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November 2016

FOC Updates

6th Annual FO Conference: Chair's Summary Published

On 17-18 October the 6th Annual Freedom Online Conference took place in San José, Costa Rica. The event gathered more than 200 participants from 48 countries, from all regions of the world and all levels of development. The Conference met under the theme enhancing an open, active and constructive online community for the enjoyment of an effective citizenship online, and centered on contributing to the ongoing multi-stakeholder exchange on how to address the challenges, opportunities and potential of free, open and accessible online channels and platforms for political, social and economic development. A quick (numerical) guide to the Conference can be found here, and the full Chair's Summary can be found here.

FOC San José Statement: A Road Map to Strengthen Engagement with Members and Stakeholders

During FO2016 the Outcome Document of the 2016 FOC Strategic Review, the San José Statement, was presented to the international community. A quick guide to the Review Outcomes can be found here. This document is the culmination of a 16 month process that began at the 5th Annual Freedom Online Conference that took place in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The San José Statement reiterates the Coalition’s key values and purpose and outlines a work plan aiming to make it more dynamic and effective.

The Statement and accompanying Work Plan, available here, set forth the Coalition’s aims and priority activities and offer a blueprint for revising the existing Nairobi Terms of Reference to update the FOC structure and operations to support these objectives. In addition to this combined document, the FOC has also shared the Final Report of the FOC Strategic Review Working Group, titled “Looking Back to Move Ahead”, which presents the culmination of extensive consultations and in-depth assessment of the FOC development and its current processes and procedures. These materials, which include a stocktaking report, an independent external review, and the results of a comprehensive survey conducted among FOC members have provided the evidence base for the San José Statement and informed continued discussion at the Costa Rica Conference. The Coalition will be seeking input from the broader community as it implements the Work Plan.

FOC Working Group Updates
       Working Group 1 (WG1): launch of recommendations at FO2016
At FO2016 Working Group 1 officially launched its recommendations for human rights based approaches to cybersecurity. The launch of the Recommendations represents a culmination of a two year multistakeholder dialogue among working group members – representing governments, the private sector, civil society and academia, as well as the broader community, aimed at bringing a human rights framing to ongoing debates on cybersecurity.

“These recommendations”, reads the preamble, “are a first step towards ensuring that cybersecurity policies and practices are based upon and fully consistent with human rights – effectively, that cybersecurity policies and practices are rights-respecting by design.” The recommendations are aimed at policy makers and other stakeholders engaged in issues of cybersecurity. They touch upon, among other issues, the security of persons online and offline, responses to cyber threats, encryption and anonymity, and cybersecurity capacity building.

The governments of the United States and Canada, industry representatives like Mozilla, and civil society organizations like Access Now, the Association for Progressive Communications, and the Center for Democracy and Technology have already expressed support for the recommendations. Support for the Recommendations has also been expressed by the Freedom Online Coalition. The Recommendations are now open for expressions of support from all stakeholders, and can be endorsed via For more information about the Recommendations, its framing narrative, and existing expressions of support, visit
       Working Group 2 (WG2): forthcoming output document on rule of law and the internet
Working Group 2 met at FO2016 to discuss their work focusing on the intersection of the digital development and the rule of law. They have created a blog series around particular challenges around the rule of law and the internet, and is drafting an output document which was refined during discussions at FO2016. This outlines the Group’s key priorities and aims to bridge the gap between the rule of law community and internet freedom community. The group aims to engage much more in the future with the Council of Europe, Venice Commission and regional courts to further this aim.
       Working Group 3 (WG3): resource for transparency published during FO2016
The Group met at FO2016 to discuss their work focusing on privacy and transparency online. Building on its blog series, Working Group 3 published a resource for transparency advocates within governments, companies, and civil society. The publication contains three parts:
  • a people-centered standard for government and company transparency
  • a document articulating the value and case for transparency;  
  • and a summary of where transparency appears within various sources outlining human rights commitments, expectations, or aspirations for governments and companies.
The WG hopes this short paper will be useful to individuals and organizations working to improve government and company transparency about requests for user information and content restriction. They welcome feedback.

Related News 

Further to the above updates from the Freedom Online Coalition, you may be interested in looking at the following curated news digests on online freedom issues from this month. Note that the views expressed in these digests represent the views of individual authors and not necessarily the views of the Freedom Online Coalition or its members. . 
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