Session 1C

Free and secure communication in a multinational context

May 22, 14.00–15.30, Fogelström, #session1c

“Who ensures individuals’ privacy and who is responsible for human rights online?”
“Balkanisation of internet content by company policy – is that a problem?”

This panel aims to explore how human rights and secure communication for the individual is respected by actors without the legal obligation to respect human rights. Operating in different contexts also means different national jurisdictions. What does this mean for human rights and security online?

The internet has revolutionised the way in which people, organisations and business interact globally. Today, access to communication for everyone is increasing, bringing great potential but also challenges and consequences for the enjoyment of human rights and the security and privacy of individuals. ICTs can be used for beneficial as well as malicious activities.

However, international law does not place a legal obligation on individuals, organisations or businesses to protect human rights. Instead, businesses are merely encouraged by international guidelines to act in accordance with respect for human rights. Some international organisations, such as the OECD and the UN, try to influence business behaviour through such guidelines and principles. Nevertheless, decisions and actions of individuals, business and civil society are having an increasing impact and with resulting consequences for societies at large. What should companies and other actors do when national regulations conflict with international business practices or the promotion and protection of human rights?

In this panel, representatives from state, business and international organisations will discuss the importance of security for individual users, including dual-use aspects of transnational use of ICTs. What is the role of enterprises in ensuring secure communications and the respect for human rights, and how can this this be accomplished in a feasible way? How can secure communication help us to support freedom of expression.


benwagnerBen Wagner, European University Institute.

Ben Wagner is a Researcher at European University Institute in Florence and currently completing a PhD on the globalised governance of freedom of expression online. He is also a Visiting Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations and Human Rights Watch in Berlin. His research focuses on human rights, digital foreign policy and internet governance in the Middle East, Europe and North America. In recent years Ben has served as an academic expert for the European Commission, the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, UNESCO, Hivos, the Open Society Institute and the European Parliament.


cynthiawongCynthia Wong, Senior Researcher on Internet & Human Rights, Human Rights Watch

Before joining Human Rights Watch, Cynthia was an attorney at the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) and Director of CDT’s Project on Global Internet Freedom. Cynthia conducted much of CDT’s work promoting global Internet freedom, with a particular focus on free expression and privacy. Cynthia also served as co-chair of the Policy & Learning Committee of the Global Network Initiative (GNI), a multi-stakeholder organization that advances corporate responsibility and human rights in the technology sector. Prior to joining CDT, Cynthia was the Robert L. Bernstein International Human Rights Fellow at Human Rights in China. Cynthia earned her J.D. at New York University School of Law and graduated with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin

lucypurdonLucy Purdon, ICT Researcher, Institute for Human Rights and Business

Lucy joined IHRB as an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) researcher on the EC Human Rights Sector Guidance project. She manages IHRB’s ICT Programme and works mainly on issues of freedom of expression and privacy in ICTs. Lucy graduated with an MA in Human Rights from The Institute of Commonwealth Studies (ICwS), University of London. Her thesis, ‘Privatising Dissent’, applied the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to the ICT sector. Prior to this, Lucy was a documentary producer/director. She also holds a First Class BA (Hons) in Film and Video from London College of Communications, University of the Arts.

hafizHafiz Rahman Khan, Specialist Head of Unit, Grameenphone Limited

M. Hafizur Rahman Khan, a Marketing graduate from the University of Dhaka, working as a Specialist in Corporate Responsibility Engagement in Grameenphone Ltd. – the largest telecommunication operator in Bangladesh.

In his almost six year’s tenure in Grameenphone, he has been working on different CR initiatives (Education and Safe Internet Experience) of Grameenphone. At present he is leading two very interesting initiatives; first, Online School (ICT based schooling system for underprivileged children living in remote areas) and second, Child Protection Filter (a filtering system at the gateway of Grameenphone to deny access to sites containing child sexual abusive content). Besides, he is also involved in designing a Social Business (a ground breaking concept by Nobel Laureate

collincrowellColin Crowell, Vice President, Global Public Policy, Twitter

Colin Crowell is Vice President, Global Public Policy for Twitter, Inc.  In this role, Colin oversees Twitter’s efforts to educate policymakers about Twitter and manages the company’s public policy agenda on a host of high tech issues in Washington, D.C. and internationally.

Prior to joining Twitter, Colin served for over 20 years as a telecommunications and Internet staffer to U.S. Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), the longtime Chairman and Ranking Democrat on the House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee.  Subsequent to working on Capitol Hill, Colin was Senior Counselor to the Federal Communications Commission Chairman, assisting in the development of the National Broadband Plan and serving as the Chairman’s strategic advisor on a wide range of policy and legal matters.

Prior to his government service, Colin was a Jesuit International Volunteer in Arequipa, Peru, where he taught mathematics and English at a Jesuit high school and helped run a community soup kitchen.

Colin is a graduate of Boston College with a BA in Political Science and a minor in Computer Science.

Ihab-Osman-photoIhab Osman, CEO, Sudatel Telecom Group

Mr Ihab Osman is Chief Executive Officer of Sudatel Telecom Group, one of the leading telecom companies in Africa. Mr Osman first joined Sudatel as Chief Commercial Officer, where he directed all strategic planning activities, mergers and acquisitions, business and product development, marketing, carrier wholesale, as well as international business activities. Mr Osman was later appointed as founding Chief Executive Officer of Expresso Telecom Group in Dubai; a subsidiary of Sudatel Group to develop the vision, strategy and business plan of the group. Expresso owns and operates four mobile telecom companies in Ghana, Senegal, Mauritania, and Guinea-Conakry

Prior to joining Sudatel Mr. Osman spent a number of years with Verizon Communications in Atlanta, Dallas, San Francisco, and Seattle where he held a number of different positions during his tenure. During his last 2 years with Verizon he was Vice President of Data Services in the western US region. Prior to Verizon, Mr. Osman was the Director of IT at one of the first B2C ventures based in New York where he drove the conceptual design and development of the technology systems necessary for the execution of their business plan.
Mr. Osman started his career at General Electric where he worked on projects for Tokyo Electric Power Company and a number of other key customers in the pacific rim. After GE he worked for IBM Technology Systems Solutions, based in New York.

Mr. Osman serves on a number of corporate boards across Africa and Middle East regions.
Mr. Osman holds a Masters of Business Administration in Finance from Oxford University and Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the New York Institute of Technology