Despite the worldwide description of cyberspace as “a free and open Internet,” the global record of human rights online has not been commendable. Recent years have brought to light the mass surveillance practices of many governments. Other government interventions block Internet access for citizens. Censorship practices have become efficient and effective. Harassment of female bloggers has remained a constant problem. Cyber security is now a precursor for basic human rights when an outage or a hack of a car or an industrial control system creates human security and safety issues. Another complexity is that digital infrastructures, systems and institutions mediating human rights cross borders in ways that create jurisdictional complexity and contradictions.
The mediation of these human rights is distributed over many stakeholders, including traditional governments, new global institutions of Internet governance that design and administer technical infrastructure and, in particular, the private sector actors that own and operate the networks and platforms over which information flows. Many of these controlling stakeholders face inherent conflicts.
Acknowledging the challenges of human rights online is a necessary precursor to solving problems. This research volume has assembled scholars, advocates and policy makers to elucidate and address intersections between Internet governance and human rights.