Human Rights Internet Governance

Internet Governance and Human Rights at the IGF

The 3rd day of the 7th IGF was dedicated to human rights. A timely debate!! No less than 9 workshops tackled aspects at the intersection of human rights regimes and internet governance, and many more touched upon their specific implications. Out of these, three  were focusing expressly on freedom of expression, and another three explored the policy implications and means to reconcile adequate protection of human rights and internet dynamics.

As a panelist in the session entitled ‘Human rights on the internet: legal frameworks and technological implications’, i had a chance to speak about the emerging paradigm of internet rights, current tensions triggered by the borderless nature of  the internet and the existent international legal instruments, and recent developments on this issue in the UN ambit. A thorough discussion of legal and technical aspects of implementing an adequate human rights regime preceded the Q&A session, which addressed interesting complementary aspects, such as recent legislation from Russia requiring blacklisting of websites for pornographic content which entered into force 8 days ago.  In the case of this specific example, the effects of passing such a law – beyond predictable intended and unintended consequences – are yet to be seen, given the particularities of the implementation system in the Russian context.

More generally, the struggles to strike a balance between human rights, legal frames and technology are rarely surfacing at other internet governance events, where such issues would be rather dealt with in a disconnected manner.  Against this background, the IGF is the best place to bring that up, and to create (hopefully) lasting networks of interest. As digital migrants and digital natives become more aware and more engaged in the drafting of norms and principles for the digital age they want to live in, the change they aim to see is one of the many seeds planted at the IGF. Hope you all stay close by to see it growing!