Parallel to unprecedented diffusion of online media and digital communication worldwide, there is a worrying trend that websites of news media, human rights organizations, critical bloggers, and other individuals or organizations that disseminate information have increasingly become targets of illegitimate surveillance, hacking and attacks from various sources ranging from states to third parties. More extremely, some bloggers and online media actors are being killed for their online journalism.
Understanding threats to journalistic freedom and safety online requires us to revisit who counts as a journalist in digital era. The UN Human Rights Committee in its general comment No. 34 has put the emphasis on an important aspect: the distinctive communications activity itself – rather than the occupational status of the actor. This is by defining journalism as “a function shared by a wide range of actors, including professional full-time reporters and analysts, as well as bloggers and others who engage in forms of self-publication in print, on the Internet or elsewhere.” In this concept note, “journalists” is used as a broad term that includes all online media actors who do journalism.
UNESCO, Article 19 and CELE- UP (Center for Studies on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information,Universidad de Palermo) propose this workshop to address challenges linked to guaranteeing the rights and safety of journalists, bloggers, citizen journalists and others using digital media to produce news. To that end, Article 19 will share its recent policy recommendations on “The right to blog” as an introduction to more targeted interventions on the safety of journalists and online defamation. UNESCO will present its preliminary outcome from a global case studies and exchange key guidelines, good practices and policy recommendations to protect of the online safety of journalists and media actors. CELE-UP will focus on the case of online defamation since it poses particular dilemmas for governments, the private sector, as well as civil society with a variety issues to address such as jurisdiction, intermediary liability and filtering content.