Civic Space, Surveillance, and COVID-19

The Role of Civil Society in Preserving and Enhancing Privacy

On July 28, 2021, ICNL hosted an online discussion for civil society organization (CSO) representatives from around the world to explore the scope of surveillance overreach and share best practices on advancing the right to privacy during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Through expert presentations and an interactive discussion in five languages, CSO representatives from 43 countries:

Considered the impact of surveillance on Civic Space and privacy rights during the pandemic, specifically how governments in many countries have used
public health measures to aggressively expand governmental power and implement surveillance techniques that violate the right to privacy, including the misuse of contact tracing applications, facial recognition technology, drone surveillance, and data collection.

Exchanged strategies and lessons learned for CSOS to advocate for effective public health measures that align with international human rights law, including coalition building, public awareness campaigns, private sector engagement, advocacy at the United Nations, and more.

Remarks were delivered by Zach Lampell, ICNL Senior Legal Advisor and head of ICNL’s digital programming; Apar Gupta, Executive Director of the Internet Freedom Foundation; and Mohamad Najem, Executive Director of Social Media Exchange (SMEX). ICNL facilitated a question-and-answer session for participants who speak Arabic, Russian, Spanish, French, and English to further explore the interaction of civic space, surveillance, and COVID-19 in their countries. To read the full report from the event, click here.