In 2009, Professor Danielle Keats Citron published "Cyber Civil Rights," arguing, for the first time, that we ought to understand and address cyber harassment as civil rights violations. In that article, she called for a cyber civil rights legal agenda to prevent, punish, and remedy bigoted online abuse that make equality in our digital age "more of a slogan than a reality." As she documented, the Internet has "all too often reflected and reinforced the offline world's power imbalances." Cyber harassers "raise the price" women, sexual minorities, and other members of historically subordinated groups "have to pay to engage with others on- and offline by forcing them to suffer a destructive combination of threats, reputation-harming defamation aimed to interfere with their employment opportunities, privacy invasions, and denial-of-service attacks because of their gender, race, or sexual preference," she explained.
Cyber harassment raises the risk of physical attack, offline stalking, and emotional harm. It also forces victims offline, preventing them from enjoying the economic, social, and political opportunities that networked platforms provide. According to Professor Citron, a cyber civil rights agenda is essential to deter and redress cyber harassment's harms to individuals, groups, and society at large.
Cyber Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI) seeks to answer that call for a legal and educational response to cyber harassment. We are a non-profit organization engaging in advocacy work through the development of individual campaigns meant to target specific cyber harassment issues.
CCRI was founded by Holly Jacobs, PhD. Dr. Jacobs was once a victim of revenge porn, a form of online harassment in which an individual posts and/or distributes nude or explicit material of a subject on the Internet without his/her consent. After running into so many dead-ends in her efforts to get help from police, FBI, lawyers, and Internet specialists regarding her case, she eventually took matters into her own hands and started End Revenge Porn in August 2012.
End Revenge Porn is a campaign that advocates for legislation against revenge porn and also provides resources for victims of it. While running this campaign, Dr. Jacobs became aware of other forms of harassment that were occurring on the Internet; revenge porn was just the tip of the iceberg. So, she decided to start an organization that would address just one form of online harassment, but all forms.
History is repeating itself online. Disadvantaged groups (women, people of color, religious minorities, and LGBTQ) that have been targeted in the physical space are now being attacked and silenced on the Internet. The Cyber Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI) aims to counter this by raising awareness about the issue of online harassment and empowering the victims. CCRI will be a medium through which victims can speak up and fight back against this injustice and demand that just as rules and regulations have been put in place against this type of behavior in the physical space, the same needs to be done online.
At CCRI, we are giving victims the courage and tools to fight back.
CCRI's mission is to help victims of cyber harassment by:
- Raise awareness and educate the public about the nature and prevalence of online abuse
- Advocate for state and federal legislation to prevent such abuse, when appropriate
- Provide victims with emotional and moral support
- Discover and vet resources for victims