USA and EU jointly release guidance to safeguard human rights defenders online

The USA and EU release joint online platform guidance to protect human rights defenders, detailing 10 global measures to counter cyber threats and uphold human rights, emphasizing collaboration and universal advancement.

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The USA and the European Union have jointly released guidance for online platforms, outlining ten global measures to prevent, mitigate, and address attacks on human rights defenders (HRDs) online.

Recommended Actions for Online Platforms to Improve Human Rights Defender Protection

  • Commit to an HRD Protection Policy
  • Identify Risks to HRDs
  • Exchange Information with HRDs, CSOs, and Industry Peers
  • Create a Policy Implementation Plan to Mitigate Risk and Prevent Adverse Impacts with Monitoring
  • Benchmarks to Measure Success
  • Resource and Staff HRD Protection Efforts
  • Build Capacity to Address Risks in Local Contexts
  • Provide Safety Tools and Security Education to HRDs
  • Create and Maintain Accessible Incident Reporting Channels for HRDs
  • Contribute to and Provide Access to Remedy for HRDs
  • Commit to Transparency, Public Reporting, and Continuous Improvement

The initiative is part of the broader collaboration within the US-EU Trade and Technology Council Working Group 6, aimed at countering technology misuse and safeguarding HRDs in the digital realm. The guidance addresses the escalating online threats faced by HRDs globally, including cyber attacks, censorship, internet shutdowns, surveillance, harassment, disinformation, and doxxing.

The USA and the EU emphasize the shared foreign policy priority of supporting and protecting HRDs, recognizing the imperative of advancing human rights universally. Under the recommended guidelines, HRDs are considered individuals, including NGO members, journalists, lawyers, and activists, who are vital in upholding online and offline human rights, as the UN Declaration recognizes. Additionally, the guidance seeks to address the disproportionate impact of online threats on marginalized groups, including women HRDs, LGBTI HRDs, and defenders facing intersecting discrimination and oppression.