By Heini Järvinen

On 24 September, United Nations (UN) Broadband Commission published a report that urged governments and industry to work more effectively together to better protect women and girls who are victims of “cyber violence”. The report claimed that 73% of women have suffered cyberviolence and that ”cyber violence” is as bad as real violence. Only a couple of weeks after its publication, however, the report was withdrawn, pending revision.

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The report called on national governments to force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and search engines to filter their content. It highlighted the dangers of harassments and bullying that women and girls face online, and suggested that governments should use their legislative powers and license only those ISPs that “supervise content and its dissemination”, proposing in practise that the private companies should be given a vague obligation to police the Internet, with their business at risk if “enough” was not done to censor content and communications. Even though some welcomed the report, it received immediately fierce critisism because of its potential implications concerning censorship.

The report was subsequently officially withdrawn by the UN Broadband Commission, but can still be found online. A spokesperson for the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Sarah Parkes, apologised for the poorly sourced material and errors in the report, and assured these issues will be addressed and rectified during the revision. However, the Ms Parkes is reported as saying that “the big problem was footnoting”, with no mention of the more profound problems with the analysis in the document.

The UN has indicated that it intends to publish a revised version in the coming weeks.

United Nations apologizes for fault-ridden cyberviolence report (07.10.2015)
http://motherboard.vice.com/read/united-nations-apologizes-for-fault-ridden-cyberviolence-report

Cyber violence against women: UN withdraws the report (only in French, 08.10.2015)
http://www.numerama.com/magazine/34431-cyberviolences-faites-aux-femmes-l-onu-retire-le-rapport.html

UN broadband commission pulls feminist “Cyber Violence” report (07.10.2015)
http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/10/07/u-n-broadband-commission-pulls-feminist-cyber-violence-report/

Cyber violence against women and girls (24.09.2015)
http://www.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/publications/2015/9/cyber-violence-against-women-and-girls

The UN proposal on cyberbullying is a blueprint for censorship
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/social-media/11902140/The-UN-proposal-on-cyberbullying-is-a-blueprint-for-censorship.html

UN Broadband Commission releases questionable report on “cyber violence” against women (29.09.2015)
https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20150927/13460532378/un-broadband-commission-releases-questionable-report-cyber-violence-against-women.shtml

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