IGF 2020 WS #299 Building Digital Security for Journalists

Time
Monday, 16th November, 2020 (08:30 UTC) - Monday, 16th November, 2020 (10:00 UTC)
Room
Room 3
About this Session
This session organized by Reporters Without Borders aims to identify, explain, and discuss the main digital security issues, which journalists are facing in different regions of the world.
Thematic Track

Organizer 1: Iris de Villars, Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
Organizer 2: Lisa Dittmer, Reporters without Borders (RSF) Germany
Organizer 3: Yagmur Ekim Cay, RSF Germany
Organizer 4: Tilman Clauß, RSF Germany

Speaker 1: Helena Bertho Dias, Civil Society, Latin America and Caribbean Group 
Speaker 2: Chi Hang Chan, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Lisa Dittmer, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Jensen Gyde, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 5: Andy Yen, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Additional Speakers

Co-rapporteur: Mr. Elias Kroessin

Moderator

Christine Mhundwa , Civil Society, African Group

Online Moderator

Yagmur Ekim Cay, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Rapporteur

Tilman Clauß, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Format

Birds of a Feather - Auditorium - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)
  1. What can be done in terms of regional and international regulation to prevent human rights abuses against journalists in the context of digital security?
  2. Which tools and technologies exist to protect journalists from digital threats and how can these be secured through regulation?
  3. Are current export control regimes of surveillance technology fit for purpose? 
  4. How can we prevent the fragmentation of the open internet into separate “splinternets”?

Journalists have to tackle digital security issues all over the world. To suppress freedom of information and to silence journalists, state and non-state actors enforce censorship, use targeted surveillance, hacking, doxing, and trolling. Many journalists still have limited or no access to sufficient resources, understanding of the digital threats, and the means for digital self-defense against this multifaceted danger. Especially for the journalists who work on the frontline and in crisis areas access to information, training, and tools are often hard to come by. Information and researches from RSF show that digital security challenges for journalists arise across the globe and vary greatly: Whereas surveillance and intrusion software has been used to get access to apps and personal data of journalists in Turkey, troll armies have been targeting journalists in Mexico. ( https://rsf.org/en/news/rsf-unveils-202020-list-press-freedoms-digital-predators) Therefore, finding global strategies for the digital security of journalists can be challenging. That’s why, this session will try to start a discussion in order to form alliances, strengthen existing forms of collaboration, raise awareness and empower journalists in the digital sphere. It will seek to create opportunities to change this situation and provide global and easily accessible tools, training and opportunities for the digital protection of the journalists. As providing and creating these tools is a responsibility of all the multi-stakeholders, it is still a challenge to create unbiased the framework and resources, without the influence of specific political or commercial interests, but in the interests of the journalists.

SDGs

GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Digital age shapes the present and the future of journalism. On the one hand, digitization keeps providing journalists with new helpful tools for communication and investigation. On the other hand, it puts journalists in danger. Threats like cyberattacks, phishing, government, and commercial surveillance and trolling endanger any kind of journalistic work and pose a severe threat to press freedom. States and societies bear a responsibility to protect freedom of expression and information, as they are vital elements of human rights. Safer working conditions for journalists have to be established, guaranteed and enforced. In practice, this means digital rights, privacy, data of the journalists, and their sources need to be protected. Accordingly, this session organized by Reporters Without Borders aims to identify, explain, and discuss the main digital security issues, which journalists are facing in different regions of the world. Through a discussion, to which fellows of the Berlin Scholarship Program: Empowering Journalists in the Digital Field of RSF Germany, political and civil society actors will contribute with their experience and knowledge, the following points will be discussed: How can different stakeholders help to protect journalists in the digital field, what specific responsibilities do they have? Which best practices of digital self-defense do exist? How could different stakeholders contribute (further)? How can self-defense practices (training, sources, etc.) be distributed in different contexts in order to protect the future of freedom of speech in accordance with SDG 16? Which policies need to be re-evaluated or developed to prevent digital rights abuses and to promote press freedom in the digital age?

Expected Outcomes

Journalism is international work. Its safety is not only important for the specific countries, or regions, but for all of us. Protection of digital rights, a transnational recognition of the various problems and dangers, which journalists are facing in different world regions and cooperation between different stakeholders towards multinational alliances is the key to empower journalists and to protect our very own access to information. Therefore, this session aims to build up awareness, to highlight the challenges journalists are facing and it seeks new approaches and international solutions within the IGF Community. As these are constantly evolving problems and dangers, RSF Germany would like to organize a follow-up event at the beginning of 2021, taking into consideration the groups’ work in the session, in order to contribute to building international alliances on journalistic practice and digital policy.

Best Practice: Discussion in small groups Group discussions in the following topics: Defining the responsibilities: What are the responsibilities of the various stakeholders in order to protect journalists in the digital field? Best practices: What could multi-stakeholders do to contribute the best practices for the digital self-defense of journalists? Global Standards: How can we develop global standards to protect journalists in the digital sphere? Future: Which cooperation and collaboration opportunities are there on the national and international levels to help provide more safety for journalists?

Relevance to Internet Governance: Repressive laws, increased government surveillance, and a lack of digital security of journalists threaten both the future of independent journalism and future access to information. Varied policies and practices in different regions are changing the nature of the internet and creating challenges for freedom of speech. As UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 underlines the role of freedom of information, press freedom, and the protection of journalists in the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies, IGF stakeholders ought to continue the discussion of human rights-based cybersecurity policies as one of the core themes of the IGF 2019 and invest in evaluating their efforts since.

Relevance to Theme: The proposed session “Building Digital Security for Journalists” aims to contribute to the thematic track on trust, as it examines challenges to free speech and press freedom in the digital environment. The session aims to start a discussion on safer conditions and infrastructures for journalists on the internet, in order to promote everyone’s fundamental freedoms and rights. The session will contribute a new perspective to the track with a specific focus on journalists’ needs as a critical stakeholder in the protection of freedom of information in the digital age. Journalists’ digital safety is a very relevant topic to the wider debate on internet governance in the context of human rights, media freedom, and freedom of expression. It will help to create a multi-stakeholder forum for security challenges that are as yet underserved.

Online Participation

 

Usage of IGF Official Tool.

 

Agenda

 

10 Minutes

Welcome and session presentation

35

Minutes

Discussion of cases: defining the challenges and opportunities with:

  • Chi Hang Chan, Journalist, Hong-Kong
  • Helena Bertho Dias, Journalist, Brazil
  • Gyde Jensen, German MP and Head of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid
  • Lisa Dittmer, Advocacy Officer for Internet Freedom, RSF Germany
  • Andy Yen, CEO, Protonmail

20

Minutes

Best Practice: Discussion in small groups 

Group discussions in the following topics:

  1. Defining the responsibilities: What are the responsibilities of the various stakeholders in order to protect journalists in the digital field?
  2. Best practices: What could multi-stakeholders do to contribute the best practices for the digital self-defense of journalists?
  3. Global Standards: How can we develop global standards to protect journalists in the digital sphere?
  4. Future: Which cooperation and collaboration opportunities are there on the national and international levels to help provide more safety for journalists?

15 Minutes

Introduction of the pitches of the different groups

10 Minutes

Future Opportunities, conclusion remarks & Thank you!

1. Key Policy Questions and related issues
What can be done in terms of regional and international regulation to prevent human rights abuses against journalists in the context of digital security?
Which tools and technologies exist to protect journalists from digital threats and how can these be secured through regulation? Our current export control regimes of surveillance technology fit for purpose?
How can we prevent the fragmentation of the open internet into separate “splinternets”?
2. Summary of Issues Discussed

Agreement on the main needs today, order to provide journalists with digital safety:  One is technology, which provides secure information and data, for example with end-to-end encryption. The second element is digital security training. There are a lot of journalists, who are aware of threats. Third, a strong framework to protect privacy, lastly regulation, and laws prepared with the consultation with the civil society.

3. Key Takeaways

Internet is a very important part of today's and future's democracy. We have to shape it in order to not put democracy in danger. Politicians should be talking more about their existing legislation, e.g. about the legislation in European countries, which can also be exploited by regimes. What journalists are experiencing in Hong Kong, but also in Belarus and Turkey and Russia, in Brazil can be a lesson and connecting to other politicians worldwide and exchanging views in this regard. Politicians should focus on inclusive and transparent policymaking, including other stake-holders. The policy-making processes should also be discussed in an international atmosphere, in order to create international standards, to share best practices and the knowledge that has been gained in other countries. Forums such as IGF are good opportunities to start a conversation about the challenges.

6. Final Speakers

Speaker 1: Helena Bertho Dias, Civil Society, Latin America and Caribbean Group 
Speaker 2: Chi Hang Chan, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Lisa Dittmer, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Jensen Gyde, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 5: Andy Yen, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

7. Reflection to Gender Issues

Gender issues were not discussed. 

8. Session Outputs

Youtube link can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjQEyYA3OpI&t=4933s

9. Group Photo
IGF 2020 WS #299 Building Digital Security for Journalists