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09 March 2012

UNHRC Incorporates Internet Freedom In Human Rights

Last week I wrote a post on the United Nations Human Rights Council panel discussion about Internet freedom, and here is a short follow up. As I said in the earlier blog no immediate changes were to be expected, but the result was still satisfactory as the Human Rights Council now officially has incorporated the fight for internet freedom in its work.

The Swedish Foreign Minister, who initiated the panel discussion, was happy that a majority of the world's governments have the same view on internet freedom as Sweden. However, many speakers expressed their concern about the internet being used for distributing harmful content or commiting crimes. This is undoubtedly a negative side of a free internet, but as many others pointed out it must be fought against with education and social reforms, not with restrictions on the freedom of expression.

There is however a long way to go. Cuba was a strong opponent to the whole meeting, and China got support from several other countries for its statement that control of the internet not internet freedom was the most important question. It is not unlikely that these countries will form a stronger alliance to limit the freedom of the internet.

Unfortunately it is also not unlikely that countries who say they support internet freedom still will act as if they do not. We often see examples of such hyphocrisy, also here in Sweden. Still, a step in the right direction has been taken, and that is a positive thing. I urge the UN and the Human Rights Council to keep up the good work!