HRC38 event: Content regulation in a digital age

HRC38 event: Content regulation in a digital age - Digital

Htike Htiek (right) one of the 'Me N Ma Girls', Myanmar's first girl band, updates the band's Facebook page while talking on her mobile phone. The other band members relax as they wait to begin a video shoot. The band's members were recruited by Australian dancer Nicole May. They sing and dance in the manner of many Western pop acts but in socially conservative Myanmar, they represent a radical break from the norm.

How secure is free expression in private hands?

Parallel Event to the 38th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

When: 21 June 2018, 10:00 – 11:30

Where: Room XXIV, Palais des Nations, United Nations at Geneva

The influence that private companies, in particular social media platforms and search engines, have over the global information landscape, and indeed our lives, is huge. The decisions that these companies make, both in the design and operation of their platforms, shapes how we all see the world and connect to each other, as well as to our governments. Governments are increasingly alert to this, and in turn seek to influence, and often coerce, how companies prioritise and moderate expression online.

It is therefore timely that the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, focuses his annual report to the 38th Session of the UN Human Rights Council on “content regulation in the digital age”, recognising the “profound” human rights challenges that government and private actor controls over online expression present.

The Human Rights Council has affirmed by consensus many times that “the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online.” However, HRC resolutions have largely neglected to address how undue State pressure on private companies may violate human rights, nor have they given due consideration to the responsibilities of technology companies to respect freedom of expression and privacy online.

On the occasion of the Human Rights Council’s 38th Session, join us to consider:

  • What responsibilities do private companies have to respect human rights online, and can they do this better?
  • How can governments address legitimate public policy concerns relating to online content, such as national security or protecting individuals from violence, while upholding international human rights law?
  • What can governments and private companies do to ensure the right to freedom of expression can be enjoyed by all people equally, in particular for marginalised groups as well as those defending rights and expressing dissent?


Opening H.E. Daniel Blockert, Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN in Geneva
Panellists David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression

Damir Gainutdinov, Lawyer, Agora International Human Rights Group (representing Telegram in Russia website blocking case)

Paulina Gutiérrez, legal officer, ARTICLE 19 Mexico

Peggy Hicks, Director of Thematic Engagement, Special Procedures and Right to Development Division OHCHR

Moderator Thomas Hughes, Executive Director, ARTICLE 19