ADDRESSING HUMAN RIGHTS AND SECURITY CONCERNS IN THE DIGITAL ERA

We comprise a multidisciplinary team of lawyers, technologists, political scientists some of whom have a background in political risk and strategic intelligence analysts, and cyber security experts.

Who we are

We are a research institute and think tank based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, an outpost for our Internet Freedom Cyber Dialogue, but also in: Nairobi, Kenya, home to our Centre for Technology and Society; Harare, Zimbabwe; and the United Kingdom. We conduct research and convene discussions that address critical issues at the intersection of human rights, technology, security and society. We comprise a multidisciplinary team of lawyers, technologists, political scientists some of whom have a background in political risk and strategic intelligence analysts, and cyber security experts.

What we do

·      Contribute to the design, development and implementation of open source technologies and communities that increase free expression, circumvent censorship, and obstruct repressive surveillance as a way to promote human rights and open societies.

·      Conduct evidence-based research to inform and shape policy reforms of states laws and practices relating to internet governance, but also issues in which the Internet is central like cybersecurity, internet governance, freedom of expression, privacy, and surveillance.

·      Analyse the broader context, including by providing political risk and security intelligence analysis, in particular geopolitical, political and security issues, the cyber-military industrial complex and consequences that may affect the work of civil societies and other stakeholders such as telecommunications providers working in the digital society and economy ecosystems, in particular for them to manage risk in the information age.

·      Mentor and develop the capacity of individuals and organisations working or aspiring to work at the intersection of human rights, technology and security.

Why we do it

Technology has become the new frontier in human rights and security. Cyber threats, in particular, “targeted malware attacks in particular are an increasing problem for civil society organisations (CSOs). Such attacks are not isolated incidents, but waves of attacks organized in campaigns that persistently attempt to compromise systems and gain access to networks over long periods of time while remaining undetected. These campaigns are custom designed for specific targets and are conducted by highly motivated attackers.

Who we do it for

Our work is mostly aimed at CSOs since the objective of targeted campaigns is to extract information from compromised systems and monitor user activity and is best understood as a form of espionage. CSOs can be particularly susceptible to these threats due to limited resources and lack of security awareness. Targeted malware is an active research area, particularly in private industry. However, focused studies on targeted attacks against CSOs are relatively limited despite the persistent threats they face and the vulnerability of these groups.

How we do it.

At the Global South Initiative, our research fellows produce research and contribute to discussions that lead to a greater enhancement of security in an ever changing globalised digital age. Rather than operate in silos, our team members have diverse areas of expertise that enable them to address cyber related threats in context and consider issues ranging from political risk and strategic intelligence analysis to the impact these have on the security and fundamental rights. We also help foster mentorship relationships between internet rights activists and those working in traditional human rights organisations on the one hand with experts in the internet freedom community, especially from the Global North, on the other.