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July 2016

FOC Updates


Update on FOC Strategic Review

 
The Strategic Review of the Freedom Online Coalition, which was agreed at the Ministerial Conference in Ulaanbataar, has been gathering pace in the run up to the Conference in Costa Rica in October. Thanks to the hospitality of our colleagues in The Netherlands, the Strategic Review Working Group (SRWG) was able to meet face to face in Brussels on 7 June to agree a set of outputs from the process and a timeline for delivering them by October. The SRWG meeting was attended by the US and the UK (co-chairs), Netherlands, Costa Rica, Canada, Estonia and Sweden, and assisted by the Support Unit.

Three key output documents were agreed: a “Declaration” reaffirming commitment of the 30 FOC members to the aims and objectives of the Coalition; an update to the operating procedures for the Coalition, building on those agreed in Nairobi in 2012; and an assessment of the developments within the Coalition and its work over the past five years, to be produced by the Support Unit based on their evidence base of meetings, attendances and policy outputs. Informing this work will be the outcome of a Survey being carried out across all FOC members, thanks to our Canadian colleagues, which seeks views on a few key aspects of the Coalition and its work.

The SRWG will continue to work closely with our colleagues in Costa Rica to ensure the various elements of the review can provide an important outcome from the conference later this year. The SRWG remains committed to facilitating an inclusive process, as envisioned by the FOC at the 5th Annual Meeting, and will continue to consult key stakeholders to seek their input and expertise in acheiving a successful way forward for the Coalition's work.


WG3 side-event at the 32nd Session of the Human Rights Council

 
The UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, recently published his report on the role of the private sector in the digital age. The report was presented at the 32nd Session of the Human Rights Council. In the margins of this meeting, a side session was co-organised by Article 19, APC, Global Partners Digital and the FOC WG3, which provided an opportunity to discuss the current state of play, and challenges to, furthering the respect for human rights online by the private sector. FOC WG3 member, and Executive Director of GNI, Judith Lichtenberg, welcomed the report on behalf of the WG during the session. WG3, which focuses on the relationship between governments and information & communications technology (ICT) companies, was pleased to note the report's particular focus on increasing transparency around the laws, policies and procedures that guide both government and company behaviour with regards to access to user information and content removal. This area of focus complements the WG's mandate and responds to the WG's submission to the report, which can be found here.

The report marks the start of a number of projects to be undertaken by the UNSR. As the WG moves forward with its work in the coming months, it will continue to explore opportunities to collaborate with the UNSR on these issues to further its objective and promote human rights online.
 

WG2 blog on direct access systems and the right to privacy

 
In the second installment of the FOC Working Group 2 (WG 2) blog series, Group members Lisl Brunner – Policy and Learning Director at the Telecommunications Dialogue – and Patrik Hiselius – Senior Advisor at TeliaSonera – discuss the challenges that direct access systems pose to the right to privacy. Throughout this blog series, WG members will analyse current scenarios where the application of the rule of law online fails to promote human rights online, and highlight areas where further research should be undertaken to further strengthen rule of law principles and practices. To read the full blog post click here.


WG3 side-event at the 32nd Session of the Human Rights Council

 
The UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, recently published his report on the role of the private sector in the digital age. The report was presented at the 32nd Session of the Human Rights Council. In the margins of this meeting, a side session was co-organised by Article 19, APC, Global Partners Digital and the FOC WG3, which provided an opportunity to discuss the current state of play, and challenges to, furthering the respect for human rights online by the private sector. FOC WG3 member, and Executive Director of GNI, Judith Lichtenberg, welcomed the report on behalf of the WG during the session. WG3, which focuses on the relationship between governments and information & communications technology (ICT) companies, was pleased to note the report's particular focus on increasing transparency around the laws, policies and procedures that guide both government and company behaviour with regards to access to user information and content removal. This area of focus complements the WG's mandate and responds to the WG's submission to the report, which can be found here.

The report marks the start of a number of projects to be undertaken by the UNSR. As the WG moves forward with its work in the coming months, it will continue to explore opportunities to collaborate with the UNSR on these issues to further its objective and promote human rights online.
 

8th Round Table “Internet and Human Rights” in Germany

 
Non-governmental organizations, think tanks, government officials and MPs were invited to discuss recent developments at the nexus of cyber foreign policy and human rights during the 8th Round Table “Internet and Human Rights“ on 8 June. The Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, Dr. Bärbel Kofler, and the Foreign Office’s Director for the United Nations, International Cyber Policy and Counter-Terrorism, Ambassador Dr. Thomas Fitschen, hosted the event. They gave updates about work concerning human rights online in the UN, the FOC and the OSCE. Both put a special emphasis on the right to privacy. The presentations laid the foundation for a lively and constructive debate. Important topics of discussion were how to balance human rights and security in the fight against terrorism, export restrictions on online surveillance technology, and the implications of encryption technology. The Round Table was launched in 2013 by the German Federal Foreign Office as a result of German membership in the Freedom Online Coalition. It is part of Germany’s commitment to dialogue with stakeholders on cyber policy issues.
 

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. . 
Copyright © 2016 Global Partners Digital, All rights reserved. 
To contact the FOC Secretariat for any further information on any of the events or news items mentioned in this newsletter, please email: info@freedomonlinecoalition.com
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