07 June 2012

Internet freedom proposal from Sweden and USA

The United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is visiting Sweden this week, and today the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reveals that Ms. Clinton and her Swedish counterpart Carl Bildt want to join forces in the fight for Internet freedom.

UNHRC discussion
In the end of February I wrote an article about a  panel discussion about Internet freedom held in the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. It was initiated by the Swedish Foreign Minister, and the purpose of it was to point out what the member countries of the Human Rights Council can do to protect and promote freedom of expression on the internet, and to highlight the major threats to this fundamental right.

The result of the discussion was that Human Rights Council officially incorporated the fight for Internet freedom in its work. This was a step in the right direction, and during Hillary Clinton's visit to Stockholm she and Mr. Bildt prepared another step towards internet freedom for all.

Common proposal
According to Dagens Nyheter the U.S. and Sweden will present a draft resolution on Internet freedom to the Human Rights Council in late June. The proposal contains two elements:
  • Article 19 on Freedom of Speech in the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights should apply online in the same way as it does offline. Article 19 stipulates the right of everyone to freedom of opinion and expression and the right to disseminate and gather information.
  • The draft resolution on the Internet and its contents should be respected as a fundamental prerequisite for the information and freedom of expression.
Fight against Internet restrictions
Both the first Human Rights Council panel discussion and  this coming proposal are directed towards the type of actions that the Mubarak regime took during the Arab spring, when virtually the entire Egyptian network was shut down. But it also addresses the censorship on the net that governments in countries such as China and Iran are engaged in.

First top-level speech on Internet freedom
As far as I know Hillary Clinton was the first to raise Internet freedom to the international top-level policy, which she did in a speech at the Newseum in Washington, DC in January 2010. Like the rest of the team I hope that she will be successful in this fight.

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