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Strasbourg, 7 March 2011

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





3rd meeting
21 and 22 February 2011
Room G.04

Committee of Ministers Draft Recommendation to member states on the protection and promotion of Internet’s universality, integrity and openness


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

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

1. General principles

1.1  No harm

1.2  Cooperation

1.3. Due diligence

2. Integrity of the Internet

2.1. Preparedness

2.2 Response

2.3 Implementation

2.4 Responsibility

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