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As an organisation that has worked at the intersections of human rights and technology for nearly three decades and fully recognises the critical importance of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for the fundamental right to protest, we welcome the focus of the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights on this topic.
It is increasingly difficult to distinguish between the online and offline dimensions of human rights in the context of assemblies, including peaceful protests. As Human Rights Council resolution 38/11 states, “human rights protections, including the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, of expression and of association, may also apply to analogous interactions that take place online.” APC considers human rights in the context of assemblies and peaceful protests to have two dimensions: one in which the exercise of these rights is carried out online, such as through online campaigns, ranging from awareness raising to working groups, petitions, protests – including virtual protests – and “hacktivism”; and one in which technology is used to support, enable, enhance and facilitate the rights of assembly and peaceful protests online and offline – for instance, the mobilisation of people through social media and online messages to gather in offline spaces.
Hence, this submission covers these two dimensions, and encompasses the following sections:
Laws, policies and programmes that have been developed to address the impact of new technologies, including information and communications technologies, on human rights in the context of assemblies, including peaceful protests.
Effective uses of such technologies as enablers of the exercise of human rights in the context of assemblies, including peaceful protests (e.g. how new technologies have facilitated the organisation of assemblies, including peaceful protests).
The human rights challenges posed by interferences with the availability and use of such technologies in the context of assemblies, including peaceful protests.
The human rights challenges posed by the use of new technologies, including ICTs, in the context of assemblies, including peaceful protests.
Recommendations for states and companies.