The Road to Indonesia
After six intense sessions with high levels of participation of Latin American experts, the region’s major Internet organizations manifested themselves in favor of a free and open Internet at the Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Internet Governance Forum.
During this meeting held in Cordoba, Argentina, freedom of expression was strongly defended and serious warnings regarding cyber surveillance excesses at the expense of people’s privacy we made.
Sponsored by LACNIC in close collaboration with several other organizations, the pre-IGF held in Cordoba brought together noted speakers, among them Frank La Rue, United Nations Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression.
In his presentation, La Rue criticized projects such as SOPA and PIPA, stating that these initiatives attempt to protect intellectual property rights indefinitely in detriment of people’s privacy and freedom. The UN Rapporteur noted that there is an ongoing debate on copyright and intellectual property. In his opinion, content creators may be protected by intellectual property rights, but those rights should be limited in time. He also noted that these rights have been abused, first of all, because they no longer protect the original authors. He added that these copyrights are being extended – initially, they were valid for 25 years, they were then extended to 50, and now some are trying to extend them to the next generation. La Rue said that attempts are also being made to impose extremely high and absurd penalties and that certain people would like to be able to intercept Internet accounts; that PIPA and SOPA were extreme expressions of these instruments; and that protecting authors, artists and researchers for a reasonable period of time is one thing, but that everyone should have access to science, knowledge, art and culture.
La Rue reminded the audience that there have always been attempts to silence those who have advanced science or exposed the authorities’ misguided practices. “Freedom of expression is just as important as freedom of association, religious freedom, and the right to life and to personal integrity. In the end, being able to exercise our freedom of expression allows us to defend other rights or expose their violation.”
La Rue called for greater Internet access among the population and highlighted that the State’s duty is to “provide Internet access to their poorest population, not necessarily individual access but access through community centers, collective access, and –obviously– access at every public school, as it is critical for children to be able to access the Internet.”
He admitted that, if “used incorrectly,” the Internet can help incite criminal acts, which is why one of the tasks of “both States and Society” is to design prevention and education plans that will help children learn how to make good use of these instruments from an early age.”
“New technologies pose new risks; however, the added value they provide, communication speed, and the possibilities they open in terms of research, education and civic participation outweigh any potential risk. We now need to prevent risks and adopt appropriate policies,” he concluded.