Committee of experts on protection of journalism and safety of journalists (MSI-JO)

Activities
STANDARD-SETTING
  Steering Committee (CDMSI)
  Bureau of the Committee (CDMSI-BU)
  Former Steering Committee (CDMC)
  Former Bureau of the Committee (CDMC-BU)
  Committee of Experts on Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists (MSI-JO)
  Committee of Experts on cross-border flow of Internet traffic and Internet freedom (MSI-INT)  
CONVENTIONS
  Transfrontier Television
  Conditional Access
COOPERATION
  Legal and Human Rights Capacity Building
FORMER GROUPS OF SPECIALISTS
  Rights of Internet Users
  Information Society
  New Media
  Public Service Media Governance
  Cross-border Internet
  Protection Neighbouring Rights of Broadcasting Organisations
  Media Diversity
  Public service Media
 
Events
  Conference Freedom of Expression and Democracy in the Digital Age - Opportunities, Rights, Responsibilities, Belgrade, 7-8/11/2013
  Conference "The Hate factor in political speech - Where do responsibilities lie?", Warsaw18-19 September 2013
  Conference of Ministers, Reykjavik - Iceland, 28-29 May 2009
  European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG)
 
Documentation
  Conventions
  Committee of Ministers texts
  Parliamentary Assembly texts
  Ministerial Conferences
  Publications
  Translations
 
Useful links

Post-Forum reflections by participants

- Mr Georgi Apostolov, Content Division Manager, Applied Research and Communication Fund, Bulgaria

- Ms Antonina Cherevko, Lawyer/Editor, IREX U-Media Legal Defense and Education Program, Ukraine

- Mr Pierre-François Docquir, Centre de philosophie du droit, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium

- Mr Osman Gunduz, Chairman of the Azerbaijan Internet Forum (NGO)

- Mr Ronald Koven, European Representative, World Press Freedom Committee

- Ms Helena Popovic, Research Assistant, Institute for International Relations, Croatia

- Mr Emir Povlakic, Senior Expert for broadcasting, Communication Regulatory Agency, Bosnia and Herzegovina

- Mr Pertti Saariluoma, Cognitive Science, University of Jyväskylä, Finland

* * *

Mr Georgi Apostolov, Content Division Manager, Applied Research and Communication Fund, Bulgaria

A safe Information Society needs filters and ratings

The pan-European Forum on Human Rights in the Information Society seemed rather to pose than to answer questions on the complex topic of how new ICT would affect the fundamental human rights. That was also valuable experience as the lively discussions drew some lines between contradicting opinions and positions.

I, personally, believe that the very fast development of the ICT, Internet and all possibilities they offer would rather enhance than endanger the human rights in the European countries. Looking at the example of Bulgaria I would state that the ISP and content providers are moving very fast toward self-regulation in order to serve better and attract more customers.

That is why I did not like the heavy emphasis put by some of the speakers on protection of the freedom of speech and expression at the expense of protecting the most vulnerable Internet users - minors and teenagers. To me the Australian experience seems quite reasonable.

Human rights activists usually tend to see the state as the only possible violator of the human rights of the individual. That is why they are so afraid of filters and content rating having in mind that such software could be used by authoritarian and dictatorial regimes to limit the freedoms in such free global space as Internet. But as the Byelorussian example showed, even without sophisticated software a dictator can and will do that.

At the same time there are a “second-degree” potential human rights violators and these are the unscrupulous adult, violent, racist content providers and authors. And there victims are the most unprotected ones - the children. Are not the same human rights activists supposed to worry about the rights of the children not to be abused physically or mentally by such violators? And is not the state their natural ally in this as it has the necessary instruments and authority to prevent, limit and punish?

I think that all stakeholders - the state, the industry, the media and the human rights organizations - are allies in promoting a safe and ever developing information society and should think of and take the necessary measures to make the Internet space a safer and more reliable tool for information exchange and development catalyst.

* * *

Ms Antonina Cherevko, Lawyer/Editor, IREX U-Media Legal Defense and Education Program, Ukraine

As a lawyer and human rights defender I would hardly support any restrictions that might be imposed on Internet web-portals and especially on Internet media outlets. In so called transitional democracies it is very often when Internet remains the only one reliable and trustworthy source of information. One of the brightest examples is election campaign of the last presidential elections in Ukraine in 2004. Within all the campaigning period Internet was like a “territory of freedom” where every citizen was able to access information about all the candidates while in most of the news-papers and TV channels oppositional candidate’s position was not presented. Internet was also a place of hottest political discussions and “free market of ideas”. A lot of information was spread via e-mail and other electronic means of communication. We also exchanged SMSs containing election advertising and declarations. Even now, after Orange Revolution, Internet media are still the first ones which publish socially important information. For instance, one of the latest scandals concerning President Yushchenko’s son, his extravagant life style and very expensive car was revealed by the journalists working for Internet media outlet. When a slight attempt to introduce facultative registration of Internet web-portals of state institutions was made by minister of transport Mr. Chervonenko it caused very active protest from both media experts, NGO representatives and media.

Of course, states should implement some measures in order to ensure human rights protection and especially children rights protection in the Internet. At the same time we should keep in mind that any kind of “additional power”, we provide state authorities with, might be misused with the purpose of violation of freedom of media and freedom of expression.

That is why I would like to stress outstanding importance of self-regulation and proper education. We should not ban any kind of information in Internet but we should teach people and especially children how to behave with different kinds of information and how to protect theirselves in information society. It is not reasonable and, moreover, it is not safe when your child grows up not knowing about all the potential dangers he or she could face in the “adult world”. To provide everyone with all the necessary and relevant information and to develop media literacy – this shall be the first task of state policy and self-regulation institutions’ activities in the sphere of information technology and Internet regulation.

* * *

Mr Pierre-François Docquir, Centre de philosophie du droit, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium

1. During the 3rd session, the issue of positive obligations of the State arising under the European Convention of Human Rights was touched.

I wanted to add that there exist very interesting decisions in which the European Court of Human Rights has clearly affirmed that:

- there are positive obligations for the States under article 10 of the Convention (that’s freedom of expression)- these positive duties extend to guaranteeing an effective protection of freedom of speech even in the relationships between individuals.

In other words, the Court said the State should protect citizens against private censorship: if it does not, then it fails to its obligations under Art. 10 ECHR.

Yesterday, while there was a lot of enthusiasm with the involvement of industry actors, there were also a few reactions underlining the dangers and risks of abandoning the regulation of the Internet totally to private actors.

It can be deduced from the positive obligations I just mentionned that, legally, under the ECHR, the State has a duty to prevent private censorship.

That would be an important point regarding the responsible behaviour of states.

2. As was explained by the Judge Mrs Fura-Sandstrom, there’s no case-law yet regarding the web.

Wouldn’t it be a good thing to set up a Human Rights Lawyers’ network with the mission of preparing this case-law? There seems to be enough knowledge as to the dangers for Freedom of Speech on the Internet, wouldn’t it be part of the Council of Europe’s mission to foster reflexion as to how Art. 10 could or should be applied in the Information Society? The outcome of such workgroup could be a Handbook on Art. 10 in the information society, freely distributed as a .pdf file via the web...

3. In my view, it has not been affirmed enough during the forum that the Internet is a “public space” (as was said once or twice by intervenants) and an unprecedented opportunity for citizens’participation in all fields of life (political, cultural, ...). I guess we all love it. And we’re fascinated by the speed of its evolution, by the seemingly neverending development of new software, new tools, new technologies.

It is a hard task to guess how these changes will affect us in the future, but it is very clear that the internet is the most efficient tool to date for Freedom of Speech: that makes it most precious, and we should make sure to keep it so.

The benchmark for any self- or co-regulation should - if it is to be responsible regulation - be assessed by verifying whether or not it helps keeping the Internet free, easily-accessible and open to all.

4. Too reach that goal, we need to understand the technology: how it works, what it does. We need a dialogue between the technicians that design the internet and human right lawyers.

Attention must be paid to the architecture of the Internet: does it allow participation or not? In that sense, as an example, it is a strange feature to me that DSL internet accesses offer two different speeds according to whether it’s download or upload (around 8 times less fast, in the case of Belgium’s market leader). The individual is thus considered (by the architecture of the web) more a receiver or mere viewer rather than a potential broadcaster.

Looking forward to continuing the dialogue on-line – the idea of a blog as a continuation of the pan-European Forum would definitely an interesting experience.

* * *

Mr Osman Gunduz, Chairman of the Azerbaijan Internet Forum (NGO)

My name is Osman Gunduz.
I am from Azerbaijan. I am the chairman of the Azerbaijan Internet Forum (NGO).
This is my comment.
Yesterday and today we discussed problems, which countries with strong democratic traditions have.
I think this problem does not so much concern other countries, which have a weak democratic tradition.
In my opinion, if a government official in countries with weak democratic traditions hears the talk about filters, about limits, they will begin restricting the Internet and content. For such countries limits, filters may turn into censorship.
Practice shows that any limitation becomes censorship in the end in countries with weak democratic traditions.
From this point of view, in my opinion, it is necessary to discuss how International Organizations can help the development of internet and national content, and end the government monopoly on the internet.
There are serious problems in the legislation of countries which are in the phase of transformation as it is in Azerbaijan.
In our country the most serious problem in the legislation is consisting of being inappropriate adopted juridical acts to European standards and lack of government’s role in such acts.
My country needs harmonization of national legislation based on European standards.
Now it has the implementation of the ICTs in different fields (education, government sector and social sector and so on) has been started in Azerbaijan and this process is going rapidly. Regarding this question, there are serious problems to be solved:

***

Mr Ronald Koven, European Representative, World Press Freedom Committee

My organization, the World Press Freedom Committee, in the year 2000 published a book entitled “New Code Words for Censorship, Modern Labels for Curbs on the Press.”  The first two chapters were about attempts to impose “responsibility” on the press. They were by eminent European journalists - Mia Doornaert, the diplomatic correspondent of De Standaard of Brussels and as former president of the International Federation of Journalists, and Claude Moisy, a former head of Agence France Presse and for years its bureau chief in Washington as well as a leader in Reporters Sans Frontieres.

In our experience, the politicians and governments who cry the loudest for the need for the press to act responsibly are the very ones who want freedom to act irresponsibly without the oppress reporting their deeds. No government cries more loudly for the press to be responsible than that of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.The demand for the press to be responsible is usually nothing but a demand for self-censorship.

No journalist calls for irresponsibility. But the question is, Responsible to whom? To governments? The awful history of the 20th Century showed that irresponsible governments that could act with the impunity and no accountability to the press and public have done far more harm to humanity than members of the press could have in their wildest dreams. Somebody will undoubtedly bring up the awful example of Radio des Mille Collines. But that was not a free, independent press outlet. It was the propaganda organ of a murderous ruling party. Surely, nobody here will tell us that a free press was guilty of the propaganda of Dr. Goebbels. Independent and free press outlets may have lapses, but they do not wage systematic hate campaigns. That is the specialty of government-directed propaganda organs. Much of the loose talk about the need for a responsible press simply fails to make the necessary distinction between a free and independent press and the propaganda organs of parties to conflicts.

The press is far more sinned against than sinning. One never hears about the need for codes of conduct for politicians. One only hears politicians threatening the press that they will legislate an imposed “responsibility” if the press does not do the censor's job for them. So. All these calls for self-regulation, or even more hypocritical, the latest fashion - “co-regulation” - are just so many attempts by politicians to work freely in the dark of lack of information for the public.

Seeking the lowest common denominator of content by appealing to the concern we all have to protect children is another approach to impose a form of censorship. The Council of Europe's calls against illegal content are one thing. But the appeals against so-called “harmful content” are subjective, ill-defined and subject to abuse, especially by the world's authoritarians eager to find negative examples to justify their censorship.

It has been rightly noted that famines don't occur in countries where the press is free to warn of their coming. They happen when a Stalin or a Mao or a Mengistu can organize them in secret silence. The Council of Europe, with the best possible intentions, has sometimes given negative examples by adopting rhetoric that can cloak the actions against the press of authoritarians like Lukashenko or Milosevic, right here in Europe, without going farther afield in the distant developing world.

That is why the theme of this Forum on “Responsible Behaviour” came to us at the World Press Freedom Committee as such a surprise. When we warn against repeating the follies of the “New World Information and Communication Order” debate that nearly destroyed UNESCO, we are generally told that that is the past, that the Cold War is over. It is for that very reason that the attempts to reinvent crooked wheels to prevent the press from reporting freely must continue to be resisted. The would-be censors have always dreamt that the press would do their jobs for them, that the press itself would refrain from the inconvenient and messy disorderliness of reporting what goes on in dark recesses where some politicians crave the freedom to act as irresponsibly or as corruptly as they can get away with.

If there is one thing that all political parties can so often agree on when things go wrong, it is that that it must be the fault of the press. That way the whole political class can be freed of its responsibilities. The Council of Europe should not give in to that all too human temptation.

Freedom is unsettling. It defies people's natural intolerance of instability. Democracy needs apprenticeship. It is far more natural to want to impose the false esthetics of orderliness. But our history shows us where the calls for order lead us.

A free society needs a free press - no matter how disorderly that may seem. There must also be freedom for the press to get it wrong. That's what free, open debate in the messy business of democracy is all about. Without a free press, free even to make mistakes and, yes, to pay for them if and when necessary under legitimate laws of defamation applied by independent courts, without such a free press, a society can only be unfree.

* * *

Ms Helena Popovic, Research Assistant, Institute for International Relations, Croatia

In the issue regarding the problem of knowledge, both between generations as well as between experts and lay people, it is always useful to place things in a historical perspective, which enables us to recognize new phenomena, previously unknown or marginal in societies. This, in turn, helps in develop strategies for phenomena that endure in time, as well as coping with short time difficulties that we are concerned with on day-to-day basis. The generational gap regarding the usage of new technologies, between children and their parents, as well as teachers is, to my mind, one of a short term. Regardless of the fast changes in the development of new technologies the usage of these technologies forms a basis for the upgrading of knowledge which is something that the older generations do not have, but the younger generations will posses, which, in turn, will make the gap between generations smaller in the future. However, the gap between professional knowledge, i.e. the inventors of new technologies and services and lay knowledge is, and will remain huge. This is why it is unthinkable to form action groups without experts that understand the technological background of new devices and services, even if human rights activists and social scientists in general are reluctant to this type of knowledge usually remote from individuals educated in the field of social sciences. Without this professional type of knowledge, it is impossible to build strategies of protection from risks that appears with the usage. This is one of the backlashes of specialization in very narrow areas that our educational system builds upon; however, with the increase of complexity in modern societies, the slicing of professional tasks within the division of labor is unavoidable. It is time for a new profession, dealing with communication and media literacy which would embrace both technical and humanistic aspects of the topic. However, efforts could and should be made to change the educational curriculum and adjust it to the new context that we are facing, not only in regards to new forms of communication remedied with the introduction of courses on media literacy – often mentioned in the discussion - but in a more general sense as a response to the changing role of the family in the upbringing of children which is more and more in the domain of institutions such as media, schools etc. - institutions that have not yet adjusted to the new roles in creating responsible individuals, set up by new constellations in modern societies. We should also not forget that the attempt to create critical thinking citizens, have been in focus of numerous theorists, especially in the last two centuries, still the results never seems satisfactory, and does not allow for a to optimistic view in this respect. However, a step forward to the creation of critical citizens is to make the information understandable, thus the discourse have to be somewhat simplified and adjusted to the target groups.

When placing things on a micro level, we are faced with people that, maybe, do not want to know about all the possible risks that Internet brings about (would they ever turn on their computers, if they did?), but I think it is important to provide professional organizations and groups that they can turn to, in the case they decide to learn more, or in case they perceive that their rights are being violated. Which means that such groups have to be established, consisting of experts from all three sectors, and their activities have to be familiar to the broader population, something that comes about with public campaigns. The atmosphere of fear and moral panic that seemed to be brought into the discussion is, to my mind, dangerous. Looking back on some negative historical outcomes that were created in the atmosphere of fear, we can only conclude that fear never brought about only caution and responsibility, but created individuals easy to manipulate.

One thing that was not mentioned in the forum, and I wanted to bring into the discussion was regional and local differences that have to be taken into consideration when talking about these issues. Even if human rights are supposed to be universal, we cannot disregard the fact that access is denied to a large number of people in Europe (not to mention other parts of the world) due to different types of constraints of which I would point out economical constraints as well as lack of knowledge in a broad sense. And even if we do believe in a form of linear development, the fast changes in societies does not allow for one common strategy. In the case of Croatia, we have 35 % of internet users1, which is high compared to the rest of post-socialist countries. However, we also have 2,9 percent of the population2 without school, and 37,5 percent with uncompleted or completed elementary school, while Sweden - to take a radical example – is a state that has 76 percent of the population using Internet, and 25 percent of the population with elementary school. The category “without school” does not exist in the Swedish Bureau of Statistics, Census 20043). This and other differences does not allow for a common approach. One of the common characteristics of post-socialist states is that they try to cope with issues that “old democracies” dealt with a considerable time ago, but in addition to that, the region is also under the influence of global trends, which creates a constellation of a hybrid nature, resulting in the necessity to deal with things on multiple levels. One of the results of these trends is a discrepancy between groups within the state. Internal gaps such as the urban-rural gap, as well as the generational gap make the problem even more complex, and allow access only for a small percentage of the population. Thus, different niches ask for different problem solving on a societal level. This is why it is necessary to approach every state as a unique entity, and thus use methods adjusted to the context.

* * *

Mr Emir Povlakic, Senior Expert for broadcasting, Communication Regulatory Agency,
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Human rights in the Information Society – BiH caselaw

Human rights mean rights of humans, that is to say, "Rights essential for human beings to live a humane life."

Every Individual is born with and entitled to the inherent and inalienable rights, and most nations around the world have laws to guarantee their people human rights. In particular, fundamental freedoms and rights described in the national constitution are called Basic Rights.

There have been numerous controversies and debates throughout history over what human dignity is and what is needed to uphold the human dignity. Stepping toward the modern times people started to realize all the human beings deserve inherent dignity regardless of their social status determined by birth.

As the social movements to build up the meaning and strengthen the range of human rights went on, these efforts bore some fruit. Nowadays fundamental freedoms and rights set forth in the Declaration are recognized universal human rights in most parts of the world. Fundamental freedoms include the right to freedom of religion, freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and association. And everyone is expected to has the right to a standard of living adequate for himself/herself and their family, right to education and social welfare, right to special care and assistance for motherhood and childhood, right to a decent environment and right to work in favourable conditions. In addition, it is widely accepted nobody shall be discriminated against their nationality, race, gender, religion, opinion, social status, sexual orientation, birth place, disability, age and so on.

The government seeking more efficient administration and the business pursuing greater profits have tried to develop and introduce advanced information technology to the society time and again. But they do not seem to be concerned about additional measures necessary to help remove unexpected challenges coming up in transition to the Information Society against protection of human rights. As a result, these days we can see many cases in which free use of information is limited and people' right to privacy is infringed.   

 The Information Society is not a separate world from what we live in now. That is a society that we are building. "Human Rights in the Information Society" means the human rights described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the related international laws should still be protected. Not only does HRIS serve the last safeguard to guarantee people the fundamental freedoms and rights which seem to be easily threatened in transition to this new form of society, the Information Society, but it means our ongoing effort to make sure democracy and human rights are still respected and pursued in the middle of and even after the Information Society.

Recently freedom of expression, the right to privacy, right to share information and right to access information are at issue. Since they are closely related to communication and flow of information, these rights came under threat stemming from the state and market driven push for the Information Society as well as became especially important in the Information Society.

Freedom of thoughts is freedom to choose their own views on the world, life, and politics. When this thought is expressed outwardly, it becomes freedom of press, publication, assembly and association; in regard to faith, it becomes freedom of religion; in regard to truth seeking, it becomes freedom of learning. As such, freedom of thoughts is 'theoretical foundation' of all the spiritual and political freedom and basic of basics.

Freedom of thoughts and expression has been superior to other human rights. That is because the expression of an individual is the most fundamental activity for self-fulfillment and press is an essential condition of democracy, through which people participate in forming a political decision.

Meanwhile, freedom of speech guarantees not only the very activity of 'expression,' but also delivery of it and the process of communication for the purpose of delivery. Furthermore, it protects information collection activity for expression. Eventually, freedom of expression guarantees even free delivery in media, the tool of expression.

Freedom of Expression and the Internet

At the time of 17th century civil revolution, bourgeois needed the strong tool of communication to face the feudal rulers. Accordingly, they called for the protection of free journalism and emphasized freedom of expression. This is the background from which the modern sense of freedom of expression emerged.

As bourgeois started to possess production tools and power after the civil revolution, however, freedom of expression for the people who don't have them lost meaning. Freedom of expression is declared, but the press and publication that can deliver it fell to the hands of the power.

As it is recognised, right to freedom of expression has a very special role in democratic processes. Without this right, the public would not be able to form and define its opinion of the Government, elected officials, and other issues of public interest. There, the media has a particularly important role in offering information to the public, emphasizing corruption and inspiring political debates.

The way rights and freedoms of expression are exercised depends on the regulatory framework and the media, especially the journalists. In order for the media to fulfil important “watchdog” role of media, good regulatory structure must be in place and it is an imperative that reporters are able to access information from a variety of sources in order to root out malpractice. There are journalists who do not check the information prior to broadcasting, which can lead to defamation. Such journalists not only compromise this profession, but also give arguments to some politicians for derogation of journalist’s freedom. Journalist should be free to publish stories in the public interest, without fear of censorship, recrimination or being sued. On the other hand, journalists themselves have the responsibility to maintain and protect the culture of objectivity and to report accurately, fairly and in good faith at all times, but especially in time of crisis.

Against this backdrop, the Internet was the 'media of the people.' It was hailed as a media that will enable a true communication between human beings and will eliminate problems of concentration or distortion of mass media.

As the Internet spreads fast, there were changes in press environment that was centered on mass media. The stark difference of the Internet from the established press is that there is no editor. In the press and publication environment, editors checked the truthfulness of facts and circulated them once the artistic values are confirmed. On the Internet, however, people themselves produce and circulate what is to say.

Many countries around the world are regulating the Internet according to general laws. Civic social groups contend that, as in published materials and books, direct regulations by the government should be limited to a minimum. They argue that it is enough for the writers themselves to take responsibilities based on the laws for the materials they posted on the Internet. Recently, the laws applied specially for the Internet, not general laws, are increasing. Regulating the Internet aside from general laws is being adopted for a fast and easy regulation. But this kind of regulation is not desirable because it can harm freedom of expression of the people rather than protecting people's interests. There may be loads of reasons for the Internet’s regulations, but there is a question how many ways there are in attaining this. Protection of moral community standards, protection of children, preventing communication of various illegal materials, these and so many other reasons of the kind, are in support to Internet regulation. Although, there is no single set of standards which are suitable for most people, individuals need to choose their own access control (by filtering) criteria while using the net.

In some countries, government itself passes some measures in order to regulate the Internet, in a form of law or a single set of restrictions on the communication of all adults. Apart from this level of regulation, there are agencies in the world engaged in this business. Those agencies are also trying to solve questions like how to impose restrictions in order to prevent children’s access to unsuitable materials on the Web. Ratings and filtering system of the net-communication can achieve the goal of enabling adults to control children in access to unsuitable materials. CRA as a single regulator in BiH has a mandate to regulate media. Some see the Internet as a type of media; though it is more complex than that, thus, its regulation is much more complex.

The Internet arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina back in 1995 by way of the university UTIC line. In the following year, the BH PTT also offered the Internet services to its users. In those years, BH was among the countries with the lowest number of Internet connections per capita in Europe. This could be justified by the consequences of the previous years the BH population had spent in total isolation. However, bearing in mind that the BihNet as our major provider had some ten thousand subscribers last year, the situation has not improved very much. In the best-case scenario, BH has some fifty thousand Internet users, which is still significantly below the European average. Whereas the world makes almost all transactions, ranging from bank transactions to purchases or payment of ordinary bills, through the Internet, the majority of the BH population doesn't even know what the Internet is.

Considering determination of BiH as modern society with economy and management based on knowledge, capable of entering European integration and becoming a part of such, application of information-communication technologies (ICT) and building information society presents possibilities for Bosnia and Herzegovina to take its place in united Europe. BiH must rapidly act in order to decrease technological gap, keeping in mind that process of transferring from industrial into information society in developed countries is already phased in.

In accordance with strategies document “BiH Information society development policy”, BiH also must take into consideration interests of all social groups and each individual in BiH, at the same time acknowledging BiH telecommunication policy , Law on Communications, establishment and operation of Communications Regulatory Agency (Agency), and all other related activities and initiatives. First of all it includes analysis of current status of information and possibilities of application information-communication technologies and also analyse readiness of BiH to build information society, which were set out within development projects of UN, as well as eEurope plan for information of candidates countries to enter European Union.

By doing so, BiH shall confirm its readiness and determination to implement obligations and concrete actions derived from Information Society Development Agenda adopted by South-Eastern European countries, and signed by BiH, which represents global plan for harmonised information and rapid development of the region.

It has been envisaged that BiH, by following European process, and accelerated application of modern information and communication technologies, shall build modern economy and society whereby information, knowledge and human resources are vital. Development of information society in BiH shall create condition for ideas and knowledge to improve development of education, health, economy, management as well as total standards of living for all BiH citizens, whereby Communications Regulatory Agency, as the communication sector regulator shall significantly contribute.

Up to date data on Internet usage and penetration in BiH, range of services provided by ISPs, development trends and application of new technologies in BiH, as well as possible needs for additional or even altered regulation of such field are limited and mostly there are rough estimation and assumptions. Constant research at the annual level shall provide an insight into development intensity of Internet market in BiH and serve as the foundation for the Agency to, by licensing, its rules and decisions, regulate and stimulate development of such important market in BiH. Within Agency’s mission there is an obligation to promote development of information society in BiH; therefore this research is one step forward to reach such goal. Communications Regulatory Agency had issued 41 licences for provision of ISP services in BiH. There are 168.937 Internet subscribers in BiH out of which 14% (23.500) are legal subjects. Based of such data, average number of households and average number of employees in legal entities in BiH4, total Internet penetration5 of internet subscribers is 19,9%, i.e. every 5th citizen of BiH has access to Internet. This is certainly a great improvement in relation to earlier rough estimation of internet penetration in BiH which were from 12%6 , to 2.2%7. A degree of internet penetration is significantly bigger in urban areas, but there are also serious indications of digital divide in BiH.

Right to privacy

On the wide panel of basic human rights it is important to stress that right to privacy connected to right of self-decision, self-control on one's own personal information. Specifically, the privacy right means as follows;

- Banning plagiarism: names or pictures should not be commercially used without the consent of the owner.
- Banning trespassing: no one should break into private properties, eavesdrop private conversation or communication. Pictures should not be taken without the consent.
- Banning defamation: no one should make any public statements that may cause a wrong impression on the public in relation to a certain individual, or announce what could be unfavourable to an individual.

Since 1970s, as computer technologies have been actively introduced and developed, people's private lives have been compromised due to exposures of personal information. For example, commercial and advertisement mails have started to flood mailboxes and the number of door-knocking salespeople has increased due to the huge of amount of personal information gathered through whatever means. Thereby, right to privacy came to take on another concept. Now it came to mean the right of self-decision, self-control on one's own personal information.

People say that the life has become more convenient as the use of information technology grows. As the use of computers has become common, various contents are available on the net and it becomes possible to conduct commercial activities electronically, the Internet has become a part of everyday routine life.

By virtue of the fast growing ICTs, people can enjoy high quality and various services that could not even be expected in the past. However, at the same time, the cost of enjoyment is also increasing. Therefore, people who cannot afford to pay for these advanced ICTs on their salaries cannot help but being excluded from the benefits of new technologies.

Moreover, current privatization of ICT industries and the introduction of competitive system have deepened the information inequality. Entrants to the competitive market focus their investments on areas where they can minimize their costs while maximize the profit such as long distance call services or urban area services. Consequently, other areas gets overlooked or under-invested and this leads to decrease in service quality or increase in price. In fact, a number of statistical findings demonstrate that the difference between high-income households and those of low regarding the rate of network usages has been increasing. This proves that the current introduction of competitive system and privatizations in ICTs market are not capable of reducing the information inequality.

As discussed above, there is a high possibility that low-income households can become changes by being excluded by ICTs services due to economic reasons.

In terms of privacy matters there is no directly defined provision, with which the Communications Regulatory Agency of BiH has an authority to regulate issues of privacy protection in broadcasting. Our Broadcasting Code of Practice binding for all radio and TV stations in BiH, includes Article 10. of the European Convention on Human Right and Fundamental Freedoms, which among other things, refers to the protection of the reputation or rights of others. Also Article 1.2 Decency and Civility of the Code includes: ”Broadcasters must show consideration when selecting material reporting the effects of natural disaster, accident, or human violence. Before presenting such scenes, broadcasters must balance the wish to serve the needs of truth and the desire for compassion against the risk of sensationalism, causing distress or the possibility of unwarranted invasion of privacy.” Since BiH ratified European Convention on Transfrontier Television we are expecting to broaden up our rules in terms of incorporating specific rules/guidelines concerning protection of right to privacy in accordance with the Convention.

Protection of human rights in terms of harmful content (hate speech, pornography) in media

The Communications Regulatory Agency has on many occasions during its seven year experience, encountered programs containing incitement to hatred, war-mongering contents on various grounds, but most of all of ethnicity. Since the Agency has very limited programme monitoring resources, the cases are mostly initiated upon complaints. The information on these particular broadcasts have been acquired both through monitoring operations and complaints.

According to the Law on Communications8, the Agency has a range of sanctions at its disposal, ranging from warnings and fines to the closing down of broadcasters. These sanctions can be issued for matters such as violation of the provision to keep recordings of broadcasts, broadcasts lacking balance or inciting to hatred, or violation of licence requirements to e.g. get approval for any change in ownership. In practice, the most common sanctions applied have included warnings, orders, financial penalties and the closedown of operations. Procedure for Handling Cases sets out a procedure to be conducted when deciding on possible breaches and sanctions.

The sanctions are proportional and dissuasive. All information about the sanctions imposed to broadcasters and related decisions can be found in the Agency's Case Analysis (report on breaches and sanctions) on our website under www..ba.

Existing legal instruments such are Television without Frontiers Directive, European Convention on Transfrontier Television certainly give the strong basis for efficient supervision of programmes containing incitement to hatred. Implementation of existing rules and regulations, i.e. abiding to current legal instruments in terms of program standards ultimately makes qualitative measure which could only improve the value of offered information concept, which is rather strong contraption in every society.

Communications Regulatory Agency also welcomes and encourages any type of cooperation between regulatory bodies in order to step up and exchange experience or even to work jointly on possible violations of international rules and regulations in cases of transfrontier broadcasting. It may serve as an instrument in raising the broadcasters’ awareness about the importance of their profession’s general influence in each society reminding them on their obligation and principles of freedom of expression.

In terms of protection of minors from harmful content and aiming to improve program standards that would correspond to family viewing policy in our country in terms of adjustment of broadcast contents to the time likely to be available to children’s attention, the Agency included the issue of watershed in Broadcasting Code of Practice and adopted guidelines on Watershed that help RTV stations to recognise what contents are inappropriate for children attention.

Universal Service Obligations

Yet, it is still questionable whether the Universal Service by public policy can be achieved by the market principle. Application of the market principle means the expansion of competition, and this inevitably leads to the situation where service sectors become more concentrated to areas where higher profits can be produced. This problem has already been seen in air transportation industry where privatization started relatively early as well as communication industry. Aiming to resolve the universal service obligations issue in BiH, and in accordance with domestic legislations concerning communications, Communications Regulatory Agency has an obligation to submit proposals to the BiH Council of Ministers related to defining the scope of USO, criteria for electing the telecom operators authorised for universal services. Hence, the Agency submitted the proposal in form of Program of activities for resovling the USO issue in BiH in this year. The proposal defines interconnection regime as well as the way of stimulating the competition in field of liberalized telecom services as well as defining the efficient regulation of prices and quality of unliberalized telecom services.

The Information Society is not a separate world from what we live in now. That is a society that we are building. "Human Rights in the Information Society" means the human rights described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the related international laws should still be protected. Not only does HRIS serve the last safeguard to guarantee people the fundamental freedoms and rights which seem to be easily threatened in transition to this new form of society, the Information Society, but it means our ongoing effort to make sure democracy and human rights are still respected and pursued in the middle of and even after the Information Society.

Freedom of thoughts and expression has been superior to other human rights. The way rights and freedoms of expression are exercised depends on the regulatory framework and the media, especially the journalists. In order for the media to fulfil important “watchdog” role of media, good regulatory structure must be in place and it is an imperative that reporters are able to access information from a variety of sources in order to root out malpractice.

Journalist should be free to publish stories in the public interest, without fear of censorship, recrimination or being sued. On the other hand, journalists themselves have the responsibility to maintain and protect the culture of objectivity and to report accurately, fairly and in good faith at all times, but especially in time of crisis.

Regulating the Internet aside from general laws is being adopted for a fast and easy regulation. But this kind of regulation is not desirable because it can harm freedom of expression of the people rather than protecting people's interests.

CRA as a single regulator in BiH has a mandate to regulate media. Some see the Internet as a type of media; though it is more complex than that, thus, its regulation is much more complex.

BiH, by following European process, and accelerated application of modern information and communication technologies, shall build modern economy and society whereby information, knowledge and human resources are vital. Development of information society in BiH shall create condition for ideas and knowledge to improve development of education, health, economy, management as well as total standards of living for all BiH citizens, whereby Communications Regulatory Agency, as the communication sector regulator shall significantly contribute.

In terms of privacy matters there is no directly defined provision, with which the Communications Regulatory Agency of BiH has an authority to regulate issues of privacy protection in broadcasting. Our Broadcasting Code of Practice binding for all radio and TV stations in BiH, includes Article 10. of the European Convention on Human Right and Fundamental Freedoms

Existing legal instruments such are Television without Frontiers Directive, European Convention on Transfrontier Television certainly give the strong basis for efficient supervision of programmes containing incitement to hatred. Implementation of existing rules and regulations, i.e. abiding to current legal instruments in terms of program standards ultimately makes qualitative measure which could only improve the value of offered information concept, which is rather strong contraption in every society.

In terms of protection of minors from harmful content and aiming to improve program standards that would correspond to family viewing policy in our country in terms of adjustment of broadcast contents to the time likely to be available to children’s attention, the Agency included the issue of watershed in Broadcasting Code of Practice and adopted guidelines on Watershed that help RTV stations to recognise what contents are inappropriate for children attention.

Aiming to resolve the universal service obligations issue in BiH, and in accordance with domestic legislations concerning communications, Communications Regulatory Agency has an obligation to submit proposals to the BiH Council of Ministers related to defining the scope of USO, criteria for electing the telecom operators authorised for universal services.

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Mr Pertti Saariluoma, Cognitive Science, University of Jyväskylä, Finland

Intentional disinformation and freedom of expression

(Version 1.1)

Word wide web is a huge collection of information and therefore it provides us with a unique possibility to improve level of knowledge, education and culture. With the development of information and communication technology this knowledge will be available anywhere and any time. With the developing knowledge management technologies such as semantic web the possibilities to get right knowledge to a right place, in a right moment of time shall be substantially better than today. Simply web is an enormous opportunity for learning in the world.

However, the developments are not free from risks. One of them is disinformation. As the number of web-pages swiftly increases, the number of pages with incorrect, false, misleading and in various ways dangerous information increases also. This information is naturally problematic, because it may lead people to do something with negative consequences, which they would not otherwise do and it also decreases cyber-trust, i.e. the trust we have to the correct information.

Article 19 says that everyone has freedom of expression, i.e., the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds. In addition, everyone has right to hold opinions, which implies that information and ideas above refers also to them. Often these freedoms are also described by term freedom of speech. They apparently imply that there are no means to eliminate disinformation in WWW without acting against freedom of speech or human rights. However, there are some very natural arguments demonstrating that this is not in all cases self evident. This means that we have to dig deeper into our intuitions about the notions of information, opinions and ideas. We have to have a clear idea about what those three things are by nature, before we can know what mean by Article 19. Only after that we can consider the issues of disinformation in the web. To begin with it is natural to start with the notion of information as the two other notions are obviously some type of information.

The very notion of disinformation seems to be in complex relation to the notion of information. Is it some type of information or is disinformation conceptually in contradiction the notion of information. In the latter case, it would be quite clear that article 19 would not speak about disinformation at all. However, in the former case disinformation should be protected by the principles of human rights. The key to this kind of analysis is the concept of knowledge.

Information is not knowledge. Knowledge has three criterions. Firstly, a person must believe that the piece of information is true, the piece of information must be true and most importantly, person must have good grounds to believe that the piece of information is true. Only, if these three criteria are filled we can say that a person knows the particular piece of knowledge. Obviously, all information is not knowledge but there is much untrue information or disinformation. Thinking article 19, there should not be any reason to say that a person would not have right to false opinions. Even the most genial people of past times have had much disinformation in their minds.

However, we have to divide the notion of disinformation into two important categories. We have non-intentional or accidental disinformation, which is correct in the opinion of the provider but factually incorrect and intentional disinformation, which means that the person, who presents the piece of information, knows that the given information is false. I shall mainly in this presentation to concentrate on intentional disinformation (IDI). Accidental disinformation (ADI) means simply false opinion and any human being must have right to have false opinions and all of us have well enough them.

Intentional disinformation in the web is a complex problem and to make the notion concrete it is good to provide some concrete examples:

1) Human rights violating disinformation:
a. Propaganda for war
b. Racial or religious hatred

2) Expert disinformation
a. Expert without arguments against true knowledge in the field (medical doctor claiming that smoking does not risk one’s health)
b. Expert uses authority without true knowledge of the particular issue
c. Malpractice

3) Charlatanistic information
a. Person claims to be expert, when he or she is not
b. Person implying to be expert

4) State provided disinformation
a. Falsified statistics
b. Knowingly incorrect knowledge about how things are in the state

5) Political disinformation
a. Incorrect information for persuasive goals on political level (Deliberately false justifications of war)
b. Hiding true reasons for planned actions

6) Terrorist information

7) Commercial disinformation
a. Information about the properties of products they do not have
b. Knowing that product is unsafe or improper but falsely denying this

8) Organizational disinformation
a. Providing incorrect information for the stakeholders about the state of affairs
b. Providing false information to employees
c. Providing disinformation to workmates or about workmates

9) Sexual disinformation
a. Propagating for inhuman sexual practices (e.g., Incest)
b. Propagating for damaging sexual practices

10) Violence provoking disinformation
a. Propagating for violent social behavioral patterns (e.g., justifying lynching)
b. Propagating for violet and irrational individual behavioral patterns (justifying blood feud)

11) Technical misinformation
a. Viruses, spam etc.

Naturally, it is possible to find numerous additional types of intentional disinformation. Nevertheless, the main topic is the conceptual logic of 19th article in UN declaration of human rights and this is why the provided examples should give a view to some types and the nature of intentional disinformation in the web.

The main question to ask is whether intentional disinformation is protected by human rights. Is it really different from accidental disinformation, which is naturally protected by human rights? If we return to the definition of knowledge which has been universally accepted at least since Plato, the first condition says that people have a piece of knowledge (PK) if they believe that PK is the case. This is naturally, the crucial difference between accidental and intentional disinformation. However, it is also a difference between opinion and something else. Intentional disinformation is not an opinion of the imparting person. This naturally means that we need not think that human rights protecting opinions would be violated by discarding intentional misinformation or at least its most problematic types from the net while deleting accidental disinformation would certainly be a violation of human rights and the freedom of speech.

The problems with the notion of opinions are now clearer. Intentional disinformation cannot be an opinion. The problems with the notions of information and ideas can be solved in another manner. Intentional disinformation obviously seems to be some kind of information or idea and article 19 supports imparting information and ideas of all kinds. Why intentional disinformation would not be protected by human rights, as it seems to be combined of information and of ideas of some kind. However, this conception is very probably incorrect, because intentional disinformation entails neither genuine information nor ideas.

Information is representation and stands for something. It may accidentally misrepresent the reference and we do not know this. However, about intentional disinformation is known on good grounds in the moment of impartment that it does not have a reference. Therefore, it is not genuine information and does not entail genuine ideas but it is only pseudo-information. It has been necessary to make in science a difference between pseudo-science and genuine science in the thirties and it seems that it is necessary thanks to web make also a difference between pseudo-information and genuine information. Intentional disinformation is always pseudo-information and entails pseudo-ideas. They have no possibility to be true, because they have been intentionally selected on the ground that they are false. Consequently, one cannot claim that article 19 would justify freedom for imparting intentional disinformation.

In fact, imparting intentional disinformation itself can be seen as a violation of human rights. Article 1 declares in the Universal declaration of human rights (1948) give people the ethical duties. It says: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. Naturally, intentional disinformation is in contradiction with spirit of brotherhood and conscience. In principle, there are thus clear human rights grounds to discard intentional disinformation of all kinds in web. Intentional disinformation is not only pseudo-information but also against human rights.

Naturally, much of the harmful and criminal contents in internet are fiction. What has been said so far is not directly valid with fictive stories, because they are not necessarily supposed to be true in same sense as factual material and there are a number of conceptual problems with fictive materials. The most important of them is that they have no truth value. They are mere stories and therefore it is hard to say that they would be intentional disinformation. They simply are not information in the same sense as assumed factual materials. Apparently, this means that by labeling any pictorial or text story fiction one could argue that it cannot be classified as intentional disinformation.

Practical examples of fictive internet contents which are not in harmony with the principles of human rights thinking are easy to find. Various types of war mongering, racists, sexist, privacy or religion offending and terrorist propagating materials are easy to find. Common are also materials in which violent sexual ways of behaving such as rapes, sadism or incest are described harmless and desirable. It is also possible to present fictive descriptions of a real individual saying that it is fictive. One could also pay attention to materials in which positive heroes need not follow the rules of justice and are allowed to unnecessarily and unforced kill or lynch “bad guys” without binging them to justice. Of course, these are just examples of rather large variety of problematic fictive materials in internet. The problem we have to meet is to find such conceptual clarity that it would make sense to draw some difference between intentional and accidental disinformation within fictive materials.

The truth and reliability of fictive materials can also be analyzed to some degree. Each fictive story describes an event. If it does not describe anything, it cannot be harmful either and we need not consider such stories. Indeed, such a story does not have any message. However, the types of materials we discuss here entail messages and we have to consider whether these messages may be intentional disinformation.

A way to approach the nature of intentional disinformation in fictive stories is to use modal logic. The notion of possible is especially interesting in this sense, because one can assume that stories are possible events and in this way to consider their truth. If something is impossible it cannot be true in any circumstances. If something is possible there exist some circumstances, in which it is true. Obviously, true information is always possible. This means that, it is logical to argue that story contents or parts of a story can be impossible and consequently not true.

One additional distinction is needed. This is the difference between logically and really possible. It is logically possible and undoubtedly in some superficial level also really possible that there are children who enjoy incest. This means that it may be possible that some victims of incest say that they found it positive, which very probably in a closer look would not be true but rather an external norm to say so. In reality, incest really makes deep wounds to person’s mind. One could thus claim that there exists an imagery individual case, in which incest is not harming, and therefore a fictive story presenting incest as a positive event, could be defended on the ground that this particular event presents such a case. Nevertheless, the reality is different and incest leads very regularly to deep mental disorders. This is why a story representing incest as desirable is really impossible and intentional disinformation, when facts knowingly presented.

If we have in fictive stories or content elements in them which essentially and against experience present false interpretations of the world, it is possible to classify them as intentional disinformation irrespective that they are fictive. This means that it is in principle possible to discuss about the stories as intentional disinformation. There are many controversial issues here. If Donald Duck explodes, but returns alive in a moment, is that intentional disinformation. I would say no, because Donald Duck is not a human being and it has a number of quite extraordinary conceptual attributes. However, when human beings blow up and feel it fun and justified, this may be less true.

The issues of intentional disinformation have many practical dimensions as human rights issues often have. It is not always clear what disinformation is intentional and what is a genuine opinion. However, this is not always problem. It is possible to prove in many cases that some piece of information is false. In these cases, accidental disinformation can be corrected on the ground of arguments. However, intentional disinformation has other goals and it may be problematic how it can be corrected. Nevertheless, coping with intentional disinformation is not totally alien to human practices. In courts people, intentional activities must often be separated from accidental ones. So it is presumably not impossible to cope with problems of intentional disinformation in many cases. In courts it is also common that the truth of a story is assessed on the ground of the information they add or leave out from the actual course of actions. This way of thinking naturally applies to intentional disinformation. The main thing is that we need not take intentional disinformation as opinion, idea or genuine information at all.

Finally, there are naturally practical cases in which information is consciously falsified or omitted on good grounds. This may be rational or irrational, but this way of behaving does not any more belong to the sphere of the freedom of speech. It depends on the grounds, whether it has been wise or not. However, freedom of speech can hardly be used to justify any type of intentional disinformation. It would lose its point, if it could be used to protect intentional disinformation.

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1 Gfk – centar za istrazivanje trzista (Gfk – Centre for Market Research): http://www.gfk.hr/press/internet6.htm

2 Drzavni zavod za statistiku (State Bureau of Statistics): http://www.dzs.hr/Hrv/Popis%202001/Popis/H01_04_20/H01_04_20.html

3 Statistiska centralbyran: http://www.scb.se/statistik/_publikationer/OV0904_1750I04_BR_23_A01SA0501.pdf

4 Based on BIH Statistic Agency' data and estimation.

5 Number of internet users in relation to total population in BiH.

6 ITU data

7 http://www.internetworldstats.com

8 Article 46 of the Law on Communication defines enforcement measures proportional to the violations in accordance with the following scale:
a) Oral and written warnings;
b) Inspection of licensed facilities;
c) Concrete demands for action or cessation, to be complied with within a specified time limit
d) Assessment of a financial penalty not to exceed 150,000 (in case of repeated violations, the financial imposition may not exceed 300,000 KM).
e) Orders to interrupt broadcasting or the provision of telecommunications services for a period not exceeding three (3) months;
f) Revocation of a licence