Statement by state secretary Ms. Gry Larsen during Panel on freedom of expression on internet
Last updated: 01/03/2012 //
Statement by state secretary Ms. Gry Larsen during Panel on freedom of expression on internet (res 18/119).
- Keeping the Internet open, accessible and free from censorship is a priority for the Norwegian Government. World events over the last year have shown that this is even more important than ever.
- The Arab Spring showed us not only the documentary power, but also the incredibly mobilising effect of social media. The information wasn’t received the following day, but instantly. The messages weren’t only written, but they were followed by live pictures.
- But let me stress this: neither Facebook nor Twitter brought down Mubarak or Ben Ali. The people did. What they did was to claim their right to express themselves, to assemble and to protest in peaceful ways. Old fashioned rights – but asserted with sharp, new tools.
- And it is of course the efficiency and outreach of the social media and the Internet that triggers repressive regimes, to censor and curb the use of these tools, to monitor dissidents and to infiltrate their networks.
- Information and Communications Technology (ICT) offers a range of possibilities for authorities to limit freedom of speech. Often such censorship goes far beyond the restrictions to the right to freedom of expression allowed under international law.
- Today around 60 countries are exercising some form of Internet censorship. They filter, they infiltrate, they manipulate and they harass.
- At the same time, technology and communication channels are developing rapidly. Controlling social media and the Internet is like trying to stop a huge waterfall with your hands – it is close to impossible.
- This means that having increased surveillance capacity cannot stop the communication explosion. It can, however, increase the vulnerability of human rights defenders and journalists, as the insecurity of information stored digitally or communicated via social media and the Internet is becoming a major problem.
- The ICT-sector also faces increasing government pressure to comply with domestic laws and policies in ways that conflict with the human rights of freedom of opinion, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.
- Could you please comment more on the trend regarding Internet censorship?
- Norway provides rapid response and long-term support to human rights defenders, journalists and others who use the Internet to express themselves freely. We will continue this important support.
- It could, however, be interesting to hear your views on how governments and the UN should act together with civil society and business to secure basic human rights and stand up against illegitimate censorship in the future.
See the statement as a webcast