UNESCO calls for protection of “digital rights” to counter government Internet restrictions

By Joseph Vavrus

Coinciding with a call by international organizations for increased freedom of expression on the Internet, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) report urges governments to support internet use as a human right, GigaOm reports.

The report, titled Freedom of Connection, Freedom of Expression, highlights government actions and legal structures that expand or restrict digital freedoms and calls for nations to recognize the "Internet as a new arena for the defense of democratic values."

Of importance to countries in the hemisphere are the following points:

*Costa Rica is the only country in the region where the Internet is constitutionally protected, with the supreme court ruling that “access to [digital] technologies becomes a basic instrument to facilitate the exercise of fundamental rights and democratic participation (e-democracy) and social control, education, freedom of expression and thought, access to information and public services online, the right to interact with government electronically and administrative transparency, among others.” (Full text of the ruling in Spanish here).

*The province of San Luis in Argentina passed a law guaranteeing the right to free Internet access.

*While the United States has some of the strongest freedom of expression protections in the world, it also had some of the strongest opposition to the view that the Internet is a fundamental right.

*Cuba is the only country in the region with “extensive [Internet] filtering practices,” like those used by China, Vietnam, and Myanmar (Burma).

Download the full report here (large PDF file).

Other Related Headlines:
» UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (Internet should remain as open as possible – UN expert on freedom of expression)

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.