Human Rights Movements and the Internet: From Local Contexts to Global Engagement
John Lannon (AIB Centre for Information and Knowledge Management, Kemmy Business School, Ireland) and Edward Halpin (School of Applied Global Ethics & the Praxis Centre, Leeds Metropolitan University, UK)
Copyright: © 2008
This chapter looks at the impact of the Internet on the worldwide human rights movement, and examines the opportunities and pitfalls of the technology and its applications for human rights organisations. It argues that the technology is a useful tool in nongovernmental efforts toward worldwide compliance with human rights norms despite the new challenges it presents for human rights defenders and activists, particularly in the South. Conceptualising the movement as a collection of issue-based social submovements, it draws on social movement literature and examples from Africa to describe how the technology and its applications benefit the movement in six key areas of activity. The promises, pitfalls, and difficulties of Internet usage are discussed, with particular emphasis on censorship, surveillance and privacy, and the challenges they pose for human rights activists operating in a digital environment.