DUBLIN, 18 June 2012 – A conference hosted by Ireland’s 2012 OSCE Chairmanship on the challenges to freedom of expression and media freedom online and the debate around Internet governance opened in Dublin today.
Experts and representatives from OSCE participating States, civil society organizations, media and business are taking part in the two-day conference, which was opened by the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Irish Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore.
“The Internet and other networked technologies have provided people all over the world with a new platform for exercising their right to freedom of opinion and expression. It has become an indispensable tool for all citizens to seek, receive and impart information. We, in government, have an obligation to enable our citizens to access the Internet unhindered. Yet some governments are increasingly resorting to a variety of measures to restrict such freedoms, contrary to OSCE commitments and to international human rights law,” said the Chairperson.
“In bringing together this diverse group of panellists, our hope is to inform, to stimulate discussion, and, ultimately, to guide OSCE participating States and other key stakeholders to make informed choices.”
The conference opened with a high-level panel discussion that focused on ways to ensure that the Internet remains an open, global and public forum for freedom of opinion and expression and a platform for facilitating the exercise of other human rights and fundamental freedoms.
“There are competing views about rights, freedoms, security and regulations online. The discussions of freedoms and rights and the discussions around security often appear to be running on parallel tracks,” said Dunja Mijatović, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, who is taking part in the panel.
“We need to bring these debates and perspectives together, and we need to encourage a more interdisciplinary understanding of cyberspace governance that will help us avoid overly broad-brush attempts to legislate the Internet while enabling broad consultation. The OSCE offers a framework for the rights-security debate that we need to take advantage of, and I hope that this conference will help to further the discussion.”
The conference will also feature three sessions on online content, Internet governance and human rights, and new media: social media and social networks. Prominent speakers include Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Rebecca MacKinnon, Senior Fellow, New America Foundation, former CNN bureau chief in Beijing in Tokyo and co-founder of Global Voices Online; Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights; Cory Doctorow, science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger; Alec Ross, Senior Adviser on Innovation in the office of the US Secretary of State, Sonia Flynn, Director of Online Operations, Facebook; and Janez Lenarčič Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).
Google will host a “Big Tent” event, open to all participants, on the evening of 18 June.
The conference is being streamed live at: http://www.osce.org/event/internetfreedom2012.
A live Twitter feed (@NetFreedom2012) is being used to feed questions and comments into the different working sessions.