|Steering Committee (CDMSI)|
|Bureau of the Committee (CDMSI-BU)|
|Former Steering Committee (CDMC)|
Former Bureau of the Committee
|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)|
|Legal and Human Rights Capacity Building|
|FORMER GROUPS OF SPECIALISTS|
|Rights of Internet Users|
|Public Service Media Governance|
|Protection Neighbouring Rights of Broadcasting Organisations|
|Public service Media|
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 "Tackling hate speech - Living together on-line", Budapest 27-28/11/2012
|Conference of Ministers, Reykjavik - Iceland, 28-29 May 2009|
|European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG)|
|Committee of Ministers texts|
|Parliamentary Assembly texts|
Preliminary comments by participants
- Mr Rachid L’AOUFIR, Centre d’études critiques appliquées (CECA)
- Ms Lynda BERGSMA, Phd, Assistant Professor, University of Arizona, Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health
- Mr Rob BORTHWICK, Vodafone
- Mr Alexander CAMPBELL, OFCOM
- Mr Peter CORONEOS, Chief Executive, Internet Industry Association (IIA)
- Mr Robert GUERRA, Managing Director, Privaterra
- Ms Katrin HAHNE, Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, Germany
- Ms Hannah McCAUSLAND, European Affairs Advisor, European Newspaper Publishers' Association ENPA
- Mr Jim McDONNELL, President of the European Region of SIGNIS (World Catholic Association for Communication)
- Mr Rako PAZUR, President of the Management Board, CEO/CFO, Iskon Internet d.d.
- Mr Darius SAULIUNAS, IT law expert, Lithuania
- Mr Friedemann SCHINDLER, Jugendschutz.net
- Ms Maryna ZOLATAVA, Editor in Chief, TUT.BY and Mr Yuri ZISSER, President Reliable Software
* * *
Un comportement éclairé des principaux acteurs
Les axes de réflexion
La libre circulation des personnes, des idées, des capitaux et des marchandises est le moteur de l’innovation sociale. La généralisation des nouvelles technologies de l’information et de la communication à toutes les activités et à tous les milieux sociaux de part le monde renforce cette tendance. Dans ce contexte, où les liens sociaux sont en permanence reformulés, les Droits de l’Homme jouent deux rôles essentiels. En tant qu’ils formulent le respect de la personne par des propositions concrètes, ils posent le corps individuel comme valeur sacrée dont la violation réelle ou latente donne lieu à des alertes. Celles-ci peuvent être mises en scène de façon crédible à partir de procédures et d’esthétiques négociées par un ensemble d’institutions imbriquées à des systèmes médiatiques. Ces propositions concrètes fixent implicitement aussi des standards matériels, tels l’accès de tous à l’information, qui découle de la liberté de s’informer, standards qui peuvent nécessiter d’importants investissements d’infrastructures. Ceux-ci peuvent être réalisés au travers de partenariats entre les pouvoirs publics et des entreprises commerciales dans le but de promouvoir la prospérité économique.
Toutefois, aucune de ces dynamiques n’empêche la concentration sociale et géographique des ressources planétaires que les technologies de l’information et de la communication accélèrent. En raison de la perte d’autonomie qui en résulte pour certains groupes sociaux, et des risques que cela peut entraîner pour la paix sociale, les structures de pouvoir perdent leur légitimité. Voilà qui incite les acteurs à chercher de nouvelles modalités de régulation de leur environnement, notamment en négociant de nouvelles normes, codifications et lois. Cette mission réussirait mieux si les gouvernements, les entreprises privées et la société civile plaçaient systématiquement dans la définition de leurs programmes la famille, dans le but de réduire la reproduction des inégalités sociales, et les rapports Nord/Sud, dans le but de réduire des allocations géographiques de ressources contre-productives.
Le succès d’un tel programme nécessiterait d’étendre le droit international de la famille et de penser plus sérieusement les systèmes transnationaux de biens publics dont l’accès à l’information devient un élément essentiel à côté de l’accès à la monnaie, à l’air, à l’eau et aux énergies. Si l’ensemble des acteurs privés et publics participant à la conception de produits et de services et ayant accès à la définition des règles publiques incluaient ces deux thèmes transversaux en amont de la négociation d’arrangements institutionnels qu’impliquent les nouvelles technologies de l’information et de la communication, le respect des Droits de l’Homme s’en trouverait grandement promu. Cette approche ne devrait-elle pas constituer le cœur d’une comportement éclairé? Si oui, la gouvernance telle qu’elle se met actuellement en place est-elle appropriée pour relever les défis? Quels modèles théoriques et politiques seraient en mesure de lancer cette dynamique? Quelles seraient leurs implications sur la façon de voir et de comprendre la Société de l’Information?
Les extraits suivants d’un rapport qui est en train d’être rédigé montrent quelles déductions peuvent être tirées de ces questions.
Où va la gouvernance?
Au préalable, il paraît important de s’interroger sur la pertinence pratique de la division de la société entre État, secteur privé et société civile. Cette habitude ne rappelle t-elle pas les conceptions politiques de l’Ancien Régime divisé entre noblesse, bourgeoisie et tiers état? Cette approche et ces concepts ont du point de vue scientifique un caractère heuristique qui peut s’avérer tout à fait utile, mais qui n’est pas forcément transférable à la réalité empirique. Que penser autrement des multiples imbrications et de la fluidité entre les systèmes désignés dans lesquelles souvent les mêmes personnes agissent et décident, par exemple par le biais de mandats d’administrateurs? Cette remarque soulève dans toute son ampleur le problème de la représentativité démocratique que cette division était censée résoudre1. Le maintien de ces concepts nécessite au moins de les appréhender de façon plus dynamique que cela n’apparaît dans les documents internationaux et nationaux relatifs à la Société de l’Information.
Quelles grilles de lecture utiliser?
La Déclaration du comité des ministres sur les Droits de l’Homme et la Société de l’Information adoptée lors du Sommet de Varsovie en mai 2005 mentionne parmi les droits essentiels : la liberté d’expression, d’information et de communication; le droit au respect de la vie privée et de la correspondance; le droit à l’éducation et l’importance d’encourager l’accès aux nouvelles technologies de l’information et leur utilisation par tous sans discrimination; l’interdiction de l’esclavage et du travail forcé et l’interdiction du trafic d’êtres humains; le droit à un procès équitable et le respect du principe «pas de condamnation sans loi»; la protection de la propriété; le droit à des élections libre; la liberté de réunion. Le texte s’aligne sur la Déclaration de principes et le Plan d’action définis à l’issue du Sommet Mondial sur la Société de l’Information tenu à Genève en 2003. Toutefois, dans la mesure où la déclaration de Varsovie reflète une lecture plus juridique que socio-économique des implications des technologies de l’information et de la communication, les effets de ces dernières en terme d’allocation de ressources ne sont pas mentionnées. Ceci peut surprendre dans la mesure où la Stratégie de cohésion sociale révisée et le Centre Nord/Sud de Lisbonneont été conçus pour sensibiliser les politiques publiques aux questions d’allocation sociales et spatiale des ressources. Ne faudrait-il alors pas plutôt partir des réalités sociales, qui sont celles de communautés et de réseaux plutôt que d’individus, puis appliquer ensuite la protection des Droits de l’Homme pour protéger l’individu agissant dans ses communautés? Ne serait-ce pas plus logique dans la mesure où le droit n’est pas une fin en soi, mais a pour but d’élargir la capacité d’action des individus en standardisant certaines relations sociales?
Modèle théorique proposé
Compte tenue de ces remarques, le Centre a développé un modèle dans lequel le secteur privé a pour logique d’action première de réaliser des profits en externalisant les sources de coûts et en internalisant les sources de revenus. La société civile naît de la prise de conscience des effets imprévus que cette dynamique commerciale produit2. Elle se constitue par l’appropriation de moyens de communication par de nouvelles communautés sociales qui ont pour logique d’action la transformation de leurs intérêts privés, qu’ils estiment lésés, en biens publics. Il s’agit de négocier dans des conflits progressivement institutionnalisés le glissement des frontières entre le privé et le public. L’État, qui a pour logique d’action d’administrer les biens publics sur la nature desquels un consensus a pu être trouvé, garantit que l’application du nouveau droit est crédible pour tous et assure le financement de ce mécanisme par la fiscalité.
Ce modèle permet de mieux comprendre la présence de représentants des États dans chacune des logiques d’actions mentionnées ci-dessus. En effet, si on compte que la communauté scientifique est en général issue du secteur public, que nombre d’entreprises désignée comme privées sont des monopoles d’États agissant dans le secteur commercial et qu’un grand nombre d’associations est subventionné par des pouvoirs publics, il apparaît que l’ensemble du processus est guidé par l’esprit national étatique. De plus, le modèle permet de mieux situer les parlements comme expression de la société civile et non comme faisant partie de l’État, comme cela est souvent présenté. Les parlements ont pour rôle historique et politique de contrôler l’action des gouvernements et des administrations. Le fait que les membres des parlements sont essentiellement issus de la fonction publique relativise leur indépendance par rapport à l’État, mais pas leur travail de participation à la transformation du privé en public.
Enfin, il est important de noter que le souci de légitimité et d’efficacité qui conduit les gouvernants à chercher des coopérations et des partenariats améliorant la coordination des divers sous-systèmes sociaux ne doit sous aucun prétexte effacer les différentiations de ces systèmes garantes de l’indépendance des pouvoirs et du fonctionnement efficace des mécanismes de contrôles.
Le chapitre suivant montre, sur la base des réflexions précédentes, l’intérêt d’une approche plaçant la famille au sein des travaux sur la Société de l’Information.
Le statut de la famille dans la Société de l’Information.
La famille comme réseau social
La famille est le noyau social dans lequel l’enfant acquiert des compétences essentielles, notamment celle de communiquer. C’est cette compétence qui lui permettra de déployer ses capacités dans la société et de réaliser des projets créateurs de liens sociaux. La famille est donc une source essentielle de l’épanouissement de potentialités. Dans les faits, elle est difficile à saisir puisqu’elle est un ensemble de relations sociales dont les limites, les rôles et les attributions changent selon les époques et les régions. Comme les définitions juridiques et fiscales de la famille ne se recouvrent pas et qu’il n’existe pas vraiment de définition économique, les approches ne sont pas aisées.
Pourtant, le terme économie vient des mots grecs oïkos (maison) et nomos (ordre, loi, administration). Il signifie d’abord l’art de bien administrer une maison en tant qu’unité sociale. Aristote distinguait l’économie de la chrématistique comprise comme l’art condamnable de s’enrichir. Cette pensée a été reprise au 16ème siècle notamment en Europe centrale pour donner lieu à un genre littéraire liant la vie familiale à la ferme et les activités agricoles qui s’y déroulent à des normes morales. L’économie y était pensée du point de vue de l’unité familiale et non du marché. Cette littérature périodique connut un essor particulier entre 1680 et 1730 mais a couvert la période 1550-1850, donc celle correspondant à l’émergence de l’état moderne. Celui-ci cherchait à policer les relations sociales3, alors essentiellement familiales et locales, en faisant appel à une pensée non religieuse, mais néanmoins légitime puisque fondée sur la philosophie antique. C’était une nouvelle forme de gouvernance destinée à sortir des désordres sociaux causés par les guerres de religion et les épidémies meurtrières. Aujourd’hui, cette économie domestique est représentée par l’International Federation for Home Economics4. Les organismes qui y sont rattachés considèrent la famille plus comme lieu de consommation et de réalisation des politiques de santé publique que comme lieu de production de normes et de valeurs ajoutées liées à une forme sociale essentielle.
De façon générale, les systèmes scientifique et juridique, qui conçoivent les catégories de la gouvernance, ne considèrent pas la famille comme unité de productions sociales et économiques. Sa réalité n’est donc pas vraiment perceptible dans les statistiques dont les schémas résultent de priorités nationales et de contraintes administratives. Cette invisibilité réduit énormément les possibilités de prendre en compte les familles de façon appropriées dans la formulation des politiques publiques. Ces lacunes empêchent d’observer comment les familles évoluent vraiment aux niveaux translocaux, quels sont leurs besoins réels et de quelles façons elles créent du lien social. Dans la suite du texte, la famille est conçue, en raison de sa nature dynamique, comme un réseau social qui dispose de moyens de contrôler son environnement qu’elle mobilise pour réduire divers risques ou augmenter ses chances.
La famille comme source d’innovations sociales
L’évolution des conditions technologiques a un impact important sur la façon dont les familles se conçoivent et gèrent leurs risques. Ainsi, au 19ème siècle, la division du travail avait entraîné une spécialisation des métiers. Mais pour continuer à maîtriser les processus de production désormais répartis entre plusieurs personnes, les membres des familles ont changé leur stratégies matrimoniales en recourrant par exemple à des mariages entre cousins germains, établissant ainsi une nouvelle source de confiance. A une époque où il n’existait pas de structures juridiques ni de banques d’affaires accompagnant des entreprises commerciales d’envergure, l’essor de l’industrie reposait sur des liens familiaux. Et encore aujourd’hui le succès de bien des entreprises nouvellement créées, et pas seulement en Asie ou en Afrique, dépend de la coopération entre les membres d’une famille. Dans une autre perspective, le cinéma puis la télévision ont eu un impact essentiel sur l’économie en déclenchant des effets massifs de mimétismes dans les modes de consommation des familles. Aujourd’hui, les technologies de l’information et de la communication font partie de l’univers familial, notamment dans les pays du Nord. Les enfants, parents, cousins, oncles et tantes passent de plus en plus de temps devant des ordinateurs et l’Internet. Ce phénomène a des conséquences encore peu visibles sur la formulation de nouveaux liens familiaux externes et internes, mais il pourrait revaloriser la famille comme lieu de productions sociales.
L’impact des technologies de l’information et de la communication sur la famille
Ainsi, la communication permanente de familles vivant dans des lieux géographiquement éloignés leur permet de formuler des projets sociaux et commerciaux inédits, indépendamment de contacts physiques. Ceci vaut notamment pour des actions qui requièrent un degré de confiance et des vues communes qu’il est parfois plus facile de trouver entre les membres d’une même famille. Les possibilités de combiner dans ces entreprises des expériences culturelles différentes et divers réseaux professionnels s’en trouve décuplées. Les nouvelles technologies permettent en même temps de maintenir vivantes les cultures dans lesquelles des familles se sont constituées avant leur dispersion géographique. Comme les familles ne perdent pas le contact avec la langue et la culture d’origine, les TIC contribuent grandement au maintien et à la création de diversités. Cet aspect lié à la continuité historique se reflète par exemple aussi dans les services généalogiques qui sont un véritable succès de l’Internet. Un autre effet des technologies de l’information est que l’accès à l’Internet peut bouleverser les hiérarchies familiales dans la mesure où des adolescents peuvent être plus au courant que leurs parents de nombreux aspects de la vie pratique. En outre, les membres des familles peuvent mieux s’informer sur leurs préoccupations privées et communes, ce qui améliore les chances d’utiliser au mieux leurs différents potentiels. La famille devient ainsi un lieu d’innovations sociales qu’il serait fort regrettable de ne pas promouvoir systématiquement.
Les fonctions de la famille deviennent publiques et commerciales
De ce fait, la famille se retrouve aussi au sein de tensions qui l’obligent à redéfinir ses responsabilités et ses rôles à un moment où des aspects de plus en plus larges de ses fonctions gagnent un caractère d’un côté public et de l’autre commercial. Ainsi, l’apparition d’une presse de plus en plus spécialisée et surtout des chaînes de télévisions privées ont grandement promu l’émancipation des femmes, puis celle des homosexuels et des minorités ethniques. Cette visibilité médiatique a eu un impact sur la production législative, par exemple avec la création de lois facilitant la vie familiale d’homosexuels. Des arguments moraux ont porté la violence familiale et des arguments économiques le déficit des naissances vers le domaine public grâce à une infrastructure médiatique d’une densité inédite. Cette tendance à la segmentation sociale et thématique du domaine public se renforce avec l’Internet qui permet à des communautés de plus en plus nombreuses et diverses de se constituer, de s’organiser et de défendre leurs positions. Cette évolution peut aussi être une conséquence de l’exploitation croissante de données de trafic par les administrations publiques et par les entreprises privées. D’un côté les États continuent à développer des politiques d’aides selon de nouvelles segmentations par type de famille auxquels de nouveaux droits et devoirs sont rattachés, ce qu’il faut justifier en tant que des ressources fiscales sont absorbées. D’un autre côté, les entreprises commerciales sont en mesure de mieux suivre les comportements des familles et donc de concevoir et d’offrir des produits et des services de plus en plus différenciés. L’ensemble de cette offre publique et commerciale et chacun des nouveaux produits et services marquent les choix des familles.
Compléter l’approche individualiste par une approche holiste
Il est donc déterminant d’augmenter la réflexivité sur l’action des États et des entreprises dans leurs rapports avec la Société de l’Information et les familles5. S’il est utile de segmenter ces dernières selon les besoins de leurs membres, notamment en fonction de leur âge et de leur sexe, il semble qu’il faille ajouter à cette approche individualiste, qui créé d’ailleurs ses propres sous-groupes, une approche holiste appréhendant la famille dans l’ensemble de ses interactions intérieures et extérieures. C’est en effet là que se déterminent les dynamiques qu’elles peuvent développer. À défaut, les politiques publiques et commerciales risqueraient d’offrir des services inappropriés aux réalités familiales. Ceci est déjà trop souvent le cas, par exemple avec les lois sur la séparation et sur les faillites ou avec des politiques du logement et de l’éducation projetant plus des modèles de planification que des réalités sociales. Ainsi, les instances étatiques et commerciales tendent à considérer des célibataires fiscaux et juridique comme des célibataires économiques reflétant l’hédonisme individualiste plutôt que comme des personnes qui élaborent des stratégies familiales. A titre analogique, il est intéressant de se pencher sur l’entreprise commerciale privée. Celle-ci a pendant longtemps été considérée principalement comme une entité juridique fermée. Suite à la diffusion de l’informatique dans toutes ses activités, cette vision monolithique a été remise en cause. Maintenant, elle est mieux perçue dans ses réalités commerciales et il est possible d’observer comment elle conçoit des usages qui sont plus tard souvent transformés en normes ou lois. L’interconnexion de l’entreprise à son environnement et sa nouvelle transparence ont abouti au développement de formes très variées de coopération situées entre les extrêmes que sont la concurrence à outrance et la constitution de cartels. La diffusion de l’Internet dans les familles pourrait avoir ce même effet de rendre d’abord plus transparentes ses fonctions sociales et de l’inciter à avoir mieux prise sur son environnement après avoir pris conscience de ce qu’elle est véritablement.
L’internationalisation du droit privé de la famille
Les nouvelles segmentations de la famille que produisent des environnements médiatiques et informatiques de plus en plus denses peuvent donc contribuer à mieux répondre aux besoins de la famille dans son ensemble et de chacun de ses membres en particulier. Ces segmentations peuvent aussi donner lieu à la constitution de nouveaux groupes sociaux représentant des consommateurs ou producteurs cherchant à se profiler publiquement. Comme ceux-ci peuvent désormais s’organiser au niveau transnational pour augmenter leur impact, les législateurs auront tendance à suivre des stratégies internationales pour répondre à ces revendications6. Le droit privé de la famille est donc amené à s’internationaliser davantage. Dans ce processus, la norme que représentent les Droits de l’Homme joue un rôle déterminant comme l’ont prouvé les lois internationales sur le regroupement familial, le divorce, le mariage et l’héritage rendues nécessaires suite à l’augmentation du nombre de couples multinationaux et des mouvements migratoires.
La Déclaration universelle des Droits de l’Homme (1948) évoque le mot famille dans les articles 12, 16.1, 16.2, 23.3 et 25.1. Ils traitent respectivement du respect de la vie privée, du droit au mariage, du lien social et de la sécurité matérielle de la famille. La Convention européenne des Droits de l’Homme (1950) mentionne le terme dans l’article 12 qui traite du droit au mariage et dans l’article 18 qui rappelle tant le droit au respect de la vie privée et familiale que sa limitation par la priorité donnée à la cohésion sociale générale7. La Charte sociale européenne révisée (1961/1996) mentionne la famille en relation avec le logement, la protection juridique de ses membres, leur égalité de traitement et leur liberté de réunion. La Charte des droits fondamentaux de l’Union Européenne (2000) se réfère à la famille dans les articles 9, qui assure le droit au mariage, et 33, qui garantit ses droits juridiques, économiques et sociaux, notamment par rapport à l’équilibre à établir entre la vie professionnelle et la vie familiale. La Stratégie de cohésion sociale révisée (2004) mentionne la famille dans ses articles 15, 17, 33, 35, 36, 37, 47 et 53. Ce texte rappelle tant l’obligation d’aider les familles en situation précaire que la responsabilité des parents et la solidarité familiale. Dans des contextes où les États providence réduisent leurs voiles tout en devant administrer un nombre croissant d’actions publiques, il paraît nécessaire de rappeler que les membres des familles ont des devoirs à l’égard des diverses communautés qui constituent leurs identités et par lesquelles ils sont en mesure d’agir. Étant données toutes ces sources juridiques et étant donné l’impact important des TIC sur les modèles familiaux tel que démontré ci-dessus, il est fort étonnant de constater que le croisement thématique de la famille et de la Société de l’Information n’apparaisse pas dans les déclarations et les travaux publiés des administrations publiques et privées.
La contradiction fondamentale
Certes, plusieurs aménagement ponctuels ont eu lieu ces dernières années, avec pour but notamment de protéger les enfants contre les contenus illicites et préjudiciables, par exemple en proposant aux parents des guides d’utilisation d’Internet. Mais il est trop rarement évoqué, qu’inversement, des mineurs diffusent des virus et qu’ils sont des acteurs importants, plus ou moins conscients, de la piraterie. Du coup, ils se meuvent dans des zones juridiques grises qui prendront de l’ampleur lorsque la téléphonie mobile sera connectée à bas prix à l’Internet. L’enfant deviendra alors adulte bien plus tôt que la plupart des textes législatifs le prévoient. Le respect des Droits de l’Homme entraînera donc une importante réglementation nouvelle en terme de droits d’accès à différents services et à différentes fonctions. Mais pas toutes les contradictions peuvent être résolues techniquement. Dans les pays occidentaux, les révolutions à l’origine des démocraties ont eu tendance à détruire le lien familial dans le but d’interrompre les mécanismes de reproduction sociale pré-révolutionnaires éprouvés comme injustes. Par compensation, il a fallu mettre en avant le rôle de l’individu et ses possibilités d’actions dans un espace public peuplé de nouveaux symboles. Cette idéologie a retranché la famille dans le privé. Pourtant, à partir du moment où la propriété privée reste transmissible par filiation, la famille demeure le lieu par lequel se reproduisent non seulement les capacités de communication et les performances qu’elles permettent, mais aussi les inégalités sociales. Ceci a un impact direct sur la concentration et l’allocation de ressources et donc sur la capacité des corps sociaux, y compris la famille, à assurer leur autonomie. Les technologies de l’information et de la communication renforcent mais ne créent pas cette contradiction inhérente à l’ordre social libéral. Elle confirme en revanche l’intervention accrue dans les fonctions familiales de systèmes étatiques soucieux d’équilibrer les pouvoirs qui les légitiment et à ce titre de représenter l’intérêt général. La nouvelle donne des TIC et la meilleure compréhension de la famille telle que résultant de son insertion dans un univers informationnel dense peuvent-elles alors donner lieu à des ajustements dans la distribution des chances? N’est-ce pas la question qui devrait orienter les politiques publiques?
À ce sujet, dans les processus de redéfinition des arrangements institutionnels en cours, un certain nombre de mesures pourraient être prises.
Étant donné que la famille est reconnue comme un vecteur déterminant du développement social, il est tout indiqué de concevoir une politique européenne intégrée de la famille comprise comme réseaux produisant des innovations sociales. Il s’agit d’en faire un thème transversal affectant les différentes politiques sectorielles européennes, y compris celles concernant la Société de l’Information. Ceci est d’autant plus approprié que certains ministères nationaux ont déjà commencé à appliquer des politiques familiales intégrées, une approche qui reste peut être encore trop éloignée des agendas internationaux.
Les gouvernements, les entreprises privées et la société civile devraient soutenir cette approche par exemple dans une action commune concernant l’élaboration par la Global Reporting Initiative8 de la norme ISO 26000. Ce document, qui sera publié en 2008, va déterminer les principes de la responsabilité sociale future et devrait inclure des mesures concernant la famille. Sa conception pourrait aboutir à la mise en place de systèmes contrôlant la conformité sociale des organisations. Ces systèmes devront opérer en amont de la production de biens et de services, dont une quantité croissante sera liée à des technologies de l’information et de la communication, et être appliqués tant aux entreprises commerciales qu’aux administrations publiques.
Cette promotion de la famille ne devra en aucun cas en faire un lieu où se décide prioritairement la compétitivité des états nationaux. Simplement, de même que chaque individu vivant en Europe a droit à un air sain, à de l’eau potable et à une couverture sociale, chaque famille dans les 46 États membres devra pouvoir disposer d’un accès privé à Internet comme bien public. Moins parce que cet outil permet de s’informer et de s’exprimer librement que parce qu’il deviendra la source des organisations sociales privées et publiques les plus performantes, avec des conséquences déterminantes sur le contrôle et la répartition des ressources mondiales. Il semble ainsi qu’un droit international de la famille distinct du droit civil et du droit commercial ait des chances de prendre forme.
L’offre du Centre d’études critiques appliquées (CECA)
Le CECA est basé à Berlin et Paris avec des liens à Helsinki et Rabat. Il est organisé comme réseau d’associations et de personnes publiques. Son objectif est d’accroître la réflexivité des systèmes critiques et de contribuer ainsi à réduire les risques fragilisant la paix sociale future. Pour atteindre ses objectifs, le centre travaille de manière entièrement indépendante. Il se positionne entre les pays industrialisés et les pays qui souhaitent le devenir, avec une orientation particulière sur l’Europe et les questions euro-méditerranéennes. Il applique sur le terrain et affine progressivement les théories qu’il élabore. Il contribue à définir des agendas de recherche, présente les résultats de ses travaux au public, conçoit et réalise des projets de développement et réalise des expertises et des audits.
* * *
The following are some of my reflections/thoughts/ideas on the Forum bearing in mind the draft outline programme and possible solutions/pledges to the questions raised:
All around the world we are on the cusp of a great opportunity. The information society allows us to speak a new language and communicate in ways that extend and even transcend text. Our imperative is to quickly understand this new literacy and encourage, stimulate and model it within the context of responsible behaviour that respects human rights. This forum should result in a call to action and strategic priorities that represent a solid roadmap - realistic and achievable - and the best thinking all participants on how to meet this imperative.
Recommendations for responsible behaviour by states might include:
Develop a Strategic Research Agenda
· Enact policies to encourage and support research
· Take the lead in mapping the field and understanding emerging practice in the information society
· Develop an understanding of emerging forms of communication and behaviors related to human rights
· Craft new definitions and taxonomies
· Establish clearinghouses for new models and research
Raise Awareness and Visibility of Responsible Behaviour
· Collaborate with industry and civil society organizations to disseminate ideas and models broadly
· Incorporate information and media literacy skills into teacher certification programmes
· Build recognition programmes that will surface innovation and replicable models of responsible behaviour with regard to human rights in the information society
Empower Education with Information and Media Literacy Skills
· Design new forms of assessing these skills
· Change teaching/learning standards to reflect the value of these 21st Century Skills
· Design and offer professional development for teachers
· Develop new teacher certification programmes
Make Information Society Tools Available to All
· Make the broad use of sophisticated tools accessible and affordable for all
· Provide professionally designed curricula, professional development and training
· Ensure tools and file formats work across platforms and are interoperable
* * *
I would argue that:
1. Self-regulatory approaches are generally superior (that is more effective and efficient while retaining flexibility and innovation) ways of dealing with the human rights issues which new technologies create: these are certainly the appropriate starting point for mobile operators;
2. However, the economic position of individual players in the value chain is not uniform and this must be recognized by policy makers. In particular, economic interests and notably whether a company is one of a small number attempting to create a long term commercial relationship with its customers (often associated with investments in brand) are key to understanding where and how a self-regulatory approach will prove to be effective.
3. Where an industry has different characteristics then regulatory support for the enforcement of self-regulation is important. So in these circumstances Vodafone would argue for appropriate formal or co-regulatory approach as required.
* * *
Civil society can play a key role in enabling / promoting access to ICTs necessary for a more inclusive society. For those who have been outside of formal learning for some time, are unemployed or don’t work with ICTs, civil society can offer positive opportunities to experience new technologies. Initiatives such as Adult Learners’ Week (www.niace.org.uk/ALW/) and Silver Surfers’ Day (aimed at getting older people online www.silversurfersday.org/) engage people in a supportive, non-commercial environment that can give them key ICT skills.
Consumers may be reluctant to listen to the warnings of industry about perceived threats and risks from new technologies – perhaps believing such warnings to be commercially motivated. However, civil society may not have sufficient resources to give clear guidance and Government can be restricted by the need to maintain commercial neutrality. By partnering with industry to provide guidance on key areas of concern, civil society can help overcome this lack of awareness or information.
For example, UK mobile operator Vodafone worked with the National Family and Parenting Institute (www.NFPI.org) to produce a guide for parents on the safe use of mobile phones (the leaflet is at www.e-parents.org/data/parentsweek/pdfs/CSR%20Parent%20guide.pdf) and the electrical retailer Comet has worked with NCH, a UK children’s charity, to provide internet safety guidance for children and families, including pre-loading parental control software on its PCs (www.comet.co.uk/comet/html/cache/digicode.htm).
With regards to the protection of property, civil society can, again in partnership with industry, provide resources that may be more trusted as they are perceived to be less commercially motivated. For example, Childnet International has published a guide (available on line at www.childnet-int.org/music/index.html) for parents on downloading music from the internet (including via peer to peer networks).
Freedom of expression, information and communication is of course central to democracy and ICTs can increase the ways in which many people with disabilities are able to participate more fully in society. However, poorly designed internet sites or digital television services can restrict the access of disabled people. Organisations such as the Royal National Institute of the Blind (www.rnib.org.uk) produce detailed guidelines helping e.g. website developers to make their sites more accessible.
The media itself can play a key role in promoting human rights. Freedom of expression is vital in any democratic society, but that freedom can sometimes cause offence, or potentially harm more vulnerable members of society. The media, by providing clear information about the content of its productions can help to avoid this clash of competing pressures. Certain sectors already do this – computer games, DVDs and the like have clear labels in many states. A commitment from all media providers to clearly identify when their products may be problematic would be most welcome.
The media can also promote a better understanding of its role – including its limitations - in the democratic process. For example, Channel 4 in the UK has produced a number of programmes for schools including ‘Why is there so much rubbish on telly?’ (www.channel4.com/learning/microsites/W/whyistheresomuchrubbishontelly/). Such programmes and websites can offer information about how content is produced, what the commercial imperatives are and how selection processes take place. By doing this, the media helps to remind citizens about the necessary limitations on news, current affairs and the like and discourages unrealistic expectations about the role of the media.
* * *
The Internet Industry Association is Australia's national Internet industry organisation. Members include telecommunications carriers, content creators and publishers, web developers, e-commerce traders and solutions providers, hardware vendors, systems integrators, financial services and insurance providers, technology law firms, ISPs, educational institutions, research analysts, and those providing professional and technical support services. Increasingly, our members also include businesses hoping to establish an effective online presence for the purposes of e-commerce. On behalf of its members, the IIA provides policy input to government and advocacy on a range of business and regulatory issues, to promote laws and initiatives which enhance access, equity, reliability and growth of the medium within Australia.
Since 1995, the IIA has been engaged in leading industry efforts in Australia to promote a safer internet expercience and in particular has developed co-regulatory Codes of Practice in the following areas:
- Child Protection (via three industry Codes governing all ISPs, content hosts, and more recently mobile carriers - to enable them to fulfil their obligations under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992)
- Interactive Gambling (to help ISPs and content hosts comply with relevant provisions of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001)
- Privacy (by providing a co-regulatory instrument by which members can comply with, and in some cases exceed, the requirements of the Privacy Act 1968)
- Spam (by means of an industry Code which will bind ISPs and email services providers and provide safeguards for end users to enhance and complement protections established in Australia's powerful anti-spam legislation, the Spam Act 2003).
Further to this, we pioneered awareness raising of disability access for web through our Accessible Web Action Plan, details of which can be found at: www.iia.net.au/digitalbridgevt.html
We have also drafted a Cybercrime Code of Practice for ISPs which clarifies their obligations under relevant telecommunications interception legislation with data retention components to assist LEAs in investigating offences, including fraud and terrorism.
In addition, we have worked to empower internet users from spam, viruses and most recently spyware, through national initiatives to provide all Austalian internet users with free trial software to protect them against malware.
We are currently working on a national 2-factor authentication trial to test a federated method of securing end user transactions online while simpulaneously enhancing privacy and reducing the risk of identity theft. As far as we know, this is the first project of its scope and vision in the world.
This is in addition to the other work we have done in copyright, etc. which is of less relevant here.
This week, we launched a national anti-spyware campaign. Details are at www.nospyware.net.au. My Yahoo address firstname.lastname@example.org - please use this *in addition* to emailing the above address.
* * *
No one actor alone can solve this problem, and the solution lies much beyond the usual field of more responsible reporting etc. This is because in a free and open society, which I assume we want, we cannot very well limit the flow of information without curtailing other fundamental liberties. There are two aspects to the problem: the "content", i.e. reality, of society, and the communication of that content. So logically, remembering that we do not wish to adopt any policies that distort or manipulate the "truth value" of content, there are only two major ways to deal with the problem at hand: either we change the content or we change the communication of it.
Analyzing the debate about human rights in an information society, it seems that recommendations are exclusively focused on the second option. There are no attempts to even discuss changing the reality of what society actually is. Of course, how could this be? How can you change the reality of society? Is this not arrogant and preposterous to even think about it? Does it not smack of utopianism or dangerous social engineering? Yet, the very fact that within the debate itself half of the solution space has been dismissed, even without discussion, is worrying and reveals a frame of mind which is fatalistic and defeatist.
In fact, is not the entire aim of the Council of Europe to change the "reality" and the "content" of European societies, to make the reality more free and democratic, more tolerant and more respectful of human rights?
So if that is the preferred option, how can we change the reality of society? First by understanding the roots of the problem. The basic problem about human rights obligations in modern information society is the profound disconnect between the original social contracts that were created in idiosyncratic conditions in pre-industrial days in every then-separate society, and the new global human awareness field created by modern media.
Powerful technologies that shrink time and space make a mockery of the unspoken assumptions and conditions of our original social contracts. Pre-modern and modern nation-states were based on social contracts with little or no geographical overlap, thus maintaining distinct human awareness fields or socio-cultural "bubbles" where different social contracts ruled. (A parallel could be made in astrophysics where our universe is sometimes described as a separate 'bubble' embedded in a "metaverse" containing an infinity of other universes, each with their own physical laws, and all of them separated.) Each culture had its own human rights and these defined the "boundaries" of their own social contract. Human rights without concomitant social contract make no sense. Conversely, the promotion of specific human rights creates expectations because we naturally (though unconsciously) associate them with a social contract, i.e. mutual obligations between the members of the group defined by the human rights “envelope”. It is the obvious violation of these expectations that create a backlash against the mindless promotion of global human rights as described below.
The "human rights rules" of each society were a defining pillar of each independent culture. As Western industrial society became dominant on Earth, it decided to "universalize" the human rights it had developed as part of its own internal historical evolution and its own social contract. It then set about promoting these new "global human rights standards", and thus started to destroy a key component of the identity and the social contracts of other societies. But like the well-meaning sorcerer's apprentice who uses powerful magic without understanding the correct "Instruction for use", it sowed chaos because in doing so, it destroyed a vital condition of the safety features built in all social contracts. (These safety features are its primary reasons for being and define the conditions for reciprocity and group solidarity in times of troubles.) Things would have been fine if it had replaced the old local safety mechanisms with new ones commensurate with the new global identity implied by global human rights. But it did nothing of the sort, and even while it promoted global human rights, it derided its logical and necessary counterpart (global citizenship) as idealistic and utopian (because to be so logical would have undermined their power).
Local societies suffered because the old social solidarity of course only works if group identity is defined and maintained (to ensure adequate reciprocity between group members), so the new global crusaders (politicians, generals, missionaries, human rights activists etc.) as they destroyed the basis of local societies' identities (by trying to impose their own human rights beliefs), and without replacing it with an expanded global group identity which could have provided the basis for global solidarity, destroyed the fragilely evolved social safety features of societies all over the globe. This phenomenon is most easily seen in the most extreme clashes: those between industrial and indigenous societies (the result is usually a deep despair from indigenous people who suffer from high unemployment levels, low life expectancies, and descend into drugs, prostitution, crime etc.).
The emergence of global human rights standards, without the parallel emergence of a global social contract, is the root cause of a deep malaise experienced by billions of people. This malaise could be described as a cognitive dissonance between the abstract and theoretical goals of "human rights" and the daily disproof of these goals. This creates a deep cynicism against democracy and a reaction against the defenders of these human rights, considered guilty of naive "droits de l'hommisme". Unfortunately, the most ferocious defenders of human rights, like Bernard Kouchner, co-founder of Médecins Sans Frontières and former Minister of Health of France, not having understood or integrated the reasons behind this problem, have logically morphed into neo-militaristic missionaries (endorsing in principle military interventions everywhere in the name of human rights), since they are as unable as other politicians to imagine creative ways to resolve conflicts between the existing mosaic of local social contracts and universal human rights. "Universal human rights" are not universally accepted for a simple reason: they are not the result of a painstaking process of negotiation or slow cultural evolution that usually defines the boundaries of a social contract. They are, like most political efforts, born with the handicap of a lack of deep legitimacy due to their emergence from a top-down elitist process (like the EU constitutional treaty or like the draft constitution for Iraq), rather than from an open participatory one.
A few examples from the malaise and frustrations created by the discrepancy between theoretical global human rights and the lack of a global social contract:
- citizens of Africa obviously and glaringly do not benefit from the same human rights as citizens of Europe. And even many citizens in the EU from African or Arab origin believe that they do not benefit from the same respect and rights than European natives
- many Arab, Muslim (or even non Arab, non Muslims), are outraged by American double standards when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or the diabolisation of Muslims after terrorist attacks perpetrated by extremists justifying their acts in the name of Islam
- many people are outraged at the double standard of rich countries when it comes to professing to promote democracy at home but supporting dictators abroad
- many people are outraged at the double standards which justify intervention in the Balkans but allow a genocide in Rwanda to take place though more than 10 times the number of people died (in both cases under the eyes of the UN, who, if “international law” were like some national laws, would be indicted for at least passive complicity or for 'délit de non-assistance à personne en danger')
Why are they outraged? It may seem an obvious question but it is in fact a trick one. They are outraged only because they know about such things, and they only know such things today because of modern information technology. So indirectly, the old dream of world peace through global exchange of information, spearheaded by visionary entrepreneurs like Ted Turner who created CNN explicitly to change the world for the better by bringing it closer together, is in fact responsible for huge misery. This is because politics, embodied by the social contract, has lagged behind technology, and because techies and businessmen irresponsibly linked different "bubbles" together, and did absolutely nothing to promote a global political culture that could control the new global markets, economy, and most of all, the new global awareness of horrors elsewhere.
So the best thing that actors can do to be responsible is to work to reconnect politics and technology, to create a global social contract, a "Weltinnenpolitik" as Roman Herzog, then President of Germany put it, in other words, a global political architecture in which human dignity is the founding principle. To qualify as a global social contract, this global political architecture should include the usual mutual-aid and reciprocity provisions found in all social contracts. Thus it should define a common global identity, or global citizenship, not based on anything more than the fact of being human.
* * *
As a fact, the Internet is constantly evolving. It is an on-going fast revolution. Blogging for instance has recently been praised as the definitive tool that was going to democratize mass-medias and forever change journalism as a profession : individual citizens were given the power to talk (or at least, write) to the world, they were able to react to information and they were able to provide more information themselves, or their own perception of information (for instance, during the war in Iraq, blogs from Bagdad were widely used as an independent and reliable source of information). Then, an even newer and more powerful technology appeared: podcasting, and now everyone with a computer can broadcast her personal radioshow to the whole wide world.
It is a difficult task to measure the consequences that new technologies have on our societies. Blogging has not caused traditional medias to disappear, some major newspapers or magazine have opened blogging spaces for their readers, and in some cases (such as the referendum in France on the EU Constitution) blogs have actually been trusted more than newspapers as the ideal place for information and debate. Something happened with blogs, although it may be uneasy to assess how much or how deep the evolution is. It also raises a number of issues (for instance, should bloggers get reporter's privilege not to reveal their sources' identity?).
But one thing is sure, however: the Internet is an extraordinary opportunity for greater individual participation in many fields of human activity. It is a great tool not only for political involvement, but generally for involvement in culture (undistributed musicians can now share their works with the public for instance). Once little more than a spectator, the individual has now a possibility to actively contribute to "the forces that shape the world we live in and make us who we are."9
That, I believe, is very precious.
Democracy is the goal of such institutions as the Council of Europe. It has constantly been a major reason for international cooperation. "A democratic society" is the benchmark that the European Court of HR refers to when deciding whether a restriction to some fundamental rights may be accepted or not. Democracy is the chosen project of our societies. And even if democracy in itself may be hard to define, we all can "tell democracy when we see it".
Responsible behaviour should then be very cautious about doing no harm. It should be guided by the following consideration: "This communication infrastructure we are building or using, is an unprecedented tool of democracy. It is changing peoples' habits and behaviours, even if we are not sure how. We must make sure to keep it open, to safeguard its capacities to actually serve as such an instrument." Any intervention possibly affecting the way the Internet works should be assessed in the light of its impact on the openness of the web. We must make sure that we keep the Internet "read and write", as Tim Berners-Lee puts it.10
As regards legal standards, I believe this is for instance what the European Court of Human Rights' case law commands as regards the Internet.
* * *
Key note speech: An Information Society powering, and respectful of, Human Rights
Can key actors afford to behave irresponsibly in the Information Society?
What is the information society?
- It should not just be about the technology, just about the internet - but much more
Who are the key actors in the information society?
- What is the role of those who design the technology?
- What is the role of industry, particularly as their technology could be used not only for good, but for crime as well
What is irresponsible behaviour?
- Is there a framework of norms, standards and principles that are universal in the information society?
- What is the role of education of all actors about the consequences of decisions that lead to negative consequences
What are the costs & consequences of acting irresponsibly?
- What are possible actions that can lead to irresponsible behaviour
- How does one build a culture and legal framework that encourages responsible behavior
- Are existing “universal principles”, such as human rights well defined in the information society
Session one: Responsible behavior by key Industry actors
Important to set the proper tone, as is the first session
Industry is key in building the infrastructure in the information society
- Do they just supply the equipment?
- Do they allow equipment to be used for any purpose?
How can responsible behaviour be built into the design, implementation and deployment of projects
What are the benefits and risks of delegating human rights responsibilities to private actors?
- What is more important, profit or respect & promotion of human rights. Does one trumpet the other?
- Do we run the risk of moving to the lowest possible denominator, the lowest set of rights?
- What are the rules & enforcement mechanisms? are there any ?
The use of technology in authoritative regimes? Issues of state control, censorship and surveillence
Partnerships between industry and the state
- Are traditional models of partnerships working, or are there new ones in the information society?
Session two: Civil society/media promoting responsible behaviour
Individual interpretations of responsible behaviour by key actors, with examples
What role for civil society in promoting responsible behaviour?
What role for the media in promoting responsible behaviour?
- What limitations are there ?
Partnerships between civil society/media, industry and the state
- Examples to share from the WSIS process to-date – WGIG, CS & govt delegations, etc.
What about media education - do key actors do anything/enough? What more can be done, with examples? What types of media education for the Industry?
- How can media reach youth – who are the key adopters of the information society?
- How can media present the positive and negative consequences of information society
- How constructive relations can be built. Issue of trust
- Civil society (CS) can have a diversity of views – who is listened to?
- Are traditional models of partnerships working, or are there new ones in the information society?
- How can CS understand the challenges being faced by the other actors ?
- How does CS move from reacting after the fact, to a more constructive relationship with States and Industry
- CS at times speaks in a language and style this not understood by States and industry - is this the real divide that needs to be bridged ?
Recommendations for action drawn by the moderator
- What are the roles of CS in the information society ?
- What are the lessons learned from the past ?
- What constructive steps can be taken to promote & encourage responsible behavior by CS & media in the information society.
Session three: Responsible behaviour by States
What human rights responsibilities in the Information Society does the State carry? Is this changing?
Laws, instruments and conventions have focused to-date on changes that need to occur to empower fight against crime. What consequences has this had on rights in the information society
Is there a need to codify human rights in the information society. Should there be a e-charter?
What is irresponsible behaviour by the State, with examples
- How to draw the line between responsibility and irresponsibility of the State?
- Who draws the line and how is it decided and regulated – what role for the State (regulatory models)?
- What is the role for oversight bodies
* * *
Responsible behaviour by States
The duty of States protecting effectively human rights persists of vital importance, notably under changing conditions and growing convergence in the information society and in view of globalisation. The responsibility of States therefore is on the one hand a legal and (co-) regulatory one.
Besides, States nowadays should more intensively try to promote and support informal means of protection, as a result of responsibility by Industry actors, civil society as well as parents, teachers and children. A good co-operation of all concerned parties and exchange of good practices between actors of different states should lead to satisfactory results in guaranteeing human rights in the information society. In addition, important aspects of state responsibility are to safeguard the effective law enforcement by public authorities and ultimately a sustained promotion of everyone’s media literacy.
The German legal system of protection of minors and human dignity hence has substantially been revised during the last few years. The current regulatory regime – included in the Act on the Protection of Minors (Jugendschutzgesetz) and the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors and Human Dignity (Jugendmedienschutz-Staatsvertrag) entered into force in 2003.
The new regulatory regime sets identical standards for identical contents which are applicable to commercial broadcasting services as well as other electronic information and communication media (the so called ‘Telemedien’, information society services which are transmitted via the internet or other distribution channels). For a more efficient control one supervisory body for broadcasting and the internet has been established, the Commission for the protection of minors in the field of media (Kommission für Jugendmedienschutz – KJM). Most notably, the new legislative and regulatory approach enhances a system of stronger self-regulation and co-regulation.
The focus of this revised system is thus:
- Sector-specific legislation passed to horizontal content regulation, e.g. consistent standards for the evaluation of identical contents– including the necessity to take into account the peculiarities of the dissemination medium;
- A simplified monitoring structure, i.e. one supervisory body for the content of broadcasting and for information society services on the internet.
- Incentives for voluntary self-supervision by the operators themselves.
- Continuous evaluation of this legislation in view of technical and economical developments
The Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors and Human Dignity defines a catalogue of illegal and forbidden contents. These include (hard) pornographic or criminal offerings as well as content which is registered in a List (index) of Publications Harmful to Young Persons under the Federal Act on the protection of young persons, which is i.e immoral and brutalising content or those instigating violence, crime and racism. Certain other content is admitted but only if offered within closed user groups in ‘Telemedien’ – defined as media services and tele services, not broadcasting. These groups have to be controlled by the provider by means of a reliable ‘age-verification-system’.
Content which could affect the development of minors mustn’t be transmitted except if the service provider takes steps to ensure – through scheduling or other means – that children or adolescents will normally not be exposed to the content in question.
An important basic principle of the Interstate Agreement on the protection of minors – to achieve an effective protection – is the establishment of voluntarily self-control measures by the media industry and providers. In a first step the harmfulness of content is assessed and rated by self-control bodies, which have to be accredited by the KJM.
The KJM – in a second step – formally ensures the enforcement of the Interstate Agreement.
The Commission also develops and surveys requirements for appropriate age-verification-systems. An important criteria therefore is a personal offline registration procedure with respect to the age of the user which is linked with specific on-line logins.
KJM has got 12 members. They are directors of the broadcasting regulatory authorities of the States (‘Landesmedienanstalten’) and members of supreme Federal and State level authorities. The Commission works closely with the joint State centre on the protection of minors (jugendschutz.net).
* * *
The European Charter for Media Literacy
This document includes a document by a steering group aiming to support the media literacy development in Europe.
Individual projects tend to be isolated from each others. There is the risk of inventing the wheel again and again, at different times and regions, because of lack of the overview of what is already known, tested and evaluated properly. Encourage the model of Nordicom Unesco International Clearinghouse for Children, Youth and Media investigating, structuring and presenting relevant information databases - from a European perspective. The target should be to make it easy to find models for local, regional, national and transnational co-operation within digital literacy in Europe, such as National Centres for Media Education (NCME). See the models illustrated in this document.
Didactics and pedagogy tend to be put in second place because of to much focus on technology solutions
Encourage initiatives combining focus on content, didactics and multimedia technology – to put focus on Human Rights issues and the media.
Social exclusion, gender issues, disabled and elderly perspectives is to often put aside in projects
Encourage projects focused on skills to read, analyse, evaluate, and produce communications in a variety of digital media – directed to often excluded groups.
Increase co-operation between public and private organisations
Encourage projects supporting transformation of knowledge and including technological support in public private partnerships.
Pilot projects must be communicated
A research project with an indexing model, were major international corporations meet in a dialog to index how UN:s child convention and the media content relate to each other, resulting in a book with recommendations to the media industry and others. In general, there is need to put focus on a number of parallel obstacles to achieve progress. A central one is the digital culture (when living in a multicultural society in a global world). How to encourage a development where every culture have a role to play, must be at focus.
There is need for relevant studies on certain topics, as what the emergent forms of digital literacy are in the different regions in Europe, how digital literacy affects and transform identity, how the effects of digital literacy’s on the transformation of identities can be articulated in learning practices, the effect on learning practices that youth cultures involving computers, mobile phones, Internet, etc have.
Definition and descriptions of digital literacy from a European perspective need to be clarified. Learning strategies and methods, (when encouraging independent individualised learning) need to be enhanced, Different knowledge forms in dealing with digital information (scientific knowledge and every day knowledge) need to be better related to each other.
* * *
ENPA is a non-profit organisation of 5100 titles from 24 European countries (plus one observer member), representing the interests of newspaper publishers to the European Institutions. More than 120 million copies of newspapers are sold each day and read by over 235 million people in Europe.
ENPA welcomes and appreciates the opportunity to participate in this Council of Europe Forum as a digital and print content provider and Observer member to the activities of the MM-S-IS Group of Specialists. We welcome being included in the debate as it progresses.
Session: Responsible behaviour by key industry actors
- Can industry actors afford to behave irresponsibly?
No, is the short answer from newspaper publishers. However, there is a specific reasoning in explanation of this. Newspapers count on attracting and keeping as many readers as possible, therefore to act irresponsibly in terms of content is naturally counterproductive, given the modern media consumer’s wide choice of competing titles and other media to turn to.
Newspaper production teams foster an ongoing understanding with their readers. They understand that they are providing the content relating to public demand. Therefore, it is up to the Editor to judge whether or not something is morally or socially suitable for the newspaper’s target audience.
When discussing how newspapers cannot afford to behave irresponsibly, it should be underlined that the newspaper is in the ideal position to effectively self-regulate because it is in close contact with its readership and therefore knows what that readership will reject. If a misjudgement is made, there are already mechanisms in place led by the newspaper industry itself, e.g. press councils, codes of ethical journalistic conduct etc, that allow the matter to be effectively resolved. ENPA would be greatly disappointed to see moves towards new measures led by national authorities that attempt to regulate what is and isn’t “responsible” content for newspapers - this would be unnecessary and deemed to be an interference with the freedom of expression in the press.
- What is the media’s role in relation to society?
The media carry a responsibility to bring new perspectives to an argument or point of view. ENPA notes rather an apt quote by Michael Hastings – Head of Corporate Responsibility at the BBC on the role of the media recently commented in a news article11:
“We are, say those outside, often over-indulgent about our own world. Yet our role is primarily to condense the complexities of the real world into intelligible, digestible chunks and help readers, viewers, listeners and web users make sense for their own lives out of complexity. We exist to look beyond the product - a paper, a programme, a sound, an image, a text. We exist to add wisdom to events, humour to ordinariness, colour to dull days, imagination to routine, authority to information. Above all else the media is not about tangibles - buildings, paper or pages, posters or programme or products. The media is all about intangibles - ideas and information, perspectives and views and those most essential assets of all - facts and truth.”
Therefore, how the media go about providing these intangibles is open to wide interpretation and there is always a small risk that this responsibility can be misinterpreted, but it is wise to weigh up this risk against the alternatives: can people trust successive governments to determine what is and isn’t “responsible” media content. One doubts that administrations will resist from slowly eating away at the liberties of freedom of expression and this is why the core principles of press freedom must be guaranteed in the first place.
ENPA believes that the newspaper plays an essential role in the Information Society, both online and in print. ENPA also believes that children and the wider population need to be equipped with the skills that help them understand the Internet and its resources. In order to appreciate and understand the newspaper as a professional vehicle of freedom of expression, children need careful guidance regarding the newspaper’s purpose and methods of communicating. This is partly the reason why newspapers have built successful partnerships with teachers and educators.
- What human rights responsibilities do industry actors carry?
The question maybe should be that, do industry actors realise the responsibilities that they carry?
Newspapers play a key role in upholding the right to the freedom of expression in democratic society accordingly. However, newspaper publishers appreciate – as a part of their role as a content provider - that the exercise of the human right of freedom of expression carries with it certain duties and responsibilities. The broad declaration of this is included in the European Convention on Human Rights, which has been signed by 46 Council of Europe members.
Newspaper publishers on the one hand hold responsibilities to all their readers, no matter how vulnerable or young or old and it is important that the industry itself reaches out to the readers in a way that the reader can easily comprehend and appreciate. A newspaper’s role can include exposing violations of human rights by certain groups or authorities, to report on and analyse new rights which have been passed by law or to follow court proceedings in the public interest where persons have been charged with a crime, to name but a few important aspects which involve delicate human rights issues. Media’s role in court reporting for example is recognised as ensuring the right to an open and fair trial, as guaranteed by Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights12. The industry also acknowledges that newspapers hold responsibilities towards the people publishers feature in their content, for example respect for private life and family life. A considerable number of countries choose to deal with respect for privacy issues through self-regulation, for example industry ethical codes13, which works effectively.
- How to draw the line between responsibility and irresponsibility? Who draws the line and how is it decided and regulated?
For different newspapers, this is answered in different ways, according to the editorial policy of each newspaper. Again, there is no one-size-fits all approach, but the message is clear that the industry is capable of regulating itself as it already has the ability to analyse objectively its day-to-day activities through various means.
Some newspapers have chosen to employ in-house “ombudsmen”, known under various titles such as “readers editor” or “reader representative” at e.g.”The Guardian” and “The Observer” amongst others in the UK, “Politiken” in Denmark, “Diario de Noticias” in Portugal and “Le Monde” in France, amongst a considerable number of others in other countries. Other newspapers choose to rely on national press councils, other self-regulation structures or their in-house legal departments. Whatever the method chosen, self-regulation structures work integrally with newspapers’ day-to-day activities, generating a continual ethical discussion within the industry itself on the journalistic content of the publications. Therefore, if complaints are received, the industry is well-equipped in looking objectively and speedily at its own structure to resolve the issue. Newspapers encourage complainants to contact the newspapers themselves first to resolve matters including opportunity of reply, follow up, correction, apology etc, and then resort to press councils14 as a method of independent recourse if prior newspaper contact is not satisfactory.
In some countries, some high-profile debates have taken place on corporate social responsibility and the media, involving on a voluntary basis publishing actors. An example in the UK includes Guardian Media Group, Pearson, Reuters and Trinity Mirror15.
However, one cannot deny the responsibilities that have to be carried jointly between educators and parents/guardians. Neither the industry nor the State can be expected to “nanny” the Information Society usage by the child. Although editorial decisions are taken by the editor, newspapers do not presume to take the moral decisions for parents. The emphasis is essential on the role of parents in controlling the content that their children access. For example, the tabloid newspapers popular in UK or Germany for example, whose content is sometimes featuring a naked woman or man or similar, are meant for adults to read in newspapers but this is because this type of content is culturally acceptable in that country. IN a society embracing free expression, it should be recognised that different newspapers address different readers and that the audience knows the editorial line of a paper. The audience therefore expects certain content from certain newspapers. There should not be placed a readership age limit on newspaper content or a standard European content control introduced on any type of newspaper content.
The responsibility lies with parents to use blocking software to control which Internet sites which their children are using – self-regulation and parental responsibility in partnership are the way forward. Children will no doubt from time-to-time use the Internet unsupervised, but this is not a reason for banning certain content. Legal bans on children smoking and drinking alcohol are in place, but this does not lead to the total ban of these products or stop children still finding ways of having access to these products in some unsupervised cases, where the will is there. Newspapers should not, in modern society, where the influences on an individual’s lifestyle are many and varied, be forced by the State to practice a self-censorship of their content.
- Do key actors do enough for media education?
The fact that people have so much information available to them through the print medium and moreover, the Internet, should be appreciated in this discussion. The basis for debate should be launched from this point. People, particularly minors and their parents need to be educated as to the range of content which is available on the Internet so that they will know how to navigate information sources. ENPA opposes any action at European level which would impose common limiting standards on what newspapers can report on in editorial content.
ENPA believes that newspapers’ own voluntary actions are “enough”, although we realise that publishers are admittedly only one part of a huge media and content industry. However, we do believe in the effectiveness of voluntary industry action in such a field as a tool which not only increases industry competitiveness but also engenders motivation and best practice. ENPA rejects the cynic’s view that newspapers only get involved because of their desire to increase sales amongst young people. There are many strategic reasons why newspapers believe they should play an active role in the community and inform people of the newspaper’s role in society. As a 1999 World Association of Newspapers Study highlighted, most sites belonged to the editorial or Newspaper in Education16 dedicated departments, not the marketing departments of newspapers17.
We wish to inform the Council of Europe on some examples of what is already being done by newspapers to inform people how the freedom of expression in journalism is exercised and how newspaper websites are devoting several of their pages especially for younger readers. Newspaper publishers believes that there is as much, if not more value to be drawn from highlighting the positive aspects of the Information Society to people, as there is in trying to crack down on or ban certain themes of content.
Below are some of the practices already used by newspapers to educate their readership, particularly young people, inform about how and why they report in the way they do in the interests of producing genuine debate in society and the ways in which people can draw genuine educative value from the newspaper as a product, whether online or in print:
- Students which have had contact with Newspapers in Education projects have learnt a variety of skills: to be able to critically assess information, basic literacy and writing skills, mastering of research through information and resources, understanding different writing styles, etc.
- Students involved in Newspaper in Education projects are also learning about how to write effective journalistic pieces and raise their awareness about writing letters to the newspaper Editor on issues of local or national importance to them, within their rights as citizens to express their opinion freely.
- A World Association of Newspapers study found in 1999 that 8 out of 10 Newspaper in Education projects are aimed at educators, 6 out of 10 projects are aimed at young people and just over 3 out of 10 are aimed at other users, notably parents18.
Country by country:
- UK: Princes Trust reporting award for young people used to exist. However, Newspapers in Education has become such an integral part of the local newspaper industry in UK, that each newspaper often has its own education representative, rather than a national programme coordinated from a central office. One example is during the UK’s Local Newspaper Week 2005: “The Birmingham Evening Mail linked up with a local school and invited pupils to write about the issues that affect them as young people. They also ran an article on ChildLine and highlighted campaigns that had been run by the newspaper.19
- Hungary20: The publishers of regional newspapers (circa.19 newspapers) and an economic weekly are following the Newspaper in Education programme in various ways. One of the leading national quality newspaper publishers under the umbrella of Hungarian Newspaper Publishers’ Association did a one month pilot (in April 2005) in 12 schools with one title (among 14-15 year olds). The feedback from the project was very positive. In every school there was a teacher responsible for the programme and they read and discussed the newspaper in details. The children also visited the editorial office and prepared and edited their own newspapers. The next steps should be to increase and widen this activity which would need a timeplan of minimum three years and the financial means attached.
- Belgium: Previously, the role of the Internet as a tool for finding and discovering first leads on a particular topic or indeed looking for more in-depth information has been used - quoting the example of newspaper Le Rappel’s “the Cyber Bus” in September 1996, whereby a bus in partnership with other electronic actors IBM and Belgium Telecom, brought the Internet on a bus to pupils’ schools, so they can learn what it is and how to use it21. Since then (actually since 1994), Belgian newspaper education has increased to the launch of “La Quinzaine de la Presse” in 2004-2005. In this latest project, newspapers are delivered to schools and pupils are taken through specialised teaching packs by their teachers, the theme for which in 2005 has taught pupils to appreciate the actions which contribute to good citizenship as well as appreciate the multiple functions of a newspaper22.
- Denmark: The Jyllands-Posten newspaper is also involved in projects in its new centre since 1996 designed “to demonstrate to students the need for a free press in a democratic society”. 23 It has two “Mediarium” centres, one in its home town/city of publication and one in Copenhagen. The large regional newspaper "Fyens Stiftstidende" also has a "MediaLab", which is brand new.
- France: A large-scale project « l'Association Régions Presse-Enseignement Jeunesse (ARPEJ) » is run through the SPQR (Syndicat de la Presse Quotidienne Régionale) for media education purposes and has existed since 1977. It involves all 33 members of the Syndicat. More information at: http://www.spqr.fr/spqr.asp?topic=7&id=1 . One example is www.ouestfrance-ecole.com which uses material such as “Pourquoi un journal?” to explain the reason for and importance of the press.
- Finland24: Finns believe that the best way to develop critical media literacy is by producing a newspaper oneself. For many years already, newspapers have offered schools within their respective circulation areas server space to help schools produce their own online papers (class papers or school papers), in addition to helping them edit these pages. The service is free of charge. The school online papers’ addresses are linked to the newspaper’s web site in question25. The first version of the Junior Journalist online degree programme was produced by the Finnish Newspapers Association in 1997. Participants can try their hands at various tasks related to the making of a newspaper. More information at: www.edu.fi/oppimateriaalit/juniorijournalisti. A tool in Finland called MagazineFactory will also be produced in English. The new version facilitates genuine international collaboration with a foreign school, enabling schools participating in the European eTwinning school partnership programme to use the multilingual MagazineFactory web tool together with their European partner schools.
- Sweden: The Swedish newspapers Dagens Nyheter, Expressen and Aftonbladet all have their own "Media Centers", that school classes and youth can visit to see and understand how a newspaper is produced and published through different channels. As early as 1997, the Hallensposten regional newspaper set up a media centre where the public can find out more about the multimedia environment and the Internet.
- Many other newspapers not mentioned here and also in a variety of different countries are also active in “Newspapers in Education” projects, which are too numerous to mention here but equally worthwhile projects.
- ENPA also refers interested parties to a wealth of good examples of active media education which are presented in the European Journalism Centre’s publication as part of the Melici Project “Media Literacy Connecting Citizens II”, (particularly pages 59 to 64 and 69 to 72), which explains about and uses case studies of newspapers which are taking initiatives all over Europe to bring new literacy skills, new Internet and ICT skills to students.
- What more can be done, with examples?
ENPA thinks that of course there can always be more room for improvement in media education. Newspaper publishers are continually looking at how they can improve their Newspaper in Education programmes. Although such programmes for Internet education are still relatively young in real terms, they build upon constructive feedback received in programme evaluation exercises. For example, the World Association of Newspapers recently sent a survey to participating Newspaper in Education projects and reported the results in the publication “Media Literacy Connecting Citizens II”26. They found that 53% of newspapers expected growth in their programmes, with 6% indicating the contrary and 35% expecting major changes in the next three years. Results also showed from the same questionnaires that the service would continue with modest changes (44%) or extensive changes (9%)27.
In conclusion, an approach which is carefully developed by the industry and educators’ partnership, encouraged by governments, rather than statutory regulation of content is the right approach to simultaneously ensure that freedom of expression can prevail undamaged. National authorities should also not undervalue the role and judgment of parents in deciding at home what their children can and can’t watch.
It would be reasonable to take a “fluid” approach by encouraging inbuilt effective evaluation mechanisms of current projects on media education to tackling this subject since the media are constantly innovating with new forms of content and different regions are set in different traditions; there is no one-size-fits-all policy.
Other resources not referenced/mentioned specifically elsewhere in this paper:
www.ejc.nl (European Journalism Centre and Melici Project base)
ENPA contribution to debates of MM-S-IS meeting in Strasbourg, of April 2005. (Participant Santha Rasaiah, PERA Director, Newspaper Society, UK).
Brussels, August 2005.
* * *
A socially just and inclusive information society cannot be built unless all major actors have a fundamental respect for the interests and needs of citizens and a commitment to protecting and enhancing their human rights and freedoms.
These comments are not meant to be inclusive, they are offered simply as a few points that might contribute to a broader discussion.
One responsibility on the information industry is to recognize that technologies are not simply ‘neutral’ tools to be employed but represent, from their inception, assumptions and values about what individuals and societies need and want, and therefore contain assumptions about what kind of information society is being built.
A related responsibility is to take seriously this social and cultural dimension of technology and to participate in constructive dialogue with other actors, especially when concerns are raised about the use to which technologies are being put and their effects on the exercise of human rights.
A major responsibility of governments is to ensure that information technologies are accessible to all citizens. They have a particular responsibility to assist those who are most disadvantaged and vulnerable.
Governments also have a responsibility to maintain viable public spaces within the information society so that knowledge is widely shared. There is abroad public interest in ensuring that as much information as possible is freely available in the public domain. In this respect the importance of public service and non-profit community media should be underlined.
In addition to creating and upholding regulatory regimes that support human rights and freedoms, governments should actively collaborate with other actors to promote and support initiatives that will enable citizens to make better informed decisions and choices. A commitment to comprehensive media literacy is essential.
The media have a very important responsibility as providers of news and information, particularly in providing the ‘contexts’ in which events and actions are presented and evaluated. In so far as media fail to provide the proper context for news events or deliberately or otherwise distort ( for example, by the use of emotive and misleading language) that context (even if the event, for example, is reported straight) they fail to serve their public.
In times of heightened tension and fears and of mistrust of minorities or different groups, the lack of responsible interpretative context can be not only offensive but actually dangerous.
Another vital responsibility is that of scrutinising the actions of the powerful, including the media themselves. Effective scrutiny, however, will not be possible if the media do not allocate sufficient resources to enable journalists to undertake serious investigation.
Civil society organizations have the responsibility to be advocates for the public interest and the common good, but they must be wary of identifying particular sectoral interests with that common good. They have responsibility to inform the citizens and help them through providing resources and tools to voice their views and opinions and so increase participation in the shaping of the information society.
Civil society organizations should have a special interest in advocating policies and programmes that benefit the most marginal in society.
In the area of media and digital literacy, in particular, civil society organizations could do more to pool resources and collaborate effectively.
* * *
Brain And Mass-Media
The role of information in human development and the responsibilities of Institutions for a right use of mass communication tools
Let’s plan together the world we want. Let us overcome the tyranny of memories which conspire to be right at any cost. Let us recognize a common human dignity through dialogue and comparison, as the conflict between ideas leads to discord and war. Let us put the past behind us and cooperate together for the wellbeing of all, taking from the past only that which is useful for the present . Our reasons are useless if they only generate conflict. Only values can produce an evolution in consciousness. Awareness of values results in just deeds and creates wisdom, and it is only the wise who can rule mankind. Marginalizing the wise offends dignity and generates discord, conflict, wars with great pain for everyone. We do not wish pain upon ourselves, so let us use in the best way our intelligence in order to build our happiness.
1. Neuropsychophysiology of communication
Communication is the essential basis of life in all its endless forms. Every physical system in the Universe constantly exchanges Energy. Energy exchange is linked to the principle of conservation of energy according to which, nothing can be created or destroyed: everything can only be transformed from one form to another. In fact Information, by informing, produces coherent transformations, i.e. when a system receives energy, it modifies its own internal activity, producing a new emission of energy. Such a process maintains a dynamic balance between systems and the evolution of the universe. The human brain is a perfect physical system which, since birth, constantly exchanges energy with the environment, i.e. communicates with its surroundings. The senses organs are the transducers of the various forms of energy transmitted to the brain by the environment: these energies modulate the brain producing emotions, rationality, creativity and consciousness. The quality of information, i.e. of the various forms of energy, determines the quality of consciousness. Unfortunately, we lack today a knowledge explaining the physiology of conscience. This leads to a distorted, equivocal, instrumental communication engendering illusions, expectations and planning which nearly always denies and offenses human dignity as well as human rights in general.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights represents a “summa” of the qualitative informational foundations which must guide communication in order to favour the development of a conscience based, centred and determined by such values. Communication in the respect of human rights combines all information to define dignity, as the absolute value of the life of every human being on Earth, freedom, as the continuous search for knowledge regarding both the person and the surrounding environment, and justice, based on knowledge, which allows the individual to communicate in the respect of those values the person recognizes in him/herself and thus to other people.
“Conditio sine qua non” to overcome whatever "communication barrier" is the knowledge of the human being in his/her psychophysical and spiritual integrity, of the higher functions of his/her brain and of how the conscious Ego, who has to lead human behaviour and communication in respect of human right foundations, develops inside the brain.
To communicate means to put in common. But what is important to put in common?
Not banal, repetitive, conditioning, conflictual information, but an information aimed to build, reflect, grow. It is important to put in common that wealth of experiences each one of us does, and that allow to widen the knowledge of both ourselves and the world, to put in common emotions and feelings in syntony with Nature's harmony.
Information is energy, and we must learn to exchange it each other to increase our "wealth" levels. All human beings bear experiences and knowledge that represent their true wealth. How can they exchange them? By communication codes. Therefore, the problem is knowing such communication codes, being able to use them properly understanding them, and being aware that they are only "tools" that do not add or subtract nothing to the human beings in their potential immensity.
Human soul resides inside the brain, and in the human soul we find the person, his/her emotions, experiences, life. In order of favouring the expression of whatever human being, it is necessary to send him/her stimuli opening those doors generally closed since birth by our kind of culture and society: it blocks them, engenders fears, anxiety, expectations, conditionings, produces situations really inhibiting for the human soul. We can say that this is a society which does not educates, as it does not know what Education means, but conditions. To Educate means to bring out human being's potentialities favouring the development of the conscious Ego. It is exactly the contrary than to instruct, condition, inhibit, block, "tame" a person to make her obey to formally shared schemes, rules and social patterns.
Neuropsychophysiology allows to notice the dynamism of physical events gradually leading the child to express his/her potentialities towards adult age. The key of that dynamism is linked to the knowledge of communication and information modulating the development of consciousness. In this field, even if great tools have been created to strengthen communication, in fact very little is known on information stimulating consciousness or instead conditions, blocks, limits, enslaves human beings to "will" violating the right to life, to self-determination, to self-esteem, to the formation of a conscience capable to love life itself. This lack of knowledge favoured an highly competitive political, economic, social and cultural process, antithetic to the fundamental values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Instead of affirming equal dignities we continue to perpetuate a system in which power is not a service but domination, subduing of will (and when shrewdness is not enough on tries with coercion and punishment, elements offending human dignity). A system still dominated by the law of the strongest, where who has more logico-rational capabilities, more ability, more fine appearance, more money, more power emerges, to the detriment of who is "materially" weaker and less endowed of those qualifications which became so important in the society in which we live.
In order to be able to overcome communication barriers and to achieve a society where the respect for equal dignity is granted, the starting point is knowing how human consciousness is developed and the limits to its development. The main limits are represented by conditionings, patterns, rules and "myths" proposed (and imposed) by present culture. They altogether "imprison" the brain and prevent people to communicate with their surroundings in respect for the natural laws which fulfil the principle of love, respect and harmony. Thus let's try to discover again and use Nature codes, which are the most important existing codes to understand the human being and the deep meaning of life.
Another point to stress is that we must be careful not to mix communication with transmission. Television, for instance, transmits but does not communicate, it does not communicate with anyone, it sends into houses an infinity of information, often "driven" and conditioning. The audience must accept like it is, obviously with the faculty of listening in a critical way in order to evaluate the validity degree or to change channel, but have no possibility of saying: "I do not agree" or anyway, to express their thoughts in a real communication. Human communication implies an interaction between individuals, aimed to exchange energy and a mutual enrichment, by information that are respectful for the person's dignity. We need to deeply understand what is information: information is life, it is the exchange money of life. And we should be aware that every word may "destroy" or "build", may be banal or harmonious, may be heavy or solve problems. Therefore, when communicating, we should bear clear in mind our goal where we recognize both ourselves and the others, aimed to human evolution, that is the ultimate sense of Life.
In synthesis, we may say that substantially what counts are the intrinsic potentialities to every birth, whose value cannot be classified on the basis of functional patterns to social systems. The true purpose of the biologic birth is to allow a second birth, the birth of conscience. As the individual develops his/her potentialities, he/she must be able to recognize him/herself as an unique and not repeatible being, and learn to manage and drive his/her brain and body, independently of eventual limitations, in search of everything enriches his/her own conscience.
2. To educate to a proper use of mass-media
To be able to use whatever tool, a child has to know the tool itself and understand both its potential and goal. Every means that society, technology and science put at our disposal has its own usefulness, its aim. If we do not use that means according to the very aim it has been created for, we risk to cause damages. As taking a drug for a different situation from the prescribed one can cause harmful effects on the user, in the same way television, computer, internet, everything produced by us has collateral effects if not used in the right way.
An improper use of computers has already produced pathologies, classified according the symptoms they produce specially in children and young peoples, serious symptoms such as insomnia, excitement, anxiety, aggressiveness, lack of motivation to study, learning disorders, social troubles, that are all worrying signs of a massive information that jeopardizes the harmonious development of children, teenagers, young people.
It is precisely the lack of deep knowledge on the personality and individuality development processes, and on how the various kind of information may favour or jeopardize it, that unfortunately forbids to create new generations able to reduce the conflicting chaos existing in families, society, school, in every sector. As a result, we are assisting "powerless" to all this chaos and projects and initiatives have to be promoted for the improvement of private and public functions oriented to a social regeneration, and to the quality of life of both individuals and societies.
At birth inside the human brain we have a wonderful project foreseeing the realisation of an individual able to acquire consciousness of both him/herself and the environment, and to act fully respecting the fundamental values common to every human being of the planet, i.e. the values of dignity, freedom, justice, love. But then it's up to family, school, society in its whole to allow to carry out this project or to provoke a sort of "abortion".
Unfortunately present educational systems do not help the development of a strong and conscious Ego in the child enabling him/her to grow free, autonomous, able to consciously and creatively manage him/herself with positive relationships with the surroundings, to make aware choices on the basis of universal values. This is not a pessimistic view, but it is very real. Many teenagers are nowadays as "drifting mines", they were not yet able to develop a conscious Ego to drive them through the chaos in which they are immersed. To make available for them powerful tools capable of satisfying often conditioned and induced needs means to risk to engender very difficult situations for all, for children and for families. It is enough to think how many minors are hooked, violated and raped by suspicious people who, with sly programmes drag them in their sites leading them where they want. This unfortunately happens because anyone can drive our brain until we become able to consciously manage it Children and young people, in the first place, are not fully able to protect themselves and avoid those who use shrewdness to reach aims that are antithetical to the basic values of a democratic society.
We are experts in this field and are available for whatever initiative useful to stop the spreading chaos, and to give tools for the formation of both individual citizens and the different professions and institution with training courses aimed to update qualification in public and private functions. Society must become responsible towards the new generations, also watching over the tools one puts at their disposal, this should be the "battle horse" of institutions. It is not possible that families are responsible for every problem of youth, problems mostly produced by a society not understanding and not helping them to realize themselves, to know themselves, to ripen, to grow, to develop their autonomy and consciousness.
Present communication means are not to be demonised, but enhanced. The more they are powerful, the more they can be useful to improve the quality of life, on condition that one knows their potential and their proper use, otherwise is like to give a knife to a enraged child... Internet is a very powerful communication means allowing to spread initiatives, information, projects, useful works for the quality of our life. But what I am going to look for on Internet if I am stressed, apathetic, "annoyed"? Something to make apathy, suffering, anxiety, anguish pass. It is the same mechanism pushing an "unsatisfied" boy to look for drugs, exciting situations, "games" to divert his attention, motorcycle races to feel strong, powerful respected.
We must consider the strong degree of “conflictuality” inside many families, conflicts between parents and children, between brother and sister, with oneself. If we do not give to people, both children and adults, right tools to solve their problems, it is clear they shall continue to look for distractions and compensations wherever they can find them. The situation is not going to improve "eliminating" Internet, television, videogames or other things. Teachers of all school levels must be well prepared to introduce their students to a correct use of every technological and cultural tool that school or society may offer, and they must be able to detect symptoms and signs calling for intervention and rehabilitation.
Among the various f
orms of teenagers uneasiness, the lack of motivation is among the main ones. It largely stems from the very strong drumming of mass-media, often propagandizing "to have everything immediately": success, beauty, power, fine appearance, superiority, negative competition... Mass-media thus become, in many cases, containers without content, unfortunately enormously stimulating what can be learned, obtained, "consumed" very rapidly. Information useful for the growing of consciousness it is not quick, but rather it leads to a reflection. Instead television and nearly all media now stimulate in most cases the non reflection, the quick learning of something that can be burned immediately like sugar, but is void of fundamental "substances" for the growth and wellbeing of a person, substances that at the organic level are proteins, vitamins, mineral salts, and, at a psychological level, are information promoting evaluation, self-criticism, enlarged view, growth, conscience.
Our brain is divided into two hemispheres, and neuropsychophysiology stresses that a “fast” information is processed and stored in memory mainly by the left hemisphere. The same type of information (fast) “blocks” the right hemisphere therefore preventing the synergetic work of the two hemispheres. A false relationship with emotions derives, as in many cases one gets used since childhood to get excited with stimuli linked to an artificial world depriving the person of the "physiological" emotions produced by the natural world. And if we monitor cerebral activity with techniques like brain mapping, we see that a fast, repetitive, "empty" information is unable to activate neither the frontal lobes of the brain, where volition, evaluation, reflection reside (that is, the anatomic location of the conscious Ego), nor the right hemisphere where creativity, emotionality, broadmindedness, spatiality reside.
Neuropsychophysiology permits us to analyze this process scientifically. The left hemisphere of human brain stores the type of information that can be defined as "everything right away", i.e. words and images associated to immediate pleasure, which are not the result of a direct experience of the individual. This means that the left hemisphere is conditioned to search for artificial emotions (built “ad hoc” to produce desire, excitement, attention, need, dependence) that can be evoked by sly messages recalling them automatically. This condition is 1) conflictual with the right hemisphere activity, where instead every information produces an objective information and not an artificial pre-constituted association, 2) does not allow to activate functions as volition, ideation and planning, proper of the frontal areas of the brain, but 3) favours the continuous "primer" , without the individual's awareness, of mind automatisms. too often responsible of the rise of mental disorders of various nature.
When communicating, we have to take into account the cerebral physiology and how information can stimulate globally or partially the brain, in order to avoid to use information and stimuli that weaken the expression of the human being. The two cerebral hemispheres represent two different but complementary aspects of human reality, and if one of them is limited or stifled, the individual experiences worry, anxiety and stress. An artificial information, empty of objective and targeted contents, "subdued" to consumerism logic, engenders inside the human being a conflict between the two realities of the person, between the two parts of the brain, between artificial and natural world. This is a tearing conflict expressing with many symptoms (anxiety, depression, dissatisfaction, search for "dizziness") and that can be only solved developing a conscious individuality able to manage information and stimulations, so that the individual can become a subject and no longer an object of situations he or she are living.
Another serious problem is the addiction to communication tools, computer, and videogames. How can computer dependence arise? It can occur because "immerge oneself" in a “computer environment” means to remove oneself from thoughts engendering suffering, to create a break from everyday problems, to isolate oneself in a pseudo-reality not asking for efforts to be understood , to mediate, manage and face interpersonal difficulties. A protected communication can so be preferred to individual relationships, to clash and meeting, to a real dialogue anyway leading to the individual's growth. It is near impossible to teach and transmit to young people the importance of even antithetical dialogue, which allows learning to "live democracy", learning to plead a cause, learning to fight for an ideal, always in the respect for diversity.
Unfortunately “interacting" with a computer brings up to be passive and reduces social interactions, real and not assertive ones. But this does not concern only computer or internet, because the whole system accustoms to passivity, to non intervention, to non "work". Most information provided since early childhood is rarely aimed to the full development of the human being, by fulfilling the basic life's aim that is to work for evolution, for the growth of all systems, individuals, families and societies included.
We are all involved as the future of our society is at stake, human relations, more and more undermined by the logic of profit and always less aimed to live, to believe in something, to plan something inside an useful and constructive target, are dramatically at stake. "Normality" concept itself is misleading. Which normality is one looking for or defending? The normality of human beings enslaved to ideas given with Pavlov's hand-bells, with support and punishment, with false targets creating terrible expectations, or that of men and women who, even suffering, try little by little to express themselves? Suffering but also with joy for the results, for what they started to build, for the project they undertaken to carry out with r strength and energy. Thus, if man's aim is to free one's energy from conditionings to acquire freedom and conscience, the communication system, with all linked tools, must take it into account in order to favour and promote the creative expression of human beings and their continuous growth.
3. Potentialities and risks in computer use
The negative effects of a wrong use of computers are age-dependent. Many researches verified that, for instance, that between 2 and 6 years learning needs the use of all five senses, as the exploration of a virtual world limits (and even blocks, sometimes) social interaction, direct experience, and this causes, in turn, alterations of the physiological development of some cerebral areas. Learning to be linked to images before than to people engenders an alteration in the process of knowledge of the real world and of real emotions. In schooling age risks are engendered by the reduction of motivation, because one should choose a straining activity instead of one giving quick and immediate gratifications. Therefore computer use should be limited to targets coming after other priorities (family, friends, sport, etc.).
It is well known that the viewers of a computer or of a TV-monitor risk to fall into a "near-to-hypnosis" status. EEG studies show this effect resulting in the inhibition of cerebral activity. The psychological consequences are serious, as children and teenagers learn to passively accept artificial information and emotions and they will depend on them, as they follow at "high speed" pre-formed paths without a personal goal and unable to produce experience-based thoughts.
Navigating in the web children are subject to many risks, among them pornography, fraud and pedophily. Unfortunately, concerning the so-called chat-lines, the main problem is they are used by adults who lie, as they are not seen, saying they are children while they are not. On-line navigation produces abstraction from reality, causes people to lose sight of both the objective reality and its goal, because in most cases who in on the other side gives an altered image of his/her reality, expressing his/her impracticable desires, aspirations, deformations, etc. The effects on the cognitive development of children and young people are dangerous and the risk of being trapped into devious systems with a total lack of control on the part of families is evident.
The problem of a not right use of chat-lines must be well clarified, as there is another risk for children: dissociation from the objective reality and its goal leading to build up an "abstract reality" in which one takes shelter but loses contact with the dynamism of the real life with all its nuances, unforeseen events, diversities. We must bear in mind that human brain needs to perceive as much as possible concrete and natural reality. The ideal should be to live from zero to 6 years old in contact with nature, so to have physiological stimuli from natural world. As we already largely demonstrated with Physics of Information (Basic Course in the Psychotherapy Neuropsychophysiological oriented Specialization School), every information carries in itself a quantity of energy stimulating our cerebral functions. Information promotes and directs personality, emotions, brain development in its globality. Everything is "physical" in our universe, everything transmits information. Every information can be measured by physics laws, and our brain is potentially able to "measure them" if put in position to do so, i.e. to verify the “objectivity” and the “aim”, the harmony or the disharmony of an information.
Every technological tool produced by us was first conceived, thought and then carried out. When conceiving and carrying out computer we tried to imitate a part of our brain. We can thus say that our brain contains all realizable technology at theoretical and substantial level, and then it reproduces it outside itself. But the creator, producer is "it", and "it" must be able to use the produced tools.
As the brain must be able to use the technological and cultural tools it produces, so the conscious Ego must be able to manage the brain and all its memories. The brain represents the most sophisticated tool available for human beings to develop and enrich one’s consciousness and to produce a culture that is useful for evolution. We can now draw a parallel between computer and brain: if I insert in a computer chaotic, artificial, useless data, not favouring the harmonious development of its users, it becomes more harmful than useful, and I infringe the ultimate goal for which it was produced. Likewise if children’s brains are stimulated with un-physiological information, dangerous for their harmonious development and consciousness, those children (and those people) will be hampered in carrying on the purpose whereby they are born, that is to say, to become aware of their potentials, of their tools, of the surrounding world, and to acquire a creative autonomy in the relationship with the environment.
At birth the brain represents an immense project with huge potentialities to develop geniality and wisdom, but often these potentialities are limited by "damages" produced by the environment (due to ignorance and not guilt). In fact in most cases we still follow a kind of "education" which denies to the human being the possibility of developing geniality and wisdom. It is a pseudo-education not favouring the harmonious, global, creative, autonomous development. This is due to the lack of clearness on the substantial difference between education and instruction: education aims to "educere", bringing out human potentials and shaping a true consciousness; instruction aims to provide consciousness with processing and communication tools. In absence of this clearness the whole process is altered and the individuals, instead of acquiring and improving the ability to implement the instructions provided, identify themselves with the instructions they stored in memory. Without a conscious Ego, memories become the "owners" of a person and, according to what memory is evoked, the answer is automatic, thus setting apart that person’s volition, and autonomy of evaluation and decision-making. That's why in the field of neurosciences it is still pointed out that people use a small percentage of their brain, because it is enough that a stimulus recalls the memory of a pleasant, exciting or, on the contrary, painful situation to produce behaviour of search for or avoiding it. This can be observed with PET, that shows exactly the areas working when a person has a determined thought or makes a determined action.
"Immersing" in this chaotic world an human being who has not yet developed an ability of looking for, evaluating, choosing, deciding, wanting, means to expose him/her to problems of various kind, from the difficulty of constructively relate with other to the development of addiction to everything giving pleasure. From a neuropsychophysiological point of view, there is no difference between drug- and computer addiction: in both cases the cerebral areas involved are the same, as addiction is caused by a whatever sense of "well-being", excitement, feeling good. Addiction exists in that the pleasure comes from outside, it is not a pleasure produced by the person. This can be linked to the difference between subject and object we mentioned before. Internet and videogames are perfectly able to offer excitement and pleasure because, unfortunately, they are also controlled by shrewd people who continue to produce software and sites to hook those (mostly young people) who do not know the means they are using and the goal whereby they are using it.
Human brain has two forms of intelligence: the intelligence of the left hemisphere, that we recreated in computers, consisting in the ability of data processing in a rational, logic, mathematical way; and the intelligence of the right hemisphere, consisting in the ability of identifying reality objectively and its aim. We have two hemispheres because the right one identifies physical reality on the basis of its genetic characters, while the left one can learn whatever information, strategy, code, can store whatever from which it can earn a "prize" or avoid a "punishment". As an extreme example, I can be a man but assert to be a woman, if I receive an advantage or am conditioned, and I can also be convinced of it developing a real form of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a dissociation from reality, produced through isolation of the left hemisphere functionality, developing a perfect in itself logic, but torn away from both the dynamism and concreteness of reality.
In order to avoid whatever dissociation from reality it is necessary to fulfil, through education, a process of human, biological, social, psychological identification. In the first place, children must be able to identify in themselves, then they must be enabled to manage their potentials, to know and use the very precious tool that is their brain: finally, nobody and nothing will ever be able to drag them in dangerous situations.
This is not an "alarmist description", but an analysis to stress determined risks, dangers and negative aspects that normally are not properly seen or considered. We repeat that children, in order to use internet or whatever else communication means, must have the clearness of themselves as subjects as well as the clearness of the aim for which they use those tools, otherwise they risk very much, they risk to be trapped by people capable to hook their brain and to take the place of their will.
TV fiction also often has very problematic aspects, as within it problems are created and solved indicating possible solution strategies. In evolutionary age it is not easy to distinguish fiction from reality. Therefore when children and teenagers live problems similar to those watched in TV, their brains are automatically led to carry on the same solution strategies learned from the fiction.
Specific effects produced on children by computer use were the object of many researches, which have shown neuropsychophysiological mechanisms at the ground of the process of addiction and behaviour modification in evolutionary age produced by videogames and internet use. It has been recently proven that videogames stimulate the activity of cerebral areas associated with the visual and movement function. This involves in children a block of aggressive behaviour inhibiting mechanisms. Potentially antisocial attitudes are no more stopped because cerebral activity produced by videogames use weakens the functioning of areas inhibiting aggressiveness. Synthetically, development of some cerebral areas is slowed down, with a reduction of the control function over socially dangerous behaviours. The exposure to violence, the content fragmentation, the lack of links with real world, the strong artificial emotional component, the sequence of strong contrasts, sounds and answer rapidity to an order, produce a pathological attention status we may call excitement, reduced creativity, increase of aggressive behaviours. All this can also be shown as dependence syndrome, with difficulty to stop, reduction of social relations, generalized anxiety, reduced capability of concentrating on other activities, sleep troubles, increase of antisocial behaviours. Our clinical and educational experience suggests that it is necessary to counterbalance these damaging effects by fostering the functioning of the children frontal lobes, such as planning, volition, decision-making, regulation and modulation of behaviour and thought as well as of emotion.
Pathology from computer use is a "normal" event if risk factors are not considered such as: 1) users age; 2) their psychological features, that may be accentuated or favour a real psychological trouble; 3) content fairness in relation to the user's psychological development. In reality internet use cannot absolutely exclude these risk factors, because it is impossible to exert a control as well as because children and teenagers can easily reach dangerous contents even after a few minutes of casual navigation. Uneasiness is an aggravating factor favouring an adverse computer effect, but already in normal conditions an alteration of the cognitive development of the child is unavoidably determined. We deem that at present we cannot rely on a sure use of computers in the developmental age because we do not yet have enough information on their effects on the brain, and thus because of the undiscriminated abuse of this means without awareness or competence of its driver.
The computer can stimulate cognitive functions: children who interact using a computer in reality interact with culture, with other human beings living on the other side of the planet, something they could not do directly. Therefore it is a means that reduces distances, permitting people to communicate. But when a right goal and proper competences are lacking, it is easy to overcome limits strongly putting at risk mental and physical health of children and youth.
The problems linked to the use of mass-media in the society of information are only one aspect of the much larger problem of Education. The revision of Education is a top priority given the enormous quantity of pathological information that every day pours on children. Information - mostly produced by mass-media - that, instead of helping the expression of their potentials, stifles them and engenders deep conflicts between "nature" and "culture", that is, between human physiology and the result of human activities, between the need to develop one’s own critical consciousness and the capability to use the technological tools.
Let's start from the data more and more heavily emerging in every field of life to prepare projects aiming to stop present degeneration and to promote an effective healing of society. It is everyone's task to give Institutions clear and concrete indications on what has to be done to try to stop this avalanche of lack of motivation, uneasiness, environmental, social, human unbalance.
We are reporting a reality bound to worsen if interventions capable of healing it are not started. Unfortunately the big economic interests too often stop good intentions and good projects. We have to choose if we want a society where life has really a meaning and where one can feel and express the joy of living, or if we want a society at "rich", beautiful", successful one's" measure, with some pleasant moments, and then look defenceless at the biological, psychological and existential degeneration of societies, mainly highly technologically developed ones.
* * *
Information Society is today's society where the information is its main purpose, but also the instrument that enables further developing of the Society. Advantageous is an individual or a group who owns the information, because everyday fight for the personal goals is more and more driven by possessed information.
In present situation where the technology develops faster than the supporting social infrastructure – juridical, political or defence, and when it is hard to stop the spreading of the technology, governments have to assure that this spreading will be evenly and standardized.
We are all aware of the fact that global Information Society fosters human rights and freedom. Nevertheless, it also hides the threat to actualize those rights and freedom. Developing of the new information technologies resulted with creating a system which enables mass monitoring, mobile crosstalk control and interception of data; its permanent storage on digital media and linking to other data. Seems troublesome that a lot of information technologies can be used for tracking the dissenters, political opponents, human rights activists, journalists etc. Those technologies can also be used in creating a complex file of the citizens, not only by the government institutions, inquisitive hackers or malevolent criminals, but also for the private sector which can use those technologies for their commercial purposes.
Additional problems which could cause contempt of privacy with informatical and communication technology users, comes from software errors, security weaknesses in Internet communication protocols and hidden possibilities of the existing software. In the world of constant technological changes it is more and more hard to predict how could some new innovation enable or disable users (in this respect, electronic industry manufacturers contribute sometimes with insufficiently tested products which they already launched to the market).
Informatization introduction makes personal privacy more dangerous than ever. The role of the government and international community should be – along with stimulating developing of the Information Society – implementing of clear regulatory mechanism for protection of human rights, as well as protection of privacy and intellectual property. It is important to find the balance between protection of human rights on one hand, and access capability of the information, on the other hand. Governments and international society have to define and harmonize regulations and standards on protecting the individuals by comparison with abusing information (spreading of the inconceivable content). Also, governments and international society should take care that public sector shouldn't be omitted with (further) developing of the Information Society.
Key question in this subject and the goal we should all try to accomplish as soon as possible is that Information Society becomes attainable to everyone and everywhere in the same way, so it could become from global Society a universal one.
* * *
Declaration of the Committee of Ministers of Human Rights and the Rule of Law in the Information Society (CM(2005)56 final) of 13 May 2005 urges private sector actors to play a role in upholding and promoting human rights, such as freedom of expression and the respect of human dignity. As it is very accurately stated in the Declaration – “This role can be fulfilled most effectively in partnership with governments and civil society”.
Private sector actors are invited to establish and further broaden the scope of codes of conduct and other forms of self-regulation for the promotion of human rights through ICTs.
Private sector actors are also invited to initiate and develop self- and co-regulatory measures on the right to private life and private correspondence, as well as on the issue of upholding freedom of expression and communication.
The Declaration underlines two major areas of problems that private sector actors may promote the respect for human rights: privacy and freedom of expression.
The Declaration pays particular attention to the private sector actors responsibilities in respect to the privacy. “Private sector actors should pay particular attention to the following current issues:
- the collection, processing and monitoring of traffic data;
- the monitoring of private correspondence via e-mail or other forms of electronic communication;
- the right to privacy in the work place;
- camera observation;
- biometric identification;
- malware, including spam;
- the collection and use of genetic data and genetic testing.”
With regard to freedom of expression and communication, private sector actors are encouraged to address in a decisive manner the following issues:
- hate speech, racism and xenophobia and incitation to violence in a digital environment such as the Internet;
- private censorship (hidden censorship) by Internet service providers, for example blocking or removing content, on their own initiative or upon the request of a third party;
- the difference between illegal content and harmful content.
Finally, private sector actors are urged to participate in the combat against virtual trafficking of child pornography images and virtual trafficking of human beings.
Is there any possibility to implement the main ideas of Declaration into practice of the private sector actors life?
Unfortunately it shall be said that this possibility is totally up to the actors themselves. Most of the key industry players do recognize their public (or social) responsibility for the respect to privacy and freedom of expression. But there is no mechanism which would make it possible to control the responsible behaviour of the key players.
Different European states face different problems regarding the implementation of the mentioned responsibility. For example, self-regulation is on a high level in Germany, though no self-regulation is found in Lithuania, and no self-regulation is allowed in Belarus.
It means that different approaches for the different states (or societies) shall be encouraged.
For example, Lithuanian government as the main public player shall start implementing certain promoting measures in order to create more motivation for private sector players regarding the self-regulation models.
In Belarus, civil society players shall push the government to respect the freedom of expression first. Afterwards, the government may start promotion of self-regulation.
The traditions and techniques of self-regulation models from Germany may be as an example for Lithuania. So the key industry players of Germany may take the pan-European social responsibility and help spreading the ideas of self-regulation in the Central and Eastern Europe.
In parallel Lithuania may start certain programs of promotion the simple ideas of privacy and freedom of expression in many post-Soviet countries, including Belarus.
These are simple ideas for the possible co-operation among the Council of Europe member states. They need to be explored and implemented in practice in order to promote more self-regulation in the ITC exploitation.
* * *
jugendschutz.net is a government institution and was established in October 1997 as an initiative of the Youth Ministers of the German Federal States, who are responsible for youth protection in the media. Now jugendschutz.net is organizationally bound to the KJM (Commission for Youth Protection in the Media), the responsible body for youth protection in the media. The main task of jugendschutz.net is to search for harmful and illegal content on the internet. Please see the attached document for a short description of jugendschutz.net. Further information is available on the web site www.jugendschutz.net.
Within a special project jugendschutz.net developed the "Netzregeln" (Net Rules) and discussed these with industry and the responsible authorities for youth protection in the media. This code consists of 10 guidelines for youth protection on the internet. In a culture of a joint responsibility the internet must become a medium which is interesting, communicative, and creative, which is according to age, which gives youngsters the possibility to surf the internet and to communicate on the internet without being damaged. Part of this responsibility is to consider the lack of experience and the need of protection of minors using the internet and to be careful and sensitive in terms of selection and creation of web content.
This applies especially to web sites designed for children.
On April 1, 2003, the German legislator introduced the model of regulated self-regulation and enacted a new law for youth protection in the media. A basic pillar of this new youth protection model is the personal responsibility and the own initiative of the internet industry. The Net Rules contribute to this and they outline regulations for a self-regulation and complement the legislation and guidelines."
* * *
It is a truism to say that we are increasingly influenced by the flow of information and that without sufficient and adequate information we are not able to protect our fundamental rights successfully, i.e. the right to life, property rights, the right to cultural heritage and natural resources. However, civil society cannot demand that the government alone bears this responsibility. Just as relevant are non-governmental organizations and the mass media (industry actors).
The benefits of delegating human rights’ responsibilities to the private sector in the area of audiovisual media is better quality of services as well as the stimulation of social responsibility and development of the sector. Media pluralism requires ensuring access to various sources of information. One of the main responsibilities of government is to guarantee society’s real rights to information.. Nevertheless, in this context governments are also responsible for guaranteeing an adequate level of protection for minors and the preservation of human dignity.
Pluralistic mass media are one of the guarantees of the freedom of speech and freedom of the press. They should be free of any influence that might limit the free flow of information and the use of sources or limit the debate on any issue important to society. In this context, we really do see the ultimate role of the mass media as the protection of human rights.
The responsible behaviour of media industry actors is important as they not only form the environment of information that reflects society and its specific culture, but also actively shape it. The reality is that most of society spends more and more time with TV, internet and the other mass media.
The main problem facing states is how to draw the line between responsibility and irresponsibility. It is not so much a question of jurisdiction criteria as the question of the culture of society. In the field of the media, the line is drawn by the legislator taking into account the opinion of society (not forgetting that there is also a diversity of cultures in every society) and international standards. Here, minimal yet essential rules and criteria must be clearly set out, which are then to be applied by the independent regulator to enable coherence between the free flow of information and the cultural traditions of society. NGO's and other organizations protecting human rights should operate as “watchdogs” of this process. Responsible behaviour by the state ensures independent monitoring of the media as well as the rights and access to culture and minority rights. It should also ensure an appropriate level of education and professional training in the field of media as well as media literacy general.
* * *
The problem of Web site holders' responsibility for the content, especially being placed in self-service mode (forums, message boards, photo sights), is very serious, especially in our country under authoritarian rule. During Panel 1, I am going to give several examples of how TUT.BY and some other leading Belarusian recources apply censorship to avoid as negative consequences for customers as government repressions as follow:
1) In 2004, famous Belarusian Internet figure, author of Akavita web portal www.akavita.com Fiodar Karalenka. Being also as registrator of amateur fan site www.pesniary.com devoted to Belarusian Pesniary old famous folk group, he was convicted for copyright violation and imposed to fine as if being a 'trader of unlicensed records'. All his fault was that his web site content manager placed on the site a list of references for 30-years old amateur concert records for their identification. The very records were situated on other web sites in various countries. There was not ascertained any intent of selling or reproducing those records. Despite that, Mr. Karalenka was punished for a thing e.g. Google does millions times a day by giving lists of references. The case of Karalenka was such expressive example of Belarusian way of justice that most Belarusian web sites deleted all 'suspicious' references from their pages. The problem is the extent to which violation of copyright law occurs or not.
2) In March, 2005 The President of the Republic of Belarus issued a Decree on Some Measures on Opposition of Human Traffic. Within this Decree, all enterprises that 'assist acquaintances' or are 'running and using a data bank on acquaintances' (as quoted in the special instruction on Decree) should get a special license as a marriage agency from the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA). We at TUT.BY have a portal division http://love.tut.by with free self-service for personal acquaintances. We applied to MIA with official inquiry whether or not we should get that licence. MIA officially responded, yes, we need. All our reasonable arguments failed such as --
- we never meet persons acquainted to each other via TUT.BY
- we have no staff to 'assist acquaintances'
- we do not use 'the data bank of acquaintances'
- we do not charge for our service
- we are not responsible for the results of using services
- we deal with virtual personages (e.g. the Knight, Beauty, Swallow) rather than real persons having passports, citizenship or so
- if we should license our free ads web site, so all papers with personal ads, all public libraries and all companies whose staff uses diaries (not telling about CRMs) must be also licensed giving that all they 'assist acquaintances'
- we are unable to follow license requirements regarding official monthly reports to MIA containing full names and passport data of Belarusian citizens that (got) married abroad or foreigners coming to Belarus to marry because we actually know nothing about them. We have no idea whether the contacted at all or not.
Now, we obediently appealed to MIA in order to obtain the license of the 'marriage agency'. At the same time, we stopped providing our full service and lost most of our users which left us for sites located in other countries. At the same time, we appealed to the Administration of the President of the Republic of Belarus about their vision of how we should report to MIA. The general problem is, is licensing aby of the acquaintances free web services absurdous or not?
3) Belarusian powers are going to forbid or restrict the freedom of speech on forums. We meet political censorship. Formal cause is e.g. using foul language. To keep our forums open and post-moderated, TUT.BY fights foul language and scratches all anonymous offences to President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko giving that Belarusian Civil Code and Belarusian Criminal Code include special articles for that, with severe punishments. It would be however difficult to find anonymous authors giving that they masquerade, use anonymous proxy servers. Some offenders are living beyond the Belarusian law jurisdiction. From the first look, the authors of offences should take responsibility. Nevertheless, Instead, I was called to the Ministry of Information where I was politely asked to close down all forums as being 'anti-presidential'. Now, we ourselves carefully scratch all offences to Mr.Lukashenko out from our forums to prevent powers from punishing the message authors and from closing the forums down.
4) fighting with fake private advertisements. Sometimes we get complaints from victims of fake ads, usually with sexual services. We usually advise victims to go to police. We also use erasing such ads if the victim presents some proves of identity. The problem is, have we have right or not to edit these ads without any proves.
5) fighting attempts of stealing identity via seizing user mailboxes. Some users get mails from fake sysadmins with proposals to fill various forms with their passwords otherwise their mailbox might be closed.
1 Ainsi, au total, il apparaît que les gouvernements et les organisations qui leur sont liées dominent largement toutes les consultations relatives à la préparation du Sommet Mondial sur la Société de l’Information (SMSI), cf. WSIS Executive Secretariat: Document WSIS-II/PC-3/DOC/03-E, Draft revised report on the WSIS stocktaking, 15 July 2005, http://www.un-ngls.org/WSIS-Stocktaking-Report-15July2005-Finalv1.doc.
2 Il peut s’agir d’une surexploitation de l’environnement ou d’une concentration de richesses remettant en question l’autonomie de certains groupes sociaux.
3 La police recouvrait alors toutes les activités régulant la vie de la cité, comme par exemple la santé, la monnaie et la sécurité.
4 http://www.ifhe.org. Un grand travail de clarification reste à réaliser pour définir ce que sont l’économie familiale, l’économie domestique et l’écotrophologie.
5 Telle est la constatation première du rapport Protection de l’enfant et usages de l’Internet remis par le Président de la Commission Nationale Consultative des Droits de l’Homme au Ministère des Solidarités, de la santé et de la famille en France, cf. http://www.famille.gouv.fr/doss_pr/conf_famille2005/rapport_protection.pdf
6 Cf. par exemple l’action de la Confédération des organisations familiales de l’Union Européenne (COFACE) qui cherche à renforcer la dimension familiale des politiques européennes (http://www.coface-eu.org/).
7 Concernant la politiquer familiale du Conseil de l’Europe, cf. Boer-Buquicchio, Maud de: «Developping family policies in Europe: the contribution of the Council of Europe», in: http://www.bmfsfj.de/doku/minister
konferenz/download/Gesamt-doku.pdf. Ce document publie les contributions d’une conférence organisée en décembre 2004 par le ministère fédéral allemand de la Famille sur le thème de l’avenir de la famille en Europe. Cf. aussi Murray, John: Irisch EU presidency conference. Families, Change and Social Policy in Europe, Dublin, 13-14 May 2004 http://www.eu2004.ie/templates/ document _file.asp?id=16538.
8 Pour plus d’information, cf. http://www.globalreporting.org/
9 J. Balkin, "Digital Speech and Democratic Culture", p. 6, see http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/jbalkin/writings.htm (sept. 04)
10 Interview BBC du 9 août 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4132752.stm, dernière consultation 24 août 2005)
12 “…everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law. Judgment shall be pronounced publicly but the press and public may be excluded from all or part of the trial in the interests of morals, public order or national security in a democratic society, where the interests of juveniles or the protection of the private life of the parties so require, or to the extent strictly necessary in the opinion of the court in special circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice.” ECHR http://conventions.coe.int/treaty/Commun/QueVoulezVous.asp?NT=005&CL=ENG
13 See http://www.uta.fi/ethicnet/ for Ethics codes (2002) in Europe.
15 More information at: http://www.kpmg.co.uk/pubs/beforepdf.cfm?PubID=1092#
16 The Newspaper in Education projects run in most European countries and they not only serve as an education tool, but also help children to learn how to analyze and understand what is being published. Webpages and further information for Newspapers in Education can be found integrated into many newspapers’ own websites.
17 Page 58: “Media Literacy Connecting Citizens II”. Joint MELICI project with European Journalism Centre and European Union’s Directorate General for Education and Culture (E-learning), May 2005. Director, Raymonde Griswolde. Writers: Purdey, Belot, Grauls, Steen, and O’Reilly.
18 Page 58: “Media Literacy Connecting Citizens II”. Joint MELICI project with European Journalism Centre, European Union’s Directorate General for Education and Culture (E-learning), May 2005. Director, Raymonde Griswolde. Writers: Purdey, Belot, Grauls, Steen, and O’Reilly.
19 Source: The Newspaper Society, UK, Santha Rasaiah, PERA Director.
20 Source : The Hungarian Newspaper Publishers Association, Janos Peto, Director.
21 Page 33, Contributor: Jan Vincens Steen. A Collective work edited by Ebbe Dal. Publication title: “From Child to Citizen”, ENPA Publication, 1997.
22 Source : Margaret Boribon, Secretary General Journaux Francophones Belges.
23 Page 34, Contributor: Jan Vincens Steen. A Collective work edited by Ebbe Dal. Publication title: “From Child to Citizen”, ENPA Publication, 1997.
24 Source: Pirjo-Riitta Puro, Newspaper in Education Manager, Finnish Newspapers Association.
25 More information: www.edu.fi/oppimateriaalit/lehtiverstas (in Finnish) and www.edu.fi/svenska/tidningsfabriken (in Swedish).
26 “Media Literacy Connecting Citizens II”. Joint MELICI project with European Journalism Centre, European Union’s Directorate General for Education and Culture (E-learning), May 2005. Director, Raymonde Griswolde. Writers: Purdey, Belot, Grauls, Steen, and O’Reilly.
27 Page 70/71. “Media Literacy Connecting Citizens II”. May 2005. Joint MELICI project with European Journalism Centre, European Union’s Directorate General for Education and Culture (E-learning), Director, Raymonde Griswolde. Writers: Purdey, Belot, Grauls, Steen, and O’Reilly.