Guidebook on Internet freedom issues in the OSCE region

VIENNA, 9 March 2016 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, today presented a new guidebook outlining the major issues and developments on freedom of expression on the Internet in the OSCE region.

“Internet freedom has become the vanguard for the battle for free expression and free media,” Mijatović said. “This guidebook clearly illustrates the importance of keeping the Internet free and safeguarding our fundamental freedoms online.”

The publication “Media freedom on the Internet – an OSCE guidebook”, was commissioned by the Representative’s Office and written by Professor Yaman Akdeniz of Istanbul Bilgi University in Turkey. It is part of the Representative’s Office Open Journalism project, to assist the OSCE states in safeguarding freedom of expression and media freedom online

The publication provides a concise overview of significant issues and developments related to the freedom of expression, the free flow of information, and media pluralism within the context of Internet communications, including user-driven social media platforms.

A number of short and useful do’s and don’ts for policy makers with regards to Internet freedom are included in the guidebook. They emphasize issues of core importance that require the attention of policy makers, including:

·         Don’t allow Internet access providers to restrict users’ right to receive and impart information by means of blocking, slowing down, degrading or discriminating Internet traffic associated with particular content, services, applications or devices;

·         Don’t develop laws or policies to block access to social media platforms;

·         Don’t impose general content monitoring requirements for the intermediaries.

The guidebook also recalls existing OSCE media freedom commitments, Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as the case law of the European Court of Human Rights.

“I hope that this guidebook will serve as a useful resource for anyone interested in Internet freedom and free expression online,” Mijatović said.

The guidebook is available at www.osce.org/fom/226526.

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* - References to Kosovo are without prejudice to positions on status. They are in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244/99 and the opinion by the International Court of Justice on the Kosovo declaration of independence.