IGF 2023 Networking Session #186 Surveillance technology: Different levels of accountability

Wednesday, 11th October, 2023 (13:15 UTC) - Wednesday, 11th October, 2023 (14:15 UTC)
Room C-2

Gulf Centre for Human Rights
Khalid Ibrahim (GCHR, Middle East and North Africa) Nardine Alnemr (GCHR, Middle East and North Africa)


Marwa Fatfata (AccessNow, Middle East and North Africa) Marianne Rahmé (SMEX, Middle East and North Africa) Khalid Ibrahim (GCHR, Middle East and North Africa) Nardine Alnemr (GCHR, Middle East and North Africa) Meredith Viet (Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, Europe)* Samuel Jones (Heartland Initiative, North America)* *TBC

Onsite Moderator

Khalid Ibrahim

Online Moderator

Nardine Alnemr


Nardine Alnemr


16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Targets: Individuals in any society deserve to live free from repression, in peace, and with trust in a sense of justice through accountability. In countries such as spanning the MENA region, the justice system fails many individuals for not honouring universal human rights. This session showcases ongoing efforts to build strong institutions for accountability than can help remedy consequences of fear and injustices endured by many.


The format is more conversational. The session starts with each speaker presenting a brief summary of their work and the level(s) of accountability they focus for 5-8 mins. The floor is then open for discussions with participants, where they in turn can highlight similarities or avenues for further collaboration.

Duration (minutes)

The ubiquity of surveillance technologies in our daily lives carries threats to human rights in ways that might not be always clear and present. But for human rights defenders, journalists, and citizens living under governments that do not respect human rights, the threats are clear, continuous, and malefic. Cybersecurity surveillance technologies are widely used to track, monitor, and intimidate these communities. The level of risks varies between severe losses from defamation by leaking private information (this is an especially gendered tactic) to tracking that leads to arbitrary indictments, and to even death. Effects of targeted surveillance are too far reaching, creating an overall condition of insecurity, distrust, and fear of exercising human rights. Advocacy for remedy in this case relies on multi-layered and stronger institutions of accountability. When international civil society’s advocacy was directed at allied governments and institutions, the results was merely a series of resolutions that were not enforced. The purpose of this networking session is to shed a light on advocacy done at different complementary levels—e.g., recent efforts to highlight the liability of business actors involved such as investors. Organised by the MENA Surveillance Coalition, this session is a space for groups and individuals working on advocacy for human rights due diligence in the space of surveillance technology development, funding, export, or import to discuss their work to date, next steps, and find collaborators for future work.

We will aim to recruit more speakers who are joining online rather than onsite to ensure a truly hybrid setting. Previous experiences with hybrid forums show that there’s always a skew to prioritise speaker who are present onsite. Yet, recently we have learned that an even number of speakers online and onsite balances out this inequity. As such our online moderator will be keeping track of interactions happening. Questions and turn-taking will rotate between an online and an on-site participation. The organisers will also provide all participants a link to a collaborative document to directly make suggestions, input or exchange contacts and resources. *Please note that we are also reaching out to represent the work of groups in other regions such as Latin America.