A blog on why norms matter online

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Internet is the world's "Plaza Pública", says UN Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue, and "it will prevail" against censorship

UN Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue
at a press conference in in Stockholm
(2010) (cc) janwikifoto
The Internet&Society Co:llaboratory has uploaded Episode 4 of its Podcast Series, which is based on a  telephone interview I conducted in May 2012 with UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression Frank La Rue in the framework of the fifth Co:Lab initiative on Human Rights and the Internet. 

I've blogged about the powerful reports Mr. La Rue presented to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly here and here before. 

In the interview, he mentions his  key points regarding human rights protection online. You can find the full transcript here, but here's a brief overview of the highlights:
  • "[The] Internet per se does not generate change, [the Arab Spring revolutions] were no Internet revolutions [...] it is the people who generate change. But it is also very clear that the Internet did play a key role in this process, and that it was a major facilitator. 
  • "It it is key to have access to the Internet [and] using the Internet is key [to ensure] several rights." 
  • "The second right, that i think is essential, is the right to education. I believe education in the future will be linked to the use of the Internet, as an investigative tool, but also as a moving library, a virtual library, but as well as the possibility of writing, collecting, sharing information."
  • "The Internet [is]  connected to all development issues, economic and social, and it is key for every state to guarantee access to Internet to the most remote rural villages" 
  • "[In] terms of the justice system, Internet facilitates the [openness] of the justice system, [by] making the justice system more public [it] facilitates the rural demand for justice, [it] facilitates access to information as a device for truth, all of which are crucial to eliminat[ing] impunity."
  • "[W]hatever states do to block, filter, censor the Internet, they will inevitably fail, because the Internet is not only such a powerful messenger but the technology also evolves so rapidly that states and state institutions will not be able to keep pace with the broad public and the users."
  • "[The] Internet will inevitably prevail as the open space of communication and free flow of ideas between peoples of the world." 
  • "[The] Internet has to be seen as the Plaza Pública, the public square, the public space, where we all meet, relate, socialize, exchange views and communicate."

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