Council of Europe member States have the obligation to secure for everyone within their jurisdiction the human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5, the Convention). This obligation is also valid in the context of Internet use. Other Council of Europe conventions and instruments, which deal with the protection of the right to freedom of expression, access to information, the right to freedom of assembly, protection from cybercrime and of the right to private life and to the protection of personal data, are also applicable.

The obligations of States to respect, protect and promote human rights include the oversight of private companies. Human rights, which are universal and indivisible, and related standards, prevail over the general terms and conditions imposed on Internet users by any private sector actor.

The Internet has a public service value. People, communities, public authorities and private entities rely on the Internet for their activities and have a legitimate expectation that its services are accessible, provided without discrimination, affordable, secure, reliable and ongoing. Furthermore, no one should be subjected to unlawful, unnecessary or disproportionate interference with the exercise of their human rights and fundamental freedoms when using the Internet.

Users should receive support to understand and effectively exercise their human rights online when their rights and freedoms have been restricted or interfered with. This support should include guidance on access to effective remedies. In light of the opportunities that the Internet provides for transparency and accountability in the conduct of public affairs, users should be empowered to use the Internet to participate in democratic life.

See the full text of Recommendation.

Explanatory Memo >>

Visual ID description

Internet Users Rights

In Brief
Council of Europe member States have the obligation to secure for everyone within their jurisdiction the human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights. The obligations of States to respect, protect and promote human rights include the oversight of private companies. The Internet has a public service value. Users should receive support to understand and effectively exercise their human rights online when their rights and freedoms have been restricted or interfered with. 

Contact Us Contact Us