Protecting online civic space
The Asociación por los Derechos Civiles (Association for Civil Rights – ADC) has the mission to advocate for fundamental rights by contributing to the design of public policies within the state as well as the private sector. Government responses must promote a broad and robust civic space on the Internet. This duty implies ensuring users’ freedom of expression, guaranteeing favorable conditions for the creation of online groups (freedom of association), and allowing the exercise of the right to protest on platforms (freedom of assembly).
Similarly, private companies must also commit to this purpose. Large platforms have extensive power to determine the conditions under which speech can circulate over the web. The influence of these companies is even greater than that of many countries and therefore, their action can seriously hinder the dissemination of ideas and opinions. Thus, the private sector is also accountable for the protection of human rights.
The health crisis caused by Covid-19 and the deepening of political polarization around the world – with the United States as a leading example – has drawn public attention to the role of states and private platforms in addressing phenomena such as disinformation and hate speech. Actions taken by governments and companies should be subject to the closest public scrutiny, as they will influence the way debates will be handled in the future.
The recommendations that will be provided here aim to contribute to an outcome that strengthens the rule of law, the prevalence of democratic culture, and the enjoyment of an inclusive online civic space.