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Strasbourg, 7 March 2011

MC-S-CI (2011)009Rev2
English only
Pdf

 
 

AD HOC ADVISORY GROUP ON CROSS-BORDER INTERNET

(MC-S-CI)

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3rd meeting
21 and 22 February 2011
Room G.04
Strasbourg
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Committee of Ministers Draft Recommendation to member states on the protection and promotion of Internet’s universality, integrity and openness

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1. The member states of the Council of Europe, state Parties to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (European Convention on Human Rights – ETS No. 5) have undertaken to secure to everyone within their jurisdiction the human rights and fundamental freedoms defined therein. They have particular roles and responsibilities to secure the protection and promotion of these rights and freedoms and can be held to account for the rights involved before the European Court of Human Rights.
2. The right to freedom of expression is essential for citizens’ participation in democratic processes. This right applies to both online and offline activities and regardless of frontiers. Its protection should be ensured in accordance with article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
3. The Internet enables people to have access to information and services, to connect, and to communicate as well as share ideas and knowledge globally. It provides essential tools for participation and deliberation in political and other activities of public interest.
4. The individual’s freedom to have access to information and to form and express opinions, and the ability of groups to communicate and share views on the Internet depend on actions related to the Internet’s infrastructure and critical resources, and decisions on information technology design, as well as governmental action.
5. In particular, access and use of the Internet is exposed to risks of disruption of the stable and ongoing functioning of the network due to technical failures and is vulnerable to other acts of interference with the infrastructure of the Internet. The question of the Internet’s stability and resilience is intrinsically related to the cross-border interconnectedness and interdependencies of its infrastructure. Actions that take place in one jurisdiction may affect the ability of users to have access to information on the Internet in another.
6. Moreover, decisions taken in the context of the technical coordination and management of resources that are critical for the functioning of the Internet, notably domain names and Internet protocol addresses, may have a direct bearing on users’ access to information and protection of personal data. These resources are distributed in different jurisdictions and are managed by various international private entities.
7. Against this background, the protection of freedom of expression and access to information on the Internet as well as the promotion of the public service value of the Internet are part of a larger set of concerns about how to ensure Internet’s universality, integrity and openness.
8. People increasingly rely on the Internet for their everyday activities and to ensure their rights as citizens. They have a legitimate expectation that Internet services will be accessible and affordable, secure, reliable and ongoing. The Internet is, similarly, a critical resource for numerous sectors of the economy and public administrations.
9. These expectations of society require states to carefully preserve the general public interest in Internet-related policy making. Indeed, many countries have recognised the public service value of the Internet, whether in their national policies or legislation or in the form of political declarations, including in international fora.
10. As bearers of a duty to ensure the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of their citizens and primary respondents to their legitimate expectations regarding the criticality of the Internet, states have a responsibility to preserve the public interest in national and international Internet-related public policy.
11. In addition, states have a mutual expectation towards each other that they will make their best efforts to preserve and promote the public service value of the Internet. In that context, they should acknowledge the shared and reciprocal responsibility to take reasonable measures to preserve the universality, integrity and openness of the Internet as a means of safeguarding freedom of expression and information regardless of frontiers.
12. Therefore, the Committee of Ministers recommends to member states to:


    - be guided by the principles contained in the Committee of Ministers’ Declaration on Internet governance principles, both in the context of developing national Internet-related policies and when participating in such endeavours within the international community;
    - to protect and promote Internet’s universality, integrity and openness having regard to the principles and in accordance with the commitment set out in this recommendation and ensure that they are reflected in practice and law;
    - ensure the broad dissemination of the attached commitment to all public authorities, private entities, in particular those dealing with the management of resources that are critical for the functioning of the Internet as well as civil society organisations;
    - encourage these actors to support and promote the implementation of the principles included therein.

Commitment to protect and promote
Internet’s universality, integrity and openness

1. General principles

1.1  No harm

    1.1.1 States have the responsibility to ensure, in accordance with the principles of international law, that their actions do not have an adverse transboundary impact on access to and use of the Internet.

    1.1.2 This includes in particular the responsibility to ensure that their actions within their jurisdictions do not interfere with access to content outside their territorial boundaries or negatively impact the transboundary flow of Internet traffic.

1.2  Cooperation

    States should cooperate in good faith between themselves and with relevant stakeholders at all stages of developing and implementing Internet-related public policies to avoid any adverse transboundary impact on access to, and use of, the Internet.

1.3. Due diligence

    Within the limits of non-involvement in the operational issues and ordinary administration of Internet activities, states should, in cooperation with each other and with all relevant stakeholders, take all necessary measures to prevent, manage and respond to significant transboundary disruption to, and interference with, the infrastructure of the Internet, or at any event minimise the risk and consequences arising from such events.


2. Integrity of the Internet

2.1. Preparedness

    2.1.1 States should jointly develop and implement emergency plans for managing and responding to disruptions to, and interferences with, the infrastructure of the Internet.

    2.1.2 In particular, states should co-operate with a view to support the development and implementation of common standards, rules and practices aimed at preserving and strengthening the stability, robustness and resilience of the Internet.

    2.1.3. States should create an environment that facilitates information sharing and response coordination among stakeholders, notably through the creation of public-private partnerships, in respect of activities involving risk of causing significant transboundary disruption to, or interferences with, infrastructure of the Internet.

2.2 Response

    2.2.1 Notification

    States should, without delay, provide notification of a risk of significant transboundary disruption to, and interference with, the infrastructure of the Internet to potentially affected states.

    2.2.2 Information sharing

    States should, in a timely manner, provide to potentially-affected states all available information relevant to responding to transboundary disruption to, or interference with, the infrastructure of the Internet.

    2.2.3 Consultation

    States should enter into consultations with each other without delay with a view to achieving mutually acceptable solutions regarding measures to be adopted to respond to significant transboundary disruption to, or interference with, the infrastructure of the Internet.

    2.2.4 Mutual assistance

    As appropriate, and with due regard to their capabilities, states should, in good faith, offer their assistance to other affected states with a view to mitigating the adverse effects of disruptions to, or interferences, with infrastructure of the Internet.

2.3 Implementation

    States should, in consultation with relevant stakeholders, within the limits of non-involvement in the operational issues and ordinary administration of Internet activities, develop reasonable legislative, administrative or other measures as appropriate, including the establishment of suitable monitoring mechanisms, to implement their due diligence commitments regarding the integrity of the Internet.

2.4 Responsibility

    With the objective of ensuring accountability in respect of adverse consequences on the integrity of the Internet, states should engage in dialogue and cooperation for the further development of international law relating to the responsibility and liability for damage, its assessment and compensation as well as the settlement of related disputes.

3. Resources that are critical for the functioning of the Internet

    States should take all appropriate measures to ensure that the development and application of standards, policies, procedures or practices in connection with the management of resources that are critical for the functioning of the Internet incorporate protections for human rights and fundamental freedoms of Internet users in compliance with the standards recognised in international human rights law.

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