A Rights-Based Approach to Internet Policy and Governance for the Advancement of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights
The debate on Internet freedom has intensified over the last few years as governments and civil society organizations explore policies to safeguard online civil liberties and online security. Civil society organizations and academics have noted the growth of online censorship and surveillance. Many have argued for a more libertarian approach to Internet policy, where people can do as they wish, as long as they respect the equal rights of others. They see this as a way to protect fundamental human rights like freedom of expression, access to information, and privacy. These civil liberties are essential to maintaining thriving democracies. Most governments have been concerned with the rising online tide of crime, terrorism, hate speech, and child pornography. As a result, they have implemented legislation that gives them greater control over the Internet and mobile technology. The challenge for researchers and policymakers is to find an Internet policy approach that brings together these opposing views. This project aims to influence the debate on Internet rights. The Association for Progressive Communication (APC), a network of developing- and developed-country civil society organizations, will manage the project. APC will seek to better understand how Internet policy and regulatory frameworks at the global, regional, and national levels could integrate economic, social, and cultural rights (ESCR). These rights include, among others: the right to education, the right to housing, the right to an adequate standard of living, and the right to health. The research team's findings will help encourage governments to adopt rights-based approaches to Internet policy and regulation in developing countries. More specifically, the project team will: -conduct research and a stakeholder analysis to better understand current applications of ESCR in policy documents and practices; -assess perceptions and experiences with current and past ESCR advocacy; -develop a monitoring framework to assess how much Internet use and policy might impact negatively or positively on ESCRs; - conduct country-level or sector-level case studies to improve the framework; -build APC partners' skills in the use and application of the ESCR framework; and, -share research findings to inform ESCR Internet policy-making and practice.