European Parliament study commissioned by the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on human rights to examine Information and Communication Technologies and Human Rights. The report can be downloaded here.
The rapid evolution of information and communications technology (ICT) and associated digital communications over the past two decades has dramatically changed communication practices across the world. This has had profound implications for human rights on a number of levels. Firstly, communication technologies are presenting new ways to more fully realise our human rights. This is particularly true of the right to freedom of expression. Secondly, ICTs have provided human rights activists with new tools for defending human rights. Internet access via mobile phones gives citizens the power to communicate rights violations in real time to global audiences; social networking tools connect human rights defenders across the world to enhance collaboration and information sharing; censorship circumvention technologies allow people to bypass attempts to monitor and control information and communication flows. However, as well as unleashing tremendous new opportunities for protecting and advancing human rights, digital communications also present a series of serious challenges. These include direct threats to human rights, such as
the development of increasingly sophisticated censorship and surveillance mechanisms. They also include deeper, structural problems such as the persistence of digital divides in access to communications infrastructure and capacities along geographical, gender and social lines.”