Freedom of Expression and Internet Regulations

31/08/2021

The Internet serves as an enabler of rights, yet it sometimes touches on limitations that affect freedom of expression, said LACNIC CEO Oscar Robles during the webinar on “Freedom of Expression and Internet Regulations” organized by the Internet Registry for Latin America and the Caribbean together with the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights (IIHR).

The panelists discussed the impact of the Internet on our ability to communicate instantly and on the exercise of freedom of expression, as well as regulatory attempts by various governments and international organizations.

Joseph Thompson, IIHR CEO, highlighted that the Internet has increased our communication capacity and brought about a change in mentality regarding how information is shared around the world. “Today’s challenge is to understand how the vast amount of information that human beings can access affects human rights,” Thompson added.

In turn, Danilo Doneda, an expert on freedom of expression, noted that a democratic society depends on the free flow of information and the rules of freedom of expression. He explained that the Internet brought with it the promise of an almost limitless increase in freedom, but that limits will eventually be established little by little because of the new distribution of power. “Freedom of expression has a lot to do with this (the distribution of power),” Doneda observed. He also stressed that everyone wants freedom of expression to remain a fundamental instrument for public exchanges.

Robles then mentioned that attempted Internet blocks may have unintended consequences for Internet users. In this sense, Robles pointed out that “LACNIC has a special interest in issues that affect freedom of expression, but that are defined by technical aspects that do not depend on a social or moral framework, such as the unexpected consequences of content blocking to third parties with no direct responsibility.”

Panelists shared their concerns regarding attempted restrictions that do not comply with international law on the right to freedom of expression, as well as regarding proposals that would inadequately regulate online freedom of information.

Click here for a recording of the webinar.