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Strasbourg, 7 November 2005

MC-S-IS(2005)012

 

PDF

GROUP OF SPECIALISTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS
IN THE INFORMATION SOCIETY

(MC-S-IS)

______

2nd meeting
14 and 15 September 2005
Strasbourg, Human Rights Building

______

REPORT

______

    Item 1 of the agenda: Opening of the meeting and adoption of the agenda

    1. The Group of Specialists on Human Rights in the Information Society (MC-S-IS) held its 2nd meeting in Strasbourg on 14 and 15 September 2005. The meeting was chaired by Ms Alexandra KRICK (Belgium).

    2. The list of participants appears in Appendix I. The agenda, as adopted, is reproduced in Appendix II.

    Item 2 of the agenda: Elaboration of the meaning of “harmful content”, as referred to Council of Europe instruments, in order to promote coherence in the protection of minors in all media in the Information Society

    3. The expert consultant, Ms O’CONNELL, explained that harmful content could only be fully understood with reference to the wider definition of ‘risk of harm’ which incorporates issues relating to content and types of behaviour when using new communication services (e.g. ‘cyber bullying’, ‘happy slapping’), both online and offline.

    4. After some discussion concerning the differences between illegal and legal content and the repeated references to the importance of safeguarding the right to freedom of expression, several members of the Group reacted by focusing their attention on ways forward such as positive obligations on states to provide media education on new communication services. Reference was also made to the failure of self-regulation to protect minors from harmful content, and to the use of technology, in particular the use of filters as a means of avoiding regulation and the dangers of ratings systems being harmful to the right to freedom of expression, to sidestep important issues linked to human rights protection.

    5. The Group underlined the need to develop guidelines in order to better understand the types of ‘risk of harm’, in particular with reference to regulatory issues, levels of (non-legal) responsibility and media education. In this respect, the Group agreed to submit to the Secretariat written comments on the harmful content study at the latest by 14 October 2005.

    The Group also concluded that it should consider how to follow-up the study “in order to promote coherence in the protection of minors in all media in the Information Society”. In this respect, during its third meeting in December 2005, the Group should respond to the study by preparing an action plan.

    Item 3 of the agenda: Pan-European Forum on Human Rights in the Information Society: Responsible Behaviour by Key Actors (Strasbourg, 12 and 13 September 2005)1

    6. The Chairperson underlined the importance of media education as a key type of responsible behaviour and also the leading role of the state and public service broadcasting in its provision, in particular, in dealing with harmful content.

    7. Several members of the Group re-stressed the utility of developing guidelines, in particular on education/literacy, the role of key actors in the Information Society and on the human rights aspects of new technologies.

    Such (human rights) guidelines could assist stakeholders (i.e. civil society, industry, states) to coherently identify, understand and address online and related offline content and behaviours with a ‘risk of harm’, based on Council of Europe’s standards. It was suggested that these guidelines were best developed by being stakeholder specific to take account of the different yet interdependent roles and responsibilities of key actors in the Information Society.

    The Chairperson stated that, whatever the Group’s response to protecting and promoting human rights in the Information Society, it should respond to, and evolve in line with, the decisions taken, and actions of, different stakeholder groups. In this respect, she considered that this response (guidelines) could be developed in accordance with the national contact points as referred to in the Group’s terms of reference.

    8. The Chairperson concluded by inviting the Group to consider the guidelines that it could develop and to send written comments to the Secretariat, at the latest by 14 October 2005.

    Item 4 of the agenda: Develop strategies: (i) to promote digital inclusion, inter alia, by means of media education

    9. The Secretariat explained that, due to unforeseen changes and following consultation with the Group by e-mail during the summer period, Mr Dominic VENTER was replaced by Ms Janice RICHARDSON and two of her colleagues, Ms Betsy VERHEIJ and Mr Christopher COAKLEY, in the revision and update of the Council of Europe Handbook on Internet Literacy.

    Ms Richardson gave a brief overview of the revised elements of the Handbook which inter alia reflect new trends such as blogging and cyber bullying, make more reference to human rights principles and offers fewer yet better quality web-resources/website links.

    10. It was agreed that considerable efforts should be made, both by the Secretariat and member States, to maximise the dissemination of the Handbook and to promote its translation into other languages.

    Item 5 of the agenda: Information on work of other Council of Europe bodies of interest to the MC-S-IS

    11. Mr Michael REMMERT, Manager of the Project entitled “Good Governance in the Information Society”, informed the Group about the Project’s focus on the effects of new information and communication technologies (ICT) on the practice of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Council of Europe member states. He explained that this will inter alia follow through and consolidate the recent achievements of Integrated Project “Making democratic institutions work” responsible for the Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on Human Rights and the Rule of Law in the Information Society adopted on 13 May 2005.

    Item 6 of the agenda: Decisions of the Committee of Ministers of interest to the work of the MC-S-IS

    Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on Human Rights and the Rule of Law in the Information Society

    12. Mr REMMERT informed the Group of the Declaration’s adoption by the Committee of Ministers on 13 May 2005 which had been prepared by the Multidisciplinary Ad Hoc Committee of Experts on the Information Society (CAHSI).

    He underlined the Declaration’s added value in its suggestion to review and readjust the application of human rights in the Information Society where necessary, and in its reference to a multi-stakeholder platform bringing together states and other actors (industry, civil society, international organisations) with the common aim to protect human rights.

    Item 7 of the agenda: Other information of interest to the work of the MC-S-IS

    Second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), Tunis, 16 to 18 November 2005

    13. Mr REMMERT underlined that the next step for the above-mentioned Declaration, and also for the work of the Group regarding the results of the Pan-European Forum and the harmful content study, was the Tunis Phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), to be held in Tunis on 16 to 18 November 2005. He explained that the Council of Europe was organising Parallel Events in Tunis on 16 and 17 November to showcase its work on cybercrime as well as on e-voting and harmful content.

    Item 8 of the agenda: Decisions of the Steering Committee on the Media and New Communication Services (CDMC) of interest to the work of the MC-S-IS

    14. The Secretariat informed the Group that, at its 1st meeting in June 2005, the CDMC decided to call upon the Group to consider the debate regarding Internet regulatory frameworks in its future work (i.e. self and co-regulation). In response, the Group discussed (i) the issues surrounding the regulation of the Information Society with reference to certain models (e.g. Belgium, Australia), (ii) concerns (i.e. the dangers to human rights resulting from over regulation, composition and functioning of self-regulatory governing bodies, roles for civil society and for the judiciary), and (iii) the underlying importance of ultimately focusing on the human rights protection of users before deciding on regulatory models.

    The Group decided to send the Secretariat information on regulatory responses foreseen in their states and for the Secretariat to take inspiration from the current European Commission study on the impact on co-regulation models in order to compile the findings for discussion at the third meeting of the Group in December 2005. The Chairperson underlined the importance of being fully informed about the various regulatory models before putting forward proposals to address, perhaps through the development of guidelines, the issue of the regulation of the Internet.

    Item 9 of the agenda: Draft questionnaire to examine the implementation of the Committee of Ministers Declaration on freedom of communication on the Internet by the member States

    15. The Group considered and discussed the draft questionnaire prepared by the Secretariat. The Group was in general agreement with the overall approach of posing a limited number of direct questions. Moreover, the draft should also be revised to take into account the comments and proposed revisions raised during the discussions.

    The Chairperson invited the Secretariat to revise the draft questionnaire accordingly and to re-send it to the Group. Once received, the Group is required to agree the revised questions within one month (notwithstanding the possibility of an additional two weeks to agree any further changes put forward thereafter).

    Item 10 of the agenda: Examination of whether the principles of Recommendation No. R (99) 15 on media coverage of election campaigns should be reviewed in the light of the development of digital broadcasting services and other new communication services.

    16. The Group expressed concern about the feasibility and added value of extending the scope of the Recommendation to online coverage of election campaigns. There was also some reflection on whether member States would be able to respond well to a questionnaire on the Recommendation.

    The Chairperson invited the Group to send to the Secretariat information and reactions on the Recommendation, in particular with reference to extending its scope online so that this may be compiled and examined at its third meeting in December 2005.

    Item 11 of the agenda: Future work of the MC-S-IS (2005 to 2006)

      a. Texts adopted at the Third Summit of Council of Europe Heads of State and Government (Warsaw, 16 and 17 May 2005)

    17. The Secretariat informed the Group of the adopted Summit Action Plan in which a commitment was made “to guarantee and promote freedom of expression and information and freedom of the media as a core element of our democracies” (Part I, Heading 3, paragraph 3 of the Action Plan) and to “further elaborate principles and guidelines to ensure respect for human rights and the rule of law in the information society” as well as to “continue its work on children in the information society, in particular as regards developing their media literacy skills and ensuring their protection against harmful content” (Part II, Heading 5, paragraphs 2 and 3 of the Action Plan).

    The Group noted that the Summit had reaffirmed and reasserted the Group’s mandate.

      b. Pan-European Forum in 2006

18. One member of the Group underlined the importance of showcasing the positive effects of the Information Society on human rights in the planning of the 2006 Forum. As regards the negative effects, the Secretariat suggested that the excellent work carried out by the expert consultant on harmful content could also be showcased. The question of human rights in the context of Internet governance was also discussed.

The Chairperson concluded that the possible themes for the 2006 Forum should be considered in more detail at the third meeting of the Group in December 2005.

    Item 12 of the agenda: Dates of next meeting

19. Several members of the Group indicated that the planned dates of the third meeting of the Group on 2 and 3 December 2005 clashed with the key dates of other important meetings. The Group and the Secretariat therefore agreed to reschedule the third meeting to take place in Strasbourg on 12 and 13 December 2005.

Item 13 of the agenda: Other business

20. None.

    * * *

    Appendix I

    List of participants

    MEMBER STATES/ETATS MEMBRES

    Albania/Albanie

    Ms Lidra ZEGALI, Director of the Press and Information Directorate, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, TIRANA - Apologised/Excusé

    Mr. Taulant TOPCIU, Desk Officer in the Press and Information Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Apologised/Excusé

    Armenia/Arménie

    Mr David SANDUKCHIAND, Head of Legal Department, Project Manager, Internews Armenia, YEREVAN

    Austria/Autriche

    Mr Michael TRUPPE, Federal Chancellery, Constitutional Service, VIENNA

    Belgium/Belgique

    Ms Alexandra KRICK, Ministère de la Communauté française de Belgique, BRUXELLES

    Bulgaria/Bulgarie

    Ms Bissera ZANKOVA, Ministry of Transport and Communications, SOFIA

    Finland/Finlande

    Ms Kristina HAUTALA-KAJOS, Senior Adviser, Ministry of Education and Culture, Science and Culture, HELSINKI

    Greece/Grèce

    Ms Maria GIANNAKAKI, Press Attaché, Permanent Representation of Greece to the Council of Europe, Press Office, STRASBOURG, France

    Malta/Malte

    Mr Hubert THEUMA, Senior Counsel for the Republic, handling Human Rights litigation as well as Intellectual Property issues, Office of the Attorney General of the Republic, VALETTA

    Moldova

    Ms Rodica POSTU, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, No. 80, 31 August Street, Ministerul Afacerilor Externe, CHISINAU

    Norway/Norvège

    Mr Øyvind BOE, Adviser, Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs, Department of Media Policy and Copyright, OSLO

    Portugal

    Ms Maria de LURDES MONTEIRO, Alta Autoridade para Comunicaçao Social, LISBONNE

    Russian Federation

    Mr Vladislav ERMAKOV, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, MOSCOW,

    Slovakia/Slovaquie

    Mr Zeljko SAMPOR, Media Department, Ministry of Culture, BRATISLAVA - Apologised/Excusé

    Turkey/Turquie

    Mr Mehmet Bora SÖNMEZ Radio and Television Supreme Council, Bilkent, ANKARA

    Mr A. Vahap DARENDELİ, Vice President, Radio and Television Supreme Council, Bilkent, ANKARA

    Ukraine

    Mr Victor VOYTOVYCH, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, KYIV

    United Kingdom/Royaume-Uni

    Mr Nigel HICKSON, Head of the Trade and Industry Department, ICT EU Policy, LONDON

    OTHER PARTICIPANTS / AUTRES PARTICIPANTS

    Parliamentary Assembly / Assemblée Parlementaire - Apologised/Excusé

    Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe / Congrès des Pouvoirs Locaux et Régionaux de l'Europe - Apologised/Excusé

    European Commission/Commission européenne

    Ms Christine KORMANN, European Commission, DG Information Society, Rue Alcide de Gasperi, LUXEMBOURG

    CDDH

    Mr Ignacio BLASCO LOZANO, Government Agent, Abogacia des Estado ante el TEDH, Abogacia General del Estado, Ministry of Justice, MADRID, Spain

    OBSERVERS /OBSERVATEURS

    Canada

    Holy See/Saint-Siège

    Mgr Enrique PLANAS, Head of Office, Pontifical Council for Social Communications, VATICAN CITY

    Japan/Japon

    Mexico/Mexique

    United States of America/Etats-Unis d’Amérique

    Nordic Council of Ministers/Conseil nordique des Ministres

    Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) /
    Organisation pour la Sécurité et la Coopération en Europe (OSCE)Apologised/Excusé

    Alliance for a Media Literate Europe

    Mr Pär LUNDGREN, Project Manager, Alliance for a Media Literate Europe, KARLSTAD, Sweden

    European Digital Rights in Europe (EDRI)

    Ms Meryem MARZOUKI, European Digital Rights (EDRI), PARIS, France

    European Federation of Journalists / Fédération européenne des Journalistes

    Mr Michael KLEHM, Consultant, European Federation of Journalists / Fédération européenne des Journalistes

    European Newspaper Publishers’ Association / Association européenne des éditeurs de journaux

    Ms Hannah MCCAUSLAND, European Newspaper Publishers Association, BRUXELLES, Belgique

    EuroISPA

    Mr Richard Nash, Secretary General, BRUSSELS - Apologised/Excusé

    Europol

    Mr D. DREWER, Europol

    European Schoolnet / INSAFE

    Ms Janice RICHARDSON, European Schoolnet, Insafe Project Manager, BRUSSELS, Belgium

    Association of Internet Hotline Providers in Europe

    Mr Ian BROWN, Co-ordination of global hotlines, INHOPE Association, GORING, United Kingdom

    Internet Content Rating Association

    Mr Stephen BALKAM, Internet Content Rating Association, BRIGHTON, United Kingdom - Apologised/Excusé

    European Internet Coregulation Network / Réseau européen de co-régulation de l’Internet

    M. Mathieu LERONDEAU, Chargé de mission, European Internet Coregulation Network / Forum des droits sur l'Internet, PARIS, France

    CONSULTANT

    Ms Rachel O'CONNELL, Director of Research, University of Central Lancashire, Chandler Building, PRESTON PR1 2HE, United Kingdom

    SECRETARIAT

    Mr Jan MALINOWSKI, Head of Media Division, Directorate General of Human Rights - DG II/ Chef de la Division Media, Direction Générale des Droits de l’Homme - DG II (Secretary to the Committee/Secrétaire du Comité)

    Mr Lee HIBBARD, Administrator, Media Division, Directorate General of Human Rights – DG II/Administrateur, Division Media, Direction Générale des Droits de l’Homme - DG II

    Mr Michael REMMERT, Project Manager/Chef du projet, “Good Governance in the Information Society”, Council of Europe

    Ms Corinne SCHUHLER, Media Division, Directorate General of Human Rights – DG II / Division Media, Direction Générale des Droits de l’Homme - DG II

    INTERPRETERS/INTEPRETES

    Ms Anne CHENAIS
    Ms Katia DI-STEFANO
    Mr Didier JUNGLING

    * * *

    Appendix II

    Agenda

    1. Opening of the meeting and adoption of the agenda

    2. Presentation by Ms Rachel O’CONNELL: Elaboration of the meaning of “harmful content”, as referred to in Council of Europe instruments, in order to promote coherence in the protection of minors in all media in the Information Society

    3. 2005 Pan-European Forum on Human Rights in the Information Society: Responsible Behaviour By Key Actors

      - Consider the guidelines that may be developed to promote the ethical conduct and responsibility of Internet actors, while being respectful of freedom of expression

      - Develop strategies to encourage respect for Council of Europe principles and standards by the different actors in the Information Society, with particular regard given to the transparency of their work in the processing and presentation of information

      - Examine ways to promote the Council of Europe standards concerning Human Rights in the Information Society, for example through the setting-up of national contact points.

    4. Develop strategies to promote digital inclusion, inter alia by means of media education: revised Council of Europe Internet Literacy Handbook

    5. Information on work of other Council of Europe bodies of interest to the MM-S-IS

    6. Decisions of the Committee of Ministers of interest to the work of the MC-S-IS

      - Declaration on Human Rights and the Rule of Law in the Information Society

      - Council of Europe project entitled "Good Governance in the Information Society".

    7. Other information of interest to the work of the MM-S-IS

      - Second phase in Tunis of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)

    8. Decisions of the Steering Committee on the Media and New Communication Services (CDMC) of interest to the work of the MC-S-IS

    9. Draft questionnaire to examine the implementation of the Committee of Ministers Declaration on freedom of communication on the Internet by the member States

    10. Draft questionnaire on the review of Recommendation No. R (99) 15 on media coverage of election campaigns in the light of the development of digital broadcasting services and other new communication services

    11. Future work of the MC-S-IS (2005 to 2006)

      a. Texts adopted at the Third Summit of Council of Europe Heads of State and Government (Warsaw, 16 and 17 May 2005)

      b. Pan-European Forum in 2006

    12. Dates of forthcoming meetings

    13. Other business


1 With reference to the following elements of the Terms of Referance of the Group: (i) to examine the roles and responsibilities of different Internet actors so that guidelines may be developed to promote their ethical conduct and responsibility, while being respectful of freedom of expression; (ii) to examine ways to promote the Council of Europe standards concerning Human Rights in the Information Society, for example through the setting-up of national contact points; (iii) to develop strategies to encourage respect for Council of Europe principles and standards by the different actors in the Information Society, with particular regard given to the transparency of their work in the processing and presentation of information.