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23 Okt 2023

BHRRC joins Access Now and other organisations to call for an immediate physical & digital ceasefire in Gaza

Access Now

... the undersigned digital and human rights organizations, join the open call for an immediate ceasefire to end the ongoing bloodshed in Gaza, to halt a humanitarian catastrophe, and to prevent further loss of innocent lives in Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, and beyond. We further call on governments, international institutions, tech companies, and other international stakeholders to take responsibility for their actions which have enabled and abetted Israel’s unrestrained and indiscriminate attacks on civilians in Gaza.. This includes upholding a “digital ceasefire” to bring an immediate end to online attacks targeting Palestinians around the world. 

Globally, Palestinian voices and those who support their cause have been muffled and silenced through a wide campaign of digital repression, including disinformation, censorship, online harassment, doxxing, and shadowbanning.

... social media companies have so far failed to address the alarming levels of disinformation and misinformation on their platforms, which are contributing to offline violence, dehumanization, and justifying attacks against civilians. Paired with inequitable, biased over-enforcement of content moderation policies, this is resulting in the silencing and deplatforming of Palestinians.

All parties to the conflict must:

  • Immediately cease the indiscriminate targeting of civilian infrastructure, including medical, energy, and telecommunications infrastructure, and, more broadly, halt the use of explosive weapons in urban areas; 
  • Take all feasible precautions to protect civilians and refrain from indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks;
  • Protect the physical and digital safety, dignity, and integrity of anyone deprived of liberty and under their control –including protection from public curiosity on social media and other communication channels – and refrain from using disinformation campaigns;
  • Ensure that all persons deprived of liberty without due process are allowed to return safely to their families – including through the assistance of neutral intermediaries such as the ICRC, who have been offering their support through traditional channels and publicly on social media; and
  • Uphold and demonstrate through actions their adherence to international humanitarian law.

Private sector actors must:

  • Adhere and uphold their responsibilities to respect human rights and mitigate any risks or negative impacts of their policies, actions, and services, as per the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and publicly and consistently communicate steps taken to ensure continued respect for human rights; 
  • Expand and include in their heightened due diligence efforts all potential areas of their business, including, for example, reviewing customers’ purchasing of targeted advertising services in the region and elsewhere for propaganda purposes;
  • Take measures to further protect the accounts and data of users from hacking, surveillance, censorship, and other threats, and to strengthen infrastructure against unlawful access;
  • Ensure complete transparency of received government requests — both on the basis of the law or the terms and conditions — submitted by the Israeli public authorities, including the Cyber Unit. At a minimum, disclose the type of content enforcement; and data regarding the amount of content removed in Arabic, and compliance rate with government requests, including legal basis for restrictions; 
  • Clearly communicate to users any limitations, restrictions, or changes to service they may experience;
  • Provide transparency with respect to where machine learning systems are being used to moderate content related to Palestine and Israel, including indicators of the accuracy, the possible rate of error, and machine learning classifiers;
  • Provide information about parameters used by content recommender systems with explanations for why certain information is shown to individuals, including the most important criteria for determining what information will be shown to whom; 
  • Fully investigate any cyber attacks that undermine human rights, and limit the reach of state and non-state sponsored propaganda actors and the spread of disinformation with any restriction being in compliance with the rule of law and the principles legality, legitimacy, necessity, and proportionality;
  • Preserve and be prepared to openly share, where possible, documentation of violence, for potential future efforts to hold people accountable for violating humanitarian law and human rights violations and ensure victims’ access to remedy; and
  • For investors and financial institutions linked to businesses operating in the region, hold these businesses accountable for full transparency on their business conduct and the above requirements.