This article was originally published on the Kennedy School Review on May 13, 2019.
Sudanese Americans rally outside the White House in Washington, Saturday, June 8, 2019, in solidarity with Pro-democracy protests in Sudan. Image Credit: AP. From: Sudan protesters try to rekindle movement. Grapple with power outage, blocked internet and heightened security – Gulf News.
Over the last decade, political and legislative bodies have started to codify the relationship between the Internet and human rights. In 2012, the Human Rights Council (HRC) of the United Nations adopted a resolution to protect the free speech of individuals on the Internet–the first UN resolution of its kind. In 2014, a UN General Assembly resolution called on states to “respect and protect the right to privacy” in the digital age. These efforts have mostly focused on safeguarding human rights online from a legal and regulatory perspective. However, they did not consider how the development and governance of the Internet infrastructure can affect the rights of Internet users.
A critical component of this infrastructure are Internet protocols, which define the rules and conventions for communication between networks. By enabling and controlling the exchange of information at a global scale, protocols have the potential for far-reaching economic and social consequences.
This article will provide an introduction to Internet protocols, explain how their design can affect the rights of global users, and describe possible paths to a human rights enabling approach for developing and maintaining the Internet infrastructure.
Continue reading What is at stake for human rights in the design of Internet protocols?
Liu Xiao Bo – Ai Weiwei
On July 13 2017, activist, writer and Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo passed away in government custody.
He advocated for non-violent action, participated in the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests, and helped to draft and gather support for Charter 08, a call for peaceful political reform and an end to one-party rule. He spent almost a quarter of his life behind bars in China for advocating human rights and democracy.
Once the news of his death became public, one related phenomenon started to be reported. References to Liu Xiaobo, his work, and his passing were being censored on social media in China more harshly than ever before. Continue reading Censoring dissent. How the mourning over activist Liu Xiaobo’s death is being erased from the internet
Protests, uprising and unrest are key elements of freedom of expression, contributing to the shape of society and public debate through history.
Over the centuries, individuals and groups have adopted countless tactics to reclaim rights and fight for justice – changing over time, transforming strategically according to different historical and political contexts.
What’s the current state of the art? Which are the tools adopted by protesters to raise awareness, unrest and mobilise?
Technology has entered the the world of activism, and we can recognise forms of protests which combine offline and online elements, as well as expressions of dissent which exclusively operate in the digital space.
This article aims to provide an overview of how digital civil disobedience looks like today, observe which tactics are in use and consider a possible path to develop the future tools which will help global citizens reclaim their rights.
Continue reading Digital civil disobedience: tactics, tools and future threads
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Tweets relating to Ferguson after Michael Brown was shot. Map based on mentions of the city and other related key words. Via The Huffington Post.
Algorithms are ruling an ever-growing portion of our lives.
They are adopted by health insurances to assess our chances to get sick, by airlines to make our flights safer, by social media companies to attract our attention to ads, by governments to predict criminal activity.
They can guess with great accuracy a lot of things about us, such as gender, sexual orientation, race, personality type – and can also be applied to influence our political preferences, control what we do, target what we say and, in extreme cases, limit our freedom.
This is not to say that the computational algorithm model should have an evil reputation. Both algorithms and human judgement can be beneficial, malicious, biased – and even wrong. The main difference between them is that over the years (centuries) we developed a pretty good understanding of how human judgement works, while, when it comes to algorithms, we’re just starting to get to know each other.
Continue reading The Ethics of Algorithms: notes, emerging questions and resources