Rosenthal: respect internet freedom

‘New communications media have the power to effect positive change. We have seen this in the recent uprisings in the Arab world. But this does require guaranteed freedom of expression and information on the internet – a matter that concerns us all,’ foreign minister Uri Rosenthal said at a meeting on internet freedom in Brussels.

The minister emphasised that governments first and foremost play an important role in guaranteeing internet freedom: ‘States are responsible for ensuring the free flow of information, on the internet as elsewhere. This is enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, on the right to freedom of opinion and freedom of expression.’

But the minister believes the private sector also bears responsibility for internet freedom. He pointed to the positive role that certain companies played during the Arab spring, setting up ad hoc services so that civilians could continue sending tweets, even when the internet was down.

At the same time, Mr Rosenthal urged the EU to take action, for instance to restrict the export of internet filter technology to repressive regimes and to acknowledge the importance of codes of conduct on internet freedom for the private sector.