencing systems to track patients infected with COVID-19 are pertinent even in countries that have specific data protection legislation, which provides an institutional framework to curb abuses in the gathering and use of this information. The situation is even more worrying in Ecuador, because, in spite of the protections established in article 66, paragraphs 11, 19 and 20 of the constitution, the country continues to lack specific legal standards for data protection and an independent technical body that could effectively monitor the implementation of the measures to ensure that they respect the principles of adequacy, necessity and proportionality compatible with the rule of law.
CNX 2019 Report: Community Networks and the Internet of People
Author : Ritu Srivastava, Saurabh Srivastva and Kriti Singh
March, 2020
In December 2019, the third edition of the Community Network Exchange (CNX) took place in India. Over 50 people from 12 countries across Asia and South America met for a three-day summit, and this report provides an overview of the agenda, objectives and context of the event. The purpose of the CNX is for practitioners of community networks and community radio stations to discuss access to information, low-cost technologies, and independent infrastructure. Over the course of the three days, participants visited two different locations in the southern provinces of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The first day was spent at Janastu Basecamp, where two routers have been installed, providing network and radio services for the region. On the second day, the CNX moved to a new community space called ProtoVillage, a sustainable, locally developed community, that built its own communications infrastructure. The three days included numerous sessions on topics such as the role of women in developing safe community spaces, misinformation, and technological trends, as well as the actual management of community spaces. Only 8% of the population in the Asia Pacific region has access to good quality and affordable internet services, and the development of community networks presents a do-it-yourself way for communities to build a network that works directly to their needs. Given that big telecommunications operators tend to avoid remote and rural areas, community networks are an increasingly viable alternative to ensure that Sustainable Development Goal 9, which aims to see universal connectivity by 2030, can be achieved through non-traditional means. CNX 2019 was organised by the Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) and Internet Society (ISOC), with support from the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), Facebook, WhatsApp, ISIF and IDEOSync, as well as the local hosting partners, Janastu and ProtoVillage. External URL: https://defindia.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/CNX-Report-V-05.pdf
APC contribution to the Secretary-General’s Roadmap on the High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation and Roundtable 5A/5B on Digital Cooperation Archit
Author : APC
September, 2020
The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the Secretary-General’s Roadmap on Digital Cooperation and reiterates its support for the follow-up process of the recommendations from the UN High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation. Effective and viable ways to shape, sustain and strengthen global digital cooperation are paramount not only for universalising digital inclusion but to mobilise collective intelligence and the potential of multistakeholder collaboration and action to respond to the persistent and emerging challenges in the digital age, including the environmental crisis. In the coming years, the use, development and evolution of information and communications technologies (ICTs) should be decisively aimed at contributing to ensuring the full enjoyment of human rights online and offline at all levels, counteracting the weaponisation of the internet and other digital technologies, and establishing all the necessary measures to strengthen civic spaces, democratic processes and institutions. With decades of experience being engaged and helping to facilitate stakeholder participation and input into international internet governance processes, with an emphasis on participation from countries in the global South, APC is convinced that multilateralism and multistakeholderism are both necessary and can coexist, and that both must be strengthened. Consequently, we strongly support strengthening the IGF Plus model as the basis for establishing accountable, inclusive, participatory and effective global digital cooperation among all stakeholders. We believe the mandate and the structure of the IGF offers the most suitable basis to facilitate further work on policies and norms. In this contribution, APC highlights a number of aspects that would contribute to strengthening the IGF process: Greater political commitment of all stakeholders to participate, particularly governments. A more outcome-oriented process. Strengthened thematic focus as a basis for follow-up actions. Strengthened cooperation mechanisms between the global IGF and the national and regional IGF initiatives (NRIs). Dedicated resource mobilisation structure. More effective IGF intersessional work (Best Practice Forums, Dynamic Coalitions). Read the full text of APC's contribution here.
APC at the Human Rights Council 43rd session: Briefing on the deteriorating human rights situation in India
Author : Gayatri Khandhadai, APC Asia policy regional coordinator
March, 2020
Over the past few years, individuals living in India have experienced a sharp decline in the space available for exercise of human rights, particularly the right to dissent. Since early December 2019, peaceful protests have erupted throughout India in response to the adoption of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the targetting of religious minorities. In response, India has witnessed large-scale violence against dissenters, police excesses, and a clampdown on freedoms of religion and expression as well as assembly and association. This has been propelled by state complicity and rampant hate speech in media and online spaces. Background on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) Passed in early December 2019, the CAA – which amends the existing citizenship legislation – excludes Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who have been resident in India since before 2014 from the status of "illegal immigrants", and expedites their path to citizenship. The Amendment does not extend the same protection to atheists and Muslims, including minority sects, from these three countries. The CAA, read in conjunction with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR), has put India’s 200 million Muslims on high alert. The NRC, which is set to be implemented nationwide, is an exercise in registering every single person in the country in a single database, with the onus of proving citizenship on individuals through often hard-to-find ancestry documents. Incendiary remarks made by India’s Home Minister Amit Shah, linking the CAA and the NRC and calling Muslim migrants "infiltrators" and "termites", has further heightened fear of the impact of both the CAA and NRC on Muslims and other marginalised groups. This joins a growing list of controversies spurred by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government, which is accused of pushing a Hindu-nationalist agenda and discriminating against religious minorities. International groups and experts have also expressed their concerns in relation to this discriminatory legislation and have opined that the CAA undermines India’s secular constitution, which ensures the right to equality for all persons and does not list religion as a criterion for citizenship. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has called the CAA "fundamentally discriminatory in nature". According to the OHCHR, the amended law would appear to undermine the commitment to equality before the law enshrined in India’s constitution and India’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), to which India is a state party and which prohibits discrimination based on racial, ethnic or religious grounds. Restrictions on the right to freedom of assembly online and offline There has been a severe clampdown on the right to protest across India. Dozens of people have been killed and thousands have been arrested amid demonstrations in India against the CAA. The UN Secretary-General expressed concern about the Indian government’s use of excessive force and urged full respect for the rights of freedom of opinion and expression and peaceful assembly. There have also been prolonged network shutdowns as a result of the protests, with the government shutting off internet service or restricting internet use in nine states, affecting over 300 million people. In some places, messaging services were also suspended, leading to an almost complete communication blackout. This has severely restricted the ability of protesters to express their dissent and mobilise both online and offline. As stated by APC, there have been approximately 381 instances of internet shutdowns in India since 2012. Meanwhile, although prior permission is not a requirement for protests, in several cities such as Chennai and Hyderabad, restrictions on the right to protest have taken the form of requiring written authorisation for protests, which is ultimately denied. By denying applicants permission to protest, the police are forcing individuals to protest without permission and subsequently filing cases against them or holding them in detention. There have also been multiple instances of repeated imposition of Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which entails prohibition of movement or assemblies, in a number of jurisdictions, as a means to thwart anti-CAA protests. This practice has been met with severe criticism by courts, despite which restrictions continue. The authorities are also creating hurdles for the exercise of the right to assembly by creating restrictions in the movement of traffic in areas such as Shaheen Bagh in Delhi – where a peaceful sit-in has been in progress since 15 December 2019 and continues to date – by deliberately closing off adjacent roads, as a result of which the public is inconvenienced. Activists and protesters who are voicing their dissent in public despite these hurdles have been met with detentions and arrests. Several human rights defenders, critics and protesters have been held in detention and subsequently released while others continue to remain in prison. The Indian state has also filed cases against several thousands including artists for unlawful assembly for voicing their dissent against the discriminatory laws. Many have been arrested for social media posts on CAA and in support of protesters, with over 124 arrests in December 2019 alone for allegedly posting “inciting” messages on social media, including arrest and custodial torture of an activist for uploading videos of police excess on Facebook. The protests have also been marked by an increase in protesters being charged with a colonial-era sedition law for their legitimate expression. Police violence against women, students and protesters Anti-CAA protests, which have been largely peaceful, have been subjected to unlawful and violent police action across India. On 15 December 2019, the police engaged in large-scale excesses against students of the Jamia Millia University in Delhi, where they entered different parts of the university including the reading hall in riot gear and beat up students, resulting in bloodshed, grievous bodily harm and severe physical injuries. In the last week of February 2020, riots broke out in the national capital resulting in the death of 40 individuals, mostly from religious minorities. The police failed to control the confrontation between pro- and anti-government protesters and were found to have aided the pro-government groups in unleashing violence. The failure of the state to take action against erring officers has been repeatedly raised by civil society. For instance, following the violence and killing of protesters in Mangalore on 19 December 2019, over 20 persons were detained ultimately resulting in the Karnataka High Court releasing them after noting excesses of the police and the need to take action. Similarly, on 14 February 2020, the police engaged in "lathi charge" and violence against peaceful women protesters in Chennai, which ultimately resulted in spontaneous protests breaking out throughout the state. In the latter case, the police officers, instead of facing action, have been provided with protection and given promotions.
APC submission on the Revised Draft General Comment No. 37 on Article 21 (right of peaceful assembly) of the International Covenant on Civil and Poli
Author : APC
February, 2020
The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) produced this written submission on the Revised Draft of General Comment No. 37 on Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in response to the United Nations Human Rights Committee’s invitation for civil society and other stakeholders to provide comments on the Draft General Comment. APC thanks the Committee for its commitment to a participatory drafting process, and welcomes the invitation to provide its observations and comments on the Draft General Comment, particularly as it believes that its contents are especially relevant in the current global climate. However, and in order to ensure that the Draft General Comment retains relevance, APC’s submission encourages further engagement and clarity in the expanding realm of online or digital assemblies, among others, and seeks to illustrate the emerging opportunities and challenges created through the increased use of information and communications technologies (ICTs), particularly surveillance technologies. In this written submission, APC draws the Committee’s attention to the challenges of the full enjoyment of the right to peaceful assembly within digital spaces, that is, both off- and online. APC also offers commentary on overall conceptual questions in the General Comment. As the ubiquity of the internet and ICTs increases, questions on the manner in which we exercise fundamental rights within these digital spaces are beginning to abound. This Revised General Comment is therefore particularly important as it will become the leading tool for both international and national-level advocacy and, accordingly, it should reflect grassroots realities both off- and online. Further, APC highlights the contemporary risks of surveillance technologies on the right to peaceful assembly. More specifically, APC draws the Committee’s attention to facial recognition surveillance technologies and the need to ensure that current technologies are compliant with international human rights standards. The risks and violations linked to surveillance technologies are brought into sharper focus when considered in conjunction with the rapid advancement and adoption of the automated decision-making capabilities of artificial intelligence. Accordingly, the submission is structured as follows: Online assemblies: which includes recognition of the right to peaceful assembly online, the role of online assemblies in facilitating the exercise of the right to peaceful assembly, and the obligations on state and non-state actors to refrain from undue restrictions in this regard. Surveillance technologies: which includes the role of surveillance technologies in inhibiting and restricting the right to peaceful assembly and the need for safeguards. More specifically, the need to prohibit the use of facial recognition technologies and their impact on the exercise of fundamental rights. Additional comments on ICTs: which provides paragraph-specific references and suggested text throughout the Revised General Comment where APC suggests that reference to online assemblies and ICTs should be included. General observations: which provides paragraph-specific references and suggested text on overall conceptual issues which are relevant to the full enjoyment of the right to peaceful assembly off- and online. This written submission was prepared with the assistance of ALT Advisory.
"Access Denied": New research by 7amleh Center about Palestinian access to e-commerce
Author : 7amleh – The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media
February, 2020
7amleh – The Arab Center for Advancement of Social Media published “Access Denied – E-Commerce in Palestine.” The research highlights how occupation, failure to fulfill the Oslo Accords and digital discrimination from international tech companies have stunted the development of the Palestinian economy and created challenges for Palestinian buyers, sellers and workers online. 7amleh – The Arab Center for Advancement of Social Media published “Access Denied – E-Commerce in Palestine.” The research highlights how occupation, failure to fulfill the Oslo Accords and digital discrimination from international tech companies have stunted the development of the Palestinian economy and created challenges for Palestinian buyers, sellers and workers online. The research also shows how technology companies that provide online financial and commercial services deprive Palestinians of their right to access economic markets. It includes a review of Palestinian access to Amazon, eBay, Ali Baba/Ali Express, Etsy, Facebook, Instagram, Freelancer and UpWork. “Access Denied – E-Commerce in Palestine ” also profiles Palestinians buyers, sellers and workers and the challenges they face when engaging with the digital economy and samples of the “work around” solutions they have devised. The research found that Palestinian e-commerce businesses have processed between 20,000 – 40,000 deliveries in 2019, and spent on average $5,000-$10,000 per business on digital marketing. Interviews also found that, in most cases, especially when buying from local vendors, consumers in the West Bank and Gaza still continue to prefer to pay with cash. Palestinian consumers in the West Bank and Gaza face multiple logistical hurdles when buying products from international vendors. Several e-commerce platforms and marketplaces do not ship directly to the West Bank and Gaza. Instead, buyers often use P.O. Box address of contacts in Israel to ensure their products are delivered. For websites that do offer shipping to Palestine, deliveries are frequently delayed given Israel’s control over incoming mail to the West Bank and Gaza. This creates delays in business operations and increases risk, putting Palestinians at a disadvantage. The research recommends that governments, the banking sector, and e-commerce companies work to ensure the financial inclusion of Palestinians in the digital economy by increasing digital access, financial access, integrating logistics and making necessary policy changes. It recommends that Israel must allow the Palestinian ICT sector and infrastructure to be independent and that third-party states hold Israel accountable for violations of Palestinian rights. It also recommends that the PA must work to increase access to the internet and develop policies that will protect Palestinians online that include data and privacy protections and respect for Palestinian’s under Article 12 of the 1948 UN Declaration of Human Rights. Palestinian banks must also work to enable freelancers to easily open bank accounts and introduce a ‘freelancer’/ ‘entrepreneur’ credit card, to allow holders to register and receive payments on the leading freelancing platforms. This research is part of a series of research on Palestinian human rights in the digital space carried out by 7amleh, as an organization concerned with Palestinian digital rights. It was developed with support from the Association for Progressive Communications and was done by Zayne Abudaka and Sari Taha . To download the full research, click here. To download the infographic, click here.
#KeepIton: Joint letter on keeping the internet open and secure during the elections in Togo
Author : Various
February, 2020
Your Excellency Cina Lawson, Posts, Digital Economy, and Technology Innovation Minister CC: M. Abayeh Germain Boyodi, Director of Autorité de Régulation des Communications Électroniques et des Postes (ARCEP); Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS); The Chief Observer of the EU Election Observation Mission for 2020 We are writing to urgently request that your offices ensure the stability and openness of the internet and social media platforms in Togo. We have received information that your government intends to shut down the internet during the presidential elections scheduled for February 22, 2020. On behalf of more than 210 organizations from over 70 countries that make up the #KeepItOn Coalition, we appeal to you, Minister Lawson, to ensure that the internet including social media and other communication channels are open, secure, and accessible before, during, and after the presidential elections in Togo.
Telecommunications Reclaimed: A hands-on guide to networking communities
Author : Various (Edited by Mélanie Dulong de Rosnay and Félix Tréguer, CNRS)
February, 2020
This book is a guide on how to build a community network, a shared local telecommunications infrastructure, managed as a commons, to access the internet and other digital communications services. It was written collectively by a group of community network pioneers in Europe, activists and researchers during a writing residency week held in Vic, Catalonia in October 2018. It was a time of hard work and fast writing, but also of discussions in a friendly environment. Meant for a wide audience, the book includes practical knowledge illustrated by several hands-on experiences – a set of 32 real-life stories – as well as legal, technical, governance, economic and policy material extracted from netCommons, a three-year-long research project supported by the European Commission. Its goal is to guide the reader through a set of actions aimed at setting up and fostering the growth of a community network, but also, for policy makers, local administrations and the general public, to create the right conditions to let community networks bloom and flourish. Starting with presentations of successful community networks, and an introduction to the importance and the role of community networks, it provides step by-step guidelines and concrete information on the resources needed to start a community network, get it running, and keep it sustainable in the long term. From technical options to economic models, governance choices, legal requirements, and the various skills involved, this lively resource proposes ways to engage with a local community at every stage of a community network. The book is organised in six parts that comprise 25 short chapters. The first parts address different topics, starting with general definitions of what community networks are, and why they are important in society and in the global communications ecosystem. Next come more technical parts that address different dimensions (engineering, social, legal, political) on how to kickstart a community network, how to let it grow properly, and how to make it sustainable. After three years of work and research, we are convinced that there is no single recipe for the success of a community network. To reflect this, the book takes an "exemplify and experiment" approach. The exemplification starts with success stories which are framed within a more general and methodological process to highlight positive patterns. As for experimentation, it takes the form of questions and reasoning around them to help the readers and practitioners elaborate the right strategy for their own context: social, cultural, economic, political and geographic. The significant emphasis on personal stories highlights the fact that the book represents the perspective of a specific group of people, gathered in a specific place in a specific moment in time. The book takes a European perspective, since all experiences documented have taken place in various European countries. Some technical details presented in the book might be outdated today, and others will probably become outdated in a few years. But since they are presented as stories of key actors in the field of community networks, we believe that they can remain a source of inspiration to new community network pioneers around the world. The book is completed by a seventh part with five appendices. They include the Pico Peering Agreement, a document formalising the interactions between volunteers and owners of individual network nodes; a template for terms of use (based on European law) that will make community networks who use it legally safe and robust; and guidelines for policy makers on how to foster community networks (again, they are based on the European legal environment). These appendices are completed by a glossary to navigate the complexity of technical terms that are needed to understand a community network, and finally, a list of suggested readings to strengthen knowledge on specific themes and find appropriate resources to help increase knowhow and technical skills. The research presented in this book, the writing residency and the editing process were funded by the Horizon 2020 programme of the European Union (Grant Number 688768), project netCommons Network Infrastructure as Commons (netcommons.eu). The production of this book was co-funded by the European project netCommons (see above) and published with the additional support of the Internet Society and the Association for Progressive Communications.
Comments in respect of the Provisioning of Mobile Broadband Wireless Open Access Services for Urban and Rural Areas Using the Complementary Bands, IM
Author : Zenzeleni Networks and APC
January, 2020
In Public Notice 597 in the Government Gazette dated 1 November 2019 on the Licensing Process for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) Spectrum, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) invited interested stakeholders to submit their comments in respect of the Provisioning of Mobile Broadband Wireless Open Access Services for Urban and Rural Areas Using the Complementary Bands, IMT700, IMT800, IMT2300, IMT2600 and IMT3500. Zenzeleni Networks and the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) jointly submitted their comments with the common objective of helping to create quality and affordable telecommunications service for all South Africans, especially those in rural areas. The comments included three key recommendations: Create a new Shared Access Licence that would permit geographically-limited use in underserved rural areas of a selection of unassigned IMT frequencies by not-for-profit community networks and small commercial internet service providers. Create a new Local Access Licence that would permit geographically-limited use by community-owned networks in underserved rural areas of IMT spectrum that is assigned to an existing operator but which is unused and of limited or no commercial interest. Establish spectrum licence fee exemptions for not-for-profit community-owned networks in order to enhance their viability in the most challenging services areas in the country
Report on use of ICTs for enabling economic, social and cultural rights in Chile
Author : APC and Derechos Digitales
January, 2020
The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and Derechos Digitales welcome the opportunity to submit this Parallel Report ahead of the 66th session of the Pre-Sessional Working Group of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR). This submission is centred on cross-cutting issues related to the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) affecting the exercise of economic, social and cultural rights in the International Covenant for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), especially those related to the rights to health (Article 12), to work (Article 6) and just and favourable conditions of work (Article 7), to taking part in cultural life (Article 15), and the right to non-discrimination (Article 2.2) as a cross-cutting concern, as the equal enjoyment of all rights can be enabled or hindered by the use of ICTs. Download the full report here.
APC submission to the ITU Council Working Group-Internet Open Consultation on “International Internet-related Public Policy Issues on Harnessing New
Author : APC
January, 2020
In an increasingly interconnected world, it is easy to forget that many people, especially those living in the rural areas of low-income economies, lack basic internet connectivity. We encourage the ITU to continue to focus on its core mandate of “connecting all the world’s people”. Within this context, ITU’s expertise could help to explore new and emerging technologies to improve connectivity. New and emerging technologies and the institutional strategies around them need to be promoted and resourced to address, firstly, digital inclusion, so everyone, and not a privileged few, can benefit from other new emerging technologies, such as virtual reality, the internet of things, augmented reality and blockchain. Commitments for meaningful internet access and digital inclusion need to be reinforced before the benefits of new and emerging technologies can be fully realised. To achieve this, innovative complementary solutions to existing national mobile broadband strategies, such as community networks, should be prioritised. The social and cultural barriers that contribute to the gender digital divide should be also addressed, as well as access disparities among other people and groups to ensure that “no one is left behind”. In this submission to the ITU Council Working Group on International Internet-related Public Policy Issues (CWG-Internet) Open Consultation on “International Internet-related Public Policy Issues on Harnessing New and Emerging Telecommunications/ICTs for Sustainable Development”, APC offers reflections around the following questions: How will new and emerging telecommunications/ICTs impact both the internet and sustainable development, including the digital economy? What are the opportunities and challenges for the adoption and growth of the new and emerging telecommunications/ICTs and internet? How can governments and the other stakeholders harness the benefits of new and emerging telecommunications/ICTs? What are the best practices for promoting human skills, institutional capacity, innovation and investment for new and emerging telecommunications/ICTs?
APC's reflections on the 2019 IGF and suggestions for 2020
Author : APC
January, 2020
The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) sees the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) – both as an annual global event and national, regional and intersessional processes and events – as critical for bringing together key stakeholders for policy dialogue, collaboration, coordination, capacity building and networking, and as a platform to raise human rights concerns. We want to express our appreciation to all who made the IGF 2019 possible: the Secretariat, the Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG), the MAG chair, the government of Germany, providers of financial support to the IGF, and all those who contributed to intersessional work, national and regional IGF initiatives and the annual event. This document summarises APC's reflections on the 2019 IGF in terms of what worked well and what did not work so well, in the areas of content, agenda and sessions; logistics; and inclusion, diversity and safety. It further offers recommendations for the 2020 IGF in those same areas.
APC Submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance: Thematic repo
Author : APC
December, 2019
The Association for Progressive Communications welcomes the focus of the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance on the acute and structural threats that new information technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), pose to the rights to non-discrimination and racial equality, human rights principles and standards, and also welcomes the opportunity to contribute to her report on this important topic. Contrary to popular belief that AI is neutral, infallible and efficient, it is a socio-technical system with significant limitations. One possible explanation is that the data used to train AI systems “emerges from a world that is discriminatory and unfair, and so what the algorithm learns as ground truth is problematic to begin with. Humans building these systems have their biases and train systems in a way that is flawed. But there is another explanation that focuses on the global power relations in which these systems are built. AI systems are flawed because they amplify some voices at the expense of others, and are built by a few people and imposed on others. “In other words, the design, development, deployment and deliberation around AI systems are profoundly political.” The impact of AI is significant and unique, depending on the context in which these systems are deployed, and the purposes for which they are built. It is a matter of reckoning with the imperfect, discriminatory and unfair world from which these systems arise, and the underlying structural and historical legacy in which these systems are applied. The 2019 edition of the Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) report, produced by APC in partnership with ARTICLE 19, focuses on the impacts of AI from the perspectives of human rights, development and social justice, with a specific focus on the global South. This submission draws heavily on GISWatch 2019, extracting elements that are most relevant to the topic of this consultation.
Unpacking the GGE's framework on responsible state behaviour: Cyber norms
Author : Anriette Esterhuysen, Deborah Brown and Sheetal Kumar
December, 2019
At the UN First Committee, two processes – the UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) and the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) – are currently exploring the same question: responsible state behaviour in cyberspace. This term comes from a 2015 report by the previous GGE, which defines it according to a framework of four components: 1) norms, rules and principles; 2) confidence-building measures; 3) capacity-building; and 4) the application of international law in cyberspace. Understanding these components is crucial to engaging effectively at the GGE and OEWG. In this series, we’ll be looking at each component in turn – looking at what they mean, how they have been defined, and their relevance to human rights. In this entry, we examine norms in cyberspace, or "cyber norms". This explainer was authored by Deborah Brown and Anriette Esterhuysen of the Association for Progressive Communications and Sheetal Kumar of Global Partners Digital.
Joint letter: Ban security and surveillance facial recognition
Author : Various
December, 2019
We, organisations, collectives, companies, associations and trade unions, ask the French Parliament and government to ban any use of facial recognition techniques for security and surveillance purposes, now and in the future. We note that such technologies are already being widely deployed in France. In addition to the “PARAFE” automated border gates already installed in various stations and airports in France, since 2012 and the creation of the prior criminal records database (the Traitement des antécédents judiciaires file), civil and military police can run facial recognition techniques on images captured on the street by surveillance cameras, or taken from social media. Other experiments are already underway or planned. Yet, many public and private actors are not satisfied with the multitude of systems already installed, outside of any real legal framework, without transparency or public discussion, and want to go further. Gounded in the fantasy of unavoidable technical development and pushing narrow economic and security-mongering arguments, they want to speed up and simplify deployment of these systems, regardless of the possible consequences for our freedoms and our model of society. Facial recognition is a uniquely invasive and dehumanizing technology, which makes possible, sooner or later, constant surveillance of the public space. It creates a society in which we are all suspects. It turns our face into a tracking device, rather than a signifier of personality, eventually reducing it to a technical object. It enables invisible control. It establishes a permanent and inescapable identification regime. It eliminates anonymity. No argument can justify the deployment of such a technology. Besides anecdotal convenience (using your face rather than passwords to log in online or unlock your phone), its only effective promises are to hand over to the State a power of total control over its population — which it will be tempted to abuse against political its opponents and certain populations. Because facial recognition for security and surveillance purposes is by essence disproportionate, it is pointless to entrust with the responsibility of case by case evaluation an authority which would, inevitably, fail to track its numerous new applications. This is why we ask you to ban any security and surveillance use of facial recognition. Such bans have already been decided in several cities in the United States. France and the European Union must go further, and, in keeping with the General Data Protection Regulation, build a European model that will respect its citizens’ freedoms. It will also be necessary to strengthen the requirements on protection of personal data and to limit the other uses of facial recognition. Be it for purposes of private authentication or identification, these systems on the whole do not offer sufficient protection of privacy, and they prepare, and normalize, a society of mass surveillance.
APC statement at the Intersessional Meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on ICTs: Engaging all stakeholders to enhance capacity-building efforts
Author : APC
December, 2019
Delivered by: Deborah Brown 4 December 2019 New York Session E) Confidence-building measures and capacity-building. Engaging all stakeholders to enhance capacity-building efforts Thank you, Chair. I’d like to build on the points from a few previous speakers concerning the importance of regional cooperation and of bringing multistakeholder and multidisciplinary approaches to capacity-building initiatives. From APC’s perspective, we feel it’s important to integrate cybersecurity in our broader work on internet governance capacity building, because cybersecurity touches on so many other areas of internet governance. In that context, I’d like to share our experience running the African School on Internet Governance (AfriSIG). AfriSIG is an annual five-day residential course whose goal is to develop a pipeline of African leaders from diverse sectors, backgrounds and ages with the skills to participate in local and international internet governance structures, and shape the future of the internet landscape for Africa's development. APC agrees with other speakers that local contexts and knowledge are necessary for effective capacity building, so I’d like to point out that AfriSIG is designed, developed and run by colleagues in and from the region, together with partners like the African Union and Research ICT Africa. Since AfriSIG’s inception in 2013, cybersecurity has been part of the School’s programme, and in recent years it has taken up increasing space on the agenda. In most years AfriSIG has taken place immediately preceding the African Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which has allowed the alumni to directly apply their learnings to an important regional multistakeholder process. I am pleased to say I see several AfriSIG alumni and faculty around the room, including colleagues who have intervened and set the scene in this session. I also wanted to respond to a few points from other speakers. First, to respond to the question from Canada, APC has recognised that women and gender-diverse people are often under-represented in internet governance spaces and that internet governance discussions lack gender analysis. In some years, we have co-located what we call “Gender and Internet Governance Exchanges” with AfriSIG. These Exchanges bring together women’s rights, internet rights and sexual rights activists to build awareness and understanding of the relationship between gender, women’s rights and internet governance, including cybersecurity. We have also held these Exchanges ahead of other regional IGFs, for example in the Latin American and Caribbean region. Second, I wanted to reinforce a point made by my colleague at ARTICLE 19, which is the disturbing trend we have seen of the criminalisation of technical expertise, expertise that can contribute to cyber capacity building. We have seen digital security experts and researchers arrested, detained and charged with criminal offences for imparting critical knowledge and skills that make people more secure online. Such measures are inconsistent with international human rights law and undermine cyber capacity-building efforts. Moreover, imparting technical expertise to enhance security online is not a crime. Finally, a few states have mentioned the potential of state reporting on implementation of the agreed 11 norms, as an opportunity to identify gaps where capacity building is needed. In a previous intervention, we described our proposal for a multistakeholder periodic review mechanism to assess the implementation of norms. We see this mechanism as way to help close the accountability gap, but also to build confidence and trust, and to build capacity. Part of why we see stakeholder input into a review mechanism as so critical is because assessments can identify areas where technical assistance is needed and help provide that capacity building. Therefore, we underscore the importance of inclusive, bottom-up and transparent processes that involve the technical community, the private sector, academia and civil society in assessing implementation of norms and identifying needs for capacity building. Thank you, Chair.
Contribution to Ethiopian Telecommunications Sector Stakeholder Consultation No. 001-2019
Author : Various
November, 2019
In the Public Notice “Ethiopian Telecommunications Sector Stakeholder Consultation No. 001-2019”, the Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) invited interested stakeholders to submit their comments on the overall telecommunications market opening process in the country. APC joined with the Alliance for Affordable Internet, Internet Society, Network for Digital Rights for Ethiopia and Bahir Dar Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) Research Center to submit comments with the common objective of helping to create quality and affordable telecommunications service for all Ethiopians. The joint submission focuses on the core issues that the organisations involved believe to be important to create an inclusive and affordable sector that will benefit everyone, including those living in rural and sparsely populated regions. In particular, it focuses on opening up the market not only to large commercial operators, but also to smaller regional/local operators and community networks that fill the gap that large operators leave behind. This will necessitate the development of adapted licensing regimes and making resources such as spectrum accessible for these operators. Read the full submission here.
Global Information Society Watch 2019 - Artificial intelligence: Human rights, social justice and development
Author : Various
November, 2019
Artificial intelligence (AI) is now receiving unprecedented global attention as it finds widespread practical application in multiple spheres of activity. But what are the human rights, social justice and development implications of AI when used in areas such as health, education and social services, or in building “smart cities”? How does algorithmic decision making impact on marginalised people and the poor? This edition of Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) provides a perspective from the global South on the application of AI to our everyday lives. It includes 40 country reports from countries as diverse as Benin, Argentina, India, Russia and Ukraine, as well as three regional reports. These are framed by eight thematic reports dealing with topics such as data governance, food sovereignty, AI in the workplace, and so-called “killer robots”. While pointing to the positive use of AI to enable rights in ways that were not easily possible before, this edition of GISWatch highlights the real threats that we need to pay attention to if we are going to build an AI-embedded future that enables human dignity. Download a full copy of the report in PDF format Order a printed copy of the book Download ebook [MOBI format] Download ebook [EPUB format] More information: GISWatch sneak peek version GISWatch sneak peek version in Spanish (in collaboration with ALAI) Press release Press Kit External URL: https://www.giswatch.org/2019-artificial-intelligence-human-rights-social-justic… TopicAccess to informationArtificial intelligenceCultural and linguistic diversityDigital securityFeminist internet APC-wide activitiesInternet rights are human rightsGlobal Information Society WatchInternet Governance Forum TagsGISWatchartificial intelligencehuman rightssocial justiceDevelopment RegionAfricaAsiaEuropeGlobalLatin America & the CaribbeanMiddle East and North AfricaNorthern AmericaOceania MembersAlex ComninosAndrew GartonAssociació Pangea - Coordinadora Comunicació per a la CooperacióBlueLink Information NetworkBytesforall BangladeshCollaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA)Cooperativa Sulá BatsúDerechos DigitalesDigital Empowerment Foundation (DEF)Fundación Escuela Latinoamericana de Redes (EsLaRed)Joy LiddicoatKorean Progressive Network JinbonetMallory KnodelNodo TauPROTEGE QV PartnerARTICLE 19Internet Society (ISOC) SupportARTICLE 19Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)
APC submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief: Gender and freedom of religion or belief
Author : APC
November, 2019
The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) presents this report on the experience and situation of women and lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, intersex, queer and asexual (LGBTIQA+) persons and communities in relation to the intersection of religion and online spaces, with particular examples from Asia given the pressing nature of the issues in the region. Women and people of diverse and marginalised genders and sexualities or LGBTIQA+ individuals and organisations, on the one hand, face challenges in the exercise of their right to religion and on the other, face severe restrictions and consequences on their bodies, expression and faith imposed in the name of religion. Information and communications technologies (ICTs) have made spaces and tools available for vulnerable groups, especially women and LGBTIQA+ persons, to find ways and mediums to exercise their right to freedom of religion or belief. However, the violations suffered offline continue online, and in some cases are exacerbated. To counter these, women and LGBTIQA+ led movements have leveraged ICTs to express their collective dissent and find other like-minded individuals. The space available for expressing opinions in relation to religion has consistently come under attack, especially online. Laws relating to obscenity, blasphemy and insulting religion are extended to online spaces, and ICT-specific laws are also used to criminalise expression of women and LGBTIQA+ persons in the name of religion. Religious, sexual and political expression of these persons is marginalised. Websites and social media pages of advocacy groups, including those providing critical sexual and reproductive health information, have been taken down or subjected to cyber attacks with the support of religious groups. The most palpable form of violation faced online is the barrage of hate speech, harassment and intimidation faced by women and LGBTIQA+ individuals for expressing their opinion on religion or discriminatory religious practices. These attacks are further heightened against opinion makers, public figures and journalists from these vulnerable groups. The result of this is a serious assault on the freedom of religion and expression of individuals, forcing them to exercise self-censorship or be subjected to emotional and physical violence. These worrying trends are particularly pronounced in the global South, where there is entrenched patriarchy in an environment where multiple ethnicities and religious groups cohabit. Women and LGBTIQA+ individuals and groups face repression online across countries at the behest of extremist Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Islamic and Sikh religious groups and as a result of majoritarianism. The examples presented in this submission go to show that it is critical that the report addressing gender and freedom of religion or belief addresses the experience of these groups offline and online. In many cases, the state machineries and political figures have provided covert or overt support to groups perpetrating sexism, hate and violence in the name of religion or religious propriety. Non-state actors operate with impunity in online spaces and are emboldened by the lack of action by the state and social media platforms. Large private social media platforms have long practiced discriminatory standards against content generated by women and LGBTIQA+ individuals with a view to avoid backlash from religious groups. On the other hand, these platforms have failed to implement the community standards to ensure that the rights of these individuals are guaranteed and that they are protected against violations. Given this context, some immediate steps are necessary. International processes must always take into account gender perspectives and the voices of women and people of diverse and marginalised genders and sexualities on matters relating to freedom of religion or belief. States must reform laws to ensure that political and religious expression of LGBTIQA+ persons is protected and refrain from providing impunity to perpetrators in online and offline spaces. Private sector technology platforms must reform their community standards and root them in international human rights standards. They must allocate more human and other resources with local expertise to take action against gender- and religion-based hate speech. Most importantly, the private sector must immediately refrain from making their platforms available or providing advertising space to fundamentalist and intolerant groups. TopicFreedom of expressionFreedom of religionGender and ICTsHuman rights and ICTs Tagsgenderfreedom of religion or belieffreedom of expression
APC priorities for the 14th Internet Governance Forum
Author : APC
November, 2019
1. Introduction The 14th edition of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), the United Nations’ most significant multistakeholder platform for discussing internet governance, is taking place in Berlin from 25 to 29 November. The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) values the IGF as a convening space to substantively engage in and contribute to internet policy discussions with a broad range of stakeholders. The overall theme for this year’s IGF is “One World. One Net. One Vision.” APC supports an open, stable, free, secure and not fragmented internet. However, we believe the idea that there is “one net" and one shared vision does not really reflect reality, nor is it desirable. APC works towards an internet in which all people, in all their diversity, are able to use and shape the internet and digital technologies to create a just and sustainable world. After an abbreviated three-day IGF in 2018, the IGF is back to its typical format of four official days plus a Day 0. This year’s IGF marks the third year in a row that the IGF takes place in Western Europe, which undoubtedly hampers the ability of people from the global South, particularly civil society, to participate due to visa requirements. The IGF schedule appears to be more streamlined, with fewer workshops (around 60) than previous years, [1] which are organised around three thematic streams: Data Governance; Digital Inclusion; and Safety, Security, Stability and Resilience. This year, the IGF will feature “Introductory sessions” and “Concluding sessions” for each theme, which may help participants to follow the different tracks, including topics they do not have expertise in. The downside of this streamlined approach is that fewer workshops may mean some topics do not receive adequate attention. 2. Current trends and recent developments regarding internet governance This year’s IGF comes at a time when protests and people’s movements have erupted in many countries around the world. While the root causes of the protests are distinct in each country, the internet has allowed the world to follow these events, and in many cases protestors have used digital technologies to connect, organise, document abuses, and show solidarity. At the same time, in a familiar cat-and-mouse game, the powers against which these movements are organising are restricting the use of the internet and employing technologies to protect their interests. Predictably, governments have been intentionally disrupting internet services, such as in Ecuador and Egypt, and deploying pervasive surveillance measures to reign in demonstrations. In Chile and Hong Kong, protestors have employed creative measures to disrupt and in some cases decapitate surveillance cameras and police drones. This past year also saw increased urgency to address the spread of terrorist and violent extremist content online, new proposals and thinking on content moderation and regulation, agreements from groups that run internet infrastructure that could also affect speech online, the creation of new processes, norms and institutions to address cybersecurity and stability, heightened concern about the impact of disinformation for democratic institutions, unprecedented scrutiny of the surveillance technology industry, and growing awareness about the widespread ramifications of the application of artificial intelligence on our societies. It is against this backdrop that the internet governance community will convene, tackling critical issues of access and digital inclusion, the regulation of platforms and governance of data, and addressing the proliferation of online threats without undermining the integrity of the internet and people’s ability to use it securely to improve their lives. This year’s IGF will provide an opportunity to convene critical discussions about these timely topics as well as persistent challenges like ending digital exclusion. The future of the IGF itself is also likely to be a topic of considerable discussion following the report of the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation. 3. APC’s priorities and activities at IGF 2019 3.1 Access and digital inclusion Amid growing consensus among international organisations that the rate at which mobile networks are extending coverage is slowing down and even plateauing, and increased awareness that the widely hyped 5G will only benefit wealthy urban sectors of the population, a growing number of voices are recognising the need for innovative models to connect the unconnected. APC works towards affordable and meaningful access to the internet for all people and all the time, irrespective of class, identity, gender or disability, or where they live. The IGF remains a dynamic platform for convening, exchanging knowledge and strategising around this critical issue. Community networks: Together with our members, as well as the Internet Society (ISOC) and other partners, APC has continued to work intensively on community networks as a means for empowering people to build and manage their own access. A growing number of international reports have recognised the value of community networks, including a recent declaration from African ministers, directing the African Union to promote them. This reflects acknowledgement of the value of community networks beyond the simple extension of connectivity, but also in tackling other barriers of the so-called usage gap, such as affordability, digital skills, and relevant content. As part of this work, we support alternatives to business models that rely on people’s purchasing power. Since current strategies struggle to address the needs of the billions who still suffer from ineffective communication services due to coverage and affordability limitations, communities are increasingly building and managing their own access solutions. At the IGF, APC is co-organising the workshop Towards equitable, sustainable community-led networks, which will look at infrastructure and connectivity issues from a gender perspective. APC will also participate in a roundtable organised by ISOC, Community networks: opportunities, challenges and solutions, which will look at how governments can work with underserved, rural, remote, and indigenous areas to empower them to create their own connectivity solutions, and what needs to be done to reduce or eliminate administrative, regulatory and policy barriers to community network deployment. We will continue engaging with the Dynamic Coalition on Community Connectivity, which this year will have a focus on the policy and regulatory interventions that enable community networks. APC staff will moderate other sessions on the topic where APC members will also participate such as: NRIs collaborative session on Access Electricity, Community Networks and Digital Inclusion: The case of the underserved communities Internet Commons Forum Additionally, APC will attend other sessions where digital inclusion is discussed to help ensure that people-centred connectivity models are considered alongside more private sector and government-driven approaches. These include: What Operator Model(s) for Digital Inclusion? The Dynamic Coalition on Innovative Approaches to Connecting the Unconnected Closing the digital gap for marginalized communities Business Innovations Foster Digital Inclusion, Bridge Gaps Taxing use of the internet: Another salient issue regarding digital inclusion is the recent trend of imposing “internet taxes” on service providers. APC is co-organising the session Do Internet services deserve a sin tax?, which will unpack the different forms of internet taxes that are emerging and address the human rights and socio-economic impact of these measures. 3.2 Human rights In the current political climate, in which technology is frequently the site through which struggles for social justice are carried out, the centrality of human rights to internet governance debates is undeniable. APC will continue to use the IGF as a platform to raise human rights concerns, including issues that are overlooked and not given their due consideration at the IGF, such as the radical economic effects of the internet and platforms on working people throughout the world and the impact of targeted surveillance on labour union activity. Artificial intelligence: Artificial intelligence (AI) is receiving unprecedented attention due to its widespread application in activities ranging from aviation and transport, medicine, agriculture, climate change, the provision of social services, smart technology in the home, search engines and social media to policing and surveillance. APC’s work on AI and big data is focused on their implications for human rights, social justice and sustainable development. During IGF 2019, APC will launch the new edition of the Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) report, focused on the implications of AI in local contexts from human rights, development and social justice perspectives and with a specific focus on the global South. This year’s GISWatch, produced by APC in partnership with ARTICLE 19, presents 40 country, three regional, and eight thematic reports that address the impact of AI on human rights, such as freedom of association, the rights to work and to organise, the impact these systems have on vulnerable and marginalised populations, and what this means from an intersectional feminist perspective. The launch of GISWatch will be on Thursday, 28 November at 13:00 in Raum IV. An APC member will be also participating in the session Formulating Policy Options for Big Data and AI Development. Environmental impact of ICTs: The expansion of information and communications technologies (ICTs) has spurred the production, consumption and disposal of computers, mobile phones and networking devices, increased energy consumption and increased usage of transport and commerce, which has adverse effects on the Earth’s natural resources, on biodiversity and on humanity. While many initiatives have succeeded in creating individual and local awareness about the environmental impact of ICTs, there is still a lack of attention of this issue in internet governance discussions – this topic is absent from the IGF agenda. APC’s ninth Disco-tech, “Reboot Earth”, will take place on Tuesday 26 November 2019, and will be focused on the environmental impact of these technologies. “Disco-techs” are a series of informal evening events that are designed as learning exchanges, aimed at bridging the gaps between activism and technical and political solutions to critical problems/scenarios/situations that urgently need to be addressed. Platform responsibility and accountability: In his speech during the 2018 IGF, French President Emmanuel Macron said that “the values of the Internet are threatened” by “giant platforms” that can “no longer be called simple gateways, but gatekeepers.” Discussions on how to govern platforms and their role in propagating hate speech, violent extremist content and disinformation online promise to remain on the IGF’s agenda this year as well, especially in light of the tragic terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand earlier this year, which was livestreamed. APC works to advance models that hold platforms responsible and accountable for their own actions to manipulate, rank, filter, moderate and take down content or users’ accounts, in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. We recently published an issue paper, authored by Dr. Mathias Vermeulen, that proposes a co-regulatory approach to online content governance, which focuses on the regulation of company processes rather than content. The paper proposes a model with mandatory oversight by an independent regulator that will allow for scrutiny on design choices of platforms that allow the amplification of harmful content. At the IGF we will actively engage in discussions around platform governance, especially as they pertain to countering violent and extremist content. APC joined the Christchurch Call Advisory Network this year, and along with many of our civil society partners, we are working to ensure that the Christchurch Call, and other related initiatives, engage those affected and embrace holistic solutions, rein in outsourcing of speech regulation to private actors, consider the different technical layers of the internet and avoid the mythical “technical fixes”, and address the full range of forms that violent extremism takes, in particular violent misogyny, white supremacy, and far-right and anti-LGBTIQ extremism. Surveillance in Latin America: The increasing use of technology for surveillance purposes, online and offline, often without clear human rights safeguards, is a fundamental threat to marginalised populations, activists, journalists, political dissidents and other groups. Derechos Digitales, an APC member, is organising a pre-event on surveillance in Latin America that will gather representatives from governments, civil society and the private sector to discuss strategies towards a regional human rights framework to address use of technologies for surveillance purposes, online and offline. Measuring a free, open, rights-based and inclusive internet: As part of ongoing work to apply a tool that we facilitated the development of for UNESCO to measure the extent to which the internet is free, open, rights-based and inclusive, APC is co-organising a Day Zero session on the R.O.A.M.-X Indicators. During that session, APC member Media Matters for Democracy will be presenting the country assessment in Pakistan. 3.3 Gender Despite global recognition that the gender gap is widening, it is surprising that, compared to previous editions, gender is not a more prominent topic in this year’s IGF. APC works towards a feminist internet that empowers women and people of diverse sexualities and gender expressions, to fully enjoy our rights, engage in pleasure and play, and dismantle patriarchy. The IGF is an important space to allow feminist researchers, advocates and activists to engage in internet policy discussions and to challenge the current internet governance system. APC’s gender interventions include organising a workshop on internet governance and sexuality. This workshop is a joint initiative of the Feminist Internet Research Network (FIRN) and the EROTICS initiative. The main objective of the workshop is to promote greater understanding and reflection on the relevance of genders and sexualities as entry points for governance and policy in a relaxed environment. Since a feminist internet starts with enabling more women and people of diverse genders and sexualities to enjoy universal, acceptable, affordable, open, meaningful and equal access to the internet, APC will be actively participating in the Best Practice Forum on Gender and Access, highlighting gender perspectives and experiences with respect to working in community networks. We will also participate in the session of the Dynamic Coalition on Gender and Internet Governance organised by our member, Point of View, as well as a workshop on Sex work, drug use, harm reduction, and the internet, which aims to address questions connected with how to ensure women’s safety both online and offline, and how to guarantee that legislation aimed at removing sexual content, child protection, and cybersecurity does not result in exclusion of the most vulnerable groups. Another session to keep an eye on is the EQUALS in Tech Awards 2019, which will be granted to organisations working on equal access, building skills and opportunities online and in the tech industry. 3.4 Cybersecurity Since last year’s IGF, there has been a flurry of global cybersecurity-related initiatives, amidst continued threats to the availability, confidentiality and integrity of information and its underlying infrastructure. APC has been actively engaging in many of these discussions, advocating for a human rights-based approach to cybersecurity. This means putting people at the centre and ensuring that there is trust and security in networks and devices that reinforce, rather than threaten, human security. Microsoft, with the support of the Hewlett Foundation and Mastercard, among others, recently launched the CyberPeace Institute, whose mission is to enhance the stability of cyberspace by helping and defending civilian victims of cyberattacks, analysing and investigating cyberattacks, and promoting cybersecurity norms, prevention of attacks and responsible behaviour. The UN established two intergovernmental processes on cybersecurity – the Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security, and the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security. After years of stalemate on cybersecurity at the intergovernmental level, these two processes present the opportunity to advance global agreement on the rules that apply to state behaviour in cyberspace regarding international security, and ways to increase trust, capacity, accountability and transparency and help build patterns of responsible behaviour. The IGF comes a week before a multistakeholder intersessional meeting of the OEWG and two weeks before the GGE has its first substantive meeting. As such, it will be an important opportunity for stakeholders to exchange information and strategise. The Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace (GCSC) recently launched its final report, which offers a cyberstability framework, principles, norms of behaviour, and recommendations for the international community and wider ecosystem. APC will be participating in the presentation during IGF of the GCSC report “Advancing Cyberstability” and an Open Forum on Conflict Prevention, Cooperation and Stability. We will also be participating in the session “Network disruptions across borders: a new cyber response”, which will address whether a network disruption is a justifiable response to a cyberattack, what the rules that govern the extent of the disruption are, who should take part in the development of these norms and laws, and in which forums. 3.5 Internet governance APC works for internet governance processes that are accessible, democratic, transparent, accountable and inclusive, which includes strengthening the IGF as a platform to improve coordination and cooperation in global internet governance. We see the value of the IGF being more than an annual meeting, and actively engage in intersessional work – in particular the Best Practice Forums (BPFs) on gender and access, local content, and cybersecurity) – and national and regional IGFs, including as a co-convenor of the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), Africa and Asia-Pacific regional IGFs. We also value the capacity-building aspect of the IGF and the opportunity to exchange our experiences as the organiser of the African School on Internet Governance (AfriSIG) and will participate in the sessions of the Dynamic Coalition on Internet Governance Schools. Digital cooperation: This year’s IGF will have a main session on digital cooperation, which will reflect on the proposed mechanisms for global digital cooperation put forward by the report of the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation released in June. As input to the main session, APC provided feedback on the High Level Panel Report. We believe that a more empowered IGF should be at the centre of digital cooperation in the UN system and more widely. After years of facilitating multistakeholder dialogue, the IGF is best placed to facilitate further work on internet policies and norms. However, we feel there are fundamental issues that are not addressed by the proposed “IGF Plus” model, such as how this model will be financed and how it can attract greater participation from governments and the private sector, among others. This proposed model does not contemplate the role of the national, regional and youth IGF initiatives, which APC members engage in actively, sometimes as co-organisers, and which are key to strengthen and democratise internet governance at national and regional level. Nor does it address the connection of the IGF Plus model with other UN discussions. Furthermore, to strengthen the IGF and its role, far more diverse voices should be at the table to ensure these discussions are inclusive and reflect the needs of groups facing digital exclusion. In particular, there is a need for enabling more meaningful participation from the global South and traditionally excluded people such as women, queer, trans and gender-diverse people, sex workers, youth, indigenous people, religious and ethnic minorities, rural populations and elderly people. This year’s meeting in Berlin will be an important opportunity for the internet governance community to discuss these and other questions related to the future of the IGF. Inclusive internet governance: APC and members are organising and participating in a number of sessions focused on inclusive internet governance. For example, APC will be participating in a side event, Many Worlds, Many Nets, Many Visions, organised by the Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG). This event will feature the presentation of a publication on visions on an internet without discrimination to which APC contributed. APC will also participate in the pre-event NETmundial+5 on the legacy and implications of this conference for internet governance. In addition: Point of View is organising the session of the Dynamic Coalition on Gender and Internet Governance CIPESA is organising a workshop entitled Inclusion online, diverse knowledge: new rules? Colnodo is involved in the NRIs main session on emerging technologies and inclusion, security and human ?rights. Data governance: A key topic at the IGF this year will be the importance of data for digital transformation, and how access to and sharing of data have become critical for innovation, but also its governance challenges, and the tensions between open data and data protection. On this issue, APC will participate in a workshop on “Data and Digital Intelligence as People’s Resources: Reclaiming Freedom and Control in a Data-based Society”, organised by Just Net Coalition, Friedrich Ebert Foundation and Bread for the World on 23 and 24 November. The workshop will be devoted to examining the political economy of data, alternative models of economic governance of data, and strategies for actors to regain control over personal and collective data and digital intelligence. 4. APC's activities at the IGF A full list of events that APC and its members are participating in during the IGF is available at: https://www.apc.org/en/news/apc-igf-2019-schedule-events 5. Follow APC online at IGF 2019 Twitter: @APC_News and @GenderITorg Our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/APCNews/ Media contacts: flavia@apc.org in English, Spanish or Portuguese (off-site), and leila@apc.org in English and Spanish. Find in-depth resources on our publications page. For updates on gender and ICT policy, visit GenderIT.org, and contact katerina.fialova@apcwomen.org or tigist@apcwomen.org (on-site). 6. APC members and staff at IGF 2019 6.1 APC members at IGF 2019 Alison Carmel (7amleh, Palestine/Israel), Arturo Enzo Bregaglio (Asociación Trinidad, Paraguay), Pavel Antonov (BlueLink, Bulgaria), Shubha Kayastha (Body & Data, Nepal), Daniel Mwesigwa and Lillian Nalwoga (CIPESA, Uganda), Yunusa Zakari Ya'u (CITAD, Nigeria), Julián Casasbuenas G. (Colnodo, Colombia), Vladimir Garay and Juan Carlos Lara (Derechos Digitales, Chile), Anulekha Nandi and Osama Manzar (Digital Empowerment Foundation, India); Andrew Lowenthal and Darika Bamrungchock (EngageMedia, Indonesia and Australia); Liz Probert (GreenNet, United Kingdom), Bia Barbosa and Olivia Bandeira (Intervozes, Brazil); Miru Lee (Jinbonet, Korea), Hija Kamran (Media Matters for Democracy, Pakistan), Myo Min Aung (MIDO, Myanmar), Florencia Roveri (Nodo TAU, Argentina), Leandro Navarro and Magdalena (Pangea, Catalunya), Bishakha Datta and Smita Vanniyar (Point of View, India), Avis Momeni and Sylvie Siyam (PROTEGE QV, Cameroon), Brenna (Riseup, United States), Kemly Camacho (Sulá Batsú, Costa Rica); Maricarmen Sequera and Belén Giménez (TEDIC, Paraguay), Dorothy Mukasa (Unwanted Witness, Uganda), Ahmed Swapan (VOICE, Bangladesh), Avri Doria (United States, individual member). 6.2 APC staff and advisors at IGF 2019 Adolfo Dunayevich, Anriette Esterhuysen, Chat Garcia Ramilo, Carlos Rey-Moreno, Deborah Brown, hvale vale, Karel Novotny, Karen Banks, Katerina Fialova, Kathleen Diga, Koliwe Majama, Leila Nachawati, Maja Kraljic, Maja Romano, Mike Jensen, Natalia Tariq, Nico Pace, Roxana Bassi, Shawna Finnegan, Tigist Hussein, Valeria Betancourt and Verónica Ferrari. Note: [1] In 2018, there were 71 workshops during a three-day IGF, and in 2017 there were almost 100 workshops. TopicInternet governance APC-wide activitiesInternet Governance Forum TagsIGF 2019priorities RegionGlobal Members7amleh-The Arab Center for Social Media AdvancementAsociación Trinidad Comunicación, Cultura y DesarrolloAssociació Pangea - Coordinadora Comunicació per a la CooperacióAvri DoriaBlueLink Information NetworkBody & DataCentre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD)Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA)ColnodoCooperativa Sulá BatsúDerechos DigitalesDigital Empowerment Foundation (DEF)EngageMediaGreenNetIntervozesKorean Progressive Network JinbonetMedia Matters for Democracy (MMfD)Myanmar ICT for Development Organization (MIDO)Nodo TauPoint of ViewPROTEGE QVRiseup NetworksTEDICUnwanted WitnessVoices for Interactive Choice and Empowerment (VOICE) PartnerInternet Society (ISOC)
Response to the report of the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation
Author : APC
November, 2019
The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and many of its member organisations participated in consultations on the High Level Panel’s work during 2018 and we offer our congratulations on the report. We appreciate the openness of the Panel to input and the efforts that have been made by Mr. Fabrizio Hochschild and his staff to solicit responses. We agree that multilateralism and multistakeholderism are both necessary and can coexist. Both must be strengthened, and particular focus is needed to bring far more diverse voices to the table to ensure that such processes are inclusive and reflect the needs of those facing digital exclusion. Particular attention is needed to include voices from developing countries and traditionally marginalised people and groups, women, youth, indigenous people, religious and ethnic minorities, rural populations and older people. We value that the report emphasises that cooperation must be grounded in common human values – such as inclusiveness, respect, human-centredness, human rights, international law, transparency and sustainability. We fully support the holistic approach to digital inclusion and agree that effective digital cooperation requires multilateralism to be strengthened and complemented by multistakeholder approaches.
Examining women’s access to digital platforms: A case of mobile broadband connections in Uganda - Report
Author : WOUGNET
November, 2019
This report presents the findings from an evidence-based study that examines the gendered aspects to women’s internet access on mobile broadband connections. This includes their ability to purchase data plans, the type of access they have and how the universal access programs and the mobile broadband internet packages offered by telecoms have positively or negatively influenced a gendered use and access to mobile broadband internet connection in Uganda by women. The outcome of the study will help to drive well-tailored and specific advocacy around policy and regulatory practices in the industry to lower the cost of broadband connection. The findings will inform aspects of policy advocacy around the unique barriers to internet access by ensuring policy makers and stakeholders address gendered issues and dimensions within major drivers to affordability such as infrastructure, broadband policies, universal public access, and managing spectrum amongst others to lower cost. This report was produced through an APC subgrant, made possible with the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). Read the full report here. TopicAccessAccessibilityGender and ICTs APC-wide activitiesAPC Member Grants TagsAccessugandagender digital divide RegionAfrica MembersWomen of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) SupportSwedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)
Open letter to UN General Assembly: Proposed international convention on cybercrime poses a threat to human rights online
Author : Various
November, 2019
Countering cybercrime is a key challenge that requires international cooperation. However, the approach taken in the draft resolution “Countering the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes” (A/C.3/74/L.11/Rev.1) at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Third Committee is fundamentally flawed and would restrict the use of the internet for human rights, and social and economic development. The undersigned organisations urge your delegation to vote against the draft resolution. The resolution would “establish an open-ended ad hoc intergovernmental committee of experts, representative of all regions, to elaborate a comprehensive international convention on countering the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes.” We are not convinced that there is a need for a new international convention on cybercrime. We have grave concerns that the approach for the UN's work in this area proposed in the “Draft United Nations Convention on Cooperation in Combating Cybercrime” (A/C.3/72/12), circulated by the Russian Federation, could undermine the use of the internet to exercise human rights and facilitate social and economic development. Our concerns with the resolution and the process it initiates are as follows: First, the “use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes” is not defined in the resolution. The text includes both cybersecurity issues (crimes that impact the “stability of critical infrastructure of States and enterprises”) as well as criminal acts that are enabled through ICTs (for example, “traffickers in persons [...] taking advantage of information and communications technologies to carry out criminal activities”). The lack of specificity is not just a concern from an accuracy perspective; keeping the term undefined opens the door to criminalising ordinary online behaviour that is protected under international human rights law. Second, criminalising ordinary online activities of individuals and organisations through the application of cybercrime laws constitutes a growing trend in many countries in the world. The UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association has observed: “A surge in legislation and policies aimed at combating cybercrime has also opened the door to punishing and surveilling activists and protesters in many countries around the world.” (1) As his report notes, such laws are used to criminalise access to and use of secure digital communications (through, for example, the use of encryption), which are vital to the work of civil society, human rights defenders (HRDs) and journalists, as well as public and private institutions that rely on a stable and secure internet; to criminalise legitimate forms of online expression, association and assembly through vague and ill-defined terms that allow for arbitrary or discretionary application and resulting in legal uncertainty; and to give wide-ranging power to governments to block websites deemed critical of the authorities, or even entire networks, applications and services that facilitate online exchange of and access to information. While legislation aimed at addressing cybercrime can be necessary and reinforce democratic institutions, when misused, cybercrime laws can create a chilling effect and hinder people’s ability to use the internet to exercise their rights online and offline. As various UN Special Procedures have raised in communications with governments, cybercrime laws can result in arbitrary arrests, detention, and even death. (2) The one reference to human rights included in the draft resolution, simply reaffirming the importance of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in the use of ICTs, is insufficient to safeguard human rights while countering cybercrime. Third, the “Draft United Nations Convention on Cooperation in Combating Cybercrime”, which is meant to serve as a basis for developing a comprehensive international convention, raises a number of concerns. Of particular concern is that the Draft Convention proposes going far beyond what the Budapest Convention allows for regarding cross-border access to data, including by limiting the ability of a signatory to refuse to provide access to requested data. (3) The Draft Convention would also establish the UN as the enforcement point, by creating an International Technical Commission on Combating ICT Crime as a UN organ, among other enforcement mechanisms. A number of provisions in the Draft Convention echo those of the Budapest Convention; however, references to balancing the interests of law enforcement and respect for fundamental human rights are absent, as are references to the principle of proportionality and to due process rights. Given the Russian Federation’s efforts to expand government control over the internet, with the so-called “sovereign internet” law going into effect earlier this month, (4) its leadership in developing an international binding treaty on cybercrime deserves high levels of scrutiny. Fourth, we are not convinced that there is a need for a new international convention on cybercrime. Building on and improving existing instruments is more desirable and practical than diverting already scarce resources into the pursuit of a new international framework, which is likely to stretch over many years and unlikely to result in consensus. There is already work being done in other parts of the UN to address cybercrime, specifically by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), as well as at the national and regional levels. According to the UNODC database on cybercrime legislation, over 180 countries have substantive and procedural legislation on cybercrime and electronic evidence. (5) Certainly there are challenges in terms of the varying strength of national laws, as well as the capacity of national governments to implement them; however, there is already a UN process working to address this. The UN Open-ended Intergovernmental Expert Group to Conduct a Comprehensive Study on Cybercrime is expected to release its report in 2021, which should include its findings and recommendations on national legislation, best practices, technical assistance and international cooperation. (6) There is currently a process underway to develop a Second Additional Protocol to the Budapest Convention, which is the most widely ratified international instrument on cybercrime. (7) Finally, countering cybercrime is necessarily a multistakeholder endeavour. It requires government officials and experts, members of the technical community, civil society, the private sector, and scientific and research institutions. The establishment of an ad hoc intergovernmental committee of experts to address the issue of cybercrime would exclude key stakeholders who bring valuable expertise and perspectives both in terms of effectively countering the use of ICTs for criminal purposes and to ensure that such efforts do not undermine the use of ICTs for the enjoyment of human rights and social and economic development. We strongly urge your delegation to vote against resolution A/C.3/74/L/11/Rev.1 on “Countering the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes” and to work to ensure that initiatives to address cybercrime are inclusive of all stakeholders. Yours sincerely, 7amleh - The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media Access Now Africa Freedom of Information Centre Albanian Media Institute Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain ARTICLE 19 Association for Progressive Communications (APC) Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication BlueLink – Bulgaria Bytes for All (B4A) – Pakistan Child Rights International Network (CRIN) Derechos Digitales – Latin America Digital Rights Foundation Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) eQuality Project, University of Ottawa – Canada Fundación Datos Protegidos Fundación Huaira – Quito, Ecuador Fundación Internet Bolivia Fundación Karisma Global Partners Digital Hiperderecho – Peru Human Rights in China Internet Governance Project Internet Policy Observatory – Pakistan Internet Society IPANDETEC – Central America Jonction – Senegal Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Media Matters for Democracy – Pakistan Paradigm Initiative – Nigeria Privacy International Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales (R3D) Research ICT Africa Software Freedom Law Center TEDIC – Paraguay Usuarios Digitales Vigilance for Democracy and the Civic State – Tunisia YMCA Computer Training Centre and Digital Studio – The Gambia* Individuals: (Affiliations listed for purposes of identification) Dr. Jennifer Barrigar Canada Tamir Israel Staff lawyer, Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) Douwe Korff Emeritus Professor of International Law, London Metropolitan University and Associate of the Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford Joy Liddicoat Researcher, University of Otago, New Zealand and Vice President at InternetNZ Damian Loreti University of Buenos Aires, Argentina Valerie Steeves Full Professor, Department of Criminology, University of Ottawa, Canada Notes: (1) 2019 Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association (A/HRC/41/4) (2) Saudi Arabia (SAU 13/2014) Communication from the Special Rapporteurs on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; freedom of religion or belief; and on the situation of human rights defenders on the sentencing of Mr. Raef Badawi on charges of “insulting Islam” under Anti-Cyber Crime Law; Bangladesh (BGD 14/2013) Communication from the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and the Special Rapporteurs on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; and on the situation of human rights defenders on the situation of Mr. Nasiruddin Elan, Director of Odhikar, a non-governmental organization, who was arrested for allegedly violating Section 57 of the Information and Communications Technology Act and brought before the Cyber Crimes Tribunal; UAE (ARE 5/2013) Communication from Special Rapporteurs on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; on the situation of human rights defenders; and on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment on the alleged use of the new Cyber Crime Law to impose undue restrictions on online freedom of expression; Iran (IRN 27/2012) Communication from the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran; the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; and the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment on the alleged torture resulting in the death of Sattar Beheshti while in custody after being arrested on cybercrime related charges. (3) Articles 51-56 of the Draft Convention establish conditions for the availability of data from other states. While they do not go so far as to say that all states would be forced to turn over all relevant information, these articles put a strong degree of pressure to do so on all signatories by requiring that domestic law be modified to support turnover of traffic and content data under the conditions defined in the convention and the licences agreed upon by the states. (4) https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/10/31/russia-new-law-expands-government-control-online (5) The database contains extracts of laws relevant to cybercrime offences and cross-cutting issues and allows users to access full legislation documents. (6) https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/organized-crime/open-ended-intergovernmental-expert-group-to-conduct-a-comprehensive-study-of-the-problem-of-cybercrime2019.htm (7) Civil society is engaging in the development of the Second Additional Protocol to the Budapest Convention in an effort to address some of the Convention’s shortcomings, in particular by ensuring that requests for personal data across borders comply with human rights protections. https://www.eff.org/document/joint-civil-society-response-discussion-guide-2nd-additional-protocol-budapest-convention * In August 2020 the APC member organisation The Gambia YMCA Computer Training Centre and Digital Studio changed its name to Jokkolabs Banjul.
Online content: To regulate or not to regulate – is that the question?
Author : Dr. Mathias Vermeulen
November, 2019
Recently there have been a flurry of proposals to “regulate the internet”, which in practice boils down to more narrowly regulating online content. These proposals often emerge after high-profile revelations related to the role of online intermediaries in facilitating access to illegal or undefined harmful content. In order to suggest a principles-based approach to regulation, this issue paper highlights positive and negative aspects of some recent initiatives to regulate online content, in one form or another – namely the European Union (EU) code of conduct on hate speech, the EU’s reform of its audiovisual media rules, the German NetzDG law, the French approach to co-regulating social media with platforms like Facebook, and the UK online harms paper. It recommends moving towards a process-based co-regulatory approach to online content regulation, which does not make platforms liable for hosting individual pieces of content, but instead imposes a legal obligation on them to fully disclose their self-regulatory efforts to address illegal and harmful content on their services. Such disclosures should be combined with mandatory oversight by an independent regulator in order to allow for independent scrutiny of the necessity, proportionality and effectiveness of these measures.
Silenced Net: The Chilling Effect among Palestinian Youth in Social Media
Author : 7amleh – The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media
October, 2019
According to this new research report, the current legal, political and social environment is having a significant impact on the political activity of Palestinian youth on the internet. Many young Palestinians have had their content removed from online platforms, experienced harassment, or were interrogated in relation to what they posted on social networks. This has created a “chilling effect” among youth and made two-thirds of Palestinian youth afraid to express their political opinions online. The research, published by 7amleh – The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media, consists of two complementary parts: a face-to-face survey of 1,200 Palestinian youth (16-30) and insights from six focus group discussions (FGDs) with Palestinian youth from Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Israel. Some key findings from the survey include: 76% of Palestinian youth use access internet via smartphone for of 5.5 hours per day. 2/3 of Palestinian youth are afraid to voice their political opinion online. 1/3 of Palestinian youth are punished by their families for sharing their political views. Palestinians are subject to repression as a result of the policies and practices of several authorities including Israel, which routinely uses Palestinians' private information from social media in surveillance, interrogations, arrests and prosecutions. This has impacted hundreds of Palestinians and led to a “secondary chilling effect” in Palestine. As a result, Palestinian youth are self-censoring after seeing family, friends and journalists arrested. Cyberbullying has also led to a “secondary chilling effect” and women in particular face high levels of cyberbullying and gender-based violence (GBV) online. This was also detailed in 7amleh Center’s previously report, “A Violent Network: Gender Based Violence Against Palestinian Women Online". Repression from families and authorities is contributing to shrinking space for youth’s political participation and freedom of expression online. 7amleh Center urges governments, civil society and families to protect the rights of young people to express themselves and to be engaged in democratic political participation in social media and encourages youth to continue to advocate for human rights, including digital rights. To download the report “Silenced Network: the Chilling Effect among Palestinian Youth in Social Media” in English, click here.
GISWatch 2019 Sneak Peek! Read a selection of full-length reports on AI and human rights
Author : APC
October, 2019
The 2019 edition of Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) will be officially launching on 28 November, and this is your chance to have a first look at full-length content through this special GISWatch 2019 Sneak Peek! In partnership with ARTICLE 19 and with the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), this year’s GISWatch report takes a deep dive into the theme of “Artificial intelligence: Human rights, social justice and development”. The conversation on AI has so far been driven largely by Western and global North perspectives. However, the assumptions, values, incentives, and socioeconomic environments within which AI technologies function vary greatly across jurisdictions. There is no single metric that can be applied to understand properly the successes, pitfalls and effects of AI on societies across the world. The questions remain: what specific and unique issues arise in different contexts? How can we make the conversation around AI more global and inclusive from the outset? What are the human rights implications of the application of AI in specific contexts, with an emphasis on the global South? The authors of this year’s edition examine the intersection between artificial intelligence and human rights through 40 country reports, three regional reports and eight thematic reports… and this is your chance to get a preview! In this special 2019 GISWatch Sneak Peek, you can read the following: Introduction to the Thematic Reports by Vidushi Marda (ARTICLE 19) Thematic report: “Decolonising AI: A transfeminist approach to data and social justice” by Coding Rights (Brazil) Thematic report: Radicalising the AI governance agenda by IT for Change (India) Introduction to the country and regional reports by Alan Finlay (APC) Country report: “Data protection in the age of big data in the Republic of Korea” by Jinbonet (Republic of Korea) Country report: “AI technologies for responsive local governments in South Africa” by the Human Sciences Research Council (South Africa) To download the 2019 GISWatch Sneak Peek, click here. Excited for more? Join us at the official GISWatch launch at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Berlin on 28 November where the full 2019 GISWatch report will be released in paperback and online. Many authors will be in attendance to present their reports. For more information, click here.
Digital rights in the context of protests and social mobilisation in Ecuador in October 2019
Author : APC, Digital Defenders Partnership (DDP), LaLibre.net Tecnologías Comunitarias, Taller de Comunicación Mujer
October, 2019
In the context of the recent national political crisis and social mobilisation in Ecuador in October 2019 against the austerity measures adopted as part of the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), temporary shutdowns and disruptions of certain social networks, mobile communications, websites and internet connections throughout the days of protests were detected and reported. This brief report is prepared as an input for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) observation visit to Ecuador. It aims to outline the interruptions and their effects by taking as a basis, on the one hand, information gathered through a survey targeting civil society groups, human rights organisations, community and independent media, members of the indigenous movement and activists who participated in the social mobilisation and, on the other hand, technical reports resulting from network monitoring during protests. These technical reports were produced by Netblocks.org, a civil society group working on digital rights, cybersecurity and internet governance. As organisations working at the intersection of human rights and technology, we fully recognise the critical importance of ICTs for the fundamental right to protest, and we appreciate the openness of the IACHR to receive information on possible breaches by public and private actors of their obligations and commitments to promote and respect human rights online and offline.
Statement of regional solidarity against attacks on digital rights activists in Southeast Asia
Author : Various
October, 2019
A group of human rights activists and organisations from Southeast Asia are calling to stop the attacks on democracy and media activists, as well as other individuals-at-risk, for their expression online. In the increasingly authoritarian region, we stand witness to bloggers, protestors, human rights defenders, journalists and everyday internet users being harassed, threatened, beaten, prosecuted and imprisoned for their legitimate use of online spaces. The many brave individuals people fighting discrimination, hostility and violence include Nguyen Van Hoa (Vietnam), Le Dinh Luong (Vietnam) and Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi (Myanmar), who are currently in prison for expressing dissent and exercising their rights online. Their detention violates their guaranteed constitutional and international human rights. They are sentenced to lengthy prison terms and we fear for their physical and psychological integrity. We stand in solidarity with Fahmi Reza (Malaysia) who was convicted; and Maria Ressa (Philippines), Margarita Valle (Philippines), Dandhy Laksono (Indonesia), Karn Pongpraphapan (Thailand) and Michael Do Nam Trung (Vietnam), who were recently released from detention, while Veronica Koman (Indonesia) and Lookate Chonthicha (Thailand) face threats of arrest and legal harassment for exercising their rights through digital tools. Authorities have often confiscated digital devices of activists, violating their privacy and hindering their work. The harassment has also been extended to civil society organisations including Sisters in Islam (Malaysia) against whom a fatwa was issued banning all their publications including content on social media. AlterMidya (Philippines) on the other hand is facing a defamation suit demanding exorbitant amounts for exposing the role of corporates in cyber attacks. We view these as deliberate attacks on the right to freedom of expression and information. The increasing number of arbitrary arrests, detentions and prosecutions of individuals exercising their right to freedom of expression online highlights the failure of governments to respect human rights and damages the region’s reputation on the international stage. Southeast Asian governments must stop repressing free expression online, as this ultimately discourages civic participation. With this statement, we express our collective voice in support for all people to exercise their rights online and call on all Southeast Asian governments to immediately and unconditionally release all detained activists, drop charges and refrain from harassing digital rights activists, advocates and media-makers. The governments in the region must STOP the ATTACKS on our rights and democracy.
Civil society statement to the UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security on cyber peace and human security
Author : Various
October, 2019
Much has happened in multilateral cybersecurity since the First Committee met one year ago. The work of two new UN General Assembly-mandated bodies is underway. The first session of the Open-ended working group (OEWG) on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security took place in September, marked by a refreshingly positive atmosphere. The UN’s sixth Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on advancing responsible state behaviour in cyberspace will begin its formal work in December following several regional consultations. There is effective ongoing regional collaboration and cooperation in the area of cybersecurity. Unfortunately, other developments have occurred that are far less positive. The pace and severity of malicious operations in cyberspace have increased noticeably. The use of cyber technologies as tools of or targets for aggression is becoming more regular and, as a result, normalised by a larger number of states. The last year has seen a spike in data breaches, malware attacks, disinformation campaigns, and continued use of proxies by states. These patterns show that the trend toward a militarised cyberspace is deepening. It is manifesting through the adoption of more offensive strategies and doctrines, aggressive behaviours, and in the vocabulary used to describe cyberspace and actions within it. It is also manifesting in how governments are using these technologies and spaces to restrict human rights, such as through surveillance, hacking, censorship, and intentional disruption of internet services and access. These measures have been shown to disproportionately impact individuals and groups in society, such as journalists, LGBT and gender non-conformists, women, human rights defenders, and other people in positions of vulnerability or marginalisation. These activities all contradict existing normative commitments and must cease. Those responsible must also be held to account. The civil society organisations supporting this statement reject any acceptance or legitimisation of problematic practices that threaten peace in cyberspace. We are supportive of solutions that move the global community closer to cyber peace. To that end, we urge the following: Halt the development and deployment of offensive cyber capabilities, strategies, and doctrines, which in the absence of transparency and accountability frameworks are leading to the militarisation of cyberspace and must be challenged. Instead, the root causes underlying the pursuit of aggressive cyber capabilities must be addressed. Implement the already-agreed norms for behaviour in cyberspace. While more work is needed to interpret and further develop normative frameworks, the recommendations endorsed by the UN General Assembly in 2013 and 2015 constitute an agreed baseline intended to guide state behaviour and prevent conflict in cyberspace that cannot be dismissed and overlooked. Attribution is a precondition for ensuring valid accountability. The international community needs to develop independent and impartial capabilities to attribute responsibility for malicious cyber operations. Put human security at the heart of cybersecurity, by recognising that international human rights law applies during times of peace and conflict, including in cyberspace. Cybersecurity includes the protection of human rights, and cybersecurity-related laws, policies and practices should not be used as a pretext to violate human rights. Work toward bridging differences of opinion and building shared understandings, regarding in particular the applicability of international humanitarian law, while retaining the goal of a cyberspace free of armed conflict. Efforts must also be made to address the legal challenges posed by state use of proxies in cyber operations. Improve transparency and access to UN cybersecurity fora for non-governmental stakeholders and ensure complementarity between the OEWG and GGE processes while taking into account the norms and dialogue that have occurred in forums external to them, including within human rights bodies. This statement has been endorsed by 14 organisations working in the areas of peace, disarmament, human rights, and digital security. Their names are listed below and in the online version of this statement, posted on the Reaching Critical Will website. Endorsed by: Access Now Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy Article 36 Association for Progressive Communications Colombian Campaign to Ban Landmines Derechos Digitales Global Partners Digital ICT4Peace International Peace Bureau Korean Progressive Network Jinbonet PAX Peace Movement Aotearoa Peace Track Initiative Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom World Federalist Movement - Canada
The promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests: APC submission to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rig
Author : APC
October, 2019
As an organisation that has worked at the intersections of human rights and technology for nearly three decades and fully recognises the critical importance of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for the fundamental right to protest, we welcome the focus of the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights on this topic. It is increasingly difficult to distinguish between the online and offline dimensions of human rights in the context of assemblies, including peaceful protests. As Human Rights Council resolution 38/11 states, “human rights protections, including the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, of expression and of association, may also apply to analogous interactions that take place online.” APC considers human rights in the context of assemblies and peaceful protests to have two dimensions: one in which the exercise of these rights is carried out online, such as through online campaigns, ranging from awareness raising to working groups, petitions, protests – including virtual protests – and “hacktivism”; and one in which technology is used to support, enable, enhance and facilitate the rights of assembly and peaceful protests online and offline – for instance, the mobilisation of people through social media and online messages to gather in offline spaces. Hence, this submission covers these two dimensions, and encompasses the following sections: Laws, policies and programmes that have been developed to address the impact of new technologies, including information and communications technologies, on human rights in the context of assemblies, including peaceful protests. Effective uses of such technologies as enablers of the exercise of human rights in the context of assemblies, including peaceful protests (e.g. how new technologies have facilitated the organisation of assemblies, including peaceful protests). The human rights challenges posed by interferences with the availability and use of such technologies in the context of assemblies, including peaceful protests. The human rights challenges posed by the use of new technologies, including ICTs, in the context of assemblies, including peaceful protests. Recommendations for states and companies. TopicDigital securityFreedom of expressionHuman rights and ICTsSecurity and privacyStrategic use of the internet APC-wide activitiesHuman Rights Council TagsSubmissionOHCHRfreedom of assembly and association RegionGlobal MembersDamián Loreti
Innovations in Spectrum Management: Enabling community networks and small operators to connect the unconnected
Author : Stephen Song, Carlos Rey-Moreno and Michael Jensen
October, 2019
The value of being connected to a communication network is steadily rising. And yet, half of the world population remains unconnected to the Internet. Traditional solutions are showing signs of having reached their limits. Attempts to address this problem, whether through universal service strategies/funds, private sector initiatives or philanthropy, have met with limited success. This presents a conundrum for policy-makers and regulators where value continues to accrue to those with affordable access to communication infrastructure while the unconnected fall further and further behind by simply staying in the same place. In order to address this issue, fresh thinking is required. There are changes in the telecommunication landscape that represent genuine cause for optimism that it is possible for everyone on the planet to have affordable access to communications. However, in order for that to happen, changes in access policy and regulation are required, in particular with regard to the management of radio spectrum, which is still largely rooted in 20th century analogue paradigms. This report is intended as a resource for regulators and policy makers tasked with addressing affordable access. This paper begins by providing new lenses to understand the vocabulary, the framework, and the current landscape for spectrum management. In particular, the following issues are addressed: The need to make the vocabulary and underlying concepts of spectrum management more approachable. By using analogies and examples, the different factors involved in communicating using radio waves are described. Similarly, new metaphors are introduced in order to deconstruct the current narrative of spectrum management based on property rights, which blinds us to innovations in wireless technology that could help connect the unserved. Taking a fresh look at spectrum using these metaphors shows that it is possible to move from the current “spectrum scarcity” debate, to one of abundance, particularly in the places where the unconnected live. The fact that organisations using the same frequency at the same time in the same location resulted in communication failure, leads to a complex dance among regulatory agencies, standards bodies, equipment manufacturers, and network operators, all of which influence the evolution and uptake of wireless technologies. The challenge that the accelerating pace of technological change presents to the traditional pace of spectrum allocation and assignment. This challenge is compounded by the increasing demand for wireless spectrum from operators in order to be able to meet growing demand for broadband services. Next, the paper makes a detailed survey of the current status of spectrum management in frequency bands used to provide connectivity in a selection of representative countries around the world (Argentina, Brazil, Canada, India, Mexico, South Africa, and the United States) and outlines the basis for an evolving spectrum management ecosystem where complementary approaches can be used to remove the barriers and provide support to community networks and small operators. In particular, regulators and policy makers are encouraged to consider evidence of innovative spectrum management in the following topics: The rapid spread of license-exempt spectrum use in the form of Wi-Fi is an important lesson about the power of frictionless innovation and about the pent-up demand for affordable Internet access. It makes sense for regulators to leverage this success by expanding the range of frequencies designated for license-exempt use, particularly in the 5 GHz and 6 GHz bands, and by further reducing tax and administrative costs associated with their use. Regulators should also consider increasing the power levels allowed when using directional antennas with Wi-Fi for fixed backhaul, recognising the reduced chances of interference with highly directional communication. In addition to the traditional Wi-Fi license-exempt bands, there are other bands that currently can be used without a spectrum license in many countries. Of particular interest are the 24 GHz band, 60 GHz (V-band) and from 71 GHz onwards (E-band), also known as mmWave as the wavelength of these higher frequencies is in the range of millimetres (mm). These frequencies could be used by small operators and community networks to provide “fiber-like” connectivity. Regulators and policy makers should consider enabling the use of these bands on a license-exempt basis. The reduced harmful interference from antennas that can focus wireless communication along very narrow beams/paths has led some regulators to expand the use of some bands, like the 11 GHz band for fixed PtP backhaul links. Regulators should consider the market availability of low-cost microwave solutions in 11 GHz and other frequencies and adapt regulation to encourage their uptake. This could take the form of a light-licensing scenario for the cooperative assignment of geo-located frequency assignments. Rising costs for exclusive-use, licensed spectrum, stands in stark contrast to license exempt spectrum that is available at no cost. Dynamic spectrum offers the opportunity to establish a middle ground between both. While TV White Space regulation has been implemented in a few countries, its real potential may yet to be realised as an affordable access technology in developing countries where UHF spectrum is largely unoccupied. Regulators should accelerate the adoption of TVWS regulation and explore the application of these management approaches to other frequency bands. While demand for spectrum often exceeds its administrative availability in urban areas, large amount of licensed spectrum lies unused in sparsely-populated, economically poor regions. A variety of low-cost 2G and 4G manufacturers have emerged in recent years that offer the potential to dramatically change the cost model for sustainable rural mobile network deployment. Regulators should consider frameworks for sharing spectrum for mobile network services in rural areas that may not have value for incumbent operators, but which will have a significant impact for small operators and community networks. An economic study to understand the economic cost of unused spectrum and approaches to incentivize its use would help to make the business case for this. This could lead to set-asides of small spectrum blocks for those providing affordable connectivity in underserviced areas. This could be a particularly effective strategy to ensure that the upcoming 5G spectrum assignments to do not lead to a deepening of the digital divide. Auctions as a strategy for spectrum assignment should be reviewed in terms of their role in increasing affordable access in underserved regions. Wholesale approaches to spectrum assignment targeted at difficult to serve regions should be explored. Similarly, more granular approaches to calculate the fees that operators need to pay to use spectrum can open opportunities for frequency reuse and provision of affordable access. The inclusion of factors like the location where the spectrum will be used and assigning smaller weights to the final fee when used in underserviced areas will incentivize the extension of the current infrastructure. Not all innovations in spectrum management need to come from national regulatory authorities and policy makers. Industry associations have the potential to become venues for self-regulation. They also play a key role in advocacy for spectrum regulation that is aligned with the needs of those providing complementary solutions for universal affordable access. One of the most innovative examples of self-regulation comes from managing the telecommunications infrastructure as a common-pool resource. This generates economies of scale and incentives for infrastructure sharing that contributes to the reduction of costs to the final user. The innovations presented in this paper should be included in an overall licensing framework that is conducive for small operators and community networks. High licensing fees as well as obligations attached to the license and compliance issues create a barrier for complementary operators to benefit from innovations in Spectrum. The rise of spectrum as a critical resource in the delivery of affordable access has led to the need for a more inclusive public debate. This places an obligation on regulators to increase transparency and communication with regard to spectrum management issues, licensing and telecommunication infrastructure in general. In the last 25 years, the telecommunications landscape has changed from monolithic, state-owned operators to a complex ecosystem of operators, technologies, manufacturers, and service providers. This new environment has opened the door to community network and small operators to fill access gaps that large operators are unlikely to address. Spectrum regulation, which served well in predictable, slow- moving markets, is no longer able to keep pace with technological change and is not oriented towards new technologies and business models that can address access and affordability gaps. Innovation is required. We encourage regulators and policy makers to embrace the above recommendations that will lead to a more diverse ecosystem where smaller operators and community networks can advance the common goal of affordable access for all. Contents 1. Introduction................................................... 5 2. Spectrum basics................................................... 9 2.1 Factors involved in the success of wireless communications................................................... 10 2.2 The limits of spectrum................................................... 12 2.3 New metaphors for spectrum: moving from scarcity to abundance................................................... 12 3. Regulatory and standards bodies................................................... 17 3.1 International Telecommunication Union (ITU)................................................... 19 3.2 International standards bodies................................................... 21 4. Current landscape................................................... 23 4.1 The pace of technological change................................................... 23 4.2 Auctions and the assignment of high-demand spectrum................................................... 25 5. Innovations in spectrum management................................................... 29 5.1 License-exempt spectrum................................................... 30 5.2 Licensed spectrum for backhaul links................................................... 33 5.3 Dynamic spectrum management................................................... 34 5.4 Mobile network services................................................... 38 5.5 Spectrum fees................................................... 43 5.6 Innovations in spectrum management outside the regulatory framework................................................... 47 5.7 Licensing................................................... 48 6. Transparency, open data and spectrum................................................... 51 7. Conclusion and recommendations................................................... 55 7.1 License-exempt spectrum................................................... 56 7.2 Light Licensing for more backhaul spectrum................................................... 56 7.3 Dynamic spectrum................................................... 57 7.4 Spectrum for mobile network services................................................... 57 7.5 Wholesale approaches to spectrum assignment................................................... 58 7.6 Transparency and open data................................................... 58 7.7 Capacity building and collaborations................................................... 59 8. Acknowledgements................................................... 60 9. Tables................................................... 61 9.2 Regulated output power in bands used by Wi-Fi technology in the countries under study................................................ 61 9.4 Regulated output power in bands used by mmWave technology in countries under study................................................ 62
Proposed criteria for selection and appointment of a new mandate holder on the situation of human rights defenders
Author : Various
September, 2019
APC has joined the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) and 130 organisations from around the world to set out the criteria that should be at the heart of the selection of the next UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders plays a key role in the recognition and protection of those who promote and defend human rights. These individuals, organisations and groups often face serious challenges and risks as a result of their human rights work, and the mandate seeks to promote the creation of a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders around the world. It does this in many ways, such as by promoting the Declaration on human rights defenders; studying trends, developments and challenges faced by human rights defenders, including those with specific protection needs; recommending concrete and effective strategies to increase protection; and seeking, receiving and examining information on individual cases. The mandate engages with a wide variety of stakeholders, collaborating particularly closely with states and human rights defenders themselves. The appointment of independent, impartial, competent and expert persons from all regions of the world as mandate holders is essential to ensuring a well-functioning system of Special Procedures, which, in turn, is of crucial importance to the functioning of the Human Rights Council. The selection and appointment of mandate holders, through a transparent and merit based process, on the basis of relevant expertise for the mandate in question, real and perceived independence, impartiality, personal integrity and objectivity are of crucial importance for the effective functioning of the mandates. This document provides information on the application process for candidates for the position of Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, formal criteria for selection of a mandate holder, and a checklist of criteria intended as an interpretive aid for those criteria. States may use the document to strengthen national consultations processes for the identification of suitable candidates. It is also intended as a checklist that can be used by the Human Rights Council’s Consultative Group and the President of the Council to ensure that only highly qualified and independent candidates are considered and appointed. The signatory organisations call on governments, NGOs and others, including relevant professional networks, to use this checklist of criteria to identify eligible candidates for the upcoming vacancy for the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. We urge governments to consult civil society and human rights defenders in their countries, and to disseminate the vacancy widely so as to encourage candidates to apply for this vacancy. In particular, we encourage nominations of human rights defenders from marginalised groups or from communities and identities that are under-represented among Special Procedures mandate holders, including women and gender diverse persons.
APC comments on the First Draft Outline of the Report by the ITU Secretary-General for the Sixth World Telecommunication/ICT Policy Forum 2021
Author : APC
August, 2019
APC welcomes the opportunity to comment on the First Draft Outline of the Report by the ITU Secretary-General for the Sixth World Telecommunication/Information and Communication Technology Policy Forum 2021 (WTPF-21). In particular, we welcome WTPF-21’s emphasis on the potential contribution of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). ICTs have enormous potential to strengthen social, political, cultural, economic and human development. In developing solutions and policy frameworks for the WTPF-21 thematic areas, it is critical that sustainable development – economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection – be part of the considerations, with appropriate questions on the contribution or risks that each of the proposed solutions might have on these factors. In reviewing the draft outline, we have been impressed by the scope of the questions in each of the themes. APC believes, however, that the questions in each of the areas should be centred around the impact that developments in these areas will have on social, political, cultural, economic and human development. Additionally, APC recommends that in all of the work of the WTPF-21, attention is paid to the creation of digital solutions that respond to the environmental crisis facing our planet. In order to meet the 17 SDGs, the ITU needs to be concerned with a sustainable planet to sustain those goals. Read APC's full submission here.
The internet as we see it: Gendered perceptions from Pakistan
Author : Amel Ghani and Sadaf Khan
August, 2019
The general understanding in Pakistan is that there are differences between the ways men and women access and use the internet. These ideas come from the patriarchal nature of our society and the perceptions that exist in relation to men and women. This study aims to understand the internet perceptions of Pakistani users specifically from the lens of gender. The idea is to explore how men and women perceive the opposite gender’s use of the internet and, in comparison, how they view their own gender’s online engagement. The research, which relied on focus group discussions, began by questioning the participants about their understanding of the term "internet" and built upon ideas about online experience from there. The study attempted to conduct an in-depth examination of the perceptions of male and female internet users about the positive and negative effects of internet activity in Pakistan. The discussions were conducted separately with groups of men and women, and controlled for household income. The focus group methodology led to holistic discussions, encompassing various themes and issues related to the gendered perceptions and local attitudes about the internet. The open-ended nature of the discussions allowed participants to express diverse ideas, exploring the complexities of internet use and their own understanding. The study was exploratory in nature and can inform further research and policy ideas. The research findings show that male and female internet users are in agreement over the benefits offered by the internet as well as the existence of several major issues that men and women face online. They claimed they use the internet as a source of information and entertainment and as a medium for expression and connectivity in personal and professional capacities. They expressed similar concerns about internet accessibility, its use, and its effects on individuals. They thought about issues such as data privacy, misinformation and polarisation when they reflected on the negative aspects of the web. The study also shows research participants realised that different people, especially of the opposite gender, experience the internet differently in Pakistan. The study identifies that men and women internet users may have a different perception of the nature and prevalence of harassment on the internet. Ideas that inform our society at large also appeared to impact and inform the participants’ perception of internet use.
Submission to South African Law Reform Commission Discussion Paper 149 on Sexual Offences: Pornography and Children
Author : APC and Research ICT Africa
January, 1970
Research ICT Africa (RIA) and the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) welcome this opportunity to jointly submit written comments on the South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) Discussion Paper 149 on Sexual Offences: Pornography and Children, published in April 2019. The Discussion Paper solicits views and comments on proposed amendments to the legislative framework that currently applies to children in respect of "pornography", and forms part of an overarching investigation into the review of all sexual offences found in common law and statute. Among other things, Discussion Paper 149 is concerned with improving "the regulation of pornography, including on the Internet". It covers five areas of concern: Access to or exposure of a child to pornography Creation and distribution of child sexual abuse material Explicit self-images created and distributed by a child Grooming of a child and other sexual contact crimes associated with pornography or which are facilitated by pornography or child sexual abuse material Investigation, procedural matters and sentencing. RIA and APC make this joint submission in the public interest to ensure that the internet, and access to it, can be a force for good in South Africa rather than becoming a tool which benefits some and leaves marginalised or vulnerable communities (including children) further behind. We thank the SALRC for its work in compiling the Discussion Paper, and also for providing an opportunity for further input from stakeholders. Like the Commission (c.f. para 1.28 of Chapter 1 of Discussion Paper 149), we firmly believe that public consultation and participation are vital, as no stakeholder group, legislator or regulator can effectively regulate online content or activities alone. Enabling the participation and input from civil society, academia, the private sector, technical community and users (including children) is likely to lead to a much stronger, more effective responses to these evolving problems that accompany our exposure and inclusion in a global information society. As access to the internet increases in South Africa, users, including children, are exposed to new or different threats and risks in addition to the ones they face "offline". While these risks can be significant, they need to be considered in the context of existing offline risks and broader social changes that span both online and offline contexts. Access to the internet does entail that users (including children) might be exposed to content that might be disturbing. It can also expose children to online harassment or bullying. However, access to the internet can also help children understand and respond to the risks that they face offline and offline, inform them about how to avoid risk, find help when they are exposed to negative online experiences, report abuses, and connect with other children who may have had similar experiences. We are concerned that the Discussion Paper tends to conflate risk with harm and, in doing so, may constrain the development and participation of children through technology in a globalised information society. We are particularly concerned about the proposal to require a default setting on devices to prevent children from having access to content which is (subjectively) deemed to be potentially harmful. This provision is not only technologically determinist and impractical from an implementation point of view, but wholly neglects children’s rights to information, health, expression, and freedom of association. In trying to protect children, it risks restricting children’s rights in a manner that would arguably fail to meet constitutional thresholds of legitimacy and proportionality. While the Paper acknowledges the fact that some children will react differently to online risk, it still recommends overarching policy responses that will be overly restrictive to most young users while inadequate or inappropriate for others. We believe that harm and risk need to be thoroughly understood in order to design and target encompassing interventions at children who might be more susceptible or vulnerable to risk. One of the most significant policy challenges in curtailing potential risks that accompany children’s (and adults’) digital inclusion is the lack of data pertaining to how children access and use the internet, including their preferences, needs, concerns, perceptions and experiences. Without gathering such data, our policy makers are unable to make assumptions about children’s online risks. Relying on assumptions of the risks children face online without gathering such data means that our policy makers are unable to make informed decisions. Download the full submission here.
Bottom-up Connectivity Strategies: Community-led small-scale telecommunication infrastructure networks in the global South
Author : Research conducted by Nicola Bidwell and Michael Jensen
June, 2019
There is increasing concern over the worldwide slowdown in the growth of voice and internet users. The networks being deployed by national operators are now only expected to connect 60% to 70% of the world’s population by 2025. This indicates that the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which anticipate attaining universal connectivity by 2030, are unlikely to be achieved. Despite decades of deployment, it appears increasingly likely that current strategies will not be able to address the needs of billions of people in developing countries who have ineffective communication services due to limited coverage or lack of affordable services. Fortunately, however, network equipment continues to become more affordable and easier to deploy, resulting in increasing numbers of networks emerging where community members build and operate their own telecommunication infrastructure, often managed on a cost-recovery basis, rather than for commercial gain. Although there is no commonly accepted definition, these networks are usually called “community networks” because local communities are involved in some way in deploying, owning and operating the physical infrastructure that supports voice or internet connectivity. Many APC member organisations have recently become active in supporting these types of networks. This trend has strong parallels with APC’s birth as an organisation almost 30 years ago, when it emerged in response to similar needs to build local internet infrastructure, prior to the development of the “commercial internet” that most people use today. Nationwide commercial services owned by private operators have up until recently been seen as the only effective means of addressing needs for connectivity. However, although this strategy is now coming under scrutiny, most governments are not yet aware of the potential impact of independent small-scale community-based networks. As a result, these networks are still relatively scarce, or invisible, because regulatory environments are generally hostile to them and are not yet adapted to foster their growth and replication. Aside from the absence of enabling regulatory environments, community networks, particularly those in the rural global South, also face other difficulties. Financial resources for their initial deployment are often very limited and there are other factors such as lack of affordable or reliable energy supply, and high costs for backhaul connectivity. Yet, despite these difficulties and their lack of visibility, community networks also appear to have many advantages over traditional large-scale commercial networks, including: More local control over how the network is used and the content that is provided over the network. Greater potential for attention to the needs of marginalised people and the specific populations of rural communities, including women and older people. Lower costs and retention of more funds within the community. Increased potential to foster a sense of agency and empowerment among users and those involved in the network. To document the benefits of, and challenges facing, small-scale, community-based connectivity projects, APC researchers visited 12 rural community networks in the global South in 2018 and studied a number of others through desk research and interviews. The primary goal of the research is to provide information that can be used for evidence-based policy making that will contribute to creating a more enabling environment for small community-based local access networks. In addition, the research aimed to identify opportunities for these networks to be more effective and, hopefully, to encourage more organisations to support the development of these networks in future. This report was part of the broader Local Access Networks project that was carried out in partnership with Rhizomatica (an NGO supporting many community networks in Latin America) with financial support from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Disclaimer: This report was initially published under the title "Connectivity Strategies Where People Matter: Community-led small-scale telecommunication infrastructure networks in the global South," which was later changed to the current one.
Submission to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights in response to the call for submissions on digital technology
Author : Association for Progressive Communications, Derechos Digitales and Media Matters for Democracy
June, 2019
The Association for Progressive Communications (APC), Derechos Digitales and Media Matters for Democracy welcome the opportunity to provide this submission on the human rights impacts of the introduction of digital technologies in the implementation of national social protection systems (NSPS). As a point of departure, we recognise that digital technologies can have a role to play in delivering social protection benefits efficiently. However, caution must be exercised by all stakeholders to ensure that the use of such technologies is cognisant of the existing and potential risks. In practice, these technologies are often presented as a solution to a problem that has not been clearly defined, and this raises concerns of creating new challenges or exacerbating existing ones. In particular, we focus on selected aspects raised in issues 3 and 4 of the call for submissions. This submission is structured as follows: The human rights implications and the balancing of competing rights The practical challenges in accessing digital technologies in NSPS The potential for exploitation in the use of digital technologies The potential for bias and exclusion in the use of algorithms The need for appropriate policy and regulatory frameworks The need for meaningful engagement, impact assessments and review The impermissibility of retrogressive measures.
UN First Committee Processes on Responsible State Behaviour in Cyberspace: An Explainer
Author : Deborah Brown (APC) and Sheetal Kumar (Global Partners Digital)
June, 2019
In late 2018, the UN General Assembly's First Committee established two parallel processes to discuss responsible state behaviour in cyberspace: the UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) and the Open Ended Working Group (OEWG). The outcomes of these processes may end up having a significant influence on trends and policies in cybersecurity globally, with implications for human rights. This explainer offers human rights defenders all the information they need to start engaging with the GGE and OEWG, from a rundown of the key issues on the GGE and OEWG agendas, to guidance on how the processes work, and when and where human rights defenders can get involved.
The surveillance industry and human rights: Submission to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freed
Author : APC
May, 2019
In 2018 the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) affirmed that the “surveillance of digital communications must be consistent with international human rights obligations” and in accordance with a “publicly accessible, clear, precise, comprehensive and nondiscriminatory” legal framework, without any arbitrary or unlawful interference with the right to privacy. UNGA called on states and business enterprises to protect and respect the right to privacy in the digital age in accordance with their respective responsibilities under international human rights law. There is a stark difference between the normative statements expressed in UN resolutions and the realities experienced by individuals and communities on the ground across the globe. Individuals feel increasingly surveilled in multiple ways, including targeted, mass and lateral surveillance, with little knowledge on who is carrying out this surveillance or how. As noted by an activist at a recent consultation on the topic, “We feel like we are performing on a stage, with no knowledge of who the audience is.” The “curation” of these clandestine performances can often be credited to the surveillance technology industry, which behind the scenes is collecting, retaining, processing and exploiting data for governments, other companies, and other non-state actors willing to purchase a ticket. To a large extent, people are in the dark as to the different tools available to and being produced by state and non-state actors (especially private sector) that are used for surveillance purposes. There is limited public information concerning the surveillance technology industry, which makes it difficult to hold either governments or private companies accountable for deploying surveillance technologies in ways that are inconsistent with international human rights law as well as domestic law. While surveillance technologies may have legitimate uses and be designed "neutrally", the reality is that they are deployed in ways that violate a range of human rights with impunity. Furthermore, as the Special Rapporteur has already recognised: "Surveillance exerts a disproportionate impact on the freedom of expression of a wide range of vulnerable groups, including racial, religious, ethnic, gender and sexual minorities, members of certain political parties, civil society, human rights defenders, professionals such as journalists, lawyers and trade unionists, victims of violence and abuse, and children." The same can be said for surveillance technologies. Whether targets of government surveillance (like activists, human rights defenders, journalists whose communications and devices are intercepted) or subjects of lateral/social surveillance (like survivors of domestic violence who are targeted with spousal spyware and experience new forms of domestic violence through “internet of things” devices), persons who are in positions of vulnerability and marginalisation in society, including political dissidents, minority rights activists, persons living in conflict areas and women or persons of varying gender identity, tend to experience disproportionate effects from the deployment of surveillance technologies. Due to the limitations on space, this submission focuses on emblematic cases and uses of surveillance technologies against individuals or civil society organisations, and the gendered impact of the deployment of surveillance technologies.
Open letter to the European Commission on Article 17 of the EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market
Author : Various
May, 2019
Dear President Juncker, Dear First Vice-President Timmermans, Dear Vice-President Ansip, Dear Commissioner Gabriel, Dear Director General Roberto Viola, The undersigned stakeholders represent fundamental rights organisations, the knowledge community (in particular libraries), free and open source software developers, and communities from across the European Union. The new Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market has been adopted and, as soon as it is published in the Official Journal, Member States will have two years to implement the new rules. Article 17, on "certain uses of protected content by online services", foresees that the European Commission will issue guidance on the application of this Article. The undersigned organisations have, on numerous occasions throughout the legislative debate on the copyright reform, expressed their very explicit concerns [1] about the fundamental and human rights questions that will appear in the implementation of the obligations laid down on online content-sharing service providers by Article 17. These concerns have also been shared by a wide variety of other stakeholders, the broad academic community of intellectual property scholars, as well as Members of the European Parliament and individual Member States. [2] We consider that, in order to mitigate these concerns, it is of utmost importance that the European Commission and Member States engage in a constructive transposition and implementation to ensure that the fears around automated upload filters are not realised. We believe that the stakeholder dialogues and consultation process foreseen in Article 17(10) to provide input on the drafting of guidance around the implementation of this Article should be as inclusive as possible. The undersigned organisations represent consumers and work to enshrine fundamental rights into EU law and national-level legislation. These organisations are stakeholders in this process, and we call upon the European Commission to ensure the participation of human rights and digital rights organisations, as well as the knowledge community (in particular libraries), free and open source software developers, and communities in all of its efforts around the transposition and implementation of Article 17. This would include the planned Working Group, as well as other stakeholder dialogues, or any other initiatives at consultation level and beyond. Such broad and inclusive participation is crucial for ensuring that the national implementations of Article 17 and the day-to-day cooperation between online content-sharing service providers and rightholders respects the Charter of Fundamental Rights by safeguarding citizens’ and creators’ freedom of expression and information, whilst also protecting their privacy. These should be the guiding principles for a harmonised implementation of Article 17 throughout the Digital Single Market. Yours sincerely, • Association for Progressive Communications (APC) • APADOR-CH • ApTi Romania • ARTICLE 19 • Associação D3 - Defesa dos Direitos Digitais • Associação Nacional para o Software Livre - Portugal • Bits of Freedom • BlueLink Foundation • Center for Media and Democracy • Centrum Cyfrowe Foundation • Civil Liberties Union for Europe • Coalizione Italiana Libertà e Diritti Civili • COMMUNIA Association for the Public Domain • Creative Commons • Digital Courage • Digitalegeshellschaft • Electronic Frontier Finland • Electronic Frontier Foundation • Elektronisk Forpost Norge • epicenter.works • European Digital Rights (EDRi) • Fitug e.v. • Hermes Center • Hivos • Homo Digitalis • Human Rights Monitoring Institute • Hungarian Civil Liberties Union • Index on Censorship • International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) • Irish Council for Civil Liberties • IT-Pol Denmark • La Quadrature du Net • Metamorphosis Foundation • Nederlands Juristen Comité voor de Mensenrechten (NJCM) • Open Rights Group • Peace Institute • Privacy First • Rights International Spain • Vrijschrift • Wikimedia Deutschland e. V. • Wikimedia Foundation • Xnet [1] Human rights and digital rights organisations: https://www.liberties.eu/en/news/delete-article-thirteen-open-letter/13194 [2] Academics from the leading European research centres: https://www.create.ac.uk/blog/2019/03/24/the-copyright-directive-articles-11- and-13-must-go-statement-from-european-academics-in-advance-of-the-plenary-vote-on-26-march-2019/ Max Plank Institute: https://www.ip.mpg.de/fileadmin/ipmpg/content/stellungnahmen/Answers_Article_13_2017_Hilty_Mosconrev- 18_9.pdf Universities: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3054967 Researchers: https://www.southampton.ac.uk/assets/imported/transforms/content-block/UsefulDownloads_Download/A6F51035708E4D- 9EA3582EE9A5CC4C36/Open%20Letter.pdf UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression: https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/ Issues/Opinion/Legislation/OL-OTH-41-2018.pdf
Declaration of support for the Copyright Amendment Bill 2019, South Africa
Author : Various
April, 2019
Dear President Ramaphosa, We are writers, filmmakers, producers, photographers, actors, teachers, professors, students, learners, librarians, journalists, artists, poets, software developers, technology entrepreneurs, freedom of expression activists, disability activists, game developers, producers of accessible format materials, educational content producers and many other diverse South Africans. Amongst us, our organisations represent over half a million South Africans. In South Africa the law has not protected our interests. We work in industries where many of us are systematically disempowered. We are working under apartheid-era legislation which favours historical and international monopolies which have control of money and power. This power imbalance must end now. We welcome the passing of the Copyright Amendment Bill by both the National Assembly and the National Council of the Provinces and encourage you to sign the Bill into law without delay. The Bill has undergone a lengthy consultative process at the various stages and is a good reflection of a transformative vision for a more equal and just society. The Bill also brings South African legislation in line with international treaties. As filmmakers and photographers, we applaud the provisions which firstly make it easier for us to own our work, and secondly to critically engage with other creative works to tell our stories. As fine artists, we welcome the introduction of a resale royalty, so that we the creators also benefit when our works become more valuable over time. As educators, librarians and students, we commend the Bill for making it possible to access much-needed educational materials, and to produce decolonised learning materials in all South African languages. This will particularly benefit disadvantaged and excluded learners. Libraries will also finally be able to digitise and preserve our cultural heritage. As disabled rights activists, this Bill will finally empower us and give us access to opportunities denied to us by the lack of works in accessible formats, such as Braille. As actors, musicians and performers, after decades of exploitation, we look forward to having control over our work, the choice of how it is used, and the right to fair remuneration and royalties for the continued usage of our work. As digital entrepreneurs, we welcome the modernisation of Fair Use in the Bill which allows us to compete on a global stage in fields ranging from artificial intelligence to game development. As journalists and activists, we believe the Bill makes a key contribution to the protection of free expression and access to information, which are essential components of a democratic and inclusive society. As writers, authors and composers, we praise the Bill for redressing a historical imbalance by ensuring that assigned copyrights revert to the author and by introducing royalties for additional uses of our works. And as creators across the board, we believe the regulation of collective management organisations is extremely urgent to prevent our income being mismanaged and to ensure that CMOs are accountable to the artists and creators they exist to serve. When it comes to Fair Use of copyrighted materials we applaud the approach taken in the Bill, which increases access without substituting in the market of the original creator. We look forward to playing our part in a dynamic, inclusive and decolonised creative economy with the support of the Copyright Amendment Bill and the Performers Protection Amendment Bill. #SignTheBills #EndExploitation #DecoloniseTheCreativeEconomy #SupportCreatorsNotProfiteers #EducationForAll Supported by: South African Democratic Teachers Union National Professional Teachers' Organisation of South Africa SAOU Teachers Union South African Guild of Actors WikiMedia ZA Right2Know ReCreateSA Freedom of Expression Institute SA Right to Read Coalition: Blind SA Daisy SA SA Library for the Blind SA Braille Authority SA National Council for the Blind SA Disability Alliance Tape Aids for the Blind Media Monitoring Africa Down Syndrome South Africa UCT IP Unit Section 27 African Union of Blind Marrakesh Treaty Committee Library and Information Association of SA The Safety Lab LifeCo UnLtd People Against Racism Personal Managers Association AfroLabs Shifty Records ADvTECH Schools Division Association for Progressive Communications Creative Commons South Africa
Comments on the proposed review of the licensing framework for the telecommunications sector in Uganda
Author : Various
April, 2019
APC joined Rhizomatica, Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), the AfChix Uganda chapter, BOSCO Uganda and the Internet Society to submit comments to a public consultation on the proposed review of the licensing framework for the telecommunications sector in Uganda. The submission emphasises the need to enable alternative approaches to broadband delivery that can complement existing network operator models, and the consequent need for enabling regulations to unleash the potential of community networks and other small network operators to deliver affordable access everywhere. Among other recommendations, the submission calls on the Uganda Communications Commission to enable affordable access to spectrum and other resources by specialised operators (both for-profit and not-for-profit) providing access to the underserved, especially in rural areas. Possible measures include: Set-asides of spectrum for mobile telephony and data. Secondary use of spectrum using white spaces concepts in both TV bands and mobile bands. Removing the need to obtain an authorisation prior to deploying Wi-Fi equipment. Creating a spectrum fee structure that is more granular and conducive. Transparency in the location of fibre networks, their points of presence, location of towers, and their characteristics and equipment. The submission also stresses that it is unlikely that the existing gender access gap will be bridged in Uganda if policies and regulations do not actively enable the participation of more women in the telecommunication industry, and therefore recommends adopting a gender-sensitive framework and guidelines.
Joint submission to public consultation on Kenya's Revised National Broadband Strategy
Author : Various
April, 2019
Kenya is currently in the process of adopting the 2018-2023 National Broadband Strategy, with the aim of providing equitable access to secure broadband for all citizens. The Communication Authority of Kenya invited stakeholders drawn from the public and private sectors, civil society and academia to provide their views, suggestions and recommendations on the Revised National Broadband Strategy (Download PDF 177KB). The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) in collaboration with Rhizomatica, the Internet Society (ISOC), the World Wide Web Foundation/Alliance for Affordable Internet, ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa, Tunapanda Institute and Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet) submitted their commentary on the proposed strategy. Some of the recommendations included in the submission were: Having a consistent definition of local bottom-up citizen models. Licence exemption or reduced regulatory fees for non-profit telecommunications cooperatives. Building capacity for local communities to be actively involved in the deployment and maintenance of broadband infrastructure. Adopting dynamic spectrum licensing such as TV white space technology. Adoption of open government data principles in telecommunications and internet infrastructure. Mainstreaming gender-responsive approaches to capacity building and innovation. Read the full submission here. Read also "Kenya National Broadband Strategy: APC and partners advocate for bottom-up, community-driven approaches to bridge connectivity gaps" here.
Watching Cameroon through the lenses of the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms: Policy brief
Author : PROTEGE QV
April, 2019
Access to the internet is growing in African countries, representing an efficient development tool, but also posing serious threats to human rights. In a bid to mitigate the risks, the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms with its 13 key principles was adopted by the African Commission on Human and People’s rights in Banjul (Gambia), on 4 November 2016. In Cameroon, despite the numerous programmes put in place by the government with the support of information and communications technologies (ICTs), the government itself has voluntarily suspended internet services partially or totally during crisis situations. This policy brief, which visually illustrates relevant issues related to internet rights in Cameroon, was developed by APC member PROTEGE QV based on their in-depth study Watching Cameroon through the lenses of the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms. The study was produced through an APC research and campaign subgrant and made possible with the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).
Hashtag Palestine 2018: An Overview of Digital Rights Abuses of Palestinians
Author : Anan AbuShanab
March, 2019
A new report on Palestinian digital rights was launched by APC member 7amleh-The Arab Center for Social Media Advancement, which received an APC project grant in 2018. The report details violations by governments, authorities, international technology companies and Palestinian society. In 2018, the Israeli government continued to systematically target Palestinians and the right to freedom of expression via the internet, the report found. Israeli authorities arrested around 350 Palestinians in the West Bank on charges of “incitement” because of their publications on social media. The Israeli government also submitted a set of bills that would violate the right to privacy on the internet, including the expansion of the Israeli Cyber Directorate. Additionally, the Israeli court has received greater power to remove content from social media platforms. The report also explains the amendment of the Electronic Crimes Law by the Palestinian Authority in April 2018. This law still grants various official bodies the authority to monitor content on the internet, block sites and arrest Palestinians in the West Bank. Furthermore, Hamas in the Gaza Strip continued to arrest Palestinians opposed to its policies based on the unclear charge of “misuse of technology”. Read more on 7amleh's website or download the report here.
Consent to our data bodies: Lessons from feminist theories to enforce data protection
Author : Paz Peña and Joana Varon
March, 2019
In queer feminist debates, the principle of consent has been closely related to bodily and psychic integrity. That is because, even though it has different meanings, interpretations and cultural implications, informed and active consent, when expressed in situations of power equality, can be seen by some as one of the building blocks to ensure the rights to self determination, autonomy and freedom. Nevertheless, just as patriarchy tends to push down the standard of consent related to our bodies, minimizing it to solely non-active resistance and turning it into an excuse to legitimate violence; in digital environment, a low standard of unqualified consent is being pushed by tech companies as an excuse to make citizens give away several of their rights. Or, just as bad, some consumers of digital technologies simply ignore such concept and engage on practices of non-consensual dissemination of images, videos or thoughts, using technology to promote gender violence and abuses to our rights to privacy and freedom of expression, among others. This research departs from the premise that we can learn from feminist theories and struggles to interpret consent towards building a more meaningful and collective approach to consent when we think about data protection. Are there situations in our digital interactions where stronger standards or collective views of consent are needed or is this principle simply being used to legitimate abuses? From bodies to screens, we aim to expose practical examples that stress the value and severe limitations of using an individualistic approach to consent as sole requirement for several interactions with our data bodies, as well as craft some possible solutions. This publication was developed by Coding Rights with support from Privacy International through the project "Protecting Privacy in the Global South", funded by the International Development Research Centre, with support from the Ford Foundation and Privacy International. External URL:
State of media and digital freedoms report in Pakistan 2018
Author : Salwa Rana, Talal Raza and Waqas Naeem
March, 2019
Media Matters for Democracy (MMfD) launched its annual publication assessing the challenges to media and digital freedoms during the year 2018. The report touches upon various issues including violent and regulatory actions against the media, online censorship, the right to information regime, disinformation, internet disconnections, data protection, and legislative developments related to cyberspace. Read the full publication on Digital Rights Monitor Pakistan or download it here.
Free To Be Mobile: Ensuring that women, girls, queer and trans persons can inhabit digital spaces freely and fearlessly
Author : Zarah Udwadia and Baldeep Grewal
March, 2019
What do we talk about when we talk about technology-enabled violence? We mostly talk about online violence, or violence on the internet. But that's only part of the story. Another part of the story - one we talk or think about much less - goes beyond the online to the digital. APC member Point of View launches Free To Be Mobile, a publication that features ten stories of teenagers, women, trans and queer persons, and their experiences of digital violence. All ten stories are rooted in gender, which expresses itself in a million different ways - from teenage boys hacking the WhatsApp accounts of teenage girls to trans women constantly facing demands for sex on social media. Many of these are also tales of resistance, of speaking up, devising strategies where none exist. Of the small steps being taken to change the landscape of digital violence, making it that much easier for women and other marginalised genders to freely - and fearlessly - inhabit digital spaces.
HRC40: Oral statement highlighting the shrinking of civic space online
Author : APC
March, 2019
Oral Statement Delivered Under General Debate Item 3 UN Human Rights Council 40th Session 8 March 2019 Speaker: Gayatri Khandhadai Thank you Mr. President. The Association for Progressive Communications echoes the deep alarm expressed by the Secretary-General at the opening of this session over the shrinking of civic space online. In every region of the world, restrictive laws are being applied online to censor independent voices, squash dissent and create a chilling effect on civil society through pervasive surveillance. New ICT laws are being adopted that are not compliant with international law or constitutional guarantees. Cybersecurity measures are being adopted that undermine both security and human rights. We highlight the disturbing trend of internet shutdowns, particularly in Africa and Asia, which, in violation of international law, restrict a range of rights and harm communities, often at critical, political moments. On International Women’s Day, we express deep concern about the online backlash against feminist voices, the extension and amplification of misogyny, discrimination and violence online, and coordinated campaigns (sometimes state-supported), which aim to silence, discredit and intimidate women. Female journalists and women human rights defenders, in particular, are targeted in this manner. We call on all states, including India and Pakistan, to end the use of blasphemy-related laws and release all individuals jailed for exercising their human rights online. We implore the government of Egypt to release Alaa Abdel Fattah from prison as planned on 17 March. Mr. Fattah, an Egyptian blogger, software developer and political activist, and countless human rights defenders and free-thinkers in Egypt, have been wrongfully detained for exercising their rights. Thank you Mr. President.
HRC40: Oral statement on freedom of religion and expression online
Author : APC
March, 2019
UN Human Rights Council 40th Session 5 March 2019 Speaker: Gayatri Khandhadai Thank you, Mr. President. The Association for Progressive Communications welcomes the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of religion or belief, which yet again emphasises the interrelatedness and mutually reinforcing nature of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of religion or belief. We specifically welcome the Special Rapporteur’s attention to the online dimensions of these rights, including the rise of “digital authoritarianism", which poses a threat to a range of human rights in the name of religion or belief. We remain highly concerned by the deep politicisation of religion for electoral gains. Organised execution of hate campaigns against religious minorities, rationalists, atheists, women and LBGTIQ persons has become a common occurrence in Asia and other regions. Artists and journalists are repeatedly targeted in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh for their expression that may seem to challenge religious institutions and undemocratic practices. The overt and covert support from state institutions and representatives to these cyberarmies has placed their safety and freedoms at grave risk. We agree with the Special Rapporteur that blasphemy and anti-apostasy laws are in violation of international law, and that “defamation of religion” is a concept alien to international law and human rights standards. Therefore we are alarmed that instead of reforming existing laws to align them with international standards, states have introduced blasphemy provisions in regulations that govern online spaces, further compromising the already shrinking civic space for dissent and diverse expression. We call for greater operationalisation of the Rabat Plan of Action to include civil society voices and we note with concern the lack of recognition of gendered experiences of religion. For this process to address evolving challenges, it must include online and digital dimensions of freedom of religion or belief. We address the following questions to the Special Rapporteur: 1. What steps do you recommend the private sector take to facilitate the exercise of freedom of religion or belief online? 2. What can states do to ensure that the rights to freedom of religion and expression are enjoyed by all, including women and LGBTIQ people, including in online spaces?
Despots and Disruptions: Five Dimensions of Internet Shutdowns in Africa
Author : Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA)
February, 2019
In regards to internet freedom, Africa got off to an awful start in 2019. Internet disruptions were registered in five countries (Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Sudan and Zimbabwe) within the first three weeks of the year. The disruptions were related to elections, protests against government policies, and what seemed like a coup attempt. With several nations set to conduct elections during the course of 2019, many more shutdowns could be witnessed. This report presents observations on the shutdowns experienced to date, and points to a link between the level of authoritarianism in a country and how long a president has been in power, and the likelihood of experiencing a network shutdown. It also looks at the economic and social impacts of these disruptions. Despots and Disruptions explores five aspects related to internet shutdowns in Africa: Internet disruptions are the preserve of Africa’s most authoritarian states. Longevity in power = high propensity to order shutdowns. The high cost of internet disruptions persists long after access is restored. Could 2019 be the year of most internet shutdowns in Africa? There is more open acknowledgement of disruptions by ISPs and governments. TopicAccessFreedom of expressionInternet rights APC-wide activitiesAfrican Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms Tagsinternet shutdownafricacipesa RegionAfrica MembersCollaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA)
Joint submission on the consultation paper on light licensing of the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz band in Zimbabwe
Author : Murambinda Works, Association for Progressive Communications, Internet Society and Rhizomatica
February, 2019
This is a joint submission by Murambinda Works, the Association for Progressive Communications, Internet Society and Rhizomatica. We support the objectives of this proposed regulatory change but feel the changes could go even further in order to more effectively realise those objectives. We fully support Minister Kazembe’s recent statement that young people are key to closing the digital gap in Zimbabwe and that "we must now build on this and empower the next generation to become a driving force for ICT growth in the country.” This statement is backed up by the National Policy for ICTs (2016-2020), which clearly identifies youth, entrepreneurship, and innovation as key pillars of ICT growth in Zimbabwe. We believe that Wi-Fi technology is both affordable enough and powerful enough as a broadband tool that it can unlock entrepreneurship and innovation in this demographic. In order to do so, however, the barriers to implementation of Wi-Fi technology should be lowered and it should be enabled to operate at its maximum potential. The most recent ICT Sector Report (Q3 2018) from POTRAZ reports internet subscribership at 7,690,134, representing 55.4% of the population. This represents tremendous progress but the biggest access challenge still remains of connecting more sparsely populated, lower-income regions of Zimbabwe. For that, new thinking and approaches will be required.
New wave of Israeli legislation posing severe threats to internet freedoms: Written statement to HRC 40
Author : APC and 7amleh
February, 2019
The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and 7amleh - The Arab Centre for Social Media Advancement submit this statement ahead of the Human Rights Council 40th session to express our grave concern about the dramatic upsurge in the number of laws being put forth by Israeli legislators that violate the right to privacy and freedom of expression and often exhibit racist and discriminatory features. Several of these laws pertain to internet rights, a sphere in which the Israeli government is increasingly carrying out monitoring and surveillance, and are drafted in such a way that would pave the way for further restrictions on free speech for both Israeli and Palestinian citizens. While supporters of the laws insist that they are necessary for the security of Israel, they often contain clauses that indicate Israel’s desire to limit free speech, Palestinian solidarity and other activity that is unfavourable to the government’s political agenda. Tens of discriminatory laws have been proposed in very recent years, three of which are examined in the submission: The Facebook Bill (January 2017) Prohibition Against Photographing and Documenting Israeli Soldiers (May 2018) Prohibition Against Photographing and Documenting Israeli Soldiers (May 2018) None of the bills have been passed, but it is expected that they will be re-submitted to Knesset in June, following the elections and coalition building. The submission concludes with recommendations to the Government of Israel, the Human Rights Council and UN Special Procedures, civil society and social media companies.
#KeepitOn: Joint letter on keeping the internet open and secure in Nigeria
Author : Various
February, 2019
Re: Internet shutdown in upcoming elections in Nigeria Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) Nigerian Communications Commission CC: Maria Arena, Chief Observer European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to Nigeria We the #KeepItOn Coalition welcome your statement dated 1 February 2019 reaffirming your commitment to ensure the stability and openness of the internet during the elections in Nigeria. Access to information and freedom of expression are pillars of a democratic society and are essential during elections. Millions of Nigerians like many more around the world depend on the internet to find their polling stations, identify and engage with election campaigns, listen and vet candidates, use the information they gather online to cast their vote, and use the internet to report misconduct during the elections. Because of the many undeniable advantages of the internet, we the #KeepItOn Coalition that make up more than 180 organizations from over 68 countries implore you to keep the internet open during the upcoming elections in Nigeria. Internet shutdowns harm human rights and economies Research shows that internet shutdowns [1] and violence go hand in hand. Shutdowns disrupt the free flow of information and create a cover of darkness that shields human rights abuses from public scrutiny. Journalists and media workers cannot contact sources, gather information, or file stories without digital communications tools. Justified for various reasons, shutdowns cut off access to vital information, e-commerce, and emergency services, plunging whole communities into fear. Disruptions also destabilize the internet’s power to support small business livelihoods and to drive economic development. A 2016 study by the Brookings Institution, a prominent think tank, revealed that shutdowns drained USD 2.4 billion from the global economy between 2015 and 2016. The open internet has fostered unprecedented creativity, innovation, and access to information and to other kinds of social, economic, cultural, and political opportunities in Nigeria and across the globe. The technical means used to block access to information online often dangerously undermine the stability and resiliency of the internet. Internet shutdowns must never be allowed to become the new normal. Nigeria has a vibrant civic tech and startup community, and the digital economy continues to progressively contribute to the gross national product (GDP). The digital economy is estimated to contribute USD 88 billion by 2021 and create over three million jobs. Any attempt to shut down the internet will cost your country ?n estimated USD 134,251,654 per day in direct economic costs, and will slow the realization of economic, social, and cultural rights broadly. Internet shutdowns violate international law A growing body of findings and resolutions hold that intentional disruptions to online communication violate international law. The UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly have passed, by consensus, multiple resolutions that unambiguously condemn internet shutdowns and similar restrictions on freedom of expression online. For example, the UN Human Rights Council in Resolution A/HRC/RES/32/13 "condemns unequivocally measures to intentionally prevent or disrupt access to or dissemination of information online in violation of international human rights law and calls on all States to refrain from and cease such measures." Experts from the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Organization of American States (OAS), and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), declared that internet “kill switches” can never be justified under international human rights law, even in times of conflict. In November 2016, the ACHPR adopted a resolution, ACHPR/Res. 362 (LIX), on the right to freedom of information and expression on the internet in Africa, which noted its concern over “the emerging practice of State Parties of interrupting or limiting access to telecommunications services such as the Internet, social media and messaging services, increasingly during elections.” The UN Human Rights Committee, the official interpreter of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, emphasizes in General Comment No. 34 that restrictions on speech online must be strictly necessary and proportionate to achieve a legitimate purpose. Shutdowns are neither necessary to nor effective at achieving a legitimate aim; by contrast, shutdowns disproportionately impact all users, and unnecessarily restrict access to information and emergency services communications during crucial national moments while also limiting transparency and accountability required at these times. We respectfully call on you to: Ensure that the internet, including social media, SMS and mobile services remain accessible. Reaffirm your commitment to keep the internet on, and to notify the public of any disruptions before, during and after the elections. Safeguard that the speed of the internet, or specific websites and messaging applications, are not intentionally slowed down. Encourage telecommunications and internet services providers to respect human rights through public disclosures on policies and practices impacting users. We are happy to assist you in any of these matters. Access Now African Academic Network on Internet Policy African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) Africtivistes- League of African Bloggers and Cyberactivists for Democracy Alliance for Affordable Internet - A4AI Association for Progressive Communications (APC) Collaboration for International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) Committee to Protect Journalists Internet without Borders ISOC Nigeria NetBlocks Paradigm Initiative OpenNet Africa PEN America Rwanda Youth Clubs for Peace Organization Senegalese Association of ICT Users (ASUTIC) World Wide Web Foundation [1] An internet shutdown is defined as an intentional disruption of internet or electronic communications, rendering them inaccessible or effectively unusable, for a specific population or within a location, often to exert control over the flow of information. See more at https://accessnow.org/keepiton.
The rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in the digital age: APC submission to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the righ
Author : APC
February, 2019
As an organisation that has worked at the intersections of human rights and technology for nearly three decades, APC welcomes the focus of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association (FoAA) in his next report on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association in the digital age. For those who have access to the internet, it is becoming increasingly difficult to imagine life without it. Meaningful use of the internet has become a necessary precondition for exercising human rights, online and offline, including the rights to FoAA. But not everyone has such access. When considering challenges and opportunities concerning FoAA in the digital age we urge the Special Rapporteur to keep in mind that meaningful access to the internet is still out of reach for around half of the world’s population. As the internet becomes more ubiquitous, less is being heard from those who are unconnected – the less wealthy and more marginalised – who are unable to exercise their rights on the same footing as those who are connected. This can create new forms of exclusion and amplify existing ones. Disparities in internet access mirror other disparities that women, in particular, face in society, be they based on location, economic power, age, gender, racial or ethnic origin, social and cultural norms, education, or other factors. Those who do not have access are doubly excluded: excluded from the “new” opportunities to exercise their rights to FoAA online, and also excluded from the “old” analogue world they used to have access to – even if imperfectly – because so many of those services and opportunities are increasingly only available online. We therefore encourage the Special Rapporteur to take an intersectional approach when considering challenges to FoAA in the digital age. Intersectionality as a framework questions and gives visibility to exclusions, powers and privileges that emerge as a result of gender, race, ethnicity, class, and other social and cultural hierarchies. While limitations/restrictions on FoAA are relatively well defined, if not always respected, there is not yet a common understanding of protections for and permissible restrictions on FoAA online. As a result, states and internet intermediaries place arbitrary and excessive limitations on the exercise of FoAA in online spaces. Guidance from the Special Rapporteur reaffirming the right to FoAA in online spaces and defining limitations consistent with international human rights law and best practices in this regard would be immensely valuable for safeguarding FoAA in the digital age. In addition, it is increasingly difficult to distinguish between the online and offline dimensions of FoAA, both because digital technologies are more integrated into people’s lives, including in how they exercise FoAA, and because states are deploying digital technologies for a range of governmental functions that impact on FoAA. For example, the use social media can enable assemblies to continue over time and across geographies to build longer-term sustainable movements. During offline assemblies, information and communications technologies (ICTs) are used by both citizens and media to monitor how authorities behave and to document abuses, and by law enforcement authorities to maintain public order, but can be abused to profile activists, infiltrate associations, and undermine movements. Data-intensive systems, like smart cities, can be used for surveillance and to control people’s movements and minimise the impact of protests, strikes and other forms of peaceful assembly. These are just a few examples of how, in today’s world, rights are often exercised along a continuum between online and offline spaces, to underline that it is critical to pay attention to how digital technologies are developed, designed and regulated in order to better understand how to safeguard FoAA in the digital world. Image: "Hashtag" by Susanne Nilsson, used under CC BY-SA 2.0 licence (https://flic.kr/p/VeKQb7).
Cameroon: Parallel report to the 65th session of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Author : Access Now, APC and Internet Sans Frontières
February, 2019
This report focuses on the relationship between meaningful access to the internet and the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights (ESCRs) in Cameroon, and in particular, the violation of these rights that come with internet shutdowns. Accordingly, it relates to articles 1, 2, 6, 12, 13 and 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). While access to the internet is not in itself a human right, for those who have access, the internet can act as a significant enabler of ESCRs. While most closely associated with freedom of expression and access to information, the internet can impact positively on most articles in the ICESCR, such as the right to education (Article 13), to take part in cultural life and to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications (Article 15), to work (Article 6), to health (Article 12) and to food (Article 11), among others. The internet helps people find work, work remotely, and unions to organise; it enables small farmers to access competitive market information; it is a powerful enabler of cultural participation, innovation and artistic expression; it allows online learning resources to be shared easily, and facilitates access to information on health and medical advice. Therefore, increasing access to the internet is an important consideration for states in fulfilling their obligations under the ICESCR. Inhibitors to internet access, such as the cost and appropriateness of that access, need to be addressed as part of the state’s obligation to respect, protect and fulfill all human rights. Intentional disruptions of internet access by states, in this context, can be considered a violation of the ICESCR.
Open letter calling for the deletion of Articles 11 and 13 in the EU copyright directive proposal
Author : Various
January, 2019
Brussels, 29 January 2019 Your Excellency Deputy Ambassador, Dear European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip Dear MEPs Voss, Adinolfi, Boutonnet, Cavada, Dzhambazki, Geringer de Oedenberg, Joulaud, Maštálka, Reda, Stihler, We are writing you on behalf of business organisations, civil society organisations, creators, academics, universities, public libraries, research organisations and libraries, startups, software developers, EU online platforms, and Internet Service Providers. Taking note of the failure of the Council to find a majority for a revised negotiation mandate on Friday 18 January, we want to reiterate our position that the manifest flaws in Articles 11 and 13 of the proposal for a Copyright Directive in the Digital Single Market constitute insurmountable stumbling blocks to finding a balanced compromise on the future of Copyright in the European Union. Despite more than two years of negotiations, it has not been possible for EU policy makers to take the serious concerns of industry, civil society, academics, and international observers such as the UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression into account, as the premises both Articles are built on are fundamentally wrong. In light of the deadlock of the negotiations on Articles 11 and 13, as well as taking into consideration the cautious stance of large parts of the creative industries, we ask you to delete Articles 11 and 13 from the proposal. This would allow for a swift continuation of the negotiations, while the issues that were originally intended to be addressed by Articles 11 and 13 could be tackled in more appropriate legal frameworks than this Copyright Directive. We hope that you will take our suggestion on board when finalising the negotiations and put forward a balanced copyright review that benefits from wide stakeholder support in the European Union. Yours sincerely, Undersigned organisations: Europe 1. European Digital Rights (EDRi) 2. Allied for Startups 3. Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties) 4. Copyright for Creativity (C4C) 5. Create.Refresh 6. European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations (EBLIDA) 7. European Internet Services Providers Association (EuroISPA) 8. European Network for Copyright in Support of Education and Science (ENCES) 9. European University Association (EUA) 10. Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche – Association of European Research Libraries (LIBER) 11. Open State Foundation 12. Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition Europe (SPARC Europe) Austria 13. epicenter.works – for digital rights 14. Digital Society 15. Initiative für Netzfreiheit (IfNf) 16. Internet Service Providers Austria (ISPA Austria) Belgium 17. FusionDirectory 18. Opensides 19. SA&S – Samenwerkingsverband Auteursrecht & Samenleving (Partnership Copyright & Society) Bulgaria 20. BlueLink Foundation Czech Republic 21. Iuridicum Remedium (IuRe) 22. Seznam.cz Denmark 23. IT-Political Association of Denmark Estonia 24. Wikimedia Eesti Finland 25. Electronic Frontier Finland (EFFI) 26. Finnish Federation for Communications and Teleinformatics (FiCom) France 27. April 28. Conseil National du Logiciel Libre (CNLL) 29. NeoDiffusion 30. Renaissance Numérique 31. Uni-Deal 32. Wikimédia France Germany 33. Bundesverband Deutsche Startups 34. Chaos Computer Club 35. Deutscher Bibliotheksverband e.V. (dbv) 36. Digitalcourage e.V. 37. Digitale Gesellschaft e.V. 38. eco – Association of the Internet Industry 39. Factory Berlin 40. Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft (FITUG e.V.) 41. Initiative gegen ein Leistungsschutzrecht (IGEL) 42. Silicon Allee 43. Wikimedia Deutschland Greece 44. Open Technologies Alliance – GFOSS (Greek Free Open Source Software Society) 45. Homo Digitalis Italy 46. Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights 47. Roma Startup 48. Associazione per la Libertà nella Comunicazione Elettronica Interattiva (ALCEI) Luxembourg 49. Frënn vun der Ënn Netherlands 50. Bits of Freedom (BoF) 51. Dutch Association of Public Libraries (VOB) 52. Vrijschrift Poland 53. Centrum Cyfrowe Foundation 54. ePa?stwo Foundation 55. Startup Poland 56. ZIPSEE Digital Poland Portugal 57. Associação D3 – Defesa dos Direitos Digitais (D³) 58. Associação Nacional para o Software Livre (ANSOL) Romania 59. APADOR-CH (Romanian Helsinki Committee) 60. Association for Technology and Internet (ApTI) Slovakia 61. Sapie.sk Slovenia 62. Digitas Institute 63. Forum za digitalno družbo (Digital Society Forum) Spain 64. Asociación de Internautas 65. Grupo 17 de Marzo 66. MaadiX 67. Platform in Defence of Freedom of Information (PDL) (added on 31 January 2019) 68. Rights International Spain 69. Xnet Sweden 70. Dataskydd.net 71. Föreningen för Digitala Fri- och Rättigheter (DFRI) United Kingdom 72. Coalition for a Digital Economy (COADEC) 73. Open Rights Group (ORG) International 74. Alternatif Bili?im Derne?i (Alternatif Bili?im) (Turkey) 75. ARTICLE 19 76. Association for Progressive Communications (APC) 77. Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) 78. COMMUNIA Association 79. Derechos Digitales (Latin America) 80. Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) 81. Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL) 82. Index on Censorship 83. International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) 84. Israel Growth Forum (Israel) 85. My Private Network 86. Open Knowledge International 87. OpenMedia 88. SHARE Foundation (Serbia) 89. SumOfUs 90. World Wide Web Foundation
Connection Interrupted: Israel’s control of the Palestinian ICT infrastructure and its impact on digital rights
Author : Anan AbuShanab for 7amleh
January, 2019
APC member 7amleh – The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media launched the report “Connection Interrupted” in English and Arabic. It details the Israeli control over the Palestinian ICT infrastructure in the West Bank and Gaza and its impact on the digital rights of the Palestinian people. Since the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories in 1967, Israel took complete control of the ICT infrastructure and sector in the West Bank and Gaza, impeding development and blocking the establishment of an independent network, instead making Palestinians entirely dependent on the Israeli occupation authorities. In defiance of the Oslo Accords, which stipulate that Israel must gradually transfer control over the ICT sector to the Palestinians, Israel has tightened its control over the Palestinian ICT infrastructure, resulting in severe violations of Palestinian digital rights. This digital occupation has resulted in the creation of a severe ICT gap between Palestinians and the rest of the world, violating several human rights including their right to access economic markets. Additionally, Israel’s continuous control over the ICT infrastructure has enabled Israel to monitor all Palestinian online activity, violating their right to privacy and in many cases cooperating with social media companies to censor Palestinians online, a violation of their right to freedom of expression. The report reminds us that third-party states have a responsibility to ensure that their policies do not recognise or support the illegal Israeli occupation and its practices and instead ensure that Israel abides by its international obligations as an occupying power. The report concludes with recommendations for an independent Palestinian ICT sector, including access to infrastructure and spectrum frequencies, an immediate stop to illegal surveillance and monitoring of the Palestinian population, and for Israel to adhere to its responsibilities and duties as an occupying power. Israel and social media and ICT companies must respect and further Palestinian human rights including digital rights.
APC's reflections on the 2018 IGF and suggestions for 2019
Author : Deborah Brown, Anriette Esterhuysen and Mehar Gujral.
January, 2019
About APC The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) is an international network and non-profit organisation founded in 1990 that works to help ensure everyone has affordable access to a free and open internet to improve lives, realise human rights and create a more just world. APC has 87 members (made up of 58 organisations and 29 individuals), many of whom participate actively in the IGF process. APC itself has been an active supporter of the IGF since its inception as an outcome of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) process. The remarks below are a compilation of reflections from APC members and staff, and draw on inputs APC has previously submitted to open consultations, the IGF retreat and our submission to the United Nations High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation (HLPDC). A) Taking Stock of 2018 programming, outputs, preparatory process, community intersessional activities and the 13th annual IGF APC continues to see the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) – both as an annual global event and a multitude of national, regional and intersessional processes and events – as critical for bringing together key stakeholders in physical and digital spaces for policy dialogue, collaboration, coordination, capacity building and networking. We want to express our appreciation to all who made the 2018 IGF possible: the Secretariat, the Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG), the MAG chair, UNESCO, the host government (France), providers of financial support to the IGF, and all those who contributed to intersessional work, national and regional IGF initiatives (NRIs) and the annual event. A1. What worked well? Preparatory processes including venue, timing, logistics, participation and networking The presence of a diverse set of stakeholders, from governments – in part due to the co-location with the Paris Peace Forum – and parliamentarians to technologists and activists, among others, created a valuable opportunity for learning and cross-regional and cross-sector exchanges and dialogue. The large number of people who participated in the IGF for the first time was impressive. Networking, meeting new people and forming new relationships, as well as connecting with existing partners, taking stock, planning further collaboration, in addition to opportunities for bilateral consultations and meetings and to meet and talk with UN actors, were all extremely valuable. The UNESCO staff were very helpful and courteous, providing directions and support where needed. The exhibition space worked very well and the APC booth was spacious, which allowed people to interact and helped it to double as an operation base for the teams. The badging system was well organised, with the volunteers, security and staff efficient upon entry. However, accommodating people queuing in the rain would have been appreciated. UNESCO’s premises provided multiple spaces for networking at IGF 2018, such as the cafeteria and a space for people who wanted to work by themselves with their laptops. Programming, content and session At a time when trust in digital technologies seems to be declining, the overall theme of IGF 2018 – “Internet of Trust” – was timely. Relevant high-level policy debates took place at the IGF, with provocative speeches by President Emmanuel Macron and the UN Secretary-General. The IGF was useful for discussing other timely internet governance-related developments, in particular the UN High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation (HLPDC), which used the IGF as an opportunity to engage with a range of stakeholders. The opportunity to interact with the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace and receive updates on UNESCO’s Internet Universality Indicators was also of value. APC’s Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) book launch went very well in the large venue that was assigned to the session. Despite the lack of support from technology staff due to the timing, we appreciated the lunch hour time slot. Community intersessional activities Dynamic coalitions that worked throughout the year could use the global IGF effectively to meet, consolidate and plan ahead (but needed more time – more on this below). The Dynamic Coalition on Community Connectivity (DC3) has become an active space for discussion on taking community networks to the next level because it includes so many practitioners. However, not enough of these practitioners were able to attend the global IGF itself. In 2018, the IGF’s community-driven intersessional work titled “Connecting and Enabling the Next Billion(s)” in its Phase IV has showcased successful initiatives that address how the next billion people can be connected to the internet. The process aimed at investigating challenges and opportunities for addressing and overcoming barriers to meaningful internet access, promoting meaningful access in diverse contexts and regions, and ensuring that meaningful access also supports the achievement of the UN SDGs. The Best Practice Forum (BPF) on cybersecurity worked in a systematic and inclusive manner and produced excellent outputs. IGF 2018’s BPF on Gender and Access built on the theme from the year before, honing in on outreach that responds to the needs of underserved populations of women and gender non-binary persons. This was valuable for continuity and ensuring that the work moves forward. Contributing to this success were the efforts of the coordinator to reach out specifically to the previous years’ co-coordinators and secretariat for input. In terms of the process, having the survey was useful for the Gender and Access BPF as a mechanism to get input from broader stakeholder groups, but this needed to be supplemented with desk research. Significantly, in the fourth year of the BPF on Gender and Access, and on the strength of its previous work, APC is seeing more people contacting the BPF and wanting to participate in its work. This means that effective BPF outreach requires having the capacity, and having a platform, to respond to new interest. A2: What worked not so well? Preparatory processes including venue, timing, logistics, participation and networking Limited time: This year’s IGF was shorter than previous years, just three days long as opposed to the usual five days (Day 0 plus four days), which resulted in a limited amount of time to interact and attend various events and sessions. The lack of Day 0 and competing parallel events, such as the Paris Peace Forum and the GovTech Summit, set a busy tone for the conference, impacting the specific activities that stakeholders organised and participation around the IGF. Location: 2018 was the second year in a row that the IGF was held in an expensive city in Western Europe, which impacted the ability of some stakeholders to travel from far away, especially those from countries in the global South, to attend. This will continue to be a concern as the next IGF will be in Western Europe once again, with Germany hosting. Clash with ITU Plenipot: The IGF overlapped with the third and final week of the International Telecommunication Union’s Plenipotentiary Conference (ITU Plenipot) in Dubai, forcing many stakeholders of the internet governance community to decide which event to prioritise, and many were absent from the IGF. The building was hard to navigate, though as mentioned above, UNESCO staff were helpful in providing directions. Paris is an expensive location for many participants and not having more substantial food available during lunch increased the financial burden for many. The timing of the IGF so close to the end of year, which means end-of-year reporting for some, and Christmas, as well as being in the middle of the Southern hemisphere’s summer holidays, was very challenging and definitely impacted on participation. Remote participation is often challenging and seemed particularly difficult at the 2018 IGF. The quality of captioning was particularly poor in many of the sessions. This might have been a contributing factor to the difficulties experienced in remote participation. Some rooms were small and lacked capacity for people to sit (sometimes up to only 30 people), leaving people standing, sitting on the floor or unable to enter a room. After the first day, security prevented people from attending an event if the room was “full”. Programming, content and session While acknowledging the efforts of the MAG in this respect, the workshop selection process remains difficult to understand and it is not clear that it results in the desired mix of topics and approaches. Many excellent proposals that we are aware of, or were part of, were not accepted. This impacts on participation. Many sessions had too many panellists and the “round table” format seems to have become simply a mechanism for having a huge panel. This was particularly evident in the main sessions where the contributions of the stakeholders felt diluted by the rigid format. We strongly advise that the guidelines for this format be revised so that it achieves what we understand to be its original objective: to play a role in synthesising outcomes and key messages. Interpretation was not available in all sessions. Community intersessional activities The appointment of some BPF coordinators rather late in the process was problematic. The scheduling of workshops on very similar topics at the same time was also problematic. We acknowledge that the Secretariat does its best to avoid this, but it remains a problem. Dynamic Coalition meetings should be allocated 90 minutes instead of an hour. An hour is not enough for an active DC. Cutting back on IGF secretariat support for intersessional work seems to have impacted on the preparation of work for the IGF in the case of some of the Best Practice Forums. B) Suggestions for improvements that could be made for 2019 B1. Preparatory processes including venue, timing, logistics, participation and networking Improve the overall preparatory process of the IGF MAG selection – new MAG members should be identified ahead of the IGF, to enable incoming MAG members to fully take advantage of the IGF to get oriented. Identifying and mapping current policy discussions that the IGF could feed into at the outset of the preparatory process. This could enable more effective communication (including visualisation) of outputs of the global IGF. The input on themes given to the Secretariat can be included in this mapping. Engage proactively on programme content and themes with the conveners of national and regional IGFs. This is already in process but we think it can be strengthened. As a means of encouraging government participation, proactively consult with governments and with intergovernmental bodies on issues they would like to see discussed at the IGF. Create a mechanism linked to the IGF that addresses the expressed need of governments for a forum to discuss internet-related public policy issues in order to increase their participation, and the impact of the IGF. More advantage could be taken of the Secretariat’s location in Geneva to develop such a mechanism and to increase government participation through proactive engagement with Geneva-based missions of UN member states. Strengthen the capacity-building dimension of the IGF and enhance participation by establishing closer relationships with the internet governance schools (EuroSSIG, AfriSIG, the South School and APSIG). For example, alumni from these schools could volunteer at global and regional IGFs. The dynamic coalition on internet governance schools is an ideal entry point for this. Encourage and invite stakeholders from the global South to play prominent roles at the IGF. Funds should be secured to support their participation. This also requires investment of effort around many actors, including developing country governments. The MAG should initiate discussions with these governments very early on in the preparatory process for the annual IGF. Proactive measures should also be taking to involve them in intersessional work. More testing should be done beforehand in a new venue to try and rule out remote participation glitches. Remote moderators should scan the Twitter feed, incorporating questions and comments, as a means of widening opportunity for remote participation. We were pleased to see that many have already started doing this. Affordability should play a role in the choice of host country so as to maximise participation and diversity of attendees. Recognising Germany’s leadership in organising the Freedom Online Conference and ensuring diverse participation, we encourage them and other donor countries to do the same for IGF 2019 by creating a fund to help event speakers and workshop organisers, especially those from the global South, to attend. B2. Programming, content and session formats Consider changing the overall structure for the IGF to have two days of workshops followed by two days of main sessions interspersed with round tables and Best Practice Forums. This structure will enable deepening of the discussion on some topics, and facilitate developing key messages, outcomes, and input into the work programme for the next cycle of intersessional work. Engage the support of professional event designers/and or facilitators with expertise in planning and managing large participatory events. For example, the MAG could experiment with interactive meeting methodologies such as Open Space Technology even if just for one track or theme. This will need to be done before the call for workshop proposals goes out and might also be a way of reducing the workshop selection workload. Be sure to include a focus on the fifth anniversary of the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance (NETmundial). Revisit the IGF’s earlier focus on facilitating the development of agreed-on principles for internet governance. NETmundial produced such principles but we need the whole IGF multistakeholder community and intergovernmental institutions to reflect and agree on such principles. Revise the round table format so that it is interactive, involving the audience, and not just an extended set of panellists. Use plenaries and round tables for synthesis and cross-cutting and emerging issues. Workshops are a way of bringing people to the IGF and building community ownership, and therefore limiting their number must be done with care. Continue to avoid workshops on common themes running concurrently. Event design could facilitate a process whereby they can reinforce and interact with one another rather than compete. Consider building in some open slots into the programme which can be used for networking or unscheduled sessions. Ensure that panels are composed with gender balance. Ensure that the IGF agenda responds to issues that matter to under-represented groups, who often have existing capacity in relation to these areas, and can share their knowledge with the IGF community. Examples include people with disabilities, people living in rural areas without sufficient infrastructure, people from small island states and indigenous people. One way of doing this would be to cluster the feedback received in response to the call for input in such a way that issues relevant to under-represented groups are tagged as such. Balance taking into account the priorities and particularities of different regions while continuing to address global issues and explore linkages between global, regional and national levels. B3. Community intersessional work We recommend that the Secretariat continue to support intersessional work, as we have observed much stronger outputs/impact where the Secretariat provided support. We want to thank and commend them for their work to support NRIs, as well as other forms of intersessional activity. Our suggestions for 2019: Increase the profile given to the outputs of intersessional work. Many people still do not realise that BPFs and DCs are producing concrete policy recommendations as well as impacting on implementation. Assign more secretariat support to the Working Group on IGF Improvements and build improvements into the IGF’s annual plan and budget. The MAG should be more selective in the selection of BPF themes and avoid bundling too many topics together. A smaller number of strong and effective BPFs is better than having too many if some of them are not well coordinated and supported. An area that we want to stress as needing improvement is the relationship between DCs and BPFs and NRIs. Resources should be sought to support the participation of BPFs (and DCs where relevant) in NRIs, particularly at regional IGFs. BPFs should try to be more consistent in seeking and reflecting input from NRIs in their work processes and output documents. Pre-events play a significant capacity-building role. IGF 2019 should include a Day 0 at the main IGF venue to facilitate Day 0 events. Designate a member of the Secretariat to play a government liaison role as a means of increasing government participation in, and benefit from, intersessional work. Also see our recommendations above in Section B1. National and regional IGF initiatives (NRIs) NRIs to should remain independent and be able to identify their own themes and priorities. The MAG should encourage NRIs to contribute to the open consultations – or consult with them proactively – so that the priorities identified are taken into account when the annual global programme is developed, but this should not be forced. Global, regional and national events will naturally focus on different issues. The most logical and useful links would be through intersessional work. Organisers of BPFs or DCs, for example, should reach out to NRIs and vice versa, with the support of the Secretariat and MAG. Dialogue between the regions can be encouraged through the IGF Secretariat’s facilitation of periodic meetings between the conveners of NRIs and of BPFs. MAG members and delegates of the IGF Secretariat should aim to attend as many NRIs as possible (in their regions, ideally) to stimulate cross-fertilisation among the regional and the global processes. B4. The mandate, nomination process and make-up of the Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) and the appointment process for the IGF-MAG Chair Over time, the position of MAG chairperson should rotate among stakeholder groups and regional groupings. Consider having co-chairs or a friends of the chair group (made up of other MAG members) to work with the MAG chairperson to a) assist with the workload and b) ensure that voices from all regions of the world and different perspectives and stakeholder groups are reflected in MAG coordination. This small chairing group can share the load and support the chair and the Secretariat as needed. Increase transparency by publishing a full list of MAG nominees, including their nominating party. Clarify the accountability relationships between the UN Secretary-General, the MAG, the IGF Secretariat and UNDESA, including whether the MAG’s mandate does or does not extend beyond organising the annual event and intersessional work. Appoint the Special Advisor and the Executive Secretary. Their absence still leaves a gap in spite of the increased capacity and performance of IGF staff and the significant value added by the excellent MAG chairperson. B5. Capturing the outputs of the IGF to increase their visibility and impact Over the last four years, IGF intersessional work has steadily strengthened, and it should be sustained and receive greater prominence. Ways in which this can be done include: Translating the IGF “key messages” – an excellent innovation – into all UN languages. Communicating outputs from intersessional work, and the event, and presenting them at relevant policy spaces. This requires: Ensuring that the Secretariat has sufficient capacity, particularly communications capacity. Mapping of ongoing policy spaces (mentioned already as useful to the preparatory work) and the creation of a mechanism for information sharing to ensure interaction between content and outcomes of discussions at the IGF, and other policy-making spaces. Building on the current practice of ensuring linkages with other institutions and mechanisms or using BPFs to contribute to the work of, for example, UN Women, Special Rapporteurs to the Human Rights Council, or the UN General Assembly. Identifying, and proactively addressing, lack of integration between the SDG and WSIS processes through reaching out to, for example the Technology Facilitation Mechanism of the SDG process. Reaching out to other policy communities, particularly those involved in development policy, environmental policy, trade, access to knowledge, human rights, women's rights, and democratisation and good governance. We do not expect the IGF to achieve this on its own, but through well-coordinated cooperation with other networks, institutions and agencies, inside the UN and outside it. APC believes that a key element of a more effective IGF consists of strengthening the participation of governments in the IGF process, and ensuring that they gain concrete benefit from this participation. C) How could the IGF respond to the recommendations made by the UN Secretary-General during his speech at the IGF 2018 Opening Ceremony? Below we list some of the key points made by the UN Secretary-General and include suggestions on how the IGF could respond. Adoption of a multistakeholder and multidisciplinary approach Many in the IGF community will probably believe this is already happening, and in many ways it is – more so than in many other parts of the UN. However, we think that the Secretary-General has a point. More can be done, particularly to ensure a multidisciplinary approach. The IGF Secretariat/MAG and BPF coordinators should do more active outreach to engage stakeholders from different disciplines and from other parts of the UN system to facilitate the breaking down of silos and cross-disciplinary exchanges of knowledge. They could also invite comment on key messages and BPF and DC outcome documents from different sectors and disciplines. The lack of integration between the WSIS process and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, a commonly noted problem, can be addressed through greater focus on a multidisciplinary approach. Creation of a shared digital language and references Internet policy issues (trade, security or human rights) are interrelated, but they are being addressed in siloed and contradictory ways in the UN system, and even where shared language and references exist, they are not being used consistently (e.g. between the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly). The Secretary-General’s office could put resources (located, for example, in the IGF Secretariat) towards facilitating information on what forums are dealing with what issues to ensure that the competent forums are dealing with the most consequential questions, and that norms and standards adopted in one forum are not undercut by another. This is a point of collaboration with the UN HLPDC. Inclusion and amplification of weak and missing voices The Secretary-General's encouragement to include and amplify weak and missing voices, particularly in bridging the digital divide, is laudable. However, as more of the world’s population gains access to the internet and more than half the participants at the IGF 2018 are from the global South, further research and analysis is required to identify who precisely the missing stakeholders are. In the case of the IGF, it lacks the financial resources to bring under-represented voices to the table, and this needs to be addressed. The forum has recently been held in expensive cities in Western Europe and there is virtually no funding to bring people from different parts of the world, much less traditionally unheard and marginalised voices. Further, as the IGF is a policy forum, full of technical and legal language, the nature of discussions can be alienating. Keeping in mind the current funding situation and other factors, it is particularly critical to reinforce the NRIs and facilitate experiences at the national and regional levels, as well as through intersessional work. The prioritisation of under-represented voices in IGF initiatives at the local, national and regional levels will further add to digital discussions. Foster greater impact from discussions at IGF/IGF as outcome-oriented We agree that discussions on internet governance cannot just remain discussions. The Secretary-General’s emphasis on the need for outcomes, along with President Macron’s suggestion that the IGF needs to move beyond debate and reflection to become a body that produces tangible proposals, is positive encouragement for the forum to become more outcome-oriented in its approaches to digital challenges. Already, work done as part of the IGF process is informing policy discussions in other spaces. This can be hard to track and document, but should not be underestimated. For example, a 2018 ITU Plenipotentiary resolution cited the work of the IGF Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability in updates that improved the accessibility of documents and publications of the ITU. There are many policy spaces that the IGF can inform with the benefit of multistakeholder collaboration and dialogue. Mapping relevant policy spaces against intersessional work is a much needed step in order maximise and leverage the valuable work that is being done by the IGF community. We want to note, however, that “outcomes” come in many different shapes and sizes. The value of the IGF as a multistakeholder space that can build understanding, relationships and consensus because it does not have to negotiate outcomes, should not be underestimated. D) How could the IGF respond to President Macron’s “call for action” made during his speech at the IGF 2018 Opening Ceremony? President Macron’s call to action for trust and security in cyberspace brought several issues to the forefront. While we did not sign the Paris Call, APC valued that it endorses the Global Commission for the Stability of Cyberspace’s call to protect the public core of the internet and sees it as a welcome step for improving security, stability and rights in cyberspace. We encourage all stakeholders to adhere to it and look forward to reviewing it at IGF 2019. Suggestion on the IGF becoming directly attached to the Secretary-General’s Office We would like President Macron’s suggestion that the IGF come under the Office of the Secretary-General (it is currently under UNDESA) and for it to have its own Secretariat to be explored further. Regrettably, since the Secretary-General spoke before Macron, he did not have the opportunity to respond to this proposal. Heavy-handed regulatory approach to internet platforms In his speech, President Macron emphasised the challenges of security on the internet and stated, “Today, when I look at our democracies, the Internet is much better used by those on the extremes… used more for hate speech or dissemination of terrorist content than by many others.” APC acknowledges the undemocratic and unaccountable nature of how platforms govern online expression, privacy and other rights. However, we are wary of a heavy-handed regulatory approach that encourages a close relationship between governments and companies without independent oversight or civil society engagement. Regulation can play a role in combating fake news, stopping copyright infringement, and fighting online child abuse. However, this could also potentially lead to an erosion of rights due to overcompliance because of the the threat of heavy fines, as well as to less transparency and accountability, which we would like to believe is not President Macron’s intention. We encourage President Macron to look at the recommendations of the UN Special rapporteur on freedom of expression and opinion, as well as the work of the Paris-based Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network. Assigning “agency” to the internet is not a helpful approach President Macron assigns agency to the internet as being either a positive, benign or malignant force. While this might make for a good speech, it is not helpful when considering how to address the harmful use of the internet that he identifies. The internet ultimately reflects the values of the people who design, regulate and use it. Intolerance, racism, hatred and violence exist first and foremost in our societies and are rooted in “offline” social, economic and political contexts that cannot be fixed by regulating the internet. “California internet” vs. “China internet” President Macron typified two ideologies of the internet which he referred to as a “Californian form of internet”, unregulated and driven by strong, dominant, global private players, and a “Chinese internet”, where the government drives innovations and control. The president stated he had great respect for the latter model. Aside from being somewhat culturally insensitive, this depiction is binary in a way that is not very useful, and it overlooks the fact that efforts to restrict and control the internet are prevalent in many parts of the world, including in so-called liberal democracies. It is important to recognise here that there are more than two types of internet. The internet is a diverse landscape and the values of openness, accessibility, transparency and multistakeholder governance processes should not be compromised. In fact, it is APC’s view that the primary justifiable motivation for regulation would be to secure such openness, transparency and accessibility. If President Macron’s admiration for the Chinese model is an indicator that he believes that user behaviour and content online need to be actively controlled by states, that is a serious cause for concern and should be debated in the IGF community. On multilateralism The involvement of state actors in the internet governance process is critical. However, the emphasis on multilateral action in President Macron’s speech seemed to be at the exclusion of other stakeholder groups. The IGF must retain its global nature and governments should not become “more equal” than others in the forum. E) What other organisations/disciplines should the IGF be collaborating with and how/to what purpose? UNESCO’s Internet Universality Indicators APC is extremely pleased that this tool developed by UNESCO with APC support was presented at the Paris IGF. The UNESCO Internet Universality Indicators aim to measure to what extent the ROAM (rights-openness-access-multistakeholder) principles are applied at national levels in relationship with cross-cutting indicators on gender and the needs of children and young people, sustainable development, trust and security, and legal and ethical concerns. Quantitative, qualitative and institutional indicators are included, along with a list of identified sources and means of verification. The purpose of the indicators is not in any way intended to result in any kind of index or ranking of countries. They are designed to facilitate learning and country-level discussion among stakeholders on how to improve “internet universality”. Measuring progress – or regression – in the extent to which internet-related human rights are respected, how universally accessible and used the internet is, and how inclusive internet governance processes are, is difficult but important. APC believes that the use of these indicators should become part of the IGF’s ongoing intersessional agenda. There is no better space than the IGF to share the learning that will result from the application of these indicators. This can contribute to an ongoing collective stocktaking on the extent and impacts of internet development. Consolidation of the IGF as a platform for cooperation within the UN system Its birth out of a UN summit and its ongoing relationship with the UN system is a source of legitimacy for this multistakeholder forum which should be cherished and nurtured. The IGF’s location inside the UN reflects the importance of collaboration between multilateral and multistakeholder institutions to ensure that the internet’s potential to enable the goals of sustainable development, peace, and respect for human rights is realised. We believe the IGF should remain under the UN umbrella but retain its autonomy. In fact, in some respects, it would be good if it could have more. NETmundial+5 The 2014 NETmundial conference produced the most widely supported principles for internet governance to date. It also proposed a roadmap for taking inclusive, international internet governance forward. As it is five years since the NETmundial conference, the next IGF should review how the Sao Paulo Declaration of Principles and Roadmap have been implemented since their adoption in 2014. Specifically, the NETmundial roadmap made recommendations for the IGF which should be reviewed. Integrating development-related topics and closer collaboration with the UN’s focus on science, technology and innovation (STI) as key means of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda To ensure that a fuller range of issues relating to sustainable development and broader public policy are reflected in the programme, the IGF MAG needs to get input from, and facilitate dialogue with, development policy makers and practitioners, many of whom are not currently engaged. In particular, we would recommend closer collaboration with the SDG process through its Technology Facilitation Mechanism (TFM). The IGF MAG could invite representatives of the UN TFM to participate in the annual event and in the IGF process (including intersessional work and the NRIs). This would be one way for the IGF to respond to the Secretary-General’s call for a multidisciplinary approach. The IGF should strive to be a more active presence in the annual Multistakeholder Forum for Science, regional STI consultations and the STI Forum, supported by the Inter Agency Task Team on Science, Technology and Innovation for the SDGs (IATT). The theme of the STI Forum for 2019 Goal 9 on Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure provides an excellent opportunity for the IGF to engage with this process. These, however, are just examples. APC proposes that the UN Secretary General be asked by the MAG to facilitate a dialogue between the IGF and the TFM that can produce a long term-plan for effective collaboration between the two processes. F) On the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation (HLPDC): On the IGF and HLPDC F1. How can the IGF contribute to the work of the HLPDC to help foster these aims? F2. Do you have any specific inputs for the HLPDC in relation to the IGF? As stated earlier, it is important to remember that the IGF is not just an annual event. It is a year-long process that entails intersessional work, on a range of topics, as well as multiple national and regional IGFs. The IGF also has a role in connecting relevant internet governance-related processes taking place elsewhere, particularly processes elsewhere in the UN system. The fact that the UN Secretary General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation is using the IGF as a forum for open dialogue and the exchange of ideas, and that Secretary-General António Guterres attended and gave a speech at the IGF, reinforces the value and status of the IGF as a critical space for digital discussions. That the High-level Panel was established, however, also indicates that there are still gaps in coordination and cooperation in global internet governance, gaps that the IGF could fill, but is not able to in its current iteration. We believe that it makes more sense to build the institutional capacity of the IGF to operate as a base for more effective coordination (at least with regard to the internet and internet-related matters) than to establish new institutional mechanisms. Aside from having the potential to be the ideal institutional home for coordination, the IGF is also the most appropriate forum for addressing some of the underlying issues that we believe impede collaboration and coordination: the lack of agreed high-level principles for internet governance and internet-related public policy making. NETmundial was an effort to achieve this. We recommend the development of a core set of principles, through the IGF, which can then be adopted at the UN level, that define critical concepts, build upon the WSIS principles, and endorse other principles accepted by UN member states, such as the nature of the internet as an enabler of human rights, and recognise that rights which apply offline also apply online. As one of the most important spaces for internet governance and policy making, the IGF is a key partner for the HLPDC in addressing challenges in the digital age and building digital cooperation among stakeholders. APC continues to believe that the IGF has the potential to be a key platform for filling existing gaps effectively, but to do so it must be strengthened based on our prior recommendations. In APC’s submission to the HLPDC, we outlined in detail the potential contributions of the IGF to HLPDC. See also the open letter from APC et al. on the establishment of the HLPDC. By Deborah Brown (Global Policy Advocacy Lead), Anriette Esterhuysen (Senior advisor on internet governance, policy advocacy and strategic planning) and Mehar Gujral (Policy analyst intern). TopicInternet governance
#KeepitOn: Joint letter on keeping the internet open and secure in Zimbabwe
Author : Various
January, 2019
Re: Internet shutdown in Zimbabwe Your Excellency Minister Kazembe Kazembe, Minister of Information and Communication Technology and Cyber Security We are writing to urgently request that you ensure the stability and openness of the internet in Zimbabwe. We have received reports that your government has shut down the internet. On behalf of the more than 170 organizations from over 60 countries that make up the #KeepitOn Coalition, we implore you to keep the internet on. Internet shutdowns harm human rights and economies Research shows that internet shutdowns and violence go hand in hand. [1], [2] Shutdowns disrupt the free flow of information and create a cover of darkness that shields human rights abuses from public scrutiny. Journalists and media workers cannot contact sources, gather information, or file stories without digital communications tools.[3] Justified for various reasons, shutdowns cut off access to vital information, e-commerce, and emergency services, plunging whole communities into fear. Disruptions also destabilize the internet’s power to support small business livelihoods and to drive economic development. A 2016 study by the Brookings Institution, a prominent think tank, revealed that shutdowns drained $2.4 billion from the global economy between 2015 and 2016. [4] The open internet has fostered unprecedented creativity, innovation, and access to information and to other kinds of social, economic, cultural, and political opportunities across the globe. The technical means used to block access to information online often dangerously undermine the stability and resiliency of the internet. Internet shutdowns must never be allowed to become the new normal. The current economic crisis in Zimbabwe will be further exacerbated by internet shutdowns. We estimate the shutdown will cost your country $5,742, 421 per day in direct economic costs, and will slow the realization of economic, social and cultural rights broadly. [5] Internet shutdowns violate international law A growing body of findings and resolutions hold that intentional disruptions to the internet violate international law. The UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly have passed, two by consensus, multiple resolutions that unambiguously condemn internet shutdowns and similar restrictions on freedom of expression online. For example, the UN Human Rights Council in Resolution A/HRC/RES/32/13: Condemns unequivocally measures to intentionally prevent or disrupt access to or dissemination of information online in violation of international human rights law and calls on all States to refrain from and cease such measures. Experts from the United Nations, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Organization of American States (OAS), and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), declared that internet “kill switches” can never be justified under international human rights law, even in times of conflict. [6] In November 2016, ACHPR adopted a resolution on the right to freedom of information and expression on the internet in Africa, which noted its concern over “the emerging practice of State Parties of interrupting or limiting access to telecommunications services such as the Internet, social media and messaging services, increasingly during elections.” [ACHPR/Res. 362(LIX)] The UN Human Rights Committee, the official interpreter of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, emphasizes in General Comment no. 34 that restrictions on speech online must be strictly necessary and proportionate to achieve a legitimate purpose. [7] Shutdowns, by contrast, disproportionately impact all users, and unnecessarily restrict access to information and emergency services communications during crucial moments. Shutdowns are neither necessary to, nor effective at, achieving a legitimate aim, as they often spread confusion and encourage more people to join public demonstrations. We respectfully call on you to: Ensure that the internet, including social media, is restored Publicly declare your commitment to keep the internet on, and to notify the public of any disruptions Encourage telecommunications and internet services providers to respect human rights through public disclosures on policies and practices impacting users. We are happy to assist you in any of these matters. Sincerely, Access Now Association for Progressive Communications (APC) African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) African Bloggers and Cyber Activists for Democracy - Africtivistes AFROTRIBUNE (Togo) Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) Cameroon Digital Rights Coalition Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) Committee to Protect Journalists Human Rights Foundation Internet Sans Frontières Media Foundation for West Africa NetBlocks OpenNetAfrica Paradigm Initiative PEN America Reporters San Frontières/ Reporters without Borders (RSF) Right2Know Campaign Sassoufit Collective Small Media Exchange (SMEX) The World Wide Web Foundation Unwanted Witness [1] An internet shutdown is defined as an intentional disruption of internet or electronic communications, rendering them inaccessible or effectively unusable, for a specific population or within a location, often to exert control over the flow of information. See more at https://accessnow.org/keepiton [2] Anita R. Gohdes, ‘Pulling the Plug: Network Disruptions and Violence in the Syrian Conflict’ (Journal of Peace Research: 31 January 2014) http://www.anitagohdes.net/uploads/2/7/2/3/27235401/gohdes_synetworkaug1... [3] Jonathan Rozen, ‘Journalists under duress: Internet shutdowns in Africa are stifling press freedom’ (Africa Portal) 17 August 2017) https://www.africaportal.org/features/journalists-under-duress-internet-... [4] Darrell West, (Brookings Institution, October 2016) “Internet shutdowns cost countries $2.4 billion last year” https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/intenet-shutdowns-v... [5] CIPESA and Netblocks, ‘Cost of Shutdowns’ https://netblocks.org/cost/ [6] Peter Micek, (Access Now, 4 May 2015) ‘Internet kill switches are a violation of human rights law, declare major UN and rights experts’ https://www.accessnow.org/blog/2015/05/04/internet-kill-switches-are-a-v... [7] UN Human Rights Committee (UN, July 2011) “General Comment No. 34” http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/docs/GC34.pdf
Tech-related violence against women in peri-urban areas of Uganda
Author : WOUGNET
January, 2019
The UN estimates that 95% of aggressive behaviour, harassment, abusive language and denigrating images in online spaces are aimed at women and come from current or former male partners. For such cases, it is then referred to as Technology-related Violence Against Women (Tech-related VAW). Tech-related VAW encompasses acts of gender-based violence that are committed, abetted or aggravated, in part or fully, by the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs), such as phones, the internet, social media platforms, and email. This report, which derives from a study titled Investigating Tech related Violence Against Women in Peri-Urban Areas of Uganda, highlights the different aspects of tech-related violence against women, their implications, and solutions proposed, with the aim of addressing this growing concern in the country. The three-month study, conducted between June and August 2018, was carried out by the Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) with support from Association for Progressive Communications (APC), as part of APC's 2018 research and campaign grants.
Palestine and PayPal: Towards economic equality
Author : 7amleh Centre
December, 2018
This report by APC member 7amleh analyses the abstention of the online payment company PayPal and the impact of this stance on the Palestinian economy. It discusses the readiness of the Palestinian economy and the efforts exerted by the Palestine Monetary Authority to overcome the economic obstacles as well as the developments that have taken place in recent years. It presents the purchasing power of the Palestinian economy and the potential opportunities if PayPal provided its services to Palestinian citizens.
SheConnects: Tech-enabled women entrepreneurship in Pakistan
Author : Media Matters for Democracy for Digital Rights Monitor
December, 2018
This report by APC member Media Matters for Democracy can also be found on the Digital Rights Monitor website. The idea of growing women’s leadership is more radical than it should be. Women do constitute almost half of the world’s population after all – they contribute endlessly to the workforce, often in unpaid, unappreciated categories. Talking specifically of countries like Pakistan, women do hold the primary household management responsibilities – ranging from managing the budgets, nurturing the children, ensuring management of household tasks and chores to effectively managing relationships with the larger clan. And yet, even in households where the woman is responsible for "management" of everything, in the end, the decision making lies with the male head of the family. This all too common household dynamic often plays its role in undermining women’s contributions at workplace. However, things are changing. There is a lot more public debate on women’s professional worth. And there is an increasing number of women who are now venturing out on their own – as business owners, founders of startups, executives and enablers. Technology and the growing number of people connected to the internet and digital services has definitely been an enabler. The impact of technology on women in business can be seen through the endless retail pages being operated by young female students trying to monetize their crafts and products. There are examples of women monetizing their own content and creating successful businesses out of it. Most importantly, we have seen technology offering new hope and a wider scope to home-based workers who were previously operating with limited access and within small markets. While some of the more technologically savvy have set up their own pages and websites to reach a larger market, others are benefiting from tech-based startups, especially those led by women to streamline their marketing, product placement and retail. This report is a thematic exploration of tech-based, women-led startups, aiming to map the growing nature of women’s interventions in the tech-based business industry and the overall impact on other women in the workforce. It presents the hopes, aspirations, challenges and ambitions of a number of women who have ventured into the exciting and exhausting world of tech-based business ownership.
APC contribution to the UN High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation
Author : APC
December, 2018
The High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation was established by the UN Secretary-General in July 2018 to advance proposals to strengthen cooperation in the digital realm, and contribute to the broader global dialogue on how interdisciplinary and cooperative approaches can help ensure a safe and inclusive digital future. Digital cooperation refers to the ways and means through which individuals, organisations and countries work together to manage their social, economic, and legal relations in the digital realm. It emphasises functions and modalities ("how") and not just the form or outcome ("what") of processes whereby the relevant stakeholders in the digital space work to maximise the benefits of digital technologies while safeguarding against potential risks. In response to a call for contributions, APC offered its perspectives on the following aspects of digital cooperation: What values and principles should underpin cooperation in the digital realm. How stakeholders can cooperate more effectively in the digital realm, including how marginalised stakeholders can be included. How cooperation among stakeholders can be improved in areas such as inclusive development; inclusive participation in the digital economy; data; protection of human rights online; human voice and human agency in the digital age; digital trust and security; and building the capacity of individuals, institutions and governments for the digital transformation.
Open letter: Response to Google on Project Dragonfly, China and human rights
Author : Various
December, 2018
To: Sundar Pichai, Chief Executive Officer, Google Inc cc: Ben Gomes, Vice President of Search; Kent Walker, Senior Vice President of Global Affairs; Scott Beaumont, Vice President, Greater China and Korea 11 December 2018 Dear Mr. Pichai, We are writing to ask you to ensure that Google drops Project Dragonfly and any plans to launch a censored search app in China, and to re-affirm the company’s 2010 commitment that it won’t provide censored search services in the country. We are disappointed that Google in its letter of 26 October [1] failed to address the serious concerns of human rights groups over Project Dragonfly. Instead of addressing the substantive issues set out in the August letter, [2] Google’s response – along with further details that have since emerged about Project Dragonfly – only heightens our fear that the company may knowingly compromise its commitments to human rights and freedom of expression, in exchange for access to the Chinese search market. We stand with current and former Google employees speaking out over recent ethical scandals at the company, including Project Dragonfly. We wholeheartedly support the message from hundreds of Google employees asking Google to drop Dragonfly in their open letter of 27 November, and commend their bravery in speaking out publicly. We echo their statement that their "opposition to Dragonfly is not about China: we object to technologies that aid the powerful in oppressing the vulnerable, wherever they may be." [3] New details leaked to the media strongly suggest that if Google launches such a product it would facilitate repressive state censorship, surveillance, and other violations affecting nearly a billion people in China. Media reports state that Google has built a prototype that censors “blacklisted” search terms including “human rights”, “student protest” and “Nobel Prize”, including in journalistic content, and links users’ search queries to personal phone numbers. [4] The app would also force users to sign in to use the service, track and store location information and search histories, and provide “unilateral access” to such data to an unnamed Chinese joint venture company, in line with China’s data localization law – allowing the government virtually unfettered access to this information. [5] Facilitating Chinese authorities’ access to personal data, as described in media reports, would be particularly reckless. If such features were launched, there is a real risk that Google would directly assist the Chinese government in arresting or imprisoning people simply for expressing their views online, making the company complicit in human rights violations. This risk was identified by Google’s own security and privacy review team, according to former and current Google employees. Despite attempts to minimize internal scrutiny, a team tasked with assessing Dragonfly concluded that Google “would be expected to function in China as part of the ruling Communist Party’s authoritarian system of policing and surveillance,” according to a media report. [6] Actively aiding China’s censorship and surveillance regime is likely to set a terrible precedent for human rights and press freedoms worldwide. A recent Freedom House report warned that the Chinese government is actively promoting its model of pervasive digital censorship and surveillance around the world. [7] Many governments look to China’s example, and a major industry leader’s acquiescence to such demands will likely cause many other regimes to follow China’s lead, provoking a race to the bottom in standards. It would also undermine efforts by Google and other companies to resist government surveillance requests in order to protect users’ privacy and security, [8] emboldening state intelligence and security agencies to demand greater access to user data. Google’s letter makes several specific points that are directly contradicted by other sources. The letter states that it is “not close” to launching a search product in China, and that before doing so the company would consult with key stakeholders. However, as reported by the media, comments made in July by Ben Gomes, Google’s Head of Search, suggested the product could be “six to nine months [to launch]” and stressed the importance of having a product ready to be “brought off the shelf and quickly deployed” so that “we don’t miss that window if it ever comes.” [9] The letter also states that Google worked on Dragonfly simply to “explore” the possibility of re-entering the Chinese search market, and that it does not know whether it “would or could” launch such a product. Yet media reports based on an internal Google memo suggest that the project was in a “pretty advanced state” and that the company had invested extensive resources to its development. [10] Google’s decision to design and build Dragonfly in the first place is troubling. Google’s own AI Principles commit the company not to “design or deploy” (emphasis added) technologies whose purpose contravenes human rights. Given the company’s history in China and the assessment of its own security team, Google is well aware of the human rights implications of providing such an application. Moreover, Google’s letter fails to answer many questions about what steps, if any, the company is taking to safeguard human rights, including with respect to its current Chinese mobile app offerings, consistent with its commitments. We urge Google to heed concerns from its own employees and from organizations and individuals across the political spectrum by abandoning Project Dragonfly and reaffirming its commitment not to provide censored search services in China. We also note that the letter makes no reference to whistle-blowers, and thus we urgently repeat our call to the company that it must publicly commit to protect the rights of whistle-blowers and other workers voicing rights concerns. We welcome that Google has confirmed the company “takes seriously” its responsibility to respect human rights. However, the company has so far failed to explain how it reconciles that responsibility with the company’s decision to design a product purpose-built to undermine the rights to freedom of expression and privacy. Signed, the following organisations: Access Now ActiveWatch – Media Monitoring Agency (MMA) Adil Soz - International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) Amnesty International Article 19 Articulo 12 - Son Tus Datos Association for Progressive Communications Asociacion para una Ciudadania Participativa Bolo Bhi Briar Project Bytes for All (B4A) Cartoonists Rights Network, International (CRNI) Center for Democracy & Technology Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ) Child Rights International Network (CRIN) Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) Foro de Periodismo Argentino (FOPEA) Freedom of the Press Foundation Freedom Forum Fundación Datos Protegidos (Chile) Fundacion Internet Bolivia Globe International Center (GIC) Hong Kong Journalists Association Human Rights in China (HRIC) Human Rights First Human Rights Watch Independent Chinese PEN Center (ICPC) Independent Journalism Center (IJC) Index on Censorship Initiative for Freedom of Expression – Turkey Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) International Campaign for Tibet International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) International Tibet Network Secretariat Internet Sans Frontières Latin American Observatory of Regulation, Media and Convergence – OBSERVACOM Media Rights Agenda (MRA) Mediacentar Sarajevo NetBlocks Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) New America's Open Technology Institute Norwegian PEN OpenMedia Pacific Island News Association Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) PEN International PEN America Privacy International Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Software Freedom Law Center, India (SFLC.in) South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) Students for a Free Tibet Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) Tibet Action Institute Vi?t Tân WITNESS World Uyghur Congress Signed in individual capacity (affiliations for identification purposes only): Chinmayi Arun Assistant Professor, National Law University Delhi Arturo J. Carrillo Clinical Professor of Law, The George Washington University Law School Richard Danbury Associate Professor, Journalism, De Montfort University Leicester Ronald Deibert Professor of Political Science and Director of the Citizen Lab, University of Toronto Molly K. Land Professor of Law and Human Rights, University of Connecticut School of Law Rebecca MacKinnon Director, Ranking Digital Rights Deirdre K. Mulligan Associate Professor, School of Information and Faculty Director, Berkeley Center for Law and Technology, University of California, Berkeley Paloma Muñoz Quick Director, Investor Alliance for Human Rights (IAHR) Edward Snowden President, Freedom of the Press Foundation Lokman Tsui Assistant Professor, School of Journalism and Communication, The Chinese University of Hong Kong [1] Letter from Kent Walker, Senior Vice President for Global Affairs at Google, responding to concerns of multiple human rights organizations and individuals, 26 October 2018, https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/ASA17/9552/2018/en/ [2] Letter to Sundar Pichai from multiple human rights organizations and individuals, 28 August 2018, https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4792329-Google-Dragonfly-Open-Letter.html [3] Google employees, ‘We are Google employees. Google must drop Dragonfly’, 27 September 2018, https://medium.com/@googlersagainstdragonfly/we-are-google-employees-google-must-drop-dragonfly-4c8a30c5e5eb [4] Ryan Gallagher, ‘Google China Prototype Links Searches to Phone Numbers’, The Intercept, 14 September 2018, https://theintercept.com/2018/09/14/google-china-prototype-links-searches-to-phone-numbers/ ; Jack Poulson, Letter to Senate Commerce Committee, 24 September 2018, https://int.nyt.com/data/documenthelper/328-jack-poulson-dragonfly/87933ffa89dfa78d9007/optimized/full.pdf [5] Ryan Gallagher and Lee Fang, 'Google Suppresses Memo Revealing Plans To Closely Track Search Users In China', The Intercept, 21 September 2018, https://theintercept.com/2018/09/21/google-suppresses-memo-revealing-plans-to-closely-track-search-users-in-china/ [6] Ryan Gallagher, ‘Google Shut Out Privacy and Security Teams from Secret China Project’, The Intercept, 29 November 2018, https://theintercept.com/2018/11/29/google-china-censored-search/ [7] Freedom House, ‘Freedom on the Net 2018: The Rise of Digital Authoritarianism’, October 2018, https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-net/freedom-net-2018/rise-digital-authoritarianism [8] Reform Government Surveillance Coalition [9] Ryan Gallagher, 'Leaked Transcript Of Private Meeting Contradicts Google's Official Story On China', The Intercept, 9 October 2018, https://theintercept.com/2018/10/09/google-china-censored-search-engine/ [10] Ryan Gallagher and Lee Fang, ‘Google Suppresses Memo Revealing Plans to Closely Track Search Users in China’, The Intercept, 21 September 2018, https://theintercept.com/2018/09/21/google-suppresses-memo-revealing-plans-to-closely-track-search-
Providing a gender lens in the digital age: APC submission to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Working Group on Business and Hum
Author : Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
November, 2018
The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and values the focus of the OHCHR on the question of ways to unpack the gender dimensions of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). The APC Women’s Rights Programme (APC WRP) works to challenge discriminatory norms, structures and practices that prevent women and LGBTIQ communities from benefiting from information and communication technologies (ICTs). This work includes changing the way society sees the internet, as not merely a tool and an avenue for feminist activism, but also as a space where rules, roles and social norms are created and regulated. A great deal of feminist activism takes place online in corporate platforms, where corporate and private sector interests determine the rules through policy or infrastructure. As such, we have worked to challenge and transform the policy and culture that enable or contribute to making online spaces harmful and hostile towards women and LGBTIQ communities, and support groups and networks in engaging with internet policy as a feminist issue, as well as setting up their own independent platforms where rules are negotiated to empower queer and feminist expression and activism. Our work has engaged internet intermediaries – entities which provide services that enable people to use the internet – as key actors in the landscape of internet governance and policy making, specifically in relation to online gender-based violence (GBV) and sexuality. This submission draws on this experience to highlight the impact of the policies and practices of internet intermediaries (as business entities) on the ability of women and LGBTIQ communities to access, shape and use ICTs within the context of the full realisation of their human rights. It focuses on two thematic areas: online GBV and sexual rights.
Protecting the digital data: An overview of corporate data protection policies in Pakistan
Author : Media Matters for Democracy for Digital Rights Monitor
November, 2018
After years of advocacy and pressure building, the government of Pakistan has finally made some headway towards the enactment of a data protection legislation. The ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications has recently published the draft data protection bill on its website and is seeking comments and suggestions of different stakeholders through its website. This research has been conducted by APC member Media Matters for Democracy to help different stakeholders understand how the corporate sector is currently responding to its data protection responsibilities. They hope that this baseline will help all stakeholders understand the context and the situation better in order to formulate conducive, forward looking recommendations and inputs, and that the corporates themselves will take this research positively and respond to the gaps that have been identified in this basic assessment.
A violent network: Gender-based violence against Palestinian women in virtual space
Author : Shahrazad Odeh for 7amleh
November, 2018
7amleh – The Arab Center for the Development of Social Media and the Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation 7amleh – The Arab Center for the Development of Social Media and the Swedish Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation published a comprehensive research report on the phenomenon of gender-based violence in social networks and the Internet. This research is the first of its kind in Palestine and regionally. The study included qualitative and quantitative aspects of the phenomenon of gender-based violence in social networks and the diversity of its manifestations throughout Palestinian communities in historic Palestine. For the study a total of 6 focus groups were held in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jerusalem, Haifa and the Galilee. Additionally, a face to face poll included more than 1200 Palestinian women between the ages of 15 and 35 throughout historic Palestine. Throughout Palestine, this phenomenon has increased in the last few years, and varies from hacking accounts, publishing personal details, extortion, receiving pictures with inappropriate content and more. The research shows that one in four women closed their social media accounts and withdrew from the Internet as a result of violence and harassment, one third of the respondents realized attempts of hacking on their social media accounts and one third received pornographic photos and videos without her consent. Whereas women still generally attempt to deal with such issues personally and in family and friend circles, with one in three women deleted the harasser and talking to his family to punish him, one sixth of the women deleted their own accounts, and only one out of four women made an official complaint with the police. At the same time, the study participants consider strengthened legislation surrounding this issue as part of the solution. Whereas half of the study participants blamed male chauvinistic upbringing as a reason for the spread of the phenomenon, more than three thirds blame the family for lacking supervision. The main researcher of this report, Shahrazad Odeh, said: “This is a comprehensive study and the first of its kind that shows us the magnitude of the phenomenon and its extent. The study will also serve as a basis for the work of the Palestinian institutions concerned with combating gender-based violence in the Internet and social network.” 7amleh Center has released a series of publications and research surrounding the issues of digital safety and Palestinian youth’s awareness on digital safety. Additionally, 7amleh Center regularly holds workshops on digital safety, including a gender-aspect, and runs numerous awareness campaigns on issues relating to digital activism and rights. To download the Arabic version of the full report click here. To download the full survey (Arabic) click here.
Letter to the EU Council: Stand for citizen’s rights and the European digital economy in the copyright negotiations
Author : Various
November, 2018
Your Excellency Deputy Ambassador, We, the undersigned, are writing to you ahead of the 23 November COREPER 1 meeting, at which copyright in the Digital Single Market will be discussed by the Austrian Council Presidency. We consider that it is too early at this stage to give a renewed mandate to the Austrian Presidency. Representing human, privacy, civil rights and media freedom organisations, software developers, creators, journalists, radio stations, higher education institutions and research institutions, we would like to draw your attention to our ongoing concerns regarding the proposal. We believe that both the Council and the Parliament texts risk creating severe impediments to the functioning of the Internet and the freedom of expression of all. In previous open letters of April 26 (here) and July 2 (here), we urged European policymakers to deliver a reform that upholds fundamental rights of all to freedom of expression as well as core principles such as limitation of internet intermediaries’ liability (which is essential to ensure the balance of rights repeatedly required by CJEU rulings) and access to knowledge. In the current negotiations, these values are severely threatened, most importantly due to: Art. 13 (upload filters): Changing or reinterpreting the liability regime for platforms and making them directly liable is a threat to fundamental rights as +70 Internet luminaries, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, NGOs, programmers, and academics have stated repeatedly. The resultant upload filters (“content recognition technologies”) would push internet intermediaries to rely on technologies that are error prone, intrusive and legally questionable. Relying on very imperfect algorithms to regulate free speech online will put the diversity of opinions and creative content at risk. The legal uncertainty created for European companies will mean that they will never know how much filtering will be enough to be considered to be “enough” for 27 national transpositions of the Directive. The only option will be blocking of legal content. Art. 11 (press publishers’ right): As analysed by a plethora of academics (see here and here, for example), a press publishers’ right is not needed and will have only harmful outcomes. Furthermore, as a result of this proposal, user-shared links on social media, news aggregation websites and search engines will no longer show extracts or will become unavailable, posing limits to the freedom of citizens to seek and impart information. Media plurality will suffer as new or innovative news sources will no longer be treated equally in the display of results on the internet. Additionally, user-created content on platforms will no longer be able to include extracts of licensed works, as quotation rules among European countries are not harmonised. For the ongoing trilogue negotiations, we urge you to reject obligatory or “voluntary” coerced filters and to keep the current liability regime intact. Enforcement of copyright must not become a pre-emptive, arbitrary and privately-enforced censorship of legal content. Moreover, we ask you to hear the voice of academic research that a press publishers’ right will not have the intended effect and will instead lead to a less informed European society. For all of the above reasons, we call on you to take a firm stance for citizen’s rights and the European digital economy in the ongoing trilogue negotiations. We call on you to stand up for a copyright that respects the foundations of a free, innovative and open digital society that delivers a vibrant, open marketplace for artists and their works. Best regards, EUROPE 1. Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties) 2. European Digital Learning Network (DLEARN) 3. European Digital Rights (EDRi) 4. European Network for Copyright in Support of Education and Science (ENCES) 5. Knowledge Ecology International Europe (KEI Europe) 6. Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU AUSTRIA 7. epicenter.works – for digital rights 8. Freischreiber – Verein zur Förderung des freien Journalismus BELGIUM 9. KlasCement.net BULGARIA 10. Bulgarian Helsinki Committee CROATIA 11. Digital DemoCroatia CZECH REPUBLIC 12. EDUin DENMARK 13. IT-Political Association of Denmark ESTONIA 14. Estonian Human Rights Centre FRANCE 15. Wikimédia France GERMANY 16. Chaos Computer Club 17. Digitale Gesellschaft e.V. 18. Freischreiber 19. Initiative gegen ein Leistungsschutzrecht (IGEL) 20. Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband e.V. 21. Wikimedia Deutschland GREECE 22. Open Technologies Alliance – GFOSS (Greek Free Open Source Software Society) ITALY 23. Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights LUXEMBOURG 24. Frënn vun der Ënn NETHERLANDS 25. Bits of Freedom (BoF) 26. Kennisland NORWAY 27. Elektronisk Forpost Norge POLAND 28. Centrum Cyfrowe 29. ePa ? stwo Foundation PORTUGAL 30. Associação D3 – Defesa dos Direitos Digitais (D³) 31. Associação Nacional para o Software Livre (ANSOL) ROMANIA 32. ActiveWatch 33. APADOR-CH (Romanian Helsinki Committee) 34. Association for Technology and Internet (ApTI) 35. Centrul pentru Inovare Public ? (Center for Public Innovation) 36. Digital Citizens Romania SLOVENIA 37. Digitas Institute 38. Forum za digitalno družbo (Digital Society Forum) 39. Intellectual Property Institute SPAIN 40. Asociación de Internautas 41. Plataforma en Defensa de la Libertad de Información (PDLI) 42. Rights International Spain 43. Xnet SWEDEN 44. Wikimedia Sverige UNITED KINGDOM 45. Open Rights Group (ORG) 46. Statewatch GLOBAL 47. Association for Progressive Communications (APC) 48. Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) 49. COMMUNIA Association 50. Creative Commons 51. Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) 52. Open Knowledge International 53. OpenMedia 54. Wikimedia
Mapping the regulatory environment of community networks in India, Myanmar and Philippines
Author : Ritu Srivastva
November, 2018
Community broadband networks have long existed as an alternative to commercial ISPs, but only recently emerged as response to both market and government failures in the provision of rural broadband. This research paper is an effort to look closely at the telecom policy, regulatory framework, spectrum policy, broadband definitions and innovative licensing processes that are affecting community networks in Asian Pacific countries – India, Myanmar and the Philippines. This report was produced through an APC subgrant, made possible with the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).
Contribution from the Association for Progressive Communications to the IGF intersessional work on Policy Options for Connecting and Enabling the Nex
Author : APC
November, 2018
The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) welcomes the initiative by the IGF’s Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) to further develop ?the IGF’s intersessional work on “Policy Options for Connecting and Enabling the Next ?Billion(s)”. We appreciate the opportunity to share our perspectives on some of the key aspects oriented to building an enabling environment for access to the internet. Focusing on examples of how access supports achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) underscores the importance of ensuring that increased access to infrastructure is coupled with efforts to address political, economic, social and cultural barriers that prevent people from fully using the potential of the internet. In this respect APC views costly, restricted or filtered internet access as not real access. Real access should provide an affordable and unconstrained service supported by net neutrality principles and free of censorship, surveillance, harassment, and any other form of violation of human rights. In the course of APC’s work researching and supporting local access solutions, a wide variety of initiatives that help to address these needs have been identified. Thirteen of the most relevant examples are summarised in this submission.
Submission on proposed policy on licensing unassigned high-demand spectrum and deployment of the WOAN
Author : Zenzeleni Networks, the Association for Progressive Communications, the University of the Western Cape, the University of Cape Town and Rhizomatica
November, 2018
Zenzeleni Networks, the Association for Progressive Communications, the University of the Western Cape, the University of Cape Town and Rhizomatica In Notice 1003 published in Government Gazette No. 41935 dated 27 September 2018, the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS) invited the public to provide written comments on proposed policy and policy directions to the authority on licensing of unassigned high-demand spectrum. Our submission is premised on the supply-side challenges identified in the White Paper to transform “South Africa into an inclusive, people-centred and developmental digital society.” As acknowledged, “multiple networks have been rolled out across the country, with deployment skewed towards urban areas,” yet the cost of communications, especially mobile broadband, is far from being affordable to many. In particular, our submission provides complementary strategies aligned with the White Paper’s goals of defining and treating spectrum “as a public good used to meet public interest objectives” and of managing and using it “effectively and efficiently”. The two complementary strategies proposed are: 2x5 MHz of spectrum in the 800 MHz band should be set aside for non-profit, black-owned, small operators. Licensing of spectrum in the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz bands should include Use It or Share It provisions allowing qualifying operators to access unused spectrum on a secondary basis.
Global Information Society Watch 2018: Community Networks
Author : Various
November, 2018
This year’s Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) focuses on community networks. Community networks are “communication networks built, owned, operated, and used by citizens in a participatory and open manner.” This is a starting point. As the 43 country reports gathered here show, in practice, “community networks” can be hybrid systems, with different political and practical objectives. The country reports cover a diverse range of countries such as Georgia, Nepal, South Africa, India, Argentina, Honduras, Portugal, Germany and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Key ideas like participatory governance systems and community ownership and skills transfer, and the “do-it-yourself ” spirit that drives community networks, give community networks across the globe a shared purpose and implementation methodology. The country reports are framed by eight thematic reports. Some – for example, those by Steve Song, Mike Jensen and Nic Bidwell – draw on research conducted under the two-year “Community access networks: How to connect the next billion to the Internet” project implemented by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and Rhizomatica in collaboration with Internet Society and funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The thematic reports deal with issues critical to the emerging global community network movement of which the Community access networks project is a part. The themes include the need for telecommunication regulation institutions to take into account the steep reductions in costs that wireless technologies have effected and to redesign regulation to further community networks; the need to increase awareness of “community stories” and the power structures embedded in those stories; the need to foster the transformation of local social structures and power relationships to enhance the agency of women and give them real power; the need to increase meaningful local content that is conducive to social change; and the need to explore ways for community networks to achieve financial sustainability. This GISWatch edition was supported by a group of experts whose contributions, as members of the advisory committee, are gratefully acknowledged. We are pleased to present this edition to raise awareness of the tremendous potential of community networks to help achieve universal access. Download a full copy of the report in PDF format Order a printed copy of the book Download ebook [MOBI format] Download ebook [EPUB format]
FABRICS: Emerging Artificial Intelligence Readiness
Author : Alex Comninos and Martin Konzett
November, 2018
A lot of industries seem to be overwhelmed by the rise of artificial intelligence (AI). Some proponents dream of utopias, while some opponents have dystopian nightmares. There is a lack of consensus in interpretations of the current legal and regulatory environments covering the implementation of computer systems leveraging AI and the related concepts of machine learning and deep learning. Interpreting, implementing and complying with the regulatory environment is not possible without unpacking the foundations of automated decision making. FABRICS is an unpacking of artificial intelligence and an investigation of the regulatory challenges to AI and artificial decision making, in particular the “right to explanation” arising from the EU General Regulation on Data Protection (GDPR). FABRICS unpacks the challenges of explaining automated decisions and points to the need for privacy-by-design in the development of tools that use AI. FABRICS also tries to address some of the challenges of AI through design: a system of warning signs that inform people of the presence of AI is outlined as a basis for activism, as well as inspiration for privacy-by-design approaches to AI. It also includes a piece of design fiction, which helps unpack the challenges of processing personal data on the edge of cyberspace. Contents: Regulatory considerations in artificial intelligence Systems, code and law The effects of automated decision-making On privacy by design Automated decision-making and the GDPR The right not to be subject to automated decision-making A right to an explanation? The two types of interpretations of the right to explanation under the GDPR System transparency Warning and empowerment Unpacking system transparency The way forward About the authors: Alex Comninos is an information and communications technology researcher and consultant from South Africa who has published research on various topics including human rights and the internet, internet governance, cybersecurity, intermediary liability, mobile banking, and African political economy. Alex is a member of the Association for Progressive Communications and has consulted and conducted research for the Open Technology Institute, Freedom House, the OSCE and the World Bank. Alex is a podcaster at CYBERnyama.net. Martin Konzett is a leading software architect and engineer, designer, artist and lecturer from Austria with over 30 years of hands-on experience with code, and an over 20 year track record in successfully delivering software solutions with core competences in Industrial Software Engineering (SE) and Human Computer Interaction (HCI). Martin has a strong focus on project operations, project culture and peopleware. He is a founding member of the Austrian ICT4D chapter and has consulted for governmental, intergovernmental and corporate bodies.
Carlos Baca, Luca Belli, Erick Huerta and Karla Velasco
Author : Carlos Baca, Luca Belli, Erick Huerta and Karla Velasco
November, 2018
Over the past decade, numerous discussions have highlighted the essential role that internet connectivity plays in driving fundamental changes in economic and social development. The purpose of this study is not only to highlight the potential of community networks in terms of expanding connectivity and its positive social, cultural and economic externalities, but also to point out the regulatory elements that might optimise their development and highlight the regulatory experiences that have allowed removing obstacles to the full operation of community networks in Latin America. One of the most important aspects of this study is the use of descriptive elements in its different sections in order to adopt a proactive attitude and offer specific instructions and recommendations. These elements seek to clarify how community networks might be categorized from a legal point of view, which rules should be considered when regulating community networks, and what policies should be adopted to promote and strengthen the expansion of community networks in Latin America. External URL: https://www.internetsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/2018-Community-Networ…
APC priorities for the 13th Internet Governance Forum
Author : APC
November, 2018
1. Preamble The 13th annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF), the UN’s most significant multistakeholder platform for discussing internet governance, is taking place in Paris, France from 12 to 14 November 2018. At a time when trust in digital technologies seems to be declining with every data breach, misinformation campaign and revelation of surveillance, the overall theme of IGF 2018 – “Internet of Trust” – is quite timely. This year’s IGF is taking place place alongside the Paris Peace Forum [1] and the GovTech Summit, during what is being branded as the “Paris Digital Week”. Whether co-location with other events adds to or detracts from the IGF’s status remains to be seen. Of greater concern is that it overlaps with the third and final week of the International Telecommunication Union’s Plenipotentiary Conference (ITU Plenipot) in Dubai, forcing many members of the internet governance community to decide which event to prioritise. Included on the Plenipot’s agenda are many of the same issues that will be discussed at the IGF, such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, over-the-top services, the “internet of things”, data protection, and connectivity. Those who prioritise negotiated outcomes would likely choose the ITU Plenipot. A few additional factors mean that we can expect the IGF to be a more limited event this year. For example, it is just three days long, as opposed to the usual five days (day 0 plus four days). In addition, it is taking place in Western Europe for the second year in a row, which might not be as much of a draw or be financially feasible for participants travelling from far away, especially from countries in the global South. Next year it will be in Western Europe once again, with Germany hosting. It is important to remember, however, that the IGF is not only an annual event. It is a year-long process that entails intersessional work, on a range of topics, including local content, gender, public access and connecting the next billion, as well as multiple national and regional IGFs. The IGF also has a role in connecting relevant internet governance-related processes taking place elsewhere, particularly processes elsewhere in the UN system. The fact that the recently created UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation is using the IGF as a forum for open dialogue and the exchange of ideas, and that the UN Secretary-General António Guterres is expected to attend, reinforces the value and status of the IGF. That the High-Level Panel was established, however, also indicates that there are still gaps in coordination and cooperation in global internet governance, gaps that the IGF could fill, but is not able to in its current iteration. APC continues to believe that the IGF has the potential to be a central platform for filling such gaps effectively, but to do so it must be strengthened. 2. Current political trends relevant to internet governance The IGF is taking place in a political climate in which the power of the internet as a tool for public participation, democratisation and collaboration is critically needed, yet this power is being undermined as well as hijacked by anti-democratic interests and actors. On the one hand, there is a wave of conservative, authoritarian leaders and regimes in many countries who are actively eroding fundamental human rights and encouraging intolerance. Just as India has struck down a colonial-era law, thereby decriminalising same-sex intercourse, the rights of transgender people in the United States are being threatened by the Trump regime, and the city of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania has launched an “anti-gay” task force that is actively hunting down LGBT individuals. Jair Bolsonaro, the president-elect of Brazil, has made repeated statements of a racist, misogynist and LGBT-phobic nature. Bolsonaro has also expressed his opposition to political activism, and promised to end the unrestricted operation of civil society organisations. Media independence and space for dissent and civil society activity are under threat around the world, including in Europe, for example, in Hungary. The exploitation of data to drive electoral outcomes – in the United States, for instance – and the weaponising of information during election campaigns continue to undermine trust in institutions and the integrity of electoral processes. Considering how vital online spaces are to both mainstream and citizen journalism, to political participation, and to social movements, non-governmental organisations and broader civil society, these trends should feature high on the list among the concerns addressed by this IGF – not just in Paris, but in subsequent intersessional work. Specifically important for the internet governance community is that Bolsonaro has been critical of the Brazilian Civil Rights Framework for the Internet (Marco Civil) signed into law at the 2014 NETmundial – a national law that has become a global reference for respect for rights such as access, privacy and freedom of expression online. Not only does this threaten good practice in the development of national legislation pertaining to the internet, it also risks the loss of Brazil as a leading legitimate and innovative developing country voice in global internet policy debates. 3. Priorities for IGF 2018 and 2019 intersessional work 3.1 Access Community networks: An understanding of the role of community networks, how they work, and how they can grow and thrive has become one of the IGF’s most important outcomes and has continued to produce concrete results. APC, its members, the Internet Society (ISOC) and other partners continue to work intensively on community networks as a means for empowering people to build and manage their own access solutions. The IGF (annual meetings, intersessional work and NRIs) has been an important platform for sharing experiences and knowledge, reflection, and strategising on community networks. We expect IGF 2018 will continue to provide the opportunity to connect this work with the broader internet governance community. As the growth in subscribers of traditional networks (mostly mobile) is plateauing, leaving many people still unconnected, the increase in the number of community networks, and their ability to sustain themselves, offers encouragement. The vital role of community networks is gaining recognition as reflected in a variety of actions at different levels, from national (e.g. licence exemption for community networks in Argentina) to international (e.g. workshops at the 2018 World Summit on the Information Society Forum and inclusion of community networks as an “emerging topic” in a resolution adopted by the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development), as well as in draft texts being debated at the ITU Plenipot. There have also been technology developments of value to community networks, such as progress with a powerful mesh wireless device, the LibreRouter, and HERMES, a project to use high-frequency (HF band) radio frequencies to interconnect GSM base stations. Community networks have been discussed at three important regional IGFs – the Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC) IGF, Asia Pacific Regional IGF and African IGF – and community network summits have been held in different parts of the world, with major participation in LAC, Asia, North America and Africa. In the last year, APC has held and/or participated in dedicated workshops on community networks with regional policy and regulatory bodies, namely the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL), the African Union Commission, East African Communications Organization and the Communications Regulatory Authority of Southern Africa. There remain many challenges ahead for community networks to reach their potential in connecting the unconnected; challenges that should be discussed at the IGF. These include translating all this momentum into tangible and long-lasting changes in policy and regulation, especially with regard to spectrum allocation and management – for example, spectrum sharing and setting spectrum aside for community-led mobile networks, and making TV white spaces (TVWS) available for use by community networks. Licensing regimes, identifying additional sources of funding, and better understanding of the business models of the newly established community networks are other challenges to address. At the IGF, APC will be launching a number of publications relating to community networks. As in recent years, the IGF Dynamic Coalition on Community Connectivity (DC3) will launch its annual report, which APC contributed to. In addition, three other important publications on the topic will be released at the IGF: the 2018 edition of APC’s annual Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) report, which this year is dedicated to community networks; an ISOC paper on innovations in spectrum management for community networks co-authored by members of APC’s Local Access Networks project team; and an in-depth study on the state of community networks in Latin America by Fundação Getulio Vargas with support from ISOC. We will also be organising and participating in a number of community network-related events, including the main session on Digital Inclusion and Accessibility and the session on “Spectrum for Community Networks: A ‘Must’ That Is Hard to Get”. Access for people with disabilities, public access, gender, and open telecom data: APC’s overall approach to access is holistic and includes a focus not just on infrastructure and cost, but also content, context and capacity. Topics we want to highlight at the IGF include access for people with disabilities; the importance of safe and cost-free public access, for example, in libraries, community centres and educational institutions; and access for women, girls and gender-nonconforming persons. The theme for this year’s Disco-tech IGF pre-event co-hosted by APC is disability and accessibility to the internet. More than 12 years since the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which makes it obligatory for states to "promote access for persons with disabilities to new information and communications technologies and systems, including the Internet”, came into being, web accessibility remains a distant reality for people with disabilities. The event will provide different opportunities to foreground the experiences, realities, needs and concerns of internet users with disabilities. APC will also participate in a new campaign for open telecom data that will be initiated at the IGF. Open telecom data is particularly important for smaller operators such as community networks and other local access providers, and we believe it is a relevant topic for the 2019 intersessional IGF agenda. Misguided taxation: A concern we will raise in discussion at the IGF is the recent trend in taxing the use of social media and voice-over-internet services in countries where these services are being used to enable public participation and to reduce the cost of communications for people from poor communities. These taxes impact on both access and the enjoyment of human rights. 3.2 Human rights Trends in policy and regulation: 2018 has been a mixed year for human rights online. On the one hand, there is the idea that smart regulation, developed with inputs from different stakeholders, can safeguard individual rights, such as the right to privacy in the case of the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). On the other hand, national legislation emerging in many parts of the world is aimed at regulating the internet in ways that compromise rights online, failing to meet either national constitutional guarantees or international standards, especially in relation to freedom of expression and the right to privacy. Examples include Egypt, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Legislating restrictions to human rights online: Laws, together with extralegal measures, have led to increasing restriction of space for civil society to develop and operate, with human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders, sexual rights defenders and LGBTIQ activists, journalists, artists and others subject to arrest, censorship, and hate online, which ultimately compromises their security offline. APC is co-organising a workshop, “Making National Laws Good for Internet Governance”, with Social Media Exchange (SMEX), during which a multistakeholder group of experts in internet law and jurisprudence will share their observations on these new internet-targeted legal interventions. They will share the expected and unexpected impacts of laws and help distill lessons learned for internet law and policy makers. The workshop will also consider the relevance and utility of establishing a best practice forum or dynamic coalition on the rule of law in the digital sphere. Platform responsibility and accountability: Increasing intervention by private platform providers in the free flow of information on the internet (in particular social networks, messaging services and search engines), with negative impacts on freedom of expression through direct restrictions (censorship by removal or blocking, including automatic filtering) and prior or indirect restrictions (priority or reduction of scope) of legitimate content. This highlights the need to demand that companies comply with international human rights law and ensure transparency, accountability and due process in their content moderation practices. APC’s position is that companies should use human rights law as the authoritative global standard for ensuring freedom of expression and other rights on their platforms, not the varying laws of states or their own private interests. Algorithmic decision making and the right to explanation: As the use of algorithms is increasingly finding its way into different aspects of our lives, it is critical to examine the problems posed from a human rights perspective by automated or algorithmic decision making. Algorithmic decision making impacts a range of rights, from freedom of expression to the right to work, and has already demonstrated its ability to extend discrimination and deepen inequality. APC is co-organising a workshop on “Algorithmic transparency and the right to explanation”, which will introduce the concepts of algorithmic justice, algorithmic bias and algorithmic transparency. Speakers will explore the technical, legal and human rights issues, as well as the technical and policy solutions to ensuring that algorithms can provide a right to explanation. Measuring a free, open, rights-based and inclusive internet: Measuring progress – or regression – in the extent to which internet-related human rights are respected, how universally accessible and used the internet is, and how inclusive internet governance processes are, is difficult but important. APC is extremely pleased that a tool that we facilitated the development of for UNESCO will be launched at the Paris IGF. The UNESCO Internet Universality Indicators aim to measure to what extent the ROAM (rights-openness-access-multistakeholder) principles are applied at national levels in relationship with cross-cutting indicators on gender and the needs of children and young people, sustainable development, trust and security, and legal and ethical concerns. Quantitative, qualitative and institutional indicators are included, along with a list of identified sources and means of verification. The purpose of the indicators is not in any way intended to result in any kind of index or ranking of countries. They are designed to facilitate learning and country-level discussion among stakeholders on how to improve “internet universality”. We believe that the use of these indicators should become part of the IGF’s ongoing intersessional agenda. Refugee rights and the internet: It is estimated by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees that today over 65 million people – the largest number since the Second World War – are refugees or internally displaced people. Internet access has become a vital lifeline to their families and friends, as well as to starting new lives. However, refugee populations tend to lack digital networks and infrastructure and face unaffordable connectivity or restrictions imposed on their full participation in the online environment. APC will participate in a session on “Refugee rights and the online environment”, discussing what has been done to ensure equal access and full participation in the online environment for this large community of refugees, and whether the technologies used to collect data are following the necessary steps to ensure that the rights of refugees are protected online and offline. 3.3 Gender APC will build on its long history of raising concerns related to women’s rights, gender equality and sexual rights at the IGF. It is essential for the IGF to open a space and engage with feminist researchers, advocates and activists to support, challenge, and reform policy advocacy in relation to the internet governance system. In particular, feminist knowledge production that works to bring forward situated knowledge from the standpoint of marginalised communities, such as women and LGBTIQ people, can positively influence the way we understand the impact of internet governance regulations profoundly. Furthermore, the APC Women's Rights Programme engages with intersectional feminist thinking to unravel the challenges of meaningful access to the internet and the politics of internet governance. An intersectional framework facilitates methodological tools to reflect beyond a “gender-only” approach and investigate the intersecting effects of structural injustices based on race, class, sexuality and other socioeconomic divisions. APC’s gender interventions at the 2018 IGF will include active participation in sessions stemming from intersessional work, such as the meetings of the Dynamic Coalition on Gender and Internet Governance and of the Best Practice Forum (BPF) on Gender and Access, in which APC continues to play an active role. Based on previous BPF work, which underscored that people’s lived realities of access can be quite distinct from overarching statistics, this year the BPF on Gender and Access is focusing on Alternative Models of Connectivity for gender non-conforming persons and women with disabilities, migrant women, refugee women and others who face challenges to access the internet. We will also use Paris IGF to build on previous work, support our partners and participate in active debate that can frame intersessional work for 2019 on the following topics: More recognition of online gender-based violence as a human rights violation. Increased attention paid to gender digital divides to translate into concrete actions to close these divides. How to prevent gender bias in the use of artificial intelligence and algorithms. How to counter the global rise of online anti-feminist movements and the resulting threats to women’s human rights defenders. “Queering the IGF”, as in making it a space in which queer people can participate openly in all internet governance debates as well as raise issues of particular concern to them. Explore the idea of creating a benchmarking framework that can be used to assess the performance of internet companies in relation to their responsibilities with regard to the areas of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Bottlenecks, incompetence and abuse of power: An analysis of PECA’s implementation
Author : Salwa Rana
November, 2018
Media Matters for Democracy (MMfD) has published multiple reports highlighting concerns with the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act (PECA) and offered recommendations for improvement. In their first comprehensive review of PECA 2016, they took a look at the procedural issues that have defined the implementation of the law. This study presents a brief overview of the implementation of PECA. It is based on two case studies; first, an overview of procedural and other issues with FIA’s performance and second, a thematic overview of the use of PECA to crackdown on political activists and journalists.
Facebook and Palestinians: Biased or neutral content moderation policies?
Author : 7amleh Centre
October, 2018
This paper published by 7amleh Center focuses on Facebook’s discriminatory practices in moderation of Palestinian content against the background of the Israeli government’s heavy pressure on Facebook. The policy paper begins with an analysis of Facebook’s content moderation guidelines and practices, in particular in areas in conflict or under occupation, and later focuses on Palestinian content. It continues to analyse the role and impact of public-private partnerships in the removal of content and blocking of pages and accounts and provides an overview over cooperation between the Israeli government and Facebook, which resulted in increased removal of Palestinian content, pages and accounts by Facebook. This policy brief provides a thorough, yet concise, overview over content moderation by Facebook and its impact on freedom of expression, in particular of Palestinians under Israeli military occupation. It thus highlights the role of Facebook and other social media companies in standing up for human rights of all their customers, rather than pleasing governmental actors and assisting in their attempts at stifling freedom of expression. This policy brief comes as part of 7amleh’s ongoing efforts to research and publicise internet and social media companies policies towards Palestinians as part of 7amleh’s advocacy for Palestinian digital rights.
Gender perspectives on privacy: Submission to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy
Author : APC
October, 2018
As an organisation that has worked at the intersections of women’s rights, sexual rights and technology for more than two decades, APC welcomes the focus of the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy on “gender perspectives on privacy”. The privacy violations that women and LGBTIQ persons experience take place within a context of existing structural inequalities and discrimination which put them at particular risk of violence and other types of human rights violations. It is important to recognise, therefore, that for these communities, conversations about privacy cannot take place without also reflecting on the surveillance they face – by states and non-state actors, including in their intimate relationships, families, friendships, amongst others – on their immediate social environment. For APC, it is essential that considerations of privacy also take account of autonomy, bodily integrity, sexuality and sexual expression and include perspectives that relate to decision making over one's own personal data and information. Privacy creates the necessary space for people who face discrimination or marginalisation based on their gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, to fully enjoy their human rights. This concept of privacy is not limited to private spaces but also extends to public spheres; for instance, people whose gender expression, identity and/or sexuality is apparent and visible or can be ascertained are entitled to the right to privacy in public spaces too. APC encourages the Special Rapporteur to take an intersectional approach when considering gendered dimensions of privacy. Intersectionality as a framework gives visibility to and questions powers and privileges that emerge as a result of gender, race, ethnicity, class, and other social and cultural hierarchies. Individuals and groups who are viewed as being situated lower in social and cultural hierarchies, or seen by society or the state as needing to be controlled, are afforded less privacy. Finally, we reiterate that privacy is a fundamental and universal right that should be enjoyed without discrimination by people of all genders. We encourage the Special Rapporteur to reject arguments that invoke privacy such as the privacy of the home or the protection of the family that could be used to shield human rights violations occurring in private settings.
Women's digital inclusion: Background paper for the G20
Author : Anri van der Spuy and David Souter
September, 2018
Women20 (W20) emerged after the G20 summit that took place in Australia in 2014. It is one of the key G20 engagement groups and it supports the promotion of gender-inclusive economic growth, with the aim of promoting efforts advanced by the international community in the areas of women's economic and social participation and their financial inclusion and education. W20 works each year producing recommendations and establishing measurable and actionable goals to influence G20 governments so as to implement these objectives. Argentina is presiding the G20 in 2018, and W20 Argentina has been organising national and international dialogues around four focus topics: labour inclusion, financial inclusion, digital inclusion and rural development. A multistakeholder group came together to work on digital inclusion policies and recommendations to achieve actions with real impact. A wide and varied inclusion of voices has reflected a diversity of realities and framed a process of dialogue and consultation whose results will be reflected in the communiqué to G20 leaders. The W20 Summit is taking place in Buenos Aires on 1-3 October. At the same time, a Feminist Forum against the G20 will take place nearby, in front of the National Congress. Considering these debates, APC and the Internet Society decided to produce this briefing paper, authored by Anri van der Spuy and David Souter, to analyse discussions and recommendations in the area of digital inclusion. The paper outlines ways in which policy makers can facilitate the internet’s positive potential through an enabling framework for women’s digital inclusion: It urges effective, tangible and measurable action to overcome the digital gender gap in internet access, to ensure that women benefit from the developmental potential of digital inclusion. It encourages a holistic and contextualised approach to overcoming barriers to women’s access to and use of the internet. In doing so, it builds on recommendations contained in the G20 Digital Economy Ministerial Declaration, agreed at Salta, Argentina, in August 2018. It also draws on a number of recommendations made by working groups of the G20, including the W20 dialogue held in Paris, France, in May 2018. In its conclusions, the paper reaffirms that “the internet has great potential to advance women’s equality and empowerment, but that will not be achieved without greater understanding, analysis and policy development which seeks to align digital development with gender equality.”
Contribution from APC to the 2018 Internet Governance Forum Best Practice Forum on Cybersecurity
Author : APC
September, 2018
The Internet Governance Forum Best Practice Forum (IGF BPF) on Cybersecurity is a multistakeholder group focusing on the development of culture, norms and values in cybersecurity. Norms have become a very important mechanism for states and non-state actors to agree on responsible behaviour in cyberspace. There are numerous initiatives underway in this regard, but with limited exceptions, such as the Global Conference on Cyberspace (GCCS) and the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace (GCSC), most of these norms discussions happen in inter-state forums, and they do not always provide an open and inclusive mechanism for non-state actors to participate and to contribute. The Best Practice Forum is taking a multistakeholder view on the development of norms, both within and between participants of each IGF stakeholder community. The 2018 IGF Best Practice Forum on Cybersecurity issued a call for contributions to gain perspectives from all interested stakeholders on existing norms development efforts, how those norms are being implemented, and whether they are successful. They are also trying to understand whether differences in design and implementation may result in a “digital security divide”: a group of “haves” and “have-nots” in terms of the protection the norms offer. To provide additional background, the Best Practices Forum has developed and released a Background paper on these issues. APC contributed to this background paper. The call for contributions asked respondents to address the following questions: 1. How do you define a culture of cybersecurity? 2. What are typical values and norms that are important to you or your constituents? 3. Within your field of work, do you see organizations stand up and promote specific cybersecurity norms? This can be either norms at an inter-state level, or norms that only apply within your community or sector. 4. Are there examples of norms that have worked particularly well? Do you have case studies of norms that you have seen be effective at improving security? 5. Do you have examples of norms that have failed (they have not seen widespread adherence), or have had adverse effects (living up to the norm led to other issues)? ? 6. What effective methods do you know of implementing cybersecurity norms? Are there specific examples you have seen, or have had experience with? 7. Within your community, do you see a Digital Security Divide in which a set of users have better cyber security than others? Is this a divide between people or countries? What is the main driver of the divide? Read APC's response to the call for contributions here.
Mapping Segregation: Google Maps and the Human Rights of Palestinians
Author : 7amleh
September, 2018
This report by 7amleh – Arab Center for Social Media Advancement reveals new insights about how Google Maps’ mapping process in the occupied Palestinian territories serves the interests of the Israeli government and contradicts Google’s commitment to international human rights frameworks. In particular it focuses on Google Maps’ representation of geography and political boundaries in Israel and the occupied territories, including Google’s use of terms and route planning. Google Maps does not include the search term “Palestine” and rarely includes the names of Palestinian areas unrecognised by Israel, while at the same time, it includes the names of illegal Israeli settlements and locates them seamlessly. The maps also neglect to express the hundreds of roadblocks and permanent and flying checkpoints that Israel has erected throughout the West Bank, violating Palestinians’ right to freedom movement. As a result, Google Maps routes are only for Israelis and illegal Israeli settlers and can be dangerous for Palestinians. The report concludes that Google Maps’ refusal to display internationally recognized borders, Palestinian villages and cities, checkpoints and restricted areas endangers the lives of Palestinians and adopts the Israeli narrative of space which is contrary to international law. This report was produced with the support of an APC subgrant awarded for small projects that contribute to the local implementation of APC's strategic plan.
HRC 39: Oral Statement on Cybercrime Law and Media Regulation Law in Egypt
Author : Access Now, APC
September, 2018
Thank you Mr. President. I represent Access Now and the Association for Progressive Communications, as well as over 40 other global human rights organisations that are ringing the alarm bell on the latest oppressive measures imposed on Egyptians online. I wish to bring to the Council’s attention the Cybercrime Law and the Media Regulation Law in Egypt. These laws represent an attempt to impose full control over the flow of information online, in what seems to be an effort to close the space for public debate and prevent the exercise of the fundamental right to freedom of expression. The Cybercrime law authorises mass surveillance in Egypt. Internet service providers are required to keep and store users’ data for 180 days, including access to phone calls and text messages, websites visited, and applications used on devices. Various law enforcement authorities would all have access to that information at any time. This mass surveillance stands in direct violation of Article 57 of the Egyptian Constitution, which guarantees the privacy and confidentiality of electronic communications. The law also goes against the ICCPR, which Egypt has signed and ratified. There is also the Media Regulation Law, which defines anyone with a social media account with more than 5,000 followers as a member of the media, and places them under strict regulation and supervision and makes them subject to censorship under vague premises such as “publishing false news”. These two laws are overbroad, disproportionate attempts to fully control speech online. Human rights apply online as they do offline. Therefore, to protect Egyptians’ human rights, preserve the public domain, and keep a space open for exercising freedom of expression, we call on the Egyptian government to immediately repeal the Cybercrime Law and to reform the Media Regulation Law to comply with their international human rights obligations.
Supplemental Coalition Report for South Africa's Review at the 64th Session of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (July 2018)
Author : Association for Progressive Communications (APC), Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) and Right2Know Campaign (R2K)
September, 2018
The Association for Progressive Communications (APC), Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) and the Right2Know Campaign (R2K) welcome the opportunity to submit this Parallel Coalition Report to the 64th session (24 September 2018 to 12 October 2018) of the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (CESCR). This Parallel Coalition Report (Second Coalition Report) is submitted to the CESCR to assist in its consideration, during the 64th session, of the Government of South Africa’s Initial Report to the CESCR dated 25 April 2017, and distributed on 7 June 2017, and the Supplementary Report to the Initial Report submitted by the Government of South Africa, dated 6 July 2018. As with the First Coalition Report, this report focuses primarily on access to the internet in South Africa – particularly for disadvantaged and marginalised persons and groups, including those living in rural and remote areas – and the extent to which the Government of South Africa is ensuring that people are able to benefit from the potential of the internet as an enabler of economic, social and cultural rights (ESCRs).
Statement opposing Egypt’s legalisation of website blocking and communications surveillance
Author : Various
September, 2018
NGOs call for full repeal of Egypt’s “cybercrime” law and block of dangerous law regulating media. We, the undersigned, call for the immediate repeal of the Anti-Cyber and Information Technology Crimes Law (“The Cybercrime Law”), as well as the review and reform of articles on internet surveillance and blocking of websites in the law on the regulation of the press and media (“The Media Regulation Law”). The Cybercrime Law and the Media Regulation Law are only the latest steps in the Egyptian government’s attempt to impose full control over the flow of information online, as part of an effort to close the space for public debate and prevent the exercise of the fundamental right to freedom of expression. These actions must be opposed in order to defend Egyptians’ human rights. Background On 18 August, 2018, President Sisi ratified the Anti-Cyber and Information Technology Crimes Law (Cybercrime Law). The Egyptian parliament had already approved the law on 5 July, granting the government new powers to restrict digital rights and interfere with activists’ freedoms online. Only last month, the parliament also passed another dangerous law (the Media Regulation Law) that would place under government regulation and supervision as member of the media anyone with a social media account that has more than 5,000 followers. Egyptian authorities have a recent history of escalating attempts to restrict online freedoms. On 24 May 2017, Egypt began to block websites, mostly media related, on a mass scale; the number of blocked websites so far totals more than 500. Apart from an order to block 33 websites issued by the government committee that appraised and seized the funds of members of a banned Muslim Brotherhood group, it is unclear on what basis the other websites have been blocked. No decision has been published, whether by the courts or government departments, and no reasons have been provided as to why those websites ought to be blocked. Numerous attempts have been made to get the government to disclose the legal basis for blocking, and a number of lawsuits have been filed before the administrative judiciary. Now, the ratification of the Cybercrime Law appears to be an attempt by the government to legalize the repressive steps it took more than a year ago, providing full authority for internet censorship. The Cybercrime Law also authorizes the mass surveillance of communications in Egypt. Under the law, ISPs are required to keep and store customer usage data for a period of 180 days, including data that enables user identification, data regarding content of the information system, and data related to the equipment used. This means that ISPs have the data related to all user activities, including phone calls and text messages, websites visited, and applications used on smartphones and computers. The National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) can also issue an administrative decision obliging telecommunications companies to save “other data” without specifying what it is, and without stipulating it in the law. National security entities (defined by the law as: Presidency, Armed Forces, Ministry of the Interior, General Intelligence, and Administrative Control Authority) were also granted the right to access and review the data referred to in the preceding paragraph. ISPs are also obliged to provide the “technical capabilities” to those entities. This approach to impose mass surveillance on all users in Egypt is contrary to Article 57 of the Egyptian Constitution, which states: “Private life is inviolable, safeguarded and may not be infringed upon. Telegraph, postal, and electronic correspondence, telephone calls, and other forms of communication are inviolable, their confidentiality is guaranteed, and they may only be confiscated, examined or monitored by causal judicial order, for a limited period, and in cases specified by the law.” Egypt has also signed and ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and must follow the guidance of the Human Rights Committee, the only official body charged with interpreting the treaty. In addition, the law regulating the work of the press and media, the Media Regulation Law, which the President ratified on September 1, 2018, expands the power to censor individuals’ personal accounts on social media, if the account has at least 5,000 followers. The Supreme Media Regulatory Council has the right to block those accounts if it believes that they publish or broadcast false news, incite a violation of the law, violence or hatred, discriminate between citizens, or advocate racism or intolerance. Call to action The Cybercrime Law and the Media Regulation Law threaten the fundamental rights of Egyptians. They are overbroad, disproportionate attempts to give the government full control over cyberspace. Therefore, to protect Egyptians’ human rights, preserve the public domain, and keep open any space for exercising freedom of expression, the undersigned call on the Egyptian government to immediately repeal the Cybercrime Law and reform the Media Regulation Law. Signed, a coalition of some of the world’s leading human rights and digital rights organizations from 25 countries, 7amleh – Arab Center for Social Media Advancement 7iber Access Now Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) ARTICLE 19 Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) Association for Progressive Communications (APC) Bahrain Centre for Human Rights Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) Community Media Solutions Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Democratic Transition and Human Rights Support Center (DAAM) Derechos Digitales Digital Rights Foundation Electronic Frontier Foundation Electronic Frontier Finland Epicenter.works Euromed Rights Fight for the Future Global Voices Advox Gulf Centre for Human Rights Humano Derecho Radio Estación I’lam – Arab Center for Media Freedom Development and Research i freedom Uganda Network Index on Censorship Internet Sans Frontieres Kenya ICT Action Network Fundación Karisma Maharat Foundation Majal.org Motoon.org DDHH Redes Ayuda Open Media Point of View India REPORTERS SANS FRONTIÈRES / REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS Social Media Exchange (SMEX) Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) Turkey Blocks The Syrian Archive
Freedom of Information and Data Protection
Author : Jamael Jacob, Maristela Miranda and Jessamine Pacis
August, 2018
Freedom of information – also referred to as the right to information – is the fundamental right of an individual to access information under the control or custody of the government. The United Nations General Assembly considers it as an integral part of the right of freedom of expression, which is enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). By its very nature, it sits at the core of any democratic nation. Another advocacy that has grown in significance and prominence in the last half century is data protection (also referred to as “data privacy” or “information privacy”), which is a key aspect of the fundamental right to privacy. As in the case of freedom of expression, the right to privacy is featured in the UDHR, as well as in numerous international treaties, national constitutions and domestic laws. The nature of these two concepts make it inevitable for them to overlap. This has led some to adopt the view that they are inherently contradictory, such that upholding one necessarily entails discarding the other. This is far from the truth. On the contrary, freedom of information and the right to privacy should be viewed as making up “two sides of the same coin”. They complement each other given their common purpose of promoting individual rights and government accountability. In the few instances that they do go directly against one another, the key to a meaningful resolution lies in the proper balancing of all interests involved. Whenever possible, meeting the objectives of both without having to sacrifice the cause of one must always be the set goal.
Tanzania: Joint civil society letter calls on Human Rights Council member states to address crackdown on human rights
Author : Various
August, 2018
To Permanent Representatives of Member and Observer States of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Geneva, Switzerland 16 August 2018 Tanzania: Open letter to states for joint action to address crackdown on civic space and prevent a further deterioration of the situation Excellency, Ahead of the 39th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council (“the Council”), which will be held from 10 to 28 September 2018, we write to call on your delegation to deliver statements, both jointly and individually, to address the ongoing crackdown on civic space and human rights backsliding in the United Republic of Tanzania. Considering the rapidly declining environment for human rights defenders (HRDs), civil society, journalists, bloggers, the media and dissenting voices in Tanzania, we, the undersigned non-governmental organisations (NGOs), make a joint appeal to member and observer states of the Council. At the 39th session, states should urge the Tanzanian government to change course, cease any form of intimidation, harassment and attacks against HRDs, journalists, bloggers, and opposition members and their supporters, and amend restrictive laws and regulations with a view to bringing them in line with international human rights standards. Since 2015, Tanzania has implemented newly enacted draconian legislation and applied legal and extrajudicial methods to harass HRDs, silence independent journalism and blogging, and restrict freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association. We call on your delegation to make use of the following agenda items [1] to raise concern, jointly and individually, and to engage in a constructive dialogue with the Tanzanian authorities: General debate under item 2, following the High Commissioner’s update. General debate under item 3, in relation to reports of the High Commissioner and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). General debate under item 4. General debate under item 10. Interactive dialogues with the Working Group on arbitrary detention and the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances. Additionally, bilateral and collective engagement in multilateral fora such as the Council and at the embassy level, in Tanzania, should be used to raise relevant issues with the government. Through these opportunities for dialogue, your delegation can help the Council fulfil its responsibility to “address situations of violations of human rights […] and make recommendations thereon” and to “contribute, through dialogue and cooperation, towards the prevention of human rights violations and respond promptly to human rights emergencies.” [2] The 39th session should be leveraged to help prevent a further deterioration of the human rights situation in Tanzania and send the Tanzanian government a message that the international community expects it to uphold its citizens’ human rights, in line with its obligations and the country’s history of openness, engagement, and respect for human rights. We thank you for your attention to these pressing issues and stand ready to provide your delegation with further information. Sincerely, 1. African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS) 2. Africans Rising for Justice, Peace & Dignity 3. ARTICLE 19 4. Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE) 5. Association for Progressive Communications (APC) 6. Caucasus Civil Initiatives Center 7. ?enter for Civil Liberties – Ukraine 8. CEPO – South Sudan 9. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation 10. Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) – Uganda 11. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) 12. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative 13. Conectas Human Rights – Brazil 14. DefendDefenders (The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project) 15. FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders 16. Freedom House 17. Global Witness 18. HAKI Africa – Kenya 19. Human Rights Concern – Eritrea 20. HURISA – South Africa 21. International Civil Society Center 22. JOINT Liga de ONGs em Mocambique – Mozambique 23. Ligue Burundaise des droits de l’homme Iteka – Burundi 24. Observatoire des droits de l’homme au Rwanda – Rwanda 25. Odhikar – Bangladesh 26. Réseau Ouest Africain des Défenseurs des Droits Humains/West African Human Rights Defenders Network (ROADDH/WAHRDN) 27. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights 28. Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) 29. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders 30. Zambia Council for Social Development (ZSCD) – Zambia [1] See the annex for more detailed proposals for action. [2] UN General Assembly resolution 60/251, paras. 3 and 5(f).
Human rights in the digital context: Joint contribution from APC and Derechos Digitales to the third cycle of the UPR mechanism for Chile
Author : APC and Derechos Digitales
August, 2018
This submission is a joint stakeholder contribution to the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism for Chile by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and Derechos Digitales. APC and Derechos Digitales appreciate the opportunity to participate in this cycle of the Universal Periodic Review and recognise the important human rights issues being raised by other stakeholder reports. Our organisations strongly believe that the same human rights that people have offline must also be protected online, which is why this submission focuses on human rights in digital context, particularly in freedom of expression and association online, access to internet, openness and access to information, knowledge, culture and elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against women on the internet. It explores both the extent of implementations of the recommendation made in the previous cycle of the UPR and also identifies emerging concerns in Chile regarding human rights in a digital context. Human rights in a digital context are inextricably connected with meaningful access and use of the internet. Chile is one of the most connected countries in Latin America, with internet penetration of 87.5% of Chilean houses, notwithstanding that there are several digital divides experienced by various populations. According to official statistics (CASEN), access to internet in urban areas is 68.8%, compared to 40.9% in rural areas; women are less connected than men in Chile: 65.3% of women are connected compared to 67.5% of men. Finally, indigenous people are less connected than non-indigenous people, with a rate of 63.2% compared to 66.7%, respectively. Those digital divides reveal an inequality in the exercise of human rights, such as freedom of opinion or association as well as access to information or culture, among others. Equally as important as access to infrastructure is the appropriation of technologies in marginalised groups such as indigenous people and women, which requires the development of digital abilities and skills oriented toward the needs, expectations and daily requirements of women in their different roles. Information and communication technologies (ICTs), including the internet, can give people access to information, discussions and networks, so marginalised groups can be better equipped to challenge discrimination, misogyny and xenophobia, and to work to address a more fair and equal society. In addition, by regarding internet as a tool of development, increased penetration in marginalised groups (such as among women) contributes to raising income among poor people. Internet access can be a critical enabler of a range of human rights addressed in this submission. Consequently, UPR should consider internet and appropriation of technologies integrally linked with human rights, particularly but not exclusively freedom of speech, association and rights related to access to culture and information. The former Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression has noted the importance of promoting and protecting human rights in digital contexts and moving forward to ensure access to the internet for all individuals. Access to internet is a powerful tool, which facilitates economic development and the enjoyment of a range of human rights (including freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, among others), because marginalised groups with access to internet “can obtain information, assert their rights, and participate in public debates concerning social, economic and political changes to improve their situation”. For those reasons, it is a key point to continue and enhance the penetration of internet in Chile, particularly among marginalised groups, not only for their economic development but also to increase and facilitate the exercise of their human rights in digital contexts.
#KeepitOn: Joint letter on keeping the internet open and secure in Ethiopia
Author : KeepItOn Coalition
August, 2018
Your Excellency, We are writing to urgently request that you ensure the stability and openness of the internet. We have received reports that your government has shut down the internet in Jijiga, Dire Dawa, and Harar cities in Ethiopia. On behalf of the more than 150 organizations from over 50 countries that make up the #KeepitOn Coalition, we implore you to keep the internet on in Eastern Ethiopia. Internet shutdowns harm human rights and economies Research shows that internet shutdowns and violence go hand in hand. [1], [2] Shutdowns disrupt the free flow of information and create a cover of darkness that shields human rights abuses from public scrutiny. Journalists and media workers cannot contact sources, gather information, or file stories without digital communications tools. Justified for various reasons, shutdowns cut off access to vital information, e-commerce, and emergency services, plunging whole communities into fear. Disruptions also destabilize the internet’s power to support small business livelihoods and to drive economic development. A 2016 study by the Brookings Institution, a prominent think tank, revealed that shutdowns drained $2.4 billion from the global economy between 2015 and 2016. [3] The open internet has fostered unprecedented creativity, innovation, and access to information and to other kinds of social, economic, cultural, and political opportunities across the globe. The technical means used to block access to information online often dangerously undermine the stability and resiliency of the Internet. Internet shutdowns must never be allowed to become the new normal. During his inaugural speech, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) reiterated his government’s commitment to protect freedom of expression and access to information. Extending access to the internet remains a key driver to uphold this commitment. Moreover, we estimate the current shutdown in Eastern Ethiopia has cost your country $32,544 per day in direct economic costs, and will slow the realization of economic, social, and cultural rights broadly. [4] Internet shutdowns violate international law A growing body of findings and resolutions hold that intentional disruptions to the internet violate international law. In July 2016, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed, by consensus, a resolution on freedom of expression and the internet with unambiguous language on internet shutdowns and other restrictions on freedom of expression online. Resolution A/HRC/RES/32/13: "condemns unequivocally measures to intentionally prevent or disrupt access to or dissemination of information online in violation of international human rights law and calls on all States to refrain from and cease such measures." The Council sent a clear message that the blocking and throttling of networks, applications, and services that facilitate human rights is unacceptable behavior. Experts from the United Nations, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Organization of American States (OAS), and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), also issued an historic statement declaring that internet “kill switches” can never be justified under international human rights law, even in times of conflict. [5] In November 2016, ACHPR adopted a resolution on the right to freedom of information and expression on the internet in Africa, which noted its concern over “the emerging practice of State Parties of interrupting or limiting access to telecommunications services such as the Internet, social media and messaging services, increasingly during elections.” ACHPR/Res. 362(LIX)] The UN Human Rights Committee, the official interpreter of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, emphasizes in its General Comment no. 34 that restrictions on speech online must be strictly necessary and proportionate to achieve a legitimate purpose. [6] Shutdowns, by contrast, disproportionately impact all users, and unnecessarily restrict access to information and emergency services communications during crucial moments. Shutdowns are neither necessary to, nor effective at, achieving a legitimate aim, as they block the spread of information, contribute to confusion and disorder, and obstruct public safety. Shutdowns are neither necessary to, nor effective at, achieving a legitimate aim, as they often spread confusion and encourage more people to join public demonstrations. We respectfully request that you use the important positions of your good offices to: Ensure that the internet, including social media, is restored Publicly declare your commitment to keep the internet on, and to notify the public of any disruptions Encourage telecommunications and internet services providers to respect human rights through public disclosures on policies and practices impacting users. We are happy to assist you in any of these matters. Sincerely, Access Now Afro Leadership Association for Progressive Communications (APC) Collaboration for International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) Internet Sans Frontieres (ISF) Internet Yetu NetBlocks OpenNet Africa Pan-African League of Bloggers and Cyberactivists for Democracy Reporters Without Borders ___________________ [1] An internet shutdown is defined as an intentional disruption of internet or electronic communications, rendering them inaccessible or effectively unusable, for a specific population or within a location, often to exert control over the flow of information. See more at https://accessnow.org/keepiton. [2] Anita R. Gohdes, ‘Pulling the Plug: Network Disruptions and Violence in the Syrian Conflict’ (Journal of Peace Research: 31 January 2014) accessed 24 March 2017. [3] Darrell West, (Brookings Institution, October 2016) “Internet shutdowns cost countries $2.4 billion last year” https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/intenet-shutdowns-v-3.pdf [4] CIPESA, A Framework for Calculating the Economic Impact of Internet Disruptions in Sub-Saharan Africa https://cipesa.org/?wpfb_dl=252 & NetBlocks: the Cost of Shutdown Tool https://netblocks.org/projects/cost [5] Peter Micek, (Access Now, 4 May 2015) ‘Internet kill switches are a violation of human rights law, declare major UN and rights experts’ https://www.accessnow.org/blog/2015/05/04/internet-kill-switchesare-a-violation-of-human-rights-law-declare-major-un [6] UN Human Rights Committee (UN, July 2011) “General Comment No. 34” http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/docs/GC34.pdf
Media Matters for Democracy: Violence, journalism and elections in Pakistan
Author : Komal Tariq Mughal, Zafar Nizamani and Sadaf Khan
August, 2018
The threats to media have taken many shapes and forms throughout the history of Pakistan, and yet, the 2018 elections have brought along a fresh wave of challenges. From attacks on journalists to attacks on business freedoms of media houses resulting in financial and commercial repercussions, from organised hate speech against journalists to the use of cybercrime and other laws to initiate legal action, the press in Pakistan seems to be operating in a very restrictive situation. This report documents the threats and attacks that have been directed at the media industry and practitioners in the few months before elections. 2007 and 2012, the two years before the previous general elections, were exceptionally bloody for journalists. This time, the scale of the threats is increasing and changing in nature.
The National ID Debate: Is the Philippines Ready?
Author : Foundation for Media Alternatives
August, 2018
In March 2016, the Philippines made headlines when the personal data of around 55 million registered voters were leaked online. In the wake of the controversy, discussions on security and privacy resurfaced among legislators and the public. Among those taken up were relevant policy proposals, like the establishment of a national identification (ID) system.
Action Steps: A decade of civil society advocacy in the information society - A baseline review of the Global Information Society Watch country repor
Author : Alan Finlay
August, 2018
The purpose of this review was to look back over the past decade of country reports published in Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) and attempt to identify trends in civil society perspectives on what needed to be done to create a people-centred information society. The period for analysis was, more accurately, just over a decade: 2007-2017, during which a GISWatch report was produced each year – a total of 11 reports. Over this period, 510 country reports covering 97 countries were published, a substantial record of civil society activism on information and communications technology (ICT) and internet rights. Over 1,900 advocacy recommendations – what were called “action steps” – were proposed by authors. The first edition of GISWatch was published by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and Third World Institute (ITeM) in 2007 on the theme of “Participation” – two years after the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis, and just after the first Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Athens in late 2006. With the WSIS action agenda then firmly in mind, it was conceived as a “space for collaborative monitoring of implementation of international (and national) commitments made by governments towards the creation of an inclusive information society.” The first edition reflected this priority – it offered a “WSIS review” in three reports by David Souter and Willie Currie, institutional overviews of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), as well as a section on “indicators for advocacy” by Amy Mahan, which framed the 22 country reports that followed. Over the years, GISWatch often responded to rapidly emerging advocacy needs – for example, the edition on ICTs and the environment in 2010 sought to help build knowledge and capacity among internet rights activists on the burgeoning challenge of e-waste, while also considering the pressing problem of climate change, mitigation and adaptation. In 2014, the theme of surveillance followed Edward Snowden’s revelations of global surveillance networks and growing suspicions at the country level that many governments were engaged in unsupervised or even illegal surveillance activities. In other years, themes coincided with global events, or responded to the need to capture and understand emerging experiences. In 2011, an edition on democratisation, freedom of expression and association followed the so-called Arab Spring, while, most recently, the focus on national IGFs – or National and Regional Internet Governance Forum Initiatives (NRIs) – captured country-level experiences of creating collaborative internet governance spaces for deliberation just over a decade after the first IGF in Athens. Some noticeable shifts in the information society occur over the period of this review. Firstly, the pace of change in infrastructure roll-out and the increase in the number of internet users are at times staggering. The “information society” – a term which begins to feel somewhat anachronistic – written about in 2007 is not the same one internet rights activists confront in 2017. As the reports show, in 2007 terms such as “universal access” and “universal service” still had widespread currency, and teledensity was still a useful indicator for assessing connectedness. Some countries needed to be convinced that ICT policy was necessary, and that, at the very least, ICTs should be made an integral part of development strategies. In 2007, 20.4% of the world’s population was online – a percentage that rises to 45.7% in 2016, with a world population growth of nearly a billion people. Countries are dramatically affected by these changes: in 2007, there is 0.37% internet penetration in Ethiopia, a figure which effectively skyrockets to 15.3% over 10 years. In middle-income countries like Argentina, a 25.9% internet penetration nearly trebles in reaching 70.9% in 2016. In highly developed countries such as Japan, a 74.3% penetration in 2007 grows to 93.1% by 2016. While some countries like the Republic of Congo still face fundamental problems such as building roads and stable electricity grids, by 2017 many internet rights activists are turning to face new advocacy terrain, one shaped by algorithms, biotechnology and artificial intelligence. A second shift is the popularisation of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, which over time civil society comes to see both as useful advocacy tools and areas that need advocacy intervention, for example, to address violence against women (VAW) online. In April 2007, Facebook had 20 million active users – a figure which exploded to two billion monthly users in 2017. Yet it is almost difficult to believe that while blogs had been used in advocacy for some time already, and social media played such a prominent part in the Arab Spring, in 2007 the words “social media” or “social networks” are not used in the GISWatch edition on the theme of participation at all. Thirdly, the spectre of global surveillance – and what activists call corporate surveillance, the result of an insatiable thirst for “big” market data – has had multiple impacts on the internet as we knew it. The revelations by Snowden of global surveillance programmes involving the key industrialised nations came in June 2013, exposing the use of the internet and other technologies to surveil citizens, often illegally and in collaboration with telecommunications companies. The ability to conduct mass surveillance programmes tracks the penetration of mobile telephony and the rise of social media as an everyday tool – and casts a chilling shadow over the belief in the internet as a free space for open and democratic exchange. All three of these shifts have influenced the trends observed in the reports analysed for this review – and in this respect GISWatch stands as a grassroots record of these changes and their impact on the information society at the local level. This is not an analysis of the content of specific “action steps”. As discussed in the methodology section below, the sheer volume and diversity of the specific changes called for makes direct comparison difficult, and requires a different kind of study. Rather, this review tries to answer the question: What are the broad levers for change? In doing this it offers a reflection on the kinds of mobilisation tools, mechanisms and methodologies preferred by civil society in specific contexts to bring about or catalyse change. Content is used to illustrate the grouping of these tools and mechanisms. While not all of these are actions that civil society can take – some reports say what governments or business should do – most of them are. The action steps discussed here can, in this regard, be taken as an indicator of civil society capabilities, suggesting civil society’s impression of its own strengths and abilities. This report is also an index – it serves as a way to access the 510 country reports published over the past decade in a more fruitful way. While each GISWatch has an umbrella theme – such as “Access to infrastructure” or “Women’s rights, gender and ICTs” – country report authors were encouraged to write on topics that they felt were important within that theme. For example, the umbrella topic “Economic, social and cultural rights and the internet” might produce reports highlighting quite different topics such as “education”, “health”, “language”, “voice”, “workers’ rights” and even “memory”. As a result, while many authors address cross-cutting themes in different years, there is no way for a researcher, journalist, strategist, activist, donor or student to know this without combing each report. It is hoped that this publication is a practical and useful entry point to the richness of the GISWatch archive. The diversity of the country contexts written about over the 10 years is remarkable – countries as different as the Republic of Congo, Iceland, Cook Islands, Brazil, Japan and Kyrgyzstan have been “reported on”. Over the years, consistent contributions have come from authors writing in countries such as Argentina, Colombia, India, Kenya, Peru, and, except for 2007, the Republic of Korea – an invaluable record of country-level internet rights advocacy over the period. Among the authors are civil society organisations, “hacktivists” and software developers, journalists, researchers and academics – all of these can be considered internet rights activists. For some contributors it was the first opportunity they had had to develop an overview of the ICT environment in their country and to articulate ways in which civil society could engage this environment. Most regions have been represented in one way or another: North and Central America, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Balkan states, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Russia and China, Southeast Asia, Oceania, the Middle East and North Africa, Southern and Eastern Africa, and French-speaking Africa. While most of the countries are so-called “developing countries” – the aim of GISWatch is to be a voice of the global South – country reports have also been written about Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, Iceland, Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, among other industrialised nations. Although what gets “watched” or monitored has shifted over time, what has not changed is the original spirit of the publication: of it serving as a tool for global accountability on progress in creating an open, democratic and inclusive information society. In 2007, TIC.pe in Peru posed several questions for civil society actors, and asked: “How can we move from reflection to direct action?” This review is a starting point for action – and we hope that activists can use it as a tool for build- ing future strategies. It can be read in conjunction with a similar review on the issue of internet rights and democratisation conducted in 2011 by APC. While it can shed light on gaps in advocacy approaches when addressing new advocacy frontiers, it also suggests that there are advocacy needs from the past that may require renewed attention. This work was carried out with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of IDRC or its Board of Governors.
KICTANet: State of data protection in Kenya
Author : KICTANet
July, 2018
In the last two decades, Kenya mobile communications and internet connectivity have rapidly increased. With these developments, the country has also developed a data economy. The data economy is the wealth and resources created from collection and processing of data. It is the cornerstone of the fourth industrial revolution which uses digital technologies to carry out processes, be they physical, digital, or biological. A key feature of the revolution is data-driven decision making, creation of new products, services and innovation. This policy brief, developed by APC member KICTANet, examines the current state of data protection in Kenya and recommends the development a consolidated framework to provide for data protection principles.
A rights-based approach to cybersecurity: Recommendations and considerations from a 2017 Internet Governance Forum pre-event
Author : Deborah Brown and Anriette Esterhuysen
July, 2018
A rights-based approach to cybersecurity has gained currency in recent years at multistakeholder processes like the UN Internet Governance Forum. Progress has been made at human rights-oriented forums like the Freedom Online Coalition, which has developed recommendations for a free and secure internet. Yet at the same time, threats to cybersecurity are on the rise, with significant human rights implications. Massive data breaches violate people’s right to privacy; malware attacks are targeting human rights defenders and journalists, and also paralysing hospitals and public services; draconian cybersecurity laws are being proposed that could have chilling effects on freedom of expression, in particular political dissent; and the spaces where decisions on cybersecurity are being made are increasingly militarised, opaque, and unaccountable to the public. To further explore this conundrum, the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), together with the Centre for Communications Governance (CCG) at the National Law University, Delhi, the Centre for Internet and Society, Derechos Digitales, the Citizen Lab, Global Partners Digital (GPD), the Internet Society (ISOC), the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and Privacy International, organised a Day 0 event at the 2017 UN Internet Governance Forum. The event, entitled “A rights-based approach to cybersecurity: A pipe dream or a critical means to a secure and stable internet?”, aimed to deepen understanding of the human rights dimensions of cybersecurity policy by: 1) Identifying what is meant by a human rights-based approach to cybersecurity 2) Mapping out current initiatives in cybersecurity and stability 3) Exploring the human rights dimensions of cybersecurity threats and initiatives 4) Identifying possible approaches towards consolidating a rights-based and inclusive approach to cybersecurity. The format for the event was four panel discussions on the aforementioned topics, with interactive discussions following each panel. Speakers and participants came from academia, civil society, government, international organisations, the private sector and the technical community.
Women Journalists and the Double Bind: Choosing silence over being silenced
Author : Annam Lodhi
July, 2018
Women, no matter which region, field or context they are in, are no strangers to self-censorship. The social constructs of "good women" globally encourage submissive, compromising behaviour from women, and self-censorship, especially in matters of importance, is generally encouraged. Pakistani women are no different. Censoring themselves, especially if their opinions are dissenting from the mainstream, is second nature. At home and within their families, censoring their feelings to protect family harmony is drilled as a key "value". Women who don’t complain, women who don’t assert, women who are not vocally in opposition of louder, more powerful (often male) voices. Thus, when Media Matters for Democracy (MMfD) undertook research on self-censorship trends among journalists, the response of women journalists was of particular interest. For them, the experience of women journalists represents a double bind – as members of a community that is socially conditioned to see value in self-censorship, who are now practising a profession within which there are external pressures to be quiet about matters of perceived sensitivity, women are in a doubly vulnerable position. This publication is a gendered version of MMfD's earlier publication Surrendering to Silence. It focuses on the experience of the women respondents of a survey, designed to map the presence of and elements related to self-censorship in professional and personal expression by journalists in Pakistan. Media Matters for Democracy (MMfD) is a young Islamabad-based non-profit, formed on the vision and the belief that a liberal, professional media industry is the cornerstone of a progressive, democratic society. Read more about their work here.
Joint statement: Major gains on women's and girls' rights at the Human Rights Council 38th session
Author : The Center for Reproductive Rights, the Sexual Rights Initiative, the Association for Progressive Communications, the International Service for Human Rights, the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education, the World Young Women Christian Association
July, 2018
The Center for Reproductive Rights, the Sexual Rights Initiative, the Association for Progressive Communications, the International Service for Human Rights, the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education and the World Young Women's Christian Association welcome the major gains on women’s and girls’ rights and sexual and reproductive health and rights at the 38th session of the Human Rights Council. The resolution on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and girls (DAWG), led by Mexico and Colombia, focused on eliminating obstacles to women’s economic empowerment. The resolution is ground-breaking in its framing of women’s economic rights as being restricted and violated by structural gender discrimination arising from patriarchal economic, social and political systems and by articulating state obligations to change these systems. The resolution also makes critical connections between economic empowerment and women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health rights, bodily autonomy, discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and marital status, and impunity for all forms of violence against women and girls including sexual harassment at work. The resolution also recognises the work of women human rights defenders in the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and girls. This resolution also represents a major advance on women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights as it: Considers all forms of discrimination for the first time in the title of the resolution. Recognises for the first time ever in a Geneva or New York U.N. politically negotiated document the right to sexual and reproductive health, thus upholding the standard set forth by the U.N. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights General Comment N°22. Reaffirms that equal relationships in matters of sexual relations and reproduction, including full respect for the dignity, integrity and bodily autonomy of the person, require mutual respect, consent and shared responsibility for sexual behaviour and its consequences. The resolution also urges states to respect, protect and fulfil the right of every woman to have full control over and decide freely and responsibly on all matters relating to their sexuality and sexual and reproductive health, free from discrimination, coercion and violence, including through the removal of legal barriers and the development and enforcement of policies, good practices and legal frameworks that respect bodily autonomy. This is the first time ever that an explicit reference to bodily autonomy is included in any U.N. resolution and as such signifies a major step forward towards the recognition by a political body of the right to bodily autonomy. Urges states to support gender equality and women’s and girls’ rights through, inter alia, ensuring universal access to evidence-based comprehensive sexuality education. This is the first time in a DAWG resolution that universal access to comprehensive sexuality education is referenced without a qualifier as to age or cultural sensitivity. Urges states to guarantee universal access to sexual and reproductive health, services, evidence-based information and education, including safe abortion in accordance with international human rights law and when not against national law. This formulation represents the most progressive language on abortion since the Beijing Platform of Action of 1995. Beyond these major gains pertaining to SRHR, the resolution highlights that discrimination against women and girls persists in all cultures, with different levels of intensity and differing impact, emphasising the impact on women and girls with disabilities and on those who are marginalised or in a vulnerable situation and who face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. The resolution builds on the work of the Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights, expressing regret over the instrumentalisation of tradition or cultural or religious interpretations contrary to the international obligation to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and girls used to keep women and girls from taking an equal place in society and families or from exercising full control over their bodies and their personhood. The resolution on the elimination of female genital mutilation (FGM), led by Burkina Faso and Togo on behalf of the Group of African States, also represents a significant advance from previous resolutions on the same theme and for women’s and girls’ rights as it specifically recognises for the first time ever that FGM is a harmful practice that violates, abuses and undermines the human rights of women and girls. The resolution also urges states to strengthen accountability frameworks and access to justice for the effective implementation and enforcement of laws aimed at preventing and eliminating all forms of FGM. The resolution also recognises that FGM and all other harmful practices are mainly motivated by gender inequality and patriarchal social norms that undermine the recognition, enjoyment and exercise of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and girls, and that harmful practices constitute a human rights violation and a form of violence against women and children. In line with international human rights standards, the resolution also critically recognises that FGM constitutes torture or ill-treatment and should be prohibited and that the trend towards the medicalisation of female genital mutilation does not make it acceptable and urges states to condemn medical acts related to FGM performed within or outside of medical institutions. The resolution on accelerating efforts to eliminate violence against women and girls (VAWG), led by Canada, focuses on violence against women and girls in digital contexts and recognises the potential of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to advance women’s rights and empowerment. The resolution stresses that violence against women and girls, online and offline is a global phenomenon rooted in historical and structural inequalities in power relations. It also recognises the multiple, systemic and intersecting forms of discrimination and the compounded impact of structural and institutional discrimination on women and girls. Women and girls access to information online and ICT technologies was recognised as critical to enable them to make informed and autonomous decisions in matters regarding their own bodies, lives and health, including their sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights. The resolution also calls upon states to implement comprehensive sexuality education as an important strategy to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women of all ages, to eliminate prejudices and to promote and build decision-making, communication and risk reduction skills for the development of respectful relationships based on gender equality and human rights. Although they have been reaffirmed as key human rights by United Nations Treaty Monitoring Bodies (TMBs), by United Nations Special Rapporteurs (UNSRs), by several Human Rights Council (HRC) resolutions and by the Maputo Protocol and are reflected in most national laws and policies, some states at the Human Rights Council continue to contest the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women, girls and adolescents. The major gains achieved through the leadership of the core groups driving these resolutions at this session have been won amidst a global backlash against the human rights of women and girls and against their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Indeed, states such as Egypt, the Russian Federation and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia put forward amendments to delete mentions to comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) and to the right to bodily autonomy in the resolutions on DAWG and VAWG, and to also delete the terms "intimate partner violence" (IPV), "discrimination on the basis of gender" and "sexual and reproductive health and rights" in the DAWG resolution. The fact that these amendments were either withdrawn after negotiations and revision by core groups or defeated when put to a vote should not minimise the current strategy set forth by some Council member states and anti-rights actors to consistently weaken language on women's and girls’ rights and sexual and reproductive health and rights, thus denying them from the protection they are entitled to under international human rights law. This strategy not only targets resolutions at the Human Rights Council but also the mechanisms of the Council such as the Special Procedures. Member states such as Egypt publicly challenging the mandate of the Working Group on Discrimination Against Women in Law and in Practice (WGDAW) during the adoption of the DAWG resolution, undermines the independence of UN experts and their ability to fulfill their mandate as established by the Council. We would therefore like to echo the recommendation made by the WGDAW in their last report to the HRC: today, the human rights community needs more than ever to unite forces to preserve the democratic space and to promote an enabling environment for the respect, protection and fulfilment of the human rights of women and girls. The fight against all forms of discrimination against women and girls must continue until women and girls everywhere obtain full equality in public, political, economic, social, family, cultural and religious life and in health.
Joint statement: Major gains on women's and girls' rights at the Human Rights Council 38th session
Author : The Center for Reproductive Rights, the Sexual Rights Initiative, the Association for Progressive Communications, the International Service for Human Rights, the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education, the World Young Women Christian Association
July, 2018
The Center for Reproductive Rights, the Sexual Rights Initiative, the Association for Progressive Communications, the International Service for Human Rights, the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education and the World Young Women's Christian Association welcome the major gains on women’s and girls’ rights and sexual and reproductive health and rights at the 38th session of the Human Rights Council. The resolution on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and girls (DAWG), led by Mexico and Colombia, focused on eliminating obstacles to women’s economic empowerment. The resolution is ground-breaking in its framing of women’s economic rights as being restricted and violated by structural gender discrimination arising from patriarchal economic, social and political systems and by articulating state obligations to change these systems. The resolution also makes critical connections between economic empowerment and women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health rights, bodily autonomy, discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and marital status, and impunity for all forms of violence against women and girls including sexual harassment at work. The resolution also recognises the work of women human rights defenders in the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and girls. This resolution also represents a major advance on women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights as it: Considers all forms of discrimination for the first time in the title of the resolution. Recognises for the first time ever in a Geneva or New York U.N. politically negotiated document the right to sexual and reproductive health, thus upholding the standard set forth by the U.N. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights General Comment N°22. Reaffirms that equal relationships in matters of sexual relations and reproduction, including full respect for the dignity, integrity and bodily autonomy of the person, require mutual respect, consent and shared responsibility for sexual behaviour and its consequences. The resolution also urges states to respect, protect and fulfil the right of every woman to have full control over and decide freely and responsibly on all matters relating to their sexuality and sexual and reproductive health, free from discrimination, coercion and violence, including through the removal of legal barriers and the development and enforcement of policies, good practices and legal frameworks that respect bodily autonomy. This is the first time ever that an explicit reference to bodily autonomy is included in any U.N. resolution and as such signifies a major step forward towards the recognition by a political body of the right to bodily autonomy. Urges states to support gender equality and women’s and girls’ rights through, inter alia, ensuring universal access to evidence-based comprehensive sexuality education. This is the first time in a DAWG resolution that universal access to comprehensive sexuality education is referenced without a qualifier as to age or cultural sensitivity. Urges states to guarantee universal access to sexual and reproductive health, services, evidence-based information and education, including safe abortion in accordance with international human rights law and when not against national law. This formulation represents the most progressive language on abortion since the Beijing Platform of Action of 1995. Beyond these major gains pertaining to SRHR, the resolution highlights that discrimination against women and girls persists in all cultures, with different levels of intensity and differing impact, emphasising the impact on women and girls with disabilities and on those who are marginalised or in a vulnerable situation and who face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. The resolution builds on the work of the Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights, expressing regret over the instrumentalisation of tradition or cultural or religious interpretations contrary to the international obligation to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and girls used to keep women and girls from taking an equal place in society and families or from exercising full control over their bodies and their personhood. The resolution on the elimination of female genital mutilation (FGM), led by Burkina Faso and Togo on behalf of the Group of African States, also represents a significant advance from previous resolutions on the same theme and for women’s and girls’ rights as it specifically recognises for the first time ever that FGM is a harmful practice that violates, abuses and undermines the human rights of women and girls. The resolution also urges states to strengthen accountability frameworks and access to justice for the effective implementation and enforcement of laws aimed at preventing and eliminating all forms of FGM. The resolution also recognises that FGM and all other harmful practices are mainly motivated by gender inequality and patriarchal social norms that undermine the recognition, enjoyment and exercise of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and girls, and that harmful practices constitute a human rights violation and a form of violence against women and children. In line with international human rights standards, the resolution also critically recognises that FGM constitutes torture or ill-treatment and should be prohibited and that the trend towards the medicalisation of female genital mutilation does not make it acceptable and urges states to condemn medical acts related to FGM performed within or outside of medical institutions. The resolution on accelerating efforts to eliminate violence against women and girls (VAWG), led by Canada, focuses on violence against women and girls in digital contexts and recognises the potential of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to advance women’s rights and empowerment. The resolution stresses that violence against women and girls, online and offline is a global phenomenon rooted in historical and structural inequalities in power relations. It also recognises the multiple, systemic and intersecting forms of discrimination and the compounded impact of structural and institutional discrimination on women and girls. Women and girls access to information online and ICT technologies was recognised as critical to enable them to make informed and autonomous decisions in matters regarding their own bodies, lives and health, including their sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights. The resolution also calls upon states to implement comprehensive sexuality education as an important strategy to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women of all ages, to eliminate prejudices and to promote and build decision-making, communication and risk reduction skills for the development of respectful relationships based on gender equality and human rights. Although they have been reaffirmed as key human rights by United Nations Treaty Monitoring Bodies (TMBs), by United Nations Special Rapporteurs (UNSRs), by several Human Rights Council (HRC) resolutions and by the Maputo Protocol and are reflected in most national laws and policies, some states at the Human Rights Council continue to contest the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women, girls and adolescents. The major gains achieved through the leadership of the core groups driving these resolutions at this session have been won amidst a global backlash against the human rights of women and girls and against their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Indeed, states such as Egypt, the Russian Federation and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia put forward amendments to delete mentions to comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) and to the right to bodily autonomy in the resolutions on DAWG and VAWG, and to also delete the terms "intimate partner violence" (IPV), "discrimination on the basis of gender" and "sexual and reproductive health and rights" in the DAWG resolution. The fact that these amendments were either withdrawn after negotiations and revision by core groups or defeated when put to a vote should not minimise the current strategy set forth by some Council member states and anti-rights actors to consistently weaken language on women's and girls’ rights and sexual and reproductive health and rights, thus denying them from the protection they are entitled to under international human rights law. This strategy not only targets resolutions at the Human Rights Council but also the mechanisms of the Council such as the Special Procedures. Member states such as Egypt publicly challenging the mandate of the Working Group on Discrimination Against Women in Law and in Practice (WGDAW) during the adoption of the DAWG resolution, undermines the independence of UN experts and their ability to fulfill their mandate as established by the Council. We would therefore like to echo the recommendation made by the WGDAW in their last report to the HRC: today, the human rights community needs more than ever to unite forces to preserve the democratic space and to promote an enabling environment for the respect, protection and fulfilment of the human rights of women and girls. The fight against all forms of discrimination against women and girls must continue until women and girls everywhere obtain full equality in public, political, economic, social, family, cultural and religious life and in health.
UN Human Rights Council reaffirms the importance of protecting human rights online in the face of growing challenges
Author : APC
July, 2018
APC welcomes the adoption of the resolution on the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the internet (A/HRC/38/L.10) on 5 July 2018. The fourth HRC resolution on this theme, this year's text includes a number of new elements that reflect the evolving importance of the internet for the exercise of human rights online and offline. Led by Sweden, Brazil, Nigeria and Tunisia, the resolution was adopted by consensus with over 60 co-sponsors. Of specific value is that it recognises the responsibilities of companies and that it elaborates on the scope of states' responsibilities with regard to human rights on the internet, including through calling on them to ensure effective remedies for internet-related human rights violations in accordance with their international obligations. New elements of the resolution that APC believes are of particular value: Responsibilities of companies For the first time, the HRC internet resolution recognises the responsibility of the private sector to respect human rights, citing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human rights drawing on the recent report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression (see Reorienting rules for rights, the APC-produced illustrated summary of this report). That the resolution recognises that international human rights law should guide private sector actors and be the basis for their content moderation policies is a significant step in safeguarding human rights in the digital age. Online social media platforms are used for expression, association and access to information. They enable participation in public life, often for people who, without the internet, would not be able to do so. Companies that run these platforms regulate content in ways that lack clarity and consistency, that often violates rights, without accountability or remedy for users. Data protection and human rights In step with heightened public awareness about the exploitation of users' data by governments and companies alike, the resolution expresses concern about arbitrary or unlawful collection, retention, processing, and use or disclosure of personal data on the internet that could violate or abuse human rights. It also urges states to adopt, implement and, where necessary, reform laws, regulations, policies and other measures concerning personal data and privacy protection online, in order to prevent, mitigate and remedy human rights violations that result from such exploitation practices. Secure, confidential and anonymous communications The resolution recognises that encryption and anonymity can be important for a range of human rights and encourages the private sector to work towards enabling technical solutions to secure and protect the confidentiality of digital communications. It calls on states not to interfere with the use of tools for encryption and anonymity in line with their obligations under international human rights law. It specifically calls on states to allow journalists to secure their communications and protect the confidentiality of their sources. We welcome these additions to the text, especially in light of the increasing threats to journalists and their sources. For human rights defenders and others at risk - such as people who face discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity - encryption and anonymity online are often critical for their safety and enjoyment of human rights. Freedom of expression under threat With attacks on freedom of expression online taking many forms, from internet shutdowns and regressive cybercrime laws to privatisation of censorship, among others, the resolution rightfully draws attention to state-sponsored restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression online. It also condemns all undue restrictions of freedom of opinion and expression online that violate international law, and notes with concern that such restrictions have a significant impact on women and girls and other individuals who may face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. It is regrettable that specific examples of state-sponsored censorship were not ultimately included in the text, especially as governments around the world are criminalising dissent and pluralistic expression through laws and extralegal measures; however, this should not detract for the significance of the resolution committing states to ensure that all domestic laws, policies and practices are consistent with their international human rights obligations with regard to freedom of opinion and expression online. Awareness of information that may be misleading or false The resolution expresses concern about the spread of disinformation and propaganda on the internet, which can be designed and implemented so as to mislead people, violate human rights, and incite violence, hatred, discrimination or hostility. While we understand the concern that this reflects, we also feel this text is cause for concern as allegations of being misleading can be used to stifle legitimate political and social critique and restrict free and independent media. Moreover, it is not uncommon for states or agencies acting on their behalf to be the sources of misleading information. Campaigns aimed at raising awareness should at all times reaffirm the fundamental rights of freedom of expression and opinion, access to information and association. While we appreciate the resolution's emphasis on media training, awareness raising, educational campaigns and other efforts, we encourage states to build general media literacy and encourage critical thinking rather than focus efforts aimed at identifying information online that may be deliberately misleading or false. The Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression and "Fake News", Disinformation and Propaganda from the UN and regional mandates on freedom of expression include important guidance on this issue. Advancing women's rights online Women face persistent and widespread barriers to exercising their human rights online, barriers that are rooted in historical and structural inequalities in power relations. The resolution includes important commitments by states to address inhibitors to information and communication technologies (ICT) access and use by women as part of their obligation to respect, protect and fulfil all human rights. Drawing on the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights' report on Bridging the Gender Digital Divide from a Human Rights Perspective, the resolution recognises violations and abuses of women’s rights online as a global growing concern that may deter women from using ICTs, thereby exacerbating the gender digital divide and widening gender inequalities in society. Consistent with the resolution on online violence against women (VAW), this resolution also unequivocally condemns online sexual and gender-based violence and abuse of women and online attacks on women, in particular in instances where women journalists, media workers, public officials or others engage in public debate and are targeted for their expression, and calls for gender-sensitive responses that take into account the particular forms of online discrimination. The resolution also calls on states to promote gender equality in the design and implementation of ICTs and to mainstream a gender perspective in policy decisions and the frameworks that guide them. Gender equality must be promoted in the design and implementation of ICTs not only as an effective way to facilitate women's meaningful access and use of the internet, but also to ensure that new and emerging data-driven technologies are human rights compliant and do not replicate or exacerbate existing patterns of discrimination against women. Human rights-based approaches to bridging digital divides Building on the 2016 resolution, this year's text provides more specific guidance for states on bridging digital divides in order to promote the full enjoyment of human rights for all, including by: fostering an enabling online environment that is safe and conducive to engagement by all, without discrimination and with consideration for individuals facing systemic inequalities; addressing divides in digital literacy; and applying a comprehensive, human rights-based approach in providing and expanding access to ICTs with specific attention to gender considerations. As in 2016, the language on a human rights-based approach faced significant pushback from some states that claimed that it is unclear or vague. To APC, it is quite clear what a human rights-based approach means. It means developing and implementing policies that enable everyone in society to access the benefits of the internet so that they are able to exercise their human rights online and offline. This requires addressing economic, social and cultural barriers to access, facilitating access to information and knowledge, and respecting the right to privacy so that there is trust in the technology and those who manage, develop and resell it. Among the different models for human rights-based approaches to bridging digital divides, community networks offer promise for empowering people who are generally excluded, and for mobilising the role of the internet as an enabler of human rights and contributing to achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs) through access to information and human capacity development. Internet universality indicators We value that the resolution takes note of the launch by the UNESCO General Conference of a process to develop an Internet Universality Indicator Framework based on the ROAM (Rights - Openness - Access - Multistakeholder) principles. APC has been part of this process and believes that it will become a valuable learning tool for states and others concerned with human rights online. Finally, we regret that over the course of negotiations, some of the more progressive and forward-looking elements faced persistent resistance and did not make it into the consensus text. We believe that the resolution could have been even stronger had some states not worked resolutely to redirect the focus of the text away from promoting and protecting human rights online to issues of sovereignty, cybersecurity and countering terrorism and crime, all concerns which are frequently used as pretexts for criminalising political dissent and other forms of legitimate expression and assembly. That consensus was only achieved after concessions were made to include broad and vague language on the use of ICTs by "terrorists and their supporters" is unfortunate. Nonetheless, the HRC has once again spoken with one voice with the support of states in all regions, reaffirming the global applicability of human rights online with new concrete commitments made by states in the face of growing threats to human rights online, and offline. APC commends efforts by the core group to advance international standards and consensus around the protection of human rights online and urges all states to uphold the commitments contained in this resolution.
Views and perspectives on gender rights online for the global South: “Redefining rights for a gender-inclusive networked future”
Author : Amrita Choudhury and Nadira Al-Araj
July, 2018
The internet today has been recognized as one of the key enablers to bridge the gap between the "haves" and the "have nots"; empowering women, indigenous population and ethnic minorities. While the number of internet users has been growing significantly, yet significant discrepancies on who can actually access and benefit from it has been observed. In fact, there is a significant difference in the internet penetration between males and females and the gender digital gap is increasing. The existing gender disparities, discrimination and inequalities, especially of people living in the global South including least developed countries, has considerable impact on the gender digital divide and leading to their digital exclusion. Understanding the advantages what the internet can provide, the current move in many countries of the global South is to digitize all services including citizen centric services, financial services and facilities, to empower the citizens and bring a level playing field. However, since the people who can benefit most, still cannot avail the benefits, the challenge today is to connect people, especially women and create policies to improve the social environment where women can freely access the internet, in their mother tongue or preferred language, watch content which they want, express themselves online without fear of being trolled, get equal opportunities in the technical fields and encouragement to become social entrepreneurs through the generation of business and digital content. This preliminary study was undertaken to identify the main challenges towards improving the gender access and rights online especially in the global South; and the best practices which nations or regions have adopted to overcome those challenges; identify the different strains of thoughts, along with their convergence and divergence, review the central issues from the global South perspective, and then attempt to share the areas of public policy or social aspects that need to be addressed along with suggestions, to redefine the rights to nurture an environment for faster development, where women can network freely to help each other. Apart from studying the secondary sources, in depth opinion of 19 experts belonging to 15 Developing and Least Developed Countries of Asia Pacific (APAC) and Middle East and North Africa (MENA) were sought, based on a detailed subjective questionnaire. The responses received were used to create a fine-tuned questionnaire, that was validated by an external reviewer. Opinion of stakeholders from a targeted network of people exposed to policies across the globe, based on the fine-tuned questionnaire was taken. 162 participants from 54 countries participated in the process. For further validation, the findings were shared with speakers and participants at the IGF 2017 workshop “Redefining Rights for a Gender Inclusive Connected Future" (WS 102), which was attended by around 40 participants in person and 5 remotely. Our study revealed that more than 67% people feel that their country is not completely gender inclusive, where every citizen has equal rights and opportunities irrespective of their genders. They felt most developing nations are halfway there. The top challenges across the global South hampering the creation of a gender inclusive digital world include existing social and cultural norms in the society about the role of women; low literacy rates due to lack of access and opportunities to education, digital skills and ICT; lack of access to infrastructure, resources, devices and relevant content; lack of comprehensive approach towards women empowerment, including understanding of gender equality and issues and inadequate policy implementation; issues of trust and privacy online; limited access to financial support and opportunities; workplace limitations, few role models and limited platforms to interact and network. Additionally the lack of systemic database and evidence on barriers and enablers to technology, especially related to gender is limiting decision makers from taking a comprehensive view on issues related to gender rights online. For ensuring gender equality online, especially in the global South, policy reforms, promoting literacy and ICT skills amongst women, and encouraging digital literacy is important. Simultaneously, policy reforms for ensuring gender inclusive access to internet; building trust online, including better legislation and enforcement of laws against online harassment; economic incentives to encourage diversity in the workforce, encouraging more engagement amongst women networks, will go a long way in ensuring the global South nations can realize their aspirations to create a gender inclusive and networked future online. Government-led initiatives and reforms are considered most important for improving gender rights online. Moreover, since under SDG goal 17 all the government policy makers are mandated to include policy related to reduce the gender gap, it is the government?s responsibility to create an enabling environment where the gender gap is reduced. However, the correct implementation and execution of these policy reforms was felt to be more critical. Proactive Initiatives by business; awareness and capacity building by civil society; technical Innovation by the technical community are also considered important. Therefore, for achieving a gender inclusive digital global South, it is imperative that all stakeholders work together. Further there has to be a comprehensive approach and initiatives to solve issues related to gender and encourage their participation both offline and online. Policies should be inclusive of all: women, minorities, ethnic communities, people with disabilities, etc.
Watching Cameroon through the lenses of the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms
Author : PROTEGE QV
June, 2018
The government of Cameroon, a country of 22 million inhabitants located in the central part of Africa, puts special emphasis on information and communication technologies (ICTs) and the internet specifically to address the country’s major issues such as youth unemployment, poor education service quality, low business competitiveness and the country’s low touristic attractiveness. To this effect, quite a number of initiatives have been put in place by the government: the deployment of hundreds of Multipurpose Community Telecentres in rural areas to improve the access of the rural population to the internet service and to shared knowledge, and the launching of an important programme to promote the digital economy aimed at reducing youth unemployment, among others. However, considering the risks generated by the use of the internet (as witnessed during the so-called Arab Spring) and the blocking by the Cameroonian government of the internet in some crisis situations, the question could be raised as to whether the latter is willing to allow the internet to fully express its enormous potential for Cameroon's development. In a bid to bring an answer to that question, in this report, PROTEGE QV analyses the nation’s situation with respect to the 13 key principles of the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms, adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) in Banjul on 4 November 2016 through resolution 362 on the Right to Freedom of Information and Expression on the Internet. This report was produced through an APC research and campaign subgrant, made possible with the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).
Big data and data privacy in the Philippines
Author : Jamael Jacob, Maristela Miranda, Jessamine Pacis and Cecilia Soria
August, 2019
What is big data? Given its name, does one define it simply in terms of size or quantity? If that’s the case, much of the excitement that surrounds it is overblown. History, after all, is teeming with evidence of humans dealing with generous amounts of data. That also means the concept is a dated one, merely resuscitated from relative obscurity. No. Big data goes beyond that—though volume remains a major distinguishing mark. The consensus seems to be that it is characterized by the three“Vs”: volume (because of the massive datasets involved), velocity (because of near-real-time accumulation, generation, or processing), and variety (because of the many different sources it is culled from). Big Data Use in the Philippines In the domestic context, the use of big data by government and the private sector is also growing steadily. Of course, no technology has ever been developed that does not have its less agreeable side. To date, concerns already abound regarding BDA, particularly when personal data is involved. This research by FMA with Privacy International covers big data use, emerging concerns and critical points to keep in mind for the future. Read the whole publication by Foundation for Media Alternatives.
Call to members of the European Parliament: Open letter on the EU copyright reform
Author : Various
June, 2018
With a crucial vote taking place on 5 July in the European Parliament, over 145 organisations representing human rights, privacy, civil rights and media freedom organisations, start-ups, software developers, publishers, creators, journalists, radios, libraries, higher education and research institutions call upon the European Parliament to vote against the Legal Affairs (JURI) Committee mandate to negotiate on the copyright reform with the Council. On 2 July, over 145 organisations sent this open letter on the EU copyright reform to the members of the European Parliament ahead of the 5 July plenary vote on the JURI mandate which was granted on 20 June. During this vote, the European Parliament plenary will have to endorse or not the mandate granted to Rapporteur MEP Axel Voss by the JURI Committee to enter into trilogue negotiations on the copyright reform with the Council. The letter's signatories repeat and amplify the voices raised previously to express their deep concerns about the artificial sense of urgency created by certain stakeholders to quickly come to an agreement on a very sensitive and controversial dossier. As aptly summarised by Wikimedia in a 29 June blog post, "We oppose this EU copyright package because of its detrimental effects on internet freedom, access to knowledge, and collaboration online." This rush is especially harmful as: The collateral damage inherent to the vague and poorly drafted provisions adopted in the JURI Committee have been highlighted by a broad spectrum of European stakeholders and experts, including academics, educators, NGOs representing human rights and media freedom, software developers and startups (see, among others, the statement of 29 June 2018 by academics, "The Copyright Directive: Misinformation and Independent Enquiry"; the open letter of 11 June 2018 by 70+ "Internet Luminaries"; the blog post of 19 June 2018 by French privacy-friendly search engine Qwant, "Protecting copyright with robots: A risk for fundamental rights and freedoms"; and the blog post of 12 June 2018 by Paul Sieminski from Automattic, the company that created WordPress: "We’re Against Bots, Filtering, and the EU’s New Copyright Directive"). The JURI vote has completely disregarded the much more balanced compromises reached in other Committees, especially on the highly controversial Article 13, for which the Internal Market and Consumer Committee (IMCO) held a joint competence. As pointed out previously, the draft on the table represents a huge gap between stated intentions and the damage that the text will actually achieve: Article 13 (user uploads) creates a direct liability regime for a vast area of online platforms that negates the E-commerce Directive, which will entail the putting in place of filters with a high likelihood of over blocking practices, to avoid incurring such liability. Article 11 (press publisher’s right) solely focuses on creating publisher rights despite the many voices opposing such a right and highlighting its flaws, and despite a reasonable alternative proposed by the initial Rapporteur to create a “presumption of transfer of rights”. The interaction of these two articles has not even been the subject of a single discussion. The filters of Article 13 will cover the snippets of Article 11 while the limitations of Article 3 will be amplified by the rights created through Article 11, yet none of these aspects have even been assessed. Article 3 (text and data mining) cannot be limited in terms of scope of beneficiaries or purposes if the EU wants to be at the forefront of research and innovations such as artificial intelligence.
The RTI implementation challenge: An overview of implementation status of RTI laws in Federal, Sindh, KP and Punjab
Author : Waqas Naeem
June, 2018
In the last five years the legislative landscape governing the practice of the right to information (RTI) in Pakistan has improved tremendously. RTI was codified as a constitutional right of the citizens of Pakistan with the 18th amendment in April 2010. The right was granted through the inclusion of Article 19(A) which states: “Every citizen shall have the right to have access to information in all matters of public importance, subject to regulation and reasonable restrictions imposed by the law.” Since 2010, RTI advocates across the country have worked towards the enactment of stronger RTI laws to ensure that citizens are able to enjoy this right in its true spirit. In mid-2013, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly became the first to enact a law that has been termed the “strongest RTI law in the whole world” by Tobey Mendel, a global RTI advocate whose organisation creates a global RTI ranking index. By the end of 2013, Punjab had followed suit with strong legislation of its own. It took another three years of advocacy and pressure building before Sindh and then the national assembly followed suit with strong RTI laws for their jurisdictions. However, the presence of strong laws on paper has not directly translated into a strong tradition of public information provision. Implementation of these laws has been problematic across all regions. The purpose of this report is to present evidence-based analysis of the situation, gaps and challenges in the implementation of the law and its uptake by citizens.
Restrictions to freedom of expression online: Joint oral statement at the Human Rights Council 38th session
Author : APC, the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa, Derechos Digitales and the Women of Uganda Network
June, 2018
Thank you, Mr. President. This statement is delivered on behalf of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), Derechos Digitales, and the Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET). As organisations committed to maintaining the use of the internet for human rights, social justice and sustainable development, we are concerned about the increase in threats to freedom of expression online. Attacks on freedom of expression online are taking many forms, including internet shutdowns, regressive cybercrime laws, and privatisation of censorship, among others. We wish to highlight for the attention of the Council the following situations of concern: In Uganda, the government adopted a “social media tax” in May, which will require users of over-the-top (OTT) services, including messaging and voice calls via WhatsApp, Facebook, Skype and Viber. to pay a mandatory fee of USD 0.05 per day of use. In a context in which social media has served as many users’ initial entry point to the internet, this tax could negatively impact the affordability and broader use of the internet, particularly by low-income Ugandans, as well as stifle freedom of expression, association and assembly online. Similarly, the recent introduction of stringent online content regulations in Tanzania, Uganda and the Democratic of Republic of Congo threaten citizens’ rights to privacy and freedom of expression and promote self-censorship. In Latin America, we observe a trend by governments in the region to regulate online expression that is critical of dominant political forces or that amplifies dissident voices of traditionally discriminated groups, under the guise of "online hate speech" or "cybersecurity”. Examples can be found in Brazil, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay and Venezuela, among others. In some cases, legislative reforms have been introduced just before the start of electoral processes or the rise of social movements; in others, restrictive measures are administratively established, bypassing democratic legislative processes entirely. We also observe efforts in the region to criminalise expression and to require private companies to moderate online content, an issue addressed in detail by the recent report of the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression. This implies an undermining of due process, as required by international human rights standards, by delegating the function of the judiciary to the private sector. At the same time, it incentivises companies to err on the side of caution and take down content to avoid facing high fines or, in the case of Venezuela, the threat of revocation of authorisation to operate. We urge the Council with its bi-annual resolution on the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the internet to condemn and call for the end to such restrictions on online expression, and to adopt human rights-based approaches to internet access and regulation. Thank you, Mr. President.
Advancing women’s rights in the economic sphere through access and participation in ICTs: Joint oral statement at the Human Rights Council 38th sessi
Author : Association for Progressive Communications and the Sexual Rights Initiative
June, 2018
Speaker: Janine Moolman Thank you, Mr President. This statement is delivered on behalf of the Association for Progressive Communications and the Sexual Rights Initiative. We welcome the full-day panel discussion focusing on women’s rights and information and communication technologies. It is particularly significant as the Council considers the report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women and the resolution on violence against women, both focused on online violence. The internet is also crucial for the realisation of women’s economic, social and cultural rights. Meaningful access to ICTs – including control over ICTs as a productive and key resource – play an important part in catalysing change towards advancing the status of women and girls and their human rights, towards equality and the elimination of discrimination. It is critical to examine the ways in which internet policy shapes the experience of women online and to not lose sight of the lived realities of women around the world. For example, for communities most at risk of injustice, including women, LGBTIQ persons, and women human rights defenders, the internet may be one of very limited places of access to critical information on sexualities and sexual and reproductive health and rights. This requires unrestricted access to the internet and the availability of encryption and anonymity-enhancing tools. It is important to have a gendered and intersectional analysis of new and emerging technologies in order to advance women’s human rights rather than reinforce and deepen existing inequalities. Emerging concerns include the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation on precarious forms of gendered labour, as digitisation will impact middle- and low-income countries, and have a particular impact on low-end repetitive labour, often undertaken by women. In order for new technologies to play an empowering role, it is essential that women’s rights perspectives be considered in their development and deployment. Do the panelists have experience in breaking down silos between different actors and how can institutions like the UN support these conversations? Thank you, Mr President.
The impact of violence against women human rights defenders and women’s organisations in digital spaces: Joint oral statement at the Human Rights Cou
Author : ISHR, Amnesty International, APC, AWID, FORUM-ASIA and OMCT on behalf of the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition
June, 2018
38th session of the UN Human Rights Council Item 3 - Joint Oral Statement Panel on impact of violence against women human rights defenders and women’s organisations in digital spaces Thank you Chair and distinguished panelists, ISHR, Amnesty International, the Association for Progressive Communications, AWID, FORUM-ASIA and OMCT are pleased to put forward some inputs to this panel on behalf of the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition. [1] Women human rights defenders (WHRDs) are increasingly engaged in digital spaces to, among others, expose human rights violations, mobilise their communities for action, document the experiences of their movements and share information globally. This has allowed for new opportunities for awareness and accountability. At the same time, it has exposed them to further risk of online harassment, smear campaigns, intimidation and violence with clear gender dimensions aimed at delegitimizing their work to defend human rights. The gender-based discrimination and inequality that exists in society gets amplified online. As everyone is entitled to the same protection of rights online as they are offline, the first step towards addressing online violence is to recognise that it is a legitimate and harmful manifestation of gender-based violence. We are particularly concerned over the recent cases of online harassment and violence against WHRDs, which are emblematic of a broader trend: Egyptian activist, Amal Fathy, used social media to expose sexual violence. She currently faces unsubstantiated charges of “incitement to overthrow the government in Egypt,” “spreading false news on Facebook”, and “abuse of social media.” Vietnamese dissident blogger, Pham Doan Trang, was allegedly kidnapped by security officials earlier this month. Vietnamese legislators have subsequently adopted a cyber security law which would only further contribute to the clampdown on the freedom of expression in the country, ? Mexican blogger Tamara de Anda (also known as "Plaqueta") last year used social media to draw attention to personal experiences of street harassment. She was then the subject of widespread criticism and mockery online that contained threats of physical aggression, sexual content and sexist jokes. We thank the panelists for outlining the State obligations to facilitate an enabling online environment and ensuring accountability for violations in this regard. We further ask you: 1. What is the relationship between the right to privacy and the prevention of online gender-based violence, in particular the use of encryption, pseudonyms and anonymity tools? 2. What needs to be done to strengthen WHRD movements so they can better protect themselves? 3. What more can be done to ensure better private sector accountability to prevent, remedy and eliminate online violence based on gender and sexuality?
Reorienting rules for rights: A summary of the report on online content regulation by the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the r
Author : APC
June, 2018
Summary of the report on online content regulation by the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression (A/HRC/38/35). The internet is the greatest tool in history for global access to information and expression. Internet companies have become central platforms for discussion and debate, information access, commerce and human development. Companies running platforms are enigmatic regulators, establishing a kind of “platform law” in which clarity, consistency, accountability and remedy are elusive. States have a significant impact on how companies deal with online content regulation. Companies face increasing pressure from states to comply with state requests (both legal and extralegal) to moderate or remove content and are also taking pre-emptive measures through, for example, adaptations to their terms of service agreements (ToS). In response to these worrying trends the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression proposes a series of measures states and companies can undertake to put human rights at the very centre of online content moderation. Do human rights principles and standards apply to online content regulation? Freedom of expression (FoE) is protected by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The United Nations, regional organisations and treaty bodies have affirmed that offline rights apply equally online. Any restrictions placed on the exercise of the right to FoE must be legal, necessary, proportionate and legitimate. More importantly, the restrictions placed must not undermine or jeopardise the essence of the right. Though states are primarily the duty bearers to enforce and protect these rights, non-state actors like internet companies cannot shy away from playing their part in the realisation of “the right to hold opinions without interference” and “the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers” and through any medium. This includes the internet. The activities of companies in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector implicate the rights to privacy, religious freedom and belief, opinion and expression, assembly and association, and participation in public life, among others. The Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, adopted by the Human Rights Council in 2011, place a duty on states to ensure environments that enable respect for human rights on the part of businesses, who must strive to ensure that their policies and practices adhere to the Principles in letter and spirit. By applying human rights in their work, they would not be restricted; to the contrary, it would offer a globally recognised framework for designing tools and a common vocabulary for explaining their nature, purpose and application to users and states. Human rights law also gives companies the tools to articulate and develop policies and processes that respect democratic norms and counter authoritarian demands. What are the problems emerging from online content regulation? Standards not rooted in human rights Most companies do not recognise their human rights obligations and as a result do not explicitly base content standards on any particular body of law that might govern expression, such as national law or international human rights law. Few companies apply human rights principles in their operations, and most that do see them as limited to how they respond to government threats and demands. Government pressure and vague laws While states require companies to restrict illegal content, they also often rely on censorship and criminalisation to shape the online regulatory environment. States use broadly worded restrictive laws, vague or complex legal criteria without prior judicial review, and the threat of harsh penalties to compel companies to restrict content and suppress legitimate expression. The commitment to legal compliance can be complicated when relevant state law is vague, subject to varying interpretations, or inconsistent with human rights law. Extraterritorial requests Some states are demanding extraterritorial removal of links, websites and other content alleged to violate local law, which would allow censorship across borders, to the benefit of the most restrictive censors. Extralegal requests State authorities increasingly seek content removals outside of legal process or even through ToS requests and have established specialised government units to refer content to companies for removal. States also place pressure on companies to accelerate content removals through non-binding efforts, most of which have limited transparency, exacerbating concerns that companies perform public functions without the oversight of courts and other accountability mechanisms. User kept in the dark Company disclosure about removal discussions, in aggregate or specific cases, as a result of human evaluation is currently limited and must be reported on adequately. Users who post reported content, or persons complaining of abuse, often do not receive any notification of removal or other action or have any avenues to challenge removals. Even with appeal, the remedies available to users appear limited or untimely to the point of non-existence and, in any event, opaque to most users and even civil society experts. Automation and overblocking of content Demands for quick automated flagging, removal and pre-publication filtering sometimes result in overblocking and disproportionate censorship. Devoid of context, this approach has led to removals of depictions of nudity with historical, cultural or educational value; historical and documentary accounts of conflict; evidence of war crimes; counter speech against hate groups; and efforts to challenge or reclaim racist, homophobic or xenophobic language. Hate speech and marginalisation of vulnerable groups Company policies on hate speech, harassment and abuse do not clearly indicate what constitutes an offence. The vagueness of hate speech and harassment policies has triggered complaints of inconsistent policy enforcement that penalises minorities while reinforcing the status of dominant or powerful groups. Steps taken by platforms have resulted in the suppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer expression, as well as advocacy against repressive governments, reporting on ethnic cleansing, and critiques of racist phenomena and power structures. Misogynist or homophobic harassment designed to silence women and sexual minorities and incitement to violence of all kinds continue to thrive in online spaces, which has a significant impact on the offline realities of the people targetted. Disinformation Companies face increasing pressure to address disinformation spread through links to bogus third-party news articles or websites, fake accounts, deceptive advertisements and the manipulation of search rankings, which might not always be feasible. Real name policy Strict insistence on real names not only exposes bloggers and activists using pseudonyms to grave physical danger, but has also led to blocking of the accounts of vulnerable users and activists, drag performers and users with non-English or unconventional names. What should the states and companies be doing to address these problems? Recommendations for states Ensure that limitations on FoE meet established conditions of legality, necessity, proportionality and legitimacy, including on content deemed to advocate hatred and incite discrimination, hostility or violence. Repeal any law that criminalises or unduly restricts expression, online or offline. Refrain from establishing laws or arrangements that would require the “proactive” monitoring or filtering of content by companies. This would violate the right to privacy and amount to pre-publication censorship. Make regulation “smart”, not heavy-handed or viewpoint-based but focused on ensuring that companies are transparent, provide remedy, and that users can make choices about whether and how to use online forums. Ensure commercial policies and licensing comply with internationally accepted human rights standards. Refrain from imposing disproportionate sanctions such as heavy fines or threats of imprisonment on publishers of content that states consider to be illegal. This results in companies introducing broad and pre-emptive rules which have a chilling effect on FoE. Refrain from adopting models of regulation in which government agencies, rather than judicial authorities, become the arbiters of lawful expression. Issue content restrictions through an order by an independent and impartial judicial authority in accordance with due process and standards of legality, necessity and legitimacy. Create an environment in which companies are incentivised to uphold human rights principles. Avoid delegation of regulatory functions to private actors that lack basic tools of accountability. While seeking removals that may be applicable in multiple jurisdictions, make such requests in every relevant jurisdiction, through regular legal and judicial processes. Support scalable appeal mechanisms that are consistent with human rights standards. Publish detailed transparency reports on all content-related requests issued to intermediaries and involve genuine public input in all regulatory decisions/measures. Recommendations for ICT companies Human rights principles, policies and assessments Recognise international human rights law as the authoritative global standard for ensuring FoE on their platforms, not their own private interests or the varying laws of states. Revise ToS and community standards accordingly. Direct all business units, including local subsidiaries, to resolve any legal ambiguity in favour of respect for FoE, privacy and other human rights. Make content standards clear and specific. Provide examples to help users interpret and apply specific rules. Commit to maintain platforms as spaces where users, consistent with human rights law, develop opinions, express themselves freely and access information. Conduct rigorous human rights impact assessments on all products and policies. Include meaningful consultation with users and civil society and seek comments from interested users and experts, especially from the global South. Enable confidentiality of inputs. Adopt the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, along with industry-specific guidelines, e.g. those developed by civil society, intergovernmental bodies and the Global Network Initiative. Transparency Ensure and document transparency at all stages, from rulemaking to implementation. Make transparency reports easy to understand and available in English and local languages. Disclose responses to government requests and to requests based on ToS. Preserve records of all requests and subsequent communications between the company and requesters. Consider submitting copies of requests to a third-party public repository such as the social media council mentioned below. Develop “case law” to frame the interpretation of rules so that users, civil society and states understand how companies interpret and apply their standards. Avoid secretive arrangements with states on content standards and implementation. Provide meaningful and consistent transparency about enforcement of policies governing contentious issues, such as hate speech. Make public information on the results of automated content moderation, human moderation including flagging by users and trusted or specialised “flaggers”. Explain the selection of people performing human evaluation, e.g. specialised flaggers (some which work in units established by governments). Disclose how they interpret legal and community standards. Explain how the public interest is defined, and what other factors are used in decisions to take action against content. Explain how newsworthiness is determined. Develop best practices on how to provide transparency on interactions between states and companies. User education and awareness Consistently provide sufficient information to users on the development and evolution of rules. Development of policy on misinformation and media Refrain from placing restrictions on news content that may threaten or limit independent and alternative news sources or satirical content. Industry-wide accountability Given their impact on the public sphere, all companies that moderate content or act as gatekeepers must open themselves up to public accountability and should make the development of industry-wide accountability mechanisms a top priority. Work with one another and civil society to explore establishing an independent social media council to enable complaints and remedy for rights violations across platforms and borders at an industry-wide level. Responding to state requests Ensure that requests cite specific and valid legal bases for restrictions and are issued by a valid government authority, in writing. Always seek clarification on requests that could potentially restrict fundamental rights, such as FoE. Solicit assistance from civil society, peer companies, relevant governmental and international bodies, and explore all legal options for challenging such requests. Route requests from states, including those made under ToS, through legal compliance processes. Assess their validity based on national and international human rights standards. Include granular data in reporting state requests (e.g. related to defamation, hate speech, or terrorism) and actions taken (e.g. partial, full, country-specific or global removal; user account suspension or removal). Provide specific examples as often as possible. Context, consultation, diversity and groups at risk Increase engagement and consultation with users, civil society and digital rights organisations. Avoid real-name requirements. Protect users’ anonymity by default. Online anonymity (for example, through use of pseudonyms) is often necessary for the physical safety of users at risk. Actively consult local community groups to help with taking cultural and artistic contexts into account (for example when assessing content featuring nudity). Consider the concerns of communities historically at risk of censorship and discrimination, e.g. linguistic minorities and LGBTQ individuals and groups. Describe in greater detail contentious and context-specific rules. Disclose data and examples that provide insight into how violations are assessed and responded to. Strengthen and ensure professionalisation of human evaluation of flagged content, including by seriously committing to involve cultural, linguistic and other forms of expertise in every market where they operate. Provide protections for human moderators consistent with human rights norms applicable to labour rights. Diversify company leadership and policy teams to bring local or subject-matter expertise to how content is approached. Automated content moderation Take into account the challenges of automated content moderation, such as assessing context, meaning, variation in language cues, linguistic and cultural particularities. Technology developed to deal with considerations of scale should be rigorously audited and developed with broad user and civil society input, keeping in mind differences across user bases. Content curation Disclose details concerning approaches to curation. If companies rank content on social media feeds based on interactions between users, they should reveal what data is collected and how this informs ranking. Provide all users with accessible and meaningful opportunities to opt out of platform-driven curation. Notice and appeal Provide “counter-notice” procedures that permit users to challenge content or account removals. Institute robust remedy programmes which may range from reinstatement of content to settlements related to reputational or other harms.
Executive summary: Mapping research in gender and digital technology
Author : APC
June, 2018
Technology, by the wider internet rights and research community, is assumed to be a neutral tool, especially of development. The emerging sub-field of research around gender and digital technology is united in its understanding that gender biases and stereotypes are embedded in technology, and that this reproduces the existing problems around gender parity, gender-based violence, discrimination and exclusion on the internet. It is largely because of this that the notion of a feminist internet has wide resonance with a range of groups and people – activists working around gender, feminist individuals and collectives, content creators, researchers and academics, policy advocates and reformers. This publication is a summary of Mapping research in gender and digital technology, a research report produced as part of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) project “Mapping gender and digital technology”, funded by the International Development Research Centre.
A toolkit for researching women’s internet access and use
Author : A4AI, the Worldwide Web Foundation, the GSMA and APC
April, 2018
While an increasing number of people are now using the internet, the lack of comparable and accurate gender disaggregated data obscures the true extent of the differences in access to, and use of the internet between men and women. This toolkit has been designed for stakeholders who are interested in integrating gender into their research projects in order to better understand this gender gap in internet access and use. It provides qualitative and quantitative example questions for a comprehensive range of relevant research topics that can be adapted depending on the country or context. It also offers guidance on how to conduct research involving women as well as a diversity of resources useful for investigating internet access and use, designing a research project and analysing data. This toolkit is the result of a collaboration between A4AI, the Worldwide Web foundation, the GSMA and the Association for Progressive Communications.
Surrendering to Silence: An account of self-censorship among Pakistani journalists
Author : Media Matters for Democracy
April, 2018
Surrendering to Silence: An account of self-censorship among Pakistani journalists is the latest publication by APC member Media Matters for Democracy on the state of freedom of expression and censorship among journalists in Pakistan. This study sets out to test the claims of self-censorship in the Pakistani news media through a survey of journalists working in the country. The study provides a rare glimpse at the extent and contours of contemporary self-censorship among Pakistani journalists. It also provides recommendations to tackle the issues that curb free expression in the Pakistani news media. In order to get local journalists to feel safe about their professional and personal expression, the study suggests actionable measures for news media organisations, journalist unions, civil society organisations, political parties, and the government. Media Matters for Democracy (MMfD) is a young Islamabad-based non-profit, formed on the vision and the belief that a liberal, professional media industry is the cornerstone of a progressive, democratic society. Read more about their work here.
EsLaRed: Analysis of policies that threaten access to the internet in Venezuela, as a consequence of the state of emergency, during the period 2016-20
Author : Edmundo Vitale, Sandra Benitez and Beatriz Sandia
April, 2018
In Venezuela, in recent decades, projects, programmes and plans on policies have been developed. These items are conceived to ensure equitable, affordable and sustainable access to the internet for the digitally excluded population, considering geographical location, gender, social stratum, disabilities or identity. These initiatives have been based on the strategic guidelines set out in the plans of the nation, which theoretically seek to establish an egalitarian and just society. However, from mid-2016, the government has implemented a series of economic, social and political measures under the state of emergency enacted by Presidential Decree No. 2323 of 13 May 2016. In particular, the right of access to the internet, the right to freedom of expression and the right to privacy may be violated because the Decree contemplates, among others, forming organisational structures that regulate conclusively the system of technologies of computers and cyberspace in Venezuela. EsLaRed carried out this research as part of an APC grant, with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).
#Palestine 2017: Palestinian Digital Activism Report
Author : Anan AbuShanab
April, 2018
7amleh – The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media published its annual report on Palestinian digital activism under the title #Palestine 2017. This annual report is being published for the third consecutive year and monitors social media activities of all Palestinians throughout 2017. The research provides statistics and information about Palestinians' internet access and usage, examines the most dominant social and political campaigns and viral hashtags, and monitors human rights and digital rights violations against Palestinians for their digital activism. Additionally, the report focuses on the “digital occupation” of Palestinian social media through the use of algorithms, mass surveillance and tens of military and secret service-affiliated Facebook pages utilised to hinder Palestinian online activism and infringe on freedom of speech. The report bases its finding on media reports, press releases, interviews and secondary sources such as videos and photos for data collection. 7amleh Center publishes the #Palestine report annually to document trends in Palestinian digital activism and digital rights and violations thereof. The increased importance of the digital space for Palestinians, especially due to the enforced Israeli geographic division, goes hand in hand with an increase in intimidation and limitations imposed by different governments on digital activism. The report concludes that Palestinian digital rights are targeted by all three authorities, including Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. As such, the report calls on authorities to comply with their responsibilities in relation to digital rights, as part of human rights, that should be upheld and respected where Palestinians are granted their rights to privacy and freedom of expression on the internet. In the first chapter, the report provides data and statistics on Palestinian social media usage, including the challenges of collecting accurate data in particular regarding Palestinian citizens of Israel and Jerusalem, who are not included in Palestinian statistics since they receive services from Israeli operators. In 2017, there were 1,110,582 internet users of Palestinian citizens of Israel and 3,018,770 internet users in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Wataniya, the second Palestinian telecommunications operator, was allowed to start operating in the Gaza Strip in 2017, after being denied to do since its establishment in 2006 by the Israeli authorities. In early 2018, 3G internet connection was finally allowed to be launched for West Bank Palestinians by Israel, but not for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The following chapter of the report portrays the most dominant social and political campaigns on Palestinian social media. The most popular social media campaigns in 2017 shed light on rights-violations in the Gaza Strip, Hyundai’s complicity in the Israeli occupation, the Palestinian cybercrime law and violence against women and the LGBTQ community in Palestine. Additionally, trending hashtags were launched surrounding the issue of Jerusalem, including the US decision to relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem and thus recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Furthermore, hashtags were created around the issue of electronic gates installed by Israeli forces around al-Aqsa mosque compound, as well as around the issue of Palestinian hunger striking prisoners, but also internal issues such as violations of freedom of expression and privacy by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. The third chapter documents digital rights violations from the different governments: the Israeli government, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the de-facto government of Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, an analysis of different laws and legislations that reinforce the control and surveillance of, as well as limit digital activism and freedom of speech is undertaken. In the year 2017, Israeli forces arrested more than 300 Palestinians from the West Bank including East Jerusalem because of social media posts. West Bank Palestinians are indicted under martial law of incitement to violence, as opposed to civil law. At the same time, the chapter analyses arrests and interrogations of Palestinian activists by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas due to their social media activism. #Palestine 2017 furthermore focuses on the issue of ‘digital occupation’ and mass surveillance of Palestinian social media accounts and content, specifically on the social media platform Facebook in its final chapter. This comes in light of the development of cyber-security units and predictive policing technologies where thousands of Palestinian social media accounts are scanned, analysed and then allocated a "quota" on how likely they are to be a "suspect" for a future "attack against Israeli targets", as defined by the Israeli government. The Israeli cyber unit officially stated in a press release that Facebook accepted 85% of the Israeli government requests to delete content, accounts and pages of Palestinians in the year 2017. This kind of Israeli monitoring and control of Palestinian digital content on social media has become a tool for mass arrests and gross human rights and digital rights violations. This happens against the backdrop of social media and technological companies granting Israel the permission to implement such mass surveillance programmes and increasing reliance on partnerships between the two. Israel’s systematic surveillance of the Palestinian cyberspace also includes social media pages administered by what appears to be the Israeli security apparatus, that are publicly asking for cooperation and to share information in return for "personal help".
APC Stakeholder Report for the Universal Periodic Review 31st session – Mexico
Author : APC
March, 2018
This submission is a stakeholder contribution to the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism for Mexico. The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) appreciates the opportunity to participate in this cycle and recognises the important human rights issues being raised by other stakeholder reports. This submission is limited to addressing the growing concerns regarding online gender-based violence (GBV) in Mexico and its interconnection with other human rights violations. It draws extensively on the Internet es Nuestra Coalition report in response to the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women’s call in 2017 and APC’s research in this area. APC is an international network and non-governmental organisation with consultative status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) since 1995 and a member of the Internet es Nuestra Coalition in Mexico.
The African School on Internet Governance: Tracer study of four rounds of AfriSIG (2013-2016)
Author : Debbie Budlender Publisher:
March, 2018
The African School on Internet Governance (AfriSIG) is an annual five-day residential knowledge and leadership building event established by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and the NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency and from 2015 organised in partnership with the African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Internet Governance Forum (AfIGF). The primary objective of AfriSIG is to give Africans from multiple sectors and stakeholder groups the opportunity to gain knowledge and build the confidence that will enable them to participate effectively in internet governance (IG) processes and debates at all levels: national, regional and global. AfriSIG has been convened annually since 2013. Each event brings together between 40 and 60 participants and faculty. For the most part, individuals participate only once as ordinary participants. However, some participants have served as faculty or resource persons at subsequent AfriSIG events, and many faculty have played this role at more than one of the annual events. This study, conducted during the first quarter of 2017, covers the first four Schools (2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016). This research study was done for APC by Debbie Budlender, and was supported by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
IGF Community Public Consultation: Submission by APC on taking stock of the 2017 work programme and 12th IGF and suggestions for the 13th IGF
Author : APC
March, 2018
A. Taking stock of 2017 programming, preparatory process, community intersessional activities and the 12th annual IGF A1. What worked well in 2017? Preparatory processes including venue, timing, logistics, participation and networking ? Geneva and the UN as a venue worked well in many ways, even if there were some downsides which we mention below. In particular it meant that governments could participate more easily through their Geneva-based missions. ? The presence of a diverse set of stakeholders, including from governments and parliaments, created a rare and valuable opportunity for learning and cross-regional and cross-sector exchanges and dialogue. ? The opportunity to meet and talk with UN actors, like the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression was extremely valuable. ? Networking, meeting new people and forming new relationships, as well as connecting with existing partners, taking stock, and planning further collaboration as well as opportunities for bilateral consultations and meetings. ? The exhibition area worked well and allowed for a lot of interaction among exhibitors and with participants. ? The large number of newcomers added dynamism to the mix of participants and creates a sense of the IGF’s continued relevance. Programming, content and session formats ? The main sessions on gender, cybersecurity and on internet shutdowns were all very relevant to APC’s work and we are pleased to have been able to participate in them. ? Having current issues, for example “fake news” and online extremism on the agenda worked well and provided the opportunity to examine these issues from different regional and stakeholder perspectives. ? The open letter read at end of the IGF from Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) groups on the concerning discourse around fake news and elections indicates how the IGF is still seen as a strategic space for people to voice their views and concerns. ? The pre-event on a rights-based approach to cybersecurity that APC co-organised was successful and contributed to the IGF as a whole, added value to the BPF on cybersecurity, and, we believe, will contribute to the longer term discussion of cybersecurity in the IGF. ? Using the IGF as a platform for presenting research, getting feedback and discussion of policy options going forward worked well. A concrete example of this is the research APC conducted on social media and extremism in Asia which we presented in a workshop, along with research some of our partners had done on similar topics. Community intersessional activities ? Dynamic coalitions that worked throughout the year could use the global IGF effectively to meet, consolidate and plan ahead (but needed more time - more on this below). ? The dynamic coalition on community connectivity (DC3) has become an active space for discussion on taking community networks to the next level because it includes so many practitioners. However, not enough of these practitioners were able to attend the global IGF itself. A2. What did not work so well? Preparatory processes including venue, timing, logistics, participation and networking ? Spaces for networking were limited. In fact, finding a chair to sit in outside of a meeting room was a challenge! ? Queuing for registration in the cold and snow outside was arduous. It would have been far easier if registration for day 0 took place onsite at the Geneva International Conference Centre. There were some difficulties at registration, e.g. UN personnel had difficulty in finding a name in the database (which was actually there) which resulted in a moderator being late for an event she organised. It was our impression that a bit more flexibility and openness on the part of UN security personnel would have helped. ? The building was hard to navigate. More signage would have been helped. ? Geneva is an expensive location for many participants and not having lunch or coffee/tea provided increased the financial burden for many. ? The exhibition area was relatively disorganised and smaller than in previous years but as we said above it did still facilitate effective networking. ? The timing of the IGF so close to the end of year, which means end of year reporting for some, and Christmas, as well as being in the middle of the southern hemisphere’s summer holidays, was very challenging and definitely impacted on participation. ? Remote participation. Many people experienced difficulties during the 2017 IGF. Programming, content and session formats ? While acknowledging the efforts of the MAG in this respect, the workshop selection process remains difficult to understand and it is not clear that it results in the desired mix of topics and approaches. ? Some workshop proposals coming from dynamic coalitions were not accepted, which resulted in a missed opportunity to build on their work at previous IGFs and during the intersessional period. This undermines the intersessional work processes of the IGF. ? Moderation of workshops was frequently not effective resulting in limited or no opportunity for audience participation. It is not clear that the MAG and the secretariat are applying the guidelines set for number of speakers and moderation, or perhaps the challenge is that the MAG does not have mechanisms or the resources needed to ensure that these guidelines are adhered to. ? Many sessions had too many panelists and the “round table” format seems to have become simply a mechanism for having a huge panel rather than an interactive round table with everyone in the room able to contribute. We strongly advise that the guidelines for this format be revised so that it achieves what we understand to be its original objective: to play a role in synthesising outcomes and key messages. ? Lighting talks, partly because the space allocated was not conducive to the format but also because they were not publicised well. ? The quality of captioning was particularly poor in many of the sessions. ? Interpretation was not available in all sessions. Community intersessional activities ? Scheduling of workshops on very similar topics at the same time (in parallel) was a challenge as people had to choose which to go to. We acknowledge that the Secretariat does its best to avoid this but it remains a problem. ? Dynamic Coalitions meetings should be allocated 90 minutes instead of an hour. An hour is not enough for an active DC. ? Cutting back on IGF secretariat support for intersessional work seems to have impacted on the preparation of work for the IGF in the case of some of the BPFs. ? While the DC3 was effective in creating spaces alongside the IGF for networking it would have been good to have a more formal space too, e.g. in the form of a workshop. Unfortunately the coalition’s workshop proposal, submitted by ISOC, was not accepted. This raises the concern of how the MAG selects workshops in such a way that continuity is ensured. B Suggestions for improvements in 2018? B1. Preparatory processes including venue, timing, logistics, participation and networking ? MAG selection - new MAG members should be identified before the end of the calendar year and preferably ahead of the IGF, to allow for planning and preparations. ? Mapping relevant policy discussions that the IGF could feed into as part of the preparatory process. This can in turn feed into more effective communication of outputs of the global IGF. ? Engaging proactively on programme content and themes with the conveners of national and regional IGFs, as opposed to just relying on them participating in the open consultation. (This is already in process but we think it can be strengthened). ? As a means of encouraging government participation, proactively consult with governments ( including with Geneva-based missions) and with intergovernmental bodies on issues they would like to see discussed at the IGF. ? Create a mechanism linked to the IGF that addresses governments' expressed need for a forum to discuss internet related public policy issues in order to increase their participation, and the impact of the IGF. ? Strengthen the capacity building dimension of the IGF and enhance participation by establishing closer relationships with the IG schools (EuroSSIG; AfriSIG; the South School and APSIG). For example, alumni from these schools could volunteer at global and regional IGFs. Participation from the global South: ? Increase participation from developing countries from all stakeholder groups. This requires investment of effort around many actors, including developing country governments. MAG should initiate discussions with these governments very early on in the preparation for the preparatory process for the annual IGF. ? Stakeholders from developing countries should be encouraged to be facilitators of sessions and funds should be secured to support their participation. ? Make sure that global south participation is enabled by choice of venue and timing. Remote participation: ? The excellent record of the IGF in this respect should be maintained and extended, e.g. through providing transcripts and facilitating remote hubs. ? Remote moderators should scan the twitter feed, incorporating questions and comments, as a means of widening opportunity for remote participation. We were pleased to see that many have already started doing this. B2. Programming, content and session formats ? Engage the support of professional event designers/and or facilitators with expertise in planning and managing large participatory events. For example, the MAG could experiment with interactive meeting methodologies such as Open Space Technology even if just for one 1 track or theme. ? Extract sub- themes based on the initial proposals submitted, allowing the programme to be guided by the IGF community. ? To ensure a fuller range of issues relating to sustainable development and broader public policy are reflected in the programme the IGF needs to facilitate dialogue with development policy makers and practitioners, many of whom are not currently engaged. ? Assign 90 minute time slots to dynamic coalitions who engage in intersessional work. A 60 minute time slot should be sufficient for those that are not active throughout the year. ? Revise round table format so that it is interactive, involving the audience, and not just an extended set of panellists. ? Consider changing the overall structure for the IGF to have two days of workshops followed by two days of main sessions interspersed with round tables and best practice forums. This structure will enable deepening of the discussion on some topics, and facilitate developing key messages, outcomes, and input into the work programme for the next cycle of intersessional work. ? Use plenaries and round tables for synthesis, cross cutting and emerging issues. ? Workshops are a way of bringing people to the IGF and building community ownership and therefore limiting their number has to be done with care. ? Workshops on common themes should not run concurrently. ? Consider creating a coding system for different types of workshops that would reflect if their goal is to begin to elaborate a topic, or to build on previous discussions. ? Open sessions/white spaces: The MAG should consider building in some open slots into the programme which can be used for networking or unscheduled sessions. ? Ensure that panels are composed with gender balance. ? Ensure that the IGF agenda responds to issues that matter to under-represented groups, who often have existing capacity in relation to these areas, and can share their knowledge with the IGF community. The IGF can focus on building their capacity in integrating IG more closely into their existing priorities. Examples include people with disabilities, people living in rural areas without sufficient infrastructure, people from small island states and indigenous people. ? Balance taking into account the priorities and particularities of different regions while continuing to address global issues. Relying on the NRIs to achieve this is not sufficient. In fact, to some extent the focus on NRIs runs the risk of creating a separate regional and national track as opposed to exploring linkages between global, regional and national levels. B3. Community intersessional work ? We recommend secretariat continues to support intersessional work, as we have observed much stronger outputs/impact where the secretariat provided support. ? Assign more secretariat support to the WG on IGF improvements. ? Pre-events play a significant capacity building role and should continue to be supported. ? One possibility to consider is to use day 0 for pre-events on topics covered by intersessional work but not necessary organised by DCs and BPFs. ? Designate a member of the secretariat to play a government liaison role as a means of increasing government participation in, and benefit from, intersessional work. National and regional IGF initiatives (NRIs) ? NRIs to should remain independent and be able to identify their own themes and priorities. ? The MAG should encourage NRIs to contribute to the open consultations – or consult with them proactively - so that the priorities identified are taken into account when the annual global programme is developed, but, this should not be forced. Global, regional and national events will naturally focused on different issues. The most logical and useful links would be through intersessional work. Organisers of BPFs, for example, or dynamic coalitions, should reach out to NRIs and vice versa, with the support of the secretariat and MAG. ? Foster dialogue between the regions can be encouraged through the IGF Secretariat’s facilitation of periodic meetings between the conveners of NRIs. ? MAG members and delegates of the IGF Secretariat should aim to attend as many as NRIs as possible (in their regions, ideally) to stimulate cross-fertilisation among the regional and the global processes. B4. The mandate, nomination process and make-up of the Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) and the appointment process for the IGF-MAG Chair ? Over time, the position of MAG chairperson should ideally rotate among stakeholder groups and regional groupings. ? Consider having a friends of the chair group to work with the MAG chairperson to a) assist with the workload and b) ensure that voices from all regions of the world and different perspectives and stakeholder groups are reflected in MAG coordination. For example, the SG appointed chair can be complemented by stakeholder group identified friends of the chair and together than can form a small chairing group that shares the load and supports the secretariat as needed. ? Increase transparency by publishing full list of MAG nominees, including the nominating party. ? Put more effort into the orientation and integration of new MAG members. ? Clarify accountability relationships between the MAG, the IGF Secretariat, and UNDESA, including whether the MAG’s mandate does or does not extend beyond organising the annual event and intersessional work. ? Appoint the Special Advisor and the Executive Secretary. Their absence still leaves a gap in spite of the increased capacity and performance of IGF staff and the significant value added by the excellent MAG chairperson. B5. Capturing the outputs of the IGF to increase their visibility and impact Over the last three years IGF intersessional work has gone from strength to strength. It takes time for the results of these efforts to become visible. It should be sustained. Ways in which this can be done includes to: ? Improve the presentation and dissemination of the outcomes of this work online and translating it to extend its reach. ? Facilitate more input from the IGF community into relevant policy spaces by: ? Mapping of ongoing policy spaces (mentioned already as useful to the preparatory work) and the creation of a mechanism for information sharing with these spaces can be established to ensure interaction between content and outcomes of discussions at the IGF, and other policy-making spaces. ? Building on the current practice of ensuring linkages with other institutions and mechanisms or using BPFs to contribute to the work of, for example, UN Women or Special Rapporteurs to the Human Rights Council. ? Identifying, and proactively addressing, lack of integration between the SDG and WSIS process through reaching out to, for example the Technology Facilitation Mechanism of the SDG process. ? Reach out to other policy communities, particularly those involved in development policy, environmental policy, trade, access to knowledge, human rights and women's rights and democratisation and good governance. ? Expand the role of the MAG to include the production of an annual report focused on the outcomes of the IGF yearly. Outcomes emerge (and have emerged) in multiple ways and it is necessary to capture and communicate them. It will reaffirm the value of the IGF as an open space for IG debate. Workshop and main session organisers could be asked to identify the outcomes of the sessions. In addition, the IGF Secretariat could develop a survey for the internet community to indicate what they view as being the three main outcomes of the IGF each year. ? Encourage and facilitate the media’s presence at the IGF. Media presence has been uneven. More about the IGF 2017 here.
Content regulation in the digital age: Submission to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression
Author : APC
March, 2018
We welcome this topic because it is current and integral to our work. On the one hand there is a lot of “noise” in the mainstream media about so-called “fake news” and what appears to be a fairly rushed response from platforms consisting of increasing in-house regulation of content. On the other hand, human rights defenders and activists we work with express concern that platforms are removing some of their content in a manner that suggests political bias and reinforcing of societal discrimination. The topic is also particularly important to APC as we continue the process of finding solutions to combating online gender-based violence without such solutions limiting freedom of expression online. Too often, the response to offensive and dangerous though lawful expression is that which seems most simple: censorship, in the form of takedowns, blocking or filtering content. Censorship is increasingly being implemented by private actors, with little transparency or accountability, and disproportionately impacts groups and individuals who face discrimination in society – in other words, groups who look to social media platforms to amplify their voices, form associations, and organise for change. For civil society and multistakeholder forums that deal with content regulation in the digital age more broadly, this is a useful moment to assess the strengths and shortcomings of state regulation and self-regulatory regimes when it comes to protecting the wide range of rights that internet users around the world have come to rely on to exercise their rights online and offline. General recommendations from APC State responsibility: The primary responsibility of respecting, protecting and fulfilling human rights lies with the state. This includes the duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including business. Private sector accountability: All companies, regardless of their size, have a responsibility to respect human rights, by not infringing on the human rights of users and addressing adverse human rights impacts with which they are involved. This submission focuses on the large internet platforms, partly because their services are used globally by a large number of users. We also question whether these large platforms need to be treated in a different category because of the way in which they dominate the market. Aside from being very large companies, we question if there is something distinct in the way they operate, with their networked effect and the lack of alternatives, that impacts on users’ exercise of freedom of expression. Human rights impact assessments: Given that companies are constantly introducing new products, updating their policies, and expanding into new jurisdictions, human rights impact assessments should be carried out on an ongoing basis, and should not be a one-time event. Human rights impact assessments should include all human rights that companies’ policies may impact, beyond freedom of expression and privacy, to include also economic, social and cultural rights, the right to be free from violence, and the right to participate in public life, among others. In addition, they should consider how their policies can strengthen, rather than undermine, due process. Due process: Every user should have the right to due process, including to be expeditiously notified of content takedowns, the reason for the takedown, and the option to appeal a company's takedown decision, in every case. Implementation of content restriction: While platforms are increasingly publishing their content restriction policies online, much more transparency is needed in terms of how they are being implemented. In particular, greater attention is needed to ensure that policies are upholding the international human rights principles of non-discrimination and equality, and are taking into account contextual factors, such as language, culture, and power dynamics. Alternatives to taking down content: Content removals are just one way of addressing content that may be harmful to other users. Platforms are building tools that let users filter ads and other content. While this approach has the potential to further “information bubbles”, it can also empower users to make informed choices about the content that they see. This may be preferable to companies making these decisions for users, when at the end of the day companies’ criteria will be influenced by what content is deemed profitable. We encourage companies to explore tools that enable users to be in more control of their own online experience. Transparency: Increased transparency is needed in a number of areas in order to better safeguard freedom of expression against arbitrary content removals and to better understand how the content viewed online is being moderated. Multistakeholder process: We recommend the establishment of a multistakeholder process, building on existing multistakeholder initiatives, with input from different parts of the world, to develop global guidelines or norms to address the challenge of harmful content within a rights-respecting framework. This multistakeholder process could explore whether establishing a more traditional self-regulatory framework would have positive or negative consequences.
HRC37: Written statement on internet freedoms of Palestinians
Author : 7amleh and APC
March, 2018
The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and 7amleh - The Arab Centre for Social Media Advancement submit this statement ahead of the Human Rights Council 37th session to express our grave concern regarding the crackdown on freedom of expression and infringements on privacy online for Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinians throughout the occupied Palestinian territories. Recent years have witnessed a sharp rise in attacks on the right to free speech and privacy online for Palestinians. Digital rights violations are perpetrated at the hands of all three governments: the Israeli government, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the de-facto government of Hamas in Gaza. In addition, social media companies, whose policies have called into question their neutrality, are complying with Israel in censoring Palestinian voices. Online platforms, particularly social media platforms, have become a new arena of political confrontation for the conflict as well as a place to discuss internal issues within the Palestinian community. It is crucial that the rights to freedom of expression and privacy, as stipulated in UN conventions, are upheld and respected for Palestinians.
Kept in the dark: Social and psychological impacts of network shutdowns in India
Author : Zothan Mawii, Ritu Srivastava, Shivani Lal and Bijo P. Abraham. Reviewed by Anja Kovacs
February, 2018
Internet shutdowns: A study of social impact in India is the second in the series of DEF’s efforts for advocacy against internet shutdowns. The previous research report, Anatomy of virtual curfews: Human rights vs national security, highlights the existing and emerging threats to fundamental rights and human rights on account of arbitrary, unnecessary, and disproportionate imposition of Internet shutdowns in India. The current research paper is an effort to understand the social and psychological impact of network shutdowns on the lives of people. This study identifies how such shutdowns impact the lives of people at the micro level. It concerns itself with the psychological and social impact that network shutdowns have on those affected. By analysing media reports and conducting interviews with citizens living under dire conditions, this paper seeks to identify the impact network shutdowns have on various social and cultural rights, like — access to education and amenities, impact on livelihood, and psychological impact of social exclusions due to restricted access to the internet. This paper documents on-ground stories and experiences to build a strong and effective case against network shutdowns, with specific focus on the social and psychological impact. The paper has analysed media reports of shutdowns (till August 2017) and conducted interviews in the affected areas of Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir to find the inter-link between internet shutdowns and their impact on the socio-cultural-economic well-being of citizens.
Network infrastructures: The commons model for local participation, governance and sustainability
Author : Leandro Navarro
February, 2018
Network infrastructures provide connectivity, a critical resource for our digital lives, and are therefore key for social inclusion and public participation. There are many technical, economic and operational ways to provide internet connectivity. In this paper we describe a model to develop network infrastructure as common property, governed under the principles of common-pool resources. The model is based on the principles of cooperation instead of competition – because universal connectivity can only be achieved if everyone has the right to create their own connectivity. There are many examples of how communities have succeeded in organising to achieve this. The result is local community network infrastructures that are open, sustainable and adapted to local conditions, which can produce abundant connectivity and support local socioeconomic development, everywhere and for everyone.
Written submission by Zenzeleni Networks, APC and the University of Western Cape on the Electronic Communications Amendment Bill in South Afri