Freedom Online Coalition Expresses Concern Over Restrictions of Access to Internet

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Finland, the Chair of the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC) for 2021, has expressed concern over the growing trend of state-sponsored actions to restrict access to online content and obstruct free expression online and offline.

This includes the use of arbitrary or unlawful surveillance practices, partial or complete Internet shutdowns as well as online content regulation and censorship, in violation of states’ obligations under international human rights law.

Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi, Permanent Representative of Finland in Geneva, who issued a statement to this effect on behalf of the FOC during an interactive dialogue on the annual report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Irene Khan, specifically called on all governments to immediately end Internet shutdowns and refrain from content restrictions or actions that restrict civic space online and offline, inconsistent  with human rights law.

The statement, which was presented at the 47th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, urges all governments to act in a manner that ensures a free, open, interoperable, reliable and secure Internet and fully respects human rights, including freedom of expression.

The statement expressed grave concern with the growing trend of state-sponsored actions to curb these freedoms and advised that the Internet should be guided by policies that promote the free flow of information and that protect human rights and foster innovation, creativity, and economic growth.

It also expressed the Coalition’s desire that digital technologies and, in particular the Internet,  should provide a unique platform that enables individuals to exercise their human rights more fully, including the freedom to hold and express opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

The FOC is a multilateral coalition of 32 governments that collaborate to advance Internet freedom worldwide. The Coalition provides a forum for like-minded governments to coordinate efforts and work with civil society, the private sector, and other Internet stakeholders to support the ability of individuals to exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms online.