Archive for the tag 'privacy'

Internet, freedom and privacy

we need to ensure one, to ensure another


It is impossible to talk about freedom and privacy on the Internet without addressing the theme of the access to Internet as a human right per se. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights[1] in its first article says thatAll human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”. Thus, if access to health information, education and also the best job opportunities occur through the Internet, it is unfair to bar part of the population out of the cyberspace. Therefore, it is imperative to ensure access to the Internet in order to ensure many other rights equitably.

This discussion is concerning the governments because to ensure access the Internet means going into the debate of how is the Internet governance. In other words means defining rights and responsibilities of individuals, organizations and governments. We are currently defining these virtual world guidelines. In March 2010, the BBC commissioned an opinion poll[2] about Internet Access that covered 26 countries in the World. This report showed that on the one hand “almost four in five people around the world believe that access to the internet is a fundamental right”; on the other hand there are some aspects that frighten people. Five aspects on the internet that cause most concern are fraud, violent and explicit content, threats to privacy, state censorship of content and extent of corporate presence.

However, all these fears refer to situations that do not happen only on the cyberspace. All these crimes (fraud, violence, privacy violation, State censorship and corporation abuses) already take place outside Internet. The fundamental issue is that the way in which they occur changes according to the environment and our current legal frameworks are not adapted to the cyber one. Precisely in times of change is when we must unbind from the regulatory details and regain the principles that should govern our relations: Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since “the fact that the rule of law is constantly changing does not mean that guidelines cannot be distilled from it”[3].

Aspects os the internet causing most concern

Moreover, estabilishing the deployment of those universal guidelines in cyberspace will only be successful if several actors be involved, ie, a multistakeholder body including who produces and who operates this space. In his sense, in 2005, United Nations-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) created  IGF[4] to open an ongoing, non-binding conversation among multiple stakeholders about the future of Internet governance. The controversy lies in the fact that the Internt governance has been built mostly by governments and multistakeholder organs have little power of decision.

Finally, the access to Internet as a right is not consensus, but it is gaining support with time and diffusion of ICT use in everyday life. The fears that we have in cyberspace do not differs from the ones that we have outside of it, so, the challenge is how to link the existent legal framework or even create a new one to ensure our privacy and freedom in that new space. Some people think it is impossible since we have not solved that kind of problem in “real” world. Nonetheless, the cyberspace will develop itself in parallel with the already existent problems and ignoring its growth will not solve the problems in either of the environments. The challenge in the spot is how to spin an Internet governance dealing with the diversity of cultures and laws, respecting different concepts of freedom and privacy and ensuring national sovereignty of countries. It is still an open issue which will provoke changes not only in cyberspace.

[1] Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

[4] Internet Governance Forum: