The legislature — and the legislative process — is one of the three pillars of democracy, enshrined in the very heart of the political system. The legal system and the lawmaking process both exist to protect the citizens of a democracy. Yet, in our research in the Unfreedom Monitor, we have seen over and over again how authoritarian, as well as supposedly democratic states, use laws enacted ostensibly to protect citizens as tools to leverage people’s actions, words and very presence in digital spaces to curtail their free expression.
In Turkey, for example, each amendment of laws around the Presidency of Telecommunication and Communication (TIB) gives it more power to act unilaterally against citizens. In Zimbabwe, the Data Protection Act infringes on citizens’ digital rights and also allows the state to legally infiltrate online spaces. Russia has enacted several laws since 2012 to restrict and monitor internet use and free speech among citizens. The 2015 Cybercrimes Act in Tanzania allows the government to intercept data and seek specific personal data from internet providers. Meanwhile in India, a range of laws (some unrelated to the digital sphere) are wielded against vocal critics of the state.
Join us on YouTube live for a discussion at the intersection of law, technology, and democracy on September 15 at 2:00 pm GMT. The session is free and open to the public. Register below to receive a reminder about the event:
The discussion will be moderated by Ellery Biddle, former Advox Director and currently Consulting Editor at Coda Story, and feature the following panelists:
- Alok Prasanna Kumar, a co-founder of the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy where his research areas include constitutional law, urban governance and technology law. He is a columnist at the Economic and Political Weekly and Deccan Herald.
- Laís Martins, a Brazilian journalist currently based in São Paulo, from where she reports for Brazilian and international news outlets on politics, human rights, technology and everything in between. A Pulitzer Center fellow, she is the Unfreedom Monitor researcher for Brazil.
- Veszna Wessenauer is the Program Manager at Ranking Digital Rights and has worked with several Hungarian and international NGOs, including Political Capital, Democracy Reporting International, and EU-Russia Civil Society Forum. She is the Unfreedom Monitor researcher for Hungary.