Policy Advocacy and Institutional Strengthening 

The third and final aspect of the IMPACT project is networking, policy advocacy and institutional strengthening by working with and among stakeholders within India to recognize, allow and promote the use of ICT to advance democracy and human rights, specifically FoE and FOI

These efforts include:

Building Linkages: Facilitate strategic linkages between national, regional and global advocacy for human rights on the internet through making use of opportunities presented by the Internet Governance Forum and the UN’s Human Rights Council, among others

REPORT

Shrinking Spaces: Status of Freedom of Association & Assembly in India

The Digital Empowerment Foundation released its Country Research Report titled “Shrinking Spaces: Status of Freedom of Association & Assembly in India”. The report aims to assess the state of specific internet rights online; specifically on arbitrary blocking or filtering, internet shutdowns, access & disconnecting users from the internet etc. The report further analyses India’s position and its alignment with international mechanisms and standards with respect to freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of assembly. It also identifies how state and non-state actors are hindering citizens’ right to freedom of association and assembly, gaps and challenges, and sets out recommendations to improve freedom of association and assembly in the country. This report attempts to examine the constitutional and policy frameworks in India and international human rights mechanisms as they relate to various aspects of freedom of association and assembly online−such as virtual curfews, online censorship, restrictions on civil society, hacking and anonymous attacks, and cyber bullying.

Compendium on Human Rights Violations in Digital Space

The compendium focuses on online incidents of human rights violations. It emphasises relevant case studies and issues that curb fundamental rights and freedom on the digital space. The report also tries to understand if and how freedom of expression, of assembly and association, and right to privacy were being curbed in the current framework. It also identifies structural factors such as gender norms, information access, network shutdown, and violence against women and children that impact free expression, assembly, association and privacy. Read More

Limited Access Restricting Expression on the Status of Internet Freedoms in India

The Digital Empowerment Foundation released its Country Research Report titled “Limited Access Restricting Expression” on the status of Internet freedoms in India.

The report aims to assess the state of specific internet rights online; specifically, under the following 6 parameters: 1) Arbitrary blocking or filtering 2) Criminalization of legitimate expression 3) Imposition of intermediary liability 4) Right to privacy and data protection 5) Cyber-crime & cyber-attacks 6) Access & disconnecting users from the internet.

These parameters are adapted from the APC-La Rue Framework, a checklist of indicators developed by APC based on the work and recommendations of Frank La Rue, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression.

Stressing on the 6 indicators Osama presented an overview of the recommendations of the reports which are as follows:

  1. Government should be transparent in terms of blocking, filtering and removal of the content and comply with international standards.
  2. The CMS and UID systems be reviewed and reformed in line with international standards regarding the right to privacy.
  3. The government, in collaboration with stakeholders expand quality internet access in a transparent, accountable, and affordable manner and become aware of and begin exercising internet rights as part of basic human rights in the 21st century.
  4. NHRC incorporate internet rights as part of their approach to human rights, as articulated by the UN-HRC. This step would raise awareness about internet rights.
  5. Civil society organisations collaborate with private sector, government, industry bodies and educational institutions to raise awareness about internet rights, within the human rights framework, particularly FoE and FoAA among grassroots citizens.
  6. NHRC and the State Human Rights Commissions to have more independence and power of enforcement in particular to ensure their recommendations.
  7. Administrative and law enforcement officials be provided with guidance, directives and training to uphold FoE online and offline.
  8. Law enforcement authorities be held liable and accountable for human rights violations by an independent and democratic oversight body and court of law.
  9. Individuals and communities should be able to seek financial and other resources, in a timely, equitable, transparent and accountable manner to exercise their FoE rights.
  10. Consistent oversight of blocking of internet based content by competent authority be set up on a regular basis so that arbitrary actions are ruled out.
  1. Victims of violations and abuses to rights of FoE have the right to effective remedy and redress in the court of law.

The speech was followed by, the Country Research Report launched by Dr. Johann Hesse – Head of Corporation, Representative of EU delegation to India; Arvind Gupta – National Technology Head, BJP; Mishi Choudhary – Executive Director, SFLC, Osama Manzar, Subho Ray – President, Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), Nikhil Dey – Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) Member and Deepak Maheshwari – Director, Govt. Affairs, India & ASEAN, Symantec Corporation.

Privacy in India in the Age of Big Data

The right to privacy underpins other rights and freedoms like the freedom of expression, association, and belief. However, in the age of big data, the right to privacy has become a pivotal issue as personal data is routinely collected and traded in the new economy. Data researchers and analysts are now trying to reclaim privacy concerns and ensure that any data collected remains secure. Read More

Trends in Religion-Based Hate Speech

India is the land of many religions. However, by any measure, religious freedom has been under grave and constant attack in the country. Minority communities, especially Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs, have experienced numerous incidents of intimidation, harassment, and violence largely by Hindu nationalist groups. Numerous bloggers, writers, filmmakers, artists, and people from the dalit community have been criticised and harassed by various religious right wing groups. This paper highlights the trends in religion based hate speech in relation with the right to free speech on the online space in India. The analysis of trends is based on media reports. Read More

Anatomy of Virtual Curfews: Human Rights Vs National Security

The balance between state powers and rights of citizens is a symbol of democracy. With the advent of the Internet, exercising free speech, expression, association and assembly have become much easier. It has not only made communication technology affordable but has also given a platform for self-expression, which was otherwise not available through traditional media. However, most countries build contingencies into their national law that allow for governments to take control of communication networks, and block or intercept them under the guise of national emergency or to protect national security. However situations in which a government can exercise this power are often not indicated clearly.

Over the past few years, ‘virtual curfews’ or ‘network shutdowns’ have increased in South Asian countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Maldives. For example, India saw 23 such shutdowns in 2016 alone2 . The Bangladesh government had shut down the Internet for about 90 minutes in November 20153 while Pakistan had suspended mobile phone services in more than 80 cities4 for 16 hours as a security measure. Telecom service providers (TSPs) or Internet service providers (ISPs) often bear the responsibility of executing government orders to shutdown communications — whether mobile networks in particular cities/regions or Internet access in general or even a particular messaging application that runs on the Internet. Read More

+ INDIA COUNTRY REPORT

Shrinking Spaces: Status of Freedom of Association & Assembly in India

The Digital Empowerment Foundation released its Country Research Report titled “Shrinking Spaces: Status of Freedom of Association & Assembly in India”. The report aims to assess the state of specific internet rights online; specifically on arbitrary blocking or filtering, internet shutdowns, access & disconnecting users from the internet etc. The report further analyses India’s position and its alignment with international mechanisms and standards with respect to freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of assembly. It also identifies how state and non-state actors are hindering citizens’ right to freedom of association and assembly, gaps and challenges, and sets out recommendations to improve freedom of association and assembly in the country. This report attempts to examine the constitutional and policy frameworks in India and international human rights mechanisms as they relate to various aspects of freedom of association and assembly online−such as virtual curfews, online censorship, restrictions on civil society, hacking and anonymous attacks, and cyber bullying.

Compendium on Human Rights Violations in Digital Space

The compendium focuses on online incidents of human rights violations. It emphasises relevant case studies and issues that curb fundamental rights and freedom on the digital space. The report also tries to understand if and how freedom of expression, of assembly and association, and right to privacy were being curbed in the current framework. It also identifies structural factors such as gender norms, information access, network shutdown, and violence against women and children that impact free expression, assembly, association and privacy. Read More

Limited Access Restricting Expression on the Status of Internet Freedoms in India

The Digital Empowerment Foundation released its Country Research Report titled “Limited Access Restricting Expression” on the status of Internet freedoms in India.

The report aims to assess the state of specific internet rights online; specifically, under the following 6 parameters: 1) Arbitrary blocking or filtering 2) Criminalization of legitimate expression 3) Imposition of intermediary liability 4) Right to privacy and data protection 5) Cyber-crime & cyber-attacks 6) Access & disconnecting users from the internet.

These parameters are adapted from the APC-La Rue Framework, a checklist of indicators developed by APC based on the work and recommendations of Frank La Rue, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression.

Stressing on the 6 indicators Osama presented an overview of the recommendations of the reports which are as follows:

  1. Government should be transparent in terms of blocking, filtering and removal of the content and comply with international standards.
  2. The CMS and UID systems be reviewed and reformed in line with international standards regarding the right to privacy.
  3. The government, in collaboration with stakeholders expand quality internet access in a transparent, accountable, and affordable manner and become aware of and begin exercising internet rights as part of basic human rights in the 21st century.
  4. NHRC incorporate internet rights as part of their approach to human rights, as articulated by the UN-HRC. This step would raise awareness about internet rights.
  5. Civil society organisations collaborate with private sector, government, industry bodies and educational institutions to raise awareness about internet rights, within the human rights framework, particularly FoE and FoAA among grassroots citizens.
  6. NHRC and the State Human Rights Commissions to have more independence and power of enforcement in particular to ensure their recommendations.
  7. Administrative and law enforcement officials be provided with guidance, directives and training to uphold FoE online and offline.
  8. Law enforcement authorities be held liable and accountable for human rights violations by an independent and democratic oversight body and court of law.
  9. Individuals and communities should be able to seek financial and other resources, in a timely, equitable, transparent and accountable manner to exercise their FoE rights.
  10. Consistent oversight of blocking of internet based content by competent authority be set up on a regular basis so that arbitrary actions are ruled out.
  1. Victims of violations and abuses to rights of FoE have the right to effective remedy and redress in the court of law.

The speech was followed by, the Country Research Report launched by Dr. Johann Hesse – Head of Corporation, Representative of EU delegation to India; Arvind Gupta – National Technology Head, BJP; Mishi Choudhary – Executive Director, SFLC, Osama Manzar, Subho Ray – President, Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), Nikhil Dey – Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) Member and Deepak Maheshwari – Director, Govt. Affairs, India & ASEAN, Symantec Corporation.

+ ISSUE REPORT

Privacy in India in the Age of Big Data

The right to privacy underpins other rights and freedoms like the freedom of expression, association, and belief. However, in the age of big data, the right to privacy has become a pivotal issue as personal data is routinely collected and traded in the new economy. Data researchers and analysts are now trying to reclaim privacy concerns and ensure that any data collected remains secure. Read More

Trends in Religion-Based Hate Speech

India is the land of many religions. However, by any measure, religious freedom has been under grave and constant attack in the country. Minority communities, especially Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs, have experienced numerous incidents of intimidation, harassment, and violence largely by Hindu nationalist groups. Numerous bloggers, writers, filmmakers, artists, and people from the dalit community have been criticised and harassed by various religious right wing groups. This paper highlights the trends in religion based hate speech in relation with the right to free speech on the online space in India. The analysis of trends is based on media reports. Read More

Anatomy of Virtual Curfews: Human Rights Vs National Security

The balance between state powers and rights of citizens is a symbol of democracy. With the advent of the Internet, exercising free speech, expression, association and assembly have become much easier. It has not only made communication technology affordable but has also given a platform for self-expression, which was otherwise not available through traditional media. However, most countries build contingencies into their national law that allow for governments to take control of communication networks, and block or intercept them under the guise of national emergency or to protect national security. However situations in which a government can exercise this power are often not indicated clearly.

Over the past few years, ‘virtual curfews’ or ‘network shutdowns’ have increased in South Asian countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Maldives. For example, India saw 23 such shutdowns in 2016 alone2 . The Bangladesh government had shut down the Internet for about 90 minutes in November 20153 while Pakistan had suspended mobile phone services in more than 80 cities4 for 16 hours as a security measure. Telecom service providers (TSPs) or Internet service providers (ISPs) often bear the responsibility of executing government orders to shutdown communications — whether mobile networks in particular cities/regions or Internet access in general or even a particular messaging application that runs on the Internet. Read More

UPR

UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW UPR

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Resources

POLICY & ADVOCACY

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participation

PARTICIPATION

ICT4D: DEF’s Columns

ICT4D: DEF’s Columns

IRHR Curriculum