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friday :: june 2, 2006
a new frontier for human rights? the internet and freedom of expression

The internet is one of the most powerful inventions of the digital age. It has the potential to empower and educate, to cross cultural boundaries and create global communities. It offers the means for any individual with access to a computer and a gateway to the internet to communicate in a free flow of information and ideas with others across the world.

Yet that very potential to transcend national borders and impart information regardless of frontiers means that the internet is also the subject of concerted efforts by governments to restrict freedoms and violate basic human rights such as the right to privacy, freedom of expression and freedom of information.

In some countries, the struggle for freedom of expression is now taking place online as authoritarian governments devote increasing resources and attention to controlling access to information via the internet and to implementing surveillance technologies.

Their objective is often to prevent the dissemination of information that is critical of them, as well as to track and monitor dissidents, some of whom are subsequently imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

In this context, the internet itself can become a tool of repression where the monitoring of communications, the censoring and filtering of information and the amassing of immense databanks of information enhance the ability of authoritarian governments to restrict the freedoms and basic human rights of their citizens. Such national restrictions can affect not just those living within that country but anyone who seeks to impart or receive information in relation to that country.

There are some legitimate cases in which restricting access to certain information is an important step in protecting human rights, for example restricting access to child pornography. However, international human rights standards establish strict conditions under which such restrictions are permissible. Unwarranted censorship is contrary to many local laws and established international norms and values.

(...) Amnesty International believes that respect for human rights and freedom of expression is a vital component of any future agreement on Internet Governance.

Ahead of the Internet Governance Forum meeting in Athens (November, 2006), the WSIS Civil Society Human Rights Caucus, a coalition of 65 organisations, is highlighting concerns over the implications of Internet policies for freedom of expression and the protection of privacy. The Caucus seeks to ensure that all internet policies have human rights protection as their baseline. It is also calling for the establishment of an Independent Commission on the Information Society and Human Rights composed of experts in relevant fields, with a broad geographical representation, to monitor and assess relevant legislation and policies to ensure that these are compliant with international human rights standards. >from *the internet and freedom of expression: a new frontier for human rights?*. Amnesty International briefing. May, 2006

related context
irrepresible. 'a campaign to show that online or offline the human voice and human rights are impossible to repress.'
>electronic frontier foundation.
>huge win for online journalists' source protection. may 26, 2006
> free isamu kaneko, the winNY developer. may 21, 2004
> grokster and morpheus survive: 21st-century technology ban fails. may 5, 2003
> the martus human rights bulletin system. march 17, 2003
> systems to circumvent internet censorship. november 20, 2002
> the free network project: freedom of communication. november 5, 2002
> the hacktivismo declaration: assertions of liberty in support of an uncensored internet. july 18, 2002
> jon johansen indicted: decss case. january 17, 2002
> sklyarov's case: programmer allowed to return home to russia. december 18, 2001
> chaos computer club for info peace: international understanding more important than ever. september 17, 2001
>911 keys, tech and sciart net communities reactions. 2001

irrepressible internet

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