Everyone has the right to use the Internet and digital technologies in relation to freedom of assembly and association, including through social networks and platforms. No restrictions on usage of and access to the Internet and digital technologies in relation to the right to freedom of assembly and association may be imposed unless the restriction is prescribed by law, pursues a legitimate aim as expressly listed under international human rights law (as specified in Principle 3 of this Declaration) and is necessary and proportionate in pursuance of a legitimate aim.
The Internet can augment the opportunities and capabilities of individuals and groups to form associations and to manage organisations and associations. It can increase the membership and reach of associations by allowing groups of people to communicate despite physical boundaries. It provides new tools for those organising assemblies offline, as well as the possibility of conducting assemblies and protests online. Hence, everyone should enjoy unrestricted access to the Internet. Any shutting down or blocking of access to social networking platforms, and in fact the Internet in general, constitutes a direct interference with this right. Free and open access to the Internet must therefore be protected at all times.
Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) looked at internet rights and democratisation, with a focus on freedom of expression and association online. This Special Edition, analyses more than 60 country and thematic reports in order to better reveal and build understanding of the broad range of practical actions and strategies that activists are developing.
Natasha Msonza from Her Zimbabwe shares her views on women's experiences online, this post was written during her participation in the Gender and Internet Governance Exchange program in Addis Ababa, 2015.