Covid pandemic spurs crisis – and opportunities?


In their fight against the coronavirus, some governments are introducing digital surveillance and data collection tools that could pose a lasting threat to citizens’ rights, according to a new report by Freedom House, CNN reports:

The Freedom on the Net 2020 report, an assessment of 65 countries released Wednesday, found that the pandemic has accelerated a decline in free speech and privacy on the internet for the tenth consecutive year, and accused some governments of using the virus as a pretext to crack down on critical speech….Amid the pandemic, internet connectivity has become a lifeline to essential information and services — from education platforms, to health care portals, employment opportunities and social interactions. But state and nonstate actors are also exploiting the crisis to erode freedoms online.

“The pandemic is accelerating society’s reliance on digital technologies at a time when the internet is becoming less and less free,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House. “Without adequate safeguards for privacy and the rule of law, these technologies can be easily repurposed for political repression.”

The COVID-19 pandemic is an international public health crisis that nevertheless demonstrates how important democratic and evidence-based law-making, due process, consensus-seeking with political opponents, credible and free flows of information, an open engagement between government and society are both in general, but particularly in times of a global crisis, notes International IDEA.

A forthcoming panel will review the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on democratic institutions, and on fundamental rights and freedoms. The discussion will draw from the findings and recommendations from International IDEA’s recently launched Global Monitor of COVID-19’s Impact on Democracy and Human Rights and OSCE/ODIHR’s report on OSCE Human Dimension Commitments and State Responses to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Democracy, human rights and the pandemic: impact and opportunities.

21 October 2020. 10:00 – 11:30 (CET/ GMT+2 time zone)

The featured speakers, Dr Kevin Casas-Zamora, Secretary-General of International IDEA (right) and Katarzyna Gardapkhadze, First Deputy Director/Director’s Alternate OSCE/ODIHR, will identify key trends and solutions available to intergovernmental bodies to promote more effective and ultimately more democratic responses to the pandemic. REGISTER HERE.

The global pandemic has spurred a crisis for independent media and #pressfreedom – so what next? Join the National Endowment for Democracy’s Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) & @JSchool_CU for a virtual conference Oct 22-23rd to learn about the intersection of #COVID19, #Journalism, and #mediadev. Register here


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