Human Rights 10 December 2015

The Internet Society and Freedom House announce partnership for online freedoms

By Kathryn BrownFormer President / CEO

Today, on Human Rights Day, I am pleased to announce that the Internet Society (ISOC) and Freedom House have signed an agreement to strengthen collaboration between our organizations in support of an open Internet that enables opportunities for all and is based on respect for fundamental rights.

Over the past few years, Human Rights online has become one of the top priorities in the Internet governance landscape at the global and local levels. The Internet has ushered an era of global connectedness where the creativity of more than three billion people has unleashed new uses and capabilities that infuse nearly every aspect of our everyday lives. More than 3.2 billion people are using the network to connect, communicate, collaborate, create and innovate.

At the same time, an increasing number of security and privacy issues have occurred that can undermine trust in the Internet. As Freedom House notes in their Freedom on the Net report, the network is used in some parts of the world to silence voices and to intimidate people. The Freedom on the Net report, which the Internet Society will now be supporting in 2016 as part of this agreement, outlines Freedom House’s measurements showing that Internet freedom has been declining steadily over the past 5 years.

This scenario is not one that fulfills our vision of an Internet of Opportunity for everyone.

While the Internet Society’s Mission emanates from our technical community, we and Freedom House share a common belief that the protection of online freedoms is a pillar of trust, a vital attribute of a technically secure Internet and, itself, the basis of all economic and social exchanges online.

Over the next few months, we will undertake joint initiatives to strengthen fundamental rights online, to empower users and build trust, and to advocate for an open, global and multistakeholder Internet that benefits the worlds’ citizens. Through our members, staff and worldwide network of Chapters, we will bring our technical expertise to complement Freedom House’s expertise in assessing online freedoms.

It is timely that this partnership is announced today, as the world celebrates Human Rights Day. This year’s theme is Freedom, recalling the four freedoms that underlie the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – freedom from fear, freedom of speech, freedom of worship and freedom from want. It is in that very same spirit of Freedom that we will continue promoting an Internet of opportunity for everyone.

Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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