We recognise that the digital sphere is quickly emerging as one of the key spaces in which human rights are under threat.
Manushya Foundation works towards the promotion and protection of online freedom of expression and online privacy. To ensure local communities and local journalists are not subject to governments’ attempts to control the digital world, resulting in silencing human rights defenders, censorship, and defamation charges, we encourage governments to align their national legislation and policies with international human rights standards. Similarly, we lobby the ICT sector to uphold digital rights and resist states’ pressure to control the internet. We encourage private companies to comply with the UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights – in particular, Pillar 2 – related to the corporate responsibility to respect human rights and exercise human rights due diligence.
Our digital rights strategy aims to uphold online freedom and push back against authoritarian regimes. At Manushya Foundation, we work under the motto that “digital rights are
human rights” and recognise that all human rights and international human rights mechanisms are also applicable in the digital realm. Although, recognition of digital rights varies from country to country, with many states in Asia making efforts to control the internet through censorship and restrictions, in turn increasing risks to digital rights for netizens, particularly civil society, local communities and journalists.
Our strategy on Digital Rights has two objectives:
1. Upholding Digital Rights, Online Freedom and Data Privacy by advocating for national legal frameworks and business activities to comply with international human rights standards and the UNGPs;
2. Enhancing Digital Literacy by raising awareness and building capacity of Netizens in Asia to navigate the digital world safely.
In Thailand, to realise our first objective, we are advocating for a Cybersecurity Bill which would respect online freedom and data privacy of Thai netizens, according to international human rights standards, while effectively tackling cyberattacks and cyber-threats. For that purpose, Manushya Foundation in collaboration with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Bangkok has launched a project to analyse the process of development, implementation and monitoring of the Cybersecurity Bill drafted by the Royal Thai Government (RTG). The project aims at providing recommendations and good practices and led to the publication of a study in collaboration with other civil society members upholding digital rights, to respond to the growing concerns over the shrinking of online civic space entitled ‘Thailand’s Cybersecurity Act: Towards a Human-Centered Act Protecting Online Freedom and Privacy, While Tackling Cyber Threats’. The study is the first of its kind in ASEAN and the aim is to assist Thailand, its institutions, its private entities, and its netizens to strengthen and streamline the implementation of the National Cybersecurity Act in line with international human rights standards, promoting a human-centered approach to protect people, while opposing its misuse for the control and surveillance of citizens.
Access our "Thailand’s Cybersecurity Act" Study here
Access our Summary of "Thailand's Cybersecurity Act: DOs & DON'Ts" here
We also launched the brand-new Thailand Digital Literacy Facebook page and campaign in September 2019. The campaign, titled "Pause", was designed by SideKick Creative & Media Agency for Social Change, and invites netizens to stop and think about security before posting online. The page provides an online platform with free tools and activities for netizens to navigate the digital world safely, including regular updates on the latest developments on digital rights in Asia and around the world.
Also under objective one, Internews with the support of Manushya Foundation, provided grants to support six individuals with backgrounds in journalism, writing, activism and communication, who conduct activities to raise awareness on threats to freedom of expression and digital literacy for netizens. Our six selected grantees are currently working on their projects which address issues relating to digital rights and human rights, cyberbullying, internet privacy and gender-discrimination issues. The grantees received hands-on support through a grant training workshop, to finalise their work plans and further develop their skills in digital literacy. Our six grantees are:
Check our grantees' work below:
We also launched a Campaign to #StopDigitalDictatorship in Southeast Asia to fight against rising digital dictatorship in the region, where the internet is no longer a free, safe and secure space for expression. We joined forces with ASEAN partners to highlight the legal challenges to digital rights in the region, while presenting their impact on netizens and to propose strategies to fight back digital dictatorship as shared by leading voices working on the ground.
Take a look at our Campaign here and see what you can do to #StopDigitalDictatorship!
To realise our second objective, we are partnering with Internews on the "Increasing Digital Literacy in Thailand" project, aimed at creating a network of Digital Literacy Trainers to increase the digital literacy of the broader Thai netizen community. During multi-day workshops, we have focused on three main areas: knowledge on digital risks and threats, digital tools, and training ability. With the information and skills obtained through these workshops, and Manushya’s ongoing mentoring and technical support, these Digital Literacy Trainers have been able to pass this knowledge on to many other members of their communities.
In Phase 1 (April 2018 -- October 2018) of this project we trained 15 Regional Trainers, who directly trained 153 end-users (Thai netizens), including journalists, human rights defenders, activists, NGO workers, students, and academics.
We are currently in Phase 2 of the project (December 2018 -- February 2020), during which we are further building the capacity of 25 additional digital literacy trainers who would reach up to 125 end-users. While we enhance skills of trainers to be able to train end-users, we most importantly aim to create a strong network of Thai Netizens who are aware of the
cyber-threats they may encounter and how to effectively navigate a secure digital world. From this, we hope to lay the groundwork for a sustainable network, able to continue raising awareness and building capacity of digital literacy across Thailand.
Access our first newsletter on Digital Literacy here
Access our second newsletter on Digital Literacy here
Access our third newsletter on Digital Literacy here