Strasbourg, 19 December 2007

MC-S-IS(2007)028

 

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GROUP OF SPECIALISTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS
IN THE INFORMATION SOCIETY

(MC-S-IS)

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8th meeting
29 and 30 October 2007
Palais de l’Europe, Council of Europe, Strasbourg
Room 10

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REPORT

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

The Group of Specialists on Human Rights in the Information Society (MC-S-IS) held its 8th meeting in Strasbourg on 29 and 30 October 2007.

Item 2 of the agenda: Decisions of the Committee of Ministers of interest to the work of the MC-S-IS
The Secretariat informed the Group of the recent adoption by the Committee of Ministers of Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)11 on promoting freedom of expression and information in the new information and communications environment, a text which was prepared by the MC-S-IS. In this regard, the observer organisation, EDRI, informed the Group of its petition against the Recommendation of which the Group took note1.
The Secretariat informed the Group of the impending adoption by the Committee of Ministers of the draft Recommendations on measures concerning the media coverage of election campaigns (together with its accompanying Explanatory Memorandum) prepared by the MC-S-IS, and on measures to promote the public service value of the Internet, prepared by the CDMC.
Item 3 of the agenda: Other information of interest to the work of the MC-S-IS2

The Secretariat informed the Group of the Secretariat’s written contribution and preparations for the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 12 to 15 November 2007, in particular its written submission to the IGF on “Building a free and safe Internet” as well as the numerous planned events that the Council of Europe will organise, co-organise and participate in with other actors3.

The Secretariat also informed the Group of two other activities: the near-completion of its work on an online game version of the Council of Europe Handbook on Internet Literacy, and the Pan-European conference on ethics and human rights in the information society, organised by the French National Commission for UNESCO in cooperation with the Council of Europe and UNESCO, which was held at the Council of Europe headquarters in Strasbourg, on 13 and 14 September 2007.

Item 4 of the agenda: Report on the use and impact of technical filtering measures for various types of content in the online environment, with particular regard to Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and, if appropriate, make concrete proposals (e.g. in the form of a draft standard-setting instrument) for further action in this area (cf. items 19 and 23 of the Kyiv Action Plan)

Mr Michael Truppe (Austria) and the Secretariat prepared and presented a draft Recommendation and draft Report on measures to promote respect for freedom of expression and information with regard to Internet filters. There was considerable discussion on the two draft texts, in particular members of the Group stressed:

    - it should be made clear in both texts that their aim is not to provide definitions concerning types of content which should be classified as illegal or harmful but rather to provide guidelines to ensure that filters are designed and used in a way that respects freedom of expression;

    - public bodies at regional and local level are important users of filters and should be covered by the guidelines in the draft Recommendation;

    - it may, in certain circumstances, be appropriate for member states to introduce provisions to prevent intentional abuse of filters which restricts citizens’ access to lawful content;

    - personal data which is logged when filtering occurs should not be used for commercial purposes.

Several revisions were incorporated into both texts during the meeting. On this basis, the Group agreed on the draft Recommendation and draft Report.

The Chairperson thanked in particular Mr Michael Truppe (Austria) for his excellent work in preparing and contributing to these texts. The Secretariat and the informal working group were also commended for their work on this matter.

Action for the Secretariat: to send the revised draft report and recommendation to the CDMC for examination and possible approval during its 6th meeting on 27 to 30 November 2007.

Item 5 of the agenda: Report on emerging issues and trends in respect of, on the one hand, the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) and technical protection measures (TPMs) in the context of the development of new communication and information services (and the Internet) and, on the other hand, the fundamental right to freedom of expression and free flow of information, access to knowledge and education, the promoting of research and scientific development and the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions and artistic creation and, if appropriate, make concrete proposals for further action in this area (cf. item 18 of the Kyiv Action Plan)

The discussions on this agenda item were intense and reflected a diversity of views and interests. The Group agreed that this was important and provided added value to other work being carried out in other international fora. Such an added value is expected from looking at IPR and TPM from a human rights perspective, i.e. with regard to their relation to freedom of expression, free flow of information, access to knowledge and education and other fundamental rights and freedoms (cf. item vi of the Group’s terms of reference). The Group agreed that it will work on this item in cooperation with and consultation of IPR experts, taking into account the different interests involved in this issue.

A first draft Report on emerging issues and trends was prepared by the Secretariat with the assistance of the informal working group (France, Malta, Norway and INSAFE/European Schoolnet) and the Chairperson. The Group generally welcomed this draft. There was a thorough discussion on the text which resulted in a number of revisions.

The Group also discussed a draft Recommendation which was prepared by the Secretariat with assistance from the Chairperson. The Group expressed numerous concerns regarding its form and substance, in particular as regards points 2 and 3 of the draft guidelines. Several members of the Group explained the difficulties in dealing with ‘orphan works’ (Paragraph 2) in the context of their EU obligations and the problems locating the proprietary rights holders of such works. One member expressed concern about the proposal to review the modalities for protecting IPR (Paragraph 3) thereby pre-empting exemptions to the rule of IPR protection. It was stressed by some members that there was a need to re-centre the discussion around the principle of exclusivity of authors rights, with choices about the use/reuse of such work being the exception.

Effective licensing structures (in order for rights holders and users to find a way forward), the interoperability of Digital Rights Managament (DRMs) and the rights for different groups (to access knowledge) were also touched upon.

In contrast, other members underlined the value of examining the benefits of emerging new copyright models for the distribution of protected works. One member however was concerned about copyright being viewed as a potential obstacle to freedom of expression and information.

Overall, the discussions resulted in a general agreement by the Group to further reflect and consult experts in the field in order to identify the key issues to build a draft Recommendation on IPR (especially copyright and copyright related matters) and the exercise of fundamental rights and freedoms in the information society.

Action for the Secretariat on the draft Report: to prepare and send to the Group the revised draft Report. Action for the Group on the draft Report: to further reflect and, in consultation with experts, comment on the revised draft Report, in particular as to its conclusions and with regard to examples of national practice and trends in this area.

Action for the Group regarding the draft Recommendation: to reflect, in consultation with experts, on the elements contained in the first draft as well as to identify issues where human rights focused recommendations and concrete proposals for action would have an added value.

Item 6 of the agenda: Development of tools to assist key state and non-state actors in their practical understanding of, and compliance with, human rights and fundamental freedoms in the Information Society in particular with regard to Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (cf. items 19 and 23 of the Kyiv Action Plan)

The Secretariat presented a first set of draft guidelines to assist Internet service providers (ISPs) in their practical understanding of and compliance with human rights. The draft raises awareness of the impact and responsibilities of ISPs vis-à-vis users’ right to freedom of expression and information, in particular the right to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.

The Secretariat informed the Group of the constructive comments and suggestions made by EUROISPA, who were generally favourable to the guidelines’ approach and content subject to a better differentiation in the draft text between the different types of ISPs (access providers, hosts, transit providers, application providers, content providers) and the possible narrowing of certain guidelines to refer only to those ISPs serving non-commercial users.

The response of the Group to this first draft was mixed: some members considered that the areas referred to, in particular as regards those concerning data protection, were already covered at the national and EU level, while others considered that there was value in this work (albeit perhaps in another form such as a handbook) and stressed the need for the draft to correspond with and go further than existing Council of Europe principles and standards regarding ISPs (e.g. by referring to other EU documents).

The Secretariat also introduced a first set of draft guidelines for video games providers. INSAFE/European Schoolnet informed the Group of some initial comments received from PEGI Online (which had been worked into the draft) and about possible synergies between the work of the Group and ongoing work by the Interactive Software Federation of Europe (ISFE) to develop guidelines for games providers.

During the discussions some members stressed the need to be more specific about the scope of the guidelines, in particular whether they should cover both on- and offline video games and whether “virtual universes” such as Second Life would be covered. Some members questioned whether reference should be made to certain types of games which are considered to be illegal in most member states such as gambling games for children and young people, games with racist content, etc.

Action for the Secretariat: to revise and re-send the draft guidelines on ISPs and games providers to the Group.

Action for the Group: to provide comments on the revised draft guidelines in order for the informal working group (composed of representatives of Armenia, Malta, Switzerland and INSAFE/European Schoolnet) to develop them further.

Action for the Secretariat: to prepare new draft guidelines targeting the moderators of social networking sites.

Item 7 of the agenda: Examination of the respect for human dignity in the new communication services and, if appropriate, make concrete proposals for further action designed to complement or reinforce existing standards in this area (cf. item 27 of the Kyiv Action Plan)

Mr Thomas Schneider (Switzerland) presented his outline paper on human dignity which maps out the issues concerning human dignity with reference to relevant Council of Europe standards, in particular the Committee of Ministers Recommendations on video games with racist content, and on the portrayal of violence in the electronic media.

There were discussions on the direction and scope of the Group’s future work in this area; cyber-bullying, video content, including user-generated content, and content accessed through mobile telephony services, were mentioned as possible additional focus areas. Certain members of the Group expressed a preference to include linear and non-linear audiovisual media, whereas others expressed strong concerns about this and preferred to limit the scope of any future standards to services which would not fall under the scope of the revised European Convention on Transfrontier Television.

Action for the Group: to submit comments and proposals to the Secretariat on the direction of the Group’s work in this area, in particular the challenges to human dignity of video content (including user-generated content) in the electronic media.

Action for the informal working group (consisting of representatives of France, Switzerland, EDRI and INSAFE/European Schoolnet): in response to the comments and proposals received, to prepare and send to the Secretariat concrete proposals for further action designed to complement or reinforce existing standards in this area.

Item 8 of the agenda: Standard-setting instrument which promotes a coherent pan-European level of protection for children from harmful content when using new communication technologies and services and the Internet, while ensuring freedom of expression and the free flow of information (cf. items 17, 19 and 23 of the Kyiv Action Plan)

The Secretariat introduced the paper prepared by Ms Zornitza Anguelova (Bulgaria) and validated by Mr Bora Sonmez (Turkey) which provides an overview of existing International standards concerning the protection of children. The Secretariat informed the Group that steps had been taken to contract an external consultant, Mrs Andrea Millwood Hargrave (United Kingdom), to scope out the issues regarding harmful content in a background paper to be submitted to the Secretariat by the end of 2007.

There were brief discussions during which some members of the Group expressed doubts as to the feasibility of trying to identify a common pan-European definition of harmful content. They suggested that the Group’s work should focus more on the institutional aspects and possible instruments to protect children against harmful content.

Item 9 of the agenda: Updating the Council of Europe Handbook on Internet Literacy

Mrs Janice Richardson (INSAFE/European Schoolnet) presented outline proposals for a revised (third) version of the Handbook and stressed that recent developments, in particular the increase in user-generated content and the growth of social networking sites, had made it necessary to update the Handbook. She proposed to include two new chapters (web 2.0 and social networking sites) as well as additional practical guidelines for teachers and parents in all chapters.

The Chairperson informed the Group that the work of the representative of Malta and himself to prepare concise human rights information and references for each chapter of the Handbook would also be prepared within the same timeframe as Ms Richardson’s proposals.

Mr Michael Remmert, Project Manager, "Good Governance in the Information Society", Directorate General of Democracy and Political Affairs, informed the Group that the Council of Europe Ad-hoc committee on e-democracy (CAHDE) would be willing to prepare an additional chapter on e-democracy/active democratic citizenship for the Handbook.

Action for Ms Janice Richardson (INSAFE/European Schoolnet): to prepare and send to the Secretariat proposed revisions and updates to the Handbook, at the latest by 31 December 2007.

Action for Mr Hubert Theuma (Malta) and Mr Thomas Schneider (Switzerland): to send to the Secretariat proposals to include human rights information and references to the Handbook.

Action for the Secretariat: to prepare an additional chapter on e-democracy/active democratic citizenship to the Handbook.

Item 10 of the agenda: Follow-up Council of Europe work on Internet governance and on the implementation of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) action lines regarding the media (C9) and the ethical dimensions of the Information Society (C10)

Agenda item 10 was taken together with item 3 (see above).

Item 11 of the agenda: Follow-up to Recommendation Rec (2006)12 on empowering children in the new information and communications environment (cf. items 23 of the Kyiv Action Plan)

Agenda item 11 was taken together with item 12 (see below).

Item 12 of the agenda: Follow-up to the action lines and general report of the Pan-European Forum on Human Rights in the Information Society: Empowering children and young people (Yerevan, 5 and 6 October 2006)

The Secretariat informed the Group about its new initiative to organise a European workshop on media literacy development, to be held in Graz, Austria, from 5 to 7 December 2007. The workshop will discuss the competences, skills and attitudes of a democratic citizen in respect of the media (including the new communication and information environment) and ways of promoting these in formal and non-formal education. The discussions will address these key questions while relating them to core concepts such as democratic citizenship, human rights and intercultural dialogue

Item 13 of the agenda: Other business

The Secretariat informed the Group about the CDMC’s preparations for the First Ministerial Conference on the Media and New Communication, to be held in Reykjavik, Iceland, in May 2009.

The CDMC Bureau decided to invite all subordinate groups of specialists to consider possible themes for the Ministerial Conference including those which could feature as part of an action plan document that would provide a blueprint for, and shape the future work of, the CDMC and its subordinate groups of specialists.

Search engines, the protection of the right to private life and secrecy of correspondence in the digital environment, discrimination between websites and the protection of human dignity were mentioned as possible themes for the Ministerial Conference.

The Chairperson concluded the discussions by inviting the Group to further reflect on possible themes for the Ministerial Conference and for the documents (resolutions and action plan) which it will adopt.

The Secretariat informed that the next two meetings of the Group would take place on 31 March to 1 April 2008 and on 18 to 19 September 2008 respectively.

Action for the Group: to reflect on and send information to the Secretariat on possible themes for and flowing from the Ministerial Conference.

* * *

Appendix I

List of participants

MEMBER STATES

Albania/Albanie
[Apologised/excusé(e)]

Armenia/Arménie
Mr David SANDUKHCHYAN, Head of Legal Department, Project Manager, Internews Armenia, YEREVAN

Austria/Autriche
Mr Michael TRUPPE, Legal Advisor, Federal Chancellery, VIENNA

Belgium/Belgique
[Apologised/excusé(e)]

Bulgaria/Bulgarie
Ms Nelly STOYANOVA, Ministry of Transport and Communications, SOFIA

Finland/Finlande
Ms Kristina HAUTALA-KAJOS, Counsellor for Cultural Affairs, Ministry of Education and Culture, HELSINKI

France/France
Mme Axelle HOVINE, Adjoint au chef du bureau du régime juridique de la presse et des services d'information, Direction du développement des médias, Service du Premier Ministre, PARIS

Greece/Grèce
Mme Maria GIANNAKAKI, Attachée de presse, Représentation permanente de la Grèce auprès du Conseil de l'Europe, STRASBOURG, France

Malta/Malte
Mr Hubert THEUMA, Senior Counsel for the Republic, Office of the Attorney General of the Republic, VALETTA

Moldova
[Apologised/excusé(e)]

The Netherlands/Pays-Bas
[Apologised/excusé(e)]

Norway/Norvège
Ms Kari Anne Lang-Ree, Senior Adviser, Ministry of Culture and Church Affaires, OSLO

Portugal
Mr Rui FERREIRA, Member of the Regulatory Council of ERC, Entitade Reguladora para a Comunicacao, Regulatory Entity for the Media, LISBONNE

Russian Federation
[Apologised/excusé(e)]

Slovakia/Slovaquie
[Apologised/excusé(e)]

Switzerland/Suisse
Mr Thomas SCHNEIDER, Spécialiste société de l'information, Office fédéral de la communication, BIENNE

Turkey/Turquie
Mr Mehmet Bora SÖNMEZ, Radio and Television Supreme Council, ANKARA

Ukraine
Ms Liubov ABRAVITOVA, Attaché of the Press Service, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, KYIV

United Kingdom/Royaume-Uni
[Apologised/excusé(e)]

OTHER PARTICIPANTS / AUTRES PARTICIPANTS

Parliamentary Assembly / Assemblée Parlementaire
[Apologised/excusé(e)]

Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe / Congrès des Pouvoirs Locaux et Régionaux de l'Europe
[Apologised/excusé(e)]

European Audiovisual Observatory/Observatoire européen de l’Audiovisuel
[Apologised/excusé(e)]

European Commission/Commission européenne
[Apologised/excusé(e)]

CDDH
[Apologised/excusé(e)]

OBSERVERS /OBSERVATEURS

Canada

Holy See/Saint-Siège
Dr Michael Lukas, Bischöfliche Pressestelle, HILDESHEIM, Germany

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(e)]

Alliance for a Media Literate Europe
[Apologised/excusé(e)]

Association of Commercial Television in Europe (ACT)/Association des Télévisions Commerciales Européennes (ACT)
[Apologised/excusé(e)]

European Digital Rights in Europe (EDRI)
Mme Meryem MARZOUKI, Présidente, European Digital Rights, PARIS, France

European Federation of Journalists / Fédération européenne des Journalistes
[Apologised/excusé(e)]

European Newspaper Publishers’ Association / Association européenne des éditeurs de journaux (ENPA)
Mr Henrik Munthe, Attorney at Law, Norwegian Businesses' Association, Member of ENPA, OSLO, Norway

EuroISPA
[Apologised/excusé(e)]
Mr Richard NASH, Secretary General, BRUSSELS, Belgium

Europol
[Apologised/excusé(e)]

European Schoolnet / INSAFE
Mrs Janice RICHARDSON, Insafe Project Manager, BRUSSELS, Belgium

Association of Internet Hotline Providers in Europe/INHOPE
[Apologised/excusé(e)]
Mr Denton HOWARD, Coordinator – INHOPE, International Association of Internet Hotlines, DUBLIN, Ireland

Internews
[Apologised/excusé(e)]

Internet Content Rating Association
[Apologised/excusé(e)]

Internews International
[Apologised/excusé(e)]

European Internet Coregulation Network / Réseau européen de co-régulation de l’Internet
[Apologised/excusé(e)]
Mr Laurent BAUP, Chargé de mission, Forum des droits sur l'Internet, PARIS, France

European Broadcasting Union / Union européenne de Radio-Télévision (UER)
Mr Heijo Ruijsennars, Legal Adviser, GENEVE, Suisse

European consumers' Organisation
[Apologised/excusé(e)]

UNESCO
[Apologised/excusé(e)]

SECRETARIAT

Mr Lee HIBBARD, Administrator, Media and Information Society Division, Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs – DG -HL/Administrateur, Division Media et Société de l’Information, Direction Générale des Droits de l’Homme et des Affaires Juridiques – DG-HL

Mr Kasper HOLST, Administrator, Media and Information Society Division, Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs – DG-HL/Administrateur, Division Media et Société de l’Information, Direction Générale des Droits de l’Homme et des Affaires Juridiques – DG-HL

Mr Stephen FOZARD, Media and Information Society Division, Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs – DG-HL/Administrateur, Division Media et Société de l’Information, Direction Générale des Droits de l’Homme et des Affaires Juridiques – DG-HL

Mrs Sabine Julien, Assistant, Media and Information Society Division, Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs – DG-HL/Assistante, Division Media et Société de l’Information, Direction Générale des Droits de l’Homme et des Affaires Juridiques – DG-HL

Mr Michael REMMERT, Administrator, Directorate General of Political Affairs – DGAP/Administrateur, Direction Générale des Affaires Politiques - DGAP

INTERPRETERS/INTEPRETES

Mme Bettina LUDEWIG
Mme Isabelle MARCHINI
Mme Katia DI STEFANO

* * *

Appendix II

Agenda

1. Opening of the meeting and adoption of the agenda

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

3. Other information of interest to the work of the MC-S-IS

4. Report on the use and impact of technical filtering measures for various types of content in the online environment, with particular regard to Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and, if appropriate, make concrete proposals (e.g. in the form of a draft standard-setting instrument) for further action in this area (cf. items 19 and 23 of the Kyiv Action Plan).

5. Report on emerging issues and trends in respect of, on the one hand, the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) and technical protection measures (TPMs) in the context of the development of new communication and information services (and the Internet) and, on the other hand, the fundamental right to freedom of expression and free flow of information, access to knowledge and education, the promoting of research and scientific development and the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions and artistic creation and, if appropriate, make concrete proposals for further action in this area (cf. item 18 of the Kyiv Action Plan)

6. Development of tools to assist key state and non-state actors in their practical understanding of, and compliance with, human rights and fundamental freedoms in the Information Society in particular with regard to Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (cf. items 19 and 23 of the Kyiv Action Plan)

7. Examination of the respect for human dignity in the new communication services and, if appropriate, make concrete proposals for further action designed to complement or reinforce existing standards in this area (cf. item 27 of the Kyiv Action Plan)

8. Standard-setting instrument which promotes a coherent pan-European level of protection for children from harmful content when using new communication technologies and services and the Internet, while ensuring freedom of expression and the free flow of information (cf. items 17, 19 and 23 of the Kyiv Action Plan)

9. Updating the Council of Europe Handbook on Internet Literacy

10. Follow-up to Recommendation Rec (2006)12 on empowering children in the new information and communications environment (cf. items 23 of the Kyiv Action Plan)

11. Follow-up to the action lines and general report of the Pan-European Forum on Human Rights in the Information Society: Empowering children and young people (Yerevan, 5 and 6 October 2006)

12. Follow-up Council of Europe work on Internet governance and on the implementation of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) action lines regarding the media (C9) and the ethical dimensions of the Information Society (C10).

13. Other business


1 http://www.edri.org/edrigram/number5.19/call-action-foe-rec

2 To be taken together with item 10 of the agenda.

3 See Council of Europe Internet Governance theme file: http://www.coe.int/t/dc/files/events/internet/default_en.asp.