Coalition calls on states to refrain from measures that limit freedom of speech and human rights
Internet Freedom Coalition Expresses Concern About Impact of Coronavirus Pandemic on Human Rights and Freedom of Expression.
“The Coalition shares the concerns of people around the world about the global COVID-19 pandemic, including its associated negative economic impact, and recognizes the efforts of governments to contain the spread of the virus through emergency measures,” the US Department of State said in a statement. “At the same time, there is more online activity than ever before, and we are concerned about the human rights implications that certain measures, practices and digital applications that governments are implementing in response to the crisis. This includes the use of arbitrary or illegal surveillance methods; partial or complete disconnection of the Internet; Internet content regulation and censorship inconsistent with human rights law. We are also concerned about the potential short- and long-term impact of these actions on freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, as well as on privacy even after the pandemic ends. “.
The Coalition notes that the lack of tools to establish accountability for human rights violations on the Internet creates a risk of loss of trust in the authorities, and the violations themselves increase the risk of discrimination, especially for vulnerable groups of the population..
The coalition also expresses concern about the spread of misinformation about the coronavirus online. “Access to relevant facts and accurate information, including through free and independent media, online and offline, helps people to take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, save lives and protect vulnerable populations,” emphasizes in a statement.
Coalition calls on states to ensure that measures taken to combat the pandemic are in line with international human rights law and are limited to what is really needed to protect public health.
The coalition also calls not to pass laws that could negatively affect the human rights situation or unreasonably restrict civil space online and offline; to help create an enabling environment for free expression and access to information on the Internet; take action to counter online and digital violence and threats; immediately stop disconnecting the Internet and provide the widest possible access to online services, taking steps to bridge the digital divide; and to ensure that any emergency measures taken in response to the pandemic are lifted after the end of the pandemic.
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