Companies that fear damage or loss of their reputation have begun to increasingly rely on legal tools such as lawsuits or lobbying to silence their foes and critics. Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) cases have proliferated in the United States and beyond as a way for companies to sue individuals or groups in order to censor, intimidate, and silence their critics. In Colombia, this process has been incorporated into the Peace Process, as judges in the Special Tribunal for Peace (JEP) have come to prohibit the discussion of third-party actors as a manner to safeguard their reputation and legal standing.
The privacy policies of many of the tech giants—especially with regards to collecting and using information, profiling, automated-decision making, and data commercialization—continue to illustrate worrying scenarios for the right to privacy and related freedoms of netizens in every single country around the world. While the European Union has begun to address the challenge with the recently passed General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Latin American privacy statutes across the board remain rather weak for the digital age. These countries should begin to think of a supranational regulatory harmonization for the region, much like the one that has endowed Europe with greater bargaining power over data-driven companies.
It is time for Latin America to take on the challenge and decide whether commercial speech needs to be protected over children’s health or whether it can be restricted in order to prevent increasing children’s obesity rates. The recent decision by the Colombian Constitutional Court is a good step forward, but it is not enough.
In the long struggle to implement the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, five years since they were first adopted, the call for tangible action, not only words and commitments, is a common refrain. A necessary element of implementation is the involvement of business, but we must proceed with caution, and focus significant attention on the small print.
How do we know when states and businesses have moved from committing to protect and respect human rights to actually doing so? How do we know if initiatives for human rights protections are successful when we have no ways of measuring their impact? These are the questions that have begun to vex the Working Group on Business and Human Rights (WG).
Contrary to what many think, slavery did not end in the 19th century, or even in the 20th century. In 1850, in the southern United States, a slave cost around $40,000 in today’s dollars, while currently, the median cost of a slave is USD 90. Modern slaves, regardless of the type of slavery to which they are submitted, are cheap and disposable, as when one becomes ill, she can be easily replaced by another.