After two decades of little direct legislation of the internet, national laws and related court decisions meant to govern cyberspace are rapidly proliferating worldwide. They are becoming building blocks in new legal frameworks that will shape the evolution of Internet governance and policymaking for years to come.
In the Global South and particularly under repressive regimes, these frameworks can be imposed with little regard for human rights obligations and without a full understanding of the technologies and processes they regulate or their implications for the preservation of the core values of the internet: interoperability, universality, and free expression and the free flow of information.
This panel brings together practitioners from five international organizations monitoring the development of legislation and case law related to cyberspace to discuss the implications for the future of human rights online.
Moderator Robert Faris is the research director at the Berkman Klein Center where he contributes and provides oversight to research at the center. His research includes the study of digital communication mechanisms by civil society organizations and social movements, and the emergence and impact of digitally-mediated collective action, as well as the influence of networked digital technologies on democracy and governance and the evolving role of new media in political change. His current work includes applied research into the networked public sphere drawing on the Media Cloud platform, the monitoring and measurement of Internet activity and content controls based on the Internet Monitor platform, and research into the phenomenon of harmful speech online.
Dr. Hawley Johnson is the Project Manager for Columbia Global Freedom of Expression, an initiative to advance the understanding of international and national norms and institutions that best protect the free flow of information and expression in an interconnected global community. Hawley has over twelve years of experience in international media development both academically and professionally, with a focus on Eastern Europe. She recently worked with the award winning Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project to launch the Investigative Dashboard (ID), a joint effort with Google Ideas offering specialized databases and research tools for journalists in emerging democracies. Previously, as the associate director of the Media and Conflict Resolution Program at New York University, she oversaw the implementation of over eight US government sponsored media development programs in eleven countries. In 2012 she completed her Ph.D. in Communications at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Her dissertation – a study of the evolution of media development policies in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo and Macedonia – was grounded in extensive field research in the region. She has an M.A. from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and a B.A. in international affairs from American University.
Robert Muthuri is currently a Research Fellow – ICT at the Centre for IP and IT (CIPIT) at the Strathmore School of Law. He is a Legal Knowledge Engineer working at the intersection of legal theory and AI. Robert is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya who, with the conviction that technology had a lot more to offer the legal domain, further pursued a career in legal informatics. Robert holds a PhD in legal informatics from the LAST-JD consortium in Europe), an LLM Innovation Technology and the Law from The University of Edinburgh, a Dip.KSL from the Kenya School of Law, an LLB from Moi University, and a Dip.BIT from Strathmore University.
Juan Carlos Lara is a Chilean lawyer, specializing in law and technology, currently working as the manager of the Public Policy and Research team at Derechos Digitales, a non governmental organisation based in Santiago de Chile that promotes and defends digital rights in Latin America. He has worked as a consultant in intellectual property for public and private entities, has been a research assistant at the Centre of Studies in Cyber Law at the University of Chile, and is currently an LL.M. candidate at UC Berkeley. In Derechos Digitales, he leads research and policy analysis on technology and data privacy, equality, freedom of expression, and access to knowledge and human rights in online platforms.
Gayatri Khandhadai is a lawyer with a background in international law and human rights, international and regional human rights mechanisms, research, and advocacy. She previously worked with national and regional human rights groups, focusing on freedom of expression. She coordinated the IMPACT — India, Malaysia, Pakistan Advocacy for Change through Technology — project with the Association for Progressive Communications. Her current focus is on digital rights in Asia with specific emphasis on freedoms of expression, assembly, and association on the Internet.
Jessica Dheere is co-founder of the Beirut–based digital rights research, training, and advocacy organization SMEX (smex.org) and a 2018-19 research fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. She is also incubating director of the recently launched CYRILLA Collaborative (cyrilla.org), a global initiative that maps and analyzes the emergence and evolution of legal frameworks in digitally networked environments through open research, data models, and databases. She writes and speaks regularly on a range of internet policy and human rights topics, including the impact of national law on multistakeholder internet governance, the implications of extraterritorial jurisdiction in the Global South, false news and disinformation, the efficacy of campaigns to counter online violent extremism. Her recent publications include “Misguiding Multistakeholderism: A Nongovernmental Perspective on the Arab IGF,” and a legal research methodology published in Unshackling Expression: A study on laws criminalising expression online in Asia. She is a member of the inaugural Advisory Network to the Freedom Online Coalition, a partnership of 30 governments working to advance internet freedom, and co-chair of the policy committee of the Global Network Initiative, a multistakeholder alliance that helps companies respect freedom of expression and privacy rights in the face of increasing government demands. In her free time, she advocates for better broadband access in rural coastal Maine. She has a master’s degree in media studies from the New School in New York City and a bachelor’s degree in art history from Princeton University.