IGF 2018 WS #288 Documenting ICT companies' human rights impacts

Organizer 1: Civil Society, African Group
Organizer 2: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

When internet, mobile, and telecommunications companies fail to put in place human rights-respecting commitments and policies, their practices may directly or indirectly result in the violation of users’ freedom of expression and privacy rights. Documenting these violations and highlighting the impact of company policies and practices is crucial in making the case for why companies must institute - and policymakers should support - policies that foster and reinforce respect for internet users’ rights. To contribute to ongoing efforts and projects aimed at documenting harms involving internet and telecommunications companies, Global Voices and Ranking Digital Rights partnered together to come up with a systematic process to document these violations. In Fall 2018 the two organizations plan to launch a toolkit to help digital rights groups and advocates gather evidence of harms involving internet and telecommunications companies in a way that helps all stakeholders better understand the scale and impact of such abuses. This session will introduce the toolkit and bring together different stakeholders to discuss projects, ideas, collaborations on how to effectively use it to document these harms.

Format: 

Break-out Group Discussions - 90 Min

Interventions: 

Our session will bring together speakers from different stakeholder groups who will contribute a diversity of perspectives on the topic.

Ranking Digital Rights will contribute to the session by discussing how we will be using the toolkit to strengthen the connection between our research and data, and the stories of people affected by ICT companies’ policies and practices.

Venezuelan lawyer and human rights activist Marianne Díaz Hernández will address how the toolkit can be used by activists and digital rights groups to document digital rights violations in Latin America, and how documentation can help hold to account those responsible.

Guy Berger, director of Freedom of Expression and Media Development at UNESCO, will talk about the use of documentation as a tool to inform his organization’s work to advance freedom of expression online.

Alexandria Walden (to be confirmed as a speaker) who works on free expression and human rights at Google will talk about how the toolkit and documentation in general can help ICT companies understand the impact of their policies and practices on users’ rights, and as a result help them mitigate such impacts in the future.

We will also invite a government representative to speak about how governments can make use of documentation as a tool to inform their policies to regulate the ICT industry in order to protect and advance the rights to freedom of expression and privacy online.

Diversity: 

The discussion will include perspectives from different stakeholder groups. A majority of listed session speakers, including the moderator, are women. The list of provisionally confirmed speakers include participants from Africa, Latin America and the United States.

We will kick off the session by introducing the toolkit and why it is important to document the impact of violations involving companies on users and people. We will then ask speakers from different stakeholder groups to comment on how this toolkit —and documentation in general— can help them understand the scale and impact of violations involving ICT companies. Session participants will then be divided into break-out groups to brainstorm ideas on how to effectively use the toolkit so that ICT companies —as well as governments that regulate them—can better understand how their policies and practices affect users around the world.

Discussion Facilitation: 

During the first 15 minutes of the session, we will introduce the toolkit. This will be followed by a 30-minute discussion with other stakeholders on how to use the toolkit and documentation as a tool to shape the policies and practices of companies to protect and advance freedom of expression online. Session participants will then be divided into five groups to discuss how the toolkit can be used by each stakeholder group: media, civil society, intergovernmental organizations, governments, and the private sector. Each break-out group will be led by a discussion leader (drawn from the Ranking Digital Rights and Global Voices teams as well as the two organizations’ NGO and research partners who are attending IGF) who will take notes and compile ideas and follow up with people afterwards. Other members of the Ranking Digital Rights and Global Voices teams attending IGF will serve as discussion leaders. During the session’s remaining 15 minutes, groups will get to present and share their ideas.

Online Participation: 

We propose to stream the discussion part of the workshop. Before the session takes place, we will promote the session online and announce the different break-out groups and their leaders. Those not attending IGF will be invited to join a break-out group remotely, and during the break-out sessions, discussion leaders will make sure that those who expressed interest can join via skype or any other video conferencing tool.

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 678