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Old standards, new challenges: free speech and the Internet

Guy Berger's picture

After consultations in Sweden, Cairo, Delhi, Johannesburg, Buenos Aires and Bangkok, the UN special rapporteur for free expression is wrapping up a recommended position for the UN Human Rights Council. Frank la Rue is now reporting back to an "experts meeting" in Stockholm, ahead of concluding his report.

There are lots of hot topics about freedom on the Internet, and restrictions... including blocking, filtering, access, intellectual property, legislation, international co-operation, the responsibilities of Internet Service Providers, etc.

Tweets around the deliberations here are at #fxinternet. The draft report thus far is, disappointingly, not yet online. But I've put it up here.

Basically, the gist is that old standards on free speech and the what/how of limits are still valid for the Internet - in other words, no new rights or limits are needed to manage the challenges. Is that right? I've argued, for instance, that maybe international standards on hate speech need to be loosened a little, given that one would be hard pressed to say that every incitement online amounts to really crying fire in a crowded theatre.

Draft Consultation Report.doc240 KB