UN Report: ‘Cyber-Touch’ As Harmful to Women and Girls ‘as a Physical Touch’

By Zachary Leshin | September 30, 2015 | 4:56 PM EDT

A new U.N. report on “Cyber Violence Against Women and Girls” calls for increased government supervision of the Internet. (Photo: U.N. Broadband Commission for Digital Development)

(CNSNews.com) – A new report on “Cyber Violence Against Women and Girls” released by the United Nations’ Broadband Commission for Digital Development declared that a “cyber-touch” can be “equally as harmful as a physical touch.”

“Now that a cyber-touch is recognized as equally as harmful as a physical touch, all citizens, must prepare themselves to take the appropriate action,” said the report, which calls for increased government supervision of the Internet.

“Telecoms and search engines, the indispensable backbone bringing the content to users, have a particular role and responsibility to protect the public from violent or abusive behaviors,” said the report.

“Political and governmental bodies need to use their licensing prerogative to ensure that only those Telecoms and search engines are allowed to connect with the public that supervise content and its dissemination,” it continued.

The report defined cyber violence as including “hate speech (publishing a blasphemous libel), hacking (intercepting private communications), identity theft, online stalking (criminal harassment) and uttering threats.”

At a panel discussion held last week to discuss the report, several speakers further clarified what they meant by “violent or abusive behaviors.”

“I think it's important to recognize that harassment is, as someone had mentioned, it’s not just what is legal and illegal. Harassment is threats of violence, but it’s also the day-to-day grind of ‘you’re a liar, you suck,’ making all of these hate videos to attack us on a regular basis,” said Anita Sarkeesian, a cultural critic who runs the blog Feminist Frequency.

Sarkeesian’s comments about harassment referred to criticism she has received over her opposition to the controversial online campaign Gamergate.

“We need people to actually enforce their own terms of service and shut down bad actors,” said Chelsea Van Valkenburg (listed on the panel under her pen name, Zoe Quinn), a video game developer known for creating the game “Depression Quest.”

“There are individuals on services like YouTube that have made a living off of abusing people like Anita and I,” said Van Valkenburg.

The Broadband Commission for Digital Development was established in 2010 for the stated purpose of making progress towards achieving the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.