Ministers to meet in the Netherlands to champion internet freedom

Foreign ministers will be meeting later this year in the Netherlands to decide on measures to strengthen freedom of expression on the internet. That is the outcome of a conference on the subject which was held in Paris on 8 July. It was attended by around 75 representatives of governments, business, international organisations and human rights organisations.

The conference, which was opened by Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Verhagen and his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner, recommended possible measures that could be taken to prevent censorship on the internet.

‘Measures are needed,’ said Mr Verhagen. ‘Authoritarian regimes limit access to the internet, censor its contents, and even use it to persecute people for their opinions. But freedom of expression applies everywhere, including on the internet.’

The conference participants discussed ways of monitoring censorship on the internet, and supporting human rights defenders who make extensive use of internet facilities. They also talked about a code of conduct for companies to limit exports of internet filters.

An initiative group comprising representatives of around 20 countries will meet again in Paris in October to flesh out possible measures and to prepare the ministerial conference.