Unlike any other medium, the internet enables individuals to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds instantaneously and inexpensively across national borders. Unlike any other technological development, it has created an interactive form of communication, which not only allows you to send information in one direction, but also to send information in many directions and receive an immediate response.
The authors of these country reports were encouraged to select a story or event to write about that illustrates the role of the internet in defending human rights. The result is a rich collection of reports that approach the topic of the internet, human rights and social resistance from different angles – whether discussing the rights of prisoners to access the internet in Argentina, candlelight vigils against “mad cow” beef imports in South Korea, the UK Uncut demonstrations in London, or online poetry as protest in China.
The intersection between the internet and human rights, including freedoms of expression and association, is increasingly important as the internet becomes more universal, and increasingly complex as the internet affects more aspects of society, economy, politics and culture. This report suggests two ways to map this intersection, and raises a number of questions that need to be considered by those concerned with the internet, with rights, and with wider public policy.
A growing phenomenon in the internet governance arena is the emergence of charters and sets of principles which aim to guide policy making and to influence the behaviour of different stakeholders using the internet. The phenomenon is predominately driven by two separate but overlapping purposes: to articulate and promote a particular vision of the internet; and as an alternative to legislation and ex-ante regulation which is often considered ineffective, impractical and/or harmful.