Reporters Without Borders has taken a delegation of cyber-dissidents to the U.N.'s preparatory meeting for the World Summit on Internet & Society this week. Global Voices is naturally concerned about efforts by governments that do not uphold free speech to interfere with internet governance. RWB has come out with an excellent set of recommendations that the U.N. should uphold if it wants any credibility at all when it comes to internet governance:
- Any law about the flow of information online must be anchored in freedom of expression as defined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- Internet users alone must decide what material they can and wish to access online. Automatic filtering of online content, by governments or private firms, is unacceptable.
Filters must only be installed by Internet users themselves and only on their personal connection. Any policy of higher-level (national or even local) filtering conflicts with the principle of the free flow of information.
- A decision to shut down a website, even an illegal one, must not in any circumstances be taken by the site’s host or any other technical provider of Internet services. Only a judge can ban an online
publication. A technical service provider cannot therefore be held criminally or civilly responsible for any illegal material posted on a hosted website unless the service provider refuses to obey a ruling by an impartial and independent court.
- A government’s civil or criminal powers are limited to content hosted on its territory or specifically aimed at the country’s Internet users.
- The editors of online publications, including bloggers and those running personal sites, must have the same protection and be shown the same consideration as professional journalists since, like them, they exercise a basic freedom, that of freedom of expression.
(hat tip to B.A. Higgins)
Committee to Protect Bloggers has a blogger's account from the WSIS meeting in Geneva. Much cause for concern about the situation in Tunisia, which will be hosting the next WSIS summit this Fall.
Global Voices and the CPB welcomes any further links you may find from people blogging about the WSIS meeting, threats against bloggers, and online freedom of speech issues.