[IRP] CoE Charter Consultation

Dixie Hawtin Dixie
Thu Apr 21 11:15:09 EEST 2011

Hi all,

On Tuesday we had an informal consultation with some experts from the Council of Europe to talk about the Charter - to raise awareness, see what kind of feedback they had about the initiative and the substance, and to discuss overlap between Council of Europe and IRP Coalition goals and areas for collaboration.

Attendance: Jan Malinowski, Lee Hibbard, Michael Remmert, Jan Kleijssen, Denis Huber, Amb. Thomas Hajnoczi, Sophie Kwasny, Marie Georges, Wolfgang Benedek, Meryem Marzouki, Parminder Jeet Singh, Katitza Rodriguez, Olivier Crepin-Leblond, Wolf Ludwig, Dixie Hawtin.

The meeting was a small event but I think it had a lot of really positive outcomes, and it was certainly great to have such a strong showing from the Coalition. It was very positive to note that almost all of the CoE people already knew a lot about the Charter and for those who hadn't already heard, they seemed very appreciative of the initiative.

We had some feedback about the actual contents of the Charter, and Lee has said that he will seek more feedback on the actual contents of the Charter in written form. The comments we received covered:

a)       E-participation and e-democracy: it was felt that these sections do not yet cover the full spectrum of enhanced democracy that is possible using the Internet. In particular the link between online protest and organisation (which is covered under freedom of association) could also be stressed here. The important of the internet in Internet campaigning was also mentioned. Also, it was felt that it was erroneous to leave out e-voting when it is becoming an important part of the voting system in some countries (e.g. Estonia and Switzerland). Earlier e-voting was included in the Charter but it was removed following much concern from Coalition members about the security of such a system. I think this is something we could continue to think about and discuss. Council of Europe recommendations and guidelines in this area were drawn attention to as possible sources to consult.

b)      Privacy and data protection: it was felt that more needed to be done to distinguish the right to privacy and the right to digital data protection, and also to make sure that the principles of data protection come across clearly in a user friendly way. The concepts of "personal data" and  "consent" would benefit from more explanation. We need to include the fact that privacy policies must be clear and understandable(as well as accessible). And the "right to be forgotten" also arose as something we might want to address outrightly in the Charter. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

c)       There was also interest in the matrix of responsibilities of different actors that Meryem has been working on. It was felt that it would be very valuable for this document to also include information about collaborations between actors (i.e. which actors should work together to achieve certain goals)

One initiative that the CoE is toying with quite seriously at the moment, and that there may be an opportunity to derive some content/approach from the Charter in future, is creating a charter of enforceable remedies for Internet users which would operate similarly to airplane passenger rights by Europe (http://www.caa.co.uk/default.aspx?catid=125). We also heard (from Olivier) about an initiative at ALAC to put together a registrants rights charter which sounds very interesting and is exactly the type of thing which I think we would like the charter to be supporting and feeding into.

Most of the conversation was spent talking about CoE work in this area and possible areas for collaboration. Possibilities included:
*Having a formal meeting at the CoE for 1.5/2 days and go through each of the Charter sections individually.
*Spin-off education materials based on the Charter could be used for training and education as part of the North-South Centre.
*Put the text to the parliamentary assembly to have them approve it (please note this is just an option, and if it were to happen it would be them taking it as an open source document and building on it, rather than taking over our Charter.)

-Lee Hibbard will circulate the Charter around CoE staff with expertise in different areas covered by the Charter but who were unable to attend the meeting, asking for feedback particularly on drafting and also on our approach to different rights more generally.
-Katitza Rodriguez has taken responsibility for the "privacy" and "data protection" sections of the Charter and will work (with her many privacy expert friends) on honing in the language.
(many thanks to both of you!)

Overall, I think that the Charter is now definitely on the CoE agenda and that this could be the start of a really useful dialogue and one that we should definitely invest some energy in cultivating!
And if anyone has thoughts on any of the above please do share. Also, see Meryem's email before - it would be really useful to think about where our Charter fits in the patchwork of principles and standards which are emerging at different fora.

All the best,
Dixie Hawtin
Researcher Global Partners and Associates
338 City Road, London, EC1V 2PY, UK
Office: + 44 207 239 8251
dixie at global-partners.co.uk<mailto:lisa at global-partners.co.uk>

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