Reporters Without Borders / Internet Freedom desk
On 6 January, Reporters Without Borders issued six concrete proposals aimed at ensuring that Internet-sector companies respect free expression when operating in repressive countries. The organisation calls on bloggers and Internet user to sign an online petition in support of this initiative.
These recommendations will be addressed to the US government and US legislators because all the companies named in this document are based in the United States. Nonetheless, they concern all democratic countries and have therefore will be sent to European Union officials and to the Secretary General of the OECD as well.
Reporters Without Borders' proposals
- E-mail services:
No US company would be allowed to host e-mail servers within a repressive country*. So, if the authorities of a repressive country want personal information about the user of a US company's e-mail service, they would have to request it under a procedure supervised by US judicial authorities .
- Search engines:
Search engines would not be allowed to incorporate automatic filters that censor "protected" words. The list of "protected" keywords such as "democracy" or "human rights" should be appended to the law or code of conduct.
- Content hosts (websites, blogs, discussion forums etc)
US companies would not be allowed to locate their host servers within repressive countries. If the authorities of a repressive country desire the closure of a publication hosted by a US company, they would have to request it under a procedure supervised by the US judicial authorities. Like search engines, content hosts would not be allowed to incorporate automatic filters that censor "protected" key-words.
- Internet censorship technologies
Reporters Without Borders proposes two options:
Option a: US companies would no longer be permitted to sell Internet censorship software to repressive states.
Option b: They would still be able to market this type of software but it will have to incorporate a list of "protected" keywords that are rendered technically impossible to censor.
- Internet surveillance technology and equipment
US companies would have to obtain the express permission of the Department of Commerce in order to sell to a repressive country any technology or equipment which can be used to intercept electronic communications or which is specifically designed to assist the authorities in monitoring Internet users.
US companies would have to obtain the express permission of the Department of Commerce before providing any programme of training in Internet surveillance and censorship techniques in a repressive country.
* A list of countries that repress freedom of expression would be drawn up on the basis of documents provided by the US State Department and would be appended to the code of conduct or law that is adopted. This list would be regularly updated.
Note: The purpose of these recommendations is to protect freedom of expression. They in no way aim to restrict the necessary cooperation between governments in their efforts to combat terrorism, paedophilia and cyber-crime.
Sign the petition
More information about this initiative
Thursday, 12 January 2006
Reporters Without Borders urges Internet users and bloggers to support its recommendations on freedom of expression
Got this in the mail (thanks Ingrid). A few things here that we disagree with. Which we'll come back to later. Meanwhile, here you go: