Foreign Minister Urmas Paet: freedom of expression must be guaranteed in both the public and virtual sphere


Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said today at the opening of the Freedom Online Coalition conference that the coalition, made up of 23 member states, stands to ensure freedom of expression in both the public sphere and in cyberspace. “Since the existence of a free and secure Internet concerns everyone, the public and private sectors and non-governmental organizations must cooperate closely. It is through such cooperation that recommendations for a free and open Internet have been complied, which we plan to adopt today,” he added.

Paet also stressed the importance of social media in attaining information from crisis areas and the need for information to support digital freedom defenders in countries where civil society and fundamental freedoms are suppressed.

The minister said that, unfortunately, there are also examples of how freedom of expression is used for malicious purposes. “Although supporting freedom of expression also provides an opportunity for the dissemination of false propaganda, we should not, in any event, look for ways to limit freedom of the Internet,” Paet said. “Instead, we should focus on providing the best quality education possible, since that is how people are taught to be critical with respect to possible misinformation," he added.

In his speech Paet welcomed the newest members of the Freedom Online Coalition – Moldova and Japan. “Also, we would like to see countries from different regions joining the Coalition in the future,” Paet said. “We do not believe that access to information should be limited to wealthy countries or western countries or countries with highly developed infrastructure, who have guaranteed rights. “All people have the right to free and secure Internet,” he said.
On April 28 and 29, at the Freedom Online Coalition’s high-level conference “Free and Secure Internet for All” in Tallinn, more than 460 participants from 60 countries will meet. The main topic of discussion at the conference is how to ensure the free and secure development of the Internet now and in the future.

As a result of the discussions, members of the Freedom Online Coalition wish to jointly approve recommendations on how to ensure that online freedoms remain central to Internet governance models and their fundamental principles in the future.

You can watch the conference by following the live-stream here: . You can also follow conference events and quotes via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Twitter account and Facebook page.

The Freedom Online Coalition was founded in 2011 at the initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands at the Internet freedom conference held in The Hague. Today, the number of coalition members has grown to 23 states. In addition to Estonia, members includes Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Ghana, Ireland, Kenya, Maldives, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, USA, UK, Sweden, Costa Rica, Finland, Tunisia, Latvia, Germany, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Japan. The aim of the Freedom Online Coalition is to protect and promote freedom of the Internet globally and to shape international decisions based on its fundamental principles.

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