[IRPCoalition] Council of Europe: Guide on Human Rights of Internet Users

Marianne Franklin m.i.franklin at gold.ac.uk
Mon Apr 21 00:38:56 EEST 2014

Dear all

Thanks Wolf for letting us know that the CoE Guide has been approved, as 
it has been close to this point for some time.

Allon, thanks for the comments; just to note that this project has had a 
close and productive relationship with the IRP Coalition since the 
outset as several of those on the CoE expert group drafting the guide 
were also part of the IRPC expert group who pulled the IRPC Charter 
draft together; Wolfgang Benedek, Meryem Marzouki, Rikke Joergensen. Lee 
Hibbard, also a former member of the IRPC Steering Group and Elvana 
Thaci from the CoE have also worked closely with us all on both these 
projects as they complement one another.

Congratulations one and all for this achievement.

All information about this is in the IRPC Charter Booklet in the 
resource pages.

Wolf, is there a direct URL link to the Guide now it has been approved; 
for easy reference.


On 20/04/2014 20:03, Allon Bar wrote:
> Dear Wolf,
> Many thanks for sharing! I think the guide is very useful in helping 
> Internet users understand what their rights are online in a much more 
> concrete way. I welcome the initiative.
> And as you rightly emphasize, it's good to see the guide explaining 
> the responsibility of the private sector to respect the rights of 
> their users, including providing effective remedies.
> I don't know if anyone on the list has been involved with the creation 
> of the guide, but since it's an evolving document, there are some 
> things that I think deserve our special attention, or at least that 
> I'm slightly curious about:
> Under *Access and non-discrimination*:
> -  § 3: "(...) You should therefore not be disconnected from the 
> Internet against your will, except when it is decided by a court. In 
> certain cases, contractual arrangements may also lead to 
> discontinuation of service but this should be a measure of last resort."
> --> Noting that you may be disconnected when decided by a court seems 
> to lower the threshold in what up till now is supposed to a no-no (in 
> Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue's report of 2011: "The Special 
> Rapporteur considers cutting off users from Internet access, 
> regardless of the justification provided, including on the grounds of 
> violating intellectual property rights law, to be disproportionate and 
> thus a violation of article 19, paragraph 3, of the International 
> Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."). I don't know if this court 
> exception in the guide comes from the French constitutional court's 
> decision of 2009 that administrative bodies cannot but courts should 
> be in the middle of such serious decisions, but I don't think it's 
> helpful to introduce such an option of disconnecting here.
> --> After that, the later part seems to raise the threshold for 
> discontinuation after contractual arrangements (presumably people not 
> paying their bills), even though that arguably is a very fair reason 
> to disconnect people (unless it's the only provider from which the 
> user would be able to obtain access, which would change the story.)
> - § 4: "In your interactions with public authorities, Internet service 
> providers and providers of online content and services, or with other 
> users or groups of users, you must not be discriminated against on any 
> grounds such as gender, race, colour, language, religion or belief, 
> political or other opinion, national or social origin, association 
> with a national minority, property, birth or other status, including 
> ethnicity, age or sexual orientation."
> --> Even though I hope non-discrimination is a goal we all embrace, 
> the objective of this paragraph is unclear to me. Is this about being 
> denied service? Is this about being subjected to racist admonishments 
> by other users online? Should the consequence be the same? Either way 
> I don't understand what this is about or there may be a peculiar 
> incongruity in this paragraph.
> Under *Freedom of expression and information*
> - § 6: "you may choose not to disclose your identity online, for 
> instance by using a pseudonym. However, you should be aware that 
> measures can be taken, by national authorities, which might lead to 
> your identity being revealed."
> --> It's great to see this support for online anonymity as it's an 
> important way to enable our right to freedom of expression as well as 
> our right to privacy. But I don't know if this "you may" stems from 
> any legal basis, in any case it does not align with a vast amount of 
> services that we are using, whether they are commercial (e.g. social 
> media with real name policies) or public (government services 
> requiring our real name). So aside from the looming threat of the 
> second sentence, which we're all too familiar with, it seems that the 
> actual practice is already one where we don't have the choice to keep 
> our identity private, unless we wish to live in a much smaller online 
> realm, and/or violate laws and Terms of Service. So what is the 
> Ministerial Committee trying to say with this paragraph?
> Under *Children and young people *
> - § 1: "you have the right to freely express your views and 
> participate in society, to be heard and to contribute to decision 
> making on matters affecting you. Your views must be given due weight 
> in accordance with your age and maturity and without discrimination;"
> --> how does this translate into reality where in most societies 
> children are not allowed to vote about decisions affecting them? Also: 
> the second sentence proclaims that children/young people's views must 
> be given due weight in accordance with age/maturity (which is a form 
> of discrimination), but then states that this needs to happen without 
> discrimination.
> - § 3:" ...content you create on the Internet or content concerning 
> you created by other Internet users... Upon your request, this should 
> be removed or deleted within a reasonably short period of time;"
> --> Does this reflect a view on the part of the Ministerial Committee 
> that a right to erasure is in fact in place and that it has the 
> breadth (including content created by others) herein described?
> Under *Effective remedies*
> - throughout the document ISPs are seemingly separated from online 
> content providers, but here it says "Effective remedies can be 
> obtained directly from Internet service providers, public authorities 
> and/or national human rights institutions." --> Does this mean only 
> ISPs (those providing network level access to the Internet) are 
> responsible to provide effective remedies, but (other) online services 
> are not? I assume this is an oversight.
> Thanks again for posting, and wishing everyone who's celebrating a 
> Happy Easter,
> Allon
> On 18/04/14 00:38, Wolf Ludwig wrote:
>> Dear all,
>> as I just got to know, the Ministerial Committee of the Council of Europe approved a Guide on Human Rights of Internet Users yesterday. This guide is aimed at improving awareness among Internet users while promoting rights and freedom on the Internet. It calls upon the private sector (business) to behave responsible towards users and to respect their rights.
>> A copy of this guide you can find attached.
>> Best wishes for the forthcoming holidays,
>> Wolf
>> EuroDIG Secretariat
>> http://www.eurodig.org/
>> mobile +41 79 204 83 87
>> Skype: Wolf-Ludwig
>> EURALO - ICANN's Regional At-Large Organisation
>> http://euralo.org
>> Profile on LinkedIn
>> http://ch.linkedin.com/in/wolfludwig
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Dr Marianne Franklin
Professor of Global Media and Politics
Convener: Global Media & Transnational Communications Program
Goldsmiths (University of London)
Department of Media & Communications
New Cross, London SE14 6NW
Tel: +44 20 7919 7072
<m.i.franklin at gold.ac.uk>
Co-Chair Internet Rights & Principles Coalition (UN IGF)

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