11.10.2011 - UNESCO

IGF 2011: UNESCO participated in main session on Privacy, Openness and Security

Frank La Rue, UN Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression - © UNESCO

UNESCO, in collaboration with other stakeholders, organized the Main Session: Privacy, Openness and Security, at the 6th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) meeting in Nairobi, Kenya. The session took place on 29 September 2011 and was chaired by Michael Katundu, head of Information Technology at the Communications Regulatory Authority of Kenya.

The session, attended by hundreds participants representing multi-stakeholders from worldwide,  focused on the cross-border Internet governance issues that are encountered at the intersection of security, privacy and openness. Building upon last year’s exploration on the role that intermediaries can take to protect freedom of expression and innovation, the session also triggered discussions on the role of traditional and new media, journalism and citizens' media role.

Some examples touched upon included actions taken by a range of Internet actors, such as government, private sector and civil society, in relation to the following issues:

  • whistleblowers sites,
  • the “seizure” of domain names,
  • proposals for blocking of websites and filtering of networks,
  • the role that cyber security operations centers and law enforcement can play in protecting the Internet and its users from cyber-attacks and cybercrime, and
  • the impacts of action taken to cut access to the Internet for individuals, groups or entire countries from the global Internet.

UNESCO-sponsored panelist, Frank La Rue, the UN Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, pointed out that there is a progressive fear of Internet by many states, which is provoking a use of more and more criminal law and he, therefore, called the world on a campaign to decriminalize the use of freedom of expression.

UNESCO representatives demonstrated the outcomes of their feeder workshop on Free Flow of Information and Social Networks: A Role for Democracy and Social Participation, and reiterated UNESCO's commitment to promoting freedom of expression and the privacy protection on the Internet, as well its engagement in fostering local content creation and education initiatives. At this workshop panelists shared an observation that social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, are being widely used in many parts of the world, including in Africa, for not only personal communication but also to tackle political and other sensitive issues which are not addressed by traditional media. Panelists and participants also noted with much concern many risks and challenges that arise from the use of the Internet, and recognized that more efforts should be made to reinforce democratic participation via the social networks and to best protect freedom of expression without compromising other digital rights within a comprehensive legal framework.

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