Internet Shutdowns Deny Access to Basic Rights in “Digital India”
The 82-page report “‘No Internet Means No Work, No Pay, No Food’: Internet Shutdowns Deny Access to Basic Rights in ‘Digital India,’” finds that internet shutdowns impair essential activities and adversely affect economic, social and cultural rights under Indian and international human rights law. Indian authorities, in the name of maintaining public order, have ignored Supreme Court orders setting out procedural safeguards to ensure that internet suspensions are lawful, necessary, proportionate, and limited in scope and territory. Decisions by central and state government authorities to disrupt internet access are often erratic and unlawful, and are used for restricting protests and preventing cheating in examinations.
How The World Bank’s Push to Allocate Cash Assistance Using Algorithms Threatens Rights
The 74-page report, “‘Automated Neglect’: How The World Bank’s Push to Allocate Cash Assistance Using Algorithms Threatens Rights,” details how an automated cash transfer program in Jordan known as Takaful (a word similar to solidarity in Arabic) profiles and ranks the income and well-being of Jordanian families to determine who should receive support – an approach known as poverty targeting. This system, which the World Bank has funded in Jordan and seven other countries in the Middle East and North Africa, is depriving many people of their right to social security even as they go hungry, fall behind on rent, and take on crippling debt.
Digital Targeting and Its Offline Consequences for LGBT People in the Middle East and North Africa
The 135-page report, “‘All This Terror Because of a Photo’: Digital Targeting and Its Offline Consequences for LGBT People in the Middle East and North Africa,” examines the use of digital targeting by security forces and its far-reaching offline consequences – including arbitrary detention and torture – in five countries: Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Tunisia. The findings show how security forces employ digital targeting to gather and create evidence to support prosecutions.
A new multimedia report details the impact of criminal groups involved in illegal land grabbing and logging inside Terra Nossa, a land-reform settlement intended for small-scale agriculture and sustainable collection of forest products in the state of Pará. The situation there shows the link between environmental destruction, violence, and poverty in many rural communities that depend on the sustainable use of the forest across the Amazon.
The Exploitation of Personal Data in Hungary’s 2022 Elections
The 85-page report, “Trapped in a Web: The Exploitation of Personal Data in Hungary’s 2022 Elections,” examines data-driven campaigning in Hungary’s April 3, 2022, elections, which resulted in a fourth consecutive term for Fidesz and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Human Rights Watch found that the government repurposed data it collected from people applying for services to spread Fidesz’s campaign messages. The blurred lines between government and ruling party resources, including data, and the capture of key institutions by the government led to selective enforcement of laws that further benefited Fidesz.
Children’s Rights Violations by Governments that Endorsed Online Learning During the Covid-19 Pandemic
The 99-page report, “’How Dare They Peep into My Private Life?’: Children’s Rights Violations by Governments that Endorsed Online Learning during the Covid-19 Pandemic,” is grounded in technical and policy analysis conducted by Human Rights Watch on 165 education technology (EdTech) products endorsed by 49 countries. It includes an examination of 294 companies found to have collected, processed, or received children’s data since March 2021, and calls on governments to adopt modern child data protection laws to protect children online.
The 96-page report, “‘My Life is Not Your Porn’: Digital Sex Crimes in South Korea” found that despite legal reforms in South Korea, women and girls targeted in digital sex crimes – acts of online and tech-enabled gender-based violence – face significant difficulty in pursuing criminal cases and civil remedies, in part due to entrenched gender inequity. Digital sex crimes are crimes involving digital images – almost always of women and girls – that are captured without the victim’s consent, shared nonconsensually, or sometimes manipulated or faked.
How the Tech-Driven Overhaul of the UK’s Social Security System Worsens Poverty
The 68-page report, “Automated Hardship: How the Tech-Driven Overhaul of the UK’s Benefits System Worsens Poverty,” details how a poorly designed algorithm is causing people to go hungry, fall into debt and experience psychological distress. Human Rights Watch has also found that the government is failing to address the socio-economic inequalities which prevent people from being able to apply for and manage their benefit online.
Social Media Platforms Remove Evidence of War Crimes
The 42-page report, “‘Video Unavailable’: Social Media Platforms Remove Evidence of War Crimes,” urges all stakeholders, including social media platforms, to come together to develop an independent mechanism to preserve potential evidence of serious crimes. They should ensure that the content is available to support national and international investigations, as well as research by nongovernmental organizations, journalists, and academics. Rights groups have been urging social media companies since 2017 to improve transparency and accountability around content takedowns
Country Positions on Banning Fully Autonomous Weapons and Retaining Human Control
The 55-page report, “Stopping Killer Robots: Country Positions on Banning Fully Autonomous Weapons and Retaining Human Control,” reviews the policies of the 97 countries that have publicly elaborated their views on killer robots since 2013. The vast majority regard human control and decision-making as critical to the acceptability and legality of weapons systems. Most of these countries have expressed their desire for a new treaty to retain human control over the use of force, including 30 that explicitly seek to ban fully autonomous weapons.
China’s Campaign of Repression Against Xinjiang’s Muslims
This report presents new evidence of the Chinese government’s mass arbitrary detention, torture, and mistreatment, and the increasingly pervasive controls on daily life. Throughout the region, the Turkic Muslim population of 13 million is subjected to forced political indoctrination, collective punishment, restrictions on movement and communications, heightened religious restrictions, and mass surveillance in violation of international human rights law.
This report details dozens of arbitrary arrests since the Information and Communication Technology Act 2006 was amended in 2013 to incorporate harsher penalties and allowing the police to make arrests without warrant. As of April 2018, the police had submitted 1,271 charge sheets to the Cyber Tribunal in Dhaka, claiming sufficient evidence to prosecute under section 57 of the ICT Act.
This report documents Russian authorities’ stepped-up measures aimed at bringing the internet under greater state control. Since 2012, Russian authorities have unjustifiably prosecuted dozens of people for criminal offenses on the basis of social media posts, online videos, media articles, and interviews, and shut down or blocked access to hundreds of websites and web pages. Russian authorities have also pushed through parliament a raft of repressive laws regulating internet content and infrastructure. These laws provide the Russian government with a broad range of tools to restrict access to information, carry out unchecked surveillance, and censor information the government designates as “extremist,” out of line with “traditional values,” or otherwise harmful to the public.
The Government’s Deepening Assault on Critical Journalism
This report documents five important components of the crackdown on independent domestic media in Turkey, including the use of the criminal justice system to prosecute and jail journalists on bogus charges of terrorism, insulting public officials, or crimes against the state. Human Rights Watch also documented threats and physical attacks on journalists and media organizations; government interference with editorial independence and pressure on media organizations to fire critical journalists; the government’s takeover or closure of private media companies; and restrictions on access to the airwaves, fines, and closure of critical television stations.
This report describes how the government of President Yahya Jammeh, who came to power in a 1994 coup, has used a crackdown on the opposition, domination of state media, and state resources for campaigning to ensure a political advantage in the election. Authorities have threatened, arbitrarily arrested, jailed, and tortured members of opposition political parties. Since April, more than 90 opposition activists have been arrested for participating in peaceful protests, with 30 sentenced to three-year prison terms. Two opposition activists have died in custody.