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Image by Gerd Altmann used under Pixabay License (

The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) submits this written statement ahead of the Human Rights Council’s 44th session to express our concerns about the online human rights implications of states’ measures adopted to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. The current pandemic has raised challenges for human rights and, in some cases, responses by governments have revealed fault lines that challenge international human rights law. While we recognise that these are extraordinary times, this should not be the basis for human violations in online spaces. States’ responses to the crisis should be proportionate and avoid curtailing human rights.

The following sections are addressed within this statement:

I. Internet access and exacerbated digital divides

II. Human rights concerns regarding responses to the pandemic

  • Privacy and surveillance

  • Attacks on journalists and human rights defenders

  • Misinformation and social media platforms

  • Online gender-based violence, hate speech and discrimination

III. Recommendations

  • To the Human Rights Council

  • To governments

The full statement is available for download here.