The evidence that outlines the future of digital rights in Latin America

Since Indela was born to strengthen the ecosystem of digital rights, in these three years it has supported 20 projects, from 22 organizations, in 10 countries throughout Latin America. The needs in the region were changing with the pandemic, and Indela was adapting in an agile and flexible way to the current emergencies. The main areas of impact that emerged, and that were prioritized to be addressed, have been on subjects such as the reduction of online gender violence, protection of personal data, privacy, and analysis of mass surveillance technologies, among others.

During 2021, an external evaluation team began an analysis process to deepen Indela’s strategic vision, the support it provides and collaboration between peers. This external evaluation included the implementation of spaces for the collective exchange of reflections between organizations and the Indela coordinating team, which made it possible to identify the main future opportunities and challenges facing the digital rights ecosystem in Latin America.

Future opportunities

Three large areas of opportunity were identified to continue strengthening the protection of digital rights in laws and public policies in the region.

  1. New forms of connectivity and participation: The pandemic, beyond confirming these shortcomings and, in the face of a growing, accelerated, and in many cases forced digitalization, caused emerging social groups, especially young people, to increasingly demand their rights in relation to connectivity and digital participation. The Internet is a space for the exercise of rights in which all voices must be present.
  2. New concepts: There is a trend about the possibility of new human rights concepts, such as the right to disconnect and the right to privacy. These new configurations also go hand in hand with new demands for the recognition and protection of digital rights in different countries of the region, such as the conversation about the right to disconnect. In addition, there is an increase in the development of more open and transparent technologies, which could have a positive impact on democracies in Latin America.
  3. New actors: There is a need to include actors in the discussions on digital rights in the region, such as traditional civil society organizations, research centers and regional bodies such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Expanding the participation of these sectors allows collaboration for the defense and protection of digital rights in Latin America, as well as the development of new international standards for the protection of these rights at the Inter-American Human Rights System level.

The challenges

The increase of some threats, and other new ones, that cross digital rights and the organizations that defend them were identified.

  1. New inequalities: The digital exclusion is increasing existing social inequalities in the region and in the world, in some cases limiting access to and use of digital technologies, as well as participation and the exercise of rights in the digital environment. For example, school dropout during the pandemic due to lack of Internet access, where access to education for children and adolescents is violated. These new digital inequalities are more evident for women, youth, indigenous communities and vulnerable groups.
  2. Growth of anti-rights movements: Although several countries have made progress in protecting the women, LGTBIQ+ people and indigenous communities’ rights, there is an increase in the anti-rights movement in the region. This translates into rights violations in the digital environment, as well as the increase in hate speech and digital violence against traditionally excluded groups.
  3. Laws and policies in the process of becoming outdated: On the other hand, the regulations on digital rights in the region are not yet sufficient for their protection. Laws and public policies are not responding to the growing problems, this is due, on occasions, to the lack of capacity of some governments and public actors to understand the impact of digital technologies in the exercise of rights or to the lobby of the major technology companies, the Big Tech to stop some regulation. Faced with the absence of protective regulation, the States continue implementing massive surveillance systems that affect the citizens’ rights, without transparency or accountability. The implementation of these technologies, on the one hand, violates the rights to privacy and freedom of expression online, and prevents the free exercise of other rights such as citizen organization and mobilization.

These main opportunities and challenges that the digital rights ecosystem in Latin America is going through allow us to jointly identify a very visible future, and how to strengthen organizations and the defense of these rights. It is important to deepen into the main thematic axes to guarantee digital rights in laws and whole public policies, provide opportunities to build dialogue and articulate regional work with new actors, support organizations to strengthen their impact and capacities within this coming scenario, and align existing funding in the region to give organizations the opportunity to build new collective futures.

The emerging process of protecting personal data in Latin America

Indela, since its first call in 2019, has accompanied various organizations that work on the personal data protection in Latin America. As part of an external evaluation carried out over these three years of work, a case study was developed on the personal data area in particular, to analyze in depth the strategies and the impact of the processes led by two of the allied organizations; IDEC and TEDIC.

Guarantee personal data protection is guarantee the exercise of other human rights, such as privacy and freedom of expression. Providing tools and mechanisms that guarantee the confidentiality, security and personal data control is a need that is growing by leaps and bounds, especially for groups in situations of vulnerability.

In certain Latin American countries these rights are regulated, in some even with more progressive regulations as in the case of Brazil. However, there are still several countries that do not have specific laws on personal data, such as Paraguay.

In this context, IDEC from Brazil and TEDIC from Paraguay have developed comprehensive strategies with three main lines of action:

  1. Coordinated mobilization to achieve high-impact results in the fight for personal data protection, as a long-term commitment.
  2. Articulation with different actors, that allows collaboration and collective construction of projects with a multisectoral perspective.
  3. Collaboration among the community of consumer protection, and the community of digital rights for the construction of a regional agenda.

Achievements and impact

The projects led by these two organizations have generated impact at the national and regional levels. On the one hand, the multisector articulation for the co-construction of a draft personal data law with a human rights perspective in Paraguay, TEDIC, together with Personal Data Coalition, coordinated a dialogue process with strategic actors for the advancement in the personal data protection that complies with international standards.

In addition, with the support of the Faculty of Law of the National University of Asunción, it leads a process of strengthening the capacities of the new generation of professionals in digital rights issues, through the Legal Clinic on Digital Rights. This type of achievement allows the strengthening of the local ecosystem, through the actions of experiences exchange and learning.

On the other hand, IDEC has managed to weave ties and network work between the digital rights community and the consumer rights community in the region, for regional collective political action. These impacts allow strengthening the incidence capacities of civil society against public and private regulations related to personal data protection.

Personal data protection is a developing process that still needs support. Existing regulations require continuous updating in the face of emerging challenges generated by the digital context. It is essential to articulate collective actions in the face of new opportunities between different sectors and communities, which allow the construction of long-term agendas for the defense and protection of personal data.

Success stories, findings and trends in cases of online gender-based violence

Since its creation in 2019, Indela has accompanied various organizations that work to prevent and reduce online gender-based violence (VGL – violencia de género en línea) in Latin America. As part of an external evaluation carried out over these three years of the Initiative, a case study was developed on the work implemented in the VGL thematic axis, to analyze in depth the strategies and the impact of the projects accompanied. The processes led by Luchadoras, Hiperderecho and Cultivando Género were analyzed.

Findings and trends in Latin America

In recent years, new forms of gender violence have been configured through the use of digital technologies. Faced with this growing problem, the organizations that work at the intersection of feminism and technology in the region have redoubled efforts in the search for solutions, setting this matter as a priority within their agendas.

In some countries, specific regulations have been developed to recognize certain types of online gender-based violence as a crime, as in the case of Mexico, with the various reforms to the state Penal Codes, or in Peru, with the reforms to the Penal Code and other laws. Although these regulations are advances in the matter, they are still insufficient to guarantee access to justice for women who have experienced digital violence.

In this context, these three organizations have developed comprehensive strategies with three main lines of action:

  1. Empiric knowledge building through evidence reports, and data systematization to analyze the effectiveness of existing regulation and response mechanisms in these countries.
  2. Comprehensive legal support, which, on the one hand, allowed them to add to axis 1 empirical evidence on the legal complaint processes and also to clearly identify the legal challenges faced by people who denounce digital violence.
  3. Communication strategies for incidence online and offline, allows them to share information about gender-based violence online to identify and combat it, as well as to advise survivors of this violence. These campaigns are characterized by promoting non-revictimization, and the defense of the right to occupy and co-create the digital space.

Achievements and impact on VGL

The projects led by these three organizations have generated successful research processes that have deepened and confirmed the need to promote effective mechanisms for access to justice for survivors of online violence in both Mexico and Peru. In addition, legal support has allowed them to use these processes in their collective incidence strategies. Communication strategies have managed to reach new audiences inside and outside the niche, increasingly reaching women and LGBTIQ+ people who have experienced digital violence. 

Mainstreaming the gender perspective in the work of digital rights is essential to deepen the need for specific regulation that develops comprehensive mechanisms for access to justice, strengthen the regional articulation of organizations, and continue supporting the work and impact of these processes.

20 projects • 3 years of learning • Digital rights • Latin America

Indela (Initiative for Digital Rights in Latin America) began its work to strengthen the digital rights ecosystem in 2019. In these three years, it has supported 20 projects, from 22 organizations, in 10 Latin American countries. The main areas of work, which were identified based on a constant reading of the region needs, were on issues such as reducing online gender violence, protection of personal data, privacy, and the analysis of mass surveillance technologies, among others.

During 2021, an external evaluation team began an analysis process to deepen Indela’s strategic vision, the support it provides and collaboration between peers. This external evaluation made it possible to identify the main future opportunities and challenges facing the digital rights ecosystem in Latin America.

The evaluation process analyzed the projects of eight organizations supported by Indela, conducted 14 interviews with 20 actors related to the Initiative, two learning workshops and a workshop about the future. From this, a report on learning and three case studies on areas of impact were developed.

This blog post is the first publication that shares the main findings and learnings about digital rights future, as well as case studies for each of the main thematic axes.

About the strategic vision

Indela allows us to support a diverse digital rights ecosystem, through the support of projects led by organizations from various countries. The whole strategy of the Fund combines financial and non-financial support.

The first consists of financing the specific project of an organization, which allows the concentration of funds for activities related to the recognition of digital rights in laws and public policies. Financial support has given organizations a key boost, and in some cases even the opening to achieve sustainability through other, larger external funding.

On the other hand, non-financial support is coordinated through specialized consultancies that increase its impact and enhance the achievement of the project’s objectives. This transversal support has especially benefited smaller and emerging organizations in the ecosystem. Indela has supported organizations in matters of legal support, communication strategies development for incidence, and the consolidation of supported organizations.

In this sense, support beyond the project has been sought to focus on strengthening the resilience of organizations at different levels. For example, through non-financial support, tailor-made strategic consultancies have been coordinated for the strengthening of some organizations, which has allowed them to have support both in institutional growth, or even in some cases, support in the face of internal changes in structure that organizations were going through.

The personalized support from the coordinating team has allowed us to build trust to develop close and tailored accompaniment processes that meet the different needs of each organization.

About collaboration

Indela’s collaboration can be analyzed from two axes, on the one hand internally, on the coordination between donors that are part of the Initiative, and on the other externally, on the articulation between the supported organizations.

The coordination between donors, from the different capacities and experience, allowed collaboration, identification of priorities, and support for organizations in countries that traditionally were not able to be reached.

In the collaboration between supported organizations, Indela played a role of flexible facilitator, less institutionalized and planned, to collaborate and identify new areas of opportunity. There is a need to continue the construction of networks or working groups among the supported organizations, especially on some thematic axes, which allows contributing to promote the work of the organizations collectively and regionally.

Consult in the General Report, the results of the external evaluation carried out on Indela.

5 Key Projects to Strengthen Digital Rights

The explosion of employment, education, shopping, access to information and other areas of daily life that have migrated to digital platforms during the last two years due to the pandemic has generated new challenges in the protection of digital rights in Latin America.

Faced with this challenging context, constantly changing in the region, Indela understood that it needed to support, in a flexible and less traditional way, initiatives that aim to raise awareness and defend digital rights. In some cases, this means giving continuity to organizations to strengthen their cycle of impact; in others, it means responding to new opportunities.

As announced in the 2021 Open Call, Indela will support 5 key projects to strengthen digital rights in Latin America. The organizations selected will work in areas such as personal data protection, reduction of gender-based violence online, promoting awareness of mass surveillance systems, gender inclusion in legislative processes and improving conditions for reporting digital vulnerabilities.

Congratulations to Indela’s Selected Projects 2021:

  1. Mujeres por los derechos digitales” [Women for digital rights] by Asociación Aguayo and Fundación InternetBolivia.org, which will seek to include the gender perspective in the legislative and public policy debate on digital rights in Bolivia.
  2. Fortalecimiento de la ciberseguridad a través de cooperación público-privada sobre seguimiento de vulnerabilidades” [Strengthening cybersecurity through public-private cooperation vulnerability monitoring] by Democracia en Red in coalition with the Observatorio de Derecho Informático Argentino, which will advocate for public policies on information security to allow a synergistic channel of communication between tech communities and the national State.
  3. Videovigilad@s inseguros” [Unsafe video surveillance] by IPANDETEC, which will analyze the presence of video surveillance and loss of privacy in Central American in physical and digital environments.
  4. Ley de Violencia Digital Urgente” [Urgent Digital Violence Law] by ONG Amaranta, which will develop a communication campaign to raise awareness about digital violence and the urgency of a bill in Chile.
  5. Fortaleciendo la protección de datos personales en Paraguay desde la sociedad civil” [Strengthening personal data protection in Paraguay from civil society] by TEDIC, which will strengthen the evidence-based debate in Congress and work with the Coalición de Datos Personales for approval of the bill on personal data protection.

Indela, faced with this new reality and a future in which more and more millions of people will migrate part of their daily lives to digital spaces, is excited to work with these projects and continue to strengthen the digital rights ecosystem in Latin America.

For more information about Indela and the projects selected, follow us on Twitter and  Facebook.

Biometric technologies for mass surveillance; InternetLab’s achievements in the digital rights protection are paving the way forward in Brazil

By InternetLab

Public safety has become a central focus in public, electoral and parliamentary debates in recent years. The direction of these debates and the resulting majority, however, is the proposal of increased surveillance, weaker procedural guarantees, and tougher penalties. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of state and municipal governments relying on biometric technologies, with the justification that they are used for criminal investigations. However, the expansion of these technologies has not been properly accompanied by debates on the risks, proportionality and possible negative impacts. It was with the aim of promoting these debates and advocating among the main actors in public safety that we applied for the 2019 Indela open call, with the project Bringing Due Diligence and Human Rights Standards to the Process of Implementing Biometric Technologies for Mass Surveillance in Brazil.

From July 2019 to April 2021, Indela supported InternetLab in the development of this project with the aim of promoting observance of due diligence and human rights standards in mass surveillance practices using biometric technologies in Brazil, especially when used for public safety and national safety purposes.

In August 2019, we formed a group of organizations that work together to discuss and develop strategies to avoid the implementation of facial recognition cameras in the São Paulo Metro, which was announced in July2019. The first step of this strategy was the preparation of discovery proceedings, presented in February 2020. The action sought to require the São Paulo Metro to produce evidence on the scope, purpose, precautions, and limits of the database of the facial recognition electronic monitoring system. Fortunately, the court’s decisions on the case were favorable; the main petitions were accepted, and the Metro had to provide information on the technology implemented.

Today, expansion of the case is being reviewed as this first action focused only on matters of administrative form and due process without branching into the merits of surveillance. By the second half of 2021, the group intends to file another action questioning these points. In this case, InternetLab is offering support by hiring evaluators who will provide technical information on how the technology works and its risks for vulnerable populations, especially when applied on a large scale. The technical opinion will be of key importance for a paradigmatic national case and will benefit future actions with the same characteristics.

We have also started a collaboration project with the Public Defender’s Office, a key institution for the judicial function of the State, responsible for providing legal guidance and defending underprivileged citizens. It plays a strategic role through its judicial action in representing the preferential clientele of the penal system, the citizens most vulnerable to violations of their rights, and is responsible for a significant portion of the actions, appeals and demonstrations in which human rights are debated and defended. However, it faces the challenge of meeting the demand of an enormous contingency of people with limited resources.

InternetLab began a writing project on institutional thesis proposals of the Public Defender’s Office based on the studies it promotes. Institutional theses are models and guidelines available to public defenders, aimed at creating an institutional position and protecting the interests of the institution’s target audience. The objective has been to disseminate the thesis on the right to privacy throughout the justice system. Today, we have two theses: the first focuses on the use of data from electronic devices seized by the police from individuals caught in the act, and the second on the use of geolocation information of persons not identified by criminal investigations.

The project also anticipates the third and fourth editions of the International Congress on Fundamental Rights and Criminal Procedure in the Digital Era. In Congress, we have the support of citizen security and data protection to promote the debate on the intersection between the criminal process and technology, providing guidelines and guarantees applicable to criminal investigations in the digital era. Recent Congresses have addressed topics such as access to geolocation data, cameras and facial recognition, virtual infiltrations, genetic data, surveillance, protection of privacy and international legal cooperation, and confidentiality of communications, among others. The openings of both Congresses launched new volumes of the work Fundamental Rights and Criminal Procedure in the Digital Era: Doctrine and Practice under Debate, which adds articles and conferences related to the topics discussed at the Congress.

Finally, to focus on the growing use of facial recognition technologies, InternetLab, in partnership with Idec – Brazilian Institute of Consumer Protection, developed a guide of recommendations and best practices for the use of this technology by the private sector. The document, published in October 2020, provides an overview of the problems and risks associated with the use of facial recognition technologies. In addition to the basic operating characteristics of these tools and the guarantees present in Brazilian legislation, we present recommendations aimed at guiding the offer of products and services, and preserving the fundamental rights of citizens.

 

The execution of the project has shown us that there is energy to organize coalitions on biometrics and surveillance with civil society and government organizations. There are spaces to occupy in the intersection between the human rights agenda and criminal justice, as well as between technology and society, and these spaces favor the interaction of areas that reconcile different entities and individuals. Even so, reading the context and current impact of the project also shows that dispute in the legal field can lead to good results, if the rhetoric of this community is used as the basis. The project certainly encouraged InternetLab to create alliances and reflect on how biometric technologies have been used in Brazil, thereby promoting this issue and the need to raise and investigate responses to it within our organization.

Central America for the improvement of public policies on digital rights

By IPANDETEC

Context

Central America is a region of 7 countries and over 50 million people. Of this population, less than half have Internet access and, looking a little closer, the inequalities and digital gaps are exacerbated in rural, indigenous and LGBTIQ + populations, as well as people with disabilities, among others.

In 2019, Indela selected IPANDETEC to develop the project Building capacities in the Internet ecosystem in Central America with a multisectoral perspective. It created a solid network of Central American participants dedicated to improving laws and public policies related to privacy and cybersecurity which demonstrated some initial improvements in the region.

Due to the pandemic, IPANDETEC had to streamline its processes to achieve its goal. The project suffered delays and adaptations to its completion, transferring the missing training to virtual sessions and events, but never stopping.

Beneficiary countries

The project focused on three Central American countries: Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. These three countries have high levels of cybercrime and the State does not protect the personal data of its citizens. These countries were selected due to the urgent need for public policies regulating the Internet, as well as the lack of trained local actors who could undertake informed advocacy based on standards focused on human rights.

In the case of Guatemala, the personal data protection bill had been halted since the year 2009 and its discussion had not been completed. Similarly, bills had been introduced in Honduras that did not include standards focused on human rights, and therefore threatened the country’s legal stability in terms of cybersecurity. Finally, El Salvador had begun public consultations for discussion of a data protection bill.

Achievements of the project

IPANDETEC’s project provided training to more than 200 people in the participating countries and produced a map of actors working on Internet public policies, including congresspersons, elected authorities, members of the private sector, actors from civil society and human rights activists, academic experts, and members of the technical sector. It also managed to expand the usual ecosystem by bringing together people who were not actively participating at that time in the development of Internet public policies.

One of the major achievements was the creation of training sessions in the various sectors, including some such as academia and government, which are not always included.

Finally, we created three guides for the development of public policies, one for each country, which were shared not only with project participants, but with policymakers for their use in future legislation. The first document, “Step by step for a comprehensive cybersecurity policy | Honduras,” includes Honduran regulation on cybersecurity, as well as standards and practices that must be used when discussing and approving a cybersecurity policy. For El Salvador and Guatemala, the documents focus on personal data protection in each country and the steps necessary to approach the discussion with a focus on human rights.

As an organization, IPANDETEC learned in depth about the importance and effectiveness of the multisectoral mechanism, the great need for this type of project in the region, and the need to increase the representation of women in Internet-related issues in these countries, among other interesting aspects for future development of extensions of this project.

At the end of the project, the picture in the three countries had radically changed. Guatemala is preparing to discuss a personal data protection bill, while in Honduras the proposed cybersecurity law was not passed. Finally, El Salvador saw the veto of its personal data protection bill.

Access to justice for women experiencing digital violence in Mexico does not exist

By Luchadoras

-Access to justice for women experiencing digital violence in Mexico does not exist—that was our primary finding in the investigation Justice pending: Investigations on digital violence in Mexico in limbo,” which we carried out with the support of Indela.

The approval of the “Olimpia Law,” the most visible response promoted by victims’ groups to act against the dissemination of private images without consent, led us at Luchadoras to ask ourselves whether this represented a tangible advancement in the lives of women; these were the lessons we learned.

What’s next for the “Olimpia Law”?

It’s real: Overregulation of the Internet is a threat to the exercise of our freedoms online, a tool that can be used by authoritarians to persecute criticism from organized civil society. However, when talking with women affected by digital violence, we found that criminal reporting is indeed a valid course of action for them. Over 2000 women have reported being victims of digital violence in the last three years.

The crime, which punishes the dissemination of private images without consent, is already a reality throughout the country. At Luchadoras, we believe it is now time to create an ideal standard to harmonize these legal frameworks.

As our investigation shows, the impunity and structural challenges of the justice system in Mexico have prevented the progress of cases of digital violence that have been reported.

During this investigation, conducted jointly with OVIGEM in Puebla, we spoke with women who have experienced digital violence; they confirmed the lack of response and clear information, the mistreatment, and the revictimization by authorities.

We also contemplated the meaning of “access to justice” and discovered other broader concepts with a greater restorative potential than criminal sanction. Putting repair of the damage caused at the center also puts these women at the center.

Women who experience digital violence need to have multiple options for action available besides the criminal route, such as civil, labor, or administrative law. In addition, they need better reporting options on platforms as well as internal mechanisms at institutions such as companies and schools.

Communication is key

Positioning digital violence as a problem on the public agenda has been an arduous task. Today, it is a public issue. The research we have done from civil society and the lobbying for approval of the “Olimipia Law” have contributed to this.

Although the implementation of these reforms is not yet reality, their momentum has a significant social impact: public awareness of this problem. For this, the creation of campaigns and messages that make the issue comprehensible has been key.

Legal language, which is usually complex and often an obstacle for the victims, needs to be made accessible. At Luchadoras, part of our project involved translating the findings of our research into a video with viewer-friendly language.

Being able to name and know how the system works is empowering. Understanding complex problems as local problems that affect us is also another form of justice.

We defend access to information and transparency

For this investigation, we originally made 219 requests for public information to Public Prosecutors and Judicial Branches in the 24 states of the country where reforms related to digital violence had been approved up to the month of February 2020. Only seven states responded to both authorities: Aguascalientes, Mexico City (CDMX), Chihuahua, Jalisco, Nuevo León, Veracruz and Zacatecas; this allowed us to do a more complete analysis of the pathway for access to justice before both bodies.

Thus, we were able to determine that in the last 3 years, 2,143 investigations were opened for the dissemination of private images without consent in Mexico. And 83% are still pending.

Our investigation “Justice pending” would not have been possible if we did not have a legal framework and tools in Mexico for access to information and transparency.

The legal framework and institutions dedicated to transparency represent a major advancement in the demand for government accountability in our country.

Eleven organizations in the fight to position and defend digital rights in Latin America

By Al Sur

The rapid advancement of digital technologies and their widespread use by governments, businesses, and general society has led to much speculation about their effect on human rights. These technologies’ ability to execute mass surveillance, capture personal data, and spread mis- and disinformation requires a comprehensive understanding and concerted response on the part of civil society. This was the motivation for the creation of Al Sur, a consortium of eleven civil society and academic organizations[1] from Latin America working to strengthen human rights in the digital environment. This consortium was one of Indela’s selected projects for 2019, through which it sought to consolidate its institutionality and generate greater capacity for advocacy at the national, regional, and international levels. With Indela’s support, Al Sur organized multiple sessions with specialists, expanding not only the knowledge base but also the network of action to strengthen the digital rights ecosystem. The organizations comprising the consortium received training on “Strategies to access information about surveillance practices,” carried out by Luis Fernando Garcia, Director of R3D de México, and “Negotiations surrounding the Second Additional Protocol to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime,” which strengthened the alliance between Al Sur and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Prof. Sean Flynn of American University also carried out a training session about intellectual property and copyright during the pandemic, which offered the opportunity to review the regulatory market of the entire region. Building a regional agenda Al Sur developed three research reports through this project not only as a strategy to promote a proactive regional agenda, but also to allow other organizations to join and work with the consortium:

  1. Gender-based political violence on the Internet. Gender-based political violence, from a broad framework of diversity, encompasses violence related to political rights, which become aggressive manifestations that undermine the voices of women and LGBT+ persons. In this sense, the report provides a regional perspective, resulting in criteria and recommendations for electoral justice systems, online platforms, political organizations, and civil society.
  2. Mirando Al Sur. Towards new regional consensus on intermediary liability and content moderation on the internet. This document examines comparative debate and maps the legal discussion and self-regulation at a regional and international level, to finally address specific proposals and principles of the region.
  3. A Human Rights Legal Framework for Communications Surveillance in Latin America. This analysis of the situation in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Peru addresses regional debates and research to maintain a legal framework that respects the rights of individuals, guarantees their practice and has effective control and surveillance mechanisms allowing restitution of rights to be demanded and serving as a democratic control of the broad powers of the States in this matter.

As a consortium, Al Sur is also interested in understanding and generating a stronger relationship with regional and international interconnection spaces. To better position themselves in various international forums, they are working on mapping and exchanging best practices, generating research, and holding meetings and consultations with specialists. Al Sur analyzed the United Nations Organizations (UNO) System, the Organization of American States (OAS), and other international bodies, and through this analysis compiled a document—currently under review—whose publicly available version is being considered by civil society in the region. To further augment their position, Al Sur has also increased its digital presence by launching its webpage in three languages and publishing more content on is blog and Twitter account. The impact of Al Sur’s work in the region has led to invitations to make substantial contributions in high-impact spaces; Twitter invited the Secretary to be part of its Security Council, the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) asked the organizations of Al Sur to be part of the discussion about misinformation during the pandemic, the consortium was invited by Electronic Frontier Foundation to attend a inter-regional cybersecurity and cybercrime group, and it was represented at the Global Privacy Assembly. In addition, Al Sur created recommendations on important  international reference documents, including the Second Additional Protocol to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, the public consultation of the Government of Brazil on regulation of the Marrakesh Treaty, the review of the first version of the draft text of the UNESCO Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence, “General comment No. 25 (202x): children’s rights in relation to the digital environment” of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, and the call of the Council Working Group on International Internet-related Public Policy Issues (CWG-Internet) of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). One of the consortium’s most significant milestones is Al Sur’s now expanded capacity to react to international discussions and debates. The research and reports published allow it to anticipate emerging issues and move forward with evidence, positioning itself as a collective, and as such has strengthened its alliances and identified spaces in which it can have a greater impact. Ultimately, the consortium and its collective work have been furthered by the support of Indela. Al Sur is better positioned to think more strategically about its next steps and to offer a more organized space for its members to participate in the collective effort.

[1] Al Sur is comprised of:  Association for Civil Rights (ADC), Center for Studies on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information (CELE), Coding Rights, Derechos Digitales, Karisma Foundation, Hiperderecho, IDEC, Panamanian Institute of Law and New Technologies (IPANDETEC), InternetLab, Network in Defense of Digital Rights (R3D) and TEDIC.

Strengthening Digital Rights in Paraguay: An Initiative from a United Civil Society

By TEDIC

The fight for digital rights to be fully protected in Paraguay is ongoing, but it is important to acknowledge how far we’ve come. Our organization has made great strides and had many successes, and Indela’s support has been key in achieving our objectives.

Comprehensive personal data protection law

The work of TEDIC—and its local and international partners—to drive a robust personal data protection ecosystem in Paraguay began several years ago. Founded by TEDIC along with APADIT, Paraguay Ciberseguro, ISOC- Capítulo Paraguay and Abente Stewart Abogados, we acquired a renewed drive alongside Indela through the strengthening of the Personal Data Coalition in Paraguay.

In partnership with the Science and Technology Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, the Coalition led a series of activities to co-create a comprehensive personal data protection law. We launched a website that allowed for receipt of 103 comments from national and international personal data protection specialists. In addition, representatives of the public and private sector held several meetings to and offered 9 workshops featuring international specialists in the subject.

After an official act of presentation of the preliminary draft for reception of final comments, the Coalition—and the Science and Technology Commission—officially submitted the preliminary draft to the Chamber of Deputies on April 30, 2021.

Legal Clinic on Digital Rights

At TEDIC, we believe it is essential to create training spaces for public and private actors in matters of human rights and technology. Our cooperation with Indela has allowed us to establish and strengthen ties with the Universidad Nacional de Asunción School of Law and to create the country’s first Legal Clinic on Digital Rights.

Through an open call[1], the clinic’s first class of students was formed and we held classes on topics such as privacy and personal data protection, freedom of expression, access to information, electronic voting, gender on the Internet and more. This first experience culminated with the presentation of articles prepared by this student class.

Strategic litigation

The partnership with Indela made it possible to take on a series of strategic litigation actions with a focus on increasing the visibility of problematic situations occurring in the country and contradicting full validity of the rule of law.

In particular, we highlight the importance of the strategic litigation and communication campaign used in the Belén Whittingslow Case. The creation of a web page dedicated to the case, as well as various flyers, videos, and other means of communication, have generated considerable interest among the population. This case will be brought before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and is in the closing stage.

Additionally, we have initiated litigation questioning the installation of facial recognition cameras in public spaces and an appeal against the refusal to provide public information on its collection of personal data. The electronic ticketing system these technologies use is still new and has generated interest and a series of debates among the public.

Finally, we highlight the major support of the Legal Clinic and the students’ commitment to the successful development of the strategic litigation initiatives filed by TEDIC. We believe that space has been and is crucial for promoting the education of law students from practice.

Antivirus series

The disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic forced TEDIC to rethink effective ways to communicate. We created the “Antivirus” series, which includes live webinars in which we discuss issues related to digital rights and digital security strategies. Finally, we held a virtual party at which we presented our new work on technology, human rights, and different actions within the scope of the Indela project. The event was attended by more than 150 people from various countries.

Summary

These accomplishments demonstrate that TEDIC’s work, carried out in partnership with local and international organizations, is always the best way forward.

The creation of the preliminary draft law and the various coordinated activities led to the development of a robust digital rights ecosystem. The ongoing assistance of these people indicates not only the interest acquired by the subject but also the State’s commitment to working for comprehensive legislation with the objective of protecting citizens.

In addition, the strategic litigation made it possible to deepen alliances with specialized local organizations on litigation as well as with academia through the Legal Clinic. We believe there is still much work to be done to consolidate the programmatic area of digital law at the School of Law and the Judiciary. We also emphasize that the strategic litigation work and its dissemination have helped position TEDIC as a leader in this area and make its actions visible in the regional agenda; this is evidenced by our inclusion in international panels and regional campaigns.

We can conclude with certainty that the partnership with Indela was key to supporting and achieving these activities. We still have a long way to go on the road toward a Paraguayan society with full enforcement of digital rights. However, it is important to acknowledge the accomplishments achieved in an uncertain national and global context, and thus gain momentum to move forward.

 

 

[1] A total of 30 applications were received, and 10 students were ultimately selected.

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