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Freedom of Expression

Since 2008, I've been concerned about how free speech and privacy rights can be protected when governments try to legislate for blocking or taking content. The principles of protecting freedom of expression applied then, as now.

The right to privacy and freedom of expression apply online just as they apply offline. These are very precious rights because as well as protecting individuals, they also protect society as whole. Democracy, culture and access to knowledge are safeguarded because we have these two rights. These rights online are threatened by any proposals to block content or conduct surveillance. Such threats can come from governments or from private corporations.

This section is concerned with how human rights online can be valued and protected i the face of measures that threaten them.

If you are interested in how Internet freedoms may be influenced by policy, you may like my book The Closing of the Net .


If you are interested in copyright policy, you may like my previous books A Copyright Masquerade: How Corporate Lobbying Threatens Online Freedoms and The Copyright Enforcement Enigma - Internet Politics and the 'Telecoms Package'

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression backs up the European Parliament's position on the Telecoms Package which calls for due process where Internet freedom of expression is to be restricted.

A United Nations report released today has a stern message for democratic governments that want to impose meaures to restrict the Internet. He says that restrictions applied to the Internet must be limited to issues such as public security, and that cutting off access - for copyright enforcement or any other reason - is a disproporationate measure. Singled out for special reprimand are the UK's Digital Economy Act and France's Hadopi law, which the report considers 'alarming'.

The report is entitled Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue. It addresses freedom of expression on the Internet from a global perspective. What's interesting is that it does not just focus on autocratic regimes and dictatorships that restrict political speech. Instead, it widens the brief to investigate other restrictions imposed by liberal democracies, including those in the European Union.

The UN report is concerned about liability for content being

Read more: UN report says freedom of expression trumps copyright

The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), Peter Hustinx, has today issued a call for radical changes to the directive which mandates ISPs and phone companies to store users' traffic data.

In a public statement, he says that the Data Retention directive does not meet the requirements imposed by the rights to privacy and data protection, both of which are guaranteed as fundamental rights under EU law.

Mr Hustinx was commenting on a report by the European Commission, released in April, which evaluates the implementation of the directive. Whilst he understands that retained traffic data is sometimes needed, for example, in criminal investigations, he says

Read more: EU privacy chief slams data retention directive

Members of the European Parliament are calling for the Commission to draft a new directive on media freedoms and pluralism. If taken forward, the idea is that the directive would set out the minimum requirements for all EU countries, to guarantee freedom of expression and media pluralism.

---Update - the joint motion has been published - see link below ---

The call has been issued by the Socialist, Liberal and Left groups. It comes in the context of internal European Parliament negotiations regarding a Resolution on the Hungarian Media Law. This is the controversial Hungarian law which threatens to censor all media, including the Internet and websites.

The European Parliament Resolution is effectively a political statement which will send a message from Brussels to the Hungarian government, thus its content must reconcile the views of the different Party groups. As I write this, they are haggling over

Read more: MEPs call for European media freedoms law


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About Iptegrity

Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I am an  independent policy advisor, with expertise in online safety, technology and human rights. I am a published author, and post-doctoral scholar. I hold a PhD from the University of Westminster, and a DipM from the Chartered Institute of Marketing. I cover the UK and EU. I'm a former tech journalist, and an experienced panelist and Chair. My media credits include the BBC, iNews, Times, Guardian and Politico.

Iptegrity.com is made available free of charge for non-commercial use. Please link back and attribute Dr Monica Horten.  Contact me to use any of my content for commercial purposes.  

The politics of copyright

A Copyright Masquerade - How corporate lobbying threatens online freedoms

'timely and provocative' Entertainment Law Review