Laura O’Brien is the U.N. Advocacy Officer at Access Now, where she represents the organization at various international and regional bodies to advance rights-respecting tech policy and governance worldwide. She joins Access Now after completing her Master of Laws at Columbia Law School where she graduated with honors as a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and with a Parker School Certificate of Achievement in International and Comparative Law. During her legal studies, Laura explored the pervasiveness of censorship – particularly of human rights defenders – in the digital age, and assisted the Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic on issues related to business and human rights. Laura also holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, a Master of Arts in International Development from the University of Kent, Brussels School of International Studies, and a Bachelor of Arts in Social Justice and Peace Studies from King’s University College at Western University. Laura has previously worked with human rights experts and international organizations based in Córdoba, New York, Geneva, Ottawa, and Toronto. She is a licensed barrister and solicitor in Ontario, Canada.
FOC Task Force on Internet Shutdowns and Defending Democracy Online
This event will serve as the launch of the FOC’s Task Force on Internet Shutdowns. It will begin with a brief description of the task force’s structure and mission, led by speakers from the U.S. Department of State, Access Now, and the Global Network Initiative (GNI). These organizations are the task force’s founding chairs. The session will also feature breakout rooms engaging participants in answering two questions: How can well-intentioned governments protect individuals and democratic values online without resorting to Internet shutdowns? And what levers of influence can FOC members and partners use to influence the behavior of states that engage in Internet shutdowns?