30.11.2016 - Communication & Information Sector

Privacy, free expression and transparency: UNESCO launches the seventh title in its Internet Freedom Series


As the seventh title in the UNESCO Series on Internet Freedom, the new publication “Privacy, free expression and transparency: redefining their new boundaries in the digital age” will be officially launched by UNESCO at the 11th Internet Governance Forum in Guadalajara, Mexico, which will be held from 6 to 9 December 2016.

This publication examines the crucial challenges of balancing the fundamental rights of privacy and freedom of expression, and the related value of transparency, in an online context. It was commissioned following UNESCO’s new approach to Internet issues as set out in the Connecting the Dots Outcome Document adopted by UNESCO’s 195 Member States in November 2015. UNESCO stands for the concept of “Internet Universality” and the related “ROAM principles”, which refer to a human-Rights-based, Open and Accessible Internet that is governed by Multi-stakeholder participation. It is in this context that the current study was commissioned to address very specific rights and associated values of privacy, free expression and transparency.

The study was commissioned by UNESCO and authored by Joseph Cannataci, Bo Zhao, Gemma Torres Vives, Shara Monteleone, Jeanne Mifsud Bonnici and Evgeni Moyakine, from the STeP (Security, Technology and e-Privacy) – Research Group in the University of Groningen. UNESCO thanks the financial support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

This publication explores the boundaries of these rights, and the various modalities of reconciling and aligning them. The study analyses the legal framework, current mechanisms for balancing rights, and specific issues, cases and trends. As revealed by the research, traditional laws and regulations for the protection of privacy and freedom of expression often do not deal with digital issues. Also covered are the interplay and interactions between multiple players—e.g. the State agents, Internet users, ICT companies, civil society organizations, the judiciary and the security services.

Various policy recommendations are made that address both key issues and various stakeholders groups. These include encouraging the use of encryption amongst citizens and focusing on improving digital literacy, promoting technical solutions to enhance privacy protection, and cooperating at the international level for sharing good practices.

The publication will be launched at the UNESCO Open Forum at 17:00-18:00 (Guadalajara time), 8 December 2016, during the 11th Internet Governance Forum in Guadalajara. For more information, please consult this page:


The book can be downloaded here.

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