On the second day of the Internet Governance Forum, IFLA participated in sessions about the right to be forgotten, mass surveillance and human rights online. This gave us the opportunity to tackle issues related to access, infrastructure development, privacy, anonymity, hate speech, and the rescue of local content.
The session the on "Right to be Forgotten and Privatized adjudication" drew a big crowd. Panelists covered the cross–border challenges linked to the liabilities of Internet intermediaries, and area where IFLA has already released a statement.
The session on 'Human Rights: Broadening the Conversation' looked at how human rights are inter-linked with internet policy and governance. Stuart Hamilton underlined how libraries defend the right to privacy and the need to reform the global copyright system.
At the lightning session on ‘Human Rights Online: What has Internet Governance got to do with Refugees?’, Jesus Lau talked about how libraries can reinforce human rights and the need for offline rights to be protected online as well.
In the Surveillance and International Human Rights Law we talked about how to make governments engaging in mass surveillance accountable, given how much this affects the freedom of expression in many countries. We heard about the importance of ensuring that such activities are necessary and proportionate, and the risk of governments using national security as an argument to limit access to information.
The Council of Europe Data Protection Unit reminded everyone that there is international law framework, but that each country could decide how to control surveillance (in particular covert surveillance). The European Court of Human Rights at least recognized those who were subject to this as "victims". Katitza Rodrgiguez from EFF presented the state of communications surveillance in Latin America and the discovery in Paraguay of the Terror Archive, a "paper database" with information about people opposed to the government. If this was already happening with paper files, imagine how much more invasive such actions are when governments have access to digital tools?Laws are not working and we need public mecanisms to protect our communications.
We talked with Katitza after the meeting, and explained how ALA librarians protect privacy in their own country, as well as discussing the need to raise awarness among librarians in other countries about the need to to defend privacy.