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IGF 2016 - Day 0 - Room 7 - International Media Support - Operational responses to online harassment

 

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Jalisco, Mexico, from 5 to 9 December 2016. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 

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>> Good morning, everyone.  I think we will get started even if people are slowly coming in.  We'll keep the doors open for those that are still interested in coming in.  I want to thank you all for coming and joining us relatively early and braving the queues for such what is a relatively not a very ‑‑ not a very uplifting topic this morning.  So my name is Andreas and the Programme Development and Digital Freedom Adviser in Copenhagen International Media Support organizing this session.  We're talking about online harassment as one of the most pervasive and one of the most perceived problems.  It reaches everyone and no one is really safe.  Although obviously some people are more at risk and it has more of a disproportional detrimental act on some people than others.  But we'll hear about some of those things from palace.

I'm hoping that we'll talk about not only the problems and online harassment, but trying to take a constructive angle and see what solutions or ways of responding to the issue is out there and which shall be taken from civil society and other groups.

So we can have a discussion about some of the constructive way to respond to online harassment and practical realistic ways.  To help us with that, we have a really fantastic panel.  They'll ‑‑ I'll introduce them in a second.  They'll do brief sort of five‑minute introductions from each of their perspectives and then we'll hopefully have a good discussion afterwards.

As I said, we have a stellar panel from left to right ‑‑ your left to right from paradigm initiative in Nigeria.  Then we have Ellery from Global Voices.  We have Jonathan from Legal Media Defense in the U.K.  We have Marcel Leonardi and we have Hyra Basit.  So I wanted to just get us starting with you, Gbenga if you want to kick us off from your perspective.

>> GBENGA SESAN:  Okay.  Interesting.  This one is red when it comes on.  Okay.  So I see you almost had an interesting topic and then you corrected that.  It is obviously something that is worrying.  Two, only establish that over the last few months either because of elections or topical issues that have been debated on social media.  We see a lot more harassment in terms of people ‑‑ especially when debates get quite heated.  People get threatened.  From some of the work that we did, we did some studies recently on why because access is the major issue as well as concern in Nigeria.  We've got numbers that say 50% internet penetration, but we know the numbers much more than that because the Telecom regulator measures in terms of numbers of SIM cards and it's easier for you to say there are 14 million phones, but really there are much less people who are using this.  And we're very interested in talking to a specific category of people who are not usually involved with online conversations and these are young people who are in either open (inaudible).  The primary people we work with training. 

What we realized is that while the men, the boys where did everything possible to get online and they did get online, we had a huge disparity in terms of number of men and women online.  When we asked questions, first it was the fact that culture with women are more involved in domestic work.  But when we dug deeper, we realized one major reason they don't come online and why they're not very interested in debates and why they prefer not to use that is because of online harassment.  There are many popular cases in Nigeria of vocal women who have been ‑‑ who have had feedback.  That was very interesting including pictures, including suspicious ‑‑ I say suspicious because you can't even prove this is the person who is being sort of shamed online. 

Someone is arguing with a popular blogger.  There's a very popular female blogger who has an idle opinion and we love her for that, but one of the things she will always get is terrible feedback.  People will post pictures and say look.  The reason she has money and she sells things and there is not one time, but they posted a picture that showed her face clearly.  But the minute somebody posts that, other people who have argued with her, who didn't like what she said, then they started tweeting.  We know in that case, they tweeted online harassment and they have been a part to it.  This is something very terrible. 

What we have seen and we asked a few ever them:  What will you do if someone did that to you online?  Some said they would get offline.  The question was:  What if your education dependent on it?  And the response was well, I would find somewhere else to get my education and that is very ‑‑ that's troubling because you can't leave your entire Internet and say you would fine your education somewhere else.  But one thing we also found out is there was one particular case, one person who returned and sent an e‑mail and wanted to be anonymous and said well, she thinks that she will bible to come back online after a while and the reason she said that was because there was a scenario where somebody was being harassed, but in return, a lot of men responded.  Not the woman herself. 

But I think this is very important in terms of online harassment.  The best response is from a supportive community because if the victim responds, it goes deeper into the argument.  If there's an online community, then it makes it and validates the response.  That is one of the things that we got feedback.  And the second thing was she said if the ‑‑ she particularly mentioned Facebook because that's a more popular platform F. Facebook ‑‑ and these are her words.  If Facebook is able to punish the guys who harass us, then maybe more of us will come online.  She no idea.  I think there's a lot more necessity for education in terms of tools to report and all that.  Now, that's part A, and I hope I only spent 3 minutes.

>> Four.

>> GBENGA SESAN:  30 seconds.  This is what I thought I was spending more time on, but this second side of online harassment, I think that what happened in this conversation, we need to be a bit careful because it has become an opportunity for harassment itself.  I will give a very simple example in close.  Nigeria had something signed in 2015.  It was supposed to address issues like online harassment and cyber stalking, but the people victims of this law were people that were harassed and stalked themselves.  We need to be very careful because there are governments and institutions and individuals who are looking for excuses to be able to victimize other people.  There are conversations around harassment and people say wait a second.  This platform is open to harassment.  Let's shush it down.  We know of countries that have shut down the Internet because students ‑‑ they didn't want students to cheat. 

I have minus 5 seconds left.  So I will close by saying that we need to be careful because there's a risk for freedom of expression and even harassment itself when we have those conversations and we don't ‑‑ there's a list of conversations to say there's harassment online.  Let's be careful.  Let's not use it, but there is a more deliberate conversation to say we can fix the problems and educate yourselves, but let's not create another problem while trying to solve this problem.

>> ANDREAS REVENTLOW:  Thank you very much.  Ellery.

>> ELLERY ROBERTS BIDDLE:  No I work with global voices, which is an international network and community of writers, translators and activists in more than 160 countries.  And our mission is to tell stories about communities and people who are less represented or misrepresented in mainstream media narratives that.  Has taken on a lot of different forms over the years since our founding 11 years ago by Rebecca MacKinnon who is sitting in the front row.  And one of those forms is the branch of the organization and community that I helped to facilitate which is our advocacy project, also known as Advox.  We decided that we needed to carve out a space for our community and partners to talk about threats that people in groups experience because of the civic engagement and public interest reporting that they're doing online.  So, we're a media organization.  We're telling stories all the time and we're telling critiques and inviting critiques. 

We accept that harassment is part of the picture, it's part of the Eco system that we operate in.  We're ‑‑ we've been trying ‑‑ I've been trying to think about this question in a systematic way and I find myself breaking it down like a journalist so the who, what, when, where, how those kinds of questions come to mind.  Who harassment affects matters?  So who's doing the harassing and who is being targeted?  Those pieces are really, really important.  What is the nature of the harassment?  What is the content of it? 

As you're just saying:  Where does it happen in digital space, what kind of platform it occurs on, but also what country, jurisdiction, region, all of those things are important.  And understanding the problem and being able to think about solutions I think it's really fundamental to be able to put those pieces of content together in order to think about a response.  One of the issues that we have had a ton of problems our writers face a lot of problems related to gender, we're very gender balanced.  We lean and tip a little bit more female than male.  So what Gbenga was describing is very familiar. 

Another area that we encounter is state backed or informal allied state actors that are targeting our writers and calling them traders, calling them spies.  Often combine if they're ‑‑ so even then, the question of how do you think about a state actor really depends on the state.  We've been doing some work.  We have a strong community in Venezuela where there's actually quite very open public organization of state affiliated and supporters of the state who spend a fair amount of time online targeting informally and sometimes more formally journalists that are critical of the government.  It is not a secret.  There's an open telegram account run by the agency of the media.  So that's very interesting to see where its context is much more quiet and much harder to see sort of clear link there.

We are I would say as concerned and conscious about the free expression implications of trying to solve these problems through legislation or any kind of public policy solution.  And for us, I think that the question first of how we work together internally, how do we form mentorship kind of systems for a community, that's been a really, really big part of how we think about this.  A lot of our younger or newer contributors will find themselves in a situation where they're testing the waters, they're testing out what works first of all as a narrative that will be popular and they'll engage more people in their issue.  But while you're doing that, you may step into territory that leads you to a lot of trouble from another side. 

So often times what is sort of a first step for us when that happens is figure out who in the community has been there and get together in a very private, secure space whether online or off and to talk about it.  And it's important, one, in figuring out what sort of strategy for that person and how the community can help like Gbenga was talking about, but also in a more private way. 

Two, it helps us figure out how to help that person as an individual because it is really over time when this stuff happens to you, it hurts and there are changes that will happen in the way that you feel about yourself and about the kind of work you're trying to do and we really want ‑‑ we don't want people to feel alone when they're experiencing this.  So I have a lot more to say.

>> ANDREAS REVENTLOW:  Thank you very much, Ellery.  And Jonathan, you will have plenty to say, I'm sure, about being careful and free speech.

>> JONATHAN McCULLY:  I have had a little difficult moment and I'm running on very little sleep.  I am from the legal defense initiative NGO that represents journalists and media outlets and helps them defend their rights.  I will be looking at this from a legal perspective.  Law is such a lovely thing.  So I will start off by saying Gbenga drew on a very problematic example of online harassment.  Domestic and regional courts have recognized the nie forms of harm that can be experienced through the Internet and the unique system and particularly the harm it can have.  The U.K. is a pretty good example.  It uses laws that applied offline to the online context, but also developed laws in response to online harassment specifically.  I should think they're pretty uncontentious from a free speech angle, but willing to debate that.  So laws against threats of violence, crime, stalking, harassment and revenge has become an increasingly problematic area.  As Gbenga said, legislating against cyber harassment opens up the possibility of over censorship or that kind of threatening and chilling atmosphere for freedom of expression.  One area we have seen this is in a response to cyber bullying and we see this in cyber crimes and legislation in particular.  And the U.K. actually adopted legislative approach which has been almost copy and pasted by a number of other jurisdictions.  So I will talk very, very briefly about the U.K. and Kenya and how they have responded to this legislative provision against cyber bullying specifically.  So this criminalizes communications online that are grossly offensive and descent, obscene or menacing or communications online that are false but communicated with the purpose ever causing annoyance or anxiety.  Now the Indian supreme court find it to be unconstitutional and that's for a number of reasons.  The language you can tell already words like menacing, grossly offensive, annoying, inconvenient have incredibly nebulous, but the supreme court has a lack of clear guidance against online content.  And Kenya is similarly in a case and the attorney is general.  We have a lawyer in from Kenya that might want to discuss a little bit about the implications of the judgment for Kenya.  They struck the same provision.  They find unconstitutional because it was precise and undefined.  So this shows a legislative response of cyber bullying that can open up kind of chilling atmosphere for free speech online.  U.K. on the other hand has not struck this piece of legislation.  They have a very clear guidance on when individuals should be prosecuted under the communications act.  It is quite interesting because they distinguish between the first kind of cyber harassment type of laws I introduced at the start, threats of violence, stalking, harassment.  They said prosecution under these laws will most likely be in the public interest.  While prosecution under the specific provision that struck in India and Kenya would be unlikely.  And there are a number of aspects of the online communications they'll look out and take into continents.  It is quite interesting to look at some of that guidance.  If we're going to legislate in our own countries to tacker cyber bullying specifically.  So that made it quite clear that it has to be more than just simply offensive, shocking or disturbing.  It shouldn't criminalize satirical or rude comments.  You can't target or prosecute somebody for publishing content online that is unpopular or unfashionable against the morals of the day.  They will take into account the victim themselves.  Was the communication targeted specifically at the individual or it was kind of spread more widely without it being directed against the individual specifically.  Was there a clear intention to target the individual or did they think that communication wouldn't reach them or won't harm them?  Has there been actual harm for the victim?  Does it have crime elements?  Is it part of a coordinated attack against an individual?  Is it a repeated offense the age of the victim?  Critically whether it engages political or public interest commentary and they will really look at these factors when determining whether to prosecute somebody under this really vague piece of legislation.  So it is very easy to say let's legislate against cyber bullying.  I see U.K. as a legislative provision in place.  Let's copy and paste that.  It is quite clear that U.K. has taken a context provision approach to this provision and they're not using it in such a way there is no guidance.  There are no balancing of any rights, which was the worry in both India and Kenya when they adopted the same provision.  So that's just a little bit of an overview of some of the purchased adopted by those countries and hopefully we can discuss and approach.  That's it.  Thanks.

>> ANDREAS REVENTLOW:  Thank you so much, Jonathan.  And you're all staying very much on time.  Marcel?

>> MARCEL LEONARDI:  Thank you for letting me speak on behalf of Google Brazil.  There is hate speech, extreme speech and harassment in general, but I will speak to the experiences that I know are closer to home which is what I do in public policy in Google Brazil.  So obviously Brazil and legislation does provide for content takedowns for identifying infringers and legal remedies that you have when you need to tackle harassment.  But what we have noticed actually there is the problem of self‑censorship by groups that are harassed in general.  That is something the laws fails to capture because it never comes to light.  A few members will help me illustrate my point.  So for example, Brazilians are the second most active group of users on YouTube in content consumption.  So Brazilians really love watching videos in YouTube in general.  But Africans in Brazil are lacking in creation, but also in fostering communities on that platform.  As we investigated why that was happening as part of a global effort to better understand that, the question of self‑censorship and harassment came immediately to light.  Google had a big event regarding YouTube which is YouTube summit for social change.  It was to show diversity in general, buttery realize that the messages that certain parts of the world most concerned with countering hate speech and extreme counter terrorist speech was not encountered down there.  So what did we do?  We actually did a specific creators for change event in Brazil.  We invited 25 of the top African‑Brazilian YouTubers to showcase their views and to discuss that, but obviously Google lacks the expertise to leads that kind of discussion.  So we partner with an institute in Brazil called Institute Media Technical that pretty much has it's main core activity the job of fostering more voices for the African community to be online and also present in everyday life.  It was amazing to perceive and confirm what we had noticed with some studies that most people did ‑‑ when they get harassed and get attacked and when they're victims of racism and seeking legal remedies unless they're a prominent person with resources, time and money and education to that kind of issue, they just prefer to shut down rather than talk.  So that event was very important to help showcase all of this community that counterspeech is probably one of the most relevant tools that we can use.  It leads me to a very important second point which is because Brazil kind of facilitates the legal remedies, it is really cheap to go to court and have content takedown and take down infringers.  We lack in the region not only Brazil, but Latin America in general is what they have in the United States the so‑called anti‑slam legislation in the sense we are perceived in several cases people especially powerful people connected to several different groups using the legal system to try to silence people in general.  Specifically these communities when they try to raise the problem.  It is very common for Brazilians to say no.  Brazil doesn't have a racist problem because we're a melting pot of races, but in practice, you see it every single day.  So these are initiatives that are very helpful and we really believe that specifically in that scenario we already are seeing the results.  As a result of that seminar, we already see more African Brazilians interested in creating content.  They are no longer afraid of replying back.  Of course, especially in social media, but with the due level of care that these kinds of responses demand.  It is easy when you are being attacked 24/7 to elevate the fight rather than responding in a more appropriate manner.  What I have noticed so far is that the whole individual of counter speech is growing.  But as that grows in the region, so will grow the need for this kind of anti‑slap status because people use the speech to file lawsuits against and say the counter speech itself was offensive.  So is it is really something that needs to be worked on and maybe on a different level.  Those are the main points I wanted to raise right now.  Let's move on forward in the discussion.  Thank you.

>> ANDREAS REVENTLOW:  Thank you very much.  That was exactly five minutes.  Thank you.  And higher from digital rights foundation, please take us to the work you and your colleagues are doing there.

>> HYRA BASIT:  Thank you, everyone.  I want to set up the context for Pakistan first.  Pakistan very recently financially passed a prevention for drawing of crimes act.  In the game after a really long struggle.  It looks good on paper, but what it does is it focuses on unpopular opinions which against the government.  So it is not really that great.  There is focus on cyber crimes, harassment online, but the big definition in the ad itself, it makes the act weak.  So anyway, I want to set up the context for Pakistan.

What digital Rights Foundation does is we started the project which means the Internet.  We went around schools and universities and we started doing awareness sessions aimed specifically at girls and young women and to teach them.  The thing is people don't even realized you can be harassed online that you could be damaged in any way or get hurt online because it is not a physical space, right?  So we go and talk to young women.  We teach them ‑‑ we show them, not teach them.  We show them that yes.  This is a thing that happens and you can protect yourself from it and it's okay to reach out and seek help.  We did this to create awareness basically, but what we realized during the sessions was that numerous girls would come up to us during the session about online harassment they were facing.  This is the kind of harassment they can't really talk to anyone else about because in Pakistan, the conservative environment the kind of conservative environment that we have either the girls would be victim shamed or blamed and from their own friends and family or that's the best case scenario.  The worst case scenario is they can be killed for it because no matter whose fault it is, the girl must have done something to have been harassed online.  And so we recognize the need for a platform where girls can come up or young women can come up and confide in them anonymously.  They can assure their identity would remain anonymous and they wouldn't be even further ‑‑ their reputation wouldn't be further damaged because of going out to seek help.  So basically we have two problems here.  One is the psychological distress that people of online ‑‑ victims of online harassment face and the fact you don't have a support system around to you help you get through all that.  So, what a digital rights foundation what we saw is there was a need for an anonymous platform and we came up with the decision to start on cyber harassment helpline.  It is a very young help line that was started on the first of December, two days ago basically.  Why we decided to go for the help line is so we can assure that the girls have an anonymous platform and to confide in us and we centered our entire policy on giving them as much privacy and insuring the confidentiality as much as possible.  So people could actually come up to us and not just girls, of course, but men.  Even when men complain about online harassment, they're told just to deal with it.  It's not a real thing.  It's just online.  So people from whoever are the victims of online harassment can come up to us.  Aside from the three big cities in Pakistan, in the far flung years of Pakistan, there's no awareness.  People use Facebook and the Internet, but there's no awareness that cyber crimes is a real thing or if there's a law which protects them.  So the harassment helpline basically is a three‑pronged help line.  It gives them psychological and emotional support.  And it gives them legal advice as well.  So we can't really go out and start the procedure for them, legal proceedings for them, but we do give advice on how to do if they do want to carry out a legal case against their harassers.  Of course, you want to build awareness that this is the act and which is the rights that it gives you and here you can protect yourself and we are here to help you.  Another thing, another reason we decided to go with the help line is because there's no real concept of psychological support or psychological illnesses or distress that people face.  So, we have a platform here that people can receive psychological and emotional support without actually having to ask for it.  Sometime its just helps if someone comes up to you and says hey, listen.  I know what you're going through is rough.  I then is really difficult and there are people out there who understand who you're going through and we are here to help and listen to you, which is something they can't receive from their friends and family.  And on the help line theme, we have an experienced lawyer.  We have a digital security expert and the entire team also went through counseling training.  So we are well prepared.  But even then when you hear the stories about the kind of online harassment that people are facing, it shakes you up for a while and you have to settle yourself down to actually help them.  The help line is also in the process of developing a referral system.  Behind the phone, you can't really help people as much and we have limited resources.  We're developing a referral system.  So people who need extensive support can go out and get them and these are the revel system is basically vet by us.  So we know these are trusted people who they can go to for psychological support, for legal support, for ‑‑ they will be safe in their hands even if they're not exactly working with us.  Just to clarify when I say that we are very young help line, again like I said, we just started.  So I can't really tell you about the exact response that we've gotten, but even in two days, the number and the nature ‑‑ oh, sorry.  The number of the calls we have received and just last thing.  One of the things because we're not affiliated with the government, it's actually difficult for us because we can't exactly reach out ‑‑ we can't take action ourselves against the harassers.  So it is difficult operating with the legal enforcement authorities and getting them to do their jobs because we're here to help and we can't do our job unless they're doing theirs.  So sorry to take up so much time.

>> ANDREAS REVENTLOW:  Not at all.  Thank you so much, Hyra.  We now only have 10 minutes for the last bit.  So we have to speak very quickly.

I want to follow on the concept of counter speech.  I saw Gbenga and Ellery.  The role with the value from your perspective.

>> ELLERY ROBERTS BIDDLE:  I think a lot of time its is put out as a strong solution.  Something we don't have not around the world there's really different kinds of norms about how critique can work ‑‑ you can speak back to that, but usually it's going to make things worse for you.  The question and maybe I can pass this to you something we have been talking about a lot lately is allies and what ‑‑ who are people who are able to really powerfully act as allies to a person who is receiving this kind of harassment and really is probably not going to be able to get out of it on their own.

>> GBENGA SESAN:  Even offline, when you see a bully, the best response to the bully is the person being bullied.  And I think that this sense of being in a community and it means today in a community for you, tomorrow you are community for me and that the whole African concept of Abuntu.  That's one thing we must be able to find a way to make it work.

>> ANDREAS REVENTLOW:  That's excellent.  That's common among all of you as supporting communities and as a response.  We only have a few minutes, but I wanted to just ‑‑ I know that we have some great people in the audience also.  I wanted to give just a few minutes for questions and maybe ‑‑ I know that, Michi, you have launched a great report.  She launched a great report on online harassment as a form of censorship.  So if you have a minute or two to just very briefly say some of the main take aways from that, that will be very interesting.

>> MICHI:  Yes.  Thank you.  We just launched this last week in New Delhi.  It is called online harassment, a form of censorship.  It thankfully covers almost everything you have touched upon from 66A to what it does to the identity of the victim and what are the various phase either the companies have come up to address this abuse or what the victims themselves can do.  We titled it online harassment as a form of censorship because what we understood is this all led to curbing off one's own expressions.  It's not that we did not think it was important to call attention to the hurt or to the form of agony, victims of crime, rape or whatever. 

But what we wanted to do is ‑‑ what it does and I wanted to call attention to the fact that how this acted as a blow against freedom of expression itself, one of the platform companies calls it the free speech site.  We think it's a cute idea and we would like to think that it's true.  What part of our report shows is that actually they're also the free speech end of the censorship movement and that's not by design, but that's how it comes up to be.  Our methodology involves interviewing a lot of people.  Very many of these people have been in the public.  These are journalists.  These are people who are activists who faced many things which you touched about.  It is unnerving when somebody says to someone probably I'm not going to read it, but I will pass this around ‑‑ or I should read it.  It says bloody bitch, you should be raped.  And how does a woman respond to such a thing? 

After we have spoken to more than 35 people, which is not represented by the entire population of our country, but nobody was interested in law enforcement.  They told us many of the times that the law enforcement officers were Willfully underprepared when it came to holding the perpetrators on online harassment accountable for their actions.  It takes no time for starting to address online harassment to turning it to a censorship tool.  It took up so much time.  On the existing mechanisms of abuse report available, we were told that they're sketchy.  They are improving with many of the platforms Facebook and Twitter being the most popular, but the companies can do better and they are doing better.  Twitter released another update in terms of services November 15th. 

But in summation what we understood is the online expression affected particular individuals was highly subjective.  And it depended on what their community was, how much that was and how much response they got.  I want to express and highlight it again.  This is becoming a far more complicated matter than just saying counter speech or not counter speech.  We have seen what all bright research tells us and propaganda coming in.  So just saying let's go to law enforcement or just having somebody help you counter speech is not that easy.  So, again, we have more copies, but they're also available online.  It documents what people said to us because it has interviews and what various companies policies are and what we are seeing also in terms of mechanisms to help address the issue.  Thank you.

>> Is it SMLF‑‑

>> HYRA BASIT:  SFLC.  Software freedom law center.IN.  It's on the website and we will have some copies around also.  If you need physical copies, yes.  Thank you, Rebecca.

>> ANDREAS REVENTLOW:  We'll see when we have someone coming in.  But take a quick round of questions if there's anyone who would like to impose something to our wonderful panelists, if anyone is interested?  Yes?

>> (question asked) so the issue of counter speech, I'm wondering to what extent it actually is productive.  I said it's a good thing.  But has there been any measurement as to whether or not it is effective?  It seems it should be, but I also worry that perhaps counter speech just simply adds to the argument and the trolls and the negative people would ignore it or encounter that.

>> ELLERY ROBERTS BIDDLE:  I think it depends so much on what you're talking about, what you're expressing about and who is attacking you as a result.  There is great research that we can look at, but I think it is so contactual that it is hard to say.  I think the issue is so prevalent and that's where it becomes really hard to imagine what kind of a counter speech response a person being targeted can give when the conversation or the comment turns to something really ugly and just not, you think, there's no ‑‑ you're not going is to go anywhere.

>> Just for my own personal experience as a journalist, years ago when readers would attack me for my opinion and I would respond, almost inevitably, I would make a friend.  They were recognized and that hasn't been happening lately.  Now what I am seeing more is they simply pour on and it seem toss help less than it used to.

>> ELLERY ROBERTS BIDDLE:  I think it happens more in semi‑private spaces, but it is a really, really wide range that we're talking about.

>> ANDREAS REVENTLOW:  I'll take the question from the gentleman down on the corner.

>> Thank you.  My name is Mugambi.  I saw your comments you mentioned about Kenya.  The takedown of the laws that are criminal in nature is now it brings private prosecution.  They highly prohibit finds that I have given that I have given too much for the people online.  The second comment is how you deal with boats?  There's a lot of ‑‑ it is easy to say that you harassed me online.  I can identify you.  There's also the issues there with right to anonymity online.  The government in Kenya is they create hundreds of boats.  So you will find 50 boats that are harassing you at the same time.  And you really can't identify.  So that's an issue especially with the spate because they know they can take down the internet and they can't arrest me.  They create the platforms that really have no idea how to deliver them.  I know somebody has an idea of how this may be done.  Thank you.

>> GBENGA SESAN:  So we have dealt a lot with this boats and anonymity.  A lot.  A lot of security when we talk about digital rights is always referred to anyone can be anything on the internet and things like that.  But one of the things we found useful in our conversation and this is not exactly a conversation right now.  Now it's a conversation.

[Laughter]

One of the things we found useful is to say that the difference between somebody who is using anonymity to save their lives or to present their views because they're scared of any reprimand and boat is a clear difference.  There's a thing to boats that are created to attack.  But there's a thing to people who create accounts to express views to share opinion.  It is almost human vessels, not human.  They cut and paste.  So one of the tests would be ‑‑ and this is one representative at a time.  Take that tweet.  The entire tweet, copy it and paste it and click enter and you will find 15, 20 at times and 40 sharing the same thing attacking one person.  I know this is not specific.  There's a clear distinction.  There are people that the moment they reveal who they are, I was sitting across various spaces.  They are open to threats.  Number 2, it is sort of demising what they are saying.  I know that means shut off.

>> ANDREAS REVENTLOW:  It is.  (no sound).

>> ANDREAS REVENTLOW:  I think let's just go on for two minutes.  Marcel, please.

>> MARCEL LEONARDI:  Companies aught to do better all the time.  Basically it is very hard to tackle.  It's an ongoing challenge.  For example, the new issue that it is obviously an ongoing theme.  To what extent companies need to have better systems to work that out.  I really agree with the point of the counter speech not being the online solution obviously.  Basically we have data from lawsuits and from other cases in Brazil that do showcase whenever victims really don't care about legal remedies, but more of the sense of the community.  It is to make a specific platform, a specific community, a specific service less distracting.  So there is an overall long‑term fact especially by allies that was raised here.

>> ANDREAS REVENTLOW:  Excellent.  Jonathan?

>> JONATHAN McCULLY:  Brief comment on the anonymous speech point.  We're involved in a case in Tanzania where the police can disclose user identities.  It is suspicious or an investigation into cyber crime which can include cyber harassment.  I think the problem is anonymization, it is not an absolute right to anonymity online.  There are occasions when it does have to be set aside, but the important thing is that states can't rely on these legal remedies to force disclosure to kind of harass them themselves.  So we're trying to push the constitutional in Tanzania to say that you need have at least a strong case before you can force the disclosure of identities online rather than saying I'm investigating something.  Let's get that user data and end that to me.  That's not enough.  I think we need to be very careful about how we approach anonymous speech online.  It is a more nuance approach for sure.

>> ANDREAS REVENTLOW:  Thank you.  Hyra, you have any final thoughts?

>> HYRA BASIT:  I think one of the topics of discussions that comes up is where do we draw the line between free speech and online harassment?  Who gets to define the like between that?  It's a very big issue and there's a lot of stakeholders involved.  So I think it's going to take ‑‑ it's a long process.

>> ANDREAS REVENTLOW:  Ellery, you have two seconds to finalize.

>> ELLERY ROBERTS BIDDLE:  Direct threats of violence are a separate category under most many countries laws and the terms of service and community standards of the many major social platforms.  It is a very important distinction.  If has been a challenge for the companies and I really want them to do better on it.

>> ANDREAS REVENTLOW:  I think on that note has we have been disrupted, I would like to thank you all for taking part both panelists and the audience.  There are so many things going on in trying to find ways to constructing and responding to this.  I would like to find a way to continued conversation.  So please talk to me or talk to panelists to keep it going.  There really is an immense need for finding creative and community‑led responses amongst others.  Thank you very much.

[APPLAUSE]


 

Additional Information

 

Contact Information

United Nations

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