Resistance and resilience: collaborative responses to online attacks on environmental defenders
Programs and partnerships
The use of technology to attack environmental defenders ─ including Indigenous leaders and women ─ is part of a continuum of violence online and on the ground that uses targeted disinformation and smear tactics, surveillance and death threats to silence defenders.Read more
The use of technology to attack environmental defenders ─ including Indigenous leaders and women ─ is part of a continuum of violence online and on the ground that uses targeted disinformation and smear tactics, surveillance and death threats to silence defenders. Identity-based disinformation disproportionately impacts women defenders, and research suggests that online attacks not only target climate and environmental defenders, but also their families, friends and colleagues, creating a chilling effect on free expression. At the same time, some defenders are using communication technologies for their protection. It is critical to understand the relationships of these defenders and their communities with technology, how they access and use the internet and other ICTs more broadly, and the information and media landscape in which they are operating.
This project will support in-depth research into the scope and impacts of online disinformation and attacks against environmental defenders in Mexico, Brazil, the Philippines and a fourth case study still to be confirmed. Cases are selected based on the intensity of threats faced by environmental defenders and existing data compiled by the research collaborators.
Research will be developed in collaboration with country partners and an advisory council composed of diverse individuals from the four selected countries. The project will support local organizations in the four countries to develop assessment tools that are culturally relevant and respond to their specific needs. Drawing on the research results and identifying common trends coming from the country-level studies, the research will explore responses to online attacks, disinformation, and closing civic space online. The results will include policy proposals and recommendations to national governments, technology companies, and regional and global governance processes. The project teams will disseminate research findings and bring together diverse alliances to reflect on the research, build a global policy agenda and identify opportunities for future collaboration and action.