Janis Karklins, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, chaired the ceremony at UNESCO Headquarters on 30 May 2011. Professor William Dutton, the leading author of the book and Director of , gave a presentation and answered questions during the meeting, which was attended by Permanent Delegates to UNESCO and representatives of civil society.
Professor Dutton highlighted in his presentation that this UNESCO-commissioned research provides a new perspective on the social and political dynamics behind the threats to expression. Through a meta-analysis of Internet filtering studies, the book shows that there is a rising level of censorship and filtering. Nevertheless, he argued against focusing too narrowly on Internet content filtering. His framework on the “ecology of freedom of expression” suggests a broader focus on six interrelated arenas that are shaping freedom of expression:
digital rights, including those tied directly to freedom of expression and censorship;
industrial policy and regulation, including intellectual property, industrial strategies, and ICTs for development;
measures focused on fraud, child protection, decency, libel and control of hate speech;
network policy and practices, including standards related to identity, and regulation of Internet service providers; and
security, ranging from controlling spam and viruses to protecting national security.
During the questions-and-answers session, the discussion focused on how to balance the right to freedom of expression with other digital rights, particularly the right to access information, taking into account a widening global digital divide. Professor Dutton suggested that it is crucial for UNESCO to strengthen its efforts to reduce digital divides as a means to support freedom of expression.
Mr Karklins pointed out that the infrastructure building should go hand in hand with local content creation. He shared that UNESCO is co-organizing the broadband commission with the (ITU). And together with OECD and ISOC, UNESCO is conducting a study on the economic aspect of local content, which will be presented at the forthcoming in Nairobi, Kenya, in .
Regarding the issue of , Professor Dutton made a point that nations can risk undermining the virtue of this global network of networks as an international public resource by nationalizing its Internet governance approaches. He suggested that there is a need to coordinate the global and local approaches to Internet governance in order to formulate appropriate regulatory model.
Mr Karklins closed the meeting by thanking Professor Dutton and all participants for their contribution to this interesting discussion. However the debate on freedom of expression on Internet remains ongoing and UNESCO will keep on informing its Member States about many legal and regulatory issues related to Internet.
To see the video of the session please click here
The PowerPoint presentation of Professor Dutton is available here.
The book is freely distributed by UNESCO, on demand, only for nonprofit purposes. For free hard copies please contact:
- Xianhong Hu
UNESCO, Division for Freedom of Expression, Democracy and Peace
1, rue Miollis
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
The publication will also be available on the UNESCO sales catalogue. The hard copies can be purchased at UNESCO’s book stores.