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Freedom of expression and opinion on the internet

Freedom of expression and opinion on the internet

Published on May 25, 2010
Communiqué issued by the French and Dutch foreign ministers

Paris, May 25, 2010

France and the Netherlands consider the freedom of expression and opinion on the Internet a fundamental challenge, particularly for the development of civil societies and public opinion in numerous countries.

Commitments have been made, notably in the framework of the World Summit on the Information Society. But these commitments are not always honored. Worse: the number of States exercising censorship of the new media, and keeping watch on and punishing Internet users for thought crimes, has sharply increased in recent times.

In the face of these new threats, it is necessary to take concrete measures to promote a universal, open Internet that protects fundamental liberties.

We have decided to join forces and form a pilot group bringing together nations that are working to protect freedoms on the Internet, relevant international and regional organizations, NGOs, human rights activists, as well as Internet businesses, whose participation is equally essential.

The first meeting will be held in Paris in the coming weeks to work on four key objectives:

- development of a code of conduct to which private companies that export filtering and scrambling technologies can subscribe;

- establishment of an international mechanism to monitor the commitments taken by States with respect to free expression on the Internet

- aid that can be provided to cyber-dissidents

- possibility of translating the universality of the Internet into law.

The second meeting of this pilot group is scheduled to be held in the Netherlands.

Bernard Kouchner

Maxime Verhagen

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