Here is a brief summary of the AFEC-SEA meeting and the APRiFG, attended by Louis Liaw. Louis does not realise that he is now forever bound to the MCCHR who shall call upon him to serve the MCCHR however and whenever.
As a member of the Advocates for Freedom of Expression Coalition – South East Asia (AFEC-SEA), the Malaysian Centre of Constitutionalism and Human Rights (MCCHR) was invited to the AFEC-SEA meeting held in Bangkok on 26 July 2017. Because Yen Hui, the MCCHR representative was unable to attend, I attended the said meeting on behalf of the MCCHR. This was what I got up to at the AFEC-SEA meeting and the APRiGF.
During the AFEC-SEA meeting, the governing board finalised and approved the AFEC-SEA Terms of Reference (TOR), which will guide the AFEC-SEA for the next two years. The office bearers were also elected; they are Chairperson Gilbert T. Andres and Secretary Asep Komarudin.
Additionally, the Governing Board established four committees as follows: – the Advocacy committee, the Strategic Litigation and Amicus Brief committee, the Monitoring committee, and the Training and Education committee. The MCCHR was assigned to the Training and Education Committee. I informed the Governing Board about the strategic litigation training that MCCHR conducts, the strategic litigation manuals that MCCHR produced that are available online, as well as the strategic litigation online training course on freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. They were all very impressed and expressed their interest in these materials.
Subsequently, the Governing Board discussed specific freedom of expression cases in Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines and strategies that could be adopted. Fahmi Reza’s case was discussed and the Governing Board considered the possibility of filing an amicus brief for that case.
The following days, I attended the Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum (APrIGF) held at Chulalongkorn University. The APrIGF is a multi-stakeholder platform, which discusses public policy on the Internet and its impact on society.
The three days saw a whole host of discussions, workshops, dialogues, and briefings on the topics related to Internet governance, for example, how Internet usage can be improved and how censorship on the Internet has been abused by various states.
The topic that was particularly interesting to me was how human rights can be positively and/or negatively affected by the Internet and the advance in information and communication technology. The breakout sessions that I attended were the following:- Trends in Cybercrime Law: Common legislative developments and concerns in the region; Understanding Solutions towards Online Harassment; The whole truth: Bringing Economic, Social and Cultural Rights into perspective; Detecting and removing child sexual abuse material. How is APAC doing?; Unshackling Expression: A pathway to decriminalise the internet; Publicness and the Right to be Forgotten: the Debates Begin; Surveillance from a Feminist Perspective; and Engaging with the #KeepItOn Movement: Fighting Internet Shutdowns.
Worthy of particular mention are these two forums: – ‘Detecting and removing child sexual abuse material. How is APAC doing?’ and ‘Publicness and the Right to be Forgotten: the Debates Begin’. For ‘Detecting and removing child sexual abuse material: How is APAC doing?’, the forum focused on hotlines established for reporting materials related to child sexual abuse. The reporting line or hotline allows the public to, anonymously, report images or videos or any kind of material portraying a child being abused in order for this material to be taken down from the web; for the law enforcement to track the uploader; and to facilitate rescue efforts of the child.
The hotlines can be industry-based, where the platform owners, ISP and web hosting providers provide a reporting mechanism, for example Yahoo Japan. Then there are NGOs funded by the public or private donors, who receive reports and escalate them to law enforcement and host providers. INHOPE, one of the panellists, elaborated that it provides capacity building to any organisation who wishes to start and manage a hotline. Considering that Malaysia recently passed the Sexual Offences against Children Act 2017, a hotline such as the above maybe helpful. Whether this is a cause for the MCCHR or other NGOs, it’s something worth considering.
On the ‘Publicness and the Right to be Forgotten: the Debates Begin’ forum, the panellists argued against this right as they felt that it would create a filtered Internet. According to the European Court of Justice, the right to be forgotten is the right of individuals to ask data controllers, to remove personal information but only within the framework of EU Directive 95/46/EC, that is, “if the information is inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant, or excessive for the purposes of the data processing, that they are not kept up to date, or that they are kept for longer than is necessary unless they are required for historical, statistical, or scientific purposes” (para. 92 of Google Spain SL, Google Inc. v Agencia Española de Protección de Datos (AEPD), Mario Costeja González, Case C?131/12).
All sessions were extremely fruitful and thought provoking. Transcripts of all the sessions, including those I attended, can be accessed online at https://2017.aprigf.asia/archive/, so do have a look when you have time. The sessions were also recorded and uploaded on YouTube and Adobe Connect.