The Internet & Human Rights

Academic Program: 

Instructor: Cameran Ashraf

Credits: 2.0

Course description: Elective course, Media and Communications Specialization

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights articulates the rights of individuals to “…seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”  The Internet has had a substantial impact on the ability of individuals to receive and impart information, but it has also empowered state and non-state actors to deny that right in pursuit of political or social goals.  This course will examine the history and evolution of the Internet as a contested space for human expression from activist and state perspectives.  Case studies of Internet human rights abuse, including detention, harassment, and torture as well as activist resistance and evasion will be examined.  Special attention will be given to state technical, political, and legal adaptation to the changing technological environment and the efforts and impact of NGOs working to further human rights online. 

Learning outcomes: 

By the end of this course students will

  1. Have an understanding of how the Internet is used by states to support or restrict human rights;
  2. Be able to effectively communicate both Internet threats and opportunities for human rights activists;
  3. Identify, develop, and articulate gaps in existing approaches to human rights online.