2018

Training Manual on Digital Rights and Freedom of Expression Online

Annotation

This training manual highlights some key developments that have taken place or are currently being explored, both at an international and a national level. It is aimed at providing guidance for training purposes and in litigation and can be a helpful resource to anyone interested in media freedom, particularly in Africa.

Author
Media Defence
2019

Training Manual on International and Comparative Media and Freedom of Expression Law

Annotation

The manual on international and comparative media and freedom of expression law consists of a 136-page guide to the international and relative freedom of expression law, introducing topics ranging from defamation to national security restrictions on free speech.

The manual is also helpful as a stand-alone overview guide to standards on media and freedom of expression law.

The manual and training presentations are for lawyers with litigation experience, but not necessarily of media, freedom of expression or human rights law. It covers international and comparative law only supplemented with relevant national law standards for the country in which they are being used

Author
Media Defence
2019

A Taxonomy of Internet Shutdowns: The Technologies Behind Network Interference

Annotation

The paper outlines the various technical mechanisms for implementing a shutdown and the options for mitigating each type. The aim is that technologists and civil society groups working to end shutdowns will find it a valuable technical resource to understand, prepare for, circumvent, and help document deliberate network disruptions.

It is intended to deepen the knowledge of technologists and digital helpdesk practitioners seeking to understand how shutdowns work and mitigate their impact. A glossary is available at the end of the document for a brief explanation of acronyms and technical terms used throughout.

Author
Access Now
2022

SLAPPs against journalists across Europe

Annotation

This report by ARTICLE 19 “provides a Europe-wide overview of lawsuits that are taken to stifle scrutiny and public debate on issues such as corruption, mismanagement of public resources, and human rights violations. Such lawsuits, known as strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) are taken by powerful individuals in society not necessarily to win cases, but to drag their critics through legal processes that drain them financially and psychologically and ultimately prevent them from exercising their fundamental rights (including freedom of expression or freedom of assembly and association). This report is based on in-depth research on SLAPP litigation against journalists in 11 countries across Europe over the last four years: Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, and the UK. Several trends emerge from the country studies.”

Author
ARTICLE 19
2022

Platform liability trends around the world: From Safe Harbours to Increased Responsibility

Annotation

This piece is a four-part blog series surveying international intermediary liability laws. Most internet users worldwide interact with online intermediaries – including internet service providers (ISPs), search engines, and social media platforms – regularly. These companies play an essential role in enabling access to information and connecting people across the globe and are significant drivers of economic growth and innovation.

As a result, the policies that intermediaries adopt to govern online marketplaces and platforms significantly shape users’ social, economic, and political lives. Such policies have major implications for users’ fundamental rights, including freedom of expression, freedom of association, and the right to privacy.

This increasingly powerful role played by intermediaries in modern society has prompted a host of policy concerns. One key policy challenge is defining online intermediaries’ legal liability for harms caused by content generated or shared by – or activities carried out by – their users or other third parties.

The piece introduced some background information and explored the global shifts in approaches to intermediary liability laws. Part Two unpacked the different approaches to intermediary liability and looked at regulatory "dials and knobs" available to policymakers. Part Three looked at some new developments taking place around the world. Finally, Part Four dived into EFF’s perspective and provided some recommendations for the future of global intermediary liability policy.

Author
Electronic Frontier Foundation
2022

Promoting Gender Equity in the Right of Access to Information

Annotation

The importance of access to information (ATI) as an internationally

 recognized human right has since been acknowledged. However, the realization of this right for women remains a challenge. While the value of information is clear, particularly for women seeking to promote and protect their rights and advance their economic empowerment, the existing legal, structural, and cultural obstacles also serve as impediments. Stakeholders must use the international mechanisms to engage the issues vigorously, and also national laws and policies must be developed and reviewed through a gendered lens to support women in overcoming the challenges faced in exercising their right to information,

This brief comes as part of UNESCO’s work as the custodian agency for SDG Indicator 16.10.2 on Public Access to Information. With a specific focus on gender parity, the brief look into international and national mechanisms to help overcome the obstacles that women face in exercising their right to information. Some of the recommendations include: To promote gender-sensitive Right to Information (RTI) laws; ensuring ATI practices are gender-sensitive; developing a comprehensive strategy, plan of action and accompanying dedicated budget to ensure that RTI is equitable, including engaging with the ministries responsible for women’s rights/gender/family/youth, other ministerial gender units and Human Rights bodies/ Ombudspersons and encouraging Open Government Partnership Commitments to include national and sub-national actions to advance an equitable right of access to information for all women.

Author
Laura Neuman
2022

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and its Potential to Foster Freedom of Expression, Access to information and Safety of journalists: Guidelines for National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs)

Annotation

The guidelines are designed explicitly for NHRIs to maximize the use of the UPR at the country level. They provide practical examples for engaging with the UPR before, during and after the review.

It is aimed to secure the active participation of as many parties as possible, and NHRIs are critical participants in this process due to their specialized role in upholding international human rights at the national level.

Hina Jilani, one of the founders of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the first Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Human Rights Defender, drafted National Human Rights Institutions guidelines. The guidelines were developed from inputs from National Human Rights Institutions worldwide and finalized in consultation with the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI).

Some of the recommendations include: Keeping parliaments informed of UPR recommendations on improving freedom of expression; drawing attention to restrictions to media freedom online and offline; highlighting recommended legal protections, including for the Safety of women journalists, that may be missing in existing legal frameworks; underline the central characteristic of freedom of expression and access to information as enablers of other rights; among others.

Author
UNESCO
2022

Equally Safe: Towards a Feminist Approach to the Safety of Journalists

Annotation

The new research, case studies from 6 countries, practical guidelines, and advocacy tools will help civil society, journalists, researchers, and policymakers to apply an intersectional feminist approach in their work.

Author
ARTICLE 19
2021

Informing the Disinfo Debate: A Policy Guide for Protecting Human Rights

Annotation

This joint report is a continuation of its 2018 predecessor, Informing the “Disinformation” Debate. The 2018 report is among the first civil society organisations to point to platforms’ problematic business models as a fundamental factor in online manipulating people’s economic and political choices. This current report unpacks the main manipulation methods that media engage in that harm fundamental rights. These methods stem directly from the platforms' business models and severely impact the absolute freedom to form an opinion and freedom of thought, including the surveillance-based advertisement, political advertising, amplification of disinformation online via content recommender systems and personalisation of news content.

Previous works informed the analysis of data protection, privacy, freedom of expression and opinion, and freedom of access to information. The primary outcome of this report is a set of policy recommendations addressed to the EU co-legislators focusing on: how to effectively mitigate fundamental rights risks that result from the manipulative methods deployed by large online platforms that exploit people’s vulnerabilities and their sensitive data; and how to combat disinformation in a manner that is fully compliant with fundamental rights standards; phasing out advertising that is based on tracking and targeting based on personal data, including inferred data; mandating accountability for platforms’ delivery algorithms to help ensure proper oversight; ensuring a strong enforcement of the General Data Protection Regulation and the adoption of a strengthened ePrivacy Regulation to eliminate intrusive targeting techniques and limit the spread of disinformation; establishing minimum safeguards for users’ default settings to require an “opt-in” to personalised content recommendations systems rather than the current default “opt-out” in the ongoing discussion on vital digital policies (DSA, DMA, ePrivacy Regulation) among others.

Author
Eliška Pírková, Filip Lukáš, Eva Simon, Franziska Otto, Diego Naranjo
2021

Digital freedom: Building an Internet Infrastructure that Protects Human Right

Annotation

This report examines the outcomes of a three-year pilot project to strengthen human rights due diligence and corporate responsibility among a critical subset of Internet infrastructure providers: registries and registrars.

The pilot project carried out in partnership with three Internet registries and registrars – Stichting Internet Domeinregistratie Nederland (SIDN), Blacknight, and Public Interest Registry (PIR) – was designed to produce a publicly-available model for assessing the particular human rights impacts and risks of Internet infrastructure providers, apply the tool to develop recommendations for each partner company, and educate staff of each partner company on the human rights framework and human rights due diligence.

The project outcome report presents observations, conclusions, and recommendations.

The outcomes of this project, i.e. the report and the human rights assessment tool, are intended to serve as essential resources for Internet infrastructure providers to meet their responsibility to respect human rights, as well as for civil society and academic stakeholders that are working toward the widespread adoption of human rights due diligence across the sector.

Author
ARTICLE 19 and the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR)
2021

Social Media Councils: One Piece in the Puzzle of Content Moderation

Annotation

The current content moderation practices allow social media companies to have significant power over people’s right to freedom of expression. Despite this, social media platforms are still not accountable for how they moderate the content. To address this, Article 19 came up with an initiative to put forward a model for a multi-stakeholder mechanism for the oversight of content moderation on social media, known as the Social Media Council (SMC). The key objectives of the SMC are to:

Review individual content moderation decisions made by social media platforms based on international standards on freedom of expression and other fundamental rights; provide general guidance on content moderation practices to ensure they follow international standards on freedom of expression and other fundamental rights, and act as a forum where stakeholders can discuss recommendations; use a voluntary-compliance approach to the oversight of content moderation that does not create legal obligations.

Discussions with Irish stakeholders have indicated a genuine interest in creating a pilot SMC in Ireland. This report summarises these discussions and recommends the creation of a working group to carry the project forward.

Author
Article 19
2022

Communications of the UN Special Procedures: An Advocacy Guide for Civil Society Organisations

Annotation

The new guidelines launched by Article 19 is an advocacy tool for Civil society organisations to promote and protect people’s rights. It explains how civil society organisations can engage with the Special Procedures to help prevent and cease violations, conduct investigations, bring perpetrators to justice, and provide remedies to victims or their families. Using the Special Procedures can be a powerful means of drawing attention to human rights violations and pressuring governments to reform laws and policies and bring about justice. Unlike existing guidelines, they are efficient and uniquely tailored to journalists, human rights defenders, freedom of expression organisations, and civil society groups.

The new guidelines launched by Article 19 is an advocacy tool for Civil society organisations to promote and protect people’s rights. It explains how civil society organisations can engage with the Special Procedures to help prevent and cease violations, conduct investigations, bring perpetrators to justice, and provide remedies to victims or their families. Using the Special Procedures can be a powerful means of drawing attention to human rights violations and pressuring governments to reform laws and policies and bring about justice. Unlike existing guidelines, they are efficient and uniquely tailored to journalists, human rights defenders, freedom of expression organisations, and civil society groups.

 

Author
Article 19
2021

Gender Approaches to Cybersecurity: Design, Defence and Response

Annotation

The report points out the relevance of gender norms to cybersecurity. It draws on existing research, supplemented by stakeholder and expert interviews, to assess gender-based differences in the social roles and interaction of women, men and non-binary people of all ages reflected in the distribution of power (e.g. influence over policy decisions and corporate governance), access to resources (e.g. equitable access to education, wages or privacy protections), and construction of gender norms and roles (e.g. assumptions regarding victims and perpetrators of cyber-facilitated violence).

It looked at gender norms in two ways. First, gender constructs individual identities, roles and expectations within cybersecurity and broader society, such as the frequent association of technical expertise with men and masculinity. Second, gender operates as a form of hierarchical social structure. This means that activities and concepts associated with masculinity, such as technical expertise, are often, but not always, valued over those associated with women and femininity—concepts such as communications expertise or equality, diversity and inclusion initiatives.

The report proposes a new cyber-centric framework to understand better how gender shapes specific cybersecurity activities. The framework is based on the three pillars of design, defence and response, aligned with overall perspectives among cybersecurity practitioners and policymakers. In each of these three pillars, the research identifies distinct dimensions of cyber-related activities that should be considered from a gender perspective.

Author
Katharine Millar, James Shires, Tatiana Tropina.
2020

Creating Safe Online Spaces for Women: Policy Brief

Annotation

The policy brief aims 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 four months. Case studies were picked out of the hashtags and classified into themes.

A key finding is that Kenya has good policies, but the lack of impact of such policies is the problem. Some laws, for example, cover issues such as "revenge porn", sharing of private messages, and defamation, among others. The problem then stems from the perception of the internet as a luxury where one can opt out when things get unpleasant; law enforcement does not take reports of cyber harassment as seriously as they should.

It also revealed that both men and women are victims of cyber harassment. However, it highlighted some differences: women face more cyber harassment than men, and the nature of such harassment is harsher as it focuses on social issues, ranging from body shaming to questioning their career suitability and qualifications.

The fact that Kenya has good policies to deal with online gender-based violence indicates that cyber harassment is not stopped by law but rather by a narrative change.

The policy–brief recommended bringing more women into these spaces to challenge and change the narrative, for example, suggesting that media organisations should support female journalists in information and communications technology (ICT) reporting and other male-dominated fields. It also called for creating online reporting and support platforms as a more direct approach to online harassment.

Author
Liz Orembo and Mwara Gichanga
2020

Dialling in the Law: A Comparative Assessment of Jurisprudence on Internet Shutdowns

Annotation

The report highlights the jurisprudence across the global South on the legality of internet shutdowns. It addresses the growing challenge of government-mandated disruptions of internet access worldwide, mainly under the guise of safeguarding public order and upholding national security interests. The report also considers how internet access restriction 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.

Author
Aayush Rathi, Arindrajit Basu and Anoushka Soni
2020

Gender Justice and the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression

Annotation

This is an APC's contribution to the issue of gender justice and its intersection with the right to freedom of opinion and expression from a feminist perspective. APC acknowledges that technology-mediated environments can hinder expression by exacerbating gender-based violence against women and other people who experience multiple and intersecting forms of exclusion and discrimination in all spheres of human interaction. It also acknowledged that a deep understanding of ICT-related implications is crucial to thwarting potential risks of gender-based violence and its impacts on freedom of expression and opinion.

It highlighted some recommendations that resulted from the research work and shared some good practices to combat online gender-based violence and reinforce the exercise of the rights related to this mandate.

It reflects the main barriers, challenges and threats that result in the curtailment of expression and the chilling effect it has on a wide range of rights, including sexual rights, the right to participate in public affairs, and the right to be free from discrimination, among others. This was done by reviewing the repercussions that gendered disinformation has on women's public participation, activism and work.

The submission also identified the role of governments and social media platforms. It offered recommendations to adopt an integrated approach to gendered disinformation as a problem related to but different from gender-based online violence.

Author
Association for Progressive Communications
2022

Internet Shutdowns and Human Rights

Annotation

The Authors produced this submission in response to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for input to a report on internet shutdowns and human rights that will be presented to the 50th session of the Human Rights Council in June 2022.

It outlined the mandated disruptions of communications during the past five years – ranging from complete national internet shutdowns to regional internet shutdowns to social media shutdowns – in four regions (Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East and North Africa), based on the work and reports of APC members.

Furthermore, it looked into the impacts of internet shutdowns, focusing on the following areas: The gender impact of internet shutdowns; the impact of shutdowns on media and journalism; the economic impact of internet shutdowns; the impact of shutdowns on education; social and psychological impacts and impacts on human rights.

The third section explored the various initiatives to promote internet connectivity and digital bridge divides, given the crucial role played by access to the internet for the full exercise of the entire spectrum of human rights in a world where billions of people remain "unconnected".

Lastly, it ended with a series of recommendations aimed primarily at states which include: Calling on states to refrain from engaging in this practice; taking measures to restrict the concentration of digital service provision and networking spaces by a few companies that have led to internet centralization; states and the international community should support the realization of the right of people to shape and use the internet and digital meaningfully

technologies to meet their specific needs and realities, among others.

Author
Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and Derechos Digitales
2021

Unhealthy Silence: Censorship of COVID-19 Reporting and Scrutiny

Annotation

To commemorate the World Press Freedom Day, ARTICLE 19, Coalition for Human Rights in Development and IFEX relaunched their joint report that examined threats against and censorship of journalists and health workers who reported on or criticized responses to the COVID-19 pandemic  – whether by governments, public development banks or other institutions.

The report, originally published on July 27, 2021, highlights the vicious retaliation against people who raised questions about the responses to the pandemic and exposes how development banks failed to take actions to prevent and address reprisals linked to the COVID-19 projects they supported.

Since the pandemic, doctors, nurses, journalists and other frontline workers have courageously criticized or scrutinized the inadequate responses to COVID-19. Many of them have been threatened, attacked, or arrested for doing so.

Most of the perpetrators of retaliation have primarily been governments and their proxies. These violations have taken place amidst the complete silence and inaction of development banks playing a crucial role in shaping and funding those COVID-19 responses that journalists and defenders are reporting.

Author
ARTICLE 19, Coalition for Human Rights in Development and IFEX
2022

Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression and Gender Justice

Annotation

On May 3, 2022, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Representative on Freedom of the Media, the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information and the Organization of American States (OAS) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression launched their 2022 Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression and Gender Justice. The Joint Declaration sets out important recommendations for States, tech companies, media outlets and other stakeholders.

The Joint Declaration offers a series of recommendations to all key stakeholders – States, the private sector, media outlets and civil society – on promoting gender equity and justice both online and offline to ensure the full and effective exercise of the right to freedom of expression. The Joint Declaration hopes to enshrine itself as an intersectional instrument to encourage all stakeholders to tackle the issue of gender inequality.

 The recommendations include:

  • States should remove structural and systemic barriers to equality, as well as discriminatory laws, policies and practices that impede women’s full enjoyment of all human rights;
  • States should protect and promote the participation and equality of women in the media sector;
  • States should enact specific legislation or update existing laws to prohibit, investigate and prosecute online sexual and gender-based violence;
  • Media outlets should increase women's representation as managers and other positions.

 

Author
Center for Law and Democracy
2021

Report on Gender Justice and Freedom of Expression

Annotation

In the report, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Irene Khan, notes that, despite the impressive gains made by women, gender equality in freedom of expression remains a distant goal. Through a gender lens, she examines the challenges that women face, offline and online, and analyses the relevant legal standards and the responsibilities of States and companies. The report reaffirms the mutually reinforcing nature of gender equality and the right to freedom of opinion and expression. The rapporteur underlines the vital importance of their inclusive realization to achieve peace, democracy and sustainable development. The Special Rapporteur also makes specific recommendations to States, the international community and companies to create an enabling environment and safe digital space for women's equal enjoyment of freedom of opinion and expression.

Author
United Nation
2020

The Struggle for the Realisation of the Right to Freedom of Expression in Southern Africa

Annotation

The report focused on the content of the right to freedom of expression and assessed restrictions to the right. The first session assessed the international human rights framework on the right to freedom of expression as set out in international treaties and other appropriate resources to distil the key elements of the right. While the second session looked at the legal position on the circumstances under which the right to freedom of expression may be limited. Session three explored the key case studies across Southern Africa that raised serious concerns about existing or prospective laws that would likely stifle the right to freedom of expression. The last session used a forward-looking approach to consider what strategies can be used to safeguard the right to freedom of expression and set out recommendations for different stakeholder groups, including state and Private Sector Actors. Some of the commendations include:  States should expressly recognise in their domestic frameworks that the right to freedom of expression – as contained in constitutional, regional and international human rights frameworks – applies equally both on- and offline; States should not engage in or condone any disruption of access to the internet and other digital technologies for segments of the public or an entire population; Private sector actors, including ISPs and social media platforms, should not impose content filtering systems that are not end-user controlled; Private sector actors should ensure that products designed to facilitate end-user filtering are accompanied by clear information to end-users about how they work and their potential pitfalls in terms of over-inclusive filtering among others.

The report did not cover all the laws in the respective countries in Southern Africa. Instead, it identified those laws that are seen to be of most concern in the present time, taking into account the country's political, social, and economic landscape.

It identified the key trends and recommendations for states, private sector actors and civil society to consider in developing laws, policies and measures that impact the right to freedom of expression.

The need for this report was identified at a meeting of the Southern African members of the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms (AfDec) Coalition. It was recognised that while the right to freedom of expression is firmly entrenched at the domestic, regional and international levels, the realisation of this right remains a struggle in practice, particularly in the digital era. 

Author
African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms Coalition (AfDEC)
2020

A provisional Analysis of the Impact of Telecommunications Policy and Regulatory Frameworks in Africa and COVID-19: A Community Networks Perspective

Annotation

This article explores how national and regional responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted human rights online. It also examines the widening digital divide and the role telecommunication policy and regulatory frameworks play in closing these gaps. Two preliminary observations inform the article. First, regional state and non-state actors predominantly view the pandemic through clinical lenses while essentially projecting its current and anticipated impact in public health and socioeconomic terms. Second, the responses have been state-centred, resulting in widening the digital divide and violating digital rights, such as the right to information and freedom of expression.

It compared inequalities online and offline, especially as it affects work and education and how this is impacted by the digital divide and the potential capacity of community networks in Africa to provide access during and beyond COVID-19. 

Lastly, it discusses the importance of bottom-up approaches to fighting the pandemic and the role of community and community-based organisations such as community networks, radios and health centres.

Author
Josephine Miliza
2021

Journalism Blocked, Information Seized: A Tale of how Internet Shutdown Crippled Media Work in Uganda

Annotation

This report sought to explore the impact of the recent internet shutdown on journalists during the election period in Uganda. It highlights the findings of a preliminary study that sought to establish the effect of the internet shutdown on the media's role in covering and relaying information to citizens in an electoral process. In addition, it reveals the experiences journalists have with the internet shutdown and how it affects their work both in the city and countryside.

The study used qualitative and quantitative data collection tools that included conducting in-depth interviews with journalists and representatives of media houses.

It also explored, among other issues, how the development of technology, specifically the internet, is complementing the role of the media in Uganda and the economic impact of the internet shutdown on individual journalists and media houses.

Author
Unwanted Witness
2021

Mapping and Analysis of Privacy Laws and Policies in Africa: Summary Report

Annotation

This analysis can inform remedial and mitigatory steps to protect the right to privacy, including strategic litigation, capacity building, and advocacy for legislative and policy reforms. Moreover, the results of this analysis are also crucial for monitoring developments and trends in privacy regulation and practice in the region.

Author
Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA)
2021

Uganda’s Digital ID System: A Cocktail of Discrimination

Annotation

The new preliminary report presents findings of a study that seeks to establish the impact of a national identity card system in Uganda (commonly known as “Ndaga Muntu") on people's economic, social and cultural rights concerning the state's obligations to provide services. The research obtains a random sample of 76 respondents (53% male and 47% female). Data was collected using qualitative and quantitative tools and was analysed using Excel and Stata software.

From the findings, 25% of male and 13% of female respondents were uncomfortable with sharing a lot of personal information before getting an ID. Information relating to ethnicity, tribe, parents' details, TIN, occupation, address and spouse details were considered an invasion of their privacy and a ploy by the government to spy on them.

The most significant data insecurity and mistrust levels were among those over 50 and under 30 years. The reason given for this was that there were high chances of data misuse, bribery and data hacking. Among the sampled respondents, most had no problem with their data written on the front and the back of the card, although they wanted a phone number added on the ID for easy contact if it was lost or in case of an emergency.

Out of the total population sampled, only 12% of respondents had obtained their National IDs at the study time. A proportion of 88% had submitted their registration forms but had not received their National IDs, having waited for over six months.

The report recommended that the parliament of Uganda should review section 66 of the Registration of Persons Act, 2015. Suspend the pre-conditioning of the enjoyment of basic fundamental freedoms and rights to a National ID immediately until the National Identification and Regulatory Authority (NIRA) has the total capacity to deliver on its mandate. The government should strengthen NIRA's human, financial, and technical resources to efficiently and effectively execute the agency's mandate of providing National ID to Ugandans promptly, among others.

Author
Unwanted Witness
2021

Privacy and personal data protection in Africa: A rights-based survey of legislation in eight countries

Annotation

The new preliminary report presents findings of a study that seeks to establish the impact of a national identity card system in Uganda (commonly known as “Ndaga Muntu") on people's economic, social and cultural rights concerning the state's obligations to provide services. The research obtains a random sample of 76 respondents (53% male and 47% female). Data was collected using qualitative and quantitative tools and was analysed using Excel and Stata software.

From the findings, 25% of male and 13% of female respondents were uncomfortable with sharing a lot of personal information before getting an ID. Information relating to ethnicity, tribe, parents' details, TIN, occupation, address and spouse details were considered an invasion of their privacy and a ploy by the government to spy on them.

The most significant data insecurity and mistrust levels were among those over 50 and under 30 years. The reason given for this was that there were high chances of data misuse, bribery and data hacking. Among the sampled respondents, most had no problem with their data written on the front and the back of the card, although they wanted a phone number added on the ID for easy contact if it was lost or in case of an emergency.

Out of the total population sampled, only 12% of respondents had obtained their National IDs at the study time. A proportion of 88% had submitted their registration forms but had not received their National IDs, having waited for over six months.

The report recommended that the parliament of Uganda should review section 66 of the Registration of Persons Act, 2015. Suspend the pre-conditioning of the enjoyment of basic fundamental freedoms and rights to a National ID immediately until the National Identification and Regulatory Authority (NIRA) has the total capacity to deliver on its mandate. The government should strengthen NIRA's human, financial, and technical resources to enable efficiency and effective execution of the agency's mandate of providing National ID to Ugandans promptly, among others.

Author
African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms Coalition
2022

"Hated Speech" and the Costs of Freedom in India

Annotation

This research report seeks to draw out the analytical category of "hated speech" to define an affective dimension of communication and the communicative dimension of hate. It focused on those at the receiving end of hate - speaking up against injustices and speaking truth to power and experiences and observations of what it means to speak truth to power and receive hate as it is manifested through varying degrees of violence across various instances.

The research report presents three sections in understanding hated speech drawing on the responses from 15 interviewees": (a) forestalling speech, (b) speech in polarised and reactionary contexts, and (c) speaking for oneself in one's voice. The report ends by enunciating hope, reflecting on possibilities and pathways for solidarity building and reflexive collective action.

Author
Preeti Raghunath
2021

Online caste-hate speech: Pervasive discrimination and humiliation on social media

Annotation

 

In India, religious texts, social customs, rituals, and everyday cultural practices legitimise the use of hate speech against marginalised caste groups. Notions of "purity" of “upper-caste” groups, and conversely of "pollution" of “lower-caste” groups, have made the latter subject to discrimination, violence and dehumanisation. These dynamics invariably manifest online, with social media platforms becoming sites of caste discrimination and humiliation.

This report explores two research questions. First, what are the specific contours of caste-hate speech and abuse online? Semi-structured interviews with 12 scholars and activists belonging to Dalit, Bahujan and Adivasi (DBA) groups show that marginalised groups regularly face hate and harassment based on their caste. In addition to the overt hatred, DBA individuals and groups are often targeted with abuse for availing reservations – a constitutionally mandated right. More covert forms of hate and abuse are also prevalent: trolls mix caste names and words from different languages to make their comments meaningless to individuals who are not keenly aware of the local context.

Such hateful expression often emerges as a reaction from "upper-caste" groups to DBA resistance and social justice movements. Our respondents reported that the hateful expression could sometimes silence caste-marginalised groups and individuals, exclude them from conversations, and adversely impact their physical and mental well-being.

The second question is how popular social media platforms and online spaces moderate caste-hate speech and abuse? The community guidelines, policies and transparency reports of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Clubhouse were analysed. The report showed that Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube incorporated "caste" as a protected characteristic in their hate speech and harassment policies only in the last two or three years – many years after entering Indian and South Asian markets – showing a disregard for the regionalism contexts of their users. Even after these policy changes, many platforms – whose forms for reporting harmful content list gender and race – still do not list caste.

Author
Damni Kain, Shivangi Narayan, Torsha Sarkar and Gurshabad Grover
2021

Of Social Discipline and Control: The Impact of Fake News and Disinformation on Minorities in Indonesia

Annotation

This study sets out to analyse the qualitative impact of fake news on Indonesia's racial, ethnic and sexual minority communities. Indonesia presents an interesting case, given how the effect of disinformation in the country has been particularly pronounced. The rampant spread of disinformation extensively impinged the integrity of the Jakarta gubernatorial elections in 2017 and the presidential elections in 2019. It has also been implicated in long-standing ethno-religious violence and discrimination against minority groups. This study investigates three research questions: first, what disinformation campaigns affecting minority groups have emerged in Indonesia? Next, how have these campaigns influenced and shaped the social behaviour of minorities? Lastly, how is the state implicated in the problem, and to what extent are state responses considered adequate? The study draws on primary data collected through interviews with Indonesian citizens belonging to influential minority groups.

Author
Ric Neo, Jason DC Yin, Albert Au
2021

Regulating Social Media in Nigeria: A Quantitative Perception Study

Annotation

The study seeks to understand the perception of everyday Nigerian social media users towards government's attempt to regulate social media, amidst the recently proposed Social Media Regulation Bill by the Nigerian lawmakers. The respondents randomly selected for this study were the University of Abuja students and the researcher adopted the survey research design to collect information from the population through questionnaires. The findings indicated that despite respondents' awareness of the possible demerits of unregulated social media, majority of them (54%) kick against the idea of social media regulation, while a substantial (46%) support the move on the provision that it is not politicized. The study, therefore, recommends transparency and openness on the part of government officials for better cooperation by the public.

Author
Mohammed Abdullateef
2021

A Theory of Media Freedom

Annotation

The article examines the notion of media freedom and the development of two cultures of media freedom. The negative rights approach which is more prevalent in US law is increasingly separated from the more positive rights approach of international human rights and the ECHR. The article outlines the elements of a conditional, institutional approach to media freedom that combines both positive and negative approaches. The article examines the implications of this theory for some contemporary policy questions about the regulation of internet intermediaries in Europe.

 

Author
Damian Tambini
2022

EU: ARTICLE 19’s Recommendations for the European Media Freedom Act

Annotation

On March 20, 2022, ARTICLE 19 submitted its response to the European Commission’s Public Consultation for the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA), legislation which aims to ensure that media freedom and pluralism are the pillars of democracy in the EU. ARTICLE 19 lauds the initiative, as it has long warned that the EU law should consider media not simply as economic actors, but recognise independent journalism as a public good that needs protecting in its own right. Its submission makes several recommendations on how the EMFA should achieve these goals and improve the protection of the freedom of the media in the EU and beyond. 

Author
Article 19
2022

New Guidelines for Protecting Women Journalists

Annotation

ARTICLE 19’s three practical guidelines focus on how an intersectional gender approach can enhance the safety of all women journalists – and how civil society organisations can mainstream this into their work. The new guidelines provide practical recommendations for how civil society organisations working on the safety of journalists can implement this approach.

 

Author
ARTICLE 19
2022

The Safety Guide for Journalists Covering Pandemics in Africa

Annotation

The guide provides some insights on how African journalists may best protect themselves going forward, while the report maps the challenges experienced by the media and proposes solutions for sustaining good journalism in the continent. “The Safety Guide for Journalists covering Pandemics in Africa was co-funded by UNESCO’s Multidonor Programme on Freedom of Expression and the Safety of Journalists (MDP) and the #Coronavirusfacts project supported by the European Union.

Author
African Editors Forum
2022

Reporting at a Distance: The Impact of COVID-19 on Journalists and Journalism in Africa

Annotation

It represents the culmination of a qualitative study conducted in sixteen African countries from the five regions of Africa: North, Southern, West, Eastern and Central Africa. The study was informed by international trends prevalent in media revealed by research. Interviews were conducted in the selected countries and were subjected to thematic analysis to discover the common themes in the diverse media landscapes represented in the sample.

Author
African Editors Forum
2022

The Safety of Women Journalists: All You Need to Know About States’ Obligations and Commitments to Strengthen Your Advocacy

Annotation

ARTICLE 19 and IFEX launched the first in a series of #JournoSafe AdvoSheets, comprehensive but easy-to-use advocacy tools for media freedom and safety of journalists’ advocates. To mark International Women’s Day, the first AdvoSheet focuses on protecting women journalists, setting out what States must do to protect journalists, their obligations under international human rights law and their commitments

Author
Article 19 / International Freedom of Information Exchange (IFEX)
2020

Resolution 44/12, Freedom of Opinion and Expression. A/HRC/RES/44/12/

Annotation

In this resolution, the Human Rights Council, guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, reaffirmed that the right to freedom of opinion and expression, both online and offline, is a human right guaranteed to all, in accordance with article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, that it constitutes one of the essential foundations of democratic societies and development, and that it is critical to combating corruption, recognized that the effective exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression is an important indicator of the level of protection of other human rights and freedoms, and bearing in mind that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, and acknowledged the important role of business enterprises in the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and in enabling access to information.

Called on all States to promote, protect, respect and ensure the full enjoyment of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, both online and offline, and to take all measures necessary to put an end to and to prevent violations and abuses of these rights and ensure that relevant national legislation complies with their international human rights obligations and is effectively implemented.

Author
United Nation
2021

The Global Expression Report 2021: The State of Freedom of Expression around the World

Annotation

The Global Expression Report is a global, data-informed, annual look at freedom of expression worldwide (The Global Expression Report's metric (the GxR Metric) tracks freedom of expression worldwide). The report explores the benefit of data and hindsight explores the state of freedom of expression in the world, key trends in 2020 and how global events affected the exercise of the right to freedom of expression. The report used 25 indicators to create overall freedom of expression score for every 161 countries, placing it in an expression category on a scale of 1 to 100.

Author
Article 19
2021

Hate Speech Laws and Blasphemy Laws: Parallels Show Problems with the U.N. Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech

Annotation

“In May 2019, the United Nations Secretary-General introduced the U.N. Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech, an influential campaign that poses serious risks to religious and political minorities because its definition of hate speech parallels elements common to blasphemy laws. U.N. human rights entities have denounced blasphemy laws because they are vague, broad, and prone to arbitrary enforcement, enabling the authorities to use them to attack religious minorities, political opponents, and people who have minority viewpoints. Likewise, the Strategy and Plan of Action’s definition of hate speech is ambiguous and relies entirely on subjective interpretation, opening the door to arbitrary and malicious accusations and prosecutions. The campaign gives cover to countries that want to continue their blasphemy laws—under the guise of banning hate speech—with the endorsement of the United Nations. Indeed, examples of enforcement of hate speech laws in Indonesia, Russia, North Macedonia, and Denmark reveal that countries use these laws, just as they use blasphemy laws, to punish the expression of minority viewpoints. This Article is the first to highlight the dangers posed to religious and political minorities by the U.N. Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech, which will only become more influential within the United Nations and across U.N. Member States the longer it is left unchecked. This Article shows human rights advocates and Member States that support minority rights why they must immediately denounce and call for the revocation of the campaign.”

Author
Meghan Fischer
2021

The Freedom of Thought Report 2021: Key Countries Edition

Annotation

As the American Humanist Association noted while launching the 10th Annual Freedom of Thought Report, “The 2021 Freedom of Thought report details the risks faced by nonreligious individuals around the world. The focus is on state-imposed discrimination, defined as systemic, legal, or official forms of restrictions on freedom of thought, belief, and expression. The report sharply criticizes Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, as well as other countries, for grave violations against the rights of nonreligious people, including the enforcement of blasphemy laws, religious or ideological indoctrination in schools, and more. The 2021 report includes consideration of recent developments in Myanmar and Uruguay as well.”

Author
Humanists International
2021

Free to Think 2021: Report of Scholars at Risk Academic Freedom Monitoring Project

Annotation

“Free to Think 2021 is the seventh installment of an annual report by SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project. The report analyzes 332 attacks on higher education communities in 65 countries and territories around the world between September 1, 2020 and August 31, 2021. Free to Think 2021 reflects a fraction of attacks on higher education that have occurred over the past year. These attacks demonstrate the range of tactics by diverse actors seeking to punish and silence scholars, students, and other members of higher education communities exercising their right to ideas. They discourage research, teaching, and discussion. They undermine universities, colleges, and research institutions attempting to provide solutions to problems that impact everyone, from COVID-19 to climate change. They impede the ability of higher education to help shape tomorrow’s leaders. We must defend against these attacks. We must strengthen and promote academic freedom and quality higher education. Our future depends on it. Scholars at Risk calls on states, higher education communities, and civil society around the world to respond to these attacks: to reject violence and coercion aimed at restricting inquiry and expression; to protect threatened scholars, students, and higher education institutions; and to reaffirm publicly their commitment to academic freedom and support for the principles that critical discourse is not disloyalty, that ideas are not crimes, and that everyone must be free to think, question, and share their ideas.”

Author
Scholars at Risk
2021

Freedom on the Net 2021: The Global Drive to Control Big Tech

Annotation

“Freedom on the Net is an annual study of human rights in the digital sphere. The project assesses internet freedom in 70 countries, accounting for 88 percent of the world’s internet users. This report, the 11th in its series, covered developments between June 2020 and May 2021.” Its key findings are: “1) Global internet freedom declined for the 11th consecutive year; 2) Governments clashed with technology companies on users’ rights; 3) Free expression online is under unprecedented strain; 4) China ranks as the worst environment for internet freedom for the seventh year in a row; 5) The United States’ score declined for the fifth consecutive year; and, 6) State intervention must protect human rights online and preserve an open internet…[The uploaded report] is a summary of findings for the 2021 edition of Freedom on the Net. Narrative reports on the 70 countries assessed in this study can be found on our website at freedomonthenet.org.” 

Author
Freedom House
2021

The Media for Democracy Monitor 2021: How Leading News Media Survive Digital Transformation

Annotation

“To what extent do structures and conduct of leading news media correspond with requirements of contemporary democracies? Based on a root concept of democracy and several empirical indicators, the Media for Democracy Monitor (MDM) delivers a panorama of the news media’s performance regarding freedom, equality, and control across several countries. In 2011, the MDM analysed 10 democracies. Ten years later, it covers 18 countries worldwide and pinpoints essential strengths and weaknesses during this decade of digitalisation. Around the globe, news [is] highly attractive to users, and the journalistic ethos of watchdogs and investigators is paramount. On the downside, journalistic job security eroded over time, and gender gaps both in content and employment patterns remain strikingly excessive in most countries. Volume one contains countries present in the 2011 MDM edition, allowing for longitudinal comparative analysis: Australia, Austria, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Volume two contains all countries analysed for the first time in 2021: Belgium (Flanders), Canada, Chile, Denmark, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Italy, and South Korea.”

Author
Nordicom (Josef Trappel and Tales Tomaz (eds.))
2021

Freedom of Speech and Media Plurality in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Annotation

“Alongside the COVID-19 pandemic, the governmental restrictions related to it were a stress test for multiple areas related to human rights, including the freedom of speech and media plurality. Specifically, concerns have been raised over the respect of the freedom of expression, both for individuals and the media, in several Eastern Partnership countries. This analysis focuses on identifying positive and negative changes with regards to freedom of speech and media resulting from policies related to COVID-19, examining the role of media in providing reliable information about COVID-19, evaluating the role of digitalisation on independent media, and assessing the impact of the strengthened strategic communication and support for media in the implementation of the 20 Deliverables for 2020.”

Author
Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (Giselle Bosse, Moritz Höpner, and Alena Vieira)
2020

Artificial Intelligence and Freedom of Expression

Annotation

“Artificial intelligence (AI) – a broad concept used in policy discussions to refer to many different types of technology – greatly influences and impacts the way people seek, receive, impart and access information and how they exercise their right to freedom of expression in the digital ecosystem. If implemented responsibly, AI can benefit societies, but there is a genuine risk that its deployment by States and private companies, such as internet intermediaries, could have a deteriorating effect on human rights… [This Paper] maps the key challenges to freedom of expression presented by AI across the OSCE region, in light of international and regional standards on human rights and AI. It identifies a number of overarching problems that AI poses to freedom of expression and human rights in general, in particular: (a.) The limited understanding of the implications for freedom of expression caused by AI, in particular machine learning; (b.) Lack of respect for freedom of expression in content moderation and curation; (c.) State and non-State actors circumventing due process and rule of law in AI-powered content moderation; (d.) Lack of transparency regarding the entire process of AI design, deployment and implementation; (e.) Lack of accountability and independent oversight over AI systems; and, (f.) Lack of effective remedies for violation of the right to freedom of expression in relation to AI. This Paper observes that these problems became more pronounced in the first months of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic incentivized States and the private sector to use AI even more, as part of measures introduced in response to the pandemic. A tendency to revert to technocratic solutions, including AI-powered tools, without adequate societal debate or democratic scrutiny was witnessed. Using four specific case studies (“security threats”; “hate speech”; media pluralism and diversity online; and the impact of AI-powered State surveillance on freedom of expression), this Paper shows how these problems manifest themselves. This Paper concludes that there is a need to further raise awareness, and improve understanding, of the impact of AI related to decision-making policies and practices on freedom of expression, next to having a more systematic overview of regional approaches and methodologies in the OSCE region. It provides a number of preliminary recommendations to OSCE participating States and internet intermediaries, to help ensure that freedom of expression and information are better protected when AI is deployed.”

Author
OSCE
2020

Manifesto on the Freedom of Expression of Arts and Culture in the Digital Era

Annotation

As the Council of Europe Newsroom reports, “The Council of Europe has launched a Manifesto on the Freedom of Expression of Arts and Culture in the Digital Era. The Manifesto sums up the importance of artistic creation and cultural industry for our democratic societies as well as the protection, which Article 10 of the European convention on human rights extends to the freedom of artistic expression. Freedom of speech is also the freedom to create. The power of art to communicate and open up new perspectives and ideas makes the artist, artistic mobility and artistic freedom strategic resources for society, helping to overcome fragmentation and addressing today's global challenges. Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić has endorsed Manifesto on the Freedom of Expression of Arts and Culture in the Digital Era: ‘Freedom of artistic expression is part of freedom of expression, protected by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Manifesto on the Freedom of Expression of Arts and Culture in the Digital Era is a political commitment to promote the right of artists to express themselves freely even under difficult circumstances. Freedom of artistic expression is facing growing pressure. More and more artists, experts and cultural professionals who hint at problems, spell out uncomfortable truths, make the unseen visible are subject to pressure, censorship, intimidation and harassment. Moreover, the COVID-19 crisis has severely affected the working conditions and income of artists and the cultural and creative sector as a whole. The Manifesto draws attention to these risks and sends a clear political signal to protect openness and creativity, which are essential ingredients of our democracies’.” 

Author
Council of Europe, Wolfgang Benedek and Matthias C. Kettemann
2021

The Concept of Chilling Effect: Its Untapped Potential to Better Protect Democracy, The Rule of Law, and Fundamental Rights in the EU

Annotation

As Open Society Foundations summarizes this incisive and timely report, “This publication from the Open Society European Policy Institute, the Brussels-based policy and advocacy branch of the Open Society Foundations network, and authored by Professor Laurent Pech, examines whether it is possible to use the chilling effect to promote and protect democracy, rule of law, and fundamental rights. In its negative form, the chilling effect is used by some governments to create a climate of self-censorship that deters democratic actors such as journalists, advocates and judges from speaking out. To stop autocratic-minded authorities from achieving their goal of inspiring self-censorship among democratic actors, this report recommends systemically integrating the concept of chilling effect into the EU’s infringement framework of analysis. This will establish a foundation to better allow the EU to protect freedom of association, judicial independence, and media freedom.”

Author
Open Society European Policy Institute (Laurent Pech)
2021

The Impact of Disinformation on Democratic Processes and Human Rights in the World

Annotation

“Around the world, disinformation is spreading and becoming a more complex phenomenon based on emerging techniques of deception. Disinformation undermines human rights and many elements of good quality democracy; but counter-disinformation measures can also have a prejudicial impact on human rights and democracy. COVID-19 compounds both these dynamics and has unleashed more intense waves of disinformation, allied to human rights and democracy setbacks. Effective responses to disinformation are needed at multiple levels, including formal laws and regulations, corporate measures and civil society action. While the EU has begun to tackle disinformation in its external actions, it has scope to place greater stress on the human rights dimension of this challenge. In doing so, the EU can draw upon best practice examples from around the world that tackle disinformation through a human rights lens. This study proposes steps the EU can take to build counter-disinformation more seamlessly into its global human rights and democracy policies.”

Author
European Parliament (Carme Colomina, Héctor Sánchez Margalef, and Richard Youngs)
2021

The State of Free Speech Online

Annotation

“This report examines the state of free speech online, mapping the impact of social media companies’ corporatisation of speech standards and the Government’s role in creating a two-tier speech system. It is the product of over two years of research on online censorship, during which major themes have emerged: “hate speech” including speech on sex, gender and race; political posts, including left-wing and right-wing posts; and posts relating to health, from mental health to Covid-19. It is fully expected that readers will find some of example banned posts in this report disagreeable, misguided or offensive. However, we ask you not to judge your agreement with these posts, but to probe the more important questions – first, should this lawful content be censored by a private company and second, should lawful speech be censored with the state’s backing? Readers should also note that the examples cited in this report are merely a fraction of the unjustified censorship that we have researched and that, no doubt, has not fallen within the confines of our research. Some readers will, rightly, feel that certain forms of unfair social media censorship are not represented in this report. Our examples are not intended to be a comprehensive or fully representative example – such a task would be impossible, given the scale and opacity of corporate censorship online. However, it is a snapshot of some of the major themes we uncovered in the course of our team’s research. The report goes on to consider the draft Online Safety Bill and why the proposals would materially damage the right to free expression online. Finally, we put forward recommendations for policymakers on how to keep our online space safe and free.”

Author
Big Brother Watch
2021

The Global Expression Report 2021: The State of Freedom of Expression around the World

Annotation

“The Global Expression Report is a global, data-informed, annual look at freedom of expression worldwide. With the benefit of data and hindsight, we take a look at 2020 – how this fundamental right fared, what the key trends were, and how global events affected its exercise. The Global Expression Report’s metric (the GxR Metric) tracks freedom of expression across the world. In 161 countries, 25 indicators were used to create an overall freedom of expression score for every country, on a scale of 1 to 100 which places it in an expression category. The GxR reflects not only the rights of journalists and civil society but also how much space there is for each of us – as individuals and members of organisations – to express and communicate; how free each and every person is to post online, to march, to research, and to access the information we need to participate in society and hold those with power to account. This report covers expression’s many faces: from street protest to social media posts; from the right to information to the right to express political dissent, organise, offend, or make jokes. It also looks at the right to express without fear of harassment, legal repercussions, or violence.”

Author
ARTICLE 19
2021

The State of Artistic Freedom 2021

Annotation

“In the State of Artistic Freedom report – a research publication produced annually – Freemuse provides an analytical examination of violations to the right to freedom of artistic expression documented through 2020 and present some of the most prevailing restrictions. This report is based on the analyses of 978 incidents where this right was violated, documented in 89 countries and online. In addition to statistical data, Freemuse also utilises qualitative interviews with 70 artists and relevant experts, providing personal experiences, reflections and insights about the limitations put on artistic freedom. Aiming to illustrate varying problems and obstacles artists face in different parts of the world, Freemuse also provides analysis of the state of artistic freedoms in 15 countries: Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Iran, Kenya, Kuwait, Nigeria, Russia, Turkey, Uganda, and the United States of America. The report demonstrates that although artistic expression has been under attack by different actors (including political and religious groups, social media platforms and private individuals), different government authorities instigated violations in 60 percent of documented cases. This data illustrates that governments and state-funded bodies remain the biggest threat to artistic expression, as well as that nationalist and populist authorities stay determined to silence varying ways of voicing political dissent.”

Author
Freemuse
2020

Resilience to Online Disinformation: A Framework for Cross-National Comparative Research

Annotation

“Online disinformation is considered a major challenge for modern democracies. It is widely understood as misleading content produced to generate profits, pursue political goals, or maliciously deceive. Our starting point is the assumption that some countries are more resilient to online disinformation than others. To understand what conditions influence this resilience, we choose a comparative cross-national approach. In the first step, we develop a theoretical framework that presents these country conditions as theoretical dimensions. In the second step, we translate the dimensions into quantifiable indicators that allow us to measure their significance on a comparative cross-country basis. In the third part of the study, we empirically examine eighteen Western democracies. A cluster analysis yields three country groups: one group with high resilience to online disinformation (including the Northern European systems, for instance) and two country groups with low resilience (including the polarized Southern European countries and the United States). In the final part, we discuss the heuristic value of the framework for comparative political communication research in the age of information pollution.”

Author
Edda Humprecht, Frank Esser, Peter Van Aelst
2020

Freedom of Expression during COVID-19

Annotation

“This report, prepared by the research staff of the Law Library of Congress, surveys legal acts regulating mass media and their ability to distribute information freely during the Covid-19 pandemic. The report focuses on recently introduced amendments to national legislation aimed at establishing different control measures over the media outlets, internet resources, and journalists in 20 selected countries around the world where adoption of such laws has been identified, namely: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, El Salvador, India, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritius, Moldova, Nepal, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.”   

Author
Law Library of Congress
2021

Democratic Disruption in the Age of Social Media: Between Marketized and Structural Conceptions of Human Rights Law

Annotation

“Once hailed as beacons of democracy, social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter now find themselves credited with its decay. Amidst a rising global techlash and growing calls for digital constitutionalism, this article develops a typology of the diverse forms of governance enabled by social media platforms and examines the contestability of human rights law in addressing the accountability deficits that characterize the platform economy. The article examines two interrelated forms of social media governance in particular: content moderation, encompassing the practices through which social media companies determine the permissibility and visibility of online content on their platforms; and data surveillance, encompassing the practices through which social media companies process personal data in accordance with their extractivist business models. Recognizing that human rights law is a vocabulary of governance with the potential to both restrain and legitimate particular relations of power within the platform economy, this article critically examines two rival conceptions of human rights law – marketized and structural – that may be relied upon to address the accountability shortfalls that pervade the contemporary social media ecosystem. The article ultimately argues in favour of a more structural conception of human rights law, one characterized by an openness to positive state intervention to safeguard public and collective values such as media pluralism and diversity as well as a systemic lens that strives to take into account imbalances of power in the social media ecosystem and the effects of state and platform practices on the social media environment as a whole.”

Author
Barrie Sander
2003

Some Other Key Rights: Freedom of Thought, Conscience, Religion, Opinion, Expression, Association and Assembly

Annotation

Chapter 12 of Human Rights in the Administration of Justice, a manual and facilitator’s guide developed by the UN OHCHR in collaboration with the IBA, pertains to the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, opinion, expression, association and assembly. The learning objectives of this chapter are: “1.) To familiarize the participants with some other key rights, namely freedom of thought, conscience, religion, opinion, expression, association and assembly, and their importance in a society that is respectful of human rights in general; 2.) To illustrate how these freedoms, as well as the limitations attached to the exercise of most of them, are interpreted by the international monitoring bodies; 3.) To explain the role of judges, prosecutors and lawyers in safeguarding the freedoms dealt with in this chapter.”

Author
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights with the International Bar Association
2020

Fighting Misinformation and Defending Free Expression during COVID-19: Recommendations for States

Annotation

“The International and national laws recognize that extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary measures. This means that certain fundamental rights, including the right to freedom of expression and opinion and the right to seek and impart information, may be restricted to address the current health crisis as long as governments apply basic democratic principles and a series of safeguards, and the interference is lawful, limited in time, and not arbitrary. Governments, companies, NGOs, and individuals alike have a responsibility to do their part to mitigate the consequences of the COVID-19 health crisis and to show solidarity and respect for each other. In this paper, we provide recommendations for protecting freedom of expression and opinion and the right to impart and receive information to enable governments​ to fight the COVID-19 health crisis in a rights-respecting manner. There will be an aftermath to the COVID-19 outbreak and the measures governments put in place right now will determine what it will look like. The recommendations outlined below will help ensure that the rule of law, and the rights to freedom of expression and opinion, as well as the right to receive and to impart information, are protected throughout this crisis and in the future. Under no circumstances should any government allow people’s fundamental rights to fall victim to this pandemic.” 

Author
Access Now
2017

Platform Regulations: How Platforms are Regulated and How they Regulate Us

Annotation

“This book is the Official 2017 Outcome of the UN IGF Dynamic Coalition on Platform Responsibility (DCPR), which is a multistakeholder group fostering a cooperative analysis of online platforms’ responsibility to respect human rights, while putting forward solutions to protect platform-users’ rights. This book offers responses to the DCPR’s call for multistakeholder dialogue, made ever more pressing by the diverse and raising challenges generated by the platformisation of our economy and, more generally, our society. The analyses featured in this book critically explore the human rights dimension of the digital platform debate, subsequently focusing on the governance of personal data and, lastly, suggesting new solutions for the new roles played by online platforms. This volume includes the Recommendations on Terms of Service and Human Rights, which were elaborated through a multistakeholder participatory process, facilitated by the DCPR. In accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the Recommendations provide guidance for terms of service that may deemed as “responsible” due to their respect of internationally agreed human rights standards.”  

Author
Luca Belli and Nicolo Zingales (eds)
2020

Working Group on Infodemics: Policy Framework

Annotation

“The Information and Democracy Initiative demonstrates that a structural solution is possible to end the informational chaos that poses a vital threat to democracies. The exercise of human rights presupposes that democratic systems impose rules on the entities that create the standards and the architectures of choice in the digital space. This initiative demonstrates a capacity for reinventing multilateralism, with an innovative articulation between States and civil society. Initiated by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), this process resulted in an intergovernmental text. The signatory states of the Information and Democracy Partnership now represent a coalition that can exert influence to implement a democratic vision in the digital space. The Forum on Information and Democracy has complete independence from States. However, its work is intended to be the raw material for regulation. The Forum thus has a major role to play in facing the democratic emergency.” In this Framework, the Forum puts forth twelve main recommendations which are grouped into four broad categories. These categories are: “1.) public regulation is needed to impose transparency requirements on online service providers; 2.) a new model of meta-regulation with regards to content moderation is required; 3.) new approaches to the design of platforms have to be initiated; 4.) safeguards should be established in close messaging services when they enter into a public space logic.”

Author
Forum on Information & Democracy
2020

Balancing Act: Countering Digital Disinformation While Respecting Freedom of Expression

Annotation

“[The Report] uses the term ‘disinformation’ to describe false or misleading content with potentially harmful consequences, irrespective of the underlying intentions or behaviours in producing and circulating such messages. The focus is not on definitions, but on how States, companies, institutions and organisations around the world are responding to this phenomenon, broadly conceived. The work includes a novel typology of 11 responses, making holistic sense of the disinformation crisis on an international scale, including during COVID-19. It also provides a 23-step tool developed to assess disinformation responses, including their impact on freedom of expression. The research concludes that disinformation cannot be addressed in the absence of freedom of expression concerns, and it explains why actions to combat disinformation should support, and not violate, this right. It also underlines that access to reliable and trustworthy information, such as that produced by critical independent journalism, is a counter to disinformation.”

Author
Kalina Bontcheva and Julie Posetti (eds)
2020

Global Conference for Media Freedom: Freedom of the Media and Artificial Intelligence

Annotation

“This paper addresses how the use of artificial intelligence (AI) affects freedom of expression and media freedom. While AI can improve communication and information access in numerous ways, including through legacy media, this paper focuses on the main concerns when AI is not deployed in a human rights-friendly manner…This paper also addresses how biases both in datasets and of human developers may risk perpetuating existing inequality, how AI affects legacy media and how the COVID-19 pandemic aggravates the above-mentioned concerns. Providing policy recommendations, this paper concludes that states and the private sector need to guarantee that the design and deployment of AI are grounded in human rights, with transparency and accountability being ensured at all stages.”

Author
Julia Haas, Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media
2020

Artistic Freedom of Expression

Annotation

“This research report concerns the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, and through any media – including in the form of art. As such, it provides an overview of the human rights law framework applicable to artistic freedom of expression, highlights several contemporary instances of threat to artistic freedom, and concludes with a limited number of recommendations for States, private actors and civil society.” 

Author
UN Human Rights Council, Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Freedom of Opinion and Expression
2020

Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression and Elections in the Digital Age

Annotation

On 30 April 2020, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Representative on Freedom of the Media, and the Organization of American States Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression published the Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression and Elections in the Digital Age. The Declaration enumerates recommendations regarding communication during elections for both, State as well as non-State actors. In pursuance of the publication of this Declaration, Toby Mendel, Executive Director of the Centre for Law and Democracy, noted, “The Joint Declaration breaks new ground in several respects…Some key areas it addresses include extending certain types of rules which apply to legacy media, such as on spending and transparency, to digital media, respecting the right to privacy when using personal data to micro-target messages and, for digital actors, avoiding measures which limit the diversity of information available to users or the ability of certain parties and candidates to disseminate messages.”

Author
United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Representative on Freedom of the Media, and the Organization of American States Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression
2019

Online Disinformation and Political Discourse: Applying a Human Rights Framework

Annotation

“There is a widespread desire to tackle online interference with elections and political discourse. To date, much of the debate has focused on what processes should be established without adequate consideration of what norms should underpin those processes. Human rights law should be at the heart of any discussion of regulation, guidance, corporate or societal responses. The UN Secretary- General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation has recently reached a similar conclusion, stating ‘there is an urgent need to examine how time-honoured human rights frameworks and conventions should guide digital cooperation and digital technology’. This paper attempts to contribute to this examination. Chapter 2 of this paper clarifies terms and concepts discussed. Chapter 3 provides an overview of cyber activities that may influence voters. Chapter 4 summarizes a range of responses by states, the EU and digital platforms themselves. Chapter 5 discusses relevant human rights law, with specific reference to: the right to freedom of thought, and the right to hold opinions without interference; the right to privacy; the right to freedom of expression; and the right to participate in public affairs and vote. Chapter 6 offers some conclusions, and sets out recommendations on how human rights ought to guide state and corporate responses.”

Author
Kate Jones
2021

The Fight against Disinformation and the Right to Freedom of Expression

Annotation

“This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, aims at finding the balance between regulatory measures to tackle disinformation and the protection of freedom of expression. It explores the European legal framework and analyses the roles of all stakeholders in the information landscape. The study offers recommendations to reform the attention-based, data-driven information landscape and regulate platforms’ rights and duties relating to content moderation.” 

Author
European Parliament Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs
2019

What Can Be Done? Digital Media Policy Options for Strengthening European Democracy

Annotation

“In this report, [the authors] identify some policy options available for the European Commission and for European Union member states should they wish to create a more enabling environment for independent professional journalism going forward. Many of these options are relevant far beyond Europe and demonstrate what democratic digital media policy could look like. [They] argue that, to thrive, independent professional journalism needs freedom, funding, and a future. To enable this, media policy needs (a) to protect journalists and media from threats to their independence and to freedom of expression, (b) to provide a level playing field and support for a sustainable business of news, and (c) to be oriented towards the digital, mobile, and platform-dominated future that people are demonstrably embracing – not towards defending the broadcast and print-dominated past. The report identifies a number of real policy choices that elected officials can pursue, at both the European level and at the member state level, all of which have the potential to make a meaningful difference and help create a more enabling environment for independent professional journalism across the continent while minimising the room for political interference with the media. [It is hoped that] it can serve as a useful starting point for a discussion of the role of media policy in European democracy (and beyond) going forward and thus help ensure we develop twenty-first- century media policies for a twenty-first-century media environment.”

Author
Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, Robert Gorwa, and Madeleine de Cock Buning
2020

Freedom and Accountability: A Transatlantic Framework for Moderating Speech Online

Annotation

“The Transatlantic High Level Working Group on Content Moderation Online and Freedom of Expression was formed to identify and encourage adoption of scalable solutions to reduce hate speech, violent extremism, and viral deception online, while protecting freedom of expression and a vibrant global internet. This report recommends a flexible regulatory framework that seeks to contribute to trust, transparency, and accountability. It is based upon: (1) transparency rules for platform activities, operations, and products; (2) an accountability regime holding platforms to their promises and transparency obligations; (3) a three-tier disclosure structure to enable the regulator, vetted researchers, and the public to judge performance; (4) independent redress mechanisms such as social media councils and e-courts to mitigate the impact of moderation on freedom of expression; and (5) an ABC framework for dealing with disinformation that addresses actors and behavior before content.”

Author
The Transatlantic Working Group
2021

Global Toolkit for Judicial Actors: International Legal Standards on Freedom of Expression, Access to Information and Safety of Journalists

Annotation

"With [a] global mandate to protect 'the free flow of ideas by word and image', UNESCO acts worldwide to advance fundamental freedoms, and to ensure that obligations are fulfilled and rights are exercised. [UNESCO works] to increase the knowledge and capacities of judiciary members on international and regional standards on freedom of expression and the safety of journalists. As a result, since 2013, more than 18,000 judicial operators and civil society representatives in Latin America, Africa and the Arab region have been trained on these issues. This toolkit on international standards for freedom of expression builds on these efforts, aiming to give a global scope to this endeavour. By reinforcing the knowledge and capacities of the judiciary, the toolkit effectively contributes to the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, adopted by the UN Chief Executives Board in 2012 and recognised by the UN General Assembly in 2013. The Plan of Action aims to create "a free and safe environment for journalists and media workers in both conflict and non-conflict situations, with a view to strengthening peace, democracy and development worldwide". [It is hoped] that this toolkit will be a useful tool for judges, public prosecutors, judicial training institutes, academics and judicial actors at large, so that respect for freedom of expression, public access to information, and the safety of journalists become an integral part of efforts to guarantee and promote human rights in our societies."

Author
UNESCO
2021

The Rabat Plan of Action on the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred

Annotation

"Freedom of expression is a fundamental right, indispensable in democratic societies. However, this right is not an absolute right, and may be lawfully restricted according to certain principles and conditions. Under international human rights law, and specifically article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), certain kinds of speech may be prohibited by law. Incitement to hatred is such an example of unprotected speech. The United Nations Rabat Plan of Action on the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred provides a comprehensive set of factors for States to address this issue, drawing a clear line between freedom of expression and incitement to hatred and violence."

Author
UNESCO
2021

The Legitimate Limits to Freedom of Expression: The Three-Part Test

Annotation

"Freedom of expression is a fundamental right, indispensable in democratic societies. However, this right is not an absolute right, and may be lawfully restricted according to certain principles and conditions. Under international human rights law, and specifically, article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the three-part test determines whether a restriction on freedom of expression is legitimate."

Author
UNESCO
2004

Digital Speech and Democratic Culture: A Theory of Freedom of Expression for the Information Society

Annotation

“In this essay, Professor Balkin argues that digital technologies alter the social conditions of speech and therefore should change the focus of free speech theory, from a Meiklejohnian or republican concern with protecting democratic process and democratic deliberation, to a larger concern with protecting and promoting a democratic culture. A democratic culture is a culture in which individuals have a fair opportunity to participate in the forms of meaning-making that constitute them as individuals. Democratic culture is about individual liberty as well as collective self-governance; it concerns each individual’s ability to participate in the production and distribution of culture. Balkin argues that Meiklejohn and his followers were influenced by the social conditions of speech produced by the rise of mass media in the twentieth century, in which only a relative few could broadcast to large numbers of people. Republican or progressivist theories of free speech also tend to downplay the importance of nonpolitical expression, popular culture, and individual liberty. The limitations of this approach have become increasingly apparent in the age of the Internet. By changing the social conditions of speech, digital technologies lead to new social conflicts over the ownership and control of informational capital. The free speech principle is the battleground over many of these conflicts. For example, media companies have interpreted the free speech principle broadly to combat regulation of digital networks and narrowly in order to protect and extend their intellectual property rights. The digital age greatly expands the possibilities for individual participation in the growth and spread of culture, and thus greatly expands the possibilities for the realization of a truly democratic culture. But the same technologies also produce new methods of control that can limit democratic cultural participation. Therefore, free speech values – interactivity, mass participation, and the ability to modify and transform culture – must be protected through technological design and through administrative and legislative regulation of technology, as well as through the more traditional method of judicial creation and recognition of constitutional rights. Increasingly, freedom of speech will depend on the design of the technological infrastructure that supports the system of free expression and secures widespread democratic participation. Institutional limitations of courts will prevent them from reaching the most important questions about how that infrastructure is designed and implemented. Safeguarding freedom of speech will thus increasingly fall to legislatures, administrative agencies, and technologists.”

Author
Jack M. Balkin
2018

Industry Toolkit: Children’s Online Privacy and Freedom of Expression

Annotation

“The Guidelines for Industry on Child Online Protection, published by UNICEF and the International Telecommunications Union in 2015, explore the corporate responsibility to respect children’s rights in a digital world. This Toolkit builds on these Guidelines, expanding the consideration of children’s rights to privacy and freedom of expression. It identifies five overarching principles, based in international human rights law, that should ground and shape decisions about children online. These General Principles may be translated into practical action through the Checklist that follows, which offers questions and recommendations for companies to assess how children’s privacy and expression rights are considered across their websites, platforms, products, services and applications. The General Principles and Checklist were developed by UNICEF in consultation with a diverse range of stakeholders from the public and private sectors, academia and civil society. UNICEF continues to advocate for the full realization of children’s rights, including the rights to privacy and freedom of expression. It is hoped that this Toolkit prompts greater respect for children’s rights in a digital world.”

Author
UNICEF, Carly Nyst, Amaya Gorostiaga, and Patrick Geary
2018

Intermediaries & Private Speech Regulation: A Transatlantic Dialogue (Workshop Report)

Annotation

“On September 28, 2018, the Wikimedia/Yale Law School Initiative on Intermediaries and Information (WIII) hosted an intensive, day-long workshop entitled “Intermediaries and Private Speech Regulation: A Transatlantic Dialogue.” The Yale Information Society Project (ISP) and the Stanford Center for Internet and Society (CIS) co-hosted this event, with support from the Oscar M. Ruebhausen Fund at Yale Law School. This intimate, invitation-only academic workshop took place at Yale Law School. For this workshop, WIII and CIS convened leading experts from the United States and the European Union for a series of non-public, guided discussions. Participants discussed the complicated issue of private speech regulation and the connections between platform liability laws and fundamental rights, including free expression. This report presents a synthesized collection of ideas and questions raised by one or more of the experts during the event, providing an overview of theoretical ideas, practical experiences, and directions for further research on rapidly evolving questions of intermediary liability from a uniquely transatlantic perspective.”

Author
Information Society Project at the Yale Law School, Tiffany Li
2020

Online Harassment and Abuse against Women Journalists and Major Social Media Platforms

Annotation

“In this briefing, ARTICLE 19 builds on [its previous] work and examines how three dominant social media companies – Facebook, Twitter and Youtube – have responded to calls to address various forms of gender-based harassment and abuse in their community guidelines and practices. However, ARTICLE 19 is very mindful of the wider context of the problem of online gender-based harassment and abuse and the role of other players in the wider Internet ecosystem, such as private messaging services. The briefing first examines what are the responsibilities of the major/ dominant social media companies under human rights standards and how they implement their responsibilities in their community guidelines and practices. The briefing highlights the positive and negative aspects of these tools and approaches, and provides recommendations for improvement.”

Author
ARTICLE 19
2020

Freedom of Expression and Women’s Equality: Ensuring Comprehensive Rights Protection

Annotation

“In this briefing paper, ARTICLE 19 outlines the importance of protecting women’s freedom of expression when tackling online harassment and abuse, setting out applicable international human rights standards, and how governments must act on this issue in a freedom of expression compliant way. ARTICLE 19 hopes that this briefing paper will offer clear answers to the question of how to strike the right balance between the protection of the right to freedom of expression and the protection of women’s rights as well as robust measures that States must adopt to promote and protect both rights.”

Author
ARTICLE 19
2020

Conference The European Convention of Human Rights at 70: Milestones and Major Achievements – Human Rights and Technological Developments

Annotation

In this speech delivered by Síofra O’Leary at the ‘Conference The European Convention of Human Rights at 70: Milestones and Major Achievements’ in September 2020, she emphasises on certain themes which merit attention in an era of rapid technological development. She notes, “It’s commonplace that the digital era in which we now live has had significant legal effects primarily in two areas of Convention law: freedom of expression, protected by Article 10, which also covers the right to receive and impart information, and the right to respect for private life guaranteed by Article 8. Think of the endorsement of the internet as one of the principal means of expression in Ahmet Yildirim v. Turkey, or recognition of the risks it entails in Editorial Board of Pravoye Delo and Shtekel v. Ukraine. Think of the establishment of safeguards and protection regarding the use of geolocation devices by State actors in Uzun or Ben Faiza, the liability of internet news portals for customer comments in Delfi v. Estonia, or even the all-essential balancing of expression and privacy rights when it comes to the right to be forgotten the subject of M.L. and W.W. v. Germany, to name but a few. However, today I prefer to concentrate on Convention articles which have been treated as more peripheral in discussions relating to the consequences for human rights of technology and digitalisation: 1) jurisdiction within the meaning of Article 1 of the Convention (II); 2) challenges posed by technological advances for the judicial process itself, given the standards in Article 6 (III); 3) legal questions which may arise in relation to the right to free elections, guaranteed by Article 3 of Protocol n° 1 (VI), and, 4) the consequences, if any, in a digitally dependent world, for the right not to be deprived of an education in Article 2 of Protocol n° 1 (VII).”

Author
Síofra O’Leary
2017

Report on the Role of Digital Access Providers

Annotation

“Threats to digital expression and Internet freedom are more pronounced than ever. Internet shutdowns have emerged as a popular means of information control. Government surveillance continues to intensify worldwide, jeopardizing the privacy and security of millions. Net neutrality – the long-held premise that all Internet data should be treated equally and without undue interference – has come under attack. In this increasingly hostile environment, what are the human rights responsibilities of the Information, Communications and Technology sector – particularly those actors that facilitate the provision of telecommunications and Internet access, and serve as gatekeepers of the digital infrastructure? To address this question, the Special Rapporteur first examines the role of States in undermining freedom of expression online, and what their obligation to protect this fundamental right entails. The Special Rapporteur subsequently evaluates the role of digital access providers – not just telecommunications companies and Internet service providers, which have become synonymous with digital access, but also non-consumer facing actors like network equipment vendors, content delivery networks, and Internet exchange points. Drawing on the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and best practices in the field, the Special Rapporteur proposes concrete steps that digital access providers should take to safeguard the freedom of expression of Internet users worldwide.”

Author
UN Human Rights Council, Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression (David Kaye)
2016

Intellectual Freedom and Freedom of Speech: Three Theoretical Perspectives

Annotation

“Freedom of speech encompasses not only a right to express oneself but also a right to access information. This right is particularly pertinent to libraries, whose mission is often focused on enabling and expanding access to information. Libraries can support this activity with a theoretical background that draws upon the three predominant jurisprudential theories of freedom of speech: the marketplace of ideas, democratic ideals, and individual autonomy. In this article, each of these theories is explained and then applied to the library context, creating a starting place for further investigation and application of these judicial theories to information access.”

Author
Shannon M. Oltmann
2020

Freedom of Speech as a Right to Know

Annotation

“This Article will start from the premises and proposals of [extant scholarship]. Through developing, modifying, and supplementing [these] theories, as well as taking into account the new speech conditions in the Internet Age, this Article aims to develop systematically, though not completely, the theoretical basis and practical implications of the freedom of speech as a right to know. The relationship between the two rights is not unidirectional: not only could the freedom of speech form the basis for the right to know, but also the right to know could enrich the doctrine of the freedom of speech. The characteristics of the right to know could make the freedom of speech more direct, more practical, and more enforceable. We should accordingly interpret the freedom of speech as a right to know. This Article’s thesis does not necessarily require the right to know to be expressly written into the Constitution (although this is one reasonable approach), nor does it contend that freedom of speech is the only basis for the right to know. Rather, this Article reformulates the theory of free speech through the module of the right to know. Having done that, the right to know will, in effect, be constitutionalized because it will become a part of the freedom of speech. What’s more important is the impact on our current free speech jurisprudence: using information as both a shield and a sword, this new and reformulated right will better respond to the age we are in where speech is information, information is power, and the liberty of speech is the freedom and control of information.”

Author
Tao Huang
2020

Can the GDPR and Freedom of Expression Coexist?

Annotation

“The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) imposes important transparency and accountability requirements on different actors who process personal data. This is great news for the protection of individual data privacy. However, given that “personal information and human stories are the raw material of journalism,” what does the GDPR mean for freedom of expression and especially for journalistic activity? This essay argues that, although EU states seem to have taken their data protection obligations under the GDPR seriously, efforts to balance this against the right to freedom of expression have been more uneven. The essay concludes that it is of key importance to ensure that the GDPR's safeguards for data privacy do not compromise a free press.”

Author
Nani Jansen Reventlow
2015

Internet Freedom and Human Rights

Annotation

“This article considers whether the Internet has become so significant, for the provision of, and access to, information and in the formation of political community and associated questions of participation, that it requires further human rights protection beyond freedom of expression. In short, should Internet freedom be configured as a human right? The article begins by considering the ubiquity of the Internet and its significance. A wider historical view is then taken to understand Internet freedom in terms of its lineage and development from earlier debates over freedom of expression and the right to communicate, through to the recognition of the significance of an information society and the need for Internet regulation on the international plane. The current debate over Internet freedom is then analysed with particular focus given to Hillary Clinton’s speech on Internet freedom and its subsequent articulation by Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue. The concluding part introduces the critical work of Evgeny Morozov and Jaron Lanier to an international law audience in order to deepen the debate over Internet freedom and to point to the concept’s limitations and dangers. It is too early to say whether a ‘right to Internet freedom’ has achieved universal recognition, but this article makes the case that it is worth taking seriously and that Internet freedom may need its own category of protection beyond freedom of expression.”

Author
Daniel Joyce
2021

Reimagining Rights and Responsibilities in the United States: Freedom of Speech and Media

Annotation

“This report is part of a Carr Center project on Reimagining Rights and Responsibilities in the United States. As the traditional public square governed and protected by federal regulation moves online to spaces governed by private corporations, the rules for how speech is both expressed and censored are also changing. How should legal protections for speech adapt to these new tech-powered, private forums? This chapter will explore the current landscape of free speech and the associated information landscape as well as the threats that they face.” 

Author
Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, John Shattuck and Mathias Risse
2014

Mapping Digital Media: Global Findings

Annotation

“The Mapping Digital Media project examines the global opportunities and risks created by new and digital media. Covering 56 countries, the project assesses how these changes affect the core democratic service that any media system should provide – news about political, economic, and social affairs – and how they can help advance open society values. The Mapping Digital Media research confirms that digital television and the internet have had a radical impact on media businesses, journalists, and citizens at large. As might be expected, platforms distributing journalism have proliferated, media companies are revamping their operations, and citizens have access to a cornucopia of news and information sources. Other findings were less foreseeable: digitization has brought no pressure to reform state broadcasters, less than one-third of countries found that digital media have helped to expand the social impact of investigative journalism, and digitization has not significantly affected total news diversity. The Global Findings reveal other common themes across the world: 1) Governments and politicians have too much influence over who owns, operates, and regulates the media, 2.) Many media markets are rife with monopolistic, corrupt, or untransparent practices, 3) It’s not clear where many governments and other bodies get their evidence for changes or updates to laws and policies on media and communication, 4) Media and journalism online offer hope of new, independent sources of information, but are also a new battleground for censorship and surveillance, 5) Data about the media worldwide are still uneven, unstandardized, and unreliable, and are often proprietary rather than freely accessible. The 16 chapters in this report provide a unique survey of thematic and geographical trends, and provide new insight into how the information and communications revolution is shaping the new landscape of media and journalism.” 

Author
Open Society Foundations, Marius Dragomir and Mark Thompson (eds)
2020

Social Media and its Intersections with Free Speech, Freedom of Information and Privacy: An Analysis

Annotation

“Nowadays, there is a growing debate on the impact of social media on society, particularly on its potential negative effects. Therefore, this research is focused on three intersections of social media and fundamental freedoms: free speech, freedom of information and privacy. We begin analyzing social networking sites and social media role and evolution since their birth at the beginning of 21st century and remarking their positive aspects. Our objective is to identify malpractices related to social media and fundamental freedoms. A review of the literature is presented which outlines those malpractices. This review highlights some issues, such as arbitrary censorship, boundaries of free speech, misinformation, diversity of sources, visions and views, user content and privacy settings, and data profiling. Finally, we propose some solutions for each one of those issues.”

Author
Francisco Segado-Boj and Jesús Díaz-Campo
2018

Report on Artificial Intelligence Technologies and Implications for Freedom of Expression and the Information Environment

Annotation

“Algorithms and Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications are now a critical part of the information environment – they are found in every corner of the internet, on digital devices and in technical systems, in search engines, social media platforms, messaging applications, and public information mechanisms. In this report, the Special Rapporteur examines the impact AI on the information environment, and proposes a human rights framework for the design and use of technologies comprising AI by states and private actors. [In particular], it tries to do three things: define key terms essential to a human rights discussion about AI; identify the human rights legal framework relevant to AI; and present some preliminary recommendations to ensure that, as the technologies comprising AI evolve, human rights considerations are baked into that process. The report should be read as a companion to my most recent report to the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/38/35), in which a human rights approach to online content moderation was presented.”

Author
United Nations, Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression (David Kaye)
2016

Freedom of Expression and Media in Transition: Studies and Reflections in the Digital Age

Annotation

“In 2016, UNESCO and the Government of Finland [co-hosted] the World Press Freedom Day’s main event in Helsinki, 3-4 May – for the first time in the Nordic Region. 2016 also marks the 250th anniversary of a Swedish fundamental law – The Freedom of the Press Act. This law prohibited censorship and guaranteed public access to official records, and was the first in the world to do so. Both these celebrations can be seen as appropriate background scenarios to this new book. In 2009, Nordicom published Freedom of Speech Abridged? Cultural, legal and philosophical challenges, an anthology focusing on the traditional concept of individual freedom of expression. A few years later, Nordicom published Freedom of Expression Revisited. Citizenship and journalism in the digital era. The current publication, published by the UNESCO Chair at the University of Gothenburg in collaboration with Nordicom, may be seen as a follow-up to these earlier titles. It is based on research in the Nordic countries, but many of the studies are global in nature and the results of collaborations between researchers from many parts of the world. Several of the articles also contain valuable reflections and second thoughts. It is hoped that these articles by Nordic researchers will contribute to knowledge development in the field as well as to global and regional discussions about freedom of expression, press freedom and the role of journalists, and communication rights in contemporary societies – in an era of globalization and digitization.” 

Author
Nordicom, Ulla Carlsson (ed)
2018

Journalism, ‘Fake News’ & Disinformation: Handbook for Journalism Education and Training

Annotation

“UNESCO works to strengthen journalism education, and this publication is one of the offerings in a line of cutting-edge knowledge resources. It is part of the “Global Initiative for Excellence in Journalism Education”, which is a focus of UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC). The Initiative seeks to engage with teaching, practicing and researching of journalism from a global perspective, including sharing international good practices. Accordingly, the current handbook seeks to serve as an internationally-relevant model curriculum, open to adoption or adaptation, which responds to the emerging global problem of disinformation that confronts societies in general, and journalism in particular. This handbook is designed to give journalism educators and trainers, along with students of journalism, a framework and lessons to help navigate the issues associated with ‘fake news’. [It is also hoped] that it will be a useful guide for practicing journalists. It draws together the input of leading international journalism educators, researchers and thinkers who are helping to update journalism method and practice to deal with the challenges of misinformation and disinformation. The lessons are contextual, theoretical and in the case of online verification, extremely practical. Used together as a course, or independently, they can help refresh existing teaching modules or create new offerings. Overall, this publication should help societies become more informed about the range of societal responses to disinformation problems, including those by governments, international organisations, human rights defenders, Internet companies, and proponents of media and information literacy. It particularly highlights what can be done by journalists themselves and by the people who educate and train them. [Ultimately, it is hoped that the] handbook can help to reinforce the essential contribution that journalism can make to society – and also to the Sustainable Development Goals’ ambition of “public access to information and fundamental freedoms”.”

Author
UNESCO, Cherilyn Ireton and Julie Posetti (eds)
2018

Competing Free Speech Values in an Age of Protest

Annotation

“This Article endeavors to catalog and resolve cases involving competing free speech values, and then applies its solutions to violent and disruptive protests. Almost every First Amendment case can be framed as implicating free speech values on both sides of the First Amendment equation. Government action directly abridges speech, but government inaction may allow private parties too much control over others’ speech. First Amendment doctrine, which generally protects speech only from suppression by state actors, can thus compromise the very free speech values that form the rationales for the First Amendment. Scholars and litigants have argued that government regulation of speech, to preserve free speech values, is necessary in areas ranging from campaign finance, to access to media resources, to bigoted speech. This Article argues that strict adherence to a formal state action doctrine should resolve most, but not all, clashes between free speech doctrine and values. A robust application of the state action doctrine—where government interference to preserve speech values is not considered as part of the First Amendment calculus—also best advances both formal and substantive First Amendment equality. This Article proceeds in three parts. First, the Article chronicles the Supreme Court’s approach to cases involving competing free speech values. The Article then demonstrates why the state action doctrine, with its associated formal equality and neutrality principles, will ultimately advance free speech values. Finally, the Article considers political protests, and distinguishes between prosecution of violent protesters, which should be encouraged, and legislation criminalizing disruptive protest tactics, which may be unconstitutional.”

Author
Erica Goldberg
2021

The Non–First Amendment Law of Freedom of Speech

Annotation

“The First Amendment dominates debate about freedom of speech in the United States. Yet it is not the only legal instrument that protects expressive freedom, the rights of the institutional press, or the democratic values that these rights facilitate. A rich body of local, state, and federal laws also does so, and does so in ways the First Amendment does not. This Article explores the history and present-day operation of this non–First Amendment body of free speech law. Doing so changes our understanding of both the past and the present of the American free speech tradition. It reveals that there was more legal protection for speech in the nineteenth century than scholars have assumed. It also makes evident that the contemporary system of free expression is much more majoritarian, and much more pluralist in its conception of what freedom of speech means and requires, than what we commonly assume. Recognizing as much is important not only as a descriptive matter but also as a doctrinal one. This is because in few other areas of constitutional law does the Supreme Court look more to history to guide its interpretation of the meaning of the right. And yet, the Court’s view of the relevant regulatory history is impoverished. Missing from the Court’s understanding of freedom of speech is almost any recognition of the important non-constitutional mechanisms that legislators have traditionally used to promote it. The result is a deeply inconsistent body of First Amendment law that relies on a false view of both our regulatory present and our regulatory past — and is therefore able to proclaim a commitment to laissez-faire principles that, in reality, it has never been able to sustain.”

Author
Genevieve Lakier
2017

National Case Law on Freedom of Expression (corresponding to Chapter V of the 2016 Annual Report of the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression approved on Mar. 15, 2017 by the IACmHR)

Annotation

“Pursuant to its mandate, the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights monitors and documents in its annual reports the intervention of the region’s justice system in matters of freedom of expression. In this report, the Office of the Special Rapporteur presents a compilation of different judgments handed down over the past four years by national high courts that represent progress at the domestic level or enrich the regional doctrine and jurisprudence, while incorporating the inter-American standards in support of their decisions. As in other annual reports, this type of analysis aims to contribute to a positive dialogue between the bodies of the system and the national courts, with the conviction that sharing different experiences leads to a virtuous circle of mutual learning. This compilation was put together starting with the cases that have been highlighted and documented by the Office of the Special Rapporteur in its annual reports for the 2013 – 2016 period. The criterion used for the selection of the judicial decisions summarized in this chapter was that they represent progress at the domestic level, either because they ensure the protection of the freedom of expression of the persons directly involved in the specific case, and/or because they set forth legal guidelines that incorporate and develop the inter-American standards in the national sphere. Summarized [in this report] is a selection of notable court decisions. They have been systematized in accordance with 24 items that reflect different standards and rules of the inter-American legal framework, and grouped according to 13 analytical aspects. The decisions are preceded by a synthesis of the inter-American standard that was used as a reference in each category.”

Author
IACmHR, Edison Lanza
2011

Restricting Freedom of Expression: Standards and Principles (Background Paper for Meetings hosted by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression)

Annotation

“It is universally acknowledged that the right to freedom of expression is a foundational human right of the greatest importance. At the same time, it is also universally recognized that it is not an absolute right, and every democracy has developed some system of limitations on freedom of expression. International law does provide for a general three-part test for assessing restrictions on freedom of expression, and this test has been elaborated on in numerous judgments by international courts tasked with oversight of international human rights treaties. National courts, often interpreting constitutional guarantees which are based on or are similar to international guarantees, have also helped elaborate on the precise meaning of the test for restrictions on freedom of expression. Assessing restrictions on freedom of expression, however, is an extremely complex matter. There are several reasons for this, including that the primary guarantee of freedom of expression is itself multifaceted, that the grounds for restricting freedom of expression or interests which restrictions aim to protect are numerous and that the contexts in which the need for restrictions is asserted are almost limitless. This Paper provides an overview of the key issues relating to restrictions on freedom of expression, describing how international and in some cases national courts have approached them. It also highlights some problem areas or issues which remain unclear or which lack sufficient elaboration. For these, it poses questions which might be considered by participants at the two meetings for which the Paper serves as background material.”

Author
Centre for Law and Democracy, Toby Mendel
2020

Freedom of Speech and Expression (Dr. Abhinav Chandrachud)

Annotation

In this webinar organized by Rishit Vimadalal for the Lockdown Lecture Series, Advocate (India) and legal scholar Dr. Abhinav Chandrachud discusses the breadth and scope of the right to freedom of speech and expression in India from pre-constitutional to contemporary times. The broad themes spanned by the webinar are: the law of prior restraints; the law of sedition in India; the concerns about the propensity for laws pertaining to and regulating free speech and expression to be changed during pandemics such as the COVID-19; Constituent Assembly Debates about free speech and expression as a right in India; Constitutional amendments and their implications for free speech and expression; and interesting nuances of obscenity, contempt of court, and criminal defamation.

Author
Lockdown Lecture Series, Dr. Abhinav Chandrachud
2021

Disinformation and Freedom of Opinion and Expression

Annotation

“In the present report, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression examines the threats posed by disinformation to human rights, democratic institutions and development processes. While acknowledging the complexities and challenges posed by disinformation in the digital age, the Special Rapporteur finds that the responses by States and companies have been problematic, inadequate and detrimental to human rights. She calls for multidimensional and multi-stakeholder responses that are well grounded in the international human rights framework and urges companies to review their business model and States to recalibrate their responses to disinformation, enhancing the role of free, independent and diverse media, investing in media and digital literacy, empowering individuals and rebuilding public trust.”

Author
UN Human Rights Council, Irene Khan
2020

Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression

Annotation

“In the present report, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, focuses on the freedom of opinion and expression aspects of academic freedom, highlighting the special role played by academics and academic institutions in democratic society and noting that, without academic freedom, societies lose one of the essential elements of democratic self-governance: the capacity for self-reflection, for knowledge generation and for a constant search for improvements of people’s lives and social conditions. The Special Rapporteur finds that threats to and restrictions on academic freedom limit the sharing of information and knowledge, an integral component of the right to freedom of expression. He reveals that academics and their institutions face social harassment and State repression for their research, the questions that they pursue, the points that they raise and the methodologies that they bring to bear on public policy – or simply for the stature that their academic work has given them in society. While he focuses on the ways in which the freedom of opinion and expression protects and promotes academic freedom, the Special Rapporteur also recognizes that there is no single, exclusive international human rights framework for the subject. He emphasizes one set of protections for academic freedom, while recognizing and reaffirming others. He concludes with a set of recommendations to States, academic institutions, international organizations and civil society.”

Author
United Nations, David Kaye
2013

Freedom of Expression and the Internet

Annotation

“This book sets out to answer key questions regarding the extent and limits of freedom of expression online. It seeks to shed light on the often-obscure landscape of what we are allowed to say online and how our ideas, and the process of imparting and receiving information, are protected. It shows the large ambit of rights protected by freedom of expression, including freedom of the media and the right to access information, and confirms that all aspects of the communicative process, offline just as online, are protected by freedom of expression. The book makes an important point by making clear that freedom of expression online must be protected just like freedom of expression offline, taking into account the nature of the Internet, its asynchronicity, ubiquity and speed. The book also wishes to highlight the importance of the standard-setting, monitoring and promotion activities of international and non-governmental organisations. Freedom of expression online touches all aspects of society and does so in all societies. We have therefore included a chapter on relevant national practices to illustrate how different States deal with the challenge that the Internet has brought to ensuring freedom of expression for all. The book makes another important point in showing that freedom of expression implies obligations for all actors on the Internet. States must respect, protect and ensure freedom of expression online just as much as offline; Internet companies have to respect and protect freedom of expression, implement it within their sphere and remedy violations. Civil society has an important watchdog function and the individuals it comprises must ensure that, in making use of their freedom of expression, they do not violate the rights of others.”

Author
Council of Europe, Wolfgang Benedek and Matthias C. Kettemann
2018

How do we Preserve Free Speech in the Era of Fake News?

Annotation

“Alex Stamos, the former chief security officer at Facebook and an adjunct professor with Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, explained at a recent live taping of “The Future of Everything” that the emergence of social media has made everyone a potential publisher. “We will never go back to the era in which a small number of people control the flow of information,” Stamos says. While social media can be credited with democratizing the dissemination of information, these platforms have also become a hotbed of false and misleading content spread by domestic and foreign actors. Solving the “fake news” problem is extremely difficult, Stamos explains. “It turns out that regulating social media actually means asking social media companies to regulate people’s freedom of speech.” The danger here, Stamos emphasizes, is that this regulation will be done in a way that benefits the short-term interests of a company and does not uphold basic human rights.”

Author
Stanford University School of Engineering, Alex Stamos
2020

Disease Pandemics and the Freedom of Opinion and Expression

Annotation

“The present report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, is being submitted to the Human Rights Council pursuant to Council resolution 34/18. In the report the Special Rapporteur registers alarm that some efforts to combat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic may be failing to meet the standards of legality, necessity and proportionality. The Special Rapporteur highlights five areas of concern, showing that access to information, independent media and other free expression rights are critical to meeting the challenges of pandemic.”

Author
UN Human Rights Council, David Kaye
2014

Freedom of Expression Briefing Note Series

Annotation

“This series of Briefing Notes is designed to give readers an understanding of the key international legal standards that apply in the context of freedom of expression. They are aimed at an audience which does not necessarily have a deep understanding of freedom of expression issues, but they also aim to be of interest and relevance to more sophisticated freedom of expression observers and practitioners. Thus, while the Briefing Notes are designed to be broadly accessible, they also provide readers with fairly in-depth knowledge about freedom of expression issues. Each individual Briefing Note addresses a different thematic freedom of expression issue. The first, perhaps predictably, is titled Freedom of Expression as a Human Right, while the second looks at the permissible scope of restrictions on freedom of expression under international law. Several of the Briefing Notes focus on different areas of media regulation, including print, broadcast and public service media, journalists, media diversity and independent regulation. This reflects the central role media regulation plays both in terms of guaranteeing freedom of expression and in the legal frameworks found in democracies relating to freedom of expression. There are also Briefing Notes on both criminal and civil restrictions on freedom of expression, as well as on the right to information (or freedom of information) and digital rights. In addition to providing substantive guidance in the relevant thematic area, the Briefing Notes contain a number of pithy quotes from leading sources. The idea is to provide readers with quick access to ‘quotable quotes’ for possible reuse in their work. Each Note also contains a section at the end on further resources, for readers who want to probe the subject more deeply.”

Author
Centre for Law and Democracy and International Media Support
2019

Report on the Adverse Effect of the Surveillance Industry on Freedom of Expression

Annotation

“Surveillance of individuals – often journalists, activists, opposition figures, critics and others exercising their right to freedom of expression – has been shown to lead to arbitrary detention, sometimes to torture and possibly to extrajudicial killings. Such surveillance has thrived amid weak controls on exports and transfers of technology to Governments with well-known policies of repression. In the present report, the Special Rapporteur begins by identifying the problem of targeted surveillance seen from the obligations that human rights law imposes on States and the related responsibilities of companies. He then proposes a legal and policy framework for regulation, accountability and transparency within the private surveillance industry. He concludes with a call for tighter regulation of surveillance exports and restrictions on their use, as well as a call for an immediate moratorium on the global sale and transfer of the tools of the private surveillance industry until rigorous human rights safeguards are put in place to regulate such practices and guarantee that Governments and non-State actors use the tools in legitimate ways.”

Author
UN Human Rights Council, Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression
2019

Report on Online Hate Speech

Annotation

“In a world of rising calls for limits on hate speech, international human rights law provides standards to govern State and company approaches to online expression. In the present report, submitted in accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 34/18, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression explains how those standards provide a framework for Governments considering regulatory options and companies determining how to respect human rights online. The Special Rapporteur begins with an introduction to the international legal framework, focusing on United Nations treaties and the leading interpretations of provisions related to what is colloquially called “hate speech”. He then highlights key State obligations and addresses how content moderation by companies may ensure respect for the human rights of users and the public. He concludes with recommendations for States and companies.”

Author
United Nations, David Kaye
2018

The Free Speech Century: A Retrospective and a Guide

Annotation

The source directs the readers to the transcript of two lectures delivered by Lee C. Bollinger at Cambridge University’s 2018 Clare Hall Tanner Lectures. In the first lecture, Prof. Bollinger delves into the First Amendment experience and presents a summary of it prior to offering some observations about how it may be interpreted as well as understood. In the second lecture, Prof. Bollinger focuses on the present and the future, intent on interrogating three of the most important questions of the present century: “(1) Should the legacy of the last century be continued and what are its prospects given current political and global trends towards authoritarian regimes? (2) What should be the general approach to dealing with the rising importance of the Internet and its component elements, which are now widely perceived as increasingly dominant in shaping the public forum? (3) And, lastly, what are we to make of the fact that the modern world is increasingly inter-connected and inter-dependent, yielding problems and issues that can only be resolved effectively through collective international action, with a new truly global communications technology to serve as a global public forum, but with vastly different competing conceptions of free speech and free press in contention? In other words, how should we think about free speech in a globalized world?”

Author
Clare Hall Tanner Lectures, Lee C. Bollinger