Strategic Litigation in LATAM on Gender Digital Violence | IGF 2023

8 Oct 2023 03:00h - 04:00h UTC

Event report

Speakers:
  • CEJIL – Latinoamerica NGO,
  • Lia P. Hernández, IPANDETEC- Centroamérica NGO,
  • Hiperderecho NGO – Perú,
  • OAS Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression (to confirm),
  • TEDIC – Paraguay,
Moderator:
  • Maricarmen Sequera, TEDIC

Table of contents

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Knowledge Graph of Debate

Session report

Speaker from TEDIC 1

The discussion gravitates towards the pressing issue of online gender-based violence, linking it inextricably with two essential Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), namely SDG 5 which promotes Gender Equality and SDG 16 focusing on Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions. It is underscored that this form of violence isn't confined to just human rights defenders or journalists, emphasising its expansive and pervasive nature.

A key topic in the discussion centres on the crucial need for more robust and proactive regulation of online platforms. The argument asserts that reliance on intermediaries for content removal is inadequate, and instead advocates for the implementation of more dependable tactics. This approach carries a positive sentiment, proposing that platforms should act swiftly, with their community standards being more accessible, to effectively combat online gender-based violence.

Proposing an innovative solution, the importance of a centralised repository for all regional or national strategic litigations pertaining to online gender-based violence is highlighted. Whilst it's acknowledged that such a mechanism may not fully exist yet, planning is underway for a workshop to engage individuals worldwide involved in some capacity with this issue.

Moreover, the conversation strongly advocates for a collective approach in dealing with this challenge. By forming a global coalition, efforts can be united in defining common ontologies around online gender-based violence. This strategy reiterates the universally inclusive sentiment attached to SDG5, emphasising that working collectively and capitalising on information provided by organisations like the Women's Rights Online Network could usher in more effective solutions.

In summation, the discussion illuminates the gravity of the problem of online gender-based violence, advocating for more stringent platform regulation, collaborative efforts, and innovative solutions like a centralised location for strategic litigations. The essence captured here is that only through united and focused efforts can this form of pervasive violence be effectively addressed, thereby fostering gender equality and promoting peace and justice.

Lia P. Hernández

The issues of online gender violence and ineffective digital rights regulations create significant stumbling blocks in Panama's public administration and judicial system. The problem arises from inefficiencies and a lack of necessary understanding about digital rights and gender perspectives within the justice administration, leading to hindrances in processing cases, corroborating claims, and revisiting filed lawsuits. This gap in the system compels a strategic overhaul and reinforcement of the approach towards digital rights.

Existing laws in Panama regarding informatics offences, still in place from 2013, are outdated and inadequate. This inefficiency engenders trouble for victims and judicial employees alike, obstructing their aptitudes for effectively navigating the legal environment. As such, there exists an urgent requirement for updated legal systems capable of responsibly managing cases of online gender violence.

Ipandetec, an organisation focusing on digital rights and technological policy, is actively involved in strategic litigation and providing legal advice for victims of online gender violence. They have worked on and brought forth cases of online harassment, including one involving a young female victim of harassment by an ex-partner. Ipandetec has emerged as a pivotal force in this arena, persistently advocating for a comprehensive upgrade of the digital legal and regulatory framework. This upgrade will not only protect potential future victims of online harassment, but also aid public ministers and judicial employees in discharging their obligations.

When contrasted against regions like the US and EU, content moderation in Central America is notably slower due to the lack of firm data protection legislation. This deficiency results in delays and inefficiencies in responding to requests to remove inappropriate content from social media platforms, exacerbating the problem of online harassment and violence. Based on this shortfall, there are strong recommendations for Latin American countries to adopt and enforce substantial data protection laws in line with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) standards. Such an implementation could create an environment in which victims receive better protection, and digital platforms are held to operate in a responsible manner.

Despite the international use of digital platforms like META and Twitter, it is crucial for these platforms to treat every region equitably. The issue of online gender-based violence is a grave one and highly apparent, particularly in Central America and the Dominican Republic. Establishing strong collaborations with authorities and prosecutors, as seen in Panama, Guatemala, and Costa Rica, can help address this gap continuously.

Significant progress in data protection has been marked, with two guidelines for the use of information in cases of online gender-based violence being introduced recently by the data protection authority in Panama. This signals the crucial role of data protection in curbing online gender violence.

During the discussions at the U.N's cybercrime convention, issues related to child and woman protections online held the spotlight. While it was acknowledged that numerous cases exist, there is a tangible lack of proper regulations for ensuring protection. This consensus on the urgent need for protective regulations reiterates the global integrated endeavours required to plug the gaps in digital rights and online protection.

Audience

The analysis reveals several pressing concerns related to online gender violence, comprehension of technology, and the legal perspective on gender equality. There is a prevailing lack of knowledge and understanding of technological operations and gender violence approach amongst judges and attorneys within Latin America. This deficiency not only stymies the effective litigation of online gender-based cases, but also hampers the prospects for gender equality. Such infringements could be mitigated to a certain extent through comprehensive legal reforms. These alterations would necessitate judges possessing an in-depth understanding of technology and applying a gender-based perspective in administering justice.

The prevalence of online gender violence is exacerbated by instances multiplying during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in Indonesia. To combat this growing humanitarian issue, it's been suggested that efforts should concentrate on securing the removal of online content that infringes upon human rights.

However, cultivating gender sensitivity in legal systems isn't straightforward, even when supporting legislation exists. Despite the recent passage of an anti-sexual violence law in Indonesia, a shortfall of gender perspective amongst judges, police, and prosecutors lingers. This gap highlights the necessity of not only enacting supportive legislation but ensuring its appropriate application on all legal levels.

Another complication in the fight against online gender-based violence is the lack of easy access to and organisation of resources related to past litigation cases. Enacting measures such as better documentation and storage of these resources could greatly enhance efforts to combat online gender violence.

The potential establishment of data protection commissions or government regulators could also offer a significant solution, though the feasibility of this approach appears to differ greatly among distinct national contexts. Nonetheless, the exploration of such protection methods marks a crucial step towards tackling online gender-based violence.

Moreover, the analysis emphasises the importance of developing effective strategies to counter online gender-based violence. Prominent resources recommended include 'La Violencia Digital' Israel website and the Web Foundation's 'Women's Rights Online' Network. These offer crucial strategic litigation information in the fight against online gender violence. In line with this focus, Brazil's law, 'Marcos Civil of Internet', was praised for its usefulness concerning the responsibility and accountability of online content. Internet providers aren't held accountable for uploaded content until they're notified of harmful material. The providers could potentially be held responsible for indemnification should they fail to react to the notification, consequently leading to a reduction in irresponsible online content.

In summary, multicultural action across various sectors will be necessary to tackle the complex issue of online gender violence and its underlying causes. However, through carefully structured judicial and technological education, stricter legislation, better access to litigation resources, and the implementation of effective strategies both nationally and globally, significant strides can be made towards addressing this pressing issue.

Hiperderecho

Hiperderecho, a pioneering legal organisation, emphasises the urgent need for authorities, including judges and solicitors, to enhance their knowledge of technology, digital rights, and gender perspectives. This thrust stems from the severe challenges victims and organisations encounter in seeking justice for online gender violence cases, which is largely due to the pervasive lack of technological knowledge and antiquated regulations pertaining to informatics crimes among current justice system operators.

Importantly, Hiperderecho believes the solution lies beyond simply employing full-time solicitors or instituting legal reforms. Instead, they propose a comprehensive approach combining law enforcement and education. This approach necessitates authorities to amplify their understanding of how technology operates, coupled with an application of a more nuanced gender-based perspective on justice. Key action items include updating outdated regulations to reflect contemporary digital realities and incorporating a gender-based perspective within judicial practices.

In line with this initiative, Hiperderecho has strategically partnered with Meta, providing them with the ability to facilitate the removal of harmful content from all of Meta's online platforms. This initiative is a notable front in combating online gender-based violence, although the task of completely eradicating such content from the broader cyberspace remains a significant challenge.

In their relentless battle against online gender violence, Hiperderecho deploys dedicated legal teams. These professionals specialise in strategic litigation, tirelessly advocating and propelling forward cases in support of victims who typically lack the financial capacity to independently seek justice.

However, Hiperderecho admits that there are opportunities to augment their processes within their operation. Specifically, they acknowledge that the creation of a litigation case repository could augment efficiency within their operations. As it stands, all their decisions and cases are only accessible via their website.

Moreover, while Hiperderecho has yet to engage with data protection authorities concerning online gender violence cases, they recognise the potential benefits of doing so. They are interested in exploring this approach, acknowledging its prospective role in protecting victims of online gender violence.

In summary, Hiperderecho's work underlines the intersectionality of technology, law, and gender violence, reinforcing the necessity of multidisciplinary approaches in seeking justice. They remain committed to championing the rights of victims of online gender violence, bridging the knowledge gap within the legal sector, advancing regulatory updates, and exploring innovative strategies, such as content regulation and engagement with data protection authorities, to alter the landscape of online safety.

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Audience

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Hiperderecho

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Lia P. Hernández

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