DEF has long standing prioritisation of linking practice to policy advocacy, and linking local to regional and global work through research, advocacy, network building, capacity development and strategic communications in space of internet governance and internet related human rights issues. Since 2011, DEF has been engaged in national and international advocacy through its open and public consultations and evidence-based research studies. In 2011, DEF initiated the ‘Internet Rights’ programme, as a country partner with European Union (EU) and Association for Progressive Communications, to address and advocate about Internet governance and Internet-related human rights issues.
In 2014, the same partnership initiated ‘Networking for freedom online and offline: protecting freedom of information, expression and association on the internet in India, Malaysia and Pakistan (IMPACT)’. This was three-year long project under which DEF conducted research, capacity building, networking and engaging with national and international advocacy activities. Below is a report of DEF’s work in the area of cyberspace.
- Research & Documentation @ accessing internet related human rights
- From 2011-2014, DEF has contributed India chapter for Global Information Society (GIS) Watch covering the issues of 1)The role of the internet in the right to information in India; 2) the Internet and the Need for a Government That Is Responsive to its Citizens; 3) the internet as a pathway for women’s empowerment in India; 4) Communications surveillance, human rights and freedom of expression in India.
- As part of IMPACT project, we published three country research studies – 1) Limited access limited expression 2) Shrinking Spaces: Status of Freedom of Association & Assembly in India and 3) Social impact of network shutdowns in India. The first report was more focused on freedom of expression, access and human rights; while the second country research paper was focused on addressing the issue of freedom of association and assembly in India. The third paper was focusing on the emerging issue of network shutdown in India and to understand its social impact in lives of citizens.
- Besides the country research studies, DEF published five issue papers covering the issues from understanding of network shutdowns in India, encryption and freedom of association; big data and privacy; hate speech around religion to deep diving into issues of access and digital exclusion.
- From 2014, we are continuously monitoring internet related human rights violations specifically in three categories – freedom of expression; freedom of association and right to privacy
- DEF contributed to Digital Exclusion chapter in India Exclusion Report.
- Capacity building @ internet rights & secure communication
- As part of the capacity building DEF realized that it is important to understand internet related human rights aspect in country context. Thus, DEF adapted APC’s Internet Rights Human Rights Curriculum (IRHR) curriculum and modified in Indian context.
- With regard to IRHR training, DEF has capacitated more than five organisations on internet rights human rights and feminist internet principles
- We believe that secure communications and digital security is an important aspect to address the issue of internet related human rights issues and to provide proactive security measurements to human rights organisations and defenders. Thus, it was important for us to customize digital security curriculum and simplifying for beginner, intermediate and advanced level, so that we can cover larger number of audience.
- DEF’s two members are Digital Security trainer and have provided digital security trainings to 10 organisations and capacitated more than 100 human rights defenders on internet rights. Some of organisations include CREA, Amnesty International, Point of View, Indian Council for Historical Research (ICHR), etc.
- Networking & Advocacy @ engaging with national & international internet governance & human rights mechanism
- In 2012, DEF was the first organization in India to submit its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) advocating ‘internet rights as a human rights’
- Since 2008, DEF has been participating at an international forum ‘Internet Governance Forum’, RightsCon and Stockholm Internet Forum (SIF) by organizing various sessions addressing emerging issues like network shutdown; big data and privacy, freedom of association and assembly, alternative technologies including wireless networks. Some of the sessions are following:
- Assemblies and Associations online: Coping with Challenges
- BPF Gender And Access
- Big Brother & Its Corporate Twin
- Zero Rating: “Access for all” Or Curbing Freedom of Expression?
- Dynamic Coalition on Community Connectivity
- Community Connectivity: Empowering The Unconnected
- In 2017, DEF formed a coalition with Internet Democracy Project, Point of View, Nazdeek and Association for Progressive Communications and submitted its UPR Submission to the Universal Periodic Review of India – Internet Rights, Freedom of Expression (FOE) Online and Freedom of Association and Assembly (FOAA) Online in India.
- DEF’s member, Ritu Srivastava participated at 13th Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of India held on May, 2012 & June 2017 as speaker at the United Nations, Geneva, Switzerland addressing the issues of internet accessibility and regulations of India at global-level and presented its recommendation points globally.
- DEF has organized various national consultations in partnership with UNESCO, IT for Change; SFLC, MediaNama, MKSS etc.
- DEF has regularly submitted its recommendation points and comments to TRAI on net neutrality, public wi-fi, geo-spatial, WSIS+10 review, OTT services, etc
- We have joined international campaign, KeepItOn by Access Now and our ongoing research on network shutdown will be continued.
- As a parallel platform IGF, DEF has started organizing annual ‘Digital Citizen’ Summit at Asia Pacific level covering the broader themes of freedom of expression, privacy, access and digital literacy and empowerment
- DEF’s director, Mr. Osama Manzar writes regularly opinion views and columns at national newspaper – Mint, Business Standard & Wire
For more information: www.internetrights.in