Access Now welcomes this opportunity to provide relevant information to the United Nations (UN) Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to inform the High Commissioner’s Vision on the Future of Human Rights in the framework of the Human Rights 75 Initiative. As an ECOSOC-accredited organization, Access Now routinely engages with the UN in support of our mission to defend and extend digital rights of users at risk around the world.
This submission addresses the key trends that threaten digital rights, as well as the viability and the safety of human rights activists and journalists online and offline. This submission specifically addresses Access Now’s pledges regarding (1) targeted surveillance technologies and spyware, (2) applications of AI that are incompatible with human rights, including remote biometric surveillance in publicly accessible spaces, automated gender recognition, and sexual orientation detection tools, (3) the global increase in intolerance, which is accelerating the digital repression of LGBTQ+ rights in Africa and beyond, and (4) shrinking online civic space and digital attacks on civil society, including through staggering increases in internet shutdowns, attempts to weaken encryption and insert backdoors into digital communication channels, and threats to the security and accessibility of communications platforms.
Thank you for allowing us to join this Pledging Tree at a critical moment for the protection and promotion of human rights in the digital age.
Access Now pledges:
- To advocate for strict limitations, and bans where appropriate, on the spread and use of targeted surveillance technologies and their vendors, by:
- Demanding that States implement an immediate moratorium on the export, sale, transfer, servicing, and use of targeted digital surveillance technologies until rigorous human rights safeguards are put in place to regulate such dangerous and invasive tools and practices, and
- Where there is evidence that commercial spyware technology facilitates or enables human rights abuses, including NSO Group’s Pegasus and Cytrox’s Predator, demanding States implement a ban on said technology and its vendors.
- To advance legal and regulatory prohibitions or red lines against applications of AI that are incompatible with human rights, by:
- Prohibiting all Remote Biometric Identification (RBI) technologies in publicly accessible spaces, which are defined broadly so as to include any place which any person can in theory access, even if they have to pay to do so, and
- Advancing legislation and regulation that bans technologies that claim to perform “automated gender recognition” and AI-based “detection” of sexual orientation
- To protect LGBTQ+ digital rights and equality online, by:
- Campaigning for LGBTQ+ rights online by calling for stronger, more protective laws against doxxing, incitement to violence, trolling and entrapment from all threat actors, including in Africa, and
- Monitoring those legislatures weakening or threatening LGBTQ+ rights online and supporting CSOs campaigning against these initiatives.
- To expand online civic space and enhance protection against digital attacks on civil society, by:
- Calling on governments to pledge to #KeepItOn, and refrain from shutting down the internet and otherwise interfering with open and secure access to the internet and telecommunication networks, and
- Strengthening the right to privacy and promoting digital security by pushing back against laws and administrative initiatives aimed at weakening encryption and inserting backdoors into digital communication channels.