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Tuesday, December 19 • 11:50 - 13:20
Selective Persecution and the Mob: Hate and religion online (WS215)

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Proposer's Name: Ms. Smitha Krishna Prasad
Proposer's Organization: Centre for Communication Governance at National Law University, Delhi
Co-Proposer's Name: Ms. Chinmayi Arun
Co-Proposer's Organization: Centre for Communication Governance at National Law University, Delhi
Ms. Smitha, Krishna Prasad, Civil Society, Centre for Communication Governance at National Law University, Delhi
Ms. Gayatri Khandhadai, Civil Society, Association for Progressive Communications

Session Format: Panel - 90 Min

Country: India
Stakeholder Group: Civil Society

Country: India
Stakeholder Group: Civil Society

Speaker: Gayathry Venkiteswaran
Speaker: Chinmayi Arun
Speaker: Carlos Affonso de Souza
Speaker: Grace Githaiga
Speaker: Wolfgang Schultz
Speaker: Susan Benesch 
Speaker: David Kaye

Content of the Session:
As hate speech online spreads at an alarming rate, states, companies, civil society and other stakeholders grapple with the question of how to mitigate the situation. States have relied on command-control regulation, including hate speech laws, as the primary solution. However, these laws are used to censor and punish political dissent and other expression protected under the ICCPR and most countries’ constitutions. These laws also seem to be able to do very little for the journalists being murdered, attacked and threatened for their online speech, or for people receiving onslaughts of threats, doxxing, abuse and other forms of aggression online.

In the global south especially, this is a phenomenon that cannot be ignored. Law regulating hate speech and religious expression has had serious consequences offline. It is often used to harass and intimidate media, bloggers, human rights defenders, women and political dissidents. These are the very same groups that the law should protect since they are often attacked online for their speech. Women are threatened with unspeakable violence and doxxed, bloggers and journalists are killed, and human rights defenders are frequently attacked. Both harmful speech and the law meant to mitigate it are used against these groups. There is therefore a need to study the reasons offered, such as religious sensitivities, more closely. This session focuses particularly on the intersection of expression and religion in the online space.

This session seeks an open discussion from the participants on the following issues:
A. What are the current and imminent threats relating to hate speech online?
B. What are the ways in which hate speech laws are used to target vulnerable speakers?
C. Is protected expression touching on religion under threat? If so, from whom and how do we tackle it?
D. Are hate speech and religion specific expression laws effective or acceptable when applied to online spaces?
E. How can we engage with the Rabat Action Plan and the Istanbul process to incorporate online and gender related challenges?
F. Are there opportunities to work out better ways in which online platforms can deal with hate speech, political censorship and other forms of intimidation of speakers online? Specifically, how can online platforms engage better with these issues in the Global South?

Relevance of the Session:
Hate speech and unreasonable restriction on speech online are a major threat to inclusive societies, and especially to democracies. In addition to stifling valuable, protected speech, they create an environment and culture of otherisation and intolerance. If the norms set down by the UDHR are to be protected online, we must cultivate an environment where differing views and choices are embraced online. 

Tag 1: Freedom of Expression
Tag 2: Inclusive Societies
Tag 3: Hate Speech

The panel has been designed carefully keeping in mind gender parity and equality. Further, the panel has also been designed to include individuals who work on domestic issues in different parts of the global South, as well as individuals who work on these issues within the international law framework to ensure that views from diverse jurisdictions across the world are brought forward and discussed. 

Onsite Moderator: Gayatri Khandhadai
Online Moderator: Smitha Krishna Prasad
Rapporteur: Deborah Brown

Online Participation:
Throughout the session #IGF2017 will be used and so will #hatespeech. APC will set up systems for anonymous and audience questions and comments to be streamed and displayed as the meeting progresses. APC will also solicit questions ahead of time from those who cannot attend in person, by publicizing the workshop on Twitter and with blog posts.

Throughout the session, a dedicated communications person will be available to facilitate online participation and to increase the visibility of the session and IGF among the networks of the co-organisers. This person will also be working on the visual aid for the whole session towards setting up the chart that identifies key issues raised.

Discussion facilitation:
The session will start with a 5 minute briefing by the moderator which captures the background and objectives of discussing the two ends of the spectrum of hate speech and religious speech, as well as the rules for the session. Each of the speakers will then spend about 5-6 minutes presenting their views on various issues that touch the topic of the session (as described in detail above in the section on interventions).

The moderator will tie the discussion into each of panelists chosen topics of discussion, to ensure the flow of the conversation.

For the next 35 minutes the moderator will open the floor to ask the participants and audience to point out the different areas including and outside the issues raised by the speakers on how hate speech and religion related rights are impacted by ICTs.

For the last 10 minutes, a chart will be drawn up identifying the different issues and linking them with the help of visual aid. This will be presented along with summaries of discussions to Mr. Ahmed Shaheed with a request to focus on technology and ICTs in his mandate as the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of religion or belief.

Conducted a Workshop in IGF before?: Yes
Link to Report: http://www.intgovforum.org/multilingual/filedepot_download/4098/266

Session Organizers

Tuesday December 19, 2017 11:50 - 13:20 CET
Room XII - A United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG)