UNESCO Series on Internet Freedom

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UNESCO, as enshrined in its Constitution, promotes the “free flow of ideas by word and image”, and is accordingly committed to enabling a free, open and accessible Internet space as part of promoting comprehensive freedom of expression online and offline. As mandated by the Organization’s 37th General Conference Resolution 52, UNESCO is also studying the Internet in its key competence areas of access to information and knowledge, freedom of expression, privacy, and ethical dimensions of the information society, and contains possible options for future actions.

UNESCO has started in 2009 to commission this flagship series publications of Internet Freedom, aiming to explore the changing legal and policy issues of Internet and provide its Member States and other stakeholders with policy recommendations aiming to foster a conducive environment to freedom of expression on the net.

The series seek to capture the complex dynamics of global Internet governance and present the key outcomes of edge-cutting studies conducted by leading experts in a wide range of crucial issues ranging from online freedom of expression, privacy, safety, hate speech to intermediaries liability and Internet governance principles.

Upcoming in the series

Protecting Journalism Sources in the Digital Age

The legal frameworks that protect confidential sources of journalism are essential to reporting information in the public interest. However, these frameworks are under significant strain in the digital age, and there’s a need to strengthen them. These are the findings of global research, undertaken for UNESCO. Read more about the study, its assessment tool, and gender dimensions of protecting journalism sources. This research also formed the foundation for a dedicated chapter in World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development – Special Digital Focus 2015.

Principles for governing the Internet: a comparative analysis

As the sixth edition in the UNESCO Internet Freedom series, this study encompasses both quantitative and qualitative assessments of more than 50 declarations, guidelines, and frameworks. The issues contained in these documents are assessed in the context of UNESCO’s  interested areas such as access, freedom of expression, privacy, ethics, Priority Gender Equality, and Priority Africa, and sustainable development, etc.

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Countering online hate speech

The study provides a global overview of the dynamics characterizing hate speech online and some of the measures that have been adopted to counteract and mitigate it, highlighting good practices that have emerged at the local and global levels. The publication offers a comprehensive analysis of the international, regional and national normative frameworks, with a particular emphasis on social and non-regulatory mechanisms that can help to counter the production, dissemination and impact of hateful messages online.

>> Details and download - Information brochure

Building digital safety for journalism: a survey of selected issues

As technologies develop, so do opportunities as well as threats to journalism. This research explains some of the emerging threats to journalism safety in the digital era, and proposes a framework to help build digital safety for journalists. Examining 12 key digital threats to journalism, ranging from hacking of journalistic communications, through to denial-of-service attacks on media websites, it assesses preventive, protective and pre-emptive measures to avoid them. It shows too that digital security for journalism encompasses, but also goes beyond, the technical dimension.

>> Details and download - Information Brochure

Fostering freedom online: the role of Internet intermediaries

With the rise of Internet intermediaries that play a mediating role between authors of content and audiences on the internet, this UNESCO publication provides in-depth case studies and analysis on how internet intermediaries impact on freedom of expression and associated fundamental rights such as privacy. It also offers policy recommendations on how intermediaries and states can improve respect for internet users’ right to freedom of expression.

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Global survey on internet privacy and freedom of expression

This publication seeks to identify the relationship between freedom of expression and Internet privacy, assessing where they support or compete with each other in different circumstances. The book maps out the issues in the current regulatory landscape of Internet privacy from the viewpoint of freedom of expression. It provides an overview of legal protection, self-regulatory guidelines, normative challenges, and case studies relating to the topic.

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Freedom of connection, freedom of expression: the changing legal and regulatory ecology shaping the Internet

This report provides a new perspective on the social and political dynamics behind the threats to expression. It develops a conceptual framework on the ‘ecology of freedom of expression’ for discussing the broad context of policy and practice that should be taken into consideration in discussions of this issue.

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