Jan 2018 16 – 17

Expert Meeting on Due Diligence to End Online VaW: The State, Internet Intermediaries and Engendering Digital Access

Washington DC, USA

This expert meeting is co-convened by the Due Diligence Project and the Association for Progressive Communications, and is attended by the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Its Causes and Consequences, Dr. Dubravka Šimonović. Dr. Anja Kovacs is one of the experts attending the meeting and will be presenting on privacy, surveillance and online abuse of women at the meeting.

Freedom of expression and access to information are fundamental rights and key enablers to a range of human rights. Yet, the transformative potential of the internet is (increasingly) under threat by high levels of online violence against women and girls (VaW). Since 2015 the Due Diligence Project (DDP) and the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) have collaborated on intensive research into online VaW, its impact on women and accountability of the State and internet intermediaries. The research culminated in an innovative draft Framework on State and internet intermediaries accountability to eliminate online VaW.

The expert meeting is being convened to further this initiative through the participation and input from a wide spectrum of experts and stakeholders. The discussions will also go toward providing ideas, thoughts and input for the UN Special Rapporteur on VaW, its Causes and Consequences, Ms Dubravka Šimonović’s consideration in her upcoming 2018 thematic report on online violence.

The objectives of the meeting are as follows:

• Critically examine existing law, programmes and policies on identifying, preventing and responding to online violence;

• Identify essential elements for shaping policy that could effectively address and eliminate online violence through engagement with international experts on discrimination against women, VaW and FoE, academics, civil society and industry actors;

• Analyse problems, issues and existing measures and policies undertaken by industry actors to prevent online violence and protect victims/​survivors as well as available and existing sanctions and penalties against perpetrators;

• Brainstorm and strategize on effective frameworks, laws, policies and measures to prevent and address online violence as well as sanctions/​penalties and punishments;

• Discuss the applicability of the due diligence principle and the Due Diligence Framework for State Accountability in the context of online violence and for this purpose, use the research paper prepared by DDP in collaboration with APC as a starting point for discussion;

• Support the UN Special Rapporteur on VaW, its causes and consequences in her upcoming thematic report (2018) on online violence;

• Support global efforts aimed at preventing and countering violence against women and girls online violence and specifically, build a momentum behind a HRC VaW Online Resolution in 2018; and

• Build collaborative partnerships amongst CSOs, the State and industry actors to address and eliminate online VaW.

Participants will include representatives from civil society organisations, academics and international experts and industry, specifically:

• Civil society experts on women’s human rights, VaW and FoE;

UN and other inter-governmental body experts on discrimination and VaW and FoE;

• Academics working on VaW, technology-based violence and FoE; and

• Industry actors including representatives from Internet intermediaries.