Research is a central pillar of our work at Advox. We believe in advocacy informed by up-to-date knowledge, and are committed to engaging deeply with the theoretical dimensions of digital rights. Our research ranges from qualitative surveys to quantitative analyses, as well as interviews with global experts and frontline communities. Our research is conducted to the highest standards in order to articulate a principled defense for digital rights. Here is some of our recent research.
The Unfreedom Monitor
The Unfreedom Monitor is a project to analyze, document, and report on the growing use of digital communications technology to advance authoritarian governance around the world.
Today, what has become known as digital authoritarianism is evident in all kinds of governments. The internet is dominated by advertising technology that tracks and segments users for commercial gain. Governments, states, and political parties, often in collaboration with corporations, harness this surveillance power, and a future with more advanced machine learning, facial recognition, and artificial intelligence for “predictive” analysis suggests that state capabilities for control will likely increase. Combine this with the ubiquitous CCTV capture, the face that we carry our communications devices everywhere, and the normalization of the idea that your devices should listen to you, and you end up with pervasive surveillance.
These are the reasons we created The Unfreedom Monitor. We want to understand what motivates, shapes, and influences digital authoritarianism around the world, no matter the style of government or political system. Starting with 11 pilot countries, we are seeking to develop a method for naming digital authoritarianism, so we can help people of good conscience tame it.
UPROAR: Digital rights are human rights
Advox is working with the Small Media Foundation to bring you the UPROAR initiative, a collection of essays highlighting challenges in digital rights in countries undergoing the UN’s Universal Periodic Review process, which is conducted by the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights. For the Universal Periodic Review the human rights records of UN Member states are reviewed on a four-year cycle. This process is a chance for each state to inform the UN and other observers of human rights in their countries about the actions they have taken to protect the rights of their residents.
Writing toward freedom: Politics and digital rights in Africa
Across Africa, governments and nongovernmental political actors repeatedly deploy tactics to interfere with users’ rights to freedom of expression and access to information online, particularly during events of major political significance. This project, run in 2019-2021, includes a collection of essays from Algeria, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
Billions served? Human rights in the Facebook era
A look back at Global Voices’ reporting on hate speech, harassment, and political censorship on the world’s largest social network, since 2008.
Can Facebook Connect the Next Billion? Original research on Free Basics
In spring 2017, a group of Global Voices tech and digital rights experts in Colombia, Ghana, Kenya, Mexico, Pakistan and the Philippines tested the Free Basics app against usability and open internet benchmarks that we developed in consultation with experts from the ICT and internet policy world. We published our findings here.
Global Voices Advocacy has been doing digital security, online mapping, and censorship-related projects since 2007. Although some of these projects were built towards now-defunct technologies, we keep them archived for readers interested in reviewing our work over time.