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Internet Freedom (Past Program)

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 partnered 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 had 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 worked with local and regional partners to enhance legal capacity based on established international legal principles on freedom of expression online. In addition, ABA ROLI helped 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 worked 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 also conducted 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 worked with CSOs and lawyers to facilitate collaboration and improve their collective ability to effectively advocate for internet freedom. ABA ROLI provided small grants to local and regional CSOs to support internet freedom advocacy programs.

In Europe and Eurasia, ABA ROLI built a regional network of dedicated lawyers and CSOs to promote greater internet freedom through advocacy and strategic litigation. ABA ROLI also developed 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.  

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 supported a series of internet freedom trainings based on a specialized curriculum developed by ABA ROLI and The George Washington University Law School.

The curriculum focused 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 was available for the benefit of lawyers, law students, academics, internet freedom advocates, human rights defenders and the public.

Download the training modules below:

Module 1:  Freedom of Expression & the Internet
This module provides users with information on international legal standards and norms related to freedom of expression on the internet, the right to information online and access to the internet.  This module is broken up into four parts:
Module 2:  Privacy Rights in the Internet Age
The objective of this module is to teach users international legal norms related to the right to privacy and how to apply those standards to modern issues that affect users’ privacy rights, such as internet communications surveillance, the right to be forgotten and cybersecurity. This module is broken up into four parts:


To learn more about our work, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at [email protected].