Encryption and safety of journalists in digital age

07 December 2016 - A Workshop on Guadalajara,Mexico


Over the last decades, encryption has proven uniquely suitable to be used in the digital environments. It has been widely deployed by a variety of actors to ensure protection of information and communication for commercial, personal and public interests. From a human rights perspective, there is a growing recognition that the availability and deployment of encryption by relevant actors is a necessary ingredient for realizing a free and open internet. Encryption supports free expression, anonymity, access to information, private communication and privacy. As a result, limitations on encryption need to be carefully scrutinized.

As recommended by UN Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression and Privacy in their several reports, encryption remains a key issue to explore further as an important measure to protect freedom of expression, privacy and other human rights online.

Digital harassment is an increasingly frequent occurrence that has forced journalists to abandon stories or even the profession. This type of intimidation is especially acute for women journalists, who often face graphic rape and death threats that include personal details when they publish work online in multiple ways including social media.

Encryption plays a crucial role in protecting online safety for all users including journalists and media actors. UNESCO aims to carry forward the human rights discussion on encryption by launching its new edition of the Organization’s Internet Freedom Series publication: Human Rights Aspects of Encryption. The journalistic dimension will be highlighted to address the safety of journalists online and explore the existing mechanism and legislation to protect journalists from digital harassments.

It will be an interactive discussion built on a brief introduction of the research at the beginning and short remarks from panellists. Majority of the time will be dedicated to the Q and A with the audience and remote participants.

Resources and links:

 Link to UNESCO Internet Study “Keystones to foster inclusive Knowledge Societies”: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/internetstudy/

 UNESCO Series on Internet Freedom:


 Link to UNESCO Concept note on Internet Universality:


 Link to ConnectingtheDots Outcome documents of UNESCO: http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/CI/CI/pdf/outcome_document.pdf

 In-Person Moderator: Guy Berger, UNESCO

 Remote Moderator: Guilherme Canela De Souza Godoi, UNESCO

 Rapporteur: Xianhong Hu, UNESCO


 Mr. Frank La Rue, Assistant Director-General of  UNESCO

Mr. Wolfgang Schulz, Hans-Bredow-Institut fur Medienforschung

Mr. Amos Toh, Legal assistant to UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom Of Expression

Ms. Courtney Radsch, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

Mr. Marc Rotenberg, Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)

Ms. Amalia Toledo, Karisma Foundation and FLIP

Mr. Sebastián Bellagamba, Internet Society (ISOC)

Mr. Janis Karklins, Vice President of Human Rights Council