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November 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

The FOC welcomes New Zealand as its 28th member

The Freedom Online Coalition is pleased to announce New Zealand as its newest member. As noted in their letter of intent, “New Zealand is committed to a secure cyberspace that is trusted and resilient…we consider that all people should enjoy the same human rights online as they do offline, including the freedoms of expression, association and religion and belief, and the right to protection of the law against arbitrary interference on privacy.”

FOC New York Network meeting with the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression

On October 20, Canada co-hosted with Costa Rica a meeting between the New York chapter of the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC) and the Special Rapporteur (SR) on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye. This meeting allowed for an informal exchange, in which the SR briefed the group on issues such as encryption and anonymity, access to information, and guiding principles on private sector responsibilities. Canada also delivered opening remarks, underscoring Canada’s commitment to protect freedom of opinion and expression on- and offline, including through collaboration with the FOC.

Germany represents the FOC at OSCE conference in Belgrade

Germany represented the FOC this month and spoke at the the third OSCE regional conference on freedom of the internet entitled "Gaining a Digital Edge: Freedom of Expression" in Belgrade, Serbia, from 16 to 18 October. The Conference was organized by Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, OSCE Mission to Serbia, SHARE Foundation, and Central European University. The event brought together journalists, media lawyers, representatives of government institutions, IT experts, academics, artists and human rights defenders from 14 countries from South Eastern and Central Europe to discuss strategies for navigating the legal, regulatory, and technological challenges for freedom of expression in the digital environment.



Colombian journalists face new challenges with increasing digital attacks

Cyber attacks are now considered the most important threat to Colombian journalists, who are fully entering the digital era. According to a recent study conducted by Consejo de Redacción, a nonprofit that promotes investigative journalism, there are around 750 online media organizations in Colombia. The Foundation for Freedom of Expression (FLIP) reported six major cyber attacks against online media outlets in 2014. It also reported 15 incidents of false social network accounts created to defame journalists, in addition to WhatsApp, text messages and email accounts coming under attack.

Related news stories:

Brazil's landmark Marco Civil legislation at risk

In 2014, Brazil passed legislation known as the Marco Civil da Internet, a framework for the internet that gives legal status to a set of fundamental principles for digital rights for all Brazilians. The Marco Civil managed to reconcile the interests of various internet stakeholders into one text, thanks to a broad public consultation. Only one year later, however, it is alleged that the principles in the Marco Civil are being threatened by Brazil's own legislative representatives.

Related news stories:

Secular publisher hacked to death in latest Bangladesh attacks

A publisher of secular books has been hacked to death in the Bangladeshi capital, police have said. In a separate attack in Dhaka, two other writers and a publisher were stabbed and shot at a publishing house. Two of the victims had published books by blogger Avijit Roy, who was one of the four secular bloggers killed in Bangladesh this year. The attacks have been linked by police to domestic Islamist extremists, while Islamic State has claimed responsibility for three other attacks.

Related news stories:

Venezuela: Inter-American Press Association condemns Maduro over free speech violations

The state of free speech in Venezuela has worsened over the last year, with independent media outlets under attack by the government, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). The IACHR convened the 71st General Assembly of the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) on October 2, gathering over 300 journalists and focused on the “wave of censorship” spreading across the Americas. During the meeting, IAPA Regional Vice President Asdrúbal Aguiar introduced four resolutions urging the General Assembly to condemn the Venezuelan government for its violations of free speech.

Related news stories:

U.N. rights expert David Kaye releases new report on whistleblowers

U.N. Special Rapporteur for freedom of expression and freedom of opinion submitted a report to the General Assembly on the protection of whistleblowers and sources.The report highlights a host of best-practice protections, with particular attention on national security whistleblowers and sources.

Related news stories:

 UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

Upcoming Events


World Radiocommunication Conference 2015, 2-27 Nov, Geneva

The World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15) will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 2 to 27 November 2015. World radiocommunication conferences (WRC) are held every three to four years. It is the job of WRC to review, and, if necessary, revise the Radio Regulations, the international treaty governing the use of the radio-frequency spectrum and the geostationary-satellite and non-geostationary-satellite orbits.  

UNESCO 38th Session of the General Conference, 03-18 Nov, Paris

The UNESCO 38th Session of the General Conference will be held from 3-18 November 2015 in Paris. It meets every two years, and is attended by Member States and Associate Members, together with observers for non-Member States, intergovernmental organizations and NGOs. Each country has one vote, irrespective of its size or the extent of its contribution to the budget. You can find more information here.

Cybersecurity, Cybercrime and Cyber Connection Conference (Cyber3), 7-8 Nov, Japan

The World Economic Forum and the Government of Japan have agreed to work together to start a multistakeholder dialogue on cybersecurity and its implication for the future of the Internet. A meeting will be held 7-8 November 2015 in Japan to address the issue. The dialogue and meeting were announced during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, on 24 January 2015. The meeting will focus on technology, policy-making and the development of cooperative standards and norms. Participants will include chief executive officers, leading academics and senior government officials from around the world.

Internet Governance Forum, 10-13 Nov, João Pessoa 

The tenth annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) Meeting is scheduled to take place in João Pessoa, Brazil, on 10-13 November 2015. The FOC will be hosting an Open Forum at the meeting, and FOC Working Group1 will present a workshop entitled: a multistakeholder and human rights approach to cybersecurity. The title of the Conference will be “Evolution of Internet Governance: Empowering Sustainable Development”. This theme will be supported by eight sub-themes that will frame the discussions. You can find more information here.

G-20 Summit 2015, 15-16 Nov, Antalya

The G-20 Summit for 2015 will be held in Antalya, Turkey, on 15-16 November (venue to be confirmed). Turkey assumed presidency of the G-20. The 2015 G-20 Turkey summit will be the tenth meeting of the G-20 heads of government. Turkey's 2015 G-20 Priorities are available here.

United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights, 16-18 Nov, Geneva

The 4th annual United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights will be held at the Palais de Nations, Geneva 16-18 November 2015 to discuss ways to move forward on putting into practice the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting , 25-27 Nov, Malta

Malta will host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting for a second time, 25-27 November, having successfully done so in 2005. The theme for the 2015 CHOGM is Commonwealth - Adding Global Value.

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To contact the FOC Secretariat for any further information on any of the events or news items mentioned in this newsletter, please email:
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