How Public Interest Technologists Power Human Rights in the Global South
Stories from Mozilla and Ford’s Tech & Society Fellowship
In an increasingly connected world, human rights are inseparably intertwined with technology. Individuals and organizations working for social justice must mitigate technology’s grave harms, but also harness technology to strengthen their work.
It’s a thorny paradox. For example, human rights workers face surveillance, harassment, censorship, and disinformation that undermines their work and threatens their lives. Governments and corporations abuse digital technology to surveil human rights defenders in Mexico, political dissidents in Argentina, and environmental activists in Brazil. And disinformation campaigns waged across digital platforms have undermined democratic processes in Colombia, Kenya and the United States.
Yet technology can also be a powerful shield and tool for human rights workers. For example, Brazil’s Internet Lab in 2018 helped advance protections that criminalize the non-consensual recording and distribution of intimate images, a form of online violence that disproportionately harms women. Technology played a vital role in this victory, from online organizing to an online tool that helps victims understand the resources and remedies available to them.
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