The Swedish Internet Governance Forum 2013 officially started today and will end tomorrow on May 23, 2013. I will be participating in an opening panel tomorrow morning on internet freedom. Look out for more information on twitter at #sif2013.
The forum kick started with an official opening dinner hosted by the City of Stockholm Mayor, and I was asked to talk on behalf of the participants.
This is what I said:
am glad to be once again participating in the Swedish Internet Forum. For some, this is the first time they are participating but for others, it is an opportunity to be among friends who participated in the SIF in 2012, share updates and developments on internet matters from our different countries.
I wish to thank the organisers of of SIF for opening up the forum to the World. This should result in stimulating debates that will benefit from the various perspectives from the different participants from different parts of the World.
Internet freedom is a topic that we must continue to debate, first due to internet's exponential growth and uptake even in the remotest parts of the World, and secondly due to the reality by authorities of the powerful nature of this medium to reach people, and therefore the need to have some form of control over this border less and powerful communication tool.
As stakeholders we must remain vigilant as control of the internet will bring in issues of interfering with peoples human rights. (3 issues come to mind: and informed by my country's recent general election).
1. We must be alert to the debates around freedom of expression vs protection of public order often discussed in the context of content control and censorship on the Internet. Let us remember that the Universal Declaration on Human Rights Article 19 (freedom of expression) and Article 27 (protection of public order) have been extended to the Internet therefore the need to preserve freedom of expression, access to information and choice.
2. Maintaining diversity of content/Access to high quality content vs hate speech online brings to fore an issue of freedom of the internet. Is there something like a common definition of hate speech online? And are legislative measures the way to go as some countries are trying to?
3. Cybersecurity vs privacy: like security in real life, cybersecurity may endanger some human rights such as the right to privacy. Will additional cybersecurity measures imply some loss of privacy? Privacy is a fundamental human right.
How is the internet protecting the interests of the disadvantaged, such as people with disabilities?
The challenge for us as stakeholders is that we must continue to strive for Internet-related human rights which must continue to respect peoples privacy, freedom of expression, the right to receive information, various rights protecting cultural, linguistic, and minority diversity, and the right to education.
We must remain vigilant and ensure that our efforts support an online environment that is free and secure.
And finally I would like to applaud the Mayor of Stockholm for the wonderful dinner and plenty of drinks, but also for the continued support of Internet related events. Thank you!