Digital authoritarianism – when governments assert their power and control information using digital tools and the internet – disrupts journalism and can put journalists themselves, as well as human rights defenders, at risk .
Used to influence citizens, digital authoritarianism can undermine elections, prolong wars and sow fear. The pandemic has also encouraged many autocratic governments to repress and disorient citizens.
In response, DW Akademie, Global Voices andSection 19 discuss viable solutions to enhance transparency and protection. From 2 to 5 May 2022, UNESCO, in collaboration with the Government of Uruguay, will host the annual World Conference for the celebration of World Press Freedom Day (WPFD), with live and virtual participation , and a focus on “Journalism Under Digital Siege”.
May 3 round table: Monitoring the absence of freedom, taking action
As part of the World Conference on Freedom of the Press, DW Akademie will moderate the roundtable “Monitor the absence of freedom, take action – How human rights activists and journalists are responding to the different faces of digital authoritarianism” on May 3, 11:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. (CET) | 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. (UYT).
Award-winning researcher and writer Nanjala Nyabola will present the concept of digital authoritarianism and its most recent developments around the world and present the new joint research project of DW Akademie and Global Voices “Unfreedom Monitor”. This is an unprecedented survey of digital authoritarianism in ten countries, including Brazil, Russia and eastern Ukraine, among others.
“We see surveillance practices have become normalized in some places,” said Nyabola, who runs Advox, Global Voices’ digital rights program. “We are in a vulnerable moment.”
Moderator Carsten von Nahmen, Managing Director of the DW Akademie, will lead a discussion that will illustrate the different faces of digital repression. Additionally, panel discussions will explore how digital authoritarianism disrupts journalistic work and how media professionals can recognize it and stay safe while serving the public good. Speakers will also highlight how media professionals can navigate a country beleaguered by digital authoritarianism, how to identify it, and how to mitigate its impact on their work.
Nanjala Nyabola, Rhodes Scholar and 2017 Foreign Policy Interrupted Fellow, has written numerous analyzes and commentaries for publications around the world and is the author of “Digital Democracy, Analogue Politics: How the Internet Era is Transforming Politics in Kenya”.
Joining Nyabola will be Vladimir Cortés Roshdestvensky, digital rights program manager for Article 19, Mexico and Central America, and Laís Martins, a Brazilian journalist.
Lais Martins is a Brazilian journalist and Pulitzer Center Fellow Persephone Miel who has reported for Reuters and is now a freelancer for Brazilian media and international news outlets. Her work focuses on the intersection between human rights, politics, society and technology, and she has a particular interest in technology policy and the study of the behavior of extremist groups online.
Vladimir Cortes Roshdestvensky is a human rights activist whose work has focused on internet governance; surveillance technologies and strategic litigation for the defense of freedom of expression on the Internet; moderation of social media content; disinformation; and Mexico’s digital divide.
Annie ZamanWork over the past 15 years has explored freedom of expression, as well as the safety and security of journalists and aid workers. She has led teams and newsrooms in crisis situations in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Myanmar. She has worked on two continents, five countries and in three languages. Zaman is a community representative on the board of Global Voices. In 2021, after the coup in Myanmar, she co-founded The Exile Hub to support Burmese media and critical voices in exile.
How to participate
To find out more about the World Press Freedom Day conference and to register, go here: unesco.org/commemorations/worldpressfreedomday/2022