Stand up to the enemies of Internet freedom
If human rights and democracy advocates refused to compromise their principles and used the Internet to defend freedom of expression, repression would be much more difficult.
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For the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, I have brought together experts, NGO leaders, journalists, business people, and intellectuals this week. Their discussions have confirmed my conviction that the path we want to take is the right one. I think that we should create an international instrument for monitoring the commitments that governments have made and for calling them to task when they fail to live up to them. I think we should provide assistance to cyberdissidents, who should get the same support as other victims of political repression, and show our solidarity with them publicly, in close collaboration with the NGOs working on these issues. I think that we should also discuss the wisdom of adopting a code of conduct regarding the export of technologies for censoring the Internet and tracking Web users.Skip to next paragraph
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These issues, along with others, such as the protection of personal data on the Internet and the right of digital amnesty for everyone promoted by my colleague Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, minister of state to the prime minister, should be addressed within a framework that brings together government, civil society, and international experts.
Another project is close to my heart. It will be a long and difficult task to implement it, but it is critical. It is to give the Internet a legal status that reflects its universality. One that recognizes it as an international space, so that it will be more difficult for repressive governments to use the sovereignty argument against fundamental freedoms.
This is a critical issue. I think that the battle of ideas has started with, on one side, the advocates of a universal and open Internet, based on freedom of expression and freedom of association, on tolerance and respect for privacy and, on the other side, those who want to transform the Internet into a multitude of spaces that are closed off from one another to serve the purposes of a regime, propaganda, and all forms of fanaticism.
Freedom of expression is “the foundation of all other freedoms.” Without it, there are no “free nations,” Voltaire said. This spirit of the Enlightenment, which is universal, should run through the new media. The defense of fundamental freedoms and human rights must be the priority for governance of the Internet. It is everyone’s business.
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