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September 2015

This is the newsletter of the Freedom Online Coalition. The aim of the newsletter is to share information among Coalition members, highlight both emerging threats and positive new initiatives as well as help coordinate action that promotes the Coalition's objectives for a free and secure internet for all. 

FOC Updates

FOC launches its New York Network 

The FOC will be holding a meeting to launch the network of its New York -based representatives on September 11th. The meeting is being hosted by the current FOC Chair, Costa Rica, and the Government of Canada, and will be held at the Canadian Mission in New York. Similar to the FOC diplomatic networks in Paris and Geneva, the network in New York will allow Coalition members to gather informally to coordinate viewpoints, share relevant information, and discuss strategies to advance an open Internet.

FOC Working Group 3 - new members selected

Following an open call for new members, Working Group 3 (WG3) has selected three new members to join its ranks. Further details will be published on the WG3 page shortly. Please check the FOC WG3 webpage for updates.
Memorial to blogger Avijit Roy, killed in May 2015. Photo: Mamunur Rashid, copyright Demotix.



Authorities take action on Bangladesh blogger killings

After four killings of secular bloggers over the last six months in Bangladesh, authorities have identified multiple suspects. Five men, all said to be affiliated with the religious hardliner group Ansarullah Bangla Team, were arrested in August as suspects in the assassinations of Avijit Roy and Anant Bijoy Das, and in connection with the murder of Niloy Neel and attempted murder of Asif Mohiuddin.

Related news stories:

South Africa: outcry against new bill's potential to curb online freedoms

South Africa’s Cabinet has approved the submission of the films and publications amendment bill despite public outcry that it is guided by policy seeking to curb internet freedom. Topics covered in the draft policy include preventing children from viewing pornography online and hate speech and racist content online. According to the Films and Publications Board, the bill strengthens the duties imposed on mobile networks and internet service providers to protect the public during use of their services.

Related news stories:

Malaysia: abuse of free speech makes new internet laws necessary, government claims

Putrajaya is planning new laws to regulate online media due to alleged misuse of the constitutional right to freedom of expression on the internet, said newly-appointed Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak. The minister explained that while the Federal Constitution guarantees Malaysians the right to free speech and expression, this was not a licence to defame. Salleh also said that there was no country with absolute freedom of speech.

Related news stories:

China to plant internet police in top online firms

The Chinese government will be launching “cybersecurity police stations"  at major tech firms and websites, state media has announced. The stations will be responsible for “inspecting the operation of websites and enforcing laws governing online activities,” according to the Public Security Vice Minister, Chen Zimin. While “cyber police” have long operated in China, this suggests a future with even more policing of online content in China.

Related news stories:

New UN privacy chief calls for Geneva Convention for the internet

The United Nation's special rapporteur on privacy, Joseph Cannataci, has expressed concern over attitudes to data privacy by governments, corporations and citizens, arguing that a Geneva Convention for the internet is required. Cannataci was appointed as UN special rapporteur on privacy earlier this year. Speaking to The Guardian, he said the extent of internet and communications surveillance, combined with expanding use of connected devices, means that privacy often isn't seen as a concern.

Related news stories:

The entrance of a Chinese police station. Photo by Flickr user: Alexandra Moss (CC: AT-SA-NC)

Upcoming Events


WSIS+10 Review: Asian Regional Consultation, 03-05 Sep, Pattaya

From 3 to 5 September, a group of non-governmental organisations will be holding an Asian Regional Consultation on the WSIS+10 Review, bringing together stakeholders from the region who are concerned about issues concerning ICTs, sustainable development, human rights and Internet governance. The consultation is being held with the aim to inform the Review process by highlighting priorities for the Asian region. To follow the meeting remotely, click here

Africa IGF 2015, 07-08 Sep, Addis Ababa

The 4th African IGF (AfIGF 2015) is being organised by The African Union Commission (AUC) in cooperation with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). AfIGF is expected to bring together participants from all over the continent and outside partners to discuss Africa’s collective common position on internet governance and share best practices based on national and sub-regional consultations in the run-up to the next IGF. Register here.

Human Rights Council 30th Session, 14 Sep-02 Oct, Geneva

The 30th regular session of the Human Rights Council will be held from 14 September to 2 October 2015 at the Palais des Nations, Geneva. Panel discussions will include the annual discussion on the integration of a gender perspective (focus on gender parity) throughout the work of the Human Rights Council and that of its mechanisms; biennial panel discussion on unilateral coercive measures and human rights; and panel discussion on a human rights-based approach to good governance in the public service.

UN General Assembly 70th Session, 15 Sep-06 Oct, New York

The 70th Regular Session of the UN General Assembly is scheduled to convene at the UN Headquarters, in New York, on 15 September 2015. The General Debate will open on 28 September 2015. The resolution establishing the opening dates of the session can be accessed here and the schedule here.

UN Sustainable Development Summit 2015, 25-27 Sep, New York

The United Nations Summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda will be held from 25 to 27 September, in New York and convened as a high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly. The agenda is currently being elaborated through informal consultations of the UN General Assembly. More details, including information on the post-2015 process, and background documents are available on the event webpage.

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