Electronic Frontiers Australia reaffirms our commitment to the protection of digital rights and adherence to international law
As defenders of digital rights and advocates for justice, Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) cannot stand by as acts of genocide occur in breach of international law.
Digital rights do not occur in a vacuum and like any other right they depend on the rule of law and systems of justice to be upheld.
Already, thousands of Palestinian civilians, including children, hospital and ambulance staff, aid workers, and journalists have been targeted and killed. Across the Gaza Strip, almost 1.5 million people have been displaced under starvation conditions as the Israeli Government’s total blockade of water, food, fuel, and electricity continues. The forced evacuation on foot from the south of the city is being described as a second Nakba, or “catastrophe”.
As a digital rights organisation EFA is deeply concerned about the significant shifts in technology and internet-based communication tools and the real implications in this context.
The cutting of communication channels in a digital age where internet and social media access serves as a lifeline is a breach of human rights. The Australian Government’s initiative to restore emergency communications in Israel is commendable, yet it stands in contrast to the silence over repeated telecommunications blackouts in Gaza. These blackouts not only isolate the population but also stifle critical reporting and lifesaving information dissemination.
- Restoration of telecommunication services to Gaza is paramount, guaranteeing freedom of press and information dissemination.
Shadow banning, coupled with the spread of hate speech, represents a new frontier of censorship, silencing legitimate political discourse while allowing the proliferation of dangerous radicalizing rhetoric rooted in antisemitism and Islamophobia. This insidious combination not only stifles free expression but also poses a grave threat to social cohesion and inclusivity. Transparent moderation practices, undertaken in good faith, provide a viable solution to both these problems, ensuring a safer and more democratic online environment.
- Social media platforms should provide clearly articulated and transparent content moderation policies, algorithmic clarity, and timely appeals processes to ensure equity. Shadow banning, by definition, involves actions taken covertly and is incompatible with transparent platform moderation.
- The Australian Government and Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to include regulation of the use of shadow banning and content moderation practices as social media platforms have not independently ensured alignment with democratic principles and human rights.
Misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation have played a significant role in the Israel-Palestine conflict, with both social media platforms and combatants being sources of false or misleading information as propaganda. The absence of clear, factual and accurate information makes it challenging for people to discern the facts and has exacerbated tensions. Efforts to combat this issue and promote accurate information are crucial in addressing the complexities of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
- The upcoming Commonwealth mis/disinformation Bill must ensure that there are policy mechanisms in place to appropriately balance government and media accountability in preventing misinformation and disinformation.
- Social media and AI industries must show fairness, transparency and accountability by raising awareness of digital manipulation that occurs through the use of their tools. User education must be focused to the benefit of the person and not just the platform. Easy reporting buttons!
Electronic Frontiers Australia is a signatory to the Amnesty International Australian civil society statement in solidarity with Gaza, and we encourage other organisations to contact them to participate. In keeping with this statement, we call on the Australian Government to honour its commitments to International law, and to publicly condemn the unlawful killing of all civilians, and to support the authority and work of the International Criminal Court.
About Electronic Frontiers Australia
Since 1994, EFA has stood as an independent champion for online civil liberties, funded by those who share our vision for a world where digital rights are synonymous with human rights.