Show and tell: Advocating for stronger policy protections against online harassment

Headshot of EIrliani Rahman

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Who I am: Eirliani (“Lin”) Abdul Rahman, doctoral student in public health at Harvard Chan.

What I created: I recently wrote a policy brief for New America that highlights the novel risks from networked harassment, especially in an election year. I proposed using a public health lens that focuses less on the intent of the harasser and more on the outcomes affecting the targets and society at large.

Why it matters: New America sent the piece to the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and the bipartisan Working Group on AI in the US Congress. In addition, a foreign government has scheduled a briefing by me to understand the impact of networked harassment on women candidates during elections. It is important for governments and legislatures to understand how such forms of harassment may compel users to abandon participation in the public sphere–both online and offline–altogether.

What I learned: I was a senior diplomat but am not familiar with navigating the political landscape in DC as I had not served as a diplomat in this country. Due to this, I learned that it is critical to partner with organizations to get your messaging across. As a former New America Open Technology Institute Fellow, I was fortunate to have New America support my work in this manner.