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The meeting was introduced and moderated by Ms Marianne Franklin (IRPC Steering Committee), while the panel included Ms Tanya O’Carroll (Amnesty International), Ms Hanane Boujemi (Internet Rights Principles Coalition –IRPC), Ms Paulina Gutierrez (Article 19), Ms Amalia Toledo (Karisma Foundation), Mr Alberto Escorci (Yo Soy Red) and Mr Marcel Leonardi (Google).
The meeting marks seven years since the establishment of the Internet Rights and Principles Dynamic Coalition (IRPC DC) in 2009, and specifically embodies their work on the IRPC Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet. This document is used by diverse stakeholders who actively work on Human rights advocacy around the world.
The panel addressed the roles and responsibilities of online service providers and regulators for ensuring that Human Rights are protected in the online environment; discussed cyber harassment, orchestrated troll networks in Twitter, techno-censorship and other online threats, particularly focusing in the growing trend in Mexico. The discussion also focused on concrete actions and practical solutions to address those issues.
The use of orchestrated troll attacks in Twitter, as described by the panellists, has a relevant impact on human rights both in the online and offline world. The latter, involves the use of defamation tactics, forms of online harassment, massive disinformation campaigns and death threats. Journalists and Human Rights defenders are the ones mostly affected by this phenomenon. Ms Gutierrez approached the topic of the growing number of online threats to both groups and particularly to women.
Regarding the specific case of Mexico, Mr Escorci presented it as “the battle of techno-politics against techno-censorship” (Batalla de la Tecnopolitica contra la Tecnocensura). As explained, the Internet played a relevant role in Mexico and enabled three movements against techno-censorship and other forms of online threats, specifically in 2009, 2012 and 2014. As Ms O’Carroll mentioned, this is not only affecting Mexico but is happening in other countries as well.
Furthermore, the evolving nature and complexity of those attacks also emerged during the discussion. In this area, the use of troll attacks is not only affecting journalists in their online activities, but also extends to the offline dimension through real attacks. Colombia presents a similar situation for both groups, while Brazil experiences self-censorship from journalists that stop publishing and leave social media due to threats.
After addressing questions from the public, the second part focused on solutions and next steps to address the challenges described. Panellists outlined the role that the international community, civil society, governments and the private sector have for acknowledging and finding solutions to these challenges. In this area, Google launched a project in Brazil called Project Shoot, allowing journalists and website users to protect their sites from DoS attacks. Furthermore, specific suggestions emerged and focused in the need to allocate more resources for investigating online threats; creating guidelines for users and involving all actors in the process.
by Alessia Zucchetti, Internet Society Uruguay