The Five Steps of Cyber Policymaking for Human Rights Defenders

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Screenshot from GPD website presenting the policy stages.

This guest post was originally published at on May 30, 2016.

Cyber policymaking can be difficult territory.

The number of forums, stakeholders and bodies involved can seem endless, their relationships to each other mysterious. Technical and legal jargon is common. In short, it’s not always the most welcoming or open environment, and this can discourage human rights defenders from getting involved.

This is a real problem. In the absence of these voices, cyber issues are being narrowly defined in terms of security, with serious implications for a range of human rights. No-one, of course, would deny that real threats exist in cyberspace — from financial fraud to identity theft. But in many instances state actors are overplaying these threats to justify increased surveillance and control over the web. Contesting this will require the active participation of a diverse range of voice at every stage of the cycle.

In response to this challenge, Global Partners Digital have just launched a new framework to help human rights defenders engage more effectively with cyber policymaking. The framework was developed as part of the cyber capacity building programme I lead. It’s an interactive tool which guides users through the five different stages required for the adoption of legislation, policies, strategies and other national positions, with questions, prompts and advice at each step. Take a look here.

We hope that this tool will make engagement in policymaking easier for human rights defenders. At the same time, it’s by no means a final or definitive product. It’s a living resource, and over the coming months we’ll be highlighting case studies from our partners in Chile, Kenya and Indonesia, sharing their insights, experiences and lessons learned from trialling it in their local contexts.

But we want your feedback too. Help us refine and improve the framework by commenting on it here; or drop me an email at We’d love to know what you think.

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