WHAT WE DO

We build and support local human rights organizations around the globe to engage directly with governments, private organizations, and academics on freedom of expression issues online and offline.

For twenty years, Internews’ digital rights programs have supported more than 85 grassroots organizations in over 40 countries. Across the globe, we support exchanges among advocates, fellowships for digital rights defenders at tech companies and global organizations, and robust rights-based digital rights curricula. With this support, our partners are now leading voices for digital rights in their respective countries.

Expand a Global Community of Internet Freedom Advocates

For almost two decades, Internews has led efforts to strengthen the global digital rights community. We empower local organizations and individuals to advocate on behalf of a free, fair, and open internet in their communities. Our work directly supports a diverse network of advocacy groups from larger, well-connected cities, to communities and regions in which little to no internet freedom advocacy efforts are being conducted.

Fight Internet Censorship and Shutdowns

States have a large arsenal of tools at their disposal to limit internet access; from blocking specific social media platforms, to shutting down broadband and mobile services, or even throttling (slowing) internet bandwidth so it can take an hour to upload a short video. While the reasons governments publicly give for these shutdowns may differ (fighting fake news! preventing cheating on exams! national security!), the message they send to their citizens is the same: we control you.

Through research, training, investment, and network-building activities, we work with a community of organizations addressing shutdowns, to map existing resources, identify gaps, and fund resources that are most needed, in order to help create more sustainable resources for the IF community to support systematic responses.

Promote Corporate Accountability

Internews fights to hold businesses and governments accountable to recognize and uphold human rights. We support advocacy around social corporate responsibility in the digital age based on the norms and guidelines set out in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP). In partnership with a consortium of leading tech companies, networks, academics and civil society organizations, we are increasing the level of protection of and respect for human rights by tech companies globally.

Our team encourages direct engagement between civil society and the private sector by supporting advocates and NGO’s to attend international multi stakeholder meetings. These efforts create a platform for dialogue between companies and constituents, and promote policies that protect and enhance freedom of expression and privacy online.


Issues

CONTENT FILTERING: ACCESS TO INFORMATION AND CENSORSHIP

Governments and other actors around the globe increasingly curate the content and information that citizens can access online. This is done in an attempt to control media narratives, support policy priorities, and at its most flagrant, to stifle dissent. In countries with a new or limited internet infrastructure, governing bodies act as default regulators of the online space.

ONLINE SURVEILLANCE AND DATA PRIVACY

The internet not only serves as a means of connecting individuals, but also as a repository for some of those users most sensitive or personal information. This wealth of information may be exploited by malicious actors to target and monitor individuals and communities. Unwarranted access to personal data is especially dangerous to vulnerable populations like Women, LGBTI persons, and others whose data may put them at risk of direct persecution.

CONTENT BLOCKING: NETWORK DISRUPTIONS

The most extreme manifestation of attempts to control the online flow of information is the complete disruption of internet access to users. Disruptions can range from localized or targeted blackouts to blanketed internet shutdowns. In a digital world, these disturbances have the power to shut out affected populations from critical infrastructures and channels of opportunity. Such internet blocking is an increasingly common weapon employed by governments and other actors to confront civil unrest, activism and other acts of citizen expression and engagement.

REPRESSIVE LEGISLATION

Lawmakers are closing the online space and restricting individuals’ fundamental rights to a free and open internet by introducing and passing dangerously broad or vague policies to address the digital space. Governments have expanded definitions of terrorism to include blogger activity, implemented draconian press laws that are no longer relevant to the internet, and rewritten cybercrime legislation to restrict the free flow of information.


Our Reach

SUPPORTING ADVOCACY INITIATIVES WORLDWIDE

Across the globe, our partners are advocating for the creation and promotion of local laws and policies that protect citizen’s human rights online, through direct advocacy to policymakers and awareness-raising to the public. Below is a short list of the types of challenges that our partners have addressed.

What Have We Worked On?

  • Press Freedom Act & Internet Freedom in the DRC
  • Online Privacy & Personal data protection Act in Jordan
  • Law on Transparency and Access to Information rights, Data protection laws in Mexico
  • Protection of personal data bill in Paraguay
  • Protection of Internet freedoms in Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya & Peru
  • Net Neutrality in Colombia
  • Intermediary Liability in Argentina
  • Internet shutdowns in India and Cameroon