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ECS: crisis management and governance issues

International affairs, Public policy, Communications & Marketing, and Conflict prevention & Crisis management issues from an innovative perspective

By Christopher O. de Andrés


BALANCING THE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AGAINST THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY AND GENUINE SECURITY ON THE NEW DIGITAL ERA
(September 2010)

The Council of Europe will be engaging in the 5th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) on 14-17 September in Vilnius (Lithuania). This will be an open dialogue with governments, civil society representatives and the private sector on how to safeguard freedom on the Internet.

Contributing to the overall theme “ Developing the future together” of the UN event, the CoE will provide an advance legal framework for the internet. To my understanding the implementation of the Budapest Cybercrime Convention will be one of the cross-cutting issues of this Forum.

What is the real purpose of this effort? With over 1.6 billion users worldwide, internet has become a space where individuals, including children and adolescents can express themselves freely, create, engage in dialogue and prompt action to resolve problems within the new social forums.

Access to the Internet is no longer a luxury but a necessity and nowadays is increasingly considered a basic right. For the younger generation it has become their primary source of freedom and information in their process of growing up. Our aim is to seek the legitimate expectation that Internet services should be and will remain accessible, affordable, secure, reliable and available to all.

The Internet belongs to all of us, and should serve the common good. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the European Convention of Human Rights. Article 10 of the European Convention on HR says that everyone should have the right to freedom of expression and information. However, where is the limit?: this means that state authorities should ensure there is freedom to communicate on the Internet subject to the limits which applies to the other forms of expression under the Convention.

While the cyberspace is a global forum where we are able to exercise our fundamental freedoms, the use of information technologies also implies some risks. And the more society relies on the Internet technology, the more vulnerable becomes to threats such as cybercrime, children’s sexual exploitation/sexual abuse, free flow of racism and hate speech messages, etc.


It is being said the Internet is one of the greatest liberating forces of the 21st Century, making information and global information accessible to everyone on the WorldWideWeb. Nevertheless, the free flow of information may have several adverse effects to the stability and security and privacy of the Internet and, to this same extend, to our fundamental rights. Once we explore the cyberspace by entering into its highway we leave many traces unwittingly of personal data which will be stored on grey-abstract computer systems without knowing what will really happen to that data.

I should use this editorial to emphasise that security and freedom of expression are not mutually exclusively concepts. Much on the opposite, both need to counter-balance each other: a genuine security needs freedom of expression and vice- versa. There seems to be a growing consensus in this respect. However, this is a shared responsibility. In the globalised online environment, we all need to contribute to a rights-based and safer cyberspace. And I strongly believe we have the best chance to succeed if we pool resources and political will to push forward an effective existing tool – namely the Council of Europe Cybercrime Convention. Cybercriminals, abuses by state and non-state actors flow across the fast-moving online spectrum. It is a non-stop threat which eventually will feature new challenges. Simultaneously, individual’s privacy and security must be safeguarded when going online.

The only way to tackle fraud and violations perpetrated against human rights will be by prompting a vigorous response from state governments, the private sector, supranational and national organizations and developing as quickly as possible multilateral joint projects in pursuit of common goals with ongoing Internet actors – e.g. European Internet Service Providers (ISPs), the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). By active coherent partnership will ensure effective responsibility, freedom and protection of our democratic rights. First and foremost, quoting the Council of Europe Secretary General, Thorbjorn Jagland, “we must not forget, the Internet is being built by the people for the people and with the people”.
BALANCING THE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AGAINST THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY AND GENUINE SECURITY ON THE NEW DIGITAL ERA

Posted by Christopher O. De Andrés, on Friday, March 18th 2011 at 08:05 | Comments (0)

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