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Commission to defend access to open internet and freedom of speech at conference in Azerbaijan

Tuesday, November 6
The European Commission will defend the open internet and promote the internet as a frontline in efforts to ensure freedom of speech globally, including in Azerbaijan, at the annual global conference of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Baku from 5 to 9 November.

“These efforts will advance the Commission's No Disconnect Strategy and its support for multi-stakeholder governance of the Internet,” said the Commission in a press release. The Commission’s ‘No Disconnect Strategy’, which dates back to December 2011, is about upholding the EU's commitment to ensure human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected both online and off-line, and that internet and other information and communication technology (ICT) can remain a driver of political freedom, democratic development and economic growth. Its intention is give advice on how to provide ongoing support to internet users, bloggers and cyber-activists living under authoritarian regimes.

The EU’s Digital Agenda Commissioner Kroes “will defend the view that there is no need for a new Treaty to regulate the Internet. Instead, the multi stakeholder model should be promoted further and be made more inclusive and responsive”, says the press release.

More generally the Commission will emphasise the need for the internet to remain a vibrant environment for innovation and economic growth, and to improve as a space where transparency, democracy and protection of human rights are guaranteed.

The Commission will meet with human rights activists and on-line journalists in addition to meeting the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev. The Commission delegation will learn first-hand about experiences of internet freedom both in Azerbaijan and globally, and will raise a number of concerns about protection and promotion of human rights in Azerbaijan.

As a key funder of the Internet Governance Forum, the Commission is co-organising four sessions of the conference:
• on the protection of the rule of law in the online environment, to discuss different issues related to the responsibility and role of Internet service providers in preserving freedom of speech.
• on the evaluation of the Internet Freedom Initiatives, for the promotion of the No-Disconnect strategy and exchange information about other similar initiatives in different countries
• on media pluralism and freedom of expression in the Internet age, which is currently addressed by the High Level Group on Media Freedom and Pluralism established by Vice President Kroes.
• on how to make Internet a better place for children, to discuss the responsibility of different actors in the area of child protection on the Internet.
(EU Neighbourhood Info)