recent report to the UN Human Rights Council, Frank La Rue explores key trends and challenges to the right of all individuals to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds through the Internet. The report states that right to freedom of opinion and expression is as much a fundamental right on its own accord as it is an “enabler” of other rights, including economic, social and cultural rights. The Internet medium facilitates participatory information sharing and collaboration in the creation of content, individuals are no longer passive recipients, but also active publishers of information. This characteristic allows individuals to share critical views and to find objective information whilst contributes to the discovery of the truth and progress of society as a whole.
The report focuses on the the restriction of Internet content (e.g. arbitary blocking and filtering, criminalisation of legitimate expression, imposition of intermediary liability), disconnecting users, cyber attacks, privacy protection and the digital divide. The report gives an excellent oversight of the changing relationship between the state and the citizen's use of the Internet through example legislature and policy actions such as notice-and-takedown regimes vs censorship and inequality vs internet access.
In conclusion, La Rue emphasises that there should be as little restriction as possible to the flow of information via the Internet, except in few, exceptional, and limited circumstances prescribed by international human rights law. Restrictions should only be applied in consideration the principles of predictability, transparency, legitimacy, necessity and proportionality and by a body which is independent of any political, commercial, or other unwarranted influences. Great for human rights but no respite for those that are wanting to protect value in their digital goods.