UN Deems Online Freedoms as Important as Offline Freedoms

July 13, 2012

The New York Times Bits blog recently reported on the ongoing debate regarding government’s right to restrict web access in the article “U.N Affirms Internet Freedom as a Basic Right.”

According to the article, United Nations Human Rights Council passed a non-binding resolution saying that citizens of all countries have the same rights to freedom of expression online as they do offline. This puts pressure on the technology companies that currently create the products used by governments to monitor their citizens to protect Internet freedoms.

The article states:

“One of the most common challenges for Internet companies with global operations is dealing with local laws that prohibit certain kinds of content, like certain kinds of references to the royal family in Thailand or atheism in Turkey. Google and Twitter publish how many requests they receive to remove content and how often they comply with the requests. Facebook, the world’s largest social network, does not, but it says that it removes posts and pages that are illegal in certain jurisdictions and violate the company’s terms of service.”

Even though this resolution is non-binding, it will do a lot to show the hypocritical countries that currently censor content. The real question is, will the Internet companies stop selling their products to these countries based on a commitment to personal liberties.

Jasmine Ashton, July 13, 2012

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