Promoting freedom of expression, including internet freedom

Freedom of expression is essential to the free exchange of information and ideas.

Social media and internet censorship

As events in the Arab region have shown, social media allow citizens to make injustice known around the world. Young Arabs used Facebook and Twitter to demand freedom and democracy. The Netherlands opposes internet censorship and the misuse of the internet to track down dissidents.

The Netherlands pursues these goals by:

  • providing support to cyber dissidents and bloggers. For example, the Netherlands funded the development of the StoryMaker app, which enables amateur and professional journalists to report current abuses in their country in a quick, safe and responsible way using their smartphones;
  • putting political pressure on countries that track down and punish cyber dissidents and bloggers;
  • putting and keeping the importance of internet freedom on the global agenda, as co-founder of the Freedom Online Coalition. This group has now grown to include 21 countries on five continents fighting together for internet freedom. The coalition offers a forum to governments that are endeavouring to promote human rights like freedom of expression and free access to the internet worldwide. In its founding declaration, the Freedom Online Coalition stresses the key importance of collaborating closely with other relevant stakeholders towards this end. These may include NGOs, other civil society actors, bloggers, activists, technical experts, companies and academics. The third Freedom Online Conference, once more supported by the Netherlands, was held in Tunisia from 16 to 18 June 2013, and focused considerable attention on internet freedom in the Middle East and North Africa;
  • supporting the Digital Defenders Partnership (DDP) between the governments of the Netherlands, Estonia, the UK and the US. The DDP provides emergency assistance to internet users whose right to use new technologies is threatened.