Human Rights And Internet Regulation


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Presented in Seoul 3 July 2009 at "Freedom of Expression in the Digital Age"

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Human Rights And Internet Regulation

  1. 1. Human rights and Internet regulation Dr Ian Brown Oxford Internet Institute University of Oxford
  2. 2. The revolution will be tweeted?
  3. 3. Key constitutional protections Reaffirming their profound belief extending the ground of public in those fundamental freedoms confidence in the Government, which are the foundation of will best insure the beneficent justice and peace in the world: ends of its institution… … §8 Everyone has the right to I: Congress shall make no law respect for his private and family life, his home and his respecting an establishment of correspondence religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the §9 Everyone has the right to freedom of speech, or of the freedom of thought, conscience press; or the right of the people and religion peaceably to assemble §10 Everyone has the right to IV: The right of the people to be freedom of expression secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against §11 Everyone has the right to unreasonable searches and freedom of peaceful assembly seizures, shall not be violated and to freedom of association (US Bill of Rights, 1791) with others (ECHR, 1950)
  4. 4. Protecting free speech  US Communications Decency Act of 1996; Child Online Protection Act of 1998  UK Internet Watch Foundation and CleanFeed  Australia trying to block access to sites “unsuitable for children” and “unsuitable for adults”  Great Firewall of China  Disconnecting Burma Flickr user racoles (2007)
  5. 5. Libel tourism  London has become the international venue of choice for defamation cases (Abrams, 2009)  “The practice of libel tourism…is now an international scandal. It shames Britain and makes a mockery of the idea that Britain is a protector of core democratic freedoms.” –Dennis McShane MP  Laws “served to discourage critical media reporting on matters of serious public interest, adversely affecting the ability of scholars and journalists to publish their work” –UN Human Rights Committee
  6. 6. Protecting privacy  Privacy critical for freedom of expression, conscience and association  If data can be collected about individuals, there will be government pressure to store, enhance and access that information  E.g. PATRIOT Act National Security Letters, NSA activities within the US, EU data retention directive, National DNA Database
  7. 7. Promoting accountability  “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.” –Justice Louis Brandeis (1913)  Duck islands and moat cleaning  Surveillance v sousveillance
  8. 8. Protecting young people  “Sexual predation in all its forms…is an abhorrent crime… cases typically involved post-pubescent youth who were aware that they were meeting an adult male for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity”  “Bullying and harassment…are the most frequent threats that minors face”  “Unwanted exposure to pornography does occur online, but those most likely to be exposed are those seeking it out, such as older male minors.”  “Those…most at risk often engage in risky behaviors and have difficulties in other parts of their lives.” Palfrey, Sacco, boyd & DeBonis (2009) pp.4—5
  9. 9. Conclusions  Privacy and freedom of expression, conscience and association are core, mutually interdependent human rights  Governments play a key role in promoting these values:  By legislating their protection  By avoiding legislation and technological mandates that facilitate surveillance and censorship  Free speech and information are critical for ensuring government accountability  Young people can best be protected online by strategies designed around detailed understanding of threats and their own needs
  10. 10. References R. Deibert, J. Palfrey, R. Rohozinski, J. Zittrain (eds.) Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering, MIT Press, 2008. I. Brown. Internet filtering — be careful what you ask for. In Kirca, S and Hanson, L. (eds.) Freedom and Prejudice: Approaches to Media and Culture, Bahcesehir University Press, 2008 pp.74—91. J. Palfrey, D. Sacco, d. boyd, L. DeBonis. Enhancing Child Safety and Online Technologies, Final Report of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force, Harvard University, 2009. I. Brown. Regulation of Converged Communications Surveillance. In B. Goold and D. Neyland (eds.) New Directions in Privacy and Surveillance, Willan, 2009 pp.39—73. F. Abrams, Through the looking glass. Index on Censorship, 1, 2009.