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Estonia heads the international Freedom Online Coalition

12.03.2014

According to foreign minister Urmas Paet, Estonia is one of the most active defenders of Internet freedom and emphasized that for Estonia, Internet freedom is an inseparable part of human rights.

"Security and freedom are not mutually exclusive Internet concepts," the foreign minister said. "In addition to the fact that we are members of the UN Human Rights Council, Estonia is currently the chairman of the Freedom Online Coalition and we therefore have a great opportunity, but also the responsibility of managing the work of the 22 countries that make up the association. The goal of the Freedom Online Coalition is the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in cyberspace," Paet said.

Estonia is organizing the high-level conference of the Freedom Online Coalition entitled "Free and Secure Internet for All" at the end of April in Tallinn.

The conference will be attended by the ministers, international companies and NGOs of tens of states. In total, more than 200 participants are expected to attend the conference. Among others, presenting their views on the promotion of free and safe Internet are President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Google representative Vint Cerf, Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland, Internet Society CEO Kathryn Brown, and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Kenya, Sweden, and Mongolia. Following discussions, Freedom Online Coalition members will jointly adopt recommendations on how to ensure that online freedom will remain the central and natural principle of the internet governance model in the future.

The drawing up of recommendations has already begun – a document will be developed by a working group of NGOs and international companies, chaired by the Estonian e-Governance Academy. Among others, the working group includes representatives of Yahoo!, Google and Freedom House. The last working group met on February 26 in Geneva. Polishing up of recommendations will continue in March and then the document will be reviewed at the conference in Tallinn, where it is planned to be approved in its final form by the FOC countries and all the partners wishing to do so.

During discussions concerning the content of recommendations, topics have so far touched on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms on the Internet and the future of a governance model which supports a free and open Internet. Other recommendations that have been considered are supporting activists who are persecuted for their views expressed on the Internet, ways to increase transparency of e-solutions, as well as measures to prevent blocking, filtering and hacking of content on the Internet. Negotiations over the document will continue in March and April.

Foreign minister Urmas Paet led a discussion organized by the Permanent Mission of Estonia in Geneva during the high level segment of the UN Human Rights Council in early March, which focused on the question of how to ensure the continuation and strengthening of freedom of expression on the Internet. Freedom Online Coalition members who participated in the discussion were representatives from Mongolia, Tunisia and Mexico, as well as from the non-governmental Internet Society.

More information about the conference "Free and Secure Internet for All": http://www.freedomonline.ee/.

The internet freedom conference organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is part of Estonian ICT Week, which runs from April 23 to 30. This annual event, which is striving to become the top event of its kind in the Baltic and Nordic ICT sector, is expecting opinion leaders from various fields, entrepreneurs, venture investors, the senior officials of foreign countries and representatives from international organizations. For more information about ICT Week: http://estonia.eu/ictweek/.


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