IGF 2019 WS #185 Reporting on ICT companies’ human rights harms: A toolkit

Organizer 1: Afef Abrougui, Global Voices
Organizer 2: Nathalie Marechal, Ranking Digital Rights
Organizer 3: Veszna Wessenauer,

Speaker 1: Afef Abrougui, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 2: Lena Nitsche, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Alimardani Mahsa, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Policy Question(s): 

Private sector responsibilities and accountability: what are the responsibilities of the private sector in ensuring respect and protection of users’ human rights online? How can media and civil society groups use documentation to help hold to account technology and telecommunications companies for their responsibilities and human rights commitments?

Relevance to Theme: When technology 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 holding companies to account and making the case for why they must institute 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 Advox and Ranking Digital Rights partnered together to produce a toolkit to help digital rights groups and advocates effectively report on harms involving internet and telecommunications companies in a way that helps all stakeholders better understand the scale and impact of such abuses.

Global Voices Advox is a project dedicated to protecting freedom of expression and free to access to information online. Ranking Digital Rights works to promote freedom of expression and privacy on the internet by creating global standards and incentives for companies to respect and protect users’ rights.

During the session, we will introduce the toolkit and train participants in basic skills of gathering evidence and reporting on ICT companies’ human rights harms.

Relevance to Internet Governance: Through this toolkit, we are aiming to help different stakeholder groups better understand the scale and impact of human rights harms involving the private sector. Documentation is not only useful for civil society groups to hold the private sector accountable, but it can also help companies and policymakers better understand where company policies and practices are falling short in order to put in place more effective policies and mechanisms for a secure, open and free internet, where user rights are respected and protected.


Other - 60 Min
Format description: We would like to organise a tutorial session of 60 minutes (classroom) since we want to give participants the opportunity to work in groups and use the toolkit. We can still present the toolkit in a Tutorial session of 30 minutes but the session would be less interactive.

Description: We will start by briefly introducing the toolkit. We will then divide participants into different groups, and each group will be assigned a case scenario of a human rights harm involving an ICT company. Using the toolkit, each group will have to develop a plan, outlining the different steps they would follow to report on the case that has been assigned to them. During this exercise, the moderator and the speakers will supervise the groups to address any questions. Each group will then get to briefly present their plan. This will be followed by a Q&A, where the moderator and the speakers get to share tips or answer any other questions on how to effectively report on ICT companies’ human rights harms.

Expected Outcomes: - Participants will improve their knowledge on how to effectively document and report on ICT companies’ human rights harms.
- Organizers will use participants’ questions and feedback to assess the digital rights community’s needs and concerns in relation to documentation, in order to build on this toolkit in the future.

Onsite Moderator: 

Afef Abrougui, Civil Society, African Group

Online Moderator: 

Nathalie Marechal, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Discussion Facilitation: 

The moderator will use up to 10 minutes to present the toolkit. Participants will then get to work together in groups. The speakers will oversee group work to make sure that participants understand what is expected from them, and answer any questions they may have. They will then get to present their reporting plans. Twenty minutes will be dedicated for a Q&A so that participants get to ask questions about the toolkit and documentation in general.

Online Participation: 

We propose to stream the part where we present the toolkit and the Q&A. Before the session takes place, we will promote the it online and share a link to the toolkit. We will encourage those interested to post their questions about the toolkit and how to effectively report on ICT companies' human rights harms, and make sure that speakers answer some of them during the Q&A.

Proposed Additional Tools: we will use the official IGF conference hashtag to promote the session and encourage people to ask their questions. After the session, we will also publish a blog post on rankingdigitalrights.org, summarising what we did during the session.


GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions