Estonia, as the current chairman, organized the Freedom Online Coalition’s (FOC) fourth annual meeting and conference on April 28-29 in Tallinn, Estonia. The main subject of discussion in 19 panel discussions and workshops was the future of freedom online and Internet governance.
Many of the speakers at the conference identified dangers regarding the break-up of the Internet into pieces, where information is censored by individual countries. Among these was the President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who called out condemned attempts “to limit the free flow of information, and to Westphalianize the Internet”, asserting that “this cannot be the solution.” The FOC members support a sharing of governance within a multi-stakeholder balance, which was summed up by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in his live video link address: “If you have interests in how the Internet works, you get to play a role in how it’s governed.” With this model, the FOC tries to guarantee that human rights and fundamental freedoms, which were a particular concern in the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s video-address to the audience at the opening session, are respected both online and offline.
The Tallinn Agenda for Freedom Online adopted at the conference creates a strong common understanding of online freedom and reaffirms the commitment of the 23 member countries to a set of common values for free and secure Internet for all. Among the commitments are pledges to preserve and strengthen the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance, to enhance transparency of government processes and to promote the free flow of information online, globally. To show support for the Tallinn Agenda, you can sign it here: http://www.freedomonline.ee/foc-recommendations.
The FOC conference of 2014 brought together a high-level multi-stakeholder representation of more than 400 delegates from over 60 countries. Among the distinguished participants were the President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili, Speaker of the Senate of Kenya Ekwee Ethuro, Google Chief Internet Evangelist and “father of the Internet” Vinton Cerf, representatives from various NGOs and ministers from Canada, Estonia, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, the US, Nigeria and Tunisia. They and many others shared their views on applying human rights equally offline and online; on the role of business in advancing an open and free Internet; on e-Governance and on preserving the integrity and openness of the Internet.