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April 2016

FOC Updates

FOC Activities at RightsCon 2016

       FOC Coalition Members at RightsCon
Several members of the FOC were represented during Rightscon. Two FOC members hosted sessions (Global Affairs Canada hosted a session about the use of ICT to advance civic participation in the Global South and the National Cyber Security Centre of the Netherlands organized a session about responsible disclosure of cyber vulnerabilities). The participating members of the Coalition also held a closed coordination meeting to discuss current affairs such as the FOC Strategic Review.
       WG1 Roundtable on Human Rights-respecting Cybersecurity policy by design
WG1 held a roundtable gathering a group of high-level experts in cybersecurity, privacy, cryptography and human rights to explore how and where stakeholders can influence global cybersecurity policy making and foster rights-based approaches to cybersecurity - for more information see here. The workshop used the Group's draft recommendations as a basis for the discussion and explored three main points: looking at why a paradigm shift in cybersecurity is needed, how the Group's work contributes to this aim, and specific feedback from the experts on how the WG's normative recommendations can be improved and gain maximum support from the broader community. The experts were in general agreement on the need of a paradigm shift as articulated by the recommendations. In addition, the Group had a separate meeting at RightsCon on ongoing activities and developed an action plan to bring the recommendations as an output document to FO 2016.
       WG3 workshop on importance of company and government transparency
WG3 participated in an open session on transparency reporting. In a multistakeholder setting, and drawing upon the expertise of the session participants (including Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea Transparency Report representatives) and findings from the Open Technology Institute's work on company transparency reporting, the session reviewed current trends in transparency reporting, best practices and opportunities for collaboration across existing projects, and emerging issues in government transparency. Katharine Kendrick, the Group's co-chair, presented highlights from the WG's 2015 report, including the Group's recommendations for developing meaningful transparency for users in terms of access to user information and content removal. The Group's work was received very positively and a rich conversation followed. Input from this session and other meetings at RightsCon will be incorporated into the Group's work plan going forward.

FOC Working Group Updates

       Working Group 1 (WG1): focus on consolidating work items into comprehensive whole
The Group has now finalised the review and renewal of its mandate, and completed an open call for new members. Three new members have now been selected to join, and bring a wealth of experience and added diversity to the Group (see members here). Following this, the Group is now focussing on pulling together their main elements of work (the definition of cybersecurity, the normative recommendations, the narrative framing and mapping output) into a concrete whole, complete with an overarching framing emphasising the importance of a paradigm shift to make cybersecurity policy human rights respecting by design. Their work will be presented at three upcoming venues: RightsCon, SEEDIG, and EuroDIG (workshops are in the process of being consolidated into the overall programme). The Group will use all three events as outreach opportunities to get expert feedback on their normative recommendations and gain endorsement from the wider community. In addition, The Group will use the opportunity at RightsCon to meet face to face and consolidate their work so far.
       Working Group 2 (WG2): revised three-part workplan focusing on the Rule of Law online
The WG co-chairs and FOC Support Unit held a meeting in March where they decided the Group should continue their work as one full group, rather than two subgroups. Incorporating the WG’s feedback and work to date, the Group agreed on the following revised three-part work plan: 1) what is the Rule of Law (RoL) and why is it important for freedom of expression and privacy online? (setting the scene for the WG by articulating why the RoL online is important for users’ fundamental rights) 2) the RoL in practice (case studies that demonstrate the challenges with applying the RoL online and its implications for freedom of expression and privacy online) 3) questions for governments - areas for future research (a list of questions for governments that aim to identify further areas of research, drafted through a consultation process leading up to FO 2016). Each section will take the form of multiple blogs that will be published on the FOC website and collated into an output document that will be shared at FO 2016.
       Working Group 3 (WG3): creation of three sub-groups and launch of blog series
Activities for the Group are now divided into three sub-groups: policy development (developing a long term research plan providing more information on government transparency initiatives that exist and partnerships on specific projects), problem statement (developing an overall problem statement for the WG, including a multistakeholder definition and case for transparency to guide activities); and emerging issues (analysis of emerging issues related to transparency). The Group met face to face at RightsCon 2016 to consolidate their work so far. The emerging issues group has launched the Group’s blog series with two posts (here and here). The problem statement sub-group will publish a further blog post proposing three main questions that any transparency effort must answer for users, and proposing a "litmus test" for whether companies and governments are providing meaningful transparency. This post was used to seek feedback on the definition from the broader public at the Group’s workshop at RightsCon. Group members organised informal meetings with the panellists from the workshop and contacts in the civil society community, to clarify shared definitions and explore areas of overlap and potential collaboration.  

Upcoming Events


SEEDIG 2016 – Discussing Cyber(SEE)curity: Global Issues in Regional Context (Session 3), 22 April, Belgrade

Members of FOC WG1 are organising this session with other stakeholders, based on their work on cybersecurity. SEEDIG is a multistakeholder initiative driven by stakeholders in South Eastern Europe and the neighbouring area (SEE), with support from others from outside the region. The goal of the session is to discuss issues raised in multiple proposals submitted for SEEDIG, such as cybersecurity and human rights, capacity building, empowerment and trust, strategies and legal frameworks, in the regional context. The session aims to contribute to on-going discussions on building multistakeholder approaches to cybersecurity in the region and how to strengthen and encourage national and regional cooperation. An interactive discussion will be held, where the floor will be open for participants to raise issues. The moderators will ask for contributions on twitter before the session and monitor the twitter feed during the session. For more information, please see here.

Freedom Online Conference 2016 Launch Event, 27 April, San José

The Costa Rican Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Science are holding a launch event for the annual Freedom Online Conference, to be held in San Jose October 17-18. The event will take place on April 27 at 9.30 a.m (venue TBC) and will be hosted by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Science and Technology. It will be a two part event with the diplomatic corps and a press conference.

Protecting Human Rights Online: A Public Seminar to Discuss the Challenges to Protecting Human Rights Online, 02 May, Helsinki

Organised by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Finland and the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC) as part of World Press Freedom Day (hosted by UNESCO), the seminar will take stock of current prospects for human rights online most relevant to UNESCO’s mandate. While the internet has created new opportunities to exchange information and ideas across boundaries there are new threats to free expression online emerging. In discussing these challenges the seminar will also consider how to promote privacy and safety online while keeping the internet open and free, ensure a multi-stakeholder policy framework continues to shape internet policy and support civil society and human rights defenders in the internet environment. More information and link to RSVP, here.

Related News 

Further to the above updates from the Freedom Online Coalition, you may be interested in looking at the following curated news digests on online freedom issues from this month. Note that the views expressed in these digests represent the views of individual authors and not necessarily the views of the Freedom Online Coalition or its members. . 
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To contact the FOC Secretariat for any further information on any of the events or news items mentioned in this newsletter, please email:
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