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In 2010 Bytes For All, APC member in Pakistan, denounced the blocking of two major websites by the government: YouTube in February after a video showing the president losing his temper was posted to the popular video-sharing site, and Facebook in May when the whole social network was banned for hosting a “blasphemous” campaign.
Months later, APC member Jinbonet in South Korea warned that “the netizens of Korea have to be prepared to let their articles be deleted or receive criminal penalty for posting opinion criticising the government.”
Restricting free expression, association and the free flow of information on the internet has become a global trend and its intensity and impact is greatest in countries lacking a culture of democracy or strong human rights regimes. This is particularly the case where fundamentalisms prevail and where communities and individuals experience violence and abuse because of their gender, sexuality or beliefs.
People who speak out against repression risk their own freedom and safety and the sites that carry their online denouncements are often censored or banned.
The full title of this APC initiative which builds on our long-standing work including our Internet Rights Charter first written in 2001 is “Internet rights are human rights: Securing freedom of expression and association on the internet to support democratisation by strengthening capacity and networking among human rights defenders” and starts in November 2010.
Research, monitoring and analysis
APC documents and analyses trends, violations and impacts on freedom of expression, freedom of association and the right to information on the internet both at a national level and globally.
Advocate for internet rights and influence policy
APC runs a global campaign to promote internet rights as human rights and continue our international lobbying in two global fora: the Internet Governance Forum and the Commission on Science Technology and Development (CSTD). UN processes are also engaged, through participation in the Human Rights Council and the Universal Periodic Review. Nationally, APC provides support for campaigns initiated by APC members and partners to defend rights or influence policy.
Capacity building and support for women’s human rights defenders
We will support women’s rights defenders in target countries to develop the capacities they need to use the internet safely and securely. We will train activists in secure online communications, develop a network of human and material resources for threatened content and campaigns to counter moves to shut down the internet in countries. This carries on from our work with the women’s movement to Take Back the Tech! To end violence against women.
Building sustainable networks of human rights defence advocates
Network building is part of our modus operandi. Linkages between people and organisations endure over time. Our focus is on research networking, advocacy networking and learning networking.
Photo: Rufino Uribe Used under Creative Commons License