On 12 February 2022, Contra Nocendi International’s Executive Director, Matt Davis, participated in an expert panel on privacy and security concerns for human rights documenters hosted by PILPG, the Public International Law and Policy Group, the global pro-bono law firm that provides free legal assistance to parties engaged in peace negotiations and conflict resolution, and the law firm, Orick. The panel included leading experts in the field of digital human rights documentation and digital privacy, an emerging issue among human rights advocates and professionals, worldwide.
Documenters of human rights abuses have an acute concern when it comes to digital privacy and security. First, the documentation the collect needs to be reliable in order to report on it or raise concerns to human rights bodies. This means that steps must be taken to protect collected data. Second, those who collect and store documentation, whether its human rights related or not, have legal obligations on how the handle that documentation and the personal privacy of people who might be accounted for in that documentation. The issue of victim, witness and documenter security is paramount as well. The way in which documenting is conducted and how the information is collected impacts the safety of all people involved.
Matt spoke about the lengths to which CNI goes to in order to protect the privacy of the persons included in our documenting efforts. He also spoke about the importance CNI places in personal privacy and data protection in our everyday operations. Additionally, Matt spoke about the importance of protecting those who speak to Contra Nocendi as well as our own monitors and partners that support monitoring efforts. As a human rights organisation it is important that we place a premium on digital privacy and safety. Our work in Cameroon includes taking steps to protect the personal information of victims and taking steps to protect our own staff. Our team in Cameroon is also trusted to keep the identity of certain victims and contact anonymous. We take this trust seriously.
Ensuring protection of human rights and privacy in the digital age is an increasingly important topic. As the world becomes more and more digital, there is a greater need for our rights to be respected both on and offline. Data protection and privacy issues, digital identity, the use of surveillance technologies, and online violence and harassment are areas of particular concern, according to the United Nations Hub for Human Rights and DigitalTechnology.
Contra Nocendi was honored by the invitation be represented on such an important panel. We wish to thank PILPG and Orick once again for the opportunity to participate and the very useful and stimulating dialogue during the event