Fifth Internet Governance Forum
Vilnius, Lithuania, 14-17 September 2010
UNESCO Workshop 81 “Freedom of Connection – Freedom of Expression:
The Changing Legal and Regulatory Ecology Shaping the Internet”
Room 6, Lithuanian Exhibition Centre LITEXPO, Vilnius
11:30-13:30, 14 September, 2010
This workshop is a follow-up of the well-attended discussion on Internet Censorship and Filtering by the participants of IGF 2009 in Sharm el Sheik. UNESCO would also take the occasion to release an in-depth analysis and report entitled “Freedom of Connection – Freedom of Expression: The Changing Legal and Regulatory Ecology Shaping the Internet”(Executive Summary attached), which builds upon previous discussions and provides a panorama of observations and useful exploration on the subject, conducted by the Oxford Internet Institute.
Given the increasing debate on the issue of free flow of information at global level since last year, the Vilnius workshop seeks to bring global policy makers, industry leaders, civil society, legal experts and other stakeholders together to dialogue and exchange views on feasible approaches and policy. What recommendations are in order to shape the changing legal and regulatory ecology in ways that are conducive to preserving freedom of expression, the free flow of information and knowledge, and the integrity of cyberspace as a public good, without being increasingly fragmented? The sub-themes include:
- Internet Filtering and Censorship
- Right to Access to Information and Knowledge
- Privacy and Data Protection
- Child Protection
- Network Neutrality
|11:30 Opening and Introductory Remarks by Chair|
|10’||Mr Jānis Kārkliņš||Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information at UNESCO|
|11:40 Presentation of the report by Prof. William Dutton, Director, and Dr Victoria Nash, Policy and Research Fellow, Oxford Internet Institute (OII), University of Oxford|
|12:10 Comment by Dr. Yaman Akdeniz , Associate Professor of Law, Istanbul Bilgi University, Turkey|
|12 :20 Comment by Mr Nicklas Lundblad, senior policy counsel and head of public policy for Google in Mountain View|
|12 :30 Questions and Answers (also open to remote participation)|
|13:25 Closing Remark by Mr Jānis Kārkliņš|
Note 1: The workshop welcomes remote participation. Pls contact remote moderator Ms Xianhong Hu (firstname.lastname@example.org), Communication and Information Sector, UNESCO.
Note 2: Ps find the Executive Summary of the report enclosed below:
Freedom of Connection – Freedom of Expression:
The Changing Legal and Regulatory Ecology Shaping the Internet
by William H. Dutton, Anna Dopatka, Michael Hills, Ginette Law, and Victoria Nash, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford
Over the first decade of the 21st Century, the Internet and its convergence with mobile communications has enabled greater access to information and communication resources. In 2010, nearly 2 billion people worldwide – over one-quarter of the world’s population – use the Internet. However, during the same period, defenders of digital rights have raised growing concerns over how legal and regulatory trends might be constraining online freedom of expression. Anecdotal accounts of the arrests of bloggers, the filtering of content, and the disconnection of users have sparked these concerns. However, they are reinforced by more systematic studies that provide empirical evidence of encroachments on freedom of expression, such as through the increased use of content filtering.
This report provides a new perspective on the social and political dynamics behind these threats to expression. It develops a conceptual framework on the ‘ecology of freedom of expression’ for discussing the broad context of policy and practice that should be taken into consideration in discussions of this issue. This framework structures an original synthesis of empirical research and case studies of selected technical, legal and regulatory trends. These include developments in six inter-related arenas that focus on:
- technical initiatives, related to connection and disconnection, such as content filtering;
- digital rights, including those tied directly to freedom of expression and censorship, but also indirectly, through freedom of information, and privacy and data protection;
- industrial policy and regulation, including copyright and intellectual property, industrial strategies, and ICTs for development;
- users, such as focused on fraud, child protection, decency, libel and control of hate speech;
- network policy and practices, including standards, such as around identity, and regulation of Internet Service Providers; and
- security, ranging from controlling spam and viruses to protecting national security.
By placing developments in these arenas into a broad ecology of choices, it is more apparent how freedom can be eroded unintentionally as various actors strategically pursue a more diverse array of objectives. The findings reinforce the significance of concerns over freedom of expression and connection, while acknowledging countervailing trends and the open future of technology, policy and practice. Freedom of expression is not an inevitable outcome of technological innovation. It can be diminished or reinforced by the design of technologies, policies and practices – sometimes far removed from freedom of expression. This synthesis points out the need to focus systematic research on this wider ecology shaping the future of expression in the digital age.