Research & Reports

Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN)

Journalists are being strongly urged to protect their communications and information from growing threats. Yet several studies show that most journalists, despite believing the danger is real, are not adopting basic protections.

The Rory Peck Foundation issued a Digital Security Guide aimed at freelancers, stressing that “even taking small, simple steps can make a huge difference.” To help promote digital security, GIJN has assembled this guide to resource materials on the subject. “You can never say that anybody is 100 percent secure,” said Trevor Timm, Executive Director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, in an PDNPulse interview. “But there are many basic steps that anybody can take that can make them more secure than 90 or 95 percent of internet users, and that really goes a long way.”

They begin with summary recommendations by Robert Guerra, a digital security expert at the Canada-based Citizen Lab, who warns that most reporters aren’t even taking the most basic precautions. “If you become known for investigative reporting, people can use digital tools to come after you and your data,” says Guerra, who for more than a decade has trained NGO staffers and journalists to securely manage relationships and data online. “Start with the principles. Know the risks. There are some simple things folks can do.”

“Video Unavailable” Social Media Platforms Remove Evidence of War Crimes (HRW)

For this report, Human Rights Watch interviewed seven people who work at civil societyorganizations that are primarily focused on open source material and privacy rights, two child protection workers, three lawyers who work on new methodologies for using audiovisual material and publicly available data in legal cases, two archivists, one statistician focused on human rights data, two journalists who use open source material, one former prosecutor with experience in international tribunals, five individuals within internationally mandated investigations, three national law enforcement officers, one European Union official, and one European Member of Parliament.

Media Development and Countering Violent Extremism: An Uneasy Relationship, a Need for Dialogue (CIMA)

The report begins by examining the emergence of ISIS and its unique media strategy, which has been credited with spurring the group’s global reach. It then turns to the development of the CVE strategy and the various initiatives Western governments have undertaken to halt the spread of violent extremism, particularly in the media and online. With that foundation, the report then discusses the varied reactions to the CVE agenda from within the media development community, including the concerns felt by many media development practitioners that a focus on CVE may have unintended consequences when coopted by authoritarian regimes looking to censor oppositional media organizations. The report concludes by suggesting an agenda for dialogue and collaboration between the two sectors.

Into 2020: The State of Online Harassment (Online SOS)

Online harassment continues to grow and evolve despite its broader recognition as a problem. New tactics of harassment regularly emerge and individuals, companies, organizations and legislators struggle to keep up. What does online harassment look like today? How did we get here? What can we do to collectively and collaboratively create better outcomes for targets of online harassment and reduce the number of future cases? The State of Online Harassment Report, developed and written by the OnlineSOS team, sheds light on these questions in hopes of catalyzing action as we head into 2020.

Hate Speech in the Media and Internet: A Case Study of the Kyrgyz Republic

This report is part of an ongoing projectof theSchool of Peacemaking and Media Technology (Network of Social Mediators) on regular monitoring of hate speech, clichés, stereotypes in print, online and social media of the Kyrgyz Republic. The current report contains results of content analysis of newspapers and online media published in Osh, Jalal-Abad and Batken regionsin the southern Kyrgyzstan,and in some print media distributed in Bishkek and Chuy region in Kyrgyz, Russian and Uzbek languages and posts in social networks.Media monitoring wasundertakenin March to April and October to November 2013 in two stages:

  • Stage 1:March to April 2013.Selection of the media environment these months was related to the beginning of the year, when trends were set, strategies were developed in many political spheres, relations affecting the formation of public opinion were determined at this stage.

  • Stage2: October to November 2013.This was a peak of political activity, which was reflected by the media. At this time findings were summarized, events occurring since the start of the year and their consequences were analysed, situation was evaluated, forecasts were made.

Hate Speech: Key Concept Paper (Media, Conflict and Democratisation – MeCoDEM)

This paper explores the concept of hate speech, both theoretically and within the context of the MeCoDEM project’s four country case studies: Egypt,Kenya, Serbia and South Africa. Instead of seeking to provide an objective definition of hate speech, the paper’s empirical approach highlights that context matters. More specifically, analysis of the political and socio-economic context in which the speech act occurs and consideration of the nature of the speaker and audience –including their impact and transmission –allows for a nuanced and informed approach to evaluate hate speech, and how this impacts democratisation processes.

Hacking Online Hate: Building an Evidence Base for Educators (SELMA)

This report synthesises the main research findings of a comprehensive research programme carried out by the SELMA project to achieve a holistic understanding of the online hate speech phenomenon. The research comprises three interrelated components enriching each other: a literature review, a series of qualitative focus groups and an online quantitative survey. Together they provide a theoretical and empirical backbone for the education and awareness-raising activities carried out as part of the SELMA project.

Caught in the Net: The Impact of ‘Extremist’ Speech Regulations on Human Rights Content (EFF / Syrian Archive /Witness)

The belief that deleting content on online platforms can solve the deeply rooted problems of extremism in modern society is a mistake. The examples highlighted in this document show that casting a wide net into the Internet with faulty automated moderation technology not only captures content deemed extremist, but also inadvertently captures useful content like human rights documentation, thus shrinking the democratic sphere. No proponent of automated content moderation has provided a satisfactory solution to this problem.

Electronic surveillance—of e-mail communications, telephone calls, visits to websites, online shopping, and even the physical whereabouts of individuals—is now pervasive the world over. This has enormous implications for privacy and for freedom of expression and association on the one hand and for national security and law enforcement on the other. Striking the right balance between these fundamental human rights and the need for governments to protect their citizens presents a daunting challenge for policy makers, civil society, news media, and, in the end, just about everybody.

Challenges to freedom of expression and media development around the world require action by democratic governments, civil society, and media organizations. The aim of this briefing paper is to inventory the dilemmas that arise from the growth of electronic surveillance and consider the policy choices to try to address these dilemmas.

The Center for International Media Assistance carried out a survey of journalists around the world, asking them about their use of digital tools for their security. The survey was designed to address both tools for physical protection as well as digital security.The survey was disseminated with the help of international organizations such as the International Center for Journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the International Women’s Media Foundation, IREX, Global Journalist Security, Article19, and the Open Tech Fund.The results will help us understand better the need that journalists have for digital tools that can enhance their physical or digital security. The responses suggest important areas of opportunity for new applications or programs that can mitigate risk, either in a specific areas of coverage or in daily work routines.

UN Special Rapporteur Reports

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression as well as other UN Special Rapporteurs produce frequent reports for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) about issues related to media, digital rights, and security. These include but are not limited to:

  • Disease pandemics and the freedom of opinion and expression (A/HRC/44/49 – 2020) – English

  • Promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression (as it relates to artificial intelligence) (A/73/348 – 2018) – available in all official UN languages

  • Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression (A/HRC/38/352018) – available in all official UN languages

  • Report of the Special Rapporteur to the Human Rights Council on freedom of expression and the private sector in the digital age (A/HRC/32/38 – 2016) – available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish

  • Report of the Special Rapporteur to the Human Rights Council on the use of encryption and anonymity to exercise the rights to freedom of opinion and expression in the digital age (A/HRC/29/322015) – available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.

Additional resources related to the special rapporteur’s work includes:

  • A guide to the UN’s special procedures, including the work of the special rapporteurs (IFEX)

  • Communications reports of special procedures (OHCHR)

UNESCO's Countering Hate Speech Report provides a global overview of the dynamics characterizing hate speech online and some of the measures that have been adopted to counteract and mitigate it, highlighting good practices that have emerged at the local and global levels.

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