The Freedom Online Coalition (FOC) has called on governments worldwide to promote transparency and independent, eﬀective domestic oversight related to electronic surveillance and restrictions on online content.
The call is contained the “Recommendations for Freedom Online”, adopted by consensus on April 28, 2014 by Ministers of the Freedom Online Coalition at the end of their fourth annual high level conference held in Tallinn, Estonia.
The FOC is an intergovernmental coalition established at the inaugural Freedom Online Conference in The Hague, the Netherlands, on December 8 and 9, 2011. It currently has 21 governments as members with partners from the private and NGO sectors. The annual conferences of the Coalition provide a forum for the discussion of issues facing the global Internet community and internet freedoms globally.
The FOI indicated in its founding declaration that it is committed to advancing internet freedom – free expression, association, assembly, and privacy online worldwide and that FOC member states are committed to working together diplomatically to voice concern over measures to restrict internet freedom and support those individuals whose human rights online are curtailed.
Current members of the Coalition consists of Austria, Canada, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Ireland, Kenya, Latvia, the Republic of Maldives, Mexico, Mongolia, the Netherlands, Sweden, Tunisia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The Tallinn FOC Conference had 406 participants from 64 countries in attendance with 120 government representatives participating.
In the conference statement known as the “Tallinn Agenda”, the FOC made a commitment to “enhanced transparency of government processes and open government data initiatives and encourage the development of e-government solutions in the public sector, while safeguarding the privacy of citizens and the security of such data.”
The FOC members decided to support programmes, initiatives and technologies that promote and help to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms online, and recommended that other stakeholders to join these eﬀorts.
They invited governments and the private sector, in consultation with all stakeholders that safeguard human rights and fundamental freedoms online, to implement and share such best practices at the next Freedom Online Coalition conference in 2015.
The FOC called upon governments to halt imprisonment, harassment, physical violence, censorship, hacking as well as illicit ﬁltering, blocking and monitoring of opposition voices and other repressive measures utilised to restrict freedom of expression and organisation online in contravention of international human rights obligations.
They should dedicate themselves, in conducting their own activities, to respect their human rights obligations, as well as the principles of the rule of law, legitimate purpose, non-arbitrariness, eﬀective oversight, and transparency, and called upon others to do the same.
The FOC members reaffirmed their support for an open and interoperable internet, noting that strong cyber security and secure and stable communication are critical to maintaining conﬁdence and trust in the internet, and key to safeguarding human rights and realising the internet’s economic, social and cultural beneﬁts.
They called upon governments worldwide to promote transparency and independent, eﬀective domestic oversight related to electronic surveillance, use of content take-down notices, limitations or restrictions on online content or user access and other similar measures, while committing themselves to do the same.
The members collectively condemned violations and abuses of human rights and fundamental freedoms online as they occur in diﬀerent countries throughout the world.
They committed themselves to supporting digital literacy, to empower Internet users to make informed decisions, promote their access to information and economic opportunities, and protect their human rights and fundamental freedoms with particular attention being paid to the challenges faced by persons and groups in vulnerable positions or who are subject to discrimination.
The FOC members also committed themselves to preserve and strengthen the multi-stakeholder model of internet governance and increased participation in multi-stakeholder fora, such as the Internet Governance Forum.
They invited governments, the private sector, international organisations, and civil society worldwide to endorse the recommendations to guarantee a free and secure Internet for all.
Click here for the full text of the “Tallinn Agenda” – Recommendations for Freedom Online