In today’s technological era, the internet has become a key platform for information sharing, civic mobilization, and promoting human rights. Yet across the globe, governments are restricting internet freedom and freedom of expression online using a variety of methods, including national security regulations, vague language in internet laws, broad investigatory powers, excessive bail, harsh sentences, defamation and libel claims, content restriction and surveillance. In response, ABA ROLI is partnering with local civil society organizations (CSOs) and experts in 18 countries (11 in Europe and Eurasia and seven in Asia) to build the capacity of lawyers and CSOs to foster freedom of expression, association and flow of information on the internet.
With support from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, ABA ROLI has two programs to advance legal protections and frameworks to protect internet freedom in Asia and Eastern Europe and Eurasia.
Enhancing legal capacity
In South and Southeast Asia, ABA ROLI works with local and regional partners to enhance legal capacity based on established international legal principles on freedom of expression online. In addition, ABA ROLI is helping to establish a sustainable network of internet freedom lawyers who can support one another by sharing information and strategy, and learn from the experiences of other lawyers in the region.
In Europe and Eurasia, ABA ROLI will work with local partners to develop and share educational materials for lawmakers on internet freedom principles under international law and draft template legislation to promote internet freedom. ABA ROLI will also conduct internet freedom workshops for national lawmakers, a broad range of government officials, media, private sector, CSOs and online civic activists.
Strengthening civil society
In South and Southeast Asia, ABA ROLI works with CSOs and lawyers to facilitate collaboration and improve their collective ability to effectively advocate for internet freedom. ABA ROLI is providing small grants to local and regional CSOs to support internet freedom advocacy programs.
In Europe and Eurasia, ABA ROLI is building a regional network of dedicated lawyers and CSOs to promote greater internet freedom through advocacy and strategic litigation. ABA ROLI is also developing country reports that will serve as launching points for the network to dive deeper into the challenges of internet freedom, and organizing two five-day-long regional summits to address internet freedom issues affecting target countries.
Internet freedom training curriculum
Civil society advocates have raised the need for more lawyers with greater technical expertise to challenge restrictions, advocate for stronger legal protections and defend internet freedom fighters from prosecution. In response to this need, ABA ROLI is supporting a series of internet freedom trainings based on a specialized curriculum developed by ABA ROLI and The George Washington University Law School.
The curriculum focuses on three key areas — freedom of expression on the internet; right to privacy in the digital age; and strategic litigation and advocacy in defense of internet freedom.
This innovative curriculum is available for the benefit of lawyers, law students, academics, internet freedom advocates, human rights defenders and the public.
Download the training modules below: