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August 14, 2013 - Comments Off on Call For Participation: Digital Security Workshop In Peshawar

Call For Participation: Digital Security Workshop In Peshawar

Digital Rights Foundation (DRF), Bolo Bhi and Aware Girls are happy to announce a one day Training of Trainers on Digital Security and Privacy for Women Human Rights Defenders, Activists, journalists and young bloggers of Peshawar on 20th August 2013.

The main goal of this TOT is to increase the number of women defenders, activists, journalists and bloggers who are well-informed and confident enough on digital security to carry out trainings themselves within their own organisations and communities.

We would like to invite all members of the Women Human Rights Organizations, Civil society, journalists, bloggers to submit short profiles for consideration for this training. We will only be able to accommodate a maximum of 30 participants from Peshawar (final decision sits with the organising committee).

Shortlisted participants will be sent the details about the venue of the training. The deadline to apply is 17th August.

All interested candidates should send an expression of interest outlining how they meet the required criteria, how they will carry further trainings and why they are interested to


Please note that as organizations focused on your privacy rights we discourage participants to send us extra information i.e strictly no CVs. Please practice discretion when sharing your personal information online. Share a brief bio relevant to your work only along with contact information that can enable us to contact you for updates. All data received will be discarded on the 18th August. We will not use your contact information for anything other than contacting you for this workshop specifically. 


May 9, 2013 - Comments Off on FinFisher Commercializing Digital Spying – How You can be a Victim?

FinFisher Commercializing Digital Spying – How You can be a Victim?

- Shaikh Rafia

FinFisher is surveillance software by Gamma International UK Ltd marketing the surveillance solutions to government security officials through exploiting security lapses in anti-virus programs. It is basically a spyware suite designed to allow someone to spy on a computer or mobile device. Described by the company as "Governmental IT Intrusion and Remote Monitoring Solutions”, FinFisher has its command and control servers installed in around 36 countries globally, according to a report and analysis by Citizen Lab. Pakistan is one of those countries, and Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd (PTCL) owns the network where FinFisher server is found.

The FinSpy malware – tool of FinFisher intrusion kit – was often injected in the potential victims’ machines by sending them malicious email. In the analysis, Citizen Lab found that email addresses which were used to send these emails were on the names of some popular journalist names (in the case of Bahraini activists) and the email shared attachments which looked pertaining to the Bahraini turmoil. On opening the attachments, jpeg files were saved on the victim’s computers which were actually executable files. This sort of access gives the attacker clandestine remote access to the victimized machine with data harvesting and exfiltration capabilities. Commonly, someone tricks you into clicking a file - a picture, word document, etc – which actually hides the FinSpy file and silently affects your machine without you or the Anti-Virus program installed in your machine detecting it.

Citizen Lab found that the data like Skype audio calls, chats, key logger and passwords was accessible to the attacker. FinFisher can even secretly use the microphone or webcam in your computer or Read more

March 16, 2013 - Comments Off on Fair Trial Bill: de-alienation of civil society

Fair Trial Bill: de-alienation of civil society

President Asif Ali Zardari signed the in to law the “Fair Trial Act 2012”, empowering the state to intercept private communications in order to track suspected terrorists in the country. This legislation was approved by National Assembly and went through the senate for approval in December 2012.

The civil society and human rights defenders of Pakistan have been continuously questioning this Act which legalizes the security agencies to collect evidence “by means of modern techniques and devices” like wire-tapping, intercepting emails and SMS text messages that will be accepted in a court in cases registered under five security-related laws. A major concern about this Fair Trial Act is a few of its ambiguous clauses which could be misused against the people of dissent or political and military opponents.

This bill has clauses like: It shall also apply to all transactions or communications originated or concluded within Pakistan or originated or concluded outside Pakistan by any person. [2.(1).(c)] & Any person liable for investigation under the provisions of this Act for a scheduled offence committed partly or fully outside Pakistan shall be dealt with according to the provisions of this Act in the same manner as if such an offence had been committed within Pakistan. [2.(2)] which makes everyone in the world coming inside the domain of suspicious terrorists, which is disturbing to say the least.

The controversies include the way it easily went through the system and kept getting approved which happens rarely in Pakistan. Every time before elections government tries to get as many bills as possible approved which has been a routine in past in the country. But when the bills like Fair Trial Act 2012 get hasty approvals, acts like Domestic Violence Law stay in pending for years. For the record, Domestic Violence Bill was proposed in 2009 but subsequently failed to pass in provincial assemblies except the Sindh Assembly which passed it on 8th March, 2012.

Whether any sections of civil society were included in the drafting and passage of Fair Trial Bill, has yet to be disclosed by the government. Under Article 19A, we demand the government to show the transparency process involved in the consultation process of Fair Trial Act which could be used by the intelligence agencies and powerful sections of the country to violate larger civil rights.

Digital Rights Foundation strongly condemns this gesture of de-alienating civil society groups by the leading political party of country which was democratically elected four years back. While the bill may help security agencies to catch terrorists, the clauses need to be more specific without hurting the privacy rights of citizens of Pakistan.

January 18, 2013 - Comments Off on Pakistan, Youtube Bans and Education for Awareness

Pakistan, Youtube Bans and Education for Awareness

-Haroon Riaz

Some governments need bans to make their presence felt.

It is hardly any surprise that the Pakistani government is one such authority. When you are unable to do anything about a violation of your perceived moral higher ground, it probably feels good to deny access to it, which would supposedly correct and improve the morals of the society at large.

So why Pakistan blocks youtube every now and then, you might ask?

This has not been the first youtube ban, and if it ever gets lifted, it certainly will not be the last. Because censorship somehow satisfies the vain sense of virtue of our nation, because that is all we can do about certain things and it makes us feel good.

At the same time, as we are in a middle of a “democracy”, you know, a democracy that only tolerates enough freedom of speech that the masses are conditioned to tolerate. Not realizing how undemocratic bans on communication channels are. You cannot help but wonder if the ban is really about blocking blasphemous and “indecent” material, whatever in the world that means.

Have you ever considered how vigilant the PTA or the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, Pakistan's information big brother, is when it comes to blocking youtube when the slightest opportunity presents itself before it?

Again I am not really sure if it is actually about the blasphemous material on youtube, especially the seemingly-indefinite current ban which was enforced by the government after they discovered that some people in Pakistan had discovered that some people in Egypt had discovered a trailer of an unimportant second rate anti-Islam motion picture called the Innocence of Muslims.

Even some of the most educated conservatives in the country, justified it. All the seemingly intellectual talk show hosts seemed to endorse the ban as well. This time it is more personal as far as Google is concerned and goes far beyond blocking a page or two, as previously has been the case with Wikipedia and facebook.

This time around, as it concerned the ever popular youtube than the ever popular and the much-easier-to-convince-and-not-easier-to-give-up facebook, the PTA was hoping to mold Google in succumbing to the local traditions and to sacrifice their vicious ideals of American freedom to operate in Pakistan in peace. But apparently to no effect. But that does not mean that the PTA is sitting idle.

PTA had been investing in a powerful mechanism to block hundreds of thousands of websites, particularly pornographic websites. So probably these bans mean something greater, such as the preliminary steps to a greater internet control. This means we would see more messages like the one in the image above whenever we are trying to visit a website with “indecent” content.

Because slowly but surely the ambiguous definition of “indecent” will begin to eat up just about anything that comes down as a threat on the radar of insecurities of the PTA and the nationalistic, religious and ideological ethos of the conservative Pakistani society. So, the government control of the internet and the youtube means the PTA converting it very much into the Pakistani media, which actually kills the entire point of using the internet.

But if the Pakistani government did block the youtube because of the blasphemous video, then there is no sense in lifting it because the video is still there. Isn't it? As youtube would most probably not remove the video on the basis of the principles of freedom of expression and their terms of services, whether you agree with them or not.

But if the PTA does get youtube to operate under the Pakistani laws, then you can say goodbye to possibly a lot of other content too, such as historical foreign documentaries and particularly atheistic and science youtube channels, which are in their own right “converting” the educated youth to a certain extent. At least its encouragement of critical reasoning shakes up their faith a little. It’s disturbing for the harmony of the society.

I tweeted this a couple of weeks back.

 How do I know there is still a government in Pakistan? Youtube is still blocked.

What I found interesting were a few responses to the tweet. Things like a youtube ban is not something that you cannot live without. The people in old times did not have computers and the internet and youtube, but they lived their lives happily.It's such a lame argument, if it can hardly be considered one at all. We have been so brainwashed that we can't even recognize our rights.

It is like saying that you should not claim your rights just because you have been deprived of it for centuries, like the right to education. Furthermore, centuries ago people had also been living without electricity, utilities and they had no CNG to fuel their cars with. Give up all that too and stop complaining about the government then.

Speaking of the government, a couple of days back Senator Rehman Malik, the interior Minister tweeted that he had recommended to lift the ban on youtube and had forwarded the summary to the Prime Minister. He also confirmed that the PTA would be using a “strong firewall” to block anti Islam, blasphemous and pornographic, you know “indecent”, material.

- There was a gr8 demand to unblock Utube from all sections of society esp fellow tweeps..expect the notification tday! Hope u r all happy now [tweet link]

- PTA is finalizing negotations for acquiring a powerful firewall software to totally block pornographic and blasphemous material. [tweet link]

Now, even if the youtube ban is lifted, that is bad news on just so many levels.

Because apparently the government is hellbent for greater internet control and to screw the great internet freedom that Pakistan had enjoyed in the earlier years, largely thanks to the ignorance about it in the conservative circles. Furthermore, I have observed, though I could be wrong, that the mainstream media has been growing more conservative by the day.

Rehman Malik can try all he can to give a shot at progressive actions, but given his party's resistance to liberalism (they need to get votes) and electoral alliances with obscurantist fundamentalist parties such as Sahebzada Fazal Karim's Sunni Itehad Council (a prime proponent of the youtube ban), the government will remain a guilty party.

And shortly after Malik's recommendation, the Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf ordered blocking the youtube again after a brief lift of ban as the moral police immediately discovered that the blasphemous video was still up and running. So much for taking progressive steps. Still I think we must appreciate his individual efforts.

I hardly see any improvements in the near future, as apparently the mainstream Pakistani media is moving far more towards the conservative side of the slider since the Musharraf days. Because it’s about the faith of the Momin.

However, it is really our choice whether we choose to ignore our rights as a nation or whether we continue to indulge in acts of ignorance and obscurantism, fooling ourselves by taking them as acts of religious virtue. Fortunately or unfortunately, this problem is connected with a number of others in our society and are caused by the indoctrination that most of our nation has gone through.

Only secular education with encouragement of critical reasoning can help bring about the necessary change. These would impregnate our children with the values of liberty and reason that would emancipate them from the bonds of religious obscurantism. So it is up to us, whether we want to breed sheep out of farms or raise intelligent individuals who at least know their own rights, if not make the world a better place.

But in the end, this is just for the government of Pakistan, including the politicians and the bureaucracy, to know that there are people in Pakistan who are aware of their rights. They won't break any laws. Some of them may not want to go to jail to have them and certainly not die for them, at least not me, but they know what it’s about.

Life is more precious than any principles or political correctness, when it comes down to it.

Modified version for Digital Rights Foundation of the post that appeared on the Truth Journal.

November 30, 2012 - Comments Off on 16 DAYS X 16 STORIES: TELL. LISTEN. ACT.


From 25 Nov to 10 Dec, Take Back The Tech! invites you to take one action per day to end violence against women. Each daily action explores an issue of violence against women and its interconnection with communication rights, and approaches different communication platforms - online and off - in creative and tactical ways.Take Back The Tech! End violence against women.



Banner Announcement

The act of storytelling is transformative.

When you tell a story, you are defining the experience. You are naming the actors, narrating the event, framing the values and deciding which details matter. In other words, you are constructing reality.

When you listen to a story, you are allowing your point of view to be shifted, and be immersed into another reality. When you listen actively, you are also moved through more profound understanding.

The world is made up of many, many stories. Some are more loudly told and heard than others, while some are shared in smaller circles. Often, it depends on who is telling the story and how much power they have in the context where it is heard.

If we pay attention to stories that are less easily heard, then we are contributing to changing who has power.

If we make the effort to tell stories that are not familiar, then we are actively participating in shaping what matters.

Take Back the Tech! From 25 Nov to 10 Dec, take part in the 16 days of activism and take control of technology to tell, listen and share transformative stories. Document, inspire, converse and collectively envision the end to violence against women.


We will be featuring a story every day for 16 days. Each story will present the different ways that internet and mobile technologies affect the lives of women and girls in different parts of the world.

Some are stories by women and girls who have experienced violence online or through the use of digital technologies. Some are stories that subvert ideas of technology, gender roles and harm. Some are stories that imagine a world free from violence against women – with wit, gravity, humour and imagination.

Visit the Take Back the Tech! campaign site throughout the 16 days and listen to each story. Find out more about the very real ways that internet and mobile technologies intersect with violence against women, and be inspired, moved and challenged to take action for change.

This year’s campaign is inspired by Take Back the Tech! Pakistan’s 16 days of activism campaign in 2011.


Be part of the 16 days story circle and tell your own powerful story of transformation. The stories can be about:

  • How you have personally experienced, been affected by or took action to challenge violence against women online or through mobile phones.
  • Creative collation and storytelling based on different cases that you have heard, read or come across.
  • Interviews with different women on their stories or opinions on why internet and mobile technologies are feminist issues and strategies on online safety.
  • Fictional and fantastical accounts of alternate realities that challenge how we think about internet and mobile technologies, power, gender relations and/or violence.
  • Or any other story, actually experienced, inspired or imagined.


We want to amplify and share stories that surface the different ways that violence against women, feminism and internet and mobile technologies intersect. Below are some thematic ideas to begin with:

  • Online harassment and cyberstalking
  • Trolling and online sexism
  • “Love”, violence and internet technologies
  • Privacy in a public digital space
  • Sexuality online
  • Girls and internet technologies
  • Feminism, activism and online threats and possibilities
  • Culture, gender roles and internet technologies
  • Strategies to be safe online

And other thematic areas that you think are important in relation to this issue.


Format and styles can be as diverse as Take Back the Tech! campaigners who come from different parts of the world. For example:

  • Videos (digital stories, interviews, mash-ups, recordings of live events, music video, webcam diaries, claymation etc) – most online videos are less than 3 minutes because of bandwidth and online viewing dynamics.
  • Audio clips (storytelling, drama, songs, podcasts etc)
  • Captioned photos, comic strips or collages
  • Performance theatre, comedy, scripts
  • Retellings of folklore and mythology or science fiction
  • Poetry, haiku, blog posts
  • Embroidery…wherever your creativity moves you.

They can be in first or third person, in the language you are comfortable in, or use no language at all.

Note on privacy

  • Check if your content/story reveals personal information about yourself or others that you don’t want to share.
  • This includes recognisable pictures or information about location, identity, age, occupation etc.
  • Check “Be safe” section on what you can do to address some of these issues.


You can share your story as part of this campaign in several ways:

  • Email us at: ideas AT takebackthetech DOT net
  • Create an account on the site to upload your story directly. If your story is in written form, you can publish it as a blog post on the site.
  • If your story is in different media formats - e.g. video, audio, photographs, images etc, you can find out how to upload content here.
  • Or if you have posted it in your own online spaces (blog, tumbler etc), then let us know by sending us a link on Twitter, or post it up on our campaign Facebook page.


Visit the campaign site every day throughout the 16 days to listen to the stories.

Find out more about the very real and different ways that internet and mobile technologies affect the lives of women and girls in different parts of the world, and how gender-based violence is a significant aspect of this reality.

Build your knowledge and deepen your understanding about the issue.


  • Let the storyteller know how the story moved you by leaving a comment.
  • Participate in our Twitter #16stories conversation.
  • Grow the story circle and respond with your own story. Follow the story guide above to tell your story.
  • Share resources about the issue that the story surfaces.
  • Build knowledge and share your ideas, thoughts and strategies on how to deal with situations of violence against women online.
  • Listen actively.


If you have experienced violence against women online, or know of someone who has, or have come across news reports about such incidents, document it on the Take Back the Tech! online map.

The Take Back The Tech! map on technology-related violence is in several languages including Arabic, Urdu, French, Spanish, Bosnian and others.

In addition, Take Back The Tech! campaigners in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Mexico, Pakistan and the Philippines are coordinating country-specific maps, which will be aggregated to the global Take Back the Tech! map.

The reports will be used for advocacy efforts and to inform capacity building strategies on online safety. We will be bringing your stories, experiences and concerns to the UN meeting in 2013 on women's rights that will be focusing on violence against women, to include technology-related violence against women in the discussion.


Help us build a body of knowledge and document the experiences of violence that women and girls face online and through the use of internet and mobile technologies.

Collectively, we can make the invisible visible and demand for recognition and change.

Stories can change the world. Take control of technology and share your story!


From Take Back the Tech!

November 22, 2012 - Comments Off on Azerbaijan after the Internet Governance Forum, and before Elections

Azerbaijan after the Internet Governance Forum, and before Elections

At least eight journalists and three human rights defenders are serving their terms in the prisons of Azerbaijan, according to a recent Human Rights Watch briefing. That should tell you a lot about the country’s crucially limited freedom of expression.

This year Azerbaijan hosted the annual UN–sponsored Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which brings together governments, civil society, and others to discuss public policy issues related to the internet. The theme for 2012 was the role of internet governance in promoting development.

As a panelist in a couple of sessions during the event, I had a great opportunity to engage with the audience and with highly active human rights defenders. My panel, “Freedom of Expression Online: Key Challenges and Best Practices,” assembled stakeholders from academia, civil society, and governments to discern the most serious obstacles to freedom of expression (FoE) globally, and also to review the best practices that have emerged from legislative and activist engagement over the past year—and as outlined in Freedom House’s Freedom on the Net report.

Bloggers, activists, civil society, businesses, governments, and policymakers from around the globe were invited to the forum, creating conditions for exuberant discussion. But the most striking feature of this event was the host country’s severe hostility to freedom of expression on the internet. Azerbaijan is a signatory to many international human rights treaties, but instead of respecting and protecting those rights, the government uses the laws to silence and repress dissent. This hypocrisy came into stark relief when President Ilham Aliyev chose to visit the Bakutel Telecommunication Exhibition—which was being held at the same venue—and be photographed with glossy satellites and machines, totally ignoring the IGF event and sending a clear anti-FoE message.

The country’s political powers were quite blunt even during this high-level event: EU officers’ machines were hacked inside their hotel rooms after European Commission vice president Neelie Kroes adopted a tough stance against the Azerbaijani government’s FoE policies. In addition, speeches were disturbed by audio and other logistical problems, and we often felt as though these were not so much managerial issues as an effort to intimidate the attendees and distract their thoughts from more critical matters. One of the most disturbing violations of free speech occurred when UN officials warned local groups and Freedom House against distributing reportsabout the freedom of expression situation in Azerbaijan both on and offline, because they constituted an “attack” on the host government.

A local nongovernmental organization called the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) produced an in-depth report highlighting its concerns for freedom of expression and violations of that right in Azerbaijan. One of the most significant violations has been violent attacks against journalists and media workers, and impunity for the attackers. In 2005, Elmar Huseynov, a symbol of courage for investigative journalists in Azerbaijan, was gunned down after receiving a number of death threats. In 2008, journalist Agil Khalil was assaulted multiple times after he attempted to report on alleged land-grabbing schemes in Baku. He was then permitted to leave Azerbaijan for his own safety, and instead of investigating his attackers, authorities pinned the crime on a man claiming to be Khalil’s homosexual lover. In 2011, journalist Ramin Deko was abducted and questioned about his online activities and his criticism of the president. After he disclosed this to the media, he was attacked again and severely beaten “as a reprisal.”

There have been more than 200 attacks on journalists since Huseynov’s murder, and the authorities never could figure out who was responsible, though they did not try very hard.

    A protester is arrested by local police in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Photo Credit | Mehman Huseynov

Another critical issue is the way the Azerbaijani government curtails freedom of expression through different restrictive laws. Defamation is a criminal offense and is used to constrain independent and opposition papers. Lawsuits are frequently filed against highly critical newspapers like AzadliqYeni Musavat, and Khural by members of parliament and government officials, and the cases have dire consequences for the outlets’ finances. Charges of hooliganism, drug possession, inciting hatred, and supporting terrorism are also used against outspoken journalists and activists to make them examples for others.

This year, Azerbaijan hosted two major international events: the Eurovision song contest and the seventh annual IGF. In the wake of international access to the country, authorities have already started detaining and persecuting critical individuals. Nine journalists, including Nijat Aliyev (editor-in-chief of and Faramaz Novruzoglu (a freelance journalist who was accused of mass disorder after he used social media to criticize the government and call for protests), are currently in detention or in prison.

Khadija Ismayilova, a journalist with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty who actively participated in the IGF, was targeted with a sex video of her that was filmed secretly and posted on the internet. She is a very well-known and outspoken journalist who has in the past exposed official corruption.

With the increase in internet use globally and locally, technological advancement has made it easier for people to voice their opinions in cyberspace, and that is where the government has also started taking measures—such as content blocking and data filtering—to restrict access to information.

This becomes even more serious when authorities target individuals who voice critical opinions on the internet. Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade served 17 months in prison on charges of hooliganism after they posted a satirical video on YouTube that criticized the government for importing donkeys from Germany. I interviewed Emin during the IGF. He rejected the president’s mantra that the internet is free in Azerbaijan. He said that, yes, we can go on the internet and use whatever we want; yes, we are free up to that point. But when we criticize the president or the government, our freedom ends there.

At present, five bloggers and activists remain in detention in connection with the expression of opinions online. As the presidential election is only a year away, opposition, antigovernment, and other critical online spaces are being censored and blocked. Statements by top government officials also suggest that new legal mechanisms for internet control might be forthcoming, which is worrisome given the fact that the print and broadcast media have already been hit hard by this autocratic government.

As we move on from discussing what happened at the IGF, we shouldn’t leave the dissidents of the host country alone in these dreadfully autocratic conditions. International media, communities, and organizations should force the government to comply with international human rights treaties and respect the basic rights of its own citizens.


Originally published at Freedom House

November 15, 2012 - Comments Off on Seeking a More Free Internet through Multi-­Stakeholder Dialogue

Seeking a More Free Internet through Multi-­Stakeholder Dialogue

Download a copy of the joint statement

Joint Statement of Civil Society Delegates to the 2012 Internet Governance Forum

We, the undersigned representatives of civil society who attended and participated in the 2012 Internet Governance Forum (IGF) on 6-9 November 2012 in Baku, Azerbaijan, make this statement upon the conclusion of the meeting to highlight the opinions we expressed and concerns we raised throughout the Forum. We engaged in this meeting with the objective of advocating for internet freedoms, including the rights to freedom of expression and opinion, and the rights to seek, receive, and impart information, as protected by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Our participation at the IGF was enabled by the unique multi-stakeholder model of the IGF, which gives civil society an equal voice alongside the government, business, and the technical communities. We believe this model creates more robust dialogue and more meaningful debate on the many issues involved in internet governance, including internet freedom, and we strongly support the continuation of the IGF and reject any proposals that would exclude civil society from its currently active role in determining the future of the internet.

In recent months and years, documents such as Freedom on the Net, published by Freedom House, and the 2011 report on internet freedom published by Frank LaRue, United Nations Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, have documented growing threats to internet freedom around the world.  In 2012, UN Human Rights Council Resolution L13 affirmed that all human rights should apply online just as they apply offline, and other internet freedoms were asserted in the 2011 Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression and the Internet, signed by representatives of the Organization for American States (OAS), the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

We also note that next month, in Dubai, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will hold a major meeting that could fundamentally alter the structure and global reach of the internet. At the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), which is open only to member states, their delegations, and some corporations able to pay for access, governments have put forward proposals that could expand the authority of the ITU over the internet in ways that would threaten internet openness and innovation, increase the costs of access and connection, and erode human rights.

Motivated by these concerns, we make the following recommendations to the Internet Governance Forum and the stakeholders represented in Baku this year:

To Governments

  • We call upon all governments to work toward universal access to the internet, regardless of barriers related to ethnicity, religion, race, gender, disability, sexual orientation or language.
  • We call upon governments not to block websites in any but the most limited and exceptional cases, and only when provided by a just law, pursuant to the purposes laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and implemented according to due process by an independent judicial body in the least restrictive way required to achieve the purported aim. Further, we call upon governments to respect the right of their citizens to appeal in a just court of law the blocking or censorship of websites.
  • We implore governments never hold intermediaries liable for content they host or transmit.
  • We urge governments not to systematically collect private data on citizens, and to ensure that any surveillance conducted to pursue criminal elements should be limited, exceptional, and subject to the approval of an independent judiciary.
  • We call upon all states to investigate and work to prevent physical and online attacks against citizens who express their opinions online, and to hold the responsible parties to account.
  • We urge all states to ensure that individuals can speak anonymously on the internet.
  • We implore all governments to control the export of technologies that could be used to monitor or surveil, and to restrict the export of those technologies to regimes that have failed to demonstrate a commitment to upholding human rights.
  • We strongly urge all governments to cease campaigns designed to deliberately misinform citizens or discredit and dilute independent voices.
  • We encourage all governments to include civil society in their delegations to the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in December, 2012.

To Internet Companies

  • We urge ICT companies to join the Global Network Initiative, and abide by its code of conduct.
  • We call upon internet intermediaries not to limit rights to free expression and access to information except after legitimate judicial intervention, and to publicize all government requests to remove content or block services.   We urge all ICT companies with access to the personal information of users to fully respect the privacy of those individuals, retaining as little of that information as possible and preventing the exposure of that data to third parties.

To International & Multilateral Bodies

  • We call upon international and multi-lateral institutions to adopt internet freedom as a core value, and to speak out publicly against violations of human rights online.

To the International Telecommunications Union & Member States

  • We call upon all those represented at WCIT in December, 2012 to reject any proposals that might expand ITU authority in ways that would threaten the continued growth and global nature of the internet or restrict the exercise of human rights online.


  • Freedom House
  • 'Gbenga Sesan, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria
  • Thai Netizen Network
  • Kamal Sedra, DISC Development
  • Mahmood Enayat, Small Media
  • Asociacion por los Derechos Civiles, Argentina
  • Digital Rights Foundation, Pakistan
  • Alaksiej Carniajeu, Belarus IT Aid
  • Siarhei Mackievic, Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs of Belarus
  • Anas Helali, Syrian IT specialist
  • Arzu Geybullayeva, Azerbaijani blogger
  • Myanmar ICT for Development Organization
  • i freedom Uganda
  • Community Empowerment for Progress Organization - CEPO, South Sudan
  • Egyptian Democratic Academy
  • Common Europe Foundation
  • Dr. Katy Pearce, Assistant Professor of Communication, University of Washington

November 11, 2012 - Comments Off on A Short Interview with Emin Milli, an Azeri Blogger & Activist

A Short Interview with Emin Milli, an Azeri Blogger & Activist

Emin Milli, an Azerbaijani blogger and youth activist, spoke to Nighat Dad at 7th Internet Governance Forum in Baku. Emin Milli and his fellow activist were arrested in 2009 over a video which mocked government’s reported decision to import donkeys at ridiculous prices

Emin also wrote an open letter to President of Azerbaijan ahead of IGF while citing that the internet is not free in Azerbaijan.

“People in Azerbaijan live in fear. We fear for our lives, we fear for our jobs, we fear for the lives and jobs of our fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, we fear for our friends. We fear every time when someone close to us dares to disagree with you. We also pay a high price when we dare not to fear”

Here is the link to the video:

November 7, 2012 - Comments Off on DRF Signs Civil Society Unity Statement on WCIT

DRF Signs Civil Society Unity Statement on WCIT

The world's leaders are going to meet and update a key treaty of a UN agency called International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Some proposals from different governments intend to extend the ITU authority on Internet governance in a way that could threaten freedom and online openness, along with a threat to privacy and human rights online.
Digital Rights Foundation, being the part of international coalition for Internet freedom, signs the Civil Society Unity statement to oppose such proposals on WCIT:
Internet governance decisions should be made in a transparent manner with genuine multistakeholder participation from civil society, governments, and the private sector. We call on the ITU and its member states to embrace transparency and reject any proposals that might expand ITU authority to areas of Internet governance that threaten the exercise of human rights online.