Digital rights violations and threats in Palestine

A new report, Internet Freedoms in Palestine: Mapping of Digital Rights Violations and Threats, shows a decline in Internet freedoms in the Palestinian Territories, focussing principally on attacks on the freedom of expression, media freedoms, and privacy online, reported from 2015 to 2017. The analysis of accessibility to the Internet as a human right includes technical and infrastructure issues, noting that ‘no independent Palestinian ICT infrastructure has been allowed to develop since the agreement was signed in 1995 between Israel and the Palestinians due to a number of Israeli restrictions.’ Accessibility is also affected by the complexities of the three different governments: the Israeli government, the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and the de facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip.

Blocked websites, crackdowns on activists and journalists, and social media monitoring and arrests by governments, as well as the extension to private tech companies’ complicity in infringements on digital rights, are examined in the report. Issues of gender and the Internet are also addressed, noting that women and girls who suffer violations are often afraid to report these crimes due to cultural and social restrictions.

Recommendations from the report point out the need for the promotion and protection of digital rights; for the transparency and accountability of tech companies; and for a focus on gender issues. According to Nadim Nashif, director of 7amleh, who produced the report with the support of the Association for Progressive Communications, ‘This research is so important because it’s the first of its kind, an in-depth analysis into digital rights violations by providing an overview of all elements and actors that are influencing the diminishing internet freedoms in Palestine.’