The Internet proved to be an important tool of engagement for Arab citizens in their call for democracy and social transformation. The employment of ICTs and digital media tools in the socio-political mobilisations and protests caused governments to impose further restrictions and surveillance measures to filter content, block access and censor information aimed at silencing voices. The emergence of these control measures restricting freedoms online should be an impetus for citizens to take action in order to stop these violations of human rights. The impact of such restrictions on the effective enjoyment of universal human rights, particularly online, makes it more urgent than ever before to deal with cyber-security issues, net neutrality and content control. Users and citizens in general must be aware of this threat and be equipped with the necessary knowledge and tools to push for the effective enjoyment of their rights and freedoms online. Freedom is at stake.
With the aim of translating existing human rights to the Internet environment, the Internet Rights and Principles Dynamic Coalition (IRP Coalition) produced the Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet which provides a framework for upholding and advancing human rights online. The Charter interprets and explains universal human rights standards in the context of the Internet. It has the objective of setting up human rights as a cornerstone of Internet Governance (IG), because IG goes beyond the issue of developing technological infrastructure, standards and applications. In fact, it is further concerned with the rules, norms and decision making process that shapes the evolution and use of the Internet.
It is crucial that all actors respect and protect human rights on the Internet. IG affects everybody, from governments, to private sector, civil society as well as technical and academic communities. Therefore, the 10 Rights and Principles, being a distillation of ten key values and principles underlying the Charter must form the basis of the IG to help realise a rights-based Internet environment.
to download the Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet
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Internet plays a vital role in fostering sustainable human development and strengthening democratic societies. It is also an enabler of human rights. Not only does the Internet contribute to the safeguard of the rights to freedom of expression and opinion and access information, it also advances other socio-economic rights, namely the right to privacy, education, take part in cultural life, benefit from scientific progress, etc.