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As U.N. WSIS summit nears, Reporters Without Borders calls for free speech protections

As U.N. WSIS summit nears, Reporters Without Borders calls for free speech protections
As U.N. WSIS summit nears, Reporters Without Borders calls for free speech protections

The WSIS confab will be held in Tunisia. That could be symbolic. Here's 
some background on its respect for, ah, individual rights: 

And from the U.S. State Department: 
"There were significant limitations on citizens' right to change their 
government. Members of the security forces tortured and physically 
abused prisoners and detainees. Security forces arbitrarily arrested and 
detained individuals. International observers were not allowed to 
inspect prisons, and lengthy pretrial and incommunicado detention 
remained a serious problem. The Government infringed on citizens' 
privacy rights. The Government continued to impose significant 
restrictions on freedom of speech and of the press."

To head off the inevitable comparison to the U.S., I'm hardly defending 
any invasive or unconstitutional actions of our own federal government. 
Those deserve to be criticized. But there's also a matter of degree; 
writing this in Tunisia about Tunisia might yield a close and thoroughly 
unpleasant encounter with a truncheon and rubber hose.


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: 	RWB and the OSCE make six recommendations to ensure freedom of
expression on the Internet (+FR)
Date: 	Mon, 20 Jun 2005 16:12:26 +0200
From: 	RSF.Internet  

The Internet under surveillance
20 June 2005
*Reporters Without Borders and the Organisation for Security and
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) make six recommendations to ensure freedom
of expression on the Internet.

*This declaration by Reporters Without Borders and the representative of
the OSCE on Freedom of the Media aims to deal with the main issues
facing countries seeking to regulate online activity.  Should the Web be
filtered? Can online publications be forced to register with the
authorities?  What should the responsibility of service providers (ISPs)
be?   How far does a national jurisdiction extend?

Reporters Without Borders thinks the six recommendations go beyond
Europe and concern every country.  It hopes they will provoke discussion
in the run-up to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

*Full text of the Declaration :

*1. Any law about the flow of information online must be anchored in the
right to freedom of expression as defined in Article 19 of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights.

2. In a democratic and open society it is up to the citizens to decide
what they wish to access and view on the Internet. Filtering or rating
of online content by governments is unacceptable. Filters should only be
installed by Internet users themselves. Any policy of filtering, be it
at a national or local level, conflicts with the principle of free flow
of information.

3. Any requirement to register websites with governmental authorities is
not acceptable. Unlike licensing scarce resources such as broadcasting
frequencies, an abundant infrastructure like the Internet does not
justify official assignment of licenses. On the contrary, mandatory
registration of online publications might stifle the free exchange of
ideas, opinions, and information on the Internet.

4. A technical service provider must not be held responsible for the
mere conduit or hosting of content unless the hosting provider refuses
to obey a court ruling. A decision on whether a website is legal or
illegal can only be taken by a judge, not by a service provider. Such
proceedings should guarantee transparency, accountability and the right
to appeal.

5. All Internet content should be subject to the legislation of the
country of its origin ("upload rule") and not to the legislation of the
country where it is downloaded.

6. The Internet combines various types of media, and new publishing
tools such as blogging are developing. Internet writers and online
journalists should be legally protected under the basic principle of the
right to freedom of expression and the complementary rights of privacy
and protection of sources.


*Reporters sans fronti=E8res et l'OSCE pr=E9sentent six recommandations pour
garantir la libert=E9 d'expression sur Internet

*Par cette d=E9claration, Reporters sans fronti=E8res et le repr=E9sentant de
l'OSCE (Organisation pour la s=E9curit=E9 et la coop=E9ration en Europe) pour
la libert=E9 des m=E9dias comptent r=E9pondre aux principales questions
auxquelles sont confront=E9s les Etats lorsqu'ils cherchent =E0 r=E9guler
Internet : doit-on filtrer le Web ? Peut-on obliger les publications en
ligne =E0 s'enregistrer aupr=E8s des autorit=E9s ? Quelle responsabilit=E9 doit
peser sur les prestataires techniques d'Internet ? Quelle est la
comp=E9tence des juridictions nationales ?

Reporters sans fronti=E8res consid=E8re que ces recommandations d=E9passent le
cadre europ=E9en et concernent tous les Etats. L'organisation esp=E8re que
les six points abord=E9s dans cette d=E9claration constitueront une base de
r=E9flexion en vue du prochain Sommet mondial sur la soci=E9t=E9 de
l'information (SMSI).

*Texte complet de la d=E9claration :

*1. Toute l=E9gislation touchant =E0 la circulation de l'information sur
Internet doit =EAtre fond=E9e sur le principe de la libert=E9 d'expression
telle que d=E9finie =E0 l'article 19 de la D=E9claration universelle des
droits de l'Homme.

2. Dans une soci=E9t=E9 d=E9mocratique et ouverte, chaque citoyen peut d=E9cider
des informations auxquelles il veut acc=E9der sur Internet. Le filtrage ou
la classification ("rating") des contenus en ligne par un gouvernement
est inacceptable. Les filtres ne doivent =EAtre install=E9s que par les
internautes eux-m=EAmes. Toute mesure de filtrage =E0 un niveau sup=E9rieur
(national ou m=EAme local) est en contradiction avec le principe de libre
circulation de l'information.

3. L'obligation d'enregistrer un site Web aupr=E8s d'une autorit=E9
gouvernementale n'est pas acceptable. A la diff=E9rence de ce qui vaut
pour la TV ou la radio, l'instauration d'un syst=E8me d'attribution de
fr=E9quences ne se justifie pas sur Internet dont l'infrastructure se base
sur des ressources illimit=E9es. Au contraire, l'enregistrement
obligatoire des publications en ligne risque de contrarier le libre
=E9change des id=E9es, des opinions et des informations sur le Net.

4. Un prestataire technique d'Internet ne peut =EAtre tenu pour
responsable de la simple transmission ou de l'h=E9bergement de contenus, =E0
moins que celui-ci ne refuse de se plier =E0 une d=E9cision judiciaire.
Toute d=E9cision concernant la l=E9galit=E9, ou l'ill=E9galit=E9, d'un site Web,
ne peut =EAtre prise que par une cour de justice, en aucun cas par un
prestataire technique d'Internet. Une telle proc=E9dure judiciaire doit
garantir les principes de transparence et de responsabilit=E9, ainsi que
le droit de faire appel.

5. La juridiction d'un Etat ne doit s'exercer que sur les contenus
h=E9berg=E9s sur son propre territoire (r=E8gle dite de la mise en ligne - =AB
upload rule =BB). Elle ne peut s'exercer sur l'ensemble des contenus
t=E9l=E9charg=E9s sur son territoire.

6. L'Internet r=E9unit diff=E9rents types de medias et de nouveaux outils de
publication, tels que les blocs-notes en ligne (=AB blogging =BB), sont en
train de se d=E9velopper. Les personnes qui =E9crivent sur Internet, ainsi
que les journalistes en ligne, doivent pouvoir b=E9n=E9ficier du droit
fondamental =E0 la libert=E9 d'expression ainsi que des droits
compl=E9mentaires =E0 la confidentialit=E9 de leurs communications et de leurs


Julien Pain
Bureau Internet et libert=E9s / Internet Freedom desk

Reporters sans fronti=E8res / Reporters Without Borders
TEL: ++ 33 (0) 1 44 83 84 71
FAX: ++ 33 (0) 1 45 23 11 51 

Read our annual report on the state of online freedom in more than 60
countries -  The Internet Under Surveillance : 

Consultez notre rapport annuel "Internet sous surveillance", qui
d=E9taille la situation de la libert=E9 d'expression sur le Net dans pr=E8s de
soixante pays : 
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