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Your digital rights

Every netizen has the right to work, play and grow online without being attacked, harassed, defamed or have their privacy violated. Fundamental rights apply equally online and offline. Upholding, promoting and protecting human rights in the online environment is not only of essence for the individual right holders, but a vital part underpinning democratic participation and development.


Online abuse is a global problem that affects a majority of netizens at some point in their life, with women and minorities disproportionately affected. It can be divided into two main categories: Verbal abuse, which is mainly perpetrated through text, and graphic abuse, which is mainly perpetrated through images or video.


•Hate speech: Expressions which spread, incite, promote or justify hatred based on protected characteristics, such as race, gender, sexuality, gender expression, religion or disability.


•Cyber bullying: Repeated aggressive online behaviour with the objective of frightening and undermining the victim's self-esteem or reputation.


•Cyber harassment: Including unwanted sexually explicit emails, text (or online) messages; inappropriate or offensive advances on social networking websites or internet chat rooms; threats of physical and/or sexual violence by email, text (or online) messages; hate speech, meaning language that denigrates, insults, threatens or targets an individual based on her identity (gender) and other traits (such as sexual orientation or disability). 

•Cyber stalking: Monitoring someone using electronic means with the intent to cause fear and/or distress.


•Mob attacks: When a group of people organise and carry out an attack an individual (also known as public shaming.)

•Doxxing: Publishing personal information online without consent, such as home addresses or phone numbers.


•Image-based sexual abuse (also known as "revenge porn") where images or videos that depict nudity or sexual activity are shared without the photographed individual's consent, including fakes (where the image has been generated by AI or otherwise manipulated using image editing software) and up-skirting (photos taken up a person's skirt without their consent).

•Unsolicited nudes: Includes “dick pics”, i.e. nude photos that are sent to a receiver who has not consented or shown interest in receiving such material.

•Sextortion: Using sexually intimate material as a means of blackmail, i.e. by threatening to share or distribute such material online. 

•Hacking, including web-cam hacking, for example when a webcam is switched on without the owners consent, invading their privacy.

•Impersonation: Stealing someone’s identity and using it without consent.

•Trafficking and recruitment / sale: When victims are lured with fake job ads, and when victims are sold online.

Child sexual exploitation: The sexual abuse of a person below the age of 18, as well as to the production of images of such abuse and the sharing of those images online.

•Grooming: The preparation of a child for sexual abuse, motivated by the desire to use the child for sexual gratification, often by adults whom they had initially encountered online.


NORDREF's goal is to add to the existing knowledge about digital rights and how to best implement and further them. This includes identifying threats and inventing solutions, or strengthening existing ones. In order to ensure a democratic internet, where every netizen can safely partake, a multi-disciplinary approach is needed that involves legislation, law enforcement, education and public awareness.



People aged 50+ dominate society-related discussions on Facebook (64%), whereas 18-29-year-olds represent just 8% of participants. The harsh tone discourages, with 59% stating that it keeps them from sharing their opinions. Women refrain more than men, while the young are more deterred than older people.



67% of female journalists in Sweden is subject to hate and threats online, often targeting their gender. In a study of various professions that work online, 55% of women had been abused online, and 41% of men. 



A legislation that protects sexual privacy in the digital age is scheduled to take effect in January 2021. This will define image-based sexual abuse (the non-consensual sharing of nude or sexually explicit material) and make it illegal, as well as threatening to subject someone to it.


Do you have a point we simply can't miss? Or a story that you think we should hear? Drop us a line. When it comes to your digital wellbeing - we're all ears.

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