Big Brother is watching: Spyware exports pose unprecedented threat to democratic leaders and human rights defenders

by Kerry Pearson, Universal Rights Group Beyond the Council, Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

‘Never has the human right to privacy been more important and more under siege,’ suggested the UN Special Rapporteur on Privacy, Joe Cannataci, when presenting his recent report on ‘artificial intelligence and privacy’ to the Human Rights Council’s 47th session (HRC47). His words seemed especially prescient this week as news broke that spyware developed by NSO Group, an Israeli surveillance company, …

The battle for social media regulation: can international human rights bridge the governance gap in the digital space?

by Daniela Kyle, Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, Uncategorized, Universal Rights Group NYC

On 4 June, Facebook declared that former US President Donald Trump’s suspension from their service will last at least two years, following the implementation of new enforcement protocols. These protocols are expected to have long-term effects on the presiding guidelines for content moderation and account suspensions for public figures. On the same day, Nigeria announced a nationwide Twitter ban after the platform …

Human rights in the digital age: Making digital technology work for human rights

by Geneva Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, In focus: democracy, Policy reports, Reportes

Human rights in the digital age: Making digital technology work for human rights

The seventh  Glion Human Rights Dialogue (Glion VII), organised by the Governments of Switzerland and Liechtenstein, and the Universal Rights Group (URG), in partnership with the Permanent Missions of Fiji, Iceland, Mexico, the Seychelles and Thailand, was held on 3-4 December 2020 and considered the topic: ‘Human rights in the digital age: Making digital technology work for human rights.’ In particular the Glion VII …

Making AI trustworthy: the EU’s proposed legal framework for regulating artificial intelligence

by Courtney Halverson, URG NYC Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, Universal Rights Group NYC

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has a plethora of uses, spanning from surprising and beneficial applications, like applying the same technology used to analyse pastries to identify cancer cells, to potentially detrimental and intrusive applications, like using facial recognition to track citizens. The European Union’s new proposal for a legal framework to govern AI suggests that the introduction of ethical, human centered regulations can both …

Sisyphean endeavours and unfinished business: UN Secretary-General Guterres lays out his vision for a second term, including a conference on human rights and renewed focus on prevention

by Danica Damplo, Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, Universal Rights Group NYC

On 8 January 2021, UN Secretary-General António Guterres notified the General Assembly (GA) President Volkan Bozkir and Security Council President for January Tarek Ladeb of his intentions to run for re-election. On 23 March, Guterres sent his Vision Statement to Bozkir, and on 7 May, engaged in an informal dialogue with the GA. Given that Guterres will likely succeed in securing a second term, his …

Recent US report of Russian election interference reveals how disinformation can exploit existing divides to erode trust in democracy

by Amanda Gu, Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, Universal Rights Group NYC

On 16 March 2021, the US National Intelligence Council released a declassified report detailing what they found to be the extent of Russian interference in the 2020 US Presidential Election. US President Joe Biden issued a strong rebuke and one month later on 15 April his administration announced sanctions and other retributory measures. According to the report, Russian disinformation campaigns aimed …

How do you solve a problem like WhatsApp? The complicated role of messaging apps in the fight against disinformation and for free speech

by Tess Kidney Bishop, Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, Universal Rights Group NYC

Much of the debate around the spread of misinformation and online harassment has been focused on the biggest social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and, more recently, TikTok. Messaging apps, like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat, and the increasingly popular Telegram and Signal, have nearly as many users as these platforms and are also rife with disinformation, hate …

Facebook vs. Australia–the latest dispute over the digital space

by Amanda Gu, Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, Universal Rights Group NYC

On 18 February, after three years of negotiations over the Australian Media Bargaining Code, Facebook took the controversial decision of implementing a broad ban on all Australian publishers and prevented people in Australia from viewing or posting links to news stories . The ban lasted five days, and was only lifted after the Australian government made concessions. This ongoing disagreement between Facebook and the Australian government is only the latest in …

New corporate ‘Treaty Body’ gears up to consider Facebook’s decision to bar Donald Trump

by Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

As reported in the New York Times , its members include two people who were reportedly on presidential shortlists for the US Supreme Court, a Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize laureate, a British Pulitzer Prize winner, a former UN Special Rapporteur, Colombia’s leading human rights lawyer, and a former prime minister of Denmark. Welcome to the Facebook Oversight Board, operational since October 2020 (Mark …

‘Even if they contain misinformation…’: how government inaction and interference on social media could mean the hijacking of an election

by Jenna Lanoil, former Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, Universal Rights Group NYC

‘I know that I have blood on my hands,’ Sophie Zhang, a former Facebook data scientist wrote in a memo about her time with Facebook. Zhang claims that Facebook allowed for heads of state and political parties from around the world to misrepresent themselves through fake accounts and to spread disinformation. She cites in particular an operation by the Azerbaijanian Government …