World Day Against Cyber-Censorship

World Day Against Cyber-Censorship – 2017

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This is a day of observance spearheaded by Reporters Without Borders and Amnesty International in 2008.

For this year’s World Day Against Cyber-Censorship, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) issued a report entitled “Censorship and surveillance of journalists: an unscrupulous business.”

The report

condemns the readiness with which leading Internet companies submit to the censorship demands of authoritarian regimes. It also deplores the lack of international mechanisms regulating surveillance technology, which allows technology companies to sell online surveillance tools to these regimes even if it means trampling on human rights to increase their market share.

The report urges private sector companies

  • To improve their transparency reports and publish them systematically, and to publish the official requests they receive from governments to withdraw content or delete user accounts.
  • To respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and UN human rights conventions.
  • To adopt codes of ethics and effective traceability mechanisms for the technology they export.
  • To ban the export of surveillance technology to non-democratic and authoritarian countries and to accept that they have a duty to be vigilant and to identify threats to – and prevent serious violations of – human rights, fundamental freedoms and person security.
  • To apply the principles of “responsible contracts” developed by John Ruggie, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises, under which companies are held partly responsible for the serious human rights violations that could result from their technology.

It also called on governments and the United Nations to

  • To treat unrestricted Internet access and guaranteed digital freedoms as fundamental rights.
  • To adopt laws guaranteeing digital freedoms, including the protection of privacy and personal data from intrusion by the police or intelligence services, and establish appropriate appeal mechanisms.
  • To be more open and transparent about surveillance requests submitted to companies, including the number of requests, their legal basis and their purpose.
  • Consider drafting an international convention on Internet surveillance technology exports under which the exportation of this technology could be controlled and could be banned in the case of a substantial riskthat it could be used to commit or facilitate human rights violations.

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On the occasion of World Day Against Cyber Censorship Amnesty noted that cyber-censorship is now a global phenomenon, and it is not limited to websites being blocked. People were arrested just for what they said online in 55 countries in 2016.

ProtonMail and Amnesty International joined forces to show how internet restrictions affect people around the world.

As the world’s largest encrypted email provider, ProtonMail is the privacy tool of choice for journalists, activists and privacy conscious everyday users. Today when logging into their inboxes, ProtonMail’s 2 million users from 150 countries will see Amnesty International’s latest findings on cyber censorship.

Amnesty International called on internet companies to resist government pressure to weaken privacy and free speech online, and instead develop and adopt technologies, such as encryption, that empower rights in the digital world.

Free speech online is under serious threat as governments seek ever greater powers – through new laws and more intrusive technologies – to control the internet. When they are not shutting down websites and arresting bloggers, they are carrying out mass surveillance of our internet use. That is not the internet we want.
ProtonMail’s CEO added:

Cyber censorship not only steals people’s rights to freedom of information but can also have the disastrous effect of hampering creative and scientific development needed for a brighter future.

Amnesty is also working with AdBlock to replace many of the banners they would normally remove with anti-censorship quotes.

We’re showing you Amnesty International banners, just for today, because we believe users should be part of the conversation about online privacy. Tomorrow, those spaces will be vacant again. But take a moment to consider that in an increasingly information-driven world, when your right to digital privacy is threatened, so is your right to free expression –  Gabriel Cubbage, CEO of AdBlock.