This note provides some suggested summary points which might be formulated into a message from the IGF to the Human Rights Council.
Participants at the United Nations Internet Governance Forum 2014 met on Friday 5th September to reflect on Forum workshops related to the issues of enhancing digital trust and the internet and human rights. Aware of the United Nations Human Rights Council 27th Session and the Panel which will consider the reportof the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Right to Privacy in the Digital Age.
At IGF 2014 approximately 47 out of 87 workshops focus directly or indirectly on human rights, with privacy, surveillance, freedom of expression, freedom of association, and economic, cultural and social rights emerging as main themes. IGF 2014 participants (including from governments, civil society, private sector, academic and technical community) therefore considered whether to formulate an input that could be brought to the Human Rights Council on the topic of the right to privacy in the digital age.
Suggested key messages
• The right to privacy was a significant thematic issue at IGF 2014 (this para should include key themes or summary points from relevant workshops and roundtable discussion at IGF 2014)
• We agree with the High Commissioner that: “Effectively addressing the challenges related to the right to privacy in the context of modern communications technology will require an ongoing, concerted multistakeholder engagement.”
• We not only agree, we also embody such multistakeholder engagement through our participation at the IGF which is a United Nations mandated multi-stakeholder forum.
• We therefore agree that Human Rights Council’s response to current challenges “should include a dialogue involving all interested stakeholders, including Member States, civil society, scientific and technical communities, the business sector, academics and human rights experts.”
• We urge the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Human Rights Council Members and Member States to engage with the Internet Governance Forum as a space for dialogue involving all stakeholders and which can assist and inform the Office of the High Commissioner.
• We urge the High Commissioner for Human Rights to participate in IGF 2015 which will take place in Brazil.
The Internet and human rights have come to the fore of Internet related public policy discussions over the last year and this is reflected in the large number of human rights related workshop and capacity building proposals for IGF 2014. The relationship between the Internet and human rights has become increasingly intertwined. In many instances, threats to the open nature of the Internet have become threats to human rights such as freedom of expression and opinion, privacy or freedom of association. MAG members supported the holding of a human rights roundtable at IGF 2012 as a way to develop the cross-cutting issues of human rights and development and to include feedback into the Taking Stock and the Way Forward session. This roundtable was hosted by Kenya, in partnership with APC, Finland and Sweden. At IGF 2013, the first main session on Human Rights was held with the Chair’s summary
highlighting human rights as a significant theme.
The number of human rights related workshops in the IGF continues to grow: in 2012 approximately 40 workshop proposals made specific reference to human rights related issues. In 2014, approximately 47 out of 87 workshops focus directly or indirectly on human rights, with privacy, surveillance, freedom of expression, freedom of association, and economic, cultural and social rights emerging as main themes. Since IGF 2013, the United Nations General Assembly and Human Rights Council have passed at least 10 resolutions and decisions that reference human rights and the internet. Most recently, the UNGA has reaffirmed the right privacy in the digital age as one of the foundations of a democratic society, and mandating further consideration of this issue at the global level. In July 2014 the High Commissioner for Human Rights released her report
on this topic.
The report is a strong, clear and very persuasive analysis of human rights and mass surveillance, metadata collection and retention, the application of human rights to extraterritorial actions of governments (including telecommunications related). The High Commissioner makes clear findings on the right to protection of privacy in the digital age, including mass surveillance as a violation of fundamental human rights. The report focuses on the role of business and other stakeholders - it is an historic and ground breaking report that governments in particular, but all stakeholders, will need to respond to and which will be discussed at IGF 2014.
The High Commissioner’s report will be tabled at the Human Rights Council's 27th session, which will take place right after IGF 2014 and will also be considered by the General Assembly's 69th session which will also open in September. It is vital that the IGF considers how to contribute to these deliberations, particularly as the Commissioner calls for assistance from multistakeholder engagement:
"49. Effectively addressing the challenges related to the right to privacy in the context of modern communications technology will require an ongoing, concerted multistakeholder engagement. This process should include a dialogue involving all interested stakeholders, including Member States, civil society, scientific and technical communities, the business sector, academics and human rights experts. As communication technologies continue to evolve, leadership will be critical to ensuring that these technologies are used to deliver on their potential towards the improved enjoyment of the human rights enshrined in the international legal framework."
We therefore propose using the opportunity of the human rights round table at IGF 2014 on key messages interested stakeholders at the IGF might wish to send the Human Rights Council. This should be done with the understanding that all interested stakeholder groups are involved and contributing.
This IGF roundtable provides an ideal, unique and very exciting opportunity for participants to consider the High Commissioner's recommendation and to offer suggested inputs to the UN HRC session that will follow the IGF, including the Council's multi-stakeholder panel on September 12th. Some IGF participants will be going to the HRC 27 session or some other contribution. But this is an opportunity for the IGF to produce tangible outputs that can be inputs to other processes. It is also a great opportunity also for the HRC to receive timely inputs from a multistakeholder process that will assist its work and we therefore suggest the roundtable be focused in this very practical, concrete way. Objective
The objective of the roundtable for human rights and digital security workshop organisers is to provide a wrap up session in which to gather comprehensive feedback from the various main sessions and workshops on human rights issues discussed by stakeholders and to use those inputs to strive to formulate a message/input that could be brought to the Human Rights Council on the topic of the right to privacy in the digital age.
This roundtable should be done with understanding that all interested stakeholder groups are involved and contributing.
The round table will be held in a multistakeholder environment in which speakers/participants who took part of the various main sessions and workshops bring their perspectives in a concrete manner to feed the Taking Stock and Way Forward session and propose ways to advance the HR discussion within the IGF.
1. To take place during the last day of the IGF to invite people who have discussed/presented during workshops and main session on issues related to HR and the internet, in particular the right to privacy.
2. To have as the overall topic for the roundtable the issue of HR in the IGF and the right to privacy in the digital age
3 To ask participants to respond to specific questions such as: a) Now that the General Assembly has adopted a resolution on the right to privacy in the digital age and the Human Rights Council will consider the right to privacy in the digital age during HRC 27 in September 2014
(a) What have been the main discussions on the right to privacy in the digital age at IGF 2014?
(b) What message might the IGF participants wish to send the Human Rights Council to assist in its deliberations on the right to privacy in the digital age?
(c) How can discussions on human rights and the internet held in the IGF be consolidated in the context of a potential resolution at the upcoming HRC session?
We propose to seek co-organisers from diverse stakeholder groups. Workshop organisers will be invited to participate and provide inputs to the roundtable and to share their workshop discussions. We have already prepared a preliminary analysis of workshop proposals to assist this process. We will seek to gather comprehensive feedback from the various main sessions and work…