Freedom Online: Joint Action for Free Expression on the Internet


1 Underscoring our commitment to respect the human rights and fundamental
freedoms proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and reaffirming
that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including the
freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart
information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers, as well as the
right to freedom of assembly and association, the right to the protection of the law
against arbitrary interference with his or her privacy, and the freedom of religion or
belief, amongst others,

2 Recalling our commitment to the principle that the human rights that people have
offline enjoy the same protection online,

3 Noting that the Internet has always been fueled by policies that promote the free
flow of information and that protect human rights and foster innovation, creativity, and
economic growth,

4 Noting with concern that in many countries these human rights and fundamental
freedoms are increasingly subject to restrictions, whereby the flow of information on
the Internet and through connection technologies is limited beyond the few
exceptional circumstances in which restrictions are acceptable in accordance with
international human rights legal obligations,

5 Noting that governments are increasingly making use of a variety of measures to
limit these freedoms in a manner contrary to their obligations, such as illicit
monitoring, filtering and hacking, on- and offline repression of network technology
users, including intimidation and arrests, and even completely shutting down the
Internet and mobile networks,

6 Recognizing the need for States to protect the exercise of human rights and
fundamental freedoms on the Internet and through connection technologies, and to
support individuals, organisations and institutions who use new technologies to
promote human rights, democracy and development,

7 Considering the key importance of engagement by all relevant stakeholders,
including governments, businesses, civil society, academics and other experts, in
protecting and promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms online, and
underlining our commitment to work closely together in a multi-stakeholder process to
further Internet freedom globally,

8 Considering the responsibility of businesses to respect human rights and
fundamental freedoms on the Internet and through connection technologies, and the
ways in which those technologies, products, and services can be used to impact
these rights and freedoms,

We, as participating States, dedicate ourselves to:

(A) Establishing a coalition to share, as appropriate, information between our
States on potential violations and other measures that undermine the
enjoyment of freedom of expression and other human rights on the Internet
and through connection technologies around the world, and to consider
measures needed to protect and advance these rights, working in close
engagement with all relevant stakeholders. The coalition intends to hold a
senior-level meeting at least once a year and maintain frequent working-level
(B) Collaborating closely to support – both politically and through project aid – the
ability of individuals, particularly those operating in repressive environments, to
exercise their human rights through the Internet and connection technologies.
Participating States intend to engage with other governments, regional
organisations, international institutions, civil society organizations and other
relevant stakeholders to reinforce our efforts in this regard.

(C) Cooperating together in appropriate international and regional organizations
and through our diplomacy with individual countries to promote the freedoms
of expression, association, and peaceful assembly with respect to the Internet
and connection technologies, and

(D) Engaging together as members of this coalition with information and
communication technology businesses from across the globe on their
responsibility to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms online.
Participating states intend to encourage such businesses to adopt practices,
as well as policies or statements of principle, that address concerns related to
the export and misappropriation of technologies for repressive ends,
inappropriate requests for personal data for political purposes, and illegitimate
blocking of content, and to take all other measures necessary to respect
human rights and fundamental freedoms on the Internet and through
connection technologies.

Endorsed by Austria, Canada, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Finland, France,
Estonia, Ghana, Ireland, Kenya, Latvia, the Republic of Maldives, Mexico,
Mongolia, the Netherlands, Tunisia, the United Kingdom, the United States,
and Sweden.