IACHR Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression

International Mechanisms for Promoting Freedom of Expression


The Special Rapporteur of the United Nations (ONU) Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the Representative on Freedom of the Media of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Special Rapporteur of the Organization of American States (OAS) for Freedom of Expression and the Special Rapporteur Especialsobre Freedom of Expression and Access to Information of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (Cadःf).

having discussed these issues together with the collaboration ofARTICLE 19, Global Campaign for Freedom of Expression(ARTICLE 19, Global Campaign for Free Expression) and Center for Freedom and Democracy (Centre for Law and Democracy);

Recalling and reaffirming Our joint statements 26 November 1999, the 30 November 2000, the 20 November 2001, the 10 December 2002, the 18 December 2003, the 6 December 2004, the 21 December 2005, the 19 December 2006, the 12 December 2007, the 10 December 2008, the 15 May 2009 and 3 February 2010;

emphasizing, once again, the fundamental importance of freedom of expression -including the principles of independence and diversity-both in itself and as an essential tool for the defense of all other rights, as a fundamental element of democracy and the advancement of development goals;

highlighting the transformative nature of the Internet, as a means that allows thousands of millions of people worldwide to express their views, while significantly increases their ability to access information and encourages pluralism and dissemination of information;

attentive the potential of the Internet to promote the realization of other rights and public participation, He roasted to facilitate access to goods and services;

celebrating the remarkable growth of Internet access in almost all countries and regions of the world, and watching while thousands of millions of people still do not have Internet access or have access forms of lower quality;

warning some governments have acted or taken measures with the specific purpose of unduly restrict freedom of expression on the Internet, in contravention of international law;

Recognizing that the exercise of freedom of expression may be subject to such limited restrictions that are established by law and are necessary, for example, for the prevention of crime and the protection of fundamental rights of others, including lower, but remembering that such restrictions must be balanced and meet international standards on the right to freedom of expression;

concerned because, even if made in good faith, many government initiatives in response to the above need not take into account the special characteristics of the Internet and, as a result, unduly restrict freedom of expression;

considering mechanisms multisectoral approach to Internet Governance Forum of the UN;

Conscious the broad spectrum of actors involved as Internet intermediaries-and provide services such as Internet access and interconnection, transmission, processing and routing of Internet traffic, housing material posted by third parties and access to this, reference to content or materials on the Internet search, financial transactions and provision of social networks and the attempts of some States to hold these actors harmful or illegal content;

adopted, the 1 June 2011, the next Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression and the Internet:

1. General principles

a. Freedom of speech applies to the Internet in the same way to all media. Restrictions on freedom of expression on the Internet are only acceptable when they meet international standards available, among other things, which they must be prescribed by law and pursued a legitimate aim recognized by international law and are necessary to achieve that purpose (the proof “tripartite”).

b. In assessing the proportionality of a restriction on freedom of expression on the Internet, It must weigh the impact that such a restriction would have on the Internet's ability to guarantee and promote freedom of expression on the benefits that accrue restrictions to protect other interests.

c. Regulatory approaches developed for other media such as telephone or radio and television can not be transferred without Internet, but they must be designed specifically for this medium, taking into account their particularities.

d. To respond to illegal content, It should be assigned greater importance to the development of alternative and specific approaches that are tailored to the unique characteristics of Internet, and at the same time they recognize that no special restrictions should be set to the content of the materials disseminated over the Internet.

and. Self-regulation can be an effective tool to address slanderous expressions and, therefore, It should be promoted.

f. educational measures and awareness should be promoted aimed at promoting the ability of all people to make an autonomous use, independent and responsible Internet (“digital literacy”).

2. Liability of intermediaries

a. Any person who offers only technical Internet services such as access, searches or retention of information in the cache should be liable for content generated by third parties and that are disseminated through these services, whenever not specifically involved in the content or refuses to comply with a court order requiring disposal when in position to do so (“principle of mere transmission”).

b. Consideration should be given to fully protect other intermediaries, including those mentioned in the preamble, in respect of any liability for the content generated by third parties under the same conditions set out in paragraph 2(a). as a minimum, It should not be required to intermediaries that control user-generated content and should not be subject to extrajudicial cancellation rules on content that does not provide sufficient protection for freedom of expression (as with many of the rules on “notice and takedown” which apply now).

3. Filtering and blocking

a. Mandatory blocking entire websites, IP addresses, ports, network protocols or certain types of uses (like social networks) is a similar end-to ban a newspaper or radio or television-as could be justified only by international standards, for example, when necessary to protect children from sexual abuse.

b. The content filtering systems imposed by government or commercial service providers by the end user that are controlled not constitute a form of prior censorship and are not a justified restriction on freedom of expression.

c. It should require products to facilitate filtering by end users are accompanied by clear information for those users on how they function and potential drawbacks if the filter becomes excessive.

4. criminal and civil liability

a. Jurisdiction over cases related to Internet content should be left exclusively to the States with which such cases arise closer contacts, usually because the author resides in that State, the content was published from there and / or this is specifically addressed to the State concerned. Only individuals should be able to initiate legal proceedings in a jurisdiction which can prove to have suffered substantial harm (This rule seeks to prevent what is known as “libel tourism”).

b. Liability rules, including liability exclusions, in civil proceedings, They should take into account the overall public interest in protecting both the expression and the forum in which pronounces (namely, the need to preserve the function “public hangout” compliant Internet).

c. For content that has been published essentially the same format and in the same place, time limits for prosecution of should be counted from the first time they were published and should only be allowed to present a single action for damages in respect of such content and, as appropriate, it should allow only remedy for damages in all jurisdictions (rule “only publication”).

5. Net Neutrality

a. The processing of data and Internet traffic should not be subject to any discrimination based on factors such as devices, content, Author, origin and / or destination of the material, service or application.

b. It should require Internet intermediaries that are transparent about the practices used for traffic management or information, and any relevant information on such practices should be made available to the public in a format that is accessible to all stakeholders.

6. Internet access

a. States have an obligation to promote universal access to the Internet to ensure the effective enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression. Internet access is also needed to ensure respect for other rights, such as the right to education, health care and work, the right of assembly and association, and the right to free elections.

b. Interruption of Internet access, or part of this, applied to entire populations or to certain segments of the public (Internet cancellation) It can not be justified under any circumstances, even for reasons of public order or national security. The same applies to measures to reduce speed internet browsing or parts of this.

c. Denial of the right to internet access, as a punishment, It is an extreme measure that could only be justified where other less restrictive measures exist and provided it has been ordered by justice, taking into account its impact on the enjoyment of human rights.

d. Other measures that limit access to Internet, as imposing registration requirements or other requirements to service providers, They are not legitimate unless they pass the test established by international law for restrictions on freedom of expression.

and. States have a positive obligation to provide universal access to Internet. As minimum, States should:

i. Establish regulatory mechanisms which provide for pricing regimes, universal service requirements and licensing agreements to encourage wider access to Internet, even the poorest sectors and the most remote rural areas.

ii. Provide direct support to facilitate access, including the creation of community centers for information and communications technology (ICT) and other public access points.

iii. Raise awareness about the proper use of the Internet and the benefits it can bring, especially among poor, children and the elderly, and isolated rural populations.

iv. Adopt special measures to ensure equal access to the Internet for the disabled and disadvantaged sectors.

f. In order to implement the above measures, States should adopt detailed action plans for multiyear to expand access to Internet, including clear and specific objectives, and transparency standards, public reporting and monitoring systems.

Frank LaRue

Special Rapporteur of the United Nations for Freedom of Opinion and Expression

Dunja Mijatovic

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media

Catalina Botero Marino

OAS Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression

Faith Pansy Tlakula

ACHPR Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information = 849

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