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Freedom Online Coalition Conference in Tallinn, Estonia April 28-29, 2014


The Internet has been a driving force behind most global developments in the 21st century so far. A tool for information exchange, learning, business, e-governance and development, it now brings together more than 2.5 billion people around the world. Global use of the Internet is increasing. Regarding development, the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries foresees that we should strive to provide everyone access to the Internet by 2020 and the Post-2015 Report of the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons proposes a Sustainable Development Goal to guarantee the public’s right to information and access to government data. All users of the Internet should enjoy freedom of expression and other human rights on the Internet in the same way as foreseen by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Questions regarding where the Internet is headed, whether, how and by whom it can or should be regulated, have risen increasingly over the past few years.

The 4th annual conference of the Freedom Online Coalition

On April 28-29, 2014 the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC) shall meet in Tallinn, Estonia for a high level conference. The 4th annual conference of the Freedom Online Coalition shall continue open and inclusive discussions in a multi-stakeholder arena. The conference will firstly focus on the continued promotion of fundamental freedoms online.  The epoch of Big Data provides the second key topic, asking about the role of business in advancing an open and free Internet. Keeping the Internet a unified and de-centralised forum and  tool for global free expression shall be the third focal point. Development will continue to be an important element of all discussions.

In addition to discussions and debates on the acute issues of freedom online, the Tallinn conference aims to agree on Recommendations for Freedom Online: a comprehensive document jointly developed by all  constituents of the global Internet community and adopted by the FOC governments. The Recommendations will be designed to ensure the free and global nature of the Internet, benefitting everyone. The Recommendations are meant to cover both the existing best practices from around the world, as well as first-hand novel proposals for  challenges yet unsolved.

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On the topic, you can also read the speech given by Estonia's President Ilves at the recent Munich Security Conference 2014, on the topic "Rebooting Trust? Freedom vs Security in Cyberspace."

The Freedom Online Coalition

The FOC is an intergovernmental coalition that was established at the inaugural Freedom Online Conference in The Hague, the Netherlands, in 2011. As indicated in its founding declaration, the FOC is committed to advancing Internet freedom – free expression, association, assembly, and privacy online  – worldwide. FOC member states are committed to working together diplomatically to voice concern over measures to restrict Internet freedom and support those individuals whose human rights online are curtailed.

 Since 2011, the Coalition has grown from 15 initial members to 22 today. Currently, the FOC consists of Austria, Canada, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Ireland, Kenya, Latvia, the Republic of Maldives, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, the Netherlands, Sweden, Tunisia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Since its inception, members of the Coalition have gathered informally as governments and in consultation with other stakeholders at numerous conferences and intergovernmental meetings relevant to internet freedom, as well as in specific countries, to coordinate viewpoints, share relevant information, and discuss strategies to advance an open Internet in each context. Many FOC meetings took place in the past year, in forums ranging from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to the United Nations Human Rights Council, to the Internet Governance Forum and the Stockholm Internet Forum. A good example of joint action since the founding of the coalition was coordination among FOC members during the ITU WCIT meeting of December 2012 in Dubai, and a joint statement at the OSCE Internet Freedom conference in Vienna in February 2013.

In addition to these meetings, the FOC hosts annual multi-stakeholder conferences that aim to deepen the discussions on how freedom of expression on the Internet is helping to promote social, cultural and economic development. After the inaugural Conference in The Hague, the FOC members met formally in Nairobi in September 2012 and in Tunis in June 2013.

Estonian ICT Week

Alongside the FOC Conference an information and communication technology week entitled “Estonian ICT Week” will be taking place in Tallinn on  April 23-30, 2014. Estonian ICT Week will bring together entrepreneurs, investors, IT professionals, government leaders and policy makers from all over the world. It will be the single most eventful week in the centre of the  bustling Nordic-Baltic information and communications technology powerhouse, illuminating innovativel ideas and connecting the brightest minds.

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