The Internet and Human Rights: Access, Shutdowns, and Surveillance

Presented at the WG Hart Legal Workshop 2018 –‘Building a 21st Century Bill of Rights’ – held at the Institute for Advanced Legal Studies, University of London, 11th and 12th June 2018.

18 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2018

See all articles by Ewan Sutherland

Ewan Sutherland

University of the Witwatersrand, LINK Centre

Date Written: June 11, 2018

Abstract

A C21st bill of rights needs to address Internet-related issues such as collection and dissemination of personal data, lawful interception, provision of access, and government-enforced shutdowns. However, the uncertain nature of Internet access means firstly that it ought not to be a right, and secondly that institutions and practices need to be designed to benefit from the Internet, to be secure from any threats and to be able to be transformed as technologies change. These complex and evolving challenges call for institutional reforms to support enforcement of existing rights of freedom of expression, privacy and safety, combined with good governance and the rule of law in a digital age. In particular, it requires independent data protection agencies that can share challenges and experiences with their counterparts and which can publicise data breaches and emerging issues. It requires openness, with disclosure of governmental and regulatory activities (e.g., impact and threat assessments), with judicial appeals against decisions and parliamentary oversight of ministers and agencies. Transparency will not be enough to stop autocratic states from shutting down parts of the Internet, when faced with real or imagined opponents, such governments seem able to ignore international protests. Much greater transparency is necessary on national security and the way it used to curtail rights to privacy and safety, and the practice of intrusive surveillance. Good governance at national level can be improved and supported by international cooperation (e.g., peer review, threat assessment, and training).

Keywords: Data Protection, Governance, Human rights, Internet, Privacy, Security, Telecommunications

JEL Classification: O31, O38, H10, K10, K23, K40

Suggested Citation

Sutherland, Ewan, The Internet and Human Rights: Access, Shutdowns, and Surveillance (June 11, 2018). Presented at the WG Hart Legal Workshop 2018 –‘Building a 21st Century Bill of Rights’ – held at the Institute for Advanced Legal Studies, University of London, 11th and 12th June 2018. . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3203883 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3203883

Ewan Sutherland (Contact Author)

University of the Witwatersrand, LINK Centre ( email )

1 Jan Smuts Avenue
Wits
Johannesburg, Gauteng 2000
South Africa

HOME PAGE: http://link.wits.ac.za/

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