[IRP] Initial feedback when reading the document

Tapani Tarvainen tapani.tarvainen
Wed Sep 15 18:26:23 EEST 2010

On Wed, Sep 15, 2010 at 11:45:29AM +0300, Vittorio Bertola (vb at bertola.eu) wrote

> I thought I would share quick feedback from someone who has
> been involved in these matters but that reads the document for the
> first time, hoping that it could be useful. I hope I won't touch
> issues that have already been long discussed, and that no one takes
> my opinionated sentences as an offense.


To a large extent my feelings echo Vittorio's:
The preamble does not have the Wow!-feeling, and the text has
somewhat too much committee-compromise flavour in many places.
In places it looks like it's making concessions to the
forces of evil so to speak before these even demand them.
Some things should be held on without compromises in
a text like this, even if we know that in practice
compromises will be made - ideals should not be abandoned
even if they can never be achieved 100%.

More concretely, let me repeat what I said at the coalition

I would take care to avoid contradictions and wordings that
appear or are likely to _weaken_ what Article 19 of UDHR,
when it rather should be strengthened, reinforced.

In particular, I'd like to emphasize that freedom of expression
protects not only also but indeed foremost opinions and ideas that 
are patently false, immoral, disgusting or dangerous, and
I'd actually like that said out explicitly somewhere
under 6) a or b.
A case in point is 7b: incitement to violence is one thing,
but "incitement to discrimination" is rather overreaching.
Abhorrent though I find racism, indeed I consider it
patently false, immoral, disgusting _and_ dangerous,
yet even people who hold such opinions should have
the right to promote them - for I believe in democracy,
in letting people make their own minds about everything.
Forbidding advocacy of racism would be tantamount to
saying racism is something that democracy is not good
enough to handle.
And in a document like this it is a bad precedent
if we start disallowing some opinions, however bad.

Another point is that freedom of religion includes
freedom _from_ religion - that is, freedom from being
forced to obey rules of religions you don't subscribe to.
I would like to see a sentence to that effect added to 7a.

Third, 9d, defamation, is under wrong subtitle (it is not
really privacy issue), the word "unlawful" makes it all
but meaningless - we should be saying what laws _should_
say, not that whatever laws in some country say could
override basic rights. And as Ronny noted, defamation
laws are very much abused to silence dissenting
opinions in many places.
I don't presently have a concrete suggestion of a better
wording here, other than I think I'd rather drop it
altogether than see it in the present form.

Finally: I do realize lot of work has gone into this and
on the whole I find it an outstanding work - I hope
nobody's offended by my criticism, especially given that
I haven't been able to take part in the drafting process
so far. I hope I'll be able to contribute in a more
constructive way in the future, to help polish the
remaining rough edges from this and to make it
shine the way it should.

Tapani Tarvainen
Chairman, Electronic Frontier Finland (Effi)
email tapani.tarvainen at effi.org 
tel. +358-40-7293479

More information about the IRP mailing list