Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Online Protection - a threat to online freedom

Tomorrow is the official opening of the United Nations Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Hyderabad, India. It is the third in a series of five forums that came as a result of the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) declaration in 2005. The Forum was envisioned as a "talk-shop" where stakeholders could get together every year to discuss and advance the key items related to Internet governance , with a developing country focus agenda.

Of all the WSIS follow-up events, it has proved the most popular - attracting some 1000+ delegates at each meeting. This year's event also likely will attract 1000+ individuals . This despite the recent attack in Mumbai that scared off some 10-20% of international delegates.

While other sessions of interest are taking place tomorrow morning, I will focus my attention not on ICANN's At-Large session on policy development but instead on one that affects users directly - that of threats to freedom of expression online. What is this you ask - A key emerging issue of Interest to the Internet Freedom program are efforts trying to limit expression online under the sensitive topics of "online safety" and "Child protection online". At this year's IGF there will be more then 6 sessions focused on this topic, while only one session will focus on promoting freedom of expression.

As such, my focus tomorrow will be attending the sessions below with the aim to understand which organizations are involved, what support (if any) has been expressed by governments and the mechanisms in place to ensure that adequate oversight and human rights protections exist.

Wed Dec 3

- 9:00 - 10:30 Best Practice Forum 89: Online Child Protection

- 11:00 - 12:30

  • Workshop 36: Strategies to prevent and flight child pornography in Developing countries
  • Workshop 37: The Internet goes mobile - Child protection in the always connected age

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