IGF 2022 Day 3 Open Forum #78 Guaranteeing Universal Digital Rights for All

The following are the outputs of the captioning taken during an IGF intervention. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.



>> Access and affordability.  We see that women and girls, they often end up withdrawing from digital spaces, silencing themselves and isolating themselves and eventually they are losing opportunities to build their education, their professional careers and support networks.

So having laid out, you know, the problem at the global ‑‑ at a global scale, I think, you know, this situation then gives the basis for why we need an intersectional feminist and antidiscrimination approach to digital rights.  We cannot ignore the fact that the impacts of the misuse and abuse of technology and the Internet is gendered and that it is also intersectional and that violations of rights in the digital space are rooted in the inequalities and the discrimination that we find in our physical space and then these are replicated and amplified in the digital ecosystem.  The digital space is a reflection and mirrors our physical world which is rife with inequality and discrimination against women and girls and other marginalized groups and then we find this being replicated on the Internet.

So this is why Equality Now and Women Leading In AI, we have come together to address online harms with a focus on women and girls and other marginalizes groups, it's only when the most vulnerable in society are protected that everyone is safe.

So over the past 18 months, we have had conversations and consultations with several governments, with other organizations with lawyers, digital right experts and so on and we have come to the conclusion that governments around the world need to address a series of relates challenges within the global ecosystem.  For example, how do we balance the right to personal safety in the digital realm with the rights to privity and freedom of expression online?  How can we regulate that operate digital technology and networks across national borders and jurisdictions because we are looking at a multi‑jurisdictional problem and also be able to hold actors in the digital space accountable.

And also how do we harness the benefits of AI and machine learning without amplifying the stereotypes that we have in our physical world that are then leading and contributing and feeding racism and misogyny.  After all the work over the past 18 months, we have just launched our alliance for universal digital rights.  So it's a coalition that is aiming to convene people and gather knowledge and evidence of the opportunities and challenges presenting by digital technologies, particularly for women and girls, and together, we are aiming as well to cocreate legal, ethical and technical solutions to our current and potential harms in the digital sphere.  And ensuring the solutions are also informed by people with lived realities.  So how do we contribute from the grassroots up so we can take into account the experience of women and girls on the ground.  We want to be champion adopt the universal rights frameworks because we believe this is a global problem that requires global and universal solutions and then they can draw from the universal standards their national laws and policies but that we have common standards that we are setting at the global level.  We have also developed a set of principles, digital principles that are rooted in human rights law, which will inform global efforts towards the digital future that we want to see in which everyone can enjoy equal rights to safety, freedom, and dignity and really.

We're calling on you and others in this coalition, because we believe the strength of our movement lies in the diversity of our network.  So we are looking at building a coalition that's diverse and able to bring all of these voices and experience so that together we can create the solutions at the universal level that we want to see to bring, you know, digital world that works for all of us.

We've got some flyers around our principles and our coalition, and that you are all free to pick up, you know, as we leave the room.  Yeah.  Thank you.

>> EMMA GIBSON: Thank you very much.  I'm going to hopefully, Rafael from government of Spain, we will be able to hear him and he's going to say his piece.  Rafael, can you just say something so that we know that the technology is working?

>> RAFAEL PEREZ GALINDO: Yes.  Thank you.  Can you hear me?

>> EMMA GIBSON: That's brilliant.  Yes, we can.  Thank you.  So Rafael, the government of Spain has adopted the digit rights charter which sets out the principles for safeguarding of fundamental rights in the digital realm.  Could you tell us more about the charter and the initiative and what is working well and what are the challenges and the opportunities?

>> RAFAEL PEREZ GALINDO: Sure.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  Thank you to the IGF and organizers and, indeed this session for giving me the opportunity to share with you our experience with regards to the charter of digital rights by Spain.

Our main objective when we started this endeavor to help guarantee that the rights and the freedoms that citizens enjoy in the offline world are equally respects online.  So therefore, we felt the need to articulate a reference framework, and citizen rights in the near digital age that would serve as a guidance for future public policies and local proposals.

So at the same time, the charter is a useful tool to raise citizen awareness on the exercise of their rights in the human rights.  This spans from the Spanish Constitution that establishes the foundations of political order and social, human dignity and the rights.  It's part of the free development of personality, and the rights of others.  So this formulation expresses a conception of the individual and states valid for before and, of course, now, the internet era.

So the intense progress of scientific research and digital development raises truly the need to ensure that the regulatory framework guarantees the protection of the individual and collective rights and the constitutional values.

So it is not a question in our view of discovering new digital rights under the pretense that there's something truly new and the fundamental rights that are already recognized but really, the progressive generalization of these technologies and digital services and spaces really, really give rise to these that we items we refer to.  We need to adopt rights and systemically interpreting the law in order to protect the constitutional values, and that is the main purpose.  Of course, this is a dynamic process given that it's constantly changing.  So the charter describes the digital comment that's mentioned and scenarios that give rise to the conflict, sometimes unexpected and sometimes it raises the question of this collision of rights and values.  It's the interpretation of the rights in the digital sphere that the previous speaker was talking about.

With regard to the development of the charter, so participatory process was conducted and launched a year ago with multistakeholder expert advisory group there were two consultations carries out, the citizenship and the private sector to be able to ‑‑ academia to be able to contribute to the text and to it was finally presented by the government.  It really has broad chapters.  The main challenging ones were the ones on artificial intelligence and the rights of the newer technologies.

And I could end the discussion around the nature of the digital rights but in my perspective, is how to translate and interpret and apply these into the digital sphere.  It's really the challenge we see.  It's not the question of how you really if you give rise to the charter, you can include the rights.

>> The process of law, but it's the question of enforcement.  So this is the key element that the government is championing.  And part of the challenge is the citizens to take control back of their data and actually live a digital life while looking at the risks involved.  And there's a framework of interpretation and this is what I wanted to say.  Thank you very much.

>> EMMA GIBSON: Thank you very much, Rafael.  And we will come back to you later.

I will pass on to Aleid van den Brink, who is a member of GREVIO, group of experts on action against violence against women and domestic violence.

GREVIO's general recommendation provides a first step towards clarifying the obligations that governments, like the government of Spain have in protecting women from online violence.  Could you briefly talk us through how the general recommendation came about?  And some of its key recommendations and what has been the response of Member States to your recommendations?

>> ALEID VAN DEN BRINK: Thank you.  I would really like to do that.  Ladies and gentlemen, organizers, thank for inviting me here in this panel at this conference.  I'm really honored to be here with you.

The first reason to celebrate the recommendation is social media that's all around us for all of us and at least for most of us.  One of the down sides is the violence against women perpetrated online or through technology.

We as GREVIO, could not ignore the facts that as digital possibilities grow, so does violence against women and girls.  In recent years, as Internet usage exponentially increased during the lockdowns, online and technology facilitated violence has spread and it has a shadow pandemic of violence against women.

It's important to highlight here that there's Internet Governance Forum focusing on the digital realm, that the violence we are discussing in our view, the view of the Council of Europe, of GREVIO is the continuum of offline violence against women and girls.

The physical, sexual and psychological against women that takes place offline, every day, on the streets, at work, et cetera, is widely amplified, spread and worsened in the online world and by the new technologies and gadgets.

The root causes are the same.  Gender inequality, harmful gender stereotypes, stereotypes around male and female sexuality, et cetera.

The nature and the extent of the problem reveals that much more needs to be done to address it.  By preventing it, protecting and support women and girls, and by holding perpetrators accountable and that is where the Istanbul Convention offers huge potential.

In case you are not very familiar with the Istanbul Convention on the Council of Europe as an instrument for the more than 35 European countries that ratified this treaty already, I will very briefly summarize.

The assembled Convention is since more than ten years, the most far breaching, binding treaty in the world for Europe developed to prevent and convert all forms of violence against women.  GREVIO, expert group is the monitoring body.  It monitors on a country‑to‑country basis the implementation of the Convention.

Our first round of baseline evaluations will be ready somewhere next year.  There is a growing connection with the worldwide network of expert groups.  So GREVIO is not operating on its own, but makes -- but has joined other international instruments on the same topic.

On the basis of our evaluations, we noted that in many countries, expertise around law enforcement agencies, around the digital manifestations is only slowly building up and that protective and prosecution measures are still fragmental.  And it doesn't have adequate enough preventative measures ‑‑ they are not adequate enough and preventative measures are too often ad hoc.  GREVIO did set out its journey to provide guidance to State Parties of the Convention to respond to the digital dimension.

Well, some of the key recommendations, and your next question, Emma, the Convention itself, did not contain specific provisions on the digital perpetration of violence against women.  It's however and wherever they are perpetrated.  The convention specifically requires criminalization of psychological, and stalking and sexual harassment.

We look at the behavior to be criminalized and sanctions and these three types of offenses.  It offers detailed examples of online and tech facilitated behavior that comes into the limits.

The Convention has four pillars, prevention, protection, prosecution, and coordinated policies.  It is a coherent and holistic approach.  Therefore, we formulated under those four pillars more than 30 concrete recommendations that if implemented together will offer better support, protection and portion.  I can name you some.

In the area of prevention, you need capacity building of all relevant professionals.  And also media, for example, an undeniable role on shaping gender roles in society.

That beings for offline violence, but it accounts for online even more.

In the area of protection, especially support services for victims and telephone help lines should be equipped to offer holistic services, including psychological counseling, as well as legal and technical advice on the removal of harmful online content.  It also addresses the roles of one of main state actors, the Internet intermediaries.  These actors should provide robust.  And capacity building is needed, and we pay attention to the international character of these crimes.  We promote and enhance international cooperation and mutual legal assistance to ensure simplified access to information held by service providers.  Last but not least, the necessary of coordinated policies the general recommendation promotes private sector, media and civil society, and multistakeholder.  We show States Parties how to include tech companies to be part of the solution.  The ICT sector should be encouraged to adopt a human rights perspective in all the stages of their work and development.  But first, and foremost, the inclusion of the digital dimension, should be a part of all national strategies, programs and action plans on violence against women, as well as nationwide surveys and research initiatives.

What is the response on our recommendation?  We launched it about one year ago.  I must say we immediately received a lot of positive responses.  We are seeing more and more increased awareness in the State Parties.  Spain, is of course, one of the State Parties and you heard what Spain has developed.

More resources are allocated to tackle violence against women through digital means.  More and more dates are finalizing digital manifestation of violence.  We see education and preventative activities.  There are more examples to mention, but for now, I think this is enough.  Thank you so much.

>> EMMA GIBSON: Thank you very much.

Our next speaker is the consultant for the American States.  I ask the cybersecurity program, go ahead Katia.

>> Thank you.

>> EMMA GIBSON: Digital security, it's important for people to realize their rights in the digital space.  Could you tell us how it's being protected in the Americas?

>> TSITSI MATEKAIRE: Sure.  Thank you very much.  First of all, to Equality Now and women leading AI for this amazing panel.  And to my fellow speakers and those that join us today, because I know that there are so many events going on at the same time.  I have to say thank you for me to be a part of this dialogue.  I am the gender specialist of the cybersecurity program of the organization of American states.  And just to give you some context about the work of the cybersecurity program, its main mandate is to strengthen the capacity of the OIS Member States in terms of cybersecurity, and it promotes access to knowledge on cyber attacks, cooperation within states and enhance technical and policy capacities.

But before going into what we are doing to promote a more digital space for all, I want to ‑‑ I think it's an opportunity, this event, and the initiative that Equality Now and Women Leading In AI are presenting today to underline the connection between digital security and human rights because there's so many needs around, saying that we need to peak between security and, for example, privacy.  And that they are somehow disconnected.  The truth is we have to work under the basis that if we are not secure online, we cannot exercise fully our human rights.

So the framing that these are two concepts somehow disconnected is misguided and is counterproductive, and locally, there's been progress advances at the international level, at the local level to think about a human‑centered digital security ‑‑ a human‑based approach to cybersecurity.  Especially because for people that are part of groups ‑‑ for example, for human rights defenders and journalists.  So we need to underline that these two concepts are interdependent and mutually reinforcing.

But then another step forward we also need to consider the gender aspects of digital security and human rights.  And we can see that there are bricks that create a bigger and bigger building that we're constructing in this digitalization area.

So for example, what does that mean for women?  This correction between digital security and human rights?  It means that we need to rise their particular experiences and warranty their right to be safe and be protected online against online gender violence and the use of their data and the attacks to digital integrity.

If they are insecure, the insecurity they are living online, it permeates all the digital interactions that women have online, but it also transcends I don't know the cyberspace.

We have seen ‑‑ like, we already know study from Amnesty International how the abuse and the violence have a silencing effect again women and I always like to pose the questions to people in trainings and capacity building activities at the region, what are we preventing to do online?  What are we not saying, for example, on Twitter because of fear of being attacked?

And this is precisely one of the things we would be doing in the region.  I try to understand insecurity and how to create gender‑sensitive policies, research to bring experiences of women, and of members of the LGBTQI community and feed with those experiences, the cybersecurity policies.  For example, it's important to consider things like the digital divide that we were talking about, some minutes ago, but also the lack of skills that women have in comparison with men, cybersecurity skills.  And that means, for example, a cyber attack has greater impacts in general for women than men, because we have seen in the region of the Americas that women are accessing the Internet without the skills to protect themselves.  There's also plenty gender stereotypes that prevent women from strengthening their digital security.

Many still perceive the cybersecurity space as somehow an unsafe place, per se, for women and obviously we have to deal with gender stereotypes about the use of technologies.  And so women consider that they cannot control the technologies that they have and the ability to understand the technologies and when you do don't that, we have millions of women that are in the web without the skills to protect themselves.

So having ‑‑ I'm checking the time.  Considering these in the Organization of American States, since two years ago we started an important project to bring gender perspectives to the digital security of the region.  We have a complex region with parts of territories very well connected but also rural settings where women cannot access to the Internet but also a very accelerated online.

Women can understand, and can name their experiences as violence the experiences they are suffering online.  We are promoting research because there's no data, research on the differentiated impacts that women have when we are talking about cyber threats or cyber risks.  For example, ransomware impacts differently women than men.  Just to say an example of a cyber attack.  And we are trying to bring more women to the cybersecurity sector because that's a key part to bring experiences of women into the public policies that are developing in this domain in the region.

And we have been receiving support of the government of Canada and then finally one month ago, we launched a benchmarking initiative that will seek to counter the gender inequality in the cybersecurity sector.  And this will involve, for example, a regional dissemination of the cybersecurity for the life of women and the digital rights and like a very big effort with a gender perspective because it's not enough to have cybersecurity capacity building.  We need to put the gender topic into it.  And we are trying to reach as many stakeholders, allies as possible because as I said, this is a normative new project that's launched.  And so obviously being here with you and connecting with organizations like Equality Now and GREVIO, is crucial to receive your ideas because this is in process.  And I will leave it over here because I use my nine minutes.  And I will be happy to share with you some of our key learnings in this project.  Thank you.

>> EMMA GIBSON: Thank you, I will go back to Rafael and then Tsitsi, and good the global compact.  How can you make sure that the great efforts in your region or in Spain, Rafael, are replicated globally and are you planning to feed into the global digital compact process?

>> RAFAEL PEREZ GALINDO: Yes, thank you.  Thank you very much.

Yeah, our aim is to contribute as I was explaining before to the reflection processes taking place at the global level and we commend this opportunity to contribute because we want to lead this central process to guarantee the digitalization that puts people at its heart.  So in addition to the Spanish charter of digital rights, I was talking about before, I want to mention as well the European Union will soon adopt a declaration on the digital rights and principles and this embarked in the latest years, in the legislative race and precisely at ensuring a higher standard of protections for users and business rights as well in digital world.  So as instances, the privacy and the telecommunications and the product rights and the rights related to digital protection as you know, that are most famous, but as well as sharing governance of data, cybersecurity, furnishing platforms and digital markets and digital services and artificial intelligence, there is a common goal to have a more human‑centered and rights digitalization.

And I want to mention, for example, the recently adopted Digital Services Act in the European Union, which is a new piece of legislation aimed at triggering the reliability regime.  For the last 20 years or so, the platforms were not given a chance to take seriously the need to protect the users and their rights but unfortunately, they didn't succeed the way we thought they would.  Especially when it comes to the systemic risks in terms of public health or protection of minors and youth and women, public security.

So this is, of course, where we have produced to the need to keep the Internet open and unfragmented and multistakeholder model of governance.

There's a need for this international reflection on effective approaches to the enforcement of these rights across national boundaries.  As I said, we welcome the multistakeholder dialogue for the democratic principles and the center of digitalization.  All of these initiatives I mentioned before hopefully will be helpful in contributing to the global compact process.  That will be it.  Thank you.

>> EMMA GIBSON: Thank you very much.  Because we started late, I want to make sure that we can get to questions in the room and online as well.  Are there any questions in the room first that people would like to pose to any members of the panel?

Yes, please go ahead.

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi, my name is Marlavika, I'm from India.  The digital rights online safety regulation, these are, like, really touchy topics, I would say, back in India, because gender is always overlooked.  I guess one the things that our organization works on a lot is working with multiple stakeholders on informing them of digital rights and the violence that happens online and we have now started working with the judiciary, with some resource guides.  We have been working with young women and I think one of the biggest challenges that we face is the sort of interaction that we have with the tech companies to inform them of the digital rights discourse that we have been trying to take to the other stakeholders.  My question is:  What kind of experiences or challenges have you faced in your work when it comes to bringing the digital rights discussion to the tech companies.  And have you had any positive developments on the same?

Thank you.

>> Thanks for the question.  We are in a privileged position.  It calls stakeholders and tries to put them together to dialogue and in that sense, we have been receiving good responses from the tech sector.  That obviously is different at the local level, but I think what has been working for us is promoting transparent participation and substantive participation.  So giving the mic to everyone and then put things on the agenda and also, I think trying to agree a minimum advocacy agenda, that can be replicated through the states.

Act locally, but think globally and then like, if we can have this minimum agenda on the tables, then the same persons or the same organizations are participating in the conversation and then the tech sector has to take those topics and continue and agree and make agreements and compromised.

So let's say, from our perspective, and in our practice, we've been having a good answer from them.

>> EMMA GIBSON: Thank you.  One more question in the room and then I will address a question online.  Thanks.

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you so much for your contributions.  I have a small question.  My name is Ethan, and I have a legal background.  So I do appreciate when you say that it is a continuum of an issue that's happening offline and going online and being exasperated there.  My question really is offline, what we have seen, particularly in an African context, is like I said in a legal setting, a lot of women are actually afraid to come up and step up and, you know, talk about what's happening at home for whatever steps that they might need to take against their abusers.  So there's a deeply rooted cultural aspect to this conversation that's happening.  And we are also seeing it being transferred as you mentioned, a continuum to an online space where they are now being exploited there too.  So my question is, how can we address the stigmas that exist with sexual exploitation on an online platform?  Thank you.

>> ALEID VAN DEN BRINK: It was a short question but there's no short answer.  That's why the Istanbul Convention has four pillars.  If you want to reach a better result, there needs to be a lot of preventative actions, in education, in training, but also media plays a role.

At the same ‑‑ at the same moment, you have to organize support and the Istanbul Convention says you need specialized women support services, help lines and shelters because it's logical that women don't go there now if they don't know that it's safe.  And then you have to organize prosecution.  So it's together with all of these pillars that the results can be better.

>> Thanks.  There's something about your question that is relevant, but it also reflects that it's happening in the Americas, the women ‑‑ like, are being stigmatized, especially, for example in the cases of nonconsensual distribution on Internet images.  So we have the same problems over this.  And what I can say from the legal perspective because I also have a legal background.  We found that our legal frameworks are still focusing a lot in the physical body of the women.  Instead of thinking now in the body like a continuum, because the violence that they are suffering are attacking their digital bodies their images.

So we have still at least in our region a very ‑‑ a legislation centered around the physical harm, which we need to change at some point.  We need to transition to that other legislation.  That's from one side and then the other side is how to prevent that a victim is revictimized?

And in that sense we have been promoting, for example, the adoption of different channels for victims and survivors.  Meaning not all of them want to go to the criminal justice.  Some of them just want the content to be offline.  So we need to give them different options to seek for justice, like a center, victim justice.

And then finally, I think also the idea of having protocols to conduce the victims or the justice system are crucial because we prevent revictimization and stigmatization, restigmatization.  Make I would say at Equality Now, we looked at issues of online sexual exploit and laws at the global level and how a number of countries are responding.  I think one of the things that we found out and I would say in addition to the challenges that you have highlighted around the physical violence and then, you know, that misunderstanding of the continuum.  Also sometimes law enforcement or just people in general do not necessarily always look at the violence in the digital space is harm.  There's some education that needs to happen even when the violence appears online, it is still violence and has the same impact psychologically and so on to ‑‑ you know, to victims and survivors.


>> EMMA GIBSON: I will come to Niki if they can unmute Niki.

>> NIKI KANDIRIKIRIRA: There are several questions.  And they could be addressed to Kathy and Tsitsi.  So to what extent is the role of authoritarian regimes using online platforms and trolls so silence journalists and human right, being addressed here about the human sector digital rights?

>> I just want to recap the question as to what extent ‑‑ sorry, can you repeat that?

>> NIKI KANDIRIKIRIRA: Is the role of authoritarian regimes using online platforms to silence journalists and human rights activists and women activists by disseminating alternative being addressed between the privacy, safety and freedom of expression?

>> Yes, thank you.  Indeed this is a challenge.  Trying to integrate in the same conversation the human rights and safety and security online.  I think over here, it's crucial to have standards and the human centered, of cybersecurity?  Because at the end, as we said, there's the same human rights that people have online.  They have them offline and so there's a continuum and we need to go back probably to these basic principles of human rights just bring them to the digital settings and ask the other regimes and not make us to take this decision between security and the enjoyment of human rights.

>> EMMA GIBSON: Thank you.  And I should probably kind of clarify that we are getting quite a few messages in the chat about Tigray and the role of the Ethiopian government in silencing journalists and why the IGF is being held in Ethiopia and why the Prime Minister was invited to speak which our panel can't answer those questions because we are not the organizers at the IGF, but I want to pass on and answer the question in general around authoritarian regimes and tactics that they deploy.

>> TSITSI MATEKAIRE: One of the key principles that we talk about in the key principles is the freedom of expression and association, and we are making it clear that everyone should have the right to seek, receive and impart non‑harmful and nonexploitive information freely, through any premium, including the Internet without any other arbitrary places.  And the technologies must be protected from all attempts to silence women, girls and other people from ‑‑ and discriminated groups.  That's the standard that we would be expecting of all governments and something that we really want to see engrained even in the Global Digital Compact when it is developed and ensuring, that you know, whatever frameworks we have, are not silencing women in any context.

>> EMMA GIBSON: Thank you.  I will check with Rafael, from government of Spain, if he wants to come in on this issue.  Do you want to add anything?

>> RAFAEL PEREZ GALINDO: No thank you, I want to echo your words.

>> EMMA GIBSON: We are at time now, but are there any more questions that people are burning to ask before we pack up this session?

Okay brilliant.  There's going to be some copies of this report, the 9 precipitations for securing digital rights in our digital world, the human rights in our digital.

We had a fantastic panel.  I want to say a huge thank you to everybody online and offline and people who were in the room which is really filling up since we started and also the people online.

And this seems to be, you know, quite an appetite for talking about how human rights can be protected in the digital space.  So we really want to carry on this conversation.  So, please, if you want to exchange contact details with any of us before you leave, please do.  Because we want to make sure that we're reflecting as many perspectives as possible in the advocacy that we are going to be doing in the coming months.  Thank you very much.