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Global Digital Human Rights Network (GDHRNet)

Global Digital Human Rights Network (GDHRNet)

The GDHRNet (Global Digital Human Rights Network) will systematically explore the theoretical and practical challenges posed by the online context to the protection of human rights. The Network will address the matter whether international human rights law is sufficiently detailed to enable governments and private online companies to understand their respective obligations vis-à-vis human rights protection online. It will evaluate how national governments have responded to the task of providing a regulatory framework for online companies and how these companies have transposed the obligation to protect human rights and combat hate speech online into their community standards. The matters of transparency and accountability will be explored, through the lens of corporate social responsibility.
In December 2020, HBI researchers published the first 40-countries study on the Covid "infodemic" and how platforms and countries deal with Corona-related disinformation. The working paper is available as open access.

Kettemann, M. C.; Fertmann, M.: (eds.) Viral Information: How States and Platforms Deal with Covid-19-related Disinformation: an Exploratory Study of 20 Countries (Hamburg: Verlag Hans-Bredow-Institut, 2020), GDHRNet Working Paper #1

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Project Description

The Network will propose a comprehensive system of human rights protection online, in the form of recommendations of the content assessment obligation by online companies, directed to the companies themselves, European and international policy organs, governments and the general public. The Action will develop a model which minimises the risk of arbitrary assessment of online content and instead solidifies standards which are used during content assessment; and maximises the transparency of the outcome.

The Action will achieve scientific breakthroughs (a) by means of a quantitative and qualitative assessment of whether private Internet companies’ provide comparable protection of human rights online in comparison with judicial institutions, and (b) in the form of a novel holistic theoretical approach to the potential role of artificial intelligence in protecting human rights online, and (c) by providing policy suggestions for private balancing of fundamental rights online.

Matthias C. Kettemann will function as leader for Working Group 2 - Practical dimension of human rights online

Project Information


Duration: 2020-2024

Research programme:
RP2 - Regulatory Structures and the Emergence of Rules in Digital Communication

Third party


Cooperation Partner

Prof. Mart Susi (University Tallinn)

Contact person

Prof. Dr. Matthias C. Kettemann, LL.M. (Harvard)
Senior Researcher "Regulatory Structures and the Emergence of Rules in Online Spaces"

Prof. Dr. Matthias C. Kettemann, LL.M. (Harvard)

Leibniz-Institut für Medienforschung | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI)
Rothenbaumchaussee 36
20148 Hamburg

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