Digital Suppression and Abortion Rights: A UNGA Sideline Event

Digital Suppression and Abortion Rights: A UNGA Sideline Event
Source: © Gayatri Maholtra/Unsplash


Emily Wolfe 

Human Rights Researcher,

Global Human Rights Defence

The digital age has revolutionised how information is accessed and shared. Yet, with this progress comes challenges, especially when it pertains to crucial health and rights information. This pressing issue was the focal point of a recent sideline discussion at the UN General Assembly (UNGA), hosted by prominent organisations including the Universal Access Project, Plan C, and Amnesty International USA. The theme of the event was "Fighting Digital Suppression: The New Frontier for Abortion Rights in the Americas and Beyond,” and it aimed to dissect the challenges and strategise solutions in a post-Roe world.

In an era where individual rights are increasingly intertwined with technological advancements, the balance between privacy and protection becomes paramount. The digital realm offers vast potential for information dissemination, but it also poses risks, especially for those seeking sensitive health information such as abortion services.

The discussion delved deep into the complexities of maintaining individual privacy in the digital age. As technology continues to evolve, so do the methods of suppressing information. Digital platforms, which should ideally be sources of accurate and empowering information, can sometimes become tools for misinformation and suppression, especially when it concerns reproductive health and rights.

The rise of digital suppression in the context of abortion rights is particularly concerning in a post-Roe world. Individuals seeking information on abortion and reproductive health often find themselves navigating a digital minefield, where misinformation is rampant, and their privacy is at risk. The challenge lies in ensuring that these individuals have access to accurate information while also safeguarding their digital privacy.

The panelists, drawing from their diverse backgrounds, emphasised the need for robust digital strategies to counter these challenges. They highlighted the importance of collaboration between tech experts, activists, and policymakers to create a digital ecosystem that prioritises both information accuracy and user privacy.

Dilly Severin of the Universal Access Project set the tone with opening remarks that underscored the urgency of the issue. The discussion, moderated by Imani Wilson-Shabazz of Plan C, wove together the insights of experts such as Genevieve Tam, Jane Eklund, Giovanni Guerrero Conde, and Martha Dimitratou, creating a comprehensive narrative on the challenges and strategies in the face of digital suppression.

The UNGA sideline event was a testament to the power of collaboration and the importance of dialogue in addressing global challenges. As the world becomes increasingly digital, ensuring that platforms remain sources of accurate, empowering, and private information is not just a technological challenge but a fundamental human rights issue. The insights shared during the discussion offer a roadmap for a future where digital privacy and accurate information coexist harmoniously.