Understanding impact: an Internet Rights are Human Rights training curriculum from APC

Author's name: 
Shawna
Bogotá, Colombia

Increasingly the internet is being viewed in the context of a global public good – that access to information can be a liberator and equaliser.

While it is a space for people around the world to exercise their fundamental human rights and freedoms, the internet parallels inequality in the world as a space for abuse, marginalisation and cultural assimilation. The same abusive speech that marginalised groups experience on a daily basis in the offline world is reflected and often amplified in online spaces. At the same time, new technologies increase opportunities for unlawful surveillance and interference with privacy and data protection. Censorship, criminalisation of online expression, blocking, manipulation of online content and limitations on internet access have all increased in countries around the world.

There is a need for greater understanding of how these challenges define what it means to secure human rights online, both for internet activists and human rights organisations. A 2012 survey of mainstream human rights organisations, conducted by APC, revealed that these groups see major conceptual differences in the approach of human rights “professionals” and internet rights advocates to issues of the internet and human rights.

As a part of our “‘Internet rights are human rights’: Monitoring and defending freedom of expression and association on the internet” project, APC has developed a specialised curriculum that is concerned with the interface between human rights, ICTs and the internet, including the relationship between the international human rights regime and communication rights. The curriculum is designed for both human rights organisations and internet activists, to support judicial capacity building, to bring new participation to the IGF, to make governments aware of their responsibilities to protect internet freedoms, and to continue research and capacity building.

The curriculum consists of 4 training units, which can either be used alone or be used as a collection, on selected human rights issues.

Unit 1: Human rights and the internet: conceptual module with exercises
Developed by: David Souter
This module provides an overview of the relationship between human rights, ICTs and the internet. It discusses:

The international rights regime;
The impact of ICTs and the internet on society, including the exercise, enforcement and violation of rights;
Balancing rights.

Unit 2: Freedom of Expression/Right to Information
Developed by: David Souter
This module is concerned with the rights of freedom of expression and information which are set out in Articles 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). It discusses:

The meaning of these rights and the limitations placed on them within the international rights regime;
The impact of the internet on their exercise, enjoyment and implementation;
Case studies of the violation of these rights in the online context.

Unit 3: Freedom of Association
Developed by: David Souter
This module is concerned with the rights of freedom of association and assembly which are set out in Articles 21 and 22 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). It discusses:

The meaning of these rights and the limitations placed on them within the international human rights regime;
The impact of the internet on their exercise, enjoyment and implementation of freedom of assembly and association;
Anonymity, pseudonymity and the impact of online association on the protection and promotion of human rights.

Unit 4: Privacy
Developed by: Carly Nyst
This module looks at the right to privacy in the context of the internet and ICTs. It focuses on the changing nature of the right to privacy and the difficult balance that must be struck between promoting privacy and ensuring the enjoyment of other human rights. It discusses:

The right to privacy in international and national legal frameworks;
The primary challenges to the protection and promotion of privacy in different cultures in contexts;
The impact of the internet and ICTs on privacy, taking an in depth look into questions of implementation and enforcement with regards to access to and use of personal information by governments, corporate entities and third parties.

Check out the official press release and find the curriculum at itrain online.

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