freedom of expression

Women’s rights and threats to online freedom: reflections from the Freedom Online Conference 17 to 18 June 2013

Francoise Mukuku on 8 Jul 2013
From 17 to 18 June 2013 I took part in the conference on online freedom known as Freedom Online. This conference, carrying the same name of the coalition behind it, highlighted the continent in which it was hosted. In the midst of the international storm about surveillance and censorship, our specific focus was online freedom in Africa and the Arab world as Tunisia, like all of the Maghreb, has one foot in both worlds.

Transparency and accountability: Finding points of agreement following the #fbrape campaign

Shawna Finnegan on 13 Jun 2013
Last month a coalition of women's organisations led a campaign to hold Facebook accountable for its content policy. In particular, how it deals with hateful speech and representations of gender-based violence shared by its users. In response, freedom of expression advocates have expressed concern and criticism over the precedent set by demands for Facebook to remove hateful content from its site. This has spurred debate over gender-based hate speech, the interdependence of human rights, and the impact of sexist online culture. Debate over how to balance freedom of expression with the right to protection from incitement to discrimination is constantly being reframed in the context of new technologies and political realities. Despite this ongoing debate, there is clear space for agreement on the need for transparency and accountability in how Facebook and other internet intermediaries deal with abusive content, and takedown requests. This point has been made by advocates from a variety of backgrounds, including the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression.

#fbrape is about gender-based hate speech, not about censorship

Chat Garcia Ramilo on 13 Jun 2013
On May 21 more than a hundred organisations lead by "Women, Action & the Media”:, the journalist Soraya Chemaly, and “The Everyday Sexism Project": started a campaign to “Take action to end gender-based violence on Facebook": Within a week, "Facebook accepted": weaknesses and lapses in implementing their policies and their own community standards and committed to take steps to improve their content policy in identifying and removal of gender-based violent content on their platform. But not all advocates of freedom on expression online celebrated with us, arguing that Facebook should not be in the business of censoring content even if it is hate speech. This is not a new debate. It is a debate that feminists, who care deeply about freedom of expression, have faced around issues of misogyny and gender-based violent content. What is new is how these arguments play out online. What is crystal clear to those of us who are backing this campaign is that this is not a call to counter the right of users to free expression. The network of women's organisations behind this action understand that internet freedoms are critical to asserting women's rights and are staunch advocates of freedom of expression online and offline.

The false paradox: freedom of expression and sexist hate speech

Margarita Salas on 10 Jun 2013
The campaign “Take action to end gender-based violence on Facebook” has re-opened up debate among internet rights advocates about the right to freedom of expression and responsibilities of internet intermediaries in regarding the content that circulates through their services. Margarita Salas, who is currently doing research consultancy of internet intermediaries corporate policies for APC's End Violence project, is looking in her blog at gender-based hate speech in the context of various international instruments and present couple of examples how to deal with cyber hate.

She's begging to be raped – Twitterverse for feminists in Pakistan!

Urooj Zia on 17 Dec 2012
‘She's begging to be raped.’ That's the response that many feminists in Pakistan get online from Pakistani men seeking to shut them up. This is a response from Pakistani men to women merely tweeting about issues related to sexualised violence.

Stories that need to be heard

Sonia Randhawa on 7 Dec 2012
Tonight, as I was thinking through this blog, my three-year-old offered to help. “It's not easy,” I warned her. “You see, there was a man who hurt a woman. He hurt her lots, and told her that if she didn't keep quiet, that he'd hurt her again. But she didn't keep quiet, and she told people her story.”

“A Facebook status can get you arrested faster than killing someone now”

Rafia Shaikh on 23 Nov 2012
In India, the largest democracy on Earth, 21-year old girl Shaheen Dhada was arrested for posting a status update on Facebook questioning the complete shutdown of cities for Bal Thackeray’s (rightwing leader notorious for inciting religious hatred and violence) funeral on Sunday, 18th November. Her friend Renu Srinivas was also arrested for “liking” the update which reportedly read: "People like Thackeray are born and die daily and one should not observe a 'bandh' [shutdown] for that." 

IGF 2012: Day two in room four

Kateřina Fialová on 23 Nov 2012
What I most value about the IGF is that thanks to its multi-stakeholder principle, it widens my perspective on pressing internet governance issues. However, all three sessions I attended on day two in room number four, while talking about human rights, failed to include women's right perspective. Women internet users are important stakeholder and it is evident that even after six years of existence IGF still fails to engage them in equal footing with other stakeholders.

Women's take on internet governance: A selection of tweets from IGF 2012

Flavia Fascendini on 20 Nov 2012
This is a selection of the tweets circulated during the Internet Governance Forum in Baku, Azerbaijan, from November 6-9 2012. They were selected following the criteria of its relevance in reflecting the discussions around women’s role in internet governance processes, as well as women’s and internet rights during the IGF.

Global survey on internet privacy and freedom of expression

Flavia Fascendini on 20 Nov 2012
This publication seeks to identify the relationship between freedom of expression and internet privacy, assessing where they support or compete with each other in different circumstances. The book maps out the issues in the current regulatory landscape of internet privacy from the viewpoint of freedom of expression. It provides an overview of legal protection, self-regulatory guidelines, normative challenges, and case studies relating to the topic.

Censorship walks, a feminist view of the Internet Governance Forum

hvale on 15 Nov 2012
A big hangar, with a constant voice asking people to wear headphones and talk to each other through the microphones, an internet network that does not allow participants to be online simultaneously, with an average of only one person out of three being able to access full online services and the other two struggling with their different devices to reach out, comment and communicate what is happening and what should not have happened.

Interview with Arzu Geybullayeva on the internet rights of women in Azerbaijan

Nighat Dad on 9 Nov 2012
Nighat Dad from "Digital Rights Foundation, Pakistan": speaks to Arzu Geybullayeva, a regional analyst and a blogger from Azerbaijan. Arzu's areas of interest are regional politics, conflict resolution, and new social media. In their "feminist talk” Nighat asks Arzu about her impressions of the 7th Internet Governance Forum, that took place in Baku, and key internet rights issues faced by women in Azerbaijan.

Crossing borders : cyberspace and national security

Kateřina Fialová on 25 Oct 2012
This edition of explores the online safety of women human rights defenders from the perspective of national security and counter-terrorism. National security often encompasses a variety of security threats, including those in cyberspace. While national security measures are meant to protect the security of a nation and its citizen, in many contexts they serve as a pretext for suppressing unfavourable political and social views. Despite the fact that online & offline security measures adversely impact on women's and sexual rights, women and sexual minorities are still two of the most invisible stakeholders in national security debates. This editions delves into some of these risks and examines explicitly messages that we have touched on before (that link this edition to previous one), particularly "why & how women human rights defenders can become players in the spaces that govern cyberspace":

Let’s stop our fear of tech leading to misuse of security legislation

Danna Ingleton on 25 Oct 2012
I was very happy when I was asked to be guest editor of this edition of on women human rights defenders (WHRD) and national cyber security policies. This is an important and timely issue for WHRDs because the misuse of counter-terrorism legislation to quell dissent and further marginalise minority voices is on the rise.

Egypt: Cyber-security as a priority and an integral part of human rights advocacy

Mavic Cabrera-Balleza on 25 Oct 2012 correspondent Mavic Cabrera-Balleza interviews Yara Sallam, Manager of the Women Human Rights Defenders Program at Nazra for Feminist Studies in Egypt, on the challenging reality for women human rights defenders, how they are affected by measures taken by the government in the name of “national security”, and strategies used to address threats to WHRD's cybersecurity.
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